Timeline of the Catholic Church
As the oldest branch of Christianity, along with Eastern Orthodoxy, the history of the Catholic Church plays an integral part of the history of Christianity as a whole. This article covers a period of just under 2,000 years.
Over time, schisms have disrupted the unity of Christianity. The major divisions occurred in c.144 with Marcionism, 318 with Arianism, in 1054 the East–West Schism of the Catholic Church with the Eastern Orthodox churches and in 1517 with the Protestant Reformation. The Catholic Church has been the moving force in some of the major events of world history including the evangelization of Europe and Latin America, the spreading of literacy and the foundation of the universities, hospitals, Western monasticism, the development of art, music, literature, architecture, the scientific method, and trial by jury. Also playing a role in world affairs including, the Inquisition, the Crusades, an analytical philosophical method, and the downfall of communism in Eastern Europe in the late 20th century.
Ministry of Jesus and founding
- c. 4 BC: Nativity of Jesus. According to the Gospel of Luke, his birth occurred in the town of Bethlehem during the reigns of King Herod the Great of Judaea and the Roman Emperor Augustus, and he was the son of the Virgin Mary, who conceived him by the power of the Holy Spirit. Christians see Him as the Divine Son of God incarnate or God the Son.
- Although the calculations of Dionysius Exiguus put the birth of Jesus in the year that in consequence is called AD 1, history places his birth more likely some time between 6 and 4 BC.
- c. 28: Jesus' baptism, start of ministry, and selection of the Apostles. The Gospel of Luke indicates that Christ was baptized during the 15th reign of Tiberius Caesar which is dated in 28 AD (found in Luke 3:1,21,22). Christian Gospels strongly implicate Peter as leader and spokesman of the Apostles of Jesus being mentioned the most number of times in the Gospels. Peter, and the sons of Zebedee, James and John, constitute the inner circle of the Apostles of Jesus being witnesses to specific important events of the life of Jesus. Major preachings of Jesus, such as the Sermon on the Mount. Performance of miracles, such as raising the dead back to life, feeding five-thousand, walking on water, etc.
- c. 31: Peter declares and other followers believe Jesus of Nazareth to be the Jewish Messiah promised by Yahweh according to the Jewish Scriptures and the predictions of the Hebrew prophets. Entry into Jerusalem, start of Passion of Christ. Jesus of Nazareth is crucified in Jerusalem under Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea during the reign of Tiberius and Herod Antipas, after the Sanhedrin, under the High Priest Caiaphas, accuse Jesus of blasphemy. He was then crucified under Pontius Pilate. According to his followers, three days later, "God raised him from the dead". Forty days after his resurrection (Ascension), the Christian Gospels narrate that Jesus instructed His disciples thus: "All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of time." (Matthew 28:18–20). Ten days later (Pentecost) Peter makes the first sermon converting 3,000 to be baptized.
- c. 34: St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, is stoned to death in Jerusalem.
- c. 50: Council of Jerusalem determines that Gentile converts to Christianity do not have to abide by Mosaic Laws. This begins the separation between Christianity and Judaism.
- c. 52: Traditional arrival of St. Thomas, the Apostle in India.
- c. 64: Christian persecution begins under Emperor Nero after the great fire of Rome. Persecution continues intermittently until 313 AD.
- c. 70: Fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple.
- c. 72: Martyrdom of St. Thomas the Apostle at Mylapore.
- c. 96: Traditional date of First Epistle of Clement attributed to Pope Clement I written to the church of Corinth.
- c. 100: St. John, the last of the Apostles, dies in Ephesus.
- c. 110: Ignatius of Antioch uses the term Catholic Church in a letter to the Church at Smyrna, one of the letters of undisputed authenticity attributed to him. In this and other genuine letters he insists on the importance of the bishops in the Church and speaks harshly about heretics and Judaizers.
- c. 150: Latin translations (the Vetus Latina) from the Greek texts of the Scriptures are circulated among non-Greek-speaking Christian communities.
- c. 155: The teachings of Marcion, the gnostic Valentinus and pentecostal Montanists cause disruptions in the Roman community. Persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire continues.
- c. 180: Irenaeus's Adversus Haereses brings the concept of "heresy" further to the fore in the first systematic attempt to counter Gnostic and other aberrant teachings.
- c. 195: Pope Victor I, first African Pope, excommunicated the Quartodecimans in an Easter controversy.
