There was a brief moment in the twelfth century when Manuel I Komnenos considered attempting to undo the Great Schism in grand style by persuading the pope (endlessly troubled by the German emperors) to reverse the translatio imperii and crown the soverign of Constantinople as Holy Roman Emperor. Surely, it was provident and fitting that the first Christian Emperor should have vacated the Eternal City to make way for the Supreme Pontiff. “For with truth as our witness, it belongs to spiritual power to establish the terrestrial power and to pass judgement if it has not been good” as Boniface VIII would say. Looked at this way the Second Rome is no insult to the Elder and the Greater but a fitting seat for the first of all laymen. Perhaps the providential role marked out for Russia at Fatima indicates that the Almighty favours such a reversal of the revolution of 800 (perhaps especially since the Kings of France failed to comply with His earlier requests). As Soliviev famously cried out to Leo XIII:

Oh deathless spirit of the blessed Apostle, invisible minister of the Lord in the government of His visible Church, thou knowest that she has need of an earthly body for her manifestation. Twice already thou hast embodied her in human society: in the Greco-Roman world, and again in the Romano-German world; thou hast made both the empire of Constantine and the Empire of Charlemagne to serve her. After these two provisional incarnations she awaits her third and last incarnation. A whole world full of energies and of yearnings but with no clear consciousness of its destiny knocks at the door of universal history. What is your word ye peoples of the world? […] Your word, O peoples of the world, is free and universal Theocracy, the true solidarity of all nations and classes, the application of Christianity to public life, the Christianising of politics; freedom for all the oppressed, protection for all the weak; social justice and good Christian peace. Open to them therefore, thou key-bearer of Christ, and may the gate of history be for them and for the whole world the gate of the Kingdom of God!

Doubtless the virtual identification of the Church with the Roman Patriarchate in the High Middle Ages was an essential precondition for the ambition and the glory of that greatest of all eras but it was also a stain upon that glory to whose eradication many of the highest deeds of the heroic age were directed. If she does ever rise again Christendom will be breathing with both lungs.

Breathe in here…

Drink deep here…

Period appropriate crusading musical accompaniment…

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