Historical Timeline

43 BC
Lyon was founded as a Roman colony by Munatius Plancus, a lieutenant of Caesar.

177 AD
48 Christians were martyred at Lyon during the persecution under Marcus Aurelius.

The cathedral of Notre Dame in Le Puy - one of Europe's oldest, most famous, and most beautiful pilgrimage shrines - was begun on Mt. Corneille.

6th century
Founding of the oldest church in Paris - L'Eglise Saint Germain Des Pres.

Beginning of Middle Ages
The Middle Ages of Western Europe are commonly dated from the 5th century division of the Roman Empire (into the Western Roman Empire and the Eastern Roman Empire) and the barbarian invasions until the 16th century division of Christianity during the Protestant Reformation and the dispersal of Europeans worldwide in the start of the European overseas exploration. The adjective "medieval" refers to anything of or relating to the Middle Ages.

Charlemagne was crowned emperor in Rome.

Supposed tomb of St. James discovered in Spain; prompting increasing numbers of pilgrims to journey to Santiago.

Chartres Cathedral receives a tunic that had belonged to the Blessed Virgin Mary from Charlemagne, who received it as a gift during a crusade in Jerusalem.

First recorded pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostella, by Bishop Godescalc from Le Puy.

Construction was begun on St. Michel, the church at the summit of the basalt volcanic obelisk in Le Puy.

Romanesque architecture flourished. Similar to Roman architecture based on similarities of forms and materials, Romanesque is characterized by a use of round or slightly pointed arches, barrel vaults, cruciform piers supporting vaults, and groin vaults. The great carved portals of 10th to 12th century church facades parallel the architectural novelty of the period—monumental stone sculpture seems to have been reborn in the Romanesque. Examples are found in every part of the European continent, which points out the relative mobility of medieval people. Merchants, nobles, knights, artisans, and peasants crossed Europe and the Mediterranean world for business, war, and religious pilgrimages, carrying their knowledge of what buildings in different places looked like.

Gothic architecture, which began in 12th century France, flourished in Europe during the high and late medieval period. It is particularly associated with cathedrals and other churches.

Construction of the Chartres Cathedral was begun.

Construction of the cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris began during the reign of Louis VII, and Pope Alexander III laid the foundation stone.

Pilgrimage of Francis of Assisi to Santiago de Compostela.

Construction of the Chartres Cathedral was finished.

Dominicans of Mère Agnès, who taught and served as sick nurses and housekeepers, were founded in LePuy.

Construction of the Sainte Chapelle in Paris was begun, by Louis IX, who constructed it as a private chapel for the royal palace. The chapel was consecrated six years later in 1248.

Construction of the cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris was completed roughly 200 years after it began.

The Spanish Inquisition was set up by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Castile with the approval of Pope Sixtus IV. It aimed primarily at converts from Judaism and Islam (who were still residing in Spain after the end of the Moor control of Spain), who were suspected of either continuing to adhere to their old religion (often after having been converted under duress) or having fallen back into it, and later at Protestants. In Sicily and Southern Italy, which were under Spanish rule, it targeted Greek Orthodox Christians. It ended in 1834.

Saint Ignatius of Loyola born. He was the principal founder and first Superior General of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) along with Saint Francis Xavier.

Saint Francis Xavier born. He was a pioneering Christian missionary and co-founder of the Society of Jesus (Jesuit Order). The Roman Catholic Church considers him to have converted more people to Christianity than anyone else since St. Paul.

The Protestant Reformation, a movement in the 16th century to reform the Catholic Church in Western Europe, began when Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on the practice of indulgences to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg (Germany). The reformation ended in division and the establishment of new institutions. The four most important traditions to emerge directly from the reformation were the Lutheran tradition, the Reformed/Calvinist/Presbyterian tradition, the Anabaptist tradition, and the Anglican tradition. Subsequent protestant traditions generally trace their roots back to these initial four schools of the reformation. It also led to the Catholic or Counter Reformation within the Roman Catholic Church through a variety of new spiritual movements, reforms of religious communities, the founding of seminaries, the clarification of Catholic theology as well as structural changes in the institution of the Church.

The Jesuits were founded by Ignatius of Loyola and Saint Francis Xavier. They organized their order along military lines, and strongly reflected the autocratic zeal of the period, characterized by careful selection, rigorous training, and iron discipline. They became preachers, confessors to monarchs and princes, and educators reminiscent of the humanist reformers, and their efforts are largely credited with stemming Protestantism in Poland, Bohemia, Hungary, southern Germany, France, and the Spanish Netherlands.

