Excerpts from the
By Rev. Constantine Callinikos.
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Introduction.Part I. Ancient Times (A.D. 33-700).
1. The First Preachers of the Gospel.
The Christian Community in Jerusalem. Stephen, the First Martyr. The Conversion of Saul. The Journeys of the Apostle Paul. The Arrest and Martyrdom of Paul. The Apostle Peter. The Other Apostles. The Apostle John.
2. The Conflict Between Christianity and Paganism.
Progress With Impediments. Persecution Under Nero and Domitian. Persecution Under Trajan. The Persecution Under Hadrian. The Persecution Under Marcus Aurelius. The Persecutions Under Septimus Severus and Maximin. The Decian Persecution. The Persecution Under Valerian. The Persecution Under Diocletian.
3. The Triumph of Christianity over Paganism.
Constantine the Great. The Vision of the Cross. Constantine as the Champion of Christianity. The Sons of Constantine the Great. Julian the Apostate. The Successors of Julian Abolish Paganism. Christianity in Armenia and Iberia. Christianity in Persia, Arabia, India and Abyssinia. Christianity and the New Peoples of the West.
4. The Perils of Heresy.
The Attitude of the Church Towards Heretics. Judaic Heretics: Ebionites, Nazarenes and Elkesaites. Judaic Heretics: Cerinthians. Gnostics. Manichaeans. Antitrinitarians.
5. The First Six Ecumenical Synods.
Arianism. The First Ecumenical Synod. The Second Ecumenical Synod. The Third Ecumenical Synod. The Fourth Ecumenical Synod. The Fifth Ecumenical Synod. The Sixth Ecumenical Synod. Pelagianism and Augustinianism.
6. The Most Eminent Fathers.
The Apostolic Fathers. Apologists. Representatives of the Schools of Asia Minor and Africa. Representatives of the Alexandrian School. Origen. Athanasius. The Three Cappadocians. A Representative of the School of Antioch: Chrysostom. Other Fathers.
7. Christian Life and Worship
The Moral Reformation Brought About by the Gospel. The Tares Among the Wheat. The Church's Treatment of Sinners. The First Hermit. The Spread of the Monastic Life. Places of Public Worship. The Most Important Feast-Days.
8. The Spread of Christianity Among the Slavs.
Serbs, Croats, Dalmatians, and the Slavs in Greece. The Moravians. The Bulgarians. The Conversion of the Bulgarians. The Russians. The Conversion of the Russians. The Baptism of Vladimir and his People. Vicissitudes of the Russian Church.
9. Iconoclastic and other Disputes.
Leo the Isaurian and His Program of Reform. The War Against Images. The Seventh Ecumenical Synod. Orthodoxy Sunday. The Paulician Heretics. The Bogomil Heretics.
10. The Beginning of the Great Schism.
Church Government. Church Government During the First Three Centuries. Church Government After Constantine the Great. The Five Patriarchates. The Ambition of the Popes of Rome. The Pretension of Pope Nicholas to Become Arbiter of the East. Photius as the Defender of the Independence of his Throne. The So-Called Eighth Ecumenical Synod and its Denunciation.
11. The Completion of the Great Schism.
Michael Cerularius and Leo IX. The Crusades. Emperors Driven by Necessity to Favor Reunion. John VII Palaeologus at Ferrara. The False Union of Florence. The Consequences of the False Union.
12. The Enslavement of the Eastern Church by Mohammedanism.
The Founder of Mohammedanism. The Hegira. The Dogmatic and Ethical System of Mohammedanism. Islam as a Conquering Power. The Subjection of the Patriarchates of Jerusalem, Antioch and Alexandria. The Siege of Constantinople by Mohammed II. The Last Hours of Constantinople. The Significance of the Fall of Constantinople.
13. Mediaeval Letters.
Characteristics of Mediaeval Theology. Theology During the Iconoclastic Quarrels. Theology Under the Macedonian Emperors: Photius. Theology Under the Macedonian Emperors after Photius. Theology Under the Comnenian Dynasty. Theology Under the Palaeologue Dynasty.
14. Christian Life and Worship.
The Condition of Morals. The Reverse of the Medal. The Progress of Monasticism. The Degeneration of Monastic Life. Churches and Icons. Ceremonies and Sacraments. Sacred Hymnology.
15. The Night of Oppression and the Dawn of Liberty.
The Conqueror's Promises to Scholarius. The Conqueror's Violation of his Promises. A pious question asked by Selim I. Peskesi, Haratsi, Child-Kidnapping and Forced Conversion to Islam. Dawning Improvement in the Conditions of the Subject Race. The Greek Revolution. Haiti Serif and Hatti Houmayioun.
16. The Four Most Ancient Patriarchates and Cyprus.
The Patriarchate of Constantinople. The System of Government. The Area of Jurisdiction. The Struggle of the Patriarchate for the Retention of its Privileges. The Patriarchate of Alexandria. The Patriarchate of Antioch. The Patriarchate of Jerusalem. The Church of Cyprus.
17. Russia. Greece, Serbia, Roania, Bulgaria and Syria.
Other Orthodox Churches. The Church of Russia in Modern Times. The Church of Greece in Modern Times. Church of Serbia in Modern Times. The Church of Rumania in Modern Times. The Church of Bulgaria in Modern Times. The Church of Syria.
18. Orthodoxy in America.
Albanian Church. Bulgarian Church. Greek Church. Rumanian Church. Russian Church. Serbian Church. Syrian Church. Ukrainian Church.
19. The Relations of Orthodoxy with Roman Catholicism and Protestantism.
Pape Attacks on the Eastern Church. Papism in Constantinople: Cyril Lucar. Papism in Palestine and Syria. Papism in Russia and in Less Distant Countries. The Papal Unia in Greece Today. The First Protestant Letter. The Theologians of Tubingen, the Protestants of Poland, and the Confession of Cyril Lucas. Protestant Missionaries. Anglicans and Orthodox.
20. Theological Literature.
Theological Literature after the Fall of Constantinople. Scholars of the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries. Scholars of the Seventeenth Century. Scholars of the Eighteenth Century. The Nineteenth Century. Scholars of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries.
21. Christian Life and Worship.
The Sins of the Enslaved Christians. The Virtues of the Enslaved Christians. Orthodox Missionaries and Martyrs in Modern Times. The Holy Mountain. Other Monastic Centers. Ecclesiastical Art. The Word of God. Pressing Problems to be Solved in the Near Future.
This book forms one of the series which was started by the Holy Metropolis of Thyateira with the publication of the Greek Orthodox Catechism. This brief sketch of Orthodox Church History is intended, as that work was, mainly for Orthodox Christians, who, being born in countries where their mother tongue is not spoken, of necessity have learned, and do more easily understand, the language of the country of their adoption. This book is not intended for use exclusively by children learning their catechism. It is hoped it will be of interest to Orthodox Christians, who desire to have a brief, but reliable, account of the evolution of the Orthodox Church throughout the centuries of the Christian Era. Furthermore, although now there exist some works in English dealing in a general way with the Orthodox Church, we think this is the first time that a short history of the Orthodox Church, the work of an Orthodox Scholar, has come into the hands of English readers. It is a work that touches upon all the periods of its history, and, above all, the latest period, which, for the most part, has not been studied by the non-Orthodox. The close relations, which, of late especially, have developed between the two Churches, the Orthodox and the Anglican, and the recent contact established between them at the Lambeth Conference, render the contents of a book dealing with the fortunes of the Orthodox Church interesting and timely.
The compiling of this work was entrusted by the Holy Metropolis of Thyateira to the Vicar of the Greek Church in Manchester, the Rev. Constantine Callinicos, the author of many notable religious and theological writings. On the recent publication of an important Commentary on the "Psalms," he received a signal honor at the hands of the Ecumenical Patriarchate which bestowed on him the title, of rare distinction in the Orthodox Church, "Great Oeconomos of the Great Church." The Rev. Callinicos has fulfilled the task entrusted to him with great skill. Not only has he refrained from dwelling upon questions which, while included in the life and history of the Church, have no immediate relation to its essential nature; he has also refused merely to collate material which is easily obtainable in the historical writings of other Churches. His deep-rooted love for, and devotion to, the Orthodox Church, his insistence on historical truth and accuracy, and, finally, the polished style of writing are characteristic of the author's present work, as of all his works.
The translation into English has been zealously carried out by Miss Natzio. The fact that this lady was born and bred in England, and had a successful career at an English University (B. A. and B. Utt. Oxford), has, in itself, a guarantee of the translating accuracy and perfection.
To both the author and the translator, therefore, we express our warmest thanks and give our blessing.
It is our earnest hope that this book, in fulfilling the purpose with which it was written, may help to make the Orthodox Church more widely known; a Church which, in the past, watered the tree of Christianity when first it was planted on this earth, with the blood of its martyrs, and even today has martyrs to show in its struggle against the powers which plot against its very existence.
+The Metropolitan of Thyateira, GERMANOS
London, Palm Sunday, 1931.
Ancient Times (A.D. 33-700).
1. The First Preachers of the Gospel.
The Christian Community in Jerusalem.
The history of the Church begins on the day of Pentecost, which for this reason has been called the Church's birthday. On that day, in the presence of a hundred and twenty people, the Holy Spirit descended upon the Disciples, and they began to speak in divers tongues, so that Jews from far and wide, who were dwelling in Jerusalem, were amazed at the sudden transformation of the men who only yesterday had been simple fishermen. But the apostle Peter, rising in the midst of them, explained that this transformation was due to Jesus the Nazarene, who though crucified by the Jews, had risen again by the power of God. And on that very day three thousand souls flocked to the new faith. A few days later, as Peter and John were on their way to the temple to pray, a lame beggar lying by the temple gate asked them for alms. "Silver and gold have I none," said Peter; "but such as I have give I thee; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk." The lame man was healed, and Peter, holding him by the hand, showed him to the astonished crowds who thronged to see the miracle, as a testimony of the power of Christ. And the three thousand believers thereupon became five thousand.
Stephen, the First Martyr.
