Article Info

published: 12/13/04
last updated:

Christian Places

Christianity is currently the largest religion in the world as well as the most widespread. Through its missionary movement that began with the apostles, Christianity has touched the vast majority of the planet. It was founded in the Middle East and soon flourished throughout the Mediterranean as far south as Africa and as far east as Turkey. However, especially after the rise of Islam, Christianity has primarily been influential in the West - in North America, South America, Western and Eastern Europe, Oceania, and many African countries.

This section explores Christianity by region, providing information on history, people and important sites in each. Use the menu at left to link to a particular country or scroll down for quick country overviews (listed by region), some of which link to more detailed articles.


England's primary form of Christianity is the Church of England, also called the Anglican Church, which was founded by King Henry VIII when he famously broke with Rome so he could get a divorce (among other reasons). English reformers took the opportunity to reform the church's liturgy and doctrine, which eventually resulted in England's unique form of Protestantism - the "Via Media" between Catholicism and Protestantism. Sites of Christian interest in England include the Westminster Cathedral, St. Paul's Cathedral, the Tower of London (where most of Henry's unfortunate wives met their ends), and the British Museum, which contains many important Christian artifacts.


Today, religion in France in general seems to be in a state of decline. But in history, France has been an important seat of Catholicism, as attested by the many magnificent cathedrals that still stand throughout the country. For a time, the papacy even resided in Avignon, France instead of Rome. Protestantism never really took hold in France, despite the temporary influx of Calvinist Huguenots, and it continues to be (at least nominally) majority Catholic today.


A major part of the Holy Roman Empire in the Middle Ages, Germany is the home of Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation, modern biblical criticism, and the world's tallest cathedral. Today, Christianity in Germany is almost equally divided between Protestantism and Catholicism. The West is generally more religious than the formerly communist East; Protestants are more numerous in the north and northeast and Catholicism is predominant in the south and west.


For our purposes, "Ireland" refers to the entire Emerald Isle, encompassing both the Republic of Ireland and the Northern Ireland. Today, the former is Catholic and the latter is Protestant, and this religious difference has been combined with political tensions to form a tradition of unrest in Northern Ireland. Christianity first came to the island by means of the famous St. Patrick, an English missionary who is said to have driven all the snakes out of Ireland. Catholicism has flourished there until the present day.


Italy has been an important center of Christianity from the earliest centuries of the religion. St. Paul wrote an important letter to the Roman church that became part of the New Testament, and before long the Bishop of Rome came be regarded as the leader of the entire church. Today, Italy remains staunchly Catholic and the home of the Pope. Its borders contain a great number of sites of Christian interest, including St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican, an array of beautiful cathedrals, and Roman ruins like the Arch of Constantine.


Catholic Christianity first reached Scotland in the early Middle Ages. When the Reformation arrived in the 16th century, it took the form of Calvinism as taught by the fiery preacher John Knox. The Calvinist form of Christianity, also known as Presbyterianism, was adopted as the national church (Church of Scotland) in 1690. Today, Scotland remains a predominantly Presbyterian country. Historically, its most famous inhabitant is perhaps the Catholic Mary, Queen of Scots, who fought with all her might against Knox and the Protestants. See Church of Scotland.





Sponsored Links