The 18-year Council of Trent convened; it was a commission of cardinals tasked with institutional reform, to address contentious issues such as corrupt bishops and priests, indulgences, and other financial abuses. The Council clearly repudiated specific Protestant positions and upheld the basic structure of the Medieval Church, its sacramental system, religious orders, and doctrine. It rejected all compromise with the Protestants, restating basic tenets of Medieval Catholicism. The Council clearly upheld the dogma of salvation appropriated by faith and works. Transubstantiation, during which the consecrated bread and wine were held to become (substantially) the blood of Christ, was upheld, along with the Seven Sacraments. Other Catholic practices that drew the ire of liberal reformers within the Church, such as indulgences, pilgrimages, the veneration of saints and relics, and the veneration of the Virgin Mary were strongly reaffirmed as spiritually vital as well.

End of Middle Ages

Saint Francis Xavier died at 42.

Saint Ignatius of Loyola died at 65.

The Council of Trent ended.

Francis de Sales was born in the Annecy region into a noble family, and after a crisis of religious faith as a young man, decided to become a priest against the wishes of his family.

Jane Frances de Chantal was born. She founded the Sisters of the Visitation, which preceded the Sisters of St. Joseph in Annecy.

Saint Vincent de Paul born at Pouy, Gascony, France. He is the one who conceived the idea of enlisting good young women for this service of the poor, and established the Daughters of Charity.

The Baroque style started around 1600 in Rome, and spread to most of Europe. In the arts, Baroque is both a period and the style that dominated it: The Baroque style used exaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail to produce drama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture, painting, literature, and music. The popularity of the "Baroque" was encouraged by the Roman Catholic Church which had decided at the time of the Council of Trent that the arts should communicate religious themes in direct and emotional involvement.

Jane Frances de Chantal meets Francis de Sales.

Saint Francis de Sales and Saint Jane Frances de Chantal founded the women's Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary.

The teaching Sisters of Notre-Dame, founded in LePuy.

Ignatius Loyola and Francis Xavier canonized.

The religious Sisters of St. Charles, teachers and nurses, founded by Just de Serres, Bishop of Le Puy.

The Sisters of St. Joseph founded in LePuy.

The Inspired Prophetic Letter, written by Jean-Pierre Medaille, was believed to have been sent to Sister Marguerite Burdier, one of the first founding women of the Sisters of St. Joseph.

The contemplative religious of the Visitation of St. Mary were founded in LePuy.

Saint Vincent de Paul died in Paris at 80.

The Sisters of the Instruction of the Infant Jesus founded by the celebrated Sulpician Tronson, parish priest of St. Georges, and his penitent, Mlle Martel.

The Sisters of the Cross, for hospital service and teaching, founded in LePuy.

St. Vincent de Paul canonized.

Mother Jeanne Fontbonne born.

Cardinal Joseph Fesch, Archbishop of Lyons born in Corsica; uncle to Napoleon.

Jane Frances de Chantal canonized.

Jeanne Fontbonne entered a house of the Sisters of St. Joseph.

The French Revolution - This was a pivotal period in the history of European and Western civilization. During this time, republicanism replaced the absolute monarchy in France, and the country's Roman Catholic Church was forced to undergo a radical restructuring. While France would oscillate among republic, empire, and monarchy for 75 years after the First Republic fell to a coup d'état, the Revolution is widely seen as a major turning point in the history of Western democracy—from the age of absolutism and aristocracy, to the age of the citizenry as the dominant political force.

Mother Jeanne Fontbonne scheduled to be executed on July 28; she was spared when Robespierre fell on July 27.

End of the French Revolution.

The birth of St. Catherine Laboure.

The Sisters of St. Joseph regroup in Lyon under the leadership of Mother St. Jeanne Fontbonne.

St. Catherine Laboure at the age of 24 had an apparition of Mary.

The Spanish Inquisition ended 356 years after it began in 1478.

Mother St. Jeanne Fontbonne sends a "little band" of SSJs to the United States.

Death of Cardinal Fesch in Rome at 76.

Mother Jeanne Fontbonne died at 84.

Paul Claudell was one of the foremost French poets and playwrights in the early 1900s, and helped provide a new religious focus to the literature of his time. His writings are examples of the Roman Catholic revival in French literature and philosophy. He died in 1955.

Construction begun on the Basilica Notre-Dame de Fourvière in Lyon.

Construction begun on the Sacre Coeur Basilica in Paris.

Sister Catherine Laboure died at the age of 70.

The Sisters of St. Joseph come to Springfield, Massachusetts, 44 years after they came to the United States in 1836.

Construction completed on the Basilica Notre-Dame de Fourvière in Lyon.

Construction finished on the Sacre Coeur Basilica in Paris.

The cafe Les Deux Magots became the intellectual centre of Paris, and place to "see and be seen."

St. Katherine Laboure was beatified.

The French Government decides to convert the Gare d'Orsay station to a museum, and it was opened by President François Mitterrand in 1986.

Twelve pilgrims from Elms College visit sites in France which are relevant to the founders of the college, the Sisters of St. Joseph.

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