How Did the Roman Catholic Church Kept Knowledge of Ancient Times Alive Through?

The Roman Catholic Church played a significant role in preserving knowledge of ancient times. During the Middle Ages, when Europe was plunged into a period of darkness, the Church maintained the traditions of learning and scholarship that had been passed down from the ancient world. This article will explore how the Roman Catholic Church kept knowledge of ancient times alive through various means.

Monastic Libraries

One of the most important ways in which the Roman Catholic Church preserved knowledge was through monastic libraries. Monks were some of the few people who knew how to read and write during this period, and they were tasked with copying and preserving books. Monasteries became centers of learning, where monks would study and copy manuscripts, preserving knowledge for future generations.

The Work of St. Benedict

St. Benedict’s Rule, written in the 6th century AD, provided guidelines for monastic life that emphasized prayer, work, and study. The Rule required each monastery to have its own library containing books on scripture, theology, history, medicine, and other subjects. These libraries were not only used by monks but also by scholars who came to study there.


Another way in which the Roman Catholic Church preserved knowledge was through translation. During this time period, Latin was the language used by scholars throughout Europe.

However, many ancient texts were written in Greek or Arabic. The Church sponsored translations of these texts into Latin so that they could be studied by scholars throughout Europe.

The Translation Movement

The Translation Movement began in 8th century AD when Charlemagne ordered that Latin translations be made of works originally written in Greek or Hebrew. This movement continued throughout the Middle Ages as more and more texts were translated into Latin.


The Roman Catholic Church also played a key role in establishing universities throughout Europe during this time period. These universities were centers of learning where scholars could come together to study and share knowledge.

The University of Paris

One of the most famous universities established by the Roman Catholic Church was the University of Paris. It was founded in the 12th century AD and became one of the leading centers of learning in Europe. The University attracted scholars from all over Europe who came to study theology, law, medicine, and other subjects.


In conclusion, the Roman Catholic Church played a crucial role in preserving knowledge of ancient times during the Middle Ages. Through monastic libraries, translation, and the establishment of universities, the Church ensured that knowledge was passed down from one generation to the next. Without this effort, much of what we know about ancient civilizations would have been lost forever.