- c. 200: Tertullian, first great Christian Latin writer, coined for Christian concepts Latin terms such as "Trinitas", "Tres Personae", "Una Substantia", "Sacramentum"
- c. 250: Pope Fabian is said to have sent out seven bishops from Rome to Gaul to preach the Gospel: Gatien to Tours, Trophimus to Arles, Paul to Narbonne, Saturnin to Toulouse, Denis to Paris, Austromoine to Clermont, and Martial to Limoges.
- January 20, 250: Emperor Decius begins a widespread persecution of Christians in Rome. Pope Fabian is martyred. Afterwards the Donatist controversy over readmitting lapsed Christians disaffects many in North Africa.
- October 28, 312: Emperor Constantine leads the forces of the Roman Empire to victory at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge. Tradition has it that, the night before the battle, Constantine had a vision that he would achieve victory if he fought under the Symbol of Christ; accordingly, his soldiers bore on their shields the Chi-Rho sign composed of the first two letters of the Greek word for "Christ" (ΧΡΙΣΤΌΣ).
- 313: The Edict of Milan declares the Roman Empire neutral towards religious views, in effect ending the persecution of Christians.
- 318: Arius condemned and excommunicated by a council convened by Alexander, bishop of Alexandria.
- 321: Granting the Church the right to hold property, Constantine donates the palace of the Laterani to Pope Miltiades. The Lateran Basilica (Basilica of Our Savior) becomes the episcopal seat of the Bishop of Rome.
- November 3, 324: Constantine lays the foundations of the new capital of the Roman Empire in Byzantium, later to be known as Constantinople.
- 325: The Arian controversy erupts in Alexandria, causing widespread violence and disruptions among Christians.
- 325: The First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea, convened as a response to the Arian controversy, establishes the Nicene Creed, declaring the belief of orthodox Trinitarian Christians in the Holy Trinity.
- November 18, 326: Pope Sylvester I consecrates the Basilica of St. Peter built by Constantine the Great over the tomb of the Apostle.
- 360: Julian the Apostate becomes the last non-Christian Roman Emperor.
- February 380: Emperor Theodosius I issues an edict, De Fide Catolica, in Thessalonica, published in Constantinople, declaring Catholic Christianity as the state religion of the Roman Empire.
- 381: First Ecumenical Council of Constantinople.
- 382: The Council of Rome under Pope Damasus I sets the Canon of the Bible, listing the accepted books of the Old Testament and the New Testament. No others are to be considered scripture.
- 391: The Theodosian decrees outlaw most pagan rituals still practiced in Rome, thereby encouraging much of the population to convert to Christianity.
- 400: Jerome's Vulgate Latin Bible translation is published. This remained the standard text in the Catholic world until the Renaissance, was used in Catholic services until the late 20th century, and remains an influence on modern vernacular translations.
- August 24, 410: Sack of Rome. Alaric and his Visigoths burst in by the Porta Salaria on the northeast of the city Rome.
- 431: The Ecumenical Council of Ephesus declares that Jesus existed both as Man and God simultaneously, clarifying his status in the Holy Trinity. The meaning of the Nicene Creed is also declared a permanent holy text of the church.
- October 8, 451: Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon opens.
- November 1, 451: The Council of Chalcedon, the fourth ecumenical council, closes. The Chalcedonian Creed is issued, which re-asserts Jesus as True God and True Man and the dogma of the Virgin Mary as the Mother of God. The council excommunicates Eutyches, leading to the schism with Oriental Orthodoxy.
- 452: Pope Leo I (the Great) meets Attila the Hun and dissuades him from sacking Rome.
- 455: Sack of Rome by the Vandals. The spoils of the Temple of Jerusalem previously taken by Titus are allegedly among the treasures taken to Carthage.
- September 4, 476: Emperor Romulus Augustus is deposed in Rome, marked by many as the fall of the Western Roman Empire. The focus of the early Church switches to expanding in the Eastern Roman Empire, also known as the Byzantine Empire, with its capital at Constantinople.
- 480: Traditional birth of St Benedict, author of a Monastic Rule, setting out regulations for the establishment of monasteries.
- 496: Clovis I pagan King of the Franks, converts to the Catholic faith.
- 502: Pope Symmachus ruled that laymen should no longer vote for the popes and that only higher clergy should be considered eligible.
- 529: The Codex Justinianus (Code of Justinian) completed. First part of Corpus Iuris Civilis (Body of Civil Law).
- January 2, 533: Mercurius becomes Pope John II. He becomes the first pope to take a regnal name. John II obtains valuable gifts as well as a profession of orthodox faith from the Byzantine emperor Justinian.
