Religion was woven into the fabric of the medieval world. Indeed, the Middle Ages has often been called Europe's “age of faith.” The commanding force behind that faith was the Christian Church.
Pilgrims, like these characters in an illustration from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, were a common sight on the roads of medieval Europe.
During the early Middle Ages, the Church sent missionaries to spread Christianity to the diverse peoples of Europe. In 597, Pope Gregory I sent Augustine to convert the Anglo-Saxons in England. Other missionaries carried Christianity to Germanic tribes elsewhere in Europe.
By the late Middle Ages, Western Europe had built a civilization based on Christianity. Differences in language, culture, and government divided the peoples of Europe, but they shared a common faith and viewed non-Christians with suspicion and hostility.
Christian rituals and faith were part of the fabric of everyday life. In villages, the priest of the parish, or local region, was often the only contact people had with the Church. The priest celebrated the mass and administered the other sacraments, the sacred rites of the Church. Christians believed that they needed the sacraments to achieve salvation, or the deliverance from sin into everlasting life.