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Ten major religious events in the West

1. The Great Schism: The split of Christianity in 1054 into Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic branches, with the former headed by the Ecumenical Patriarch in Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey), and Roman Catholicism, headed by the Pope in Rome.

2. The Crusades: Religious wars that began in 1095 when Eastern Orthodox leaders appealed to the pope for help in fighting the Muslim forces that had invaded the Holy Land. But the Crusaders turned against the Orthodox as well, looting Constantinople. The Muslims drove the Crusaders out by the end of the 13th century.

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3. The spread of lslam: By the 13th century, India was conquered; Islam's consolidation in the Middle East and parts of Europe, culminating in the capture of Constantinople in 1453 by the Islamic Empire of the Ottomans.

4. The Gutenberg Bible: Johannes Gutenberg's invention of the printing press led to his publishing the Bible in 1456, which resulted in mass distribution of religious teachings and ideas.

5. Church support of art, music, and intellectual life: This included the Vatican's commissioning of Michelangelo to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Religious patronage also supported the development of universities in cities such as Oxford and Cambridge, England.

6. Martin Luther's 95 theses: Martin Luther's posting of the 95 theses in 1517, in the young Roman Catholic monk accused church leaders of corruption and false doctrine, led to the Protestant Reformation.

7. Missionary movements: These began in the 16th century when early European explorers took predominantly Roman Catholic missionaries around the world. By the 18th and 19th centuries, the second wave of missionary movements was being led by Protestants.

8. Religious liberty: The journey by English settlers to seek religious freedom in the New World led to the founding principles of the United States that government should not prohibit the free exercise of religious belief.

9. Challenges to religious ideas in the 19th century: Charles Darwin's theory of the evolution of the species; psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud's statement that religion is an illusion; and Karl Marx's materialistic world view that inspired communist revolutions around the world.

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10. The Holocaust: Centuries of anti-Semitic persecution in Europe culminated in the Holocaust, when an estimated six million Jews were killed by the Nazis.

- Ecumenical News International

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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