- 533: The Digest, or Pandects, was issued; second part of Corpus Iuris Civilis (Body of Civil Law). The Institutes, third part of Corpus Iuris Civilis (Body of Civil Law) comes into force of law.
- 536: Belisarius recaptures Rome.
- 553: Second Ecumenical Council of Constantinople condemned the errors of Origen of Alexandria, the Three Chapters, and confirmed the first four general councils.
- 590: Pope Gregory the Great. Reforms ecclesiastical structure and administration. Establishes Gregorian chant. Was also elected. (To be Pope)
- 596: Saint Augustine of Canterbury sent by Pope Gregory to evangelize the pagan English.
- 638: Christian Jerusalem and Syria conquered by Muslims.
- 642: Egypt falls to the Muslims, followed by the rest of North Africa.
- 664: The Synod of Whitby unites the Celtic Church in England with the Catholic Church.
- 680: Third Council of Constantinople puts an end to Monothelitism.
- 685: The Maradites used their power and importance to choose John Maron, one of their own, as Patriarch of Antioch and all the East. John received the approval of Pope Sergius I, and became the first Maronite Patriarch.
- 698: St Willibrord commissioned by Pope Sergius I as bishop of the Frisians (Netherlands). Willibrord establishes a church in Utrecht.
- 711: Muslim armies invade Spain.
- 718: Saint Boniface, an Englishman, given commission by Pope Gregory II to evangelise the Germans.
- 726: Iconoclasm begins in the eastern Empire. The destruction of images persists until 843.
- 732: Muslim advance into Western Europe halted by Charles Martel at Poitiers, France.
- 751: Lombards abolish the Exarchate of Ravenna effectively ending last vestiges of Byzantine rule in central Italy and Rome.
- 756: Popes granted independent rule of Rome by King Pepin the Short of the Franks, in the Donation of Pepin. Birth of the Papal States.
- 787: Second Ecumenical Council of Nicaea resolved Iconoclasm.
- 793: Sacking of the monastery of Lindisfarne marks the beginning of Viking raids on Christian Europe.
- December 25, 800: King Charlemagne of the Franks is crowned Holy Roman Emperor of the West by Pope Leo III in St. Peter's Basilica.
- 829: Ansgar begins missionary work in Sweden near Stockholm.
- 863: Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius sent by the Patriarch of Constantinople to evangelise the Slavic peoples. They translate the Bible into Slavonic.
- 869: Fourth Ecumenical Council of Constantinople condemns Photius. This council and succeeding general councils are denied by the Eastern Orthodox Churches.
- 910: Great Benedictine monastery of Cluny rejuvenates western monasticism. Monasteries spread throughout the isolated regions of Western Europe.
- 966: Mieszko I of Poland converts to Catholicism, beginning the Baptism of Poland.
- 988: St. Vladimir I the Great is baptized; becomes the first Christian Grand Duke of Kiev.
- 1012: Burchard of Worms completes his twenty-volume Decretum of Canon law.
- July 16, 1054: Liturgical, linguistic, and political divisions cause a permanent split between the Eastern and Western Churches, known as the East–West Schism or the Great Schism. The three legates, Humbert of Mourmoutiers, Frederick of Lorraine, and Peter, archbishop of Amalfi, entered the Cathedral of the Hagia Sophia during mass on a Saturday afternoon and placed a papal Bull of Excommunication on the altar against the Patriarch Michael I Cerularius. The legates left for Rome two days later, leaving behind a city near riots.
- November 27, 1095: Pope Urban II preaches to defend the eastern Christians, and pilgrims to the Holy Land, at the Council of Clermont.
- 1098: Foundation of the reforming monastery of Cîteaux, leads to the growth of the Cistercian order.
- 1099: Retaking of Jerusalem by the 1st Crusade, followed by a massacre of the remaining non-Christian inhabitants, and the establishment of the Crusader kingdoms, in Latin bishops are appointed to dioceses still largely populated by the Orthodox.
- 1123: First Ecumenical Lateran Council.
- 1139: Second Ecumenical Lateran Council.
- 1144: The Saint Denis Basilica of Abbot Suger is the first major building in the style of Gothic architecture.
- 1150: Publication of Decretum Gratiani.
- 1179: Third Ecumenical Lateran Council.
- 1182: The Maronite Church reaffirms its unbroken communion with the Holy See.