Thus the first followers of the crucified Christ increased in numbers by leaps and bounds, and formed the first Christian community in Jerusalem. Bound together by ties of mutual love, such as had never before been seen, they ate at common tables, and under the general supervision of the Apostles had all their possessions in common. Soon, however, the Apostles were no longer able to watch over both the material and spiritual needs of so many thousand souls; so, keeping for themselves the spiritual ministry, they appointed seven deacons to organize the provisioning of the community. Foremost among them for wisdom and holiness was Stephen. Filled with holy zeal, he denounced the Jews for their deafness to the voice of the Lord, and so enraged them that, accusing him of blasphemy, they condemned him to death by stoning. "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!" were his dying words.
The Conversion of Saul.
The death of Stephen the Martyr was the signal for a great outbreak of persecution against the newly-established Church, which was intolerable to the Jewish authorities as an apostate from the law of Moses. But this local, persecution turned to the advantage of the new faith, because its effect was to scatter the brethren from Jerusalem, where they had hitherto been confined, sending them to carry the seeds of the Gospel not only to other towns of Judaea, but to Samaria, Phenice and Cyprus, and even to Antioch, where for the first time the believers in Christ were given the name of Christians. It was the death of Stephen, too, that first brought into prominence Saul, then still a fanatical Pharisee, savagely attacking the Christian Church, but divinely appointed to become the most ardent and fruitful of the Lord's Apostles. His conversion to Christianity took place in the year A.D. 35 outside Damascus. A great light shone suddenly around him, and the voice of the Savior sounded in his ears: "Saoul, Saoul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks." Thereupon he was baptized, changing his name from Saoul to Paul; the Apostles received him into their brotherhood, and, beset by dangers and persecutions, he embarked on those great missionary journeys that were to make Christianity a universal creed.
The Journeys of the Apostle Paul.
On his first missionary journey (45-51) Paul set out from Antioch in Syria, and after visiting in turn Seleucia, Cyprus, Perga in Pamphylia, Antioch in Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra and Derbe, he returned thence to his starting-point, to attend soon afterwards the Apostolic Synod in Jerusalem, where he upheld the independence of Christianity from the forms and ceremonies prescribed by Mosaic law. His second missionary journey (53-55) was undertaken for the purpose of visiting and strengthening in the faith these newly-established communities, but his zeal drove him to Troas, on the further side of Asia Minor, whence he took ship to Europe and founded the Churches of Philippi, Amphipolis, Apollonia, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens and Corinth. And on his third missionary journey (56-59) for some time Paul adopted as his headquarters the great town of Ephesus in Asia Minor, to the chagrin of Diana's votaries. Thence he proceeded to visit the newly-founded Christian communities in Macedonia and Greece, and on his way back preached the Gospel in Mitylene, Chios, Samos, Miletus, Cos, Rhodes, and Tyre in Phenice, returning to Jerusalem by way of Caesarea.
The Arrest and Martyrdom of Paul.
But the Jews, who had never ceased to persecute Paul as a denier and corrupter of their religion, seized him and flung him into prison, first in Jerusalem and then in Caesarea. For two years the Apostle waited in vain for his acquittal by the Roman procurator; under the influence of the Jews, the latter postponed his trial from day to day. At last Paul, as a Roman citizen, claimed his right of direct appeal to Caesar, and thus he was sent in chains to Rome, where after a stormy voyage he arrived in A.D. 62. There, though always under military guard, he lived in a house of his own where he was allowed to receive freely, and preached the Gospel to all and sundry in the great capital of the Roman Empire. At this point, the narrative of the Acts comes to and end. According to certain ancient writers, Paul's martyrdom took place under Nero, in A.D. 64, following immediately on this period of imprisonment. Others, however, affirm that on this occasion he was released, and after undertaking yet a fourth journey "to the farthest west" (i.e. to Spain), he returned to Rome, where he was beheaded in A.D. 66 or 67.
The Apostle Peter.
Paul, who devoted nearly all his energies to the conversion of the heathen, has been called the "Apostle to the Gentiles"; Peter, on the other hand, focused his whole attention on the Jews, and is therefore known as the "Apostle of the Circumcision." His baptism of the half-Gentile centurion Cornelius, after receiving in a vision the divine injunction not to call common that which the Lord had cleansed, was a mere episode in the career of a man whose life was devoted exclusively to his fellow-Jews. At first Peter stayed in Jerusalem with the other Apostles, and played an important part in the early stages of Christianity. His life was threatened by Herod Agrippa, to the great satisfaction of the Jews, but after his miraculous escape from prison he soon left Jerusalem and journeyed through Pontus, Galatia, Bithynia, and other parts of Asia Minor. For many years he watched over the Christians of Antioch as their first Bishop; but, like Paul, he came at last to Rome, where, according to tradition, he was crucified in the reign of Nero, head downwards, since he considered himself, even in death, unworthy to be set on a level with his Savior. The story of Peter's martyrdom may be taken as an established fact, being supported both by our Lord's prediction (cf. John 21:18) and by the evidence of ancient writers; that he flourished as Bishop of Rome for twenty-five years is, however, only a myth. In A.D. 51 he was present at the Apostolic Synod at Jerusalem. In A.D. 58 Paul, writing his Epistle to the Romans, does not mention his name, although he sends greetings to many of the faithful in Rome. In A.D. 62 when Paul came to Rome as a prisoner, Peter did not come to greet him, and though Paul wrote various epistles during his stay, not once does he mention him. The historian Eusebius, moreover, speaks of Linus as the first Bishop of Rome.
The Other Apostles.
Like Peter and Paul, the rest of the Apostles also sealed their message with their blood. James the Elder, the brother of John, was beheaded in Jerusalem under Herod Agrippa, according to the indisputable testimony of the Acts. James the Younger, or "Adelphotheos," who became first Bishop of Jerusalem after the departure of the other Apostles, was precipitated from the pinnacle of the temple, according to Hegisippus, and stoned by the Jews as he confessed Jesus Christ the Son of God. Andrew, who journeyed through Scythia and founded the first Christian Church in Byzantium, was crucified at Patras, so tradition says, on the chi-shaped cross (X) which ever since has borne his name; while Thomas had his side pierced with a spear after a fruitful missionary career in Persia, Ethiopia and India. Indeed, practically all the Apostles crowned their life's work with a martyr's death, although on many points their story is obscure and confused, having been handed down to us not by authenticated histories but by popular traditions.
The Apostle John.
A single exception was John, the Beloved Disciple, the youngest of them all, who died peacefully in the closing year of the first century of the Christian era. After the dispersal of his fellow-disciples, John made Ephesus the center of his activities, and directed from there all the missionary work in Asia Minor, especially after the death of the other Apostles. During the reign of the Emperor Domitian he was banished for a while to the island of Patmos, where, after the manner of the ancient prophets, he wrote the Book of Revelation. But he was restored again to his flock, and lived on among them to such a green aid age that at the close of his life he would be carried to the place of worship, where, too weak to deliver a lengthy discourse, he confined his whole teaching to these simple words: "Little children, love one another." For to John the epitome of all Christian morality was love. It is related of this Apostle that he was greatly attracted by a handsome and gifted youth and adopted him as his son. But the youth, during the Apostle's absence, was led astray by evil companions and became a brigand chief. The old Apostle went up into the mountains and searched until he found this wandering sheep, when laying him on his shoulders he brought him back repentant to the Christian fold.
2. The Conflict Between Christianity and Paganism.
Progress With Impediments.
Under the Apostles' successors during the second and third centuries Christianity still continued to gain ground day by day. The philosopher and martyr, Justin, who died in A.D. 166, was already able to affirm that in his time there was scarcely a single race of men on earth, barbarous or civilized, nomad, or dwelling in tents, among whom prayers were not offered up to the one true God, revealed through Jesus Christ. And the facts proved that Justin's assertion was no mere rhetorical bombast. In Asia Minor, at Bithynia, the younger Pliny viewed with alarm the swift spread of the new religion. In Syria, the light of the Gospel shone out from Antioch as from a glowing hearth. In Athens the apostolic Bishops, Dionysius the Areopagite and Quadratus, continued Paul's preaching of the Unknown God. In Italy the Christian communities were multiplying, with Rome as their spiritual metropolis; while in the south of France Lyons and Vienne were prominent Christian centers. In Africa great men of the Church covered Carthage with glory, and disseminated the faith in the neighboring towns; while the Church of Alexandria, founded by Mark the Evangelist, was like another Pharos to Egypt. But such great progress was not made without encountering serious obstacles. The Roman Empire, which held the mastery of the world, was a pagan empire, and naturally looked upon the undermining of paganism as equivalent to the sapping of its own foundations. Hence there arose the persecutions of the first three centuries, which broke out at intervals with renewed violence, with the object of exterminating the Christian faith, until after three hundred years of fighting the Empire laid down its sword at the feet of Christ.
Persecution Under Nero and Domitian.
The first persecution took place, as it were by chance, in the reign of Nero, in A.D. 64. This ghoulish and demented monarch, who had murdered his tutor, his brother and his mother with as much enjoyment as he read the poems of Homer, took it into his head to set fire to Rome, in order to obtain a realistic impression of the burning of Troy by the Greeks. But his people discovered the origin of the conflagration, and to save himself from their rage he threw the responsibility on the newly-risen sect of the Christians, whom the pagans already hated as godless and unsocial people. Some of the Christians were crucified, some sawn in two; other were sewn up into skins and thrown to the dogs, or cast as defenseless prey to the beasts. And some, smeared with pitch and tar, were impaled on stakes and lighted like torches to illuminate the imperial gardens. During this persecution, as we have seen, Peter and Paul were martyred. In the year A.D. 95 Domitian in his turn persecuted the new faith, considering that belief in Jesus Christ was incompatible with belief in the divinity of the Roman Caesar. To this persecution were due the death of Domitians nephew, Flavius Clemens, the banishment of the Apostle John to Patmos, the martyrdom of Dionysius the Areopagite, and the execution, exile or imprisonment of many other Christians. This suspicious emperor, interpreting literally Christ's words on the Kingdom of God, even sent to Palestine for certain of our Lord's kinsmen, in order to condemn them as revolutionaries; but when he saw their poverty-stricken mien and their horny hands, he dismissed them again as madmen.
