During the fifteenth century, in Florence, a small group of laymen cross-bred Christianity wirh the best elements of classical Greece and Rome to produce a new way of life which may be termed Christian humanism. This set high value on political freedom, public-spiritedness and free enquiry, on man’s will and imagination, on the beauty and power of the human body which, like all created things, was conceived not as God’s enemy but as His ally, and as an expression of His love. The Christian humanists took a new interest in man as a whole and, as a means of fathoming man’s nature, in literature and the arts, in history and in science. They viewed life no longer as a vale of tears, but as a quest for enlarging man’s powers, and so his awareness of God. They adopted a generous attidtude to the views of pagan antiquity and ot unorthodox thinkers such as Origen; they even drew near to tolerance in matters of conscience.

Vincent Cronin The Flowering of the Renaissance