Catholicism is one of the oldest religious institutions in the world and has played a prominent role in Western history and culture. This resource page tends to focus on the historical impact of Catholicism within the Western context. The Global Catholicism page explores the expanding global impact of this religious tradition. The early and medieval developments of Christianity are positioned as chapters in the “history of Catholicism.” However, arguably these developments shape all major trajectories of Western Christianity including Catholicism. The division of Western Christendom in the 16th century presents a complex, and often polemically charged, problem for the interpretation of Christian history.
1. General Resources
- Blackwell Companion to Catholicism: Available to McGill library users.
- History and Church History: A comprehensive and annotated collection of internet resources on the history of Christianity put together by the Library Services, Trinity College, University of Toronto.
- Councils of the Church: Ecumenical councils that shaped Catholic doctrine. The early ecumenical councils tend to be recognized as authoritative for a number of Christian denominations.
- Christianity Sourcebook (Berkley Centre) — focus on the problem of religious freedom in the history of Catholicism.
- The Hall of Church History: The Catholics: an evangelical protestant site that provides a selection of online texts dealing with Catholicism.
- Oxford Dictionary of Popes: Available to McGill library users.
- Oxford Dictionary of Saints: Available to McGill library users.
2. Early Christian Period
- Early Christian Texts (NAPS): North American Patristics Society hub of electronic texts in Early Christianity.
- Early Christian Authors (NAPS): North American Patristics Society hub of electronic texts on Church Fathers.
- Societies and Institutes on Early Christianity (NAPS): North American Patristics Society links to academic societies, centres, and institutes on early Christianity.
- Augustine of Hippo Texts, translations, and commentaries (Georgetown University)
- Fathers of the Church A wide array of patristic texts in English translation
- Early Church Fathers (Christian Ethereal Library) – texts from the Ante-Nicene, Nicene and Post-Nicene church fathers searchable by author, title and type.
3. Medieval Period
- Centre For Medieval Studies Resource Page: The Centre for Medieval Studies (Toronto) brings together some of the best online reference tools for medieval studies.
- The Labyrinth – Georgetown University: An excellent collection of internet resources for medieval studies
- Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies: Canadian medieval studies research institute founded by Etienne Gilson. It was granted pontifical status in 1939.
- Byzantine and Medieval Studies Links: A comprehensive hub of electronic resources for Byzantine and Medieval Studies (Fordham University).
- Byzantine and Medieval Studies Links A wide collection of internet resources (Louisiana State University).
- Thomas Instituut te Utrechte focusing on Thomas Aquinas –texts, bibliographies, essays, links to other resources.
- Thomas Aquinas: Works in Latin and English: Dominican House of Studies offers an extensive digitalized collection of Aquinas’ writings.
4. Early Modern Catholicism
- Documents of the Council of Trent: The Council of Trent was the formal Catholic response to the theological and ecclesiastical challenges presented by Protestant Reformation.
- Digital Library of the Catholic Reformation: web access to an extensive range of Catholic primary source material (theological, political, historical, polemical, etc.) from the Reformation and post-Reformation eras. (This link is available to McGill library users only).
- Early Modern Catholicism: An Anthology of Primary Sources (2007): (This link is available to McGill Library users only).
- St. Ignatius and the Ignatian Tradition: Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) was the founder of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) and a new form of Catholic spirituality. The Jesuits were a major force in the global expansion of Catholicism during the early modern era.
- Carmelite Tradition (Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross): Theologians and mystics from the Carmelite order were major figures in the renaissance of Spanish mysticism and spirituality during the 16th and 17th centuries.
- Salesian Spirituality: Francis de Sales (1567-1622) spearheaded an important movement in French Catholic spirituality during the early modern era. His Introduction to the Devout Life became a classic in spirituality. His complete works: Oeuvres complètes de saint François de Sales
- Treaty of Westphalia (1648) (Yale Law School): This treaty is often cited as a watershed moment in the development of the modern nation state and the new challenges it presented to Christian traditions.
- Jesuits (Society of Jesus) and Jesuit Missions: Wikipedia articles.
- North American Jesuit Missions: This site offers access to the 73 volume English translation of the Jesuit Relations, a compilation of Jesuit reports that cover almost 200 years of missionary activity in native communities in New France.
- Reductions of Paraguay (New Catholic Encyclopedia): Jesuit missions that established indigenous communities with significant autonomy from Spanish authority and culture. (Link available to McGill Library users)
- Chinese Rites Controversy 1715 (Fordham University): Documents detailing debates provoked by Jesuit missionary attempts to accommodate Chinese religious culture and ritual.
- Dominus ac Redemptor Bull of Clement XIV Suppressing the Jesuits (1773)
5. Modern Catholicism (19th and 20th centuries)
Vatican I (Documents) (1869-1870): Council convoked by Pope Pius IX. Perhaps best-known for its proclamation of the doctrine of papal infallibility.
Vatican II (Documents) (1962-65) Council convoked by Pope John XXIII. The council addressed a wide range of concerns. However, it is arguably best-known for its exploration of relations between the Catholic Church and the modern world.
Modern Papal History: The Vatican sites contain complete lists of encyclicals, apostolic exhortations, decrees under various papacies
Church-State Concordats: Concordats are formal treaties between the Vatican and various nation states.
6. Modern Ecclesial Movements:
Ecclesial movements are communal movements or associations within contemporary Catholicism that are primarily composed of laity, dedicated to a living Catholic faith within a community of lay and religious persons committed to formation, discipleship and a common mission or outreach. Movements often define their unique charism in relation to a specific founder. For movements that have international recognition by the Vatican see: International Associations of the Faithful. Below is a selective list of major ecclesial movements:
- Catholic Charismatic Renewal
- Catholic Worker Movement
- Chemin Neuf
- Christian Life Movement
- Communion and Liberation (CL) — CL magazine: Traces
- Community of Sant Egidio
- Cursillo Movement
- Focolari Movement — Focolari magazine: Our Living City
- Madonna House Apostolate
- Neocatechumenal Way
- Opus Dei (Prelature)
- Regnum Christi