Persecution Under Trajan.
Under the Emperor Trajan (98-117) Pliny the younger, then Governor of Bithynia and Pontus, observed the daily increase of the Christian communities in his province; and uncertain how to check the progress of this "evil and mischievous superstition," as he called it, wrote to the Emperor for instructions. Trajan replied that no measures should be taken deliberately to hunt out Christians; if, however, they were once summoned before the magistrates, they should be forced to choose between sacrifice to the pagan gods and death. Thus Christianity, whose fate had hitherto depended on the caprice of successive emperors, became, from now onwards, by the explicit provisions of Roman law, a punishable offence. The most notable victim of this persecution was the Bishop of Antioch, Ignatius Theophorus, by reason both of his own distinguished position and of the eminence of his judge; for the Emperor Trajan himself, during a campaign against the Parthians, happened to pass through Antioch, and Ignatius appeared before him to intercede on behalf of his flock. "Who art thou, evil spirit, who despisest my decrees?" asked Trajan. "A God-bearer cannot be called an evil spirit," replied Ignatius. "And what man is a God-bearer?" "He who bears Christ in his bosom." "Who is this Christ? He who was crucified under Pilate?" "I mean Him who crucified sin, my adored Lord." "And thinkest thou that those whom we worship are no gods?" "O king, you call the demons gods, for there is one God alone, He who created heaven and earth." "Very good," said Trajan; "I command that this man, who says he bears within him the crucified Christ, be sent in chains to Rome, and be torn to pieces by wild beasts for the entertainment of the Roman people." When he heard the Emperor's decision, Ignatius gave praise to God that he was to be glorified by the same end as the Apostle Paul had suffered; and, following his guards, he made the long journey to Rome, where before thousands of spectators he was thrown into the Coliseum and devoured by I wild beasts.
The Persecution Under Hadrian.
Trajan's successor was Hadrian (117-138), to whom two learned Christians, Quadratus, Bishop of Athens, and the Athenian philosopher, Aristides, addressed apologies for their brethren in the faith. Hadrian, who was a just emperor, was impressed by their arguments, and gave orders that henceforth Christians should not be molested merely to satisfy 'popular clamor, and only when they were convicted of common crimes should they be punished with death. But unfortunately even under Hadrian Christian blood was shed in Palestine, owing to a certain Jewish rebel, Bar-cochba, who stirred up his fellow-countrymen to revolt against the Roman rule. Bar-cochba was killed, and the rebellion was washed out with Jewish blood; while many innocent Christians perished, because Christianity was still popularly identified with Judaism. Hadrian obliterated the very name of Jerusalem, which he renamed "Aelia Capitolina," and raised a temple to Venus on Golgotha, and a statue of Jupiter on the Holy Sepulcher.
The Persecution Under Marcus Aurelius.
A new series of persecutions against the Christians was initiated by Marcus Aurelius (161-180). Partly because he resented their calm and courageous attitude in the face of death as an insult to his own Stoic virtue (for Marcus Aurelius was both Caesar and philosopher); partly because his people ascribed plagues and other similar disasters to the anger of the gods at their toleration of Christian godlessness, the Emperor rescinded the moderate laws of Hadrian. The persecution of Christians for their Christianity alone once more became the order of the day, and even torture was pressed into service to force them to recant. It was at this time that Polycarp, who with Ignatius had been a disciple of Saint John, was burned alive in the arena of Smyrna. "Wilt thou curse Christ?" the proconsul threatened him. "For eighty-six years have I served Him, and never has He done me wrong," answered the saint; "how then shall I now speak evil of my Lord and Savior?" The pagans sought to fasten him to the stake with nails, but Polycarp protested. "Your precautions are needless, for God will grant me strength to stand unbound amid the flames." These and other similar events took place in Asia Minor in 166. In 177 persecution broke out again more violently than ever, especially in Southern Gaul. At Lyons, among other victims, the nonagenarian Bishop of the town, Pothinus, succumbed to cruel tortures; while the slave girl Blandina was gored to death in the bull-ring. At Autun, Symphorian was beheaded for failing to kneel and adore the image of Cybele as its frenzied procession passed by. Ridiculing the Christian dogma of the resurrection of the dead, the pagans burnt the bodies of the martyrs and scattered their ashes on the waters of the Rhone, saying as they did so: "Now we shall see if they will arise from the dead, and if their God has power enough to save them from our hands!"
The Persecutions Under Septimus Severus and Maximin.
It is said that Septimius Severus (192-211) was at first favorably disposed towards the Christians, because he had been cured of a chronic disease through the prayers of a certain Christian slave named Proculus; but in 202 he suddenly changed his mind, and issued a decree forbidding the confession of Christianity on pain of death. This persecution did not, however, become general, and its victims were few and far between. In Egypt Saint Leonidas was beheaded, after receiving, while in prison, a remarkable letter from his fifteen-year old son, later the famous Origen, exhorting him not to weaken in the face of martyrdom. A young girl, Potamiaena, with her mother Marcella, was thrown into burning pitch; and so great was her fortitude that her executioner himself, Basilides, was moved to confess Christ and followed her to martyrdom. Perpetua, a noble matron of Carthage, was exposed to the goring of a mad bull with her baby in her arms, while her aged father vainly besought her to have pity on her own youth and on her child. Christianity was again persecuted by Maximin (235-238) who succeeded to the throne by murdering Alexander Severus. The latter had been well-disposed towards the Christians, and had set up a bust of Christ in his chapel by the side of his statues of Apollonius and Orpheus; and it was because the eclectic Alexander Severus had cultivated relationships with the Christian bishops that Maximin vented his hatred more particularly on them.
The Decian Persecution.
So far, all persecutions had been more or less local, depending mainly on the disposition of the provincial governors, of whom the more fanatical enforced the imperial decrees strictly, while the more tolerant found means to evade them. But in the reign of Decius (249-251) persecution became not only general, but severely systematic. Henceforth a time-limit was set for all Christians in every place, within which they were to present themselves before the authorities, sacrifice to the pagan gods, and thus obtain a certificate of recantation. Many Christians, yielding to torture, were forced to sacrifice against their conscience; others managed to buy their certificates, to the great sorrow of the Church, who considered such expedients as equivalent to apostasy. But many others, among whom were Alexander, Bishop of Jerusalem, Babylas of Antioch, and Fabian of Rome, preferred martyrdom to hypocrisy; and, indeed, the army of those who confessed their faith far outnumbered that of the poor-spirited and apostates. The "odious superstition," to which Decius, a true if misguided patriot, ascribed the decadence of the Roman Empire, proved itself to be stronger than human frailty.
The Persecution Under Valerian.
From 257 onwards, Valerian (253-260) in his turn renewed the anti-Christian policy of Decius. He attempted, by exiling their bishops, to render the Christian communities leaderless, and, therefore, more easily dissolvable. But the bishops, from their distant exile, not only communicated by letter with their flocks and directed them as if they had been present, but also spread the Gospel in the places where they were exiled. The martyrdom of Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, and Sixtus of Rome, took place in Valerian's reign; in Rome, too, the deacon Laurence was roasted, according to tradition, on a red-hot gridiron, because when the governor demanded the surrender of the Church's treasure, he pointed to the widows and orphans, saying, "Behold the treasure of the Church!"
The Persecution Under Diocletian.
The last and heaviest blow against Christianity was struck by Diocletian (284-305). Yielding on the one hand to the insistence of his fanatical son-in-law Galerius and of certain Neo-Platonic philosophers, who imagined that they might yet prop up the tottering gods of paganism, the Emperor also hoped by restoring uniformity of religion to weld together the fragments of his disintegrating empire. In A.D. 303 he therefore published at Nicaea his first edict against Christianity, and followed it immediately with three others. The Christian churches which had been built during the previous years of peace, were razed to the ground; the holy Scriptures were burnt, and bishops and priests were put to death. Christians who held public positions were stripped of their office. The prisons groaned with prisoners and the blood of martyrs flowed like a river. But this great trial passed at last without succeeding in obstructing the progress of the Gospel, for by this time Christianity held sway over at least one tenth of the subjects of the Roman Empire, and numbered among its members such eminent people as Diocletian's wife, Prisca, and his daughter, Valeria. In 305, Diocletian became insane and abdicated. In 311, Galerius was attacked by a fatal illness, and, ascribing it to his unjust treatment of the Christians, he issued an edict of toleration, signed jointly with his colleagues Constantine and Licinius, even inviting the Christians to pray for him. Christianity was triumphant.
3. The Triumph of Christianity over Paganism.
Constantine the Great.
The persecution of the Christians was not carried on uninterruptedly from beginning to end. There were peaceful intervals which enabled the victims to reorganize themselves and augment their numbers; for certain emperors, engrossed, like Heliogabalus (218-222), by a life of luxury, professing, like Alexander Severus (222-235), an eclectic philosophy, or in sympathy with Christianity, like Philip the Arabian (244-249), left the Christians undisturbed. But persecution was finally brought to an end by Constantine the Great, who was destined by Providence to enthrone Christianity as the official state religion, and whose great services to Christianity our Church still commemorates by honoring him as an "Isapostol," that is, equal to an Apostle.
The Vision of the Cross.
Constantine was the son of Constantius Chlorus, Caesar over Gaul, Britain and Spain, whom he succeeded in A.D. 306. Fortunate in having an eclectic father, and as mother the devout Christian Helena, he followed closely the unavailing struggle of expiring paganism against Christianity, and was not slow to realize that the religion of the future would be this new faith, which seemed to him to be of a supernatural character. He was still further strengthened in this belief by an episode which took place in A.D. 312, while he was marching towards Rome on a campaign against his colleague Maxentius, Augustus of the West. About mid-day, he saw the sign of the Cross mysteriously traced on the sky, with the words "By this conquer" and as he slept that night, Christ appeared and exhorted him to adopt this symbol as his imperial banner. He did as he was commanded, and his subsequent victory over the pagan Maxentius was the victory of Christian truth over pagan error.
Constantine as the Champion of Christianity.
