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Churches, cathedrals and minsters

In the High Middle Ages, religious faith and the Church were central to the way people thought. In a period in history when there were no such things as radio, television or newspapers, the Church provided a focal point in everyone's lives. As well as the weekly Sunday Eucharist, there were processions and events which offered some respite from the monotony of everyday life. Furnishing the churches was considered a communal task - for the poor as much as the rich. Artistic work in churches provided employment for many, which eased the burden of poverty. The colourful windows and frescos in medieval churches are often described as "the Bible of the poor". Since many people were unable to read and write, biblical stories were often communicated through images on stained-glass windows, drawings and statues depicting scenes from the Old and New Testament. Christ's passion and crucifixion was a central theme. Church music developed along with the liturgy. By the end of the 6th century, Pope Gregory I (590-604 AD) had arranged the church music of his time into a catalogue (codex) based on the church calendar. Gregorian chant is also named after him. Substantial donations to the Church by noblemen and citizens have often been seen as a way to salvation throughout its history. Religion used to have much greater influence than it does today - even kings could only be crowned by the representatives of the Church.