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Saints and Heroes

Church History, Saint Stories, Apostles, Roman Times, Middle Ages, Renaissance, Reformation, World Missions.

Overview     Study Aids     Questions     Reading     Videos     Leaderboard    

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The Saints and Heroes program covers Church History from the Apostolic Age to the 18th century with an emphasis on missionary activity and contributions of important Christian heroes. The program assumes some prior knowledge of European history and is one of the more challenging Catholic Knowledge divisions.

Fr. Laux's Church History can be used as a primary reference for the Saints and Heroes program but most comprehensive Church histories cover similar material. However, many of the questions refer to the role of particular saints in a historical context so are taken from saint biographies. The Saints and Heroes program emphasizes the Church's role in the history of Europe with specific focus on certain Christian characters.

The Saints and Heroes program is organized chronologically, but some units have themes that span multiple time periods. "Moslems and Crusades", and "World Missions" units, for example, focus on activities that occurred over many centuries in regions outside Europe. The cultural aspects of the Church's contributions to history are so numerous that they have been assigned to the Catholic Culture program. The two programs compliment each other and together provide in depth insights into the Church's enormous impact on Western Civilization.

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Subtopics and Study Aids

The Saints and Heroes program is divided into nine subtopics. All question banks, study aids, and review questions are organized along the same divisions.

Apostolic Age — Early Roman — Late Roman — Early Medieval
Late Medieval — Mohammedism — Renaissance — Reformation
World Missions (not shown)

Saints and Heroes — Study Aids

Links to Study Aids that summarize the material needed to prepare for the Saints and Heroes quiz game are listed below. The Information Pages associated with each subtopic are also included in the Catholic Knowledge app.

  • Apostolic AgeApostles, Biblical Saints, Apostolic Fathers, Missionary Journeys (to 100 AD), etc.
  • Persecution and TriumphPersecution, Virgins, Martyrs, Early Heresies, Apologists, Christian Emperors (100-350), etc.
  • Late Roman PeriodChurch Fathers, Heresies, Fall of the West, Eastern Church, Goths, Franks (350-600), etc.
  • Early Middle AgesCharlemagne, Franks, HRE, Normans, Saxons, Slavs, Magyars (600-1000), etc.
  • High Middle AgesPapacy and Empire, Investiture, Mendicants, Albigensians, Holy Women (1000-1350), etc.
  • Moslems and CrusadersIslam conquests, Schism, Crusades, Reconquista, Military Orders, Ottoman Turks, etc.
  • Renaissance and RevoltAvignon, Schism, Renaissance, Inquisition, Luther, Calvin, Henry VII (1350-1550), etc.
  • Catholic ReformationCatholic Reformers, Jesuits, Council of Trent, Carmelites, British Martyrs (1500-1650), etc.
  • World MissionsSpanish Missions in Latin America, Jesuits in Chin, French Missions in Canada, etc.

Saints and Heroes — Review Questions

The Saints and Heroes program includes about 800 study questions divided among nine units. The printable worksheets listed below each consist of sample questions. Answering written questions while playing the quiz game can help students reinforce their knowledge.

Apostolic Age      Persecution and Triumph
Late Roman Period      Early Middle Ages
High Middle Ages      Moslems and Crusaders
Renaissance and Revolt      Catholic Reformation
World Missions      

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Recommended Reading

No single textbook can adequately cover the role of the Catholic Church in history. The history of the Church is largely synonymous with the history of Europe. It involves thousands of saints and principle character, and hundreds of kingdoms and cultures. Catholic history encompasses empire and anarchy, fidelity and treachery, scholarship and superstition, and an eternal war between sacred truths and every form of heresy and perversion imaginable. The best textbook can barely cover the main events.

Nevertheless, our selection of reading recommendations includes several popular comprehensive histories. The Questions/Answer material is derived mostly from textbook material, short biographies of saints, and other study aids. Because the unit emphasizes the lives of Christian heroes, a good saint dictionary is helpful.