Thus Constantine became sole ruler in the West, and in conjunction with his colleague in the East, Licinius, issued an edict of toleration at Milan, which was designed to favor the propagation of the Gospel in an unprecedented way. In 323 he broke with Licinius also, and after defeating him and being proclaimed sole ruler, he soon proceeded to manifest his interest in Christianity by more vigorous measures. He restored to the Christian communities property that had been confiscated from them by the civil authorities, and conferred on them the right to receive gifts and bequests. He introduced into the army, for the first time, a monotheistic form of prayer; supplied churches with copies of sacred Scriptures, appointed Sunday as a holiday, and forbade crucifixion as a method of execution for criminals. He helped his pious mother to find the True Cross on Golgotha and to build the Holy Sepulcher; and when, in 330, he built Constantinople, on the site of old Byzantium by the Bosphorus, and adorned it with churches and other admirable monuments, he called it "New Rome," to mark it as the starting-point of his new life, cut off for ever from the abominations of Ancient Rome. But Constantine was clever enough to avoid making sudden changes which might arouse resentment and hamper his work of reform; thus, he instigated no persecutions against the pagans, and retained the title of "Pontifex Maximus" as an inseparable adjunct to his imperial status. His private life, like that of all monarchs who live in a suspicious environment, was not free from ugly blots; before he was baptized, Constantine was responsible for the death of his wife Fausta and his son Crispus. But the sincere repentance with which he received Baptism at the end of his life purified his soul from guilt, and much will be forgiven him for the great love he bore to God's Church. David, too, was a sinner; yet he holds his rightful place in the gallery of the saints by virtue of his repentance, which washed out his two-fold sin, and handed down to posterity his great work for the Lord pure and untarnished.
The Sons of Constantine the Great.
Constantine the Great died in 337, leaving three sons, Constantine II, Constantius and Constans, who, unfortunately, did not follow the prudent policy of their father. Instead of leaving paganism, which was decaying from day to day, to expire of its own accord, as Constantine had done, they made use of violence. They closed pagan temples forcibly, and exacted from their courtiers a profession of Christianity that only served to make hypocrites of them. This policy defeated its own ends, for it aroused the fanaticism of the persecuted pagans, and drove them to band themselves together in secret machinations until a suitable opportunity presented itself for the public outbreak of fierce opposition. This opportunity occurred on the accession of Julian to the imperial throne. Though a nephew of Constantine the Great, this dreaming poet was a lover of the pagan gods, to whom he was drawn as much by his natural disposition for poetry as by reason of the many acts of violence and murder committed against his family by the sons of Constantine the Great.
Julian the Apostate.
Julian imagined that he had been designated by fate to revive the religion of paganism, and this belief was covertly fostered by the philosophers of his day. At first he pretended to be a Christian, and even read the Scriptures in church. But in 361 Constantius, who in consequence of his brothers' death had been sole ruler since 353, died suddenly; and Julian, ascending the throne to the acclamation of his soldiers, who adored him for his military virtues, showed himself in his true colors as a violent hater of Christianity. He forbade the attendance of Christians in the Greek schools, ironically relegating them to the Galileans, Matthew and Luke. He summoned turbulent bishops back from exile to foment quarrels and disturbances in the Christian communities. He imposed taxes on the clergy, and abolished the Church's right to receive bequests. He sent builders to Jerusalem to reconstruct the Jewish temple, which had been destroyed in the reign of Titus (A.D. 70), in order to belie the Lord's prophecy concerning its destruction. He tried to revive oracles that had for years been silent, presided over public pagan ceremonies, often himself sacrificing elaborate hecatombs. He introduced into paganism choir-singing, the preaching of sermons, and collections for the poor, all features borrowed from Christianity. But all his efforts were in vain, and after a reign of only twenty months the Apostate and Transgressor for so history has stigmatized him, died from a wound in the liver which he received in battle against the Persians. It is said that as he lay dying he filled his hand with blood from his wound, and, shaking the drops of blood into the air as though Christ stood before him, he cried with his dying breath: "Thou has conquered, Galilean!"
The Successors of Julian Abolish Paganism.
The Emperors who succeeded Julian continued the policy of Constantine the Great, but with ever-increasing severity against paganism. It was during the reign of Valentinian I (d. 375) that idolatry was first characterized as "paganismus," that is, the religion of the villages, for by then it had been practically eradicated from the great centers. Gratian (d. 383) considered that the time had come to divest himself of the title of Great High Priest, which Constantine the Great had retained, as has been said, in order not to offend the susceptibilities of the majority of his subjects; it was Gratian, too, who ordered the removal of the altar to Victory that had stood from olden times in the Roman Senate. In the reign of Theodosius I the Great (d. 395) the colossal statue of Serapis in Alexandria was pulled down and burnt, to the amazement of its worshippers, who expected the destruction of the statue to herald the end of the world; and at the same time laws were enacted severely forbidding idolatry, which afforded an excuse to misguided Christians, both laymen and monks, to set upon idols and idolaters with sticks and hatchets. Under Theodosius II (d. 450) certain bigoted Christians in Alexandria, biding their time, attacked the Neoplatonic philosopher Hypatia, who was renowned for her wisdom, beauty and virtue, and murdered her, thereby disfiguring with an indelible blot the pages of Christian history, for Hypatia was revered even by Christian bishops. To the list of violent measures against paganism must also be added the suppression of the Philosophical School in Athens, under Justinian in 529. This was the last remaining refuge of paganism, and was frequented even by the great fathers of the Church, who recognized its scholastic value.
Christianity in Armenia and Iberia.
While Christianity was thus spreading within the Roman Empire, it sought at the .same time new fields of conquest outside it; in Asia among the Armenians, Iberians, Persians, Arabs and Indians; in Africa among the Abyssinians and in reconstructed Europe among tribes that had just appeared for the first time. The Armenians received Christianity mainly from Gregory, who flourished in the fourth century and was rightly called the "Illuminator." Gregory, fleeing from the wrath of King Tiridates, who had slaughtered all his home, took refuge to Caesarea in Cappadocia, where he was brought up in the Christian faith. Returning to his native land, he preached Jesus with such fervor that even the savage Tiridates himself was baptized with his whole court, and drew his subjects after him to Christianity. The work of the Illuminator was continued by Narses, Sahak and especially Mesrop, who invented the Armenian Alphabet in 400 and translated the Holy Scriptures, thus giving the first impetus to the creation of an admirable Armenian literature. The Iberians or Georgians, neighbors of the Armenians, were evangelized in the fourth century by a devout Armenian captive, Nonna by name, whom the Iberians still honor as an apostle. It is said that a certain child had fallen sick, and according to the local custom, the parents carried it from house to house, in the hope of finding some skilled healer who might cure it. When they reached the house of Nonna, she prayed to Christ and healed the child. This story spread to the palace, where the Queen also lay ill; and Nonna, summoned thither, cured the Queen also, thus winning the people through their rulers.
Christianity in Persia, Arabia, India and Abyssinia.
There appear to have been a considerable number of Christians in Persia during the fourth century with the Bishop of Seleucia and Ctesiphon as their head; for how otherwise could we account for the vast multitudes who suffered martyrdom for the Faith during the persecutions instigated by the two kings Shahpoor and Bahram? Unfortunately, however, Christianity did not survive in Persia. The national religion of the Persians was Zoroastrianism, which admits two gods and tries to explain through them every phenomenon both of good and evil; and they naturally hated any religion which provided them with a different explanation. They were, moreover, constantly engaged in wars against the Byzantines, which, while it gave them yet another reason for persecuting the religion of their mortal enemies, also prompted them to receive with open arms various Christian heretics, as adversaries of the official religion of the Byzantine Empire. In Arabia, too, Christianity made a brief appearance; under the sons of Constantine the Great, it was preached there by monks and hermits, but was finally extinguished in the seventh century by the advent of Mohammedanism, with which we shall deal more fully later. About the year 535, Cosmas Indicopleustes encountered Christians in India who called themselves "Christians of Thomas," claiming to have first received the Gospel from that Apostle. In Abyssinia, the Gospel was preached by the noble Frumentius, who fell into the hands of the Abyssinians in 327. Later, he went to Alexandria, where he was ordained bishop by Athanasius the Great, and returned to continue his missionary work in Abyssinia.
Christianity and the New Peoples of the West.
In the fourth century the West was overrun by the barbarous peoples from the north, known by the common term of Germans, whose incursions devastated Europe. The Ostrogoths were the first among them to embrace Christianity, thanks mainly to the efforts of Ulfilas the Cappadocian (d. 388) who was their bishop for forty years, during which time he invented the Gothic alphabet and translated the Scriptures. From the Ostrogoths, Christianity spread to the Wisigoths, who sacked Rome in 410; the Vandals, who in 439 established a great empire in North Africa; the Lombards, who poured into Italy during the sixth century; and to many other tribes. But all these tribes received Christianity in the form of Arianism. Only the Franks, who became Christians in 496 under Clovis and his Christian wife Clotilda, received the Orthodox faith; and little by little, through Frankish influence, the other tribes abjured their Arian error. The Irish, whose religion was druidic nature-worship, were won for Christ by Saint Patrick (d. 493), who at his death left a multitude of churches and disciples to continue his work. Two of his disciples, Columba and Columbanus, preached the Gospel to the Scots and the Swiss respectively. A great contribution to the spread of Christianity in the West was made by Pope Gregory the Great, who made monasticism a missionary organ, and in 597 sent the monk Augustine with his forty companions to England, to evangelize the Anglo-Saxons. Gregory the Great is the most vivid incarnation of the Papacy, of that Papacy which rose to the zenith of its glory by exploiting every political anomaly, and foundered in the corruption of the Middle Ages, only to rise again later as a more compact, despotic and militant system than before.
4. The Perils of Heresy.
The Attitude of the Church Towards Heretics.
