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Great Roman Empire

The Great Roman Empire and the Vatican

An empire is understood to be a group of nations, states, or individuals who are ruled by a singular authority. It is often assumed that Julius Caesar was the first emperor of Rome, but that is actually not true. Though he was an influential figure, he was actually considered a dictator due to his political and military rule.

It was the nephew of Julius Caesar- Augustus Caesar- that first held the title of emperor of Rome in 31 BCE. For centuries, the Great Roman Empire carried on until the fateful fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks in 1453.

In 1571, Pope Pius V used the Vatican influence on Europe to gather allies and form the Holy League. This fleet attacked the Ottoman Turks in Constantinople and freed the Christian captives of the Islamic rule. A swift attack in this Battle of Lepanto led to an overwhelming victory, effectively preventing the further spread of Islamic rule.

Even after the victory of the Battle of Lepanto- one of the last naval battles fought almost fully with rowing vessels- the Roman Empire was not returned fully to its former glory. Still, that battle saved the Christian west and, therefore, is one of the greatest naval battles in Spanish history.

The Battle of Lepanto would not be the first nor the last time the Vatican influence on Europe would incite change or action. Over time, though, that influence has changed to some degree.

Vatican City, home of the Vatican, the Pope, and a few hundred people, is actually considered its own country and is governed by its own monarchy- the Pope. It also governs the Catholic church. It does not, however, govern all of Europe. Therefore, its influence is not quite as strong as it once was.

That fact does not stop the Vatican from attempting to do as much good as it possibly can. It stands up for human rights, immigrant rights, the financial security of third world nations- especially concerning debt they owe to first world countries- and more.

Though times and even the Vatican influence on Europe have changed, the structure of the Church and the Vatican have not. The Great Roman Empire might have fallen, but the Vatican opted to keep much of it alive by continually forming the Church after the Great Roman Empire. For instance:

  • Up until the 20th century, only Latin- the language used in ancient Rome- was allowed to officially be used. During the 20th century, other languages began to be allowed.

  • The Pope is also called Pontifex Maximus, which is what the head of the College of Priests was called in ancient Rome.

  • Territorial words, such as parishes and provinces, were used as references in ancient Rome.

  • The current College of Cardinals who is responsible for electing the Pope is very similar to the College of Priests from the Roman Empire to do the same.

While the full reason for keeping these and more alive may never be known, it has been said that it has helped the Church cultivate tradition even in the changing world. Even as one’s spirituality changes or grows, having anchors such as these can bring comfort, confidence, and faith.

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