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An Epidemic: The Black Death And Its Affects On The Church And Clergy In Europe

1088 words - 5 pages

“Cough, cough.” Today that is the sound of an average cold, but imagine if it was a sign of your pending death. The Black Death began in 1347 and continued to devastate Europe until 1351 . The Black Death killed over 1/3 of the population, it was estimated that 25 million people in Europe died from plague . Every aspect of the population was affected. Lives were lost, and members of the different communities lives were changed. Even though the Black Death affected many lay members of the community, the Black Death affected the members of the clergy and the church in Europe to the greatest extent. During the time of the Black Death, the clergy and the church had a large responsibility to the European community.
The Black Death began in 1347 and reshaped European society. The plague virus was contracted in the early 1300s, when ships had a new design, which enabled them to ship year-round . Due to this new possibility, ships carried a wide rang of cargo, and the cargo carried various types of vermin . The various types of vermin carried the pathogens that made up the plague . With new methods of shipping, the plague was capable of traveling further distances , ultimately affecting a greater portion of Europe.
Given that 25 million people died from plague in Europe, all communities were altered. One community that was affected the most during the Black Death was the church and the clergy. Although clergy members are not as prevalent in modern society, they were a key element in Europe during the 13th, 14th, and 15th century. The clergy lost many members during the Black Death. In Suzanne and James Hatty’s, The Disordered Body: Epidemic Disease And Cultural Transformation, they discuss,
During the fourth century, Christianity became the official state religion of the Roman empire, and its influence on the way in which the body, illness, and disease were viewed was profound. The centrality of Christian beliefs in divine intervention as both cause of and cure for illness diverged markedly from the rational and systematic investigation of nature which informed Greek scientific, medical, and philosophical theories on human existence. As a consequence, there was less demand for translations into Latin of Greek medical works, and greater emphasis on biblical exegesis and patristic interpretations of the body and its disorders. Secular medical practice did not disappear, but it was progressively overshadowed by healing practices which turned increasingly to appeals to the Virgin, to the saints, and to holy martyrs for cures since illness and disease were perceived by the Christian Church as God's punishment for sin.
During the time the time of the Black Death, many people believed that the plague was God’s punishment for sin . Many individuals and families, when their loved ones began exhibiting symptoms of the plague, whether it was, “swelling of the groin or the armpit... or dark blotches and bruises on their arms or thighs” , family member would...

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