As the life of Christ's Church was threatened from without by fire and sword, so it was endangered from within by heresy. The word "heresy" means "choice"; thus, the heretics, not satisfied with the plain unvarnished truth of the Gospels and wishing to combine Christian ideology with others foreign to it, chose from here and there whatever pleased them and so composed a medley of conflicting ideas which they substituted for the pure faith. The Church, as the depository of the true apostolic Christian faith, took note of these errors; and, summoning her canonical representatives to local or general Councils, she scrupulously examined the subjects in question on the basis of the Holy Scriptures and the Apostolic Tradition, and declared which was the true faith and which the distorted heresy. Owing to the fact that many heretics forged so-called "sacred" documents in support of their errors and included them among the Holy Scriptures, while others referred to traditions of their own invention, the Church was very soon obliged to ascertain and define both the Canon of the Holy Scriptures and the true Apostolic Tradition, which was not transient or sectarian, but had been preserved "always, everywhere, by every" believer in Christ. The Church reaped other benefits, too, from her conflicts with heresy, being forced on the one hand to improve her system of government in order more effectually to counter the heretics; and on the other hand to perfect her preaching of sermons and her psalmody, in order to popularize orthodox doctrines, as they had done to disseminate their false teaching.
Judaic Heretics: Ebionites, Nazarenes and Elkesaites.
The first heresies against which the Church had to struggle were Judaic, as was only natural, since Christianity first sprang up on Jewish soil, and some of the Jewish proselytes found it difficult to renounce their old ways of thought. There were three main sects of Judaic heretics. Firstly, the Ebionites, who insisted on the Jewish rite of circumcision as well as on Christian Baptism, and rejected all the Holy Scriptures except the Pentateuch in the Old Testament and the Gospel of St. Matthew in the New, mutilating even these to suit their tastes. They set Christ almost on the level with Moses; and were called Ebionites that is, poor, because they had but a poor and low conception of Jesus Christ. Secondly, the Nazarenes, whose creed was a little higher than that of Ebionites; for they accepted the Bible in its entirety, and taught that Christ was born supernaturally, and was therefore greater than the prophets, but insisted on circumcision, to which they ascribed eternal validity. They were known as Nazarenes because they considered themselves the true and original followers of the Nazarene; for at first all Christians were called Nazarenes. And thirdly, the Elkesaites, so called after their leader Elkesai, who on the one hand mingled Judaism with Christianity, honoring the commands of the Law as though they were eternal dogmas and rejecting from the Bible all the books that did not tally with their doctrine; and on the other hand dabbled in the occult arts, and boasted their own Holy Scriptures, which, they claimed, had been communicated to them exclusively by God.
Judaic Heretics: Cerinthians.
Another sect of Judaic heretics was that of the Cerinthians, whose leader was Cerinthus, a contemporary of the Apostles. It is said that St. John the Evangelist once met Cerinthus at a public bath, whither he himself had gone to wash and thereupon rushed out again, crying: "Let us fly from this place, lest the bath crumble in; for Cerinthus is here, the enemy of truth " Like all the Jewish heretics, Cerinthus denounced St. Paul as an enemy to circumcision, and rejected his Epistles. His teaching on the Savior was curious; for he asserted that originally Jesus was a mere man, the son of Joseph and Mary, but that when he was baptized in the Jordan, Christ descended upon him in the form of a dove and gave the man Jesus power to perform the miracles of His public ministry. At the Crucifixion, Christ and Jesus were separated; Christ ascending again to Heaven, while Jesus, abandoned to his human frailty, suffered death on the Cross. Cerinthus is also held by some to be the author of the heresy of Chiliasm or Millenarianism, a false doctrine based on the Psalmist's saying that a thousand years in the sight of the Lord are but as a single day. From this it deduces that since the world was created in six days, followed by the Sabbath, it will therefore continue to exist for six thousand years, after which will come a millennium of feasting and sensual delights, which will be the Messianic age. A kind of spiritual millennium was preached by certain of the Christian Fathers during the persecutions, inspired by the belief that Christ would soon return again, bringing them salvation. But the gross delusion of imaginations fevered by materialistic Jewish dreams.
While the Judaic heresies sought to graft Christianity on to Judaism, the Gnostics tried, with a strange lack of judgment and unbridled imagination, to adulterate the divine Revelation with the inventions of human philosophy. The doctrines of these heretics, too, were many and various, some of them (those of the Alexandrians) being influenced by Platonic philosophy, while others (those of the Syrians) were based on Persian dualism; but certain characteristics were common to all Gnostics. They believed themselves to be the privileged recipients of a special revelation from pod, which they called "gnosis," or knowledge, and by virtue of which they were able to solve the problems of life. Since the hardest problem of all is the existence of evil, they imagined that they had solved it by attributing it to matter, in which the fallen souls from the world of light are held captive. But because God, as He is portrayed in the Gospels, is a God of goodness, and it was not possible for evil matter to proceed from a good God, they were driven to the supposition that there were two Gods, the God of the New Testament, Who ruled over the kingdom of light, and the God of the Old Testament, Who created matter and was the "Demiurgus," or Creator of the universe. According to the Gnostics, therefore, matter and the flesh are to be abhorred as creations of the God of Evil; and many of them submitted their body to unheard-of torments and privations, while others, on the contrary, degraded it with every form of vice in order to show their contempt for the flesh. Christ, in the opinion of most Gnostics, was simply a divine emanation, a spirit sent from the world of light to liberate the souls that were groaning in the bonds of matter. But if Christ were a spirit, and belonged entirely to the kingdom of light (so the Gnostics reasoned), His connection with matter would be utterly impossible and incongruous. Christ, then, did not put on fleshly form; God and man did not unite in the person of the Savior, and the alleged Incarnation was only an "appearance," an illusion, a figment of the imagination of the beholders.
Another heresy based on Persian dualism was Manichaeism, which was started in the third century by the Persian Mani. He also believed in the existence of two principles, uncreated and eternal, perpetually warring against each other; God, Lord of the kingdom of light, and Satan, Lord of the kingdom of darkness. Satan, tempted by the kingdom of light, had once tried to enter into it, whereupon God brought forth man from the Mother of Life and sent him to fight against the powers of darkness. But the powers of darkness, in their struggle with man, attacked his soul, and would have utterly destroyed him, had not God hastened to the rescue by clothing Christ, Who dwelt in the sun, with an imaginary body and sending Him down to earth, where by His teaching He achieved the redemption of man. But, unfortunately, according to the Manichaeans, the Galileans (that is, the Apostles) had misinterpreted the teaching of Christ, Who therefore sent Mani, greater than the Apostles (for he was the Comforter foretold by Christ), to disentangle truth from error. Hence the Manichaeans rejected all the canonical books of the New Testament, substituting gospels and epistles of their own invention. They considered Mani and his successors as the representatives of Christ, and appointed about them 12 teachers and 72 bishops, corresponding to the 12 Apostles and 72 Disciples of the Lord. Further, they divided themselves into two classes, the Hearers or outer circle, and the Initiate or inner circle. On the latter was imposed not only strict celibacy, but also abstention from all animal food, and scrupulous respect for the life of insects and flowers.
Among the heretics who appeared during the first few centuries of Christianity must be numbered the Antitrinitarians of the second and third centuries, who tried to elucidate the supernatural doctrine of the Holy Trinity by human reasoning. The problem which they set themselves was to reconcile the doctrine of the Trinity with Christian Monotheism. Some, like Theodotus the Tanner and Paul of Samosata, ascribed divinity to the Father alone, and relegated the Son to the status of a prophet, great indeed and unique, but a mere mortal man who had received inspiration and illumination from on high. Others, like Noetus of Smyrna and Sabellius the Libyan, acknowledged a single divine Person Who manifested himself in different forms according to the different needs of the world, adopting at the Creation the figure of the Father, at the Redemption that of the Son, and during His guidance of the Church, that of the Holy Ghost. These individual opinions, which had nothing in common with the Christian faith, were condemned sporadically by the early Fathers, until more violent discussions on the person of the Savior impelled the Church to define and interpret her teaching clearly at successive Ecumenical Synods.
5. The First Six Ecumenical Synods.
At the beginning of the fourth century, a certain presbyter of Alexandria, Arius by name, a man of strict morality, but more attached to profane learning than to Gospel truth, preached that Christ was created by God the Father as a tool by means of which He might create the Universe; that He was the first of all created things but had not existed eternally; that there had been a time when He was not, and He was, therefore, inferior to God the Father. These platonic theories came to the notice of his bishop, Alexander, who summoned a local Synod in Alexandria in 321, and condemned them as contrary to the Gospel. But Arius, who believed that only the adoption of his theories could preserve monotheism in Christianity, not only continued to uphold his personal opinions, but by means of hymns and other methods of popularization disseminated them among an ever-widening circle. Other churchmen joined him, and as the unity of the Church was in peril, in order to calm men's minds and restore peace among them, Constantine the Great summoned to Nicaea in 325 a great Synod, which was attended by representatives from every part of the world, and was therefore known as an Ecumenical, or Universal, Synod.
The First Ecumenical Synod.
There were present at this Synod many distinguished men, some famous for their learning and virtue, some for their ascetic life, and others for the marks of martyrdom which Diocletian's persecution had inflicted on them. But in theological skill they were all overshadowed by Athanasius the Great, who was still only a deacon to the Bishop of Alexandria. On the basis of Holy Scripture and Tradition, he demonstrated that the Son of God, far from being created by the Father, was born of Him, of His own substance, before all the ages, and that consequently the Son does not differ in His nature from the Father, but forms with Him a single Godhead. Nearly all those present approved him, and the following formula was inserted in the Creed: "And [I believe] in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father only-born, that is of the essence of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, Very God from Very God, begotten, not made, of one and the same essence of the Father; through Whom all things were made." This Creed was signed by all the Fathers present, over 300 in number, and was ordained as the exact expression of the Church's doctrine on her divine Founder. Arius and two of his supporters who refused to sign the Creed were sent into exile.
The Second Ecumenical Synod.
