Cathedral and Episcopal Schools

views updated

CATHEDRAL AND EPISCOPAL SCHOOLS

Medieval institutions usually connected with the cathedral church. The cathedral school arose from the bishop's desire to prepare men for the priesthood, and it admitted both laymen and clerics; the episcopal school, which was chiefly for clerics, was generally conducted by the bishop himself.

Origin of the School. In the first three centuries the Church prescribed no training for men who desired to be clerics. Christians received their elementary and literary education in pagan schools. A youth wishing to become a cleric was usually apprenticed to a bishop who taught by action the functions of a church's minister, imparted a minimum of sacred doctrine and guided the youth's moral formation. After the Christians gained legal rights in 313 (Edict of milan), the Church experienced a wave of conversions that created the need for more clerics. eusebius of vercelli in 354 and augustine of hippo in 394 introduced formal courses in Scripture and theology into the training of clerical candidates. Until the suppression of the pagan schools under Justinian I in 529, however, no change occurred in the elementary or literary education of clerical aspirants.

With the suppression of the pagan schools and the general political and social turmoil of the sixth century, bishops could no longer presume that candidates had received preliminary elementary and literary training. Thus, from the sixth century the cathedral schools assumed the role of teaching grammar and literature. The school thereafter offered all levels of instruction from reading and writing to formal theology and courses in Sacred Scripture.

Curriculum of the School. Before 313 there was very little formal schooling. The young men received an apprenticeship training in performing the sacred functions and in governing the Church; the bishop gave some informal instruction in reading, understanding and explaining the Scriptures. After 313, however, more formal education, especially in Scripture and theology, was possible.

When the cathedral schools assumed the task of elementary education, they accepted the regular courses offered in the schools of the late Roman Empire, a combination of the trivium and quadrivium, or liberal arts (see liberal arts). From the trivium came grammar, how to read and write Latin correctly and some reading in pagan and Christian classics; and rhetoric, some principles of correct speaking and preaching. From the quadrivium came arithmetic, how to count and compute dates, especially that of Easter; and music, how to sing the Psalms and the liturgy. The cathedral schools, however, also offered higher education, a training in Sacred Scripture, apologetics and some dogmatic theology.

Teachers in the School. Until 313 usually the only teacher in the cathedral school was the bishop, who shared his knowledge and experience with the young candidates. With the new freedom after 313, however, the bishop could travel more extensively in his diocese and to compensate for his absence, generally appointed a cleric

called scholasticus to preside over the six or seven men apprenticed to the Church.

In time, others came forward to aid and, later, to supplant the bishop's direct work in the school. chrodegang, bishop of Metz from 742 to 746, wrought the most radical change throughout Europe by introducing canonical life into episcopal sees. Henceforth, a group of priests dedicated to performing the liturgy at the cathedral lived with the bishop. Since they followed a community life based on a rule or canon, they were called "canons." In addition to performing the liturgy, the canons were also responsible for educating the young men living with the bishop. The priest governing the canons was called the dean or archdeacon; the canon in charge of the grammar school was the scholasticus or headmaster; and the music school was ruled by the precentor. Most European dioceses adopted this mode of cathedral life. It was generally from these cathedral schools and from the ruling canons that the universities and their officials developed in the 12th century.

Famous Cathedral Schools. In Rome in 190, Pope Eleutherius appointed Victor, the archdeacon, to conduct a school; by 220 the school had grown into a formal organization. After 313 the school moved into the Lateran palace where it established a famous library. In 394, Augustine, bishop of Hippo, organized a formal school with a schedule similar to that of the monasteries of the East. This organization of the cathedral and its school served as Chrodegang's model in 742.

In 598 Augustine, the apostle of England, founded King's School as an integral part of Christ Church Cathedral at Canterbury. The school, which had a section for grammar and another for song or chant, served as a model for England. The school at York educated alcuin, and in 767 named him chancellor or scholasticus. Alcuin followed the organization of York's school in his educational reform of Charlemagne's kingdom in 781 (see palace schools).

Lubin, consecrated bishop of Chartres in 544, first taught in his own school but later appointed Caletric to conduct it. This school gained its title to fame under a series of gifted scholars and teachers, such as, John of Salisbury and Bernard of Chartres, who led a classical renaissance in the early 12th century. The cathedral school of Norte Dame in Paris, which dates from the 11th century, was the nucleus of the University of paris.

Bibliography: m. l. w. laistner, Thought and Letters in Western Europe, a.d. 500 to 900 (2d ed. New York 1957). e. s. duckett, Carolingian Portraits: A Study in the Ninth Century (Ann Arbor 1962). h. i. marrou, A History of Education in Antiquity, tr. g. lamb (New York 1956). h. rashdall, The Universities of Europe in the Middle Ages, ed. f. powicke and a. b. emden, 3 v. (new ed. Oxford 1936) v. 1. p. richÉ, Education et culture dans l'Occident barbare, VI eVIII e siècles (Paris 1962).

[e. g. ryan]

About this article

Cathedral and Episcopal Schools

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article Share Article