The Eastern Orthodox Church, officially the Orthodox Catholic Church, is the second-largest Christian church, with approximately 260 million baptised members.It operates as a communion of autocephalous churches, each governed by its bishops in local synods, although roughly half of Eastern Orthodox Christians live in Russia. The church has no central doctrinal or governmental authority analogous to the Bishop of Rome, but the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople is recognised by all as primus inter pares ("first among equals") of the bishops. As one of the oldest surviving religious institutions in the world, the Eastern Orthodox Church has played a prominent role in the history and culture of Eastern and Southeastern Europe, the Caucasus, and the Near East.
Eastern Orthodox theology is based on the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed (known simply as the Nicene Creed). The church teaches that it is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic church established by Jesus Christ in his Great Commission, and that its bishops are the successors of Christ's apostles. It maintains that it practices the original Christian faith, as passed down by holy tradition. Its patriarchates, reminiscent of the pentarchy, and autocephalous and autonomous churches reflect a variety of hierarchical organisation. Of its innumerable sacred mysteries, it recognises seven major sacraments, of which the Eucharist is the principal one, celebrated liturgically in synaxis. The church teaches that through consecration invoked by a priest, the sacrificial bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ. The Virgin Mary is venerated in the Eastern Orthodox Church as the God-bearer, honoured in devotions.
The First Council of Nicaea
, held in Nicaea
), convoked by the Roman Emperor Constantine I
in 325, was the first Ecumenical council
of the early Christian Church, and most significantly resulted in the first uniform Christian doctrine
, called the Nicene Creed
. With the creation of the creed, a precedent was established for subsequent 'general (ecumenical
) councils of Bishops' (Synods
) to create statements of belief and canons
of doctrinal orthodoxy
— the intent being to define unity of beliefs for the whole of Christendom
. The Council of Nicaea was historically significant because it was the first effort to attain consensus
in the church through an assembly
representing all of Christendom
. "It was the first occasion for the development of technical Christology
." Further, "Constantine in convoking and presiding over the council signaled a measure of imperial control over the church." Further, a precedent was set for subsequent general councils to create creeds
. The long-term effects of the Council of Nicaea were significant. For the first time, representatives of many of the bishops of the Church convened to agree on a doctrinal statement. Also for the first time, the Emperor played a role, by calling together the bishops under his authority, and using the power of the state to give the Council's orders effect.
Did you know...
Pontius Pilate's wife is unnamed in the New Testament, where she appears a single time in the Gospel of Matthew. Alternate Christian traditions named her (Saint) Procula, Proculla, Procla, Prokla, Procle or Claudia. Also combinations like Claudia Procles or Claudia Procula are used. No verifiable biography exists on the life of Pilate’s wife. Details of her life are surmised from Christian legend and tradition. In the New Testament, the only reference to Pilate’s wife exists in a single sentence by Matthew. According to the Gospel of Matthew 27:19, she sent a message to her husband asking him not to condemn Jesus Christ to death: ‘While Pilate was sitting in the judgment hall, his wife sent him a message: “Have nothing to do with that innocent man, because in a dream last night, I suffered much on account of him.” Procula (Procla, Prokla) is recognized as a saint in two churches within the Eastern Christian tradition: the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, she is celebrated on 27 October. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church celebrates Pilate and Procula together on 25 June.
Selected holy days