Unfortunately, this official condemnation did not prevent Arianism from continuing to disturb the Church's peace. After a very short time, Arius succeeded, with the help of powerful friends at court, in obtaining his recall from exile, and even contrived to banish Athanasius, the leader of the Orthodox party, who had been made Bishop of Alexandria at the death of Alexander. Arius, the cause of the whole disturbance, died in 336. A new party was then formed, whose members called themselves "Semi-Arians" and sought to reconcile Arians and Orthodox by substituting for the word "homoousios" (i.e. of the same essence) in the Creed the word "homoiousios" (i.e. of similar essence). But another party rose in opposition to these mediators, maintaining that Christ, being born of the Father, is neither "homoousios" nor "homoiousios," but "anomoios," or "unlike." Thus the Church was more and more torn by dissension owing partly to the stubbornness of certain bishops, who disregarded their signature of the Nicene Creed, and especially to the forcible interference of the imperial court in theological disputes, for the tyrannical emperors Constantius (353-361) and Valens (364-378), who supported the Arians, persecuted the Orthodox party mercilessly. In the end, however, the Creed laid down at the Nicene Synod emerged triumphant as the only doctrine embodying the spirit of the Gospel, and sealed by the approval of the most eminent Fathers of the age, who included the three famous Cappadocians, Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa, and Gregory of Nazianzus. When, therefore, the Orthodox emperor, Theodosius the Great, ascended the throne, he immediately convened a second Ecumenical Synod which met in Constantinople in 381, and, confirming the decisions of the First Ecumenical Synod, pronounced them to be the Orthodox view of the Universal Church. From then onwards, Arianism disappeared, though it found a temporary refuge with the Goths, as has already been seen, and with other barbarian tribes. The Second Ecumenical Synod also condemned Macedonius, who taught that the Holy Ghost had been created by the Son, just as, according to the Arians, the Son had been created by the Father. It was, therefore, formally stated in the Creed that the Holy Ghost "proceeds from the Father, and is worshipped and glorified with the Father and the Son," partaking of the same divine essence and nature.
The Third Ecumenical Synod.
The Second Ecumenical Synod affirmed not only the perfect divinity of Christ, but also His perfect humanity, by condemning the heresy of Apollinarianism, which began to spread in 362. This heresy consisted in the denial of a "rational" soul to the incarnate Logos, asserting that the God-Man took on only the "irrational" soul and material body, having His divinity in place of the rational soul. The Fathers protested against this, maintaining that if the incarnate Logos did not assume full humanity with its rational soul, He left our noblest part unhealed; "for that which He did not assume, He did not heal." These were the arguments which the Fathers at the Second Synod opposed to Apollinarianism; but they had as yet no definite and crystallized idea of the manner in which the full divinity and the full humanity of Christ were united in His person. Some held that the relation was extremely close; others, extremely loose. Nestorius, the Archbishop of Constantinople, was of the latter opinion, and drew so sharp a distinction between the two natures in Christ, that he came eventually to recognize two persons in Him, maintaining that Christ, the son of Mary, was one, and Christ, the Son of God, was another; so that Mary should be rightly called "Christotokos" (i.e. Mother of Christ) and not "Theotokos" (i.e. Mother of God). To combat this heresy, Theodosius II summoned to Ephesus in 431 the Third Ecumenical Synod, which affirmed that the Church confesses one Christ, one Son, one Lord, Who is at once both God and Man, Who was born of the Father before all the ages, and became incarnate through the Virgin Mary at the appointed time. In his pride, Nestorius refused to yield to the unanimous decision of the Church, and preferred to retire into exile, where he died in 440. A similar fate befell his supporters; persecuted by the Orthodox, they took refuge with the Persians, who received them with open arms, as a hostile gesture towards the Byzantine Empire.
The Fourth Ecumenical Synod.
Nestorius had considered the relation between the two natures of Christ to be so loose that he distinguished in them two separate persons, united only by a moral tie such as is created, for instance, between man and wife by marriage. At the other extreme, Eutychius and Dioscorus held the union to be so close that they taught that, after the Incarnation of the Son and Logos, not two but one single nature should be spoken of; that is, the divine, which had either absorbed the human into itself, or had mingled and fused with it. It was in order to condemn this other extreme of opinion, known as Monophysitism, that the Fourth Ecumenical Synod met at Chalcedon in 451, in the reign of the Empress Pulcheria. This Synod issued a Decree which both reaffirmed the pronouncements of the Third Synod, that the Lord is one and the same, perfect in Godhead as in manhood, and that two natures exist in the God-Man, and also laid it down that these two natures are united in the single Person of the Logos, not only "without distinction and without separation," but "without confusion and without change" as well, the one nature suffering neither annihilation nor alteration by the other.
The Fifth Ecumenical Synod.
The decisions of the Synod of Chalcedon were not, however, universally accepted. The Armenians, considering that the Decree of Chalcedon verged on Nestorianism, rejected it at a local Synod which met at Etchmiadzin in 491. The Copts of Egypt, their neighbors the Abyssinians, and the Syrian Jacobites likewise preferred to break away from the Catholic Church and to found schismatic Monophysite communities rather than admit two separate natures in Christ, a doctrine which they thought amounted to cutting in two the Person of the God-Man and returning to the teaching of Nestorius. In order to emphasize the difference between the recognition of two persons in Christ, which was the heretical opinion held by Nestorius, and the recognition of two natures in one Person, which was the Orthodox teaching of the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, the Emperor, Justinian the Great, following the now established custom, convened the Fifth Ecumenical Synod at Constantinople in 553. This Synod condemned certain Theological works of Nestorian flavor, hoping thereby to conciliate the Monophysites and to persuade them to return to the Catholic Church.
The Sixth Ecumenical Synod.
Another method was followed by the Emperor Heraclius (611-641), who was moved chiefly by political considerations and was striving by every means to maintain the threatened unity of his empire. He tried to reconcile Monophysites and Orthodox on the basis of the formula of "two natures in Christ, but one activity," or, as a later edict phrased it, "two natures in Christ, but one will." This solution of the controversy, known under the name of Monotheletism, was not, however, acceptable to the Orthodox theologians, who pronounced it contrary to the Gospel and to sound reasoning. If Christ had two natures, it was inevitable that He should also have had two activities, as God working miracles, rising from the dead, and ascending into Heaven; as man, performing the ordinary acts of daily life. Similarly, if He had two natures, each one must have £ad its individual will. In 680, therefore, under Constantine Pogonatus, the Sixth Ecumenical Synod was convened at Constantinople. Its members condemned Monotheletism as a heresy, and laid it down that as in Jesus Christ there are two natures, unconfused, unchanged, inseparable and indivisible, so also there are in Him two natural activities and two wills, which do not strive against each other, since the human will subordinates itself to the all-powerful divine will. To this very day one small community still adheres to Monotheletism; it is that of the Maronites of Lebanon.
Pelagianism and Augustinianism.
Christological controversies were not the only matter dealt with by the aforementioned Ecumenical Synods. They touched on other subjects, too, concerning either the faith or the conduct and discipline of the Church. Noteworthy among the former was Pelagianism, a heresy which mainly concerned the West, but which was condemned by the Third Ecumenical Synod at Ephesus as inconsistent with existing facts. Pelagius, a monk from Britain who found his way to Africa, denied the innate sinful-ness of mankind and held that human nature had enough capacity for good to practice virtue by its own unaided powers, thus assigning to Divine Grace a role of secondary importance in the work of salvation, and to our Lord's death on the Cross a merely instructive value as a model of self-sacrifice for the imitation of humanity. The false psychology of this doctrine was exposed by Augustine, Bishop of Hippo in Africa, the most eminent teacher of the Western Church, who took up arms against Pelagius, but himself went astray at the other extreme. While Pelagius taught that the human soul is wholly free from sinfulness, Augustine maintained that it was wholly corrupt, that man contributed nothing towards his own righteousness, and that his salvation was the work of God alone, Who arbitrarily predestines one to salvation, another to perdition. The Church rejected this extreme view, as she had done the other. Man is spiritually neither wholly sound nor wholly dead, he is sick; and while his salvation is mainly the product of God's grace and of the redemptive death of the Savior, his own will and effort also operate in a secondary way.
6. The Most Eminent Fathers.
The Apostolic Fathers.
The title of "Fathers" is given to those distinguished men of the first eight centuries of the Christian era who combined profound learning with a saintly life and perfect purity of faith, and who strengthened others in the Christian life by their written and spoken word. Those who had every kind of knowledge, but whose faith was in some way imperfect, are called "teachers," and are not entitled to equal honor with the Fathers, although they, too, contributed all that was humanly possible. The earliest Fathers were the Apostolic Fathers, so named because they were the disciples and fellow-workers or contemporaries of the Apostles. These are Clement, Bishop of Rome (d. 100), who worked with the Apostle Paul; Barnabas the Cypriot, who also preached the Gospel with Paul, and who, tradition says, was stoned to death by the Jews at Salamis in Cyprus; Ignatius of Antioch, whose martyrdom under Trajan in 115 has already been mentioned; Polycarp of Smyrna, whose martyrdom under Marcus Aurelius in 166 has also been mentioned; and two or three others. Written memorials of all these men have survived, chiefly in the form of occasional epistles to various Christian communities. They form a slender but precious volume; for the works of the Apostolic Fathers were written immediately after the holy books of the New Testament, and are inspired by a supreme love of and devotion to the Savior.
The writers who succeeded the Apostolic Fathers represent, as it were, the adolescence of Church Literature. As their common characteristic is a bold defense of the faith, they have been called the Apologists. We have already met two such apologists: Quadratus, Bishop of Athens, and the Athenian philosopher, Aristides, both of whom presented apologies to the Emperor Hadrian on behalf of their unjustly persecuted fellow-Christians. To them must be added the philosopher, Justin, who addressed two apologies to Marcus Aurelius, under whom he was martyred in 166; the Athenian, Athenagoras, who flourished between the years 170-180, and addressed an "Intercession on behalf of the Christians" to the Emperors Marcus Aurelius and Commodus; and Theophilus of Antioch (d. 182), who submitted an exposition of the Christian faith to his pagan friend Autolycus. All three present a sincere and detailed account of the beliefs of the Christians and of their manner of life, thus giving the lie to the false and unfounded accusations of their enemies that they met by night to indulge in orgies and to slaughter and eat new-born babes. Justin especially was an excellent apologist, and defended Christianity not only against the pagans, but also, in another work entitled "A dialogue with Trypho," against the Jews. His life was a tireless search for truth; one after another, he went through every system of philosophy, and sat under every learned man of his age, without finding satisfaction for his spiritual craving, until finally he attained peace in Christianity. To the end of his days he continued to wear the philosopher's gown, convinced that Christianity was the only infallible philosophy of life.
