RL 236 - Mystics, Philosophers, Saints and Sinners: Studies in the Roman Catholic Tradition
Through a close study of both primary and secondary materials in theology, spirituality, mysticism, and ecclesial history, this course will introduce students to the major forms and institutions of the Catholic tradition from Imperial Rome through the Medieval period. The course begins by studying Christianity’s relationship to the Roman Empire and its post-imperial growth and development. This is followed by an examination of the central religious institutions such as the papacy (we will study the historic development of the papacy and attend a Papal Audience), monasticism (we will study the rule of Saint Benedict and visit a Benedictine monastery), and the university (we will study scholasticism and visit a Dominican university). We will also look at medieval religious reform orders, in particular the Franciscans, and we will visit the birthplace of Saint Francis of Assisi. We will explore the theological and philosophical influence of Augustine and Thomas of Aquinas as well as alternative expressions of religious faith in the work of several mystics, notably Bernard of Clairvaux and Catherine of Siena.