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The Growing Church: The Medieval World to Counter Reformation

Oftentimes students hear snippets of the history of the Catholic Church, but cannot see the big picture and put those snippets in context. We want students to be able to see the big picture of history and how the Church has played a role. In this new humanities course, offered in the Aquinas House of Studies, students will build a framework for a designated period of history through many different humanities: Literature, Geography, Sacred Art, Theology, and Lives of Saints. Through this rich multi-sensory experience, the hope is that students not only build a strong scaffold of the designated period of history but that they would also walk away with a deeper love, understanding, and appreciation of the Catholic Church.

The Growing Church: The Medieval World to the Counter Reformation would cover the Age of Christendom from the Edict of Milan (when Christianity became legal) to the Council of Trent (Counter-Reformation). Students will use The Story of Civilization Volume 2 and The Story of the Catholic Church as their “spine” texts over the course of the year. This series was written from a Catholic perspective and does an excellent job at explaining the basics of each time period plus highlighting stories of Saints, leaders, and events of the Catholic Church in a very readable narrative; it reads more like a storybook than a textbook. We will slowly move through the book allowing more time for students to absorb and discuss the big ideas.

In addition, students will read biographies of Saints from the time period they are studying, showing that the Lord has always provided the Saints we need at the times we need them. Most of the year we will be reading short biographies, but we will be getting to know our “Patron Saint” of the course, St. Thomas Aquinas, by reading a longer biography during the year. Lastly, students will read two pieces of literature (one per semester) that correlate to the time period we are studying. Students will be given a list of short novels to choose from each semester that have undercurrents of Catholicism and virtue.

Class activities will include a combination of viewing Sacred Art and Holy Sites, reviewing and discussing the readings for the week, theological teachings of the Catholic Church, brief lectures, guided student work and responses, and student presentations.




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Main Texts:
The Story of Civilization Volume 2 by Phillip Campbell
TAN / 336 pgs / ISBN 9781505105742

The Story of the Church: From Pentecost to Modern Times by Phillip Campbell
TAN / 442 pgs / ISBN 9781505113198

Choose one of the following for 2nd quarter:

Augustine Came to Kent by Barbara Willard
ISBN: 9781883937218

Fingal’s Quest by Madeline Polland
ISBN: 9781733138321
The Story of Rolf & the Viking Bow by Allen French

The Trials of St. Patrick
Available through Formed Audio Drama

Choose one biography of Saint Thomas Aquinas (Patron Saint of our course) for 3rd quarter:

Saint Thomas Aquinas: The Story of the Dumb Ox
ISBN: 9780895554208

Saint Thomas Aquinas: Missionary of the Truth
ISBN 9780819890269

Saint Thomas Aquinas and the Preaching Beggars
ISBN 9781586170387

Choose one of the following for 4th quarter:

If All the Swords in England by Barbara Willard
ISBN: 9781883937492

The Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angeli
ISBN 9780440402831

St. Thomas More of London by Elizabeth Ince
ISBN 9780898709322

Brother Francis: The Barefoot Saint of Assisi
Available through Formed Audio Drama

Recommended, not required:

Saint Anthologies or Biographies.
Your family may already own many, and students will have flexibility in what biographies to read for each time period. Here is a recommended anthology that would fit nicely with the course:

57 Stories of the Saints by Anne Eileen Heffernan, FSP
ISBN: 9780819826817

Tisha Frost has been teaching in a variety of settings over the last 20 years after following one of the best pieces of advice she was ever given, “Be who God created you to be and you will set the world on fire” (attributed to St. Catherine of Siena). This inspired her to study both history and theology during her undergraduate years. She obtained a B.A. in American Studies, with a minor in Theology, from the University of Notre Dame. She also holds a Master of Education from the University of Notre Dame, specializing in Middle School and High School Social Studies. Through her experiences of teaching many students, including her own children, she has seen the need for restful education that is focused on the true, good, and beautiful. Tisha resides in Northern Minnesota with her husband and six children. When she has a moment to herself, she enjoys children’s literature, British mysteries, good movies, and baking.



Red checkmarkComputer: You will need a stable, reliable computer, running with a processor with a speed of 1 GHz or better on one of the following operating systems: Mac OS X with Mac OS 10.7 or later; Windows 8, 7, Vista (with SP1 or later), or XP (with SP3 or later). We do not recommend using an iPad or other tablet for joining classes. An inexpensive laptop or netbook would be much better solutions, as they enable you to plug an Ethernet cable directly into your computer. Please note that Chromebooks are allowed but not preferred, as they do not support certain features of the Zoom video conference software such as breakout sessions and annotation, which may be used by our teachers for class activities.

Red checkmarkHigh-Speed Internet Connection: You will also need access to high-speed Internet, preferably accessible via Ethernet cable right into your computer. Using Wi-Fi may work, but will not guarantee you the optimal use of your bandwidth. The faster your Internet, the better. We recommend using a connection with a download/upload speed of 5/1 Mbps or better. You can test your Internet connection here.

Red checkmarkWebcam: You may use an external webcam or one that is built in to the computer. Webcam Recommendations: Good (PC only) | Best (Mac and PC)

Red checkmarkHeadset: We recommend using a headset rather than a built-in microphone and speakers. Using a headset reduces the level of background noise heard by the entire class. Headset Recommendations: USB | 3.5mm

Red checkmarkZoom: We use a web conferencing software called Zoom for our classes, which enables students and teachers to gather from around the globe face to face in real time. Zoom is free to download and easy to use. unnamed-e1455142229376 To download Zoom:

  1. Visit
  2. Click to download the first option listed, Zoom Client for Meetings.
  3. Open and run the installer on your computer.
  4. In August, students will be provided with instructions and a link for joining their particular class.



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