Representatives of the Schools of Asia Minor and Africa.
Like a tree, whose branches multiply and extend as it grows, Christian learning, which had had such small beginnings, now began to broaden out into various Schools, or methods of study and interpretation. These were the Schools of Asia Minor, of Africa, of Alexandria, and of Antioch. The chief characteristic of the School of Asia Minor was devotion to a primitive and uncorrupted orthodoxy of faith; that of the African School, the practical and austere nature of their moral code; that of the Alexandrian, a speculative, philosophical and allegorical spirit; and that of the Antiochian, the sober and literal interpretation of Holy Writ. An example of the School of Asia Minor is Irenaeus (d. 202), who, born in Asia Minor, where he studied under Saint Polycarp, later went to France and became Bishop of Lyons, where he was martyred. His most important work is Against Heresies, in which, as a faithful guardian of the truth, he defends the orthodox doctrines against every corruption, and denounces those who diverge from them. As representatives of the African School, Tertullian (d. 220), a presbyter of Carthage, and Cyprian (d. 258), Bishop of Carthage, may be mentioned. The former, who invented the language of ecclesiastical Latin and always spoke with contempt of secular learning, was the sternest advocate of austere morality and was driven to Montanism by his excessive ascetism. The latter, a perfect type of the Christian pastor, was uncompromising in his hostility towards those who had betrayed the faith in time of persecution, and was beheaded for the sake of his principles under Valerian. Both left us essays, dogmatic, ethical, interpretative or occasional, in which their austere manner of life is mirrored.
Representatives of the Alexandrian School.
The Alexandrian School was founded by Pantaenus and continued by Clement the Alexandrian and Origen. According to this School, Christianity is the highest form of knowledge, and the perfect Christian is the "gnostic"; that is, he who not only believes, but has knowledge and understanding of his faith. This ideal Clement set before himself in his trilogy Address to the Greeks, The Tutor, and the Miscellanies, in which he gradually leads his pupil from paganism to the height of Christian perfection. The life of Clement was similar to that of Justin; he, too, beginning as a pagan philosopher, later embraced the Gospel as the only satisfactory philosophy. His works are a treasury of Greek wisdom; but, great as he was, he was surpassed in genius, industry and fertility by his successor Origen, who was surnamed the Adamantine.
Origen was the son of Leonidas the martyr, whom, as we have seen, he urged not to fear death for Christ's sake, when he was yet a child. It has been said that the wrote more books than a man could read in a life-time. As an apologist, he wrote his treatise Against Celsus, in which he refutes the idle accusations of that formidable enemy of Christianity. As a writer on dogma, he has left us his work On Principles, the first example of Christian Dogmatics. As a commentator, he composed long commentaries on almost every part of the Bible. As a critic, he labored at the Hexapla, wherein he set out in six parallel columns the original and the translations which existed in his day, in order to determine the original text. Unfortunately, this man, whose great zeal for Christ drove him even into Arabia to preach the Gospel, and who converted Julia Mammaea, the mother of the Emperor Alexander Severus, strayed into certain errors of individual opinion which have made later generations hostile to his memory. But in spite of this, to Origen belongs the glory of having laid the foundations of almost every branch of Theology, and of having been the master of those who followed after; for many of the great Fathers of the Church were educated by his writings. His death was consistent with his life, for he succumbed in 254 to wounds inflicted upon him during the Decian persecution.
To the Alexandrian School also belong Saint Athanasius and the three Cappadocians, Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa, and Gregory of Nazianzus, who bring us to the most glorious epoch of Greek Church Literature. It was the "Golden Age," which produced spiritual works of such perfection, eloquence, profundity and originality, that not only were they to remain unsurpassed, but were to serve as patterns and models to posterity. Athanasius (d. 373), who was small of stature but mighty of spirit, was the fearless champion of Orthodoxy, for whose sake he fought for forty-five years, and was ten times sent into exile. There were times when he seemed to be abandoned by all and struggling alone against kings and peoples; but he was fighting for truth, and in the end truth triumphed. In the course of his troubled and wandering life he found time to write treatises appropriate to the times, to compose long epistles and apologies and to devote himself to the study of Holy Scriptures. His works are characterized by wealth and depth of meaning and by a severe dialectic method, though they are not always perfectly polished in style; for Athanasius was constantly in want, and wrote more often upon his knee than in the quietness of a study.
The Three Cappadocians.
The battles waged for Orthodoxy by Athanasius were continued by the three Cappadocians. Basil (d. 379), whose mother, Emmelia, was a most devout woman, studied philosophy in Athens. There he made a life-long friend of his fellow-student, Gregory of Nazianzus, with whom he retired, when their philosophical studies were ended, to a hermitage in Pontus, in order to study the works of Origen, and to prepare himself for a theological career. Basil's learning and virtue soon raised him to the archbishopric of Caesarea, which long remained under his pastoral care. To him is due the credit for having founded the first poor-house in the world, called by his contemporaries the "Basilias," on which he expended his whole income. His love of Orthodoxy brought him into conflict with the Arian Emperor Valens, before whom he remained undaunted. His interpretative, doctrinal and ethical treatises, like his letters, shine out in the front rank of the world's literature, and justify the title bestowed on him, "torch-bearer of the universe." In his homilies on the Hexaemeron, he blends religion with natural science for the understanding of the people; and his Advice to the young on how to profit by the writings of the ancient Greek authors is worthy of study. His death was lamented, not by Christians alone, but even by Jews and pagans. His brother, Gregory of Nyssa (d. 394), excels in his works rather as a speculative philosopher and scholar than as a practical moralist. Philosophical speculation also characterizes the work of Gregory of Nazianzus (d. 390), already mentioned as the friend of Basil, whom the people named "the Theologian" on account of the sermons on the divinity of the Logos which he preached against the Arian heresy in the church of Saint Anastasia at Constantinople, in order to draw the current of popular opinion back into the channels of uncorrupted faith. So popular had Gregory become at that time that Theodosius the Great invited him to become Archbishop of Constantinople, a position from which he soon retired when he realized the perpetual machinations of which it was the center. Poet in his poetry and his sermons, Gregory was a poet in his life also, being the opposite to his practical and phlegmatic friend, Basil.
A Representative of the School of Antioch: Chrysostom.
If the above-mentioned Fathers are brilliant examples of the Alexandrian School of thought, the School of Antioch is most worthily represented by John (d. 407), who for his great eloquence was surnamed the "Golden-Mouthed," or "Chrysostom." His father was the pagan Secundus; his mother, Anthousa, a Christian, who widowed early in life, entrusted his education to Libanius, the most famous sophist of the day. So great was the boy's devotion to learning that when asked by the pagans whom he would leave as his successor, Libanius answered: "John, unless the Christians steal him from us." But John, who had hardly known his father, followed his mother's religion and was baptized, later becoming a presbyter at Antioch, where he delivered sermons for many years. His speech was golden, and his life the life of a saint. His fame spread to the imperial court at the capital, whither the king, Arcadius, enticed him by a ruse, and persuaded him to become Archbishop of Constantinople, to the great joy of the people. But John was not only the protector of the poor and the oppressed; he was a fearless censor of crime and corruption in high places. This roused the enmity of the Empress Eudoxia, whose own conduct was not above reproach, and with the assistance of other sinners she contrived to banish the holy man to the depths of Armenia, where eventually he died in the midst of snow and ice and every kind of hardship. "Glory to God for everything," were his dying words. Chrysostom was the most popular and practical of the great Greek Church orators, and his sermons, which fill eighteen large volumes, may still be read with great profit and enjoyment today. He was not only an excellent psychologist, who probed deeply into the social evils of the world, but a commentator who in his interpretation of Holy Writ followed the literal and sober method which was the distinctive feature of the School of Antioch.
The recital of these few famous names constitutes not a tenth of what should be said upon this subject. Apart from the Fathers we have mentioned there are others, distinguished as historians (like Eusebius of Caesarea and Socrates), as catechists (like Cyril of Jerusalem), as commentators (like Theodoret of Cyrus), or as controversialists (like Cyril of Alexandria). Nor must we forget the eminent Latin Fathers of the West, among whom Ambrose, Jerome and Augustine shine out as stars of the first magnitude. But we have merely sought to give some idea of those exceptional men, who by the splendor of their learning and morality adorned the Church both in their life-time and after it.
7. Christian Life and Worship
The Moral Reformation Brought About by the Gospel.
Christianity is not only a revelation of divine truth; it is also the inspiration to a more virtuous life. That is why the spread of Christian principles was usually followed by a change in morals, due to the triumph of virtue over the natural corruption of mankind. An improvement in the position of women, the purification of the home, the liberation of slaves, the founding of philanthropic institutions, the abolition of public fights between gladiators and between wild beasts in the arena, an ever-growing sympathetic interest in the outcast, all this was fruit of the Gospel seed. "See how they love one another, and how each is ready to sacrifice himself for his brother!" cried the pagans, marveling at the Christians' love. And even Libanius, taking as an example the mother of John Chrysostom, spoke his wondering admiration of the Christian women. It was, above all else, the courage of the martyrs, who went to their death singing as to a feast, that so greatly amazed the pagans; more than once, indeed, the executioners themselves became Christians and followed the martyrs to their death. Nor must we forget the civilizing influence of Christianity over whole peoples, such as the invaders who poured into Europe from the north during the fourth century, whose wild and barbarous energies were suddenly tamed and harnessed to the works of peace.
The Tares Among the Wheat.
