The Middle Ages

Between the Great Schism of the East (1054 A.D.) and the fall of Constantinople (until then held by a Christian Emperor, but fell into the hands of the Turkish Mahammedans in 1453) shortly before the discovery of the New World by Christopher Columbus (1492), four centuries of the Christian era slipped away, which mark so to speak the "coming of age" of the Church.

Indeed, during medieval times, temporal society, in the West and a good share of the East was true Christendom. Christianity deeply impregnated all areas of culture and society. The greatest thinkers of the civilized world, who dominated on an international political level, are Christians. The eleventh century gave the Church some of its greatest Marian Doctors: St Peter Damian, St Anselm of Canterbury, St Bernard of Claivaux...

The time of a greater doctrinal maturity 

In the 12th century, Marian devotion took on a whole new dimension with St Simon Stock who received the gift of the scapular during an apparition of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. In later years, St Dominic became the apostle of the holy Rosary. St Francis Assisi and St Anthony of Padua, who left us admirable pages on Marian devotion, formed a bridge to the following century, the great 13th century of the Church in the West. Never before, never since, has the number and scope of Christian thinkers, both saints and other people of great ability, been as influential as in that culminating point of the Middle Ages. It is the century of such brilliant Doctors of the Church as St Albert the Great, St Bonaventura, St Thomas Aquinas. It was also the century of mystics like St Mechtilda of Hackeborn and St Gertrud; as well as the century of Bl. Duns Scott, the theologian of the Immaculate Conception...

The same intense spirituality can be found in the royal families of the time, where there were many witnesses to Christ and the Holy Virgin: King Louis IX (St Louis of France), St Elizabeth of Portugal, St Bridget of Sweden... At this point we reach the 14th century, the century of St Nicholas Cabasilas, a great theologian and Orthodox monk, and of St Catherine of Siena, great mystic and Doctor of the Church (today named co-patron of Europe, by Pope Saint John Paul II).

In the 15th century, Catherine of Genoa, another great saint known for her mystical writings, witnessed the discovery of the New World at the end of her life...