The Church and the Age of Enlightenment (1648–1848)
Faith, Science, and the Challenge of Secularism
by Dominic A. Aquila
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Pub Date 25 Nov 2022 | Archive Date 05 Jan 2023
Catholics—both religious and laity—made significant contributions to science, the arts, and the betterment of human life during the Enlightenment, the innovative period between the Reformations and the modern world.
Scholar Dominic A. Aquila writes that it is not uncommon for historical accounts of the time to conclude that the Church stood in the way of the scientific revolution and that faith and reason could not coexist. In The Church and the Age of Enlightenment (1648–1848), Aquila outlines Catholic contributions in mathematics, astronomy, chemistry, biology, the arts, and politics, and highlights key figures of the era including Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, St. Vincent de Paul, Queen Christina of Sweden, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
Aquila begins by looking back at the work of important figures such as Copernicus, Francis Bacon, and Galileo, all of whom died before the 1648. Aquila bookends the Enlightenment era by wars due to dynastic rivalries and social change—beginning with Europe’s Thirty Years War, which prompted a rethinking of religious and political practices, and ending with the Napoleonic Wars.
Aquila also highlights key works of visual artsand music from the period, including Giovanni Bellini’s Frari Triptych, the world-renowned Oberammergau Passion Play, and George Fredric Handel’s Messiah.
In this book, you will learn:
- the Church has been western civilization’s primary patron of art and science for centuries;
- Blaise Pascal believed that the Biblical revelation of God is the story of God’s action in human history;
- Isaac Newton was unique among the Enlightenment elite because he believed in God.
Books in the Reclaiming Catholic History series, edited by Mike Aquilina and written by leading authors and historians, bring Church history to life, debunking the myths one era at a time.
A Note From the Publisher
Aquila has doctorate degrees in higher education administration from Texas Tech University, and in history from the University of South Africa. He earned an advanced degree in history from the University of Rochester. Aquila has an MBA from New York University and a bachelor’s degree in music from the Julliard School. He also did graduate studies in composition at the Eastman School of Music. Aquila has published a number of scholarly and popular articles in the Catholic Social Science Review, Image a Journal of Religion and the Arts, Our Sunday Visitor, Religions, and Social Justice Review.He is also involved in many professional organizations related to higher education and has received many awards for his work. He served as a consultant and mentor to organizations competing in Our Sunday Visitor Foundation’s 2021 Challengefor Catholic Innovators.
“Dominic Aquila has provided a great service to the Church and Catholics in the modern world in this new book. With masterful narrative and insightful focus, Aquila illustrates the military, political, and cultural events of this crucial time period in history. Additionally, he expands the commonly held understanding of the Enlightenment by showing its complexities and the influence of Catholics and the Church during a time of great upheaval that reverberates to the modern day. Aquila’s volume is an excellent addition to the outstanding Reclaiming Catholic History series and should be required reading for all students of Catholic history.”
Author of The Church and the Middle Ages (1000–1378)
“Dominic Aquila’s crisp dissection of the events that followed the Thirty Years’ War to the close of the French Revolution reveals the impressive effort of the Catholic Church to challenge the secularizing zeitgeist of the age.”
Art historian and instructor at Duquesne University’s Italian Campus
“In this excellent book, Aquila introduces us to the world of the Enlightenment, a troubled but brilliant past that has deeply shaped our present age. He captures both its troubles and brilliance and its triumphs and tragedies through the lives of the most remarkable Catholics of the day. A must-read for history buffs who love the Church!”
Christopher T. Baglow
Director of the Science and Religion Initiative at the McGrath Institute for Church Life
University of Notre Dame