Faint gleams of light

Here and there in the darkness were gleams of light which, as the event proved, were harbingers of a better day. As we are to see again and again, often in what have appeared to be the darkest hours for the Christian faith movements have begun which, at the time affecting only small minorities, have later assumed major proportions and have brought revival and advance. In England, in a remote corner of the then Christendom, in the last three decades of the ninth century a king, Alfred the Great, established his rule over much of the country, compelled one of the Viking leaders to accept baptism, and brought about a religious and intellectual revival which on a smaller territorial scale was not unlike the earlier one on the Continent under the Carolingians. While his death was followed by something of a relapse, the darkness was never again as intense as it had been before him and, as we shall see, England became the chief source of the missionaries who won the peoples of Scandinavia to the Christian faith and instructed them in it. In the year 910, when Sergius, one of the creatures of the notorious Marozia, was on the Papal throne, the monastery of Cluny was founded which, as we are to hear later, became a radiating centre and symbol of a renewed life that was to bring the Christianity of Western Europe to a fresh high level.

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