St Peter’s Basilica, the building that helped to split the medieval church.

St Peter’s Basilica, the building that helped to split the medieval church.

St  Peter’s Basilica, the building that helped to split the medieval church.

The church of all churches is St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. It is the largest church in the world, a cultural heritage site like no other, but it came with a huge price tag. One of the ingenious ways to finance that building and its exquisite art was the sale of indulgences.

Indulgences are an official church document that forgives sins for a fee. The sale of salvation angered Martin Luther who nailed his 95 theses against the church door in Wittenberg that criticized this practice. The church ordered him to recant, but he wouldn’t comply. This act of defiance kicked off the reformation and split the church in the West in Roman Catholics and in a huge array of Protestants.

 

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