The coming of the friars, therefore, was a landmark not only in the field of moral reform. They upheld the cause of successive popes in their struggle with the temporal power. But they also represented a new conception of the Church and of her function in the world: a Church in whom the brilliance of feudal power would give place to interior prestige; the Church of the missions, and of the universities wherein human thought was to make notable advances; a Church in closer sympathy with the aims of an enlarged society. Thus, once again, as has happened so often in the course of history, the permanent message of Christ was embodied in a particular form of Christianity; once again the leaven had done its work.
Henri Daniel-Rops, Cathedral and Crusade: Studies of the Medieval Church (1050-1350)