Ministry to the Dying, Dead, and Bereaved
Part 2 History

Chapter f25 Late Medieval Period [1300-1499 CE]

Secular History

Church History

Ministry to the Dead and Bereaved

Secular History

Civil governments want the Church to unify its practices -- which days are non-work days, etc.

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Church History

Developing "job description" of priesthood. Only priests administer the sacraments. (E.g. confession, Extreme Unction). Many priests in the West still married despite growing prohibitions.

Renaissance Papacy. Nicholas V (1447-1455) established Vatican Library. Sixtus IV (1471-1484) conferred eight different dioceses on one of his nephews (who becomes Julius II). Pope Alexander VI (1492-1503) spent most of his papacy caring for family and his five children.

"The clergy with whom lay people had the most contact were the parish priests, and there where numerous complaints about them. In many localities there were too many of them. In a notorious example, in the German city of Breslau, there where two churches staffed by 236 "altar priests," whose sole duty was celebrating Masses for the dead.  In such churches where many Masses where celebrated every day at the same times on the side altars, many people would run from one Mass to the next to be present at the elevation of the Host.  For many the Eucharist had become an object of adoration rather than a sacrament to be celebrated. Sadly too many people came to think of the Mass as the priest's own private prayer rather than a common act of worship."  (Rev. Thomas J. Shelley Ph.D. in Church History:  A Course on the People of God.  Sadlier, Faith and Witness series, pp 74-75.)

Eucharist at this period:  Low Mass typical.  Many private Masses for souls in purgatory. People kneel throughout the Mass.  Elevation of chalice added.  Genuflection before the Blessed Sacrament introduced.  Proliferation of votive Masses.  Exposition and Benediction become common (ocular communion). 1414-1418 Council of Constance: Decree on Communion Under One Kind 

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Ministry to the Dead and Bereaved

Multiplication of "low" Masses (without singing) for the dead -- usually at side altars with no one present but the priest and one server. 

Invention of the printing press facilitates the printing and multiplication of indulgences for the souls in purgatory. 

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Copyright: Tom Richstatter.  All Rights Reserved.  This page was created by Fr. Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M.  Every effort has been, and is being made to acknowledge sources when the ideas are not my own.  Any failure to comply with the United States Copyright Act (Title 17, United States Code) will be corrected immediately should I become aware of it.  This site was updated on 03/26/15.  Your comments on this site are welcome at trichstatter@franciscan.org