- October 2, 1187: The Siege of Jerusalem. Ayyubid forces led by Saladin capture Jerusalem, prompting the Third Crusade.
- January 8, 1198: Lotario de' Conti di Segni elected Pope Innocent III. His pontificate is often considered the height of the temporal power of the papacy.
- April 13, 1204: Sack of Constantinople by the Fourth Crusade. Beginning of Latin Empire of Constantinople.
- 1205: Saint Francis of Assisi becomes a hermit, founding the Franciscan order of friars.
- November 11, 1215: Fourth Ecumenical Lateran Council opened by Pope Innocent III.
- November 30, 1215: Fourth Ecumenical Lateran Council is closed by Pope Innocent III. Seventy decrees were approved, the definition of transubstantiation being among them.
- 1216: The Order of Preachers (Dominican Order) founded by Saint Dominic is approved as a body of Canons Regular by Pope Honorius III on December 22 (Pope Innocent III having died in July).
- 1229: Inquisition founded in response to the Cathar heresy, at the Council of Toulouse.
- 1231: Charter of the University of Paris granted by Pope Gregory IX.
- 1241: The death of Ögedei Khan, the Great Khan of the Mongols, prevented the Mongols from further advancing into Europe after their easy victories over the combined Christian armies in the Battle of Liegnitz (in present-day Poland) and Battle of Mohi (in present-day Hungary).
- 1245: First Council of Lyon. Excommunicated and deposed Emperor Frederick II.
- 1274: Second Council of Lyon; Catholic and Orthodox Churches temporarily reunited. Thomas Aquinas dies.
- 1295: Marco Polo arrives home in Venice.
- February 22, 1300: Pope Boniface VIII published the Bull "Antiquorum fida relatio"; first recorded Holy Year of the Jubilee celebrated.
- November 18, 1302: Pope Boniface VIII issues the Papal bull Unam sanctam.
- 1305: French influence causes the Pope to move from Rome to Avignon.
- August 12, 1308: Pope Clement V issues the Bull Regnans in coelis calling a general council to meet on October 1, 1310, at Vienne in France for the purpose "of making provision in regard to the Order of Knights Templar, both the individual members and its lands, and in regard to other things in reference to the Catholic Faith, the Holy Land, and the improvement of the Church and of ecclesiastical persons".
- August 17–20, 1308: The leaders of the Knights Templar are secretly absolved by Pope Clement V after their interrogation was carried out by papal agents to verify claims against the accused in the castle of Chinon in the diocese of Tours.
- October 16, 1311: The first formal session of the Ecumenical Council of Vienne begins under Pope Clement V.
- March 22, 1312: Clement V promulgates the Bull Vox in excelsis suppressing the Knights Templar.
- May 6, 1312: The Ecumenical Council of Vienne is closed on the third formal session.
- May 26, 1328: William of Ockham flees Avignon. Later, he was excommunicated by Pope John XXII, whom Ockham accused of heresy.
- 1370: Saint Catherine of Siena calls on the Pope to return to Rome.
- 1378: Antipope Clement VII (Avignon) elected against Pope Urban VI (Rome) precipitating the Western Schism.
- 1387: Lithuanians were the last in Europe to accept the Catholic faith.
- c. 1412–1431: St. Joan of Arc, a peasant girl from France, has visions from God telling her to lead her countrymen to reclaim their land from the English. After success in battle she is captured by the English in 1431 and is condemned as a heretic and was executed by burning at the age of 19. Later investigation authorized by Pope Callixtus III would conclude she was innocent and a martyr.
- 1440: Johannes Gutenberg completes his wooden printing press using moveable metal type revolutionizing the spread of knowledge by cheaper and faster means of reproduction. Soon results in the large scale production of religious books including Bibles.
- May 29, 1453: Fall of Constantinople.
- 1492: Christopher Columbus reaches the Americas.
- 1493: With the Inter caetera, Pope Alexander VI awards sole colonial rights over most of the New World to Spain.
- January 22, 1506: Kaspar von Silenen and first contingent of Swiss mercenaries enter the Vatican during the reign of Pope Julius II. Traditional date of founding of the Swiss Guards.
- April 18, 1506: Pope Julius II lays cornerstone of New Basilica of St. Peter.
- 1508: Michelangelo starts painting the Sistine Chapel ceiling.
- October 31, 1517: Martin Luther posts his 95 Theses, protesting the sale of indulgences.
- 1516: Saint Sir Thomas More publishes Utopia in Latin.
