Take an unforgettable journey through the entire span of the Catholic Church's existence. In this essential course, The History of the Catholic Church: Tradition and Innovation, acclaimed historian and award-winning professor Dr. Christopher Bellitto (Ph.D., Fordham University) breathes new life into two millennia of history. 

The chronicle of Catholicism can seem daunting: full of names, dates, places, and phrases. Getting ahold of such a rich and diverse history requires guidance and a skillful approach. 

In this brilliant survey course, you'll explore traditions of belief and innovate ways to describe, share, and live that faith. With Dr. Bellitto as your guide, you'll look at the major periods of Church history: early, medieval, reformation, and modern. As you take this journey, you'll examine changes and continuities across the centuries. 

In "Early Church," you'll see how a small group of believers spread the faith in a hostile pagan world. Then, in "Medieval Church," you'll see how popes and kings, bishops, and local lords fought to control the Church as believers in the pews and plazas rediscovered the human Jesus of the gospels. Meanwhile, religious life adapted as Christianity encountered new cultures. "Reformation Church" considers how the Church recovered from its late medieval controversies and bridged the gap between science and religion. Finally, "Modern Church" explores how Vatican II has transformed Catholicism as it strides into its third millennium. 

Dynamic and insightful, this course is a must-have resource. By understanding the history of the Church, you will understand its fascinating past as it journeys into the future.

Course curriculum

  • 1

    The History of the Catholic Church: Tradition and Innovation

    • The History of the Catholic Church Guide

    • 01 Introduction: Why Bother with Church History?

    • 02 Ecclesiology: What Do We Mean by “Church”?

    • 03 The Jesus Community

    • 04 Christianity and the Roman Empire

    • 05 Explaining Christianity: Councils and Creeds

    • 06 Living Christianity

    • 07 An Emerging Papacy

    • 08 Converting Europe

    • 09 Charlemagne’s Vision

    • 10 Papal Monarchy: Pros and Cons

    • 11 Twelfth Century Renaissance: Living the Gospel

    • 12 Universities and Scholasticism

    • 13 Religious Orders: Reform and Innovation

    • 14 Crusades: Encountering "the Other"

    • 15 Avignon Papacy and the Great Western Schism

    • 16 Martin Luther Thinks About Reform

    • 17 Protestant Pathways

    • 18 Popular Piety and the Council of Trent

    • 19 Spreading the Faith in a Widening World

    • 20 Challenges to Religious Beliefs and Structures

    • 21 Living the Faith After the Enlightenment

    • 22 Vatican II: Background and Event

    • 23 Vatican II: Interpretation and Implementation

    • 24 Catholicism Today: History Lessons for the Future