But corn and tares grow up together, and ancient habits are hard to put aside. The Christian Church did not lack sinners, who offered a striking contrast to her saints, and were a reproach to the Christian reputation. Most grievous of all evils was the hypocrisy of those who did not practice the faith that they professed. Such, in apostolic times, were Ananias and Sapphira; in the times of the persecutions, those whom fear caused to deny their faith and deliver to the persecutors certificates of paganism; and, during the years of peace, those pseudo-Christians who posed as Christians in order to curry royal favor. How many other sins were rife among the Christians, and especially in such great centers as Alexandria, Antioch and Constantinople, may be seen by anyone who reads the sermons of those Fathers who denounced from the pulpit the evils of their time. The great ladies were accompanied, when they went out, by crowds of serving-maids to advertise their wealth; their adornments were costly, and they frequently wore religious pictures embroidered on their elaborate robes. Magicians, astrologers and cheiromancers divided the sympathies of many Christians who were unable to abandon their old superstitions. The people had such a mania for the spectacles at the hippodrome, that even on Good Friday the services of Saint Sophia were disturbed by the shouting from the hippodrome at Constantinople. Shameless actors disgraced the stage with vile and licentious spectacles. To crown all, many bishops dishonored their calling by their passions, intrigues and conspiracies. It was bishops such as these who persecuted Athanasius, forced Gregory the Theologian to resign, and did their share in causing the banishment of John Chrysostom.
The Church's Treatment of Sinners.
The Church, recognizing that leaven works but slowly, adopted a forgiving attitude towards these sinners, counseling repentance to them all, and only on rare occasions proceeding to extreme measures against perverted and unrepentant provokers of scandal. Even against these she did not close the gates of mercy, but evolved a special system of discipline for their assistance. From a sinner, who wished to return to the fold, the Church exacted, first, a public confession of his sins within hearing of everybody; secondly, that he should withdraw from the church and follow part of the service from behind the railings of the narthex; thirdly, that after a fixed time, he should enter the church and worship kneeling with the rest of the congregation, but without the privilege of partaking of Holy Communion; and lastly, when he had gone through all these stages of repentance, the Church received him back on an appointed day, exchanged with him the kiss of love, admitted him to Holy Communion, and restored him to his former position as a sound member, enjoying all her privileges. This was the attitude of the official Church towards sinners, based on the saying of our Lord that "joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons" (Luke xv. 7). But the Montanists, amongst whom even Tertullian was enlisted in his later years, thought and acted otherwise. Tracing their origin to the turbulent and fanatical false prophet, Montanus, they did not admit repentance, and cut off all who after Baptism had lapsed into sin as finally doomed, considering, moreover, that anyone who received them was a corrupter of Christianity and an apostate.
The First Hermit.
The moral decadence into which the Roman Empire had sunk when Christianity appeared, the merciless persecutions directed by the pagans against the Christians, and a desire to worship God freely and unhindered, impelled some of the most ardent followers of the Gospel to withdraw from such a cruel and corrupt community. Retiring into desert places, they preached life-long celibacy, and made solitary prayer and communion with the Lord the aim and purpose of their life. These men were called hermits, monks, anchorites and ascetics. The first hermit mentioned in history is Anthony (d. 356), who in 270, when he was eighteen years old, happened to hear read in church, in his native town of Alexandria, the Gospel text: "If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come and follow me" (Matthew 19:21). He immediately distributed the whole of his large fortune among the poor, and withdrew into the desert, where he spent his whole life, only appearing once or twice in Alexandria to preach against Arianism, and to convert hosts of idolaters to the Christian faith. His life has been related by his friend and admirer, Athanasius the Great. A contemporary of Anthony was Paul (d. 340), who came from the Thebaid, and whom Anthony discovered in the desert, where he had been hidden for seventy years.
The Spread of the Monastic Life.
At first these hermits lived alone in their cells or caves, entirely cut off from their fellows. Soon, however, Pachomius (d. 348), a pupil and follower of Anthony the Great, founded the more communal system which is called the "coenobite." Assembling all the scattered hermits on the island of Tabenna on the Nile, he imposed on them a common rule of prayer and fasting; and by introducing suitable forms of work among them, he made their life more practical and interesting. The system of Pachomius was soon transplanted to the hill of Nitria in Egypt by Ammon, to the Scythian desert by Macarius, to the desert of Gaza by Hilarion and to other places by other men. The great Fathers were admirers of the monastic life which they themselves had followed for some time as the best preparation for their ministry; and Basil the Great drew up a set of rules for the monastic life which are still followed by the monks of the Eastern Church. In the West, too, monasticism was introduced very early, thanks to the efforts of Ambrose, Jerome and Martin of Tours, but it was reorganized in 529 on an entirely new basis by Benedict, who made the monks not only scientific cultivators of the soil, but the invisible copyists and guardians of the literary treasures of antiquity. The Benedictines are the glory of the Western Church, which later produced and still preserves, other orders devoted to works of public benefit or to the achievement of Roman-Catholic predomination. Of quite a different kind were certain extraordinary modes of life into which Eastern monasticism degenerated, and of which the most curious was that of the "Stylites," who spent their whole life in a hut built on the top of a high pillar. Yet even these had their uses, for from the height of their tower they drew the attention of hundreds of semi-barbarous people, and attracted them to the Christian faith. One of the most conspicuous of the Stylites was Simeon (d. 422), who preached the Gospel in this way in Arabia.
Places of Public Worship.
Worship, which brings the believer into relation and communion with God, forms a component part of the moral life. In the earliest times, Christians met together for worship at private houses, where they received the Holy Sacraments and ate together the so-called "agapes," or love-feasts; during the persecutions, they took refuge in hiding-places, caves and catacombs. But when the persecutions came to an end, they began to meet together for worship in magnificent churches, which were often built and adorned by emperors, such as Constantine the Great, who embellished his newly-built capital with the churches dedicated to God's Wisdom, God's Peace and God's Power, and whose example was followed by many of his successors. In shape, the first buildings for public worship were quadrilateral and oblong, with the altar at the east end, and the porch at the west, and were known as "basilicas." In the course of time, wings were added on either side of the basilica, and thus the once quadrangular building took on the appearance of a cross. When for the first time Justinian placed a round dome on this cruciform building, the true Byzantine style of architecture was evolved, such as we see it in the beautiful church of Saint Sophia, built by Anthemius in 537. Icons were not unknown even in the earliest times, but they were at first of a symbolic character, as is evident from the catacombs. Thus, e.g., a dove stood for the Holy Spirit; and anchor for hope; a phoenix for the resurrection; a ship for the Church; a basket with loaves for Holy Communion; a fish was depicted to represent cryptographically our Lord; because each letter of its equivalent in Greek was taken as the initial of one of His attributes; thus:
Later, scenes from the Bible began to appear in church decoration, and the icons of Christ, the Virgin Mary and the Saints. Some of these icons were made of mosaic, and so lasted indefinitely; but no statues were allowed in churches.
The Most Important Feast-Days.
The most important day of worship in the week was Sunday, which from apostolic times had been consecrated to the memory of our Lord's resurrection. The chief festival of the year was Easter, later rivaled by Christmas Day, the celebration of which was introduced into the Eastern Church from the West during the fourth century. The great feast of Easter was preceded by the forty days of Lent, kept in memory of our Lord's forty-day fast in the wilderness, and during this period every Christian fasted according to his powers, some to a greater and some to a lesser degree. The Ascension and the day of Pentecost were celebrated respectively forty and fifty days after Easter. But during the first three centuries of Christianity, the Church was not agreed as to the exact day on which Easter should be celebrated. As our Lord had been crucified on the fourteenth of the Jewish month Nisan, on a Friday, and had risen again on the sixteenth, on a Sunday, some of the Christian Churches insisted on celebrating the Resurrection on the sixteenth day of Nisan, regardless of whether or not it was a Sunday; whereas others waited for the first Sunday following the sixteenth day of Nisan, unless that date itself happened to fall upon a Sunday. In order to settle this difference, the apostolic Father Poly carp undertook the long journey to Rome in 155; but the Pope, Anicetus, refused to yield, although he received Polycarp as a brother and allowed him to celebrate the Holy Liturgy with him. The question of Easter, with other questions relative to the order of the Church, was settled by the first Ecumenical Synod at Nicaea, which ruled that all the Churches should celebrate Easter on the same day; namely, the first Sunday following the first full moon after the spring equinox.
8. The Spread of Christianity Among the Slavs.
Serbs, Croats, Dalmatians, and the Slavs in Greece.
Though hampered by various internal and external obstacles, with which the following pages will deal, Christianity continued throughout the Middle Ages to conquer new territories. Most important of these for the Eastern Church were the Slavonic peoples. The first to receive the Gospel, as early as the seventh century, were the Serbs, Croats and Dalmatians, established in the Balkan Peninsula, of whom the Serbs, by the grace of God, have remained Orthodox, while the Croats and Dalmatians, uniting with the Hungarian kingdom, have passed into the jurisdiction of Rome, and embraced the tenets of the Western Church. Later, in the ninth century, Christianity spread to all the Slavonic tribes, who, driven back from the north by the Avars, had poured into Macedonia, Thessaly, the mainland of Greece and the Peloponnesus from the sixth century onwards, imperiling not only the national, but also the Christian character of the countries that they overran; for they were polytheists, and polytheism had long since died out in Greece, except in the region of Taygetos, where until the ninth century the Maniates still continued to worship idols in their mountain homes. But the Byzantine Emperors Michael III (842-867) and Basil the Macedonian (867-886) sent their generals to subdue the Slav invaders, who were, moreover, ravaged and weakened by continual epidemics, and gradually assimilated them both in nationality and religion to their Greek environment. Under the pressure of the Byzantine steam-roller, even the Maniates of Taygetos, the descendants of ancient Spartans, at last surrendered to Christianity; and idolatry ceased henceforth to exist in Hellenic soil.
Among other Slavonic tribes were the Moravians, who settled on German soil and came under German domination. But in 855 their king, Rostislav, freed them from the German yoke, and then appealed to the Byzantine Emperor Michael III, to send him Christian preachers; whereupon Michael, with the co-operation of the Great Patriarch Photius, sent out into Moravia the two famous missionaries and heralds of civilization to the Slavs, Cyril and Methodius, Greeks from Salonica who had practiced the monastic life in the Monastery of Polychronius at Constantinople. Not only did these two men preach God's Word among the Moravians; they also translated the Bible and the Byzantine Liturgy into the Slav tongue for the benefit of the newly-founded Moravian Church, which they placed under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, whose envoys they were. Unfortunately, