I am amazed at the work that has gone into well-documented online encyclopedia articles about important Church history matters such as the lives of Saints. Two main ones I use are Wikipedia and New Advent.
Wikipedia and Pope St Leo the Great
Today’s Saint is Pope St. Leo the Great, and curiosity about him led me to this Wikipedia Article. which includes these beautiful words from one of the Pope’s Christmas (45 days till) sermons:
Just following one’s nose through these articles can approximate a theology course. For example, here is a quote from the opening paragraph on St. Pope Leo with a dozen or so hot links to other articles. I hope these links will work even in this blog post.
He is also a Doctor of the Church, most remembered theologically for issuing the Tome of Leo, a document which was a major foundation to the debates of the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon. The Council of Chalcedon, the fourth ecumenical council, dealt primarily with Christology, and elucidated the orthodox definition of Christ‘s being as the hypostatic union of two natures, divine and human, united in one person, “with neither confusion nor division”. It was followed by a major schism associated with Monophysitism, Miaphysitism, and Dyophysitism.
The list of footnotes and references for this and most Wikipedia articles is impressive, and anything not well documented is likely to be challenged and improved or removed. When a section is challenged, readers are notified with this, one instance of which you will see in the Pope St. Leo article.
Wikipedia does not accept advertising and is funded entirely by donations from users and contributors. I have sent in $25 a couple of times since I refer to it often.
New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia and Pope Leo the Great
I have to mention New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia also. It contains an amazing amount of information focused only on the Catholic Church. The language seems a bit flowery to me, and the paragraphs are very long and without headings, but I often go there to see what is available. You can read about its origin HERE.
And, just for comparison, here is the New Advent article on Pope St. Leo the Great. It includes many hot links and a long list of sources but not footnotes. It certainly has a more spiritual and worshipful tone than Wikipedia. It may be an over-simplification to say that Wikipedia will accurately state what the Pope did while New Advent will also tell us how wonderful it was. Nothing wrong with that, but it is different. Wikipedia informs us that about 100 sermons and 150 letters of Pope Leo have been preserved, but the New Advent “Library” actually contains many sermons of St. Leo in a section on Church Fathers.
New Advent is funded by advertising and by sale of downloads of the content. New Advent was born in 1917 and joined the internet in 1997. They post this endorsement by Pope St. John Paul II.
Conclusions and Recommendations
We miss a great opportunity if we fail to use these resources to advance and improve our knowledge of Church History, Theology, and Saints. And, fortunately for me, I don’t have to remember it all since it is always just a click or two or three away. (As a result of writing this little document I will remember much more than if I had only read, and that is the main benefit to me of doing it.) If you see anything in my posts with which you disagree, just let me know that “it needs additional citations for verification.”