The Virgin Mary and the Making of Europe

As an integrated system of politics, economy and religion evolved in Europe around the year 1000, the figure of the Virgin Mary – so central to the lives of monks and nuns – became the core of a widely shared, though highly varied, European identity, says Miri Rubin.

Early in the 11th century the monk-historian Radulfus Glaber commented on recent history:

Just before the third year after the millennium, throughout the whole world, but most especially in Italy and Gaul, men began to reconstruct churches … It was as if the whole world were shaking itself free, shrugging off the burden of the past, and cladding itself everywhere in a white mantle of churches. Almost all the episcopal churches and those of monasteries dedicated to various saints, and little village chapels, were rebuilt better than before by the faithful.

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