Wednesday, 13 July 2011

St. Denis

St. Denis

The world Charlemagne grew up in was staunchly Arian. Of course the last is only how we look at it through the glass of a thoroughly Roman Catholic tinted look at civilization. But in those days not Arianism was the unorthodox stand. After all Arians only believed that through the obedience of one man the way was opened to be reconciled and adopted by God. Moreover in the Byzantine church this final split between Jew and Gentile had not happened yet. In fact the Imperial church of Byzantium was by and large tolerant. 

But through the several generations the function of the 'mayordomo' to the Frankish Merovingian kings was passed on to the Pepins of Charlemagne's family in this family a new concept must have taken form. An idea that a new direction was needed. A novus ordo so to speak. For the time being this novus ordo could only look at the West in isolation from the rest of the world.

That would not be easy, because something entirely new had to be created. 

But even Rome in those days hardly had the grandeur later assigned to it. Rome was a backwater in those days. Must have been. Because the patriarchate of the West in name of the Byzantine emperor was still located in Ravenna, besides Jerusalem, Antioch and   Alexandria.

As 'mayordomo' to the Frankish Merovingian kings the Pepin family had its own palace in St. Denis near Paris. Through the generations of Pepins a bold idea took shape. The fraud of the donation of Constantine - a gift of Emperor Constantine to the Roman bishop - was largely constructed here. Within this context you may ask whether the Papacy created Charlemagne or if the Pepin family created the Papacy. 

The word catholic was not new. But it was assigned to the world at large and not to Rome as such. Again Rome was only a backwater and certainly not the focus of Christian life. Rome's cult was Eros not Charity.

The Pepin family created Roman Catholicism and because of that run into severe problems with the Byzantine Emperor. Of course within that context dogmas, which were not accepted at face value in the Imperial world, became very important to the Roman branch of Christianity. 

Amongst those was the idea that their Jesus had to be God. Historically speaking it is not far fetched to say that the idea of Jesus being 'God' (Dionysus) was formalized as institutional reality in St. Denis. 

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