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Eighth Century:
Islam Is Stopped and Icons Saved

 

There are four historical high points that define this century.

Islam Is Stopped

After conquering Spain, the Muslims set their sights on France. In 732 AD Muslim forces clashed with Charles Martel, King of the Franks, and his army at Poiters. Martel routed the Muslim invaders stopping them from moving any further into Europe.

St. Boniface

Missionary work continued to flourish. One missionary in particular who specifically evangelized the barbarians, in what would be considered Germany today, was St. Boniface (680-754). In 718 this Benedictine priest left England and made his way to Rome where he received a papal blessing from Pope Gregory II. From Rome he went straight to Germany to begin missionary work among the barbarians. Because of his great success in converting the barbarians, Boniface was made a Bishop in 722. As Bishop he labored intensely for the salvation of souls which led to his martyrdom in 754.

Patrician of Rome

When Charles Martel died in 751, his son "Pepin the Short" succeeded him as king of the Franks. While being invaded by a tribe of barbarians called the Lombards, Pope Stephen II called upon the Franks to help defend Central and Southern Italy. Pepin came to the rescue and defeated the Lombards in 754. In gratitude for helping the papacy, Pope Stephen gave Pepin the title "Patrician of Rome" and in return Pepin gave central Italy to the papacy.w

Iconoclast Controversy

While the Western Church was continuing to evangelize and establish closer ties with the Franks, the Eastern Church was involved in a battle over sacred images. In 726 the Eastern Emperor Leo III prohibited the veneration of sacred images because he believed it contradicted the Bible. He demanded that all religious images be destroyed. Leo's madness came to an end when the Empress Irene, following Leo's reign, called for an ecumenical council. This council, the Second Council of Nicea, restored the ancient practice of the veneration of icons.