The books recommended below are good references but there are many other good Church histories and using more than one source is instructive. Reading books or watching videos that cover specific topics in depth gives much better insight into real Church history than reading only textbooks summaries.

Church History by Fr. Laux
This church history is written for a college prep high school audience and assumes a basic knowledge of European history. Starting at the dawn of the Roman Empire and proceeding in to the 20th century, Fr. Laux presents the story of the Church is a masterful and readable manner appealing to older students as well as adults.

Witness to the Faith by Seton
This introductory church history is written at an eighth grade level so it is accessible and covers most of the main topics of Christian history. The complete book covers the founding of the Church through the developments of the late twentieth century.

Public Domain E-Books

Much of the material for the 'Saints and Heroes' program can be found in public domain history sources. The following digital resources include Church history texts and compendiums. Click on the book title to read online.

  • History of the Catholic Church by Fr. J. MacCaffrey
    This concise history of the Church follows the important developments from the foundation and growth of the Church during the Roman Empire, to its condition in nineteenth century Europe. All important heresies, movements, orders, and political developments are briefly given. Some background in the history of Western Civilization is an important prerequisite because of the cursory approach with which most topics are covered.
  • Compendium of Church History by Sisters of Notre Dame
    This book presents all of the major points of Church history covered in the five volume 'Leading Events of Church History' series in outline form. It provides an excellent review and summary of all major saints, popes, heresies, events, and councils.
  • Catechism of Church History by Fr. J. Oechtering
    This short summary of Church History is presented in Question and Answer, "Catechism" format. It covers most of the important characters and events from the Apostolic age to the end of the nineteenth century. Fathers and Doctors of the Church, Popes and Ecumenical Councils are also listed with a brief summary of what they are best known for.

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Websites and Videos

The following Youtube and video selections were selected because they are relatively short, engaging, and they pertain to topics covered in the Saints and Heroes program. There are hundreds of interesting historical videos that relate to Catholic history, but some are biased in ways that are not helpful for Catholic students. Many of the best videos available focus only on a single topic rather than trying to cover an entire era.

Islam, Crusades, and Schism — Real Crusades History

The best overall Youtube channel to cover the 'Moslems and Crusaders' unit is Real Crusades History at The channel includes dozens of videos, including many short 5 minute informational videos on specific topics, such as

The videos listed above, and dozens more on the website cover the period most people associate with the crusades: that is, the series of religious wars between 1095 and 1295 that aimed at recovering the Holy lands from Islamic rule. But the 'Real Crusades History' Youtube channel takes a much broader view of the crusades that corresponds perfectly with the 'Moslems and Crusaders' unit. That, is, it looks broadly at the series of wars encompassing over seven hundred years, that involved Islam invasions of Christian territories, and Christian Reconquesta. For example, these videos cover Islam related conflicts outside of the Middle East.

These are only a few of the dozens of short videos on Islam related topics. All are wonderfully narrated and illustrated with maps, portraits of heroes, and spectacular battle illustrations. They are entertaining as well as informative, and can be enjoyed by the whole family.

Pre Reformation Era — A Bit of History

A good source of Historical Videos for the Renaissance and Revolt period is the A Bit of History Youtube page. Most videos are between 8 and 15 minutes long, and cover topics related to the Reformation, or pre-Reformation period. The three most relevant to the 'Renassaince and Revolt' unit are listed below but others are worthwhile:

Medieval Europe — Historical Theology For Everyone

Ryan Reeves is a Protestant scholar, but his Historical Theology For Everyone collection of videos is one of the best resources available for Ancient and Medieval Church history. Most of his videos are about 20 to 30 minutes and cover a specific topic or period. His site includes over fifty half hour videos, just a few of which are listed below:

Reeve relies mainly on original sources rather than modern interpretations, and his presentation of most pre-reformation subjects is fair and balanced. His videos are illustrated with engaging artwork and artifacts and are likely to appeal to Christians of all traditions. Reeves is an excellent story teller who weaves fascinating anecdotes into topics that are too often presented as dry and theoretical. His videos are an excellent way to compliment assigned reading and help students see both history and theology as compelling fields of interest.