- 1519: Spanish conquest of Mexico by Hernán Cortés.
- January 3, 1521: Martin Luther finally excommunicated by Pope Leo X in the bull Decet Romanum Pontificem.
- 1521: Baptism of the first Catholics in the Philippines, the first Christian nation in Southeast Asia. This event is commemorated with the feast of the Sto. Niño.
- October 17, 1521: Pope Leo X confers the title Fidei Defensor to Tudor King Henry VIII of England for his defense of the seven sacraments and the supremacy of the pope in Assertio Septem Sacramentorum against Protestantism.
- May 6, 1527: Sack of Rome.
- 1531: Our Lady of Guadalupe appears to Juan Diego in Mexico.
- November 16, 1532: Francisco Pizarro captures Atahualpa. Conquest of Incan Empire.
- August 15, 1534: Saint Ignatius of Loyola and six others, including Francis Xavier met in Montmartre, then just outside Paris, to found the missionary Jesuit Order.
- October 30, 1534: English Parliament passes Act of Supremacy making the King of England Supreme Head of the Church of England. Anglican schism with Rome.
- 1535: Michelangelo starts painting the Last Judgement in the Sistine Chapel.
- 1536 To 1540: Dissolution of the Monasteries in England, Wales and Ireland.
- December 17, 1538: Pope Paul III excommunicates King Henry VIII of England.
- 1540: Pope Paul III confirmed the order of the Society of Jesus.
- July 21, 1542: Pope Paul III, with the Constitution Licet ab initio, established the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition.
- 1543: A full account of the heliocentric Copernican theory titled, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres (De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium) is published. Considered as the start of the Scientific Revolution.
- December 13, 1545: Ecumenical Council of Trent convened during the pontificate of Paul III, to prepare the Catholic response to the Protestant Reformation. Its rulings set the tone of Catholic society for at least three centuries.
- December 4, 1563: Ecumenical Council of Trent closed. The decrees were confirmed on January 26, 1564, by Pius IV in the Bull "Benedictus Deus".
- 1568: St. John Chrysostom, St. Basil, St. Gregory Nazianzus, St. Athanasius and St. Thomas Aquinas are made Doctors of the Church.
- July 14, 1570: Pope St. Pius V issues the Apostolic Constitution on the Tridentine Mass, Quo Primum.
- October 7, 1571: Christian fleet of the Holy League defeats the Ottoman Turks in the Battle of Lepanto.
- 1577: Teresa of Ávila writes The Interior Castle, one of the classic works of Catholic mysticism.
- February 24, 1582: Pope Gregory XIII issues the Bull Inter gravissimas reforming the Julian calendar.
- October 4, 1582: The Gregorian calendar is first adopted by Italy, Spain, and Portugal. October 4 is followed by October 15 – ten days are removed.
- September 28, 1586: Domenico Fontana successfully finished re-erecting the Vatican Obelisk at its present site in St. Peter's Square. Hailed as a great technical achievement of its time.
- 1593: Robert Bellarmine finishes his Disputationes de controversiis christianae fidei.
- 1598: Papal role in Peace of Vervins.
- 1600: Pope Clement VIII sanctions use of coffee despite petition by priests to ban the Muslim drink as "the devil's drink". The Pope tried a cup and declared it "so delicious that it would be a pity to let the infidels have exclusive use of it. We shall cheat Satan by baptizing it."
- 1614: Tokugawa Ieyasu bans Christianity from Japan.
- April 19, 1622: Pope Gregory XV makes Armand Jean du Plessis de Richelieu a cardinal upon the nomination of King Louis XIII of France – becoming Cardinal Richelieu. His influence and policies greatly impact the course of European politics.
- November 18, 1626: Pope Urban VIII solemnly dedicates the New Basilica of St. Peter 1,300 years after the first Constantinian basilica was consecrated by Pope Sylvester I.
- 1633: Trial of Galileo, after which he is sentenced to house arrest.
- 1638: Shimabara Rebellion leads to a further repression of Catholics, and all Christians, in Japan.
- 1653: The Coonan Cross Oath was taken by a group of Saint Thomas Christians against the Portuguese.
- September 12, 1683: Battle of Vienna. Decisive victory of the army of the Holy League, under King John III Sobieski of Poland, over the Ottoman Turks, under Grand Vizier Merzifonlu Kara Mustafa Pasha. The Turks do not threaten Western Europe militarily again.
- 1685: Louis XIV revokes the Edict of Nantes, and large numbers of Huguenot refugees leave France.
- 1691: Pope Innocent XII declares against nepotism and simony.
- 1713: Encyclical Unigenitus condemns Jansenism.
- 1715: Pope Clement XI rules against the Jesuits in the Chinese Rites controversy.Reversed by Pius XII in 1939
- 1721: Kangxi Emperor bans Christian missions in China.
- April 28, 1738: Pope Clement XII publishes the Bull In Eminenti forbidding Catholics from joining, aiding, socializing or otherwise directly or indirectly helping the organizations of Freemasonry and Freemasons under pain of excommunication. Membership to any secret society would also incur the penalty of excommunication.
- 1738: Grey Nuns founded.
- 1740–1758:Pope Benedict XIV,appointed first women as professors to Papal Universities in Bologna, reformed canonization procedures, intellectual open to all sciences;
- 1769: Passionist religious institute granted full rights by Pope Clement XIV.
- 1769: Junípero Serra establishes Mission San Diego de Alcalá, the first of the Spanish missions in California.
- 1773: Suppression of the Jesuits by Pope Clement XIV, already excluded from many states. Only in the Russian Empire are they able to remain.
- 1789: John Carroll becomes the Bishop of Baltimore, the first bishop in the United States.
- 1793: French Revolution institutes anti-clerical measures.
- 1798: Pope Pius VI taken prisoner by the armies of Napoleon I, dies in captivity in France.
- 1800–1823: Pope Pius VII
- July 16, 1802: French Concordat of 1801. The Catholic Church re-established in France.
- December 2, 1804: Napoleon crowns himself Emperor of the French in the Cathedral of Notre Dame, Paris, in the presence of Pope Pius VII.
- 1846: Pope Pius IX begins his reign. During his reign he asks that an antiCatholic document written by Freemasons known as the Alta Vendita be distributed to alert Catholic officials of possible Masonic infiltration.
- 1847: The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem resumes residence in Jerusalem.
- 1850: The Archdiocese of Westminster and twelve other dioceses are set up, re-establishing a Catholic hierarchy in the United Kingdom against intense political opposition.
- 1852: The First Plenary Council of Baltimore is held in the United States.
- 1854: Dogma of the Immaculate Conception by Pope Pius IX
- 1858: Apparitions in Lourdes.
- December 8, 1869: Pope Pius IX opens the First Ecumenical Council of the Vatican
- July 18, 1870 – The Dogmatic Constitution of the Church of Christ from the fourth session of Vatican I, "Pastor Aeternus", issues the dogma of papal infallibility among other issues before the fall of Rome in the Franco-Prussian War causes it to end prematurely and brings an end to the Papal States. Controversy over several issues leads to the formation of the Old Catholic Church. This council was not formally closed until 1960 by Pope John XXIII in preparation for the Second Vatican Council.
- 1879: Encyclical Aeterni Patris, by Pope Leo XIII, prepares a revival of thomism.
- May 15, 1891: Pope Leo XIII issues encyclical Rerum Novarum (translation: Of New Things).
- November 30, 1894: Pope Leo XIII publishes the Encyclical Orientalium Dignitas (On the Churches of the East) safeguarding the importance and continuance of the Eastern traditions for the whole Church.
- 1897: Thérèse of Lisieux dies.
- 1898 – Secondo Pia takes the first photographs of the Shroud of Turin.
- 1903–1914:Saint Pope Pius X numerous reforms, staunch defender of the faith, introducing frequent communion, promoting Gregorian chant. Problems with France. He is the most recent Pope to be canonized a saint. Prior to him was Pope St. Pius V.
- 1914–1918 Pope Benedict XV declares neutrality during World War I. His peace initiatives are rejected by both sides as favoring the other. Massive papal charity in Europe.
- 1916: Charles I of Austria is crowned Emperor of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He is one of the last Catholic monarchs. Charles attempted to negotiate peace between the warring nations during World War I. His attempts at peace are largely ignored.
- 1917: Canon law for the Roman Catholic Church published by Pope Benedict XV
The apparition of Our Lady of Fátima occurs in Fátima, Portugal over the course of six months ending in the Miracle of the Sun. This apparition is considered to be among the most important in the Catholic Church.
- 1918: Persecution of the Roman Catholic Church and especially the Eastern Catholic Churches in the Soviet Union (until 1985)
- 1922: Emperor Charles I of Austria dies in exile and poverty in Portugal. Later to become beatified as Blessed Charles.
- 1925: Holy Year proclaimed by Pope Pius XI
- 1926: Beginning of Church persecutions in Mexico until 1940 also known as the Cristero War or La Cristiada.
- March 19, 1927 Foundation of the Sisters of the Destitute (SD) at Chunungumvely, Kerala by Mar Varghese Payyappilly Palakkappilly.
- October 2, 1928: Saint Josemaría Escrivá founded Opus Dei, a worldwide organization of lay members of the Catholic Church.
- February 11, 1929: The Lateran Treaty is signed by Benito Mussolini and Cardinal Gasparri establishing the independent State of the Vatican City and resolving the Roman Question between Italy and the Holy See since the seizure of the Papal States in 1870.
- October 5, 1929 Death of Varghese Payyappilly Palakkappilly
- February 12, 1931: Vatican Radio is set up by Guglielmo Marconi and inaugurated by Pope Pius XI. First signal broadcast is in Morse code: In nomine Domini, amen.
- 1931–1936: Persecution of the Church in Spain It is estimated that in the course of the Red Terror (Spain), 6,832 members of the Catholic clergy were killed.
- July 20, 1933: Concordat Between the Holy See and the German Reich signed by Eugenio Cardinal Pacelli and Franz von Papen on behalf of Pope Pius XI and President Paul von Hindenburg, respectively.
- 1937: Mit brennender Sorge encyclical against National Socialism by Pope Pius XI, written by Cardinals Eugenio Pacelli and Michael von Faulhaber
- September 1, 1939: Germany invades Poland. Start of the Second World War. The Vatican, after trying to avoid the war, declares neutrality to avoid being drawn into the conflict. Massive Vatican relief intervention for displaced persons, prisoners of war and needy civilians in Europe.
1939 St.Patrick's Cathedral in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia was finished being built.
- During World War II: Convents, monasteries, and the Vatican are used to hide Jews and others targeted by the Nazis for extermination. (see The Myth of Hitler's Pope) St. Maximilian Kolbe is martyred in Auschwitz concentration camp after volunteering to die in place of a stranger. The Nazis imprison and at times execute Catholic clergy, monks and nuns not compliant to Nazi ideology.
- 1943: Encyclicals of Pope Pius XII Mystici Corporis defining the Catholic Church as the Body of Christ;
- 1943: Encyclical Mediator Dei, opening biblical research to Catholic scholars
- 1944: The German Army occupies Rome. Adolf Hitler proclaims he will respect Vatican neutrality; however several incidents, such as giving aid to downed Allied airmen, nearly cause Nazi Germany to invade the Vatican. Rome is liberated by the Allies after only a few weeks of occupation.
- 1950:Holy Year declared by Pope Pius XII, who announced on December 25, 1950 that the Tomb of Saint Peter had been identified by archeologists underneath Saint Peter Basilica; canonization of Pope Pius X, Maria Goretti; encyclical Humani generis
- 1950: The Assumption of Mary is defined as dogma by Pius XII
- 1954: First Marian year in Church history proclaimed by Pius XII, who introduced Marian Feast Queenship of Mary
- 1960: Senator John F. Kennedy is elected president, making him the only Roman Catholic president in United States history
- October 11, 1962: Pope John XXIII opens the Second Ecumenical Vatican Council. The 21st ecumenical council of the Catholic Church emphasized the universal call to holiness and brought many changes in practices, including an increased emphasis on ecumenism; fewer rules on penances, fasting and other devotional practices; and initiating a revision of the services, which were to be slightly simplified and made supposedly more accessible by allowing the use of native languages instead of Latin. Opposition to changes inspired by the Council gave rise to the movement of Traditionalist Catholics who disagree with changing the old forms of worship and disagree with the rise of previously condemned philosophies now being adopted by clergy and laity.
- December 7, 1965: Joint Catholic-Orthodox Declaration of Pope Paul VI and the Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras I. Mutual excommunication of the Great Schism of 1054 against Catholic and Orthodox is lifted by both parties.
- December 8, 1965: Pope Paul VI solemnly closes the Second Vatican Council.
- 1970: Revision of the Roman Missal, following on gradual introduction of vernacular languages in celebration of Mass.
- 1973: Sister Agnes Katsuko Sasagawa in the remote area of Yuzawadai, near the city of Akita in Japan reports seeing a number of apparitions now known as Our Lady of Akita.
- August 26, 1978: Pope John Paul I becomes the first pope to use a double regnal name. He reigns for only 33 days.
- October 16, 1978: Pope John Paul II becomes the first Polish pope and first non-Italian pope elected in 450 years; influential in overthrowing communism in Europe.
- 1984: First World Youth Day instituted by Pope John Paul II celebrated in Rome. Celebrated between Rome and a different city in alternating sequence every year.
- 1987 Marian year announced by John Paul II in the encyclical Redemptoris Mater
- June 30, 1988: Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), consecrates four men as bishops at Écône, Switzerland without the express permission of the Pope. Lefebvre et al. automatically incurs excommunication according to canon law. Traditionalist bishops of the SSPX continue to be suspended "a divinis" to this day.
- December 31, 1991: The Soviet Union is officially dissolved. Persecuted Catholic Church re-emerges from hiding, especially in the Ukraine and Baltic states.
- 1992: The new Catechism of the Catholic Church is first published, in Latin and French.
- 1994: Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, an Apostolic Letter upholding a prohibition against ordination of women to the priesthood, is promulgated by Pope John Paul II.
- April 30, 2000 : Pope John Paul II canonized St. Faustina and designated the Sunday after Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday in the General Roman Calendar, with effect from the following year.
- January 1, 2001: The 21st century and the new millennium begin. The Church solemnizes the start of the third Christian millennium by extending into part of the year 2001 the jubilee year that it observes at 25-year intervals and that, in the case of the year 2000, it called the Great Jubilee.
- January 6, 2001: John Paul II issues Novo Millennio Ineunte, a program for the Church in the new millennium, wherein he placed sanctity through a training in prayer as the most important priority of the Catholic Church in consonance with its purpose.
- January 18, 2002: Former American priest John Geoghan is convicted of child molestation and sentenced to ten years in prison, as part of the ongoing sex abuse scandal. The Geoghan case was one of the worst scandals of the Catholic Church in the USA.
- April 2, 2005: Pope John Paul II dies at the age of 84. His funeral is broadcast to every corner of the globe through the modern media. Millions of Catholic pilgrims journey to Rome to pay final respects.
- April 19, 2005: German-born Cardinal Joseph Alois Ratzinger is elected by the College of Cardinals as Pope Benedict XVI, thus becoming the first Pope elected during the 21st century and the 3rd millennium.
- August 18, 2005: Pope Benedict XVI attends the World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany, his first trip outside Italy.
- September 12, 2006: Pope Benedict XVI delivers address on Faith, Reason in University of Regensburg. Benedict maintained that in the Western world, to a large degree, only positivistic reason and philosophy are valid. A concept of reason which excludes the divine, is incapable of entering into the dialogue of cultures, according to Benedict. He quoted negative views of Emperor Manuel II Paleologus, regarding Islam, which several weeks after it was delivered, created violent reactions among Muslims in several parts of the world.
- June 11, 2007 Pope Benedict XVI reverted the decision of his predecessor regarding papal elections,and restored the traditional two-thirds majority required 
- July 7, 2007: Motu proprio Summorum Pontificum is issued by Pope Benedict XVI explicitly liberating the Roman Missal of 1962 as an extraordinary form of the Roman Rite. Hopes of healing the schism between the SSPX and the Catholic Church is implied in accompanying letter to the motu proprio.
- October 28, 2007: Pope Benedict XVI authorizes the largest beatification ceremony in Church history involving 498 Spanish Martyrs who were killed during the Civil War in Spain.
- May 2008: A solemn declaration agreed on between Pope Benedict XVI and Muslims, led by Mahdi Mostafavi, stressed that genuine religion is essentially non-violent and that violence can be justified neither by reason nor by faith.
- July 2008: Pope Benedict XVI participates in Sydney Australia in the World Youth Day and announces Spain as the country to host the next one.
- January 2009: The Holy See remitted the excommunications of the bishops of the Society of St. Pius X which is criticized because one of the bishops is a holocaust-denier.
- February 2013: Resignation of Pope Benedict XVI
- March 2013: Jorge Bergoglio elected as Pope Francis and is the first Latin American and the first Jesuit to be elected Pope.
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Bokenkotter, Thomas. A Concise History of the Catholic Church. Revised and expanded ed. New York: Image Books Doubleday, 2005. ISBN 0-385-51613-4
- The Eastern Orthodox and some other churches are also apostolic in origin — i.e., they also date their origins back to the founding of the Church at the time of the Apostles
- "Marcionites". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.: "...they were perhaps the most dangerous foe Christianity has ever known."
- Chadwick, Henry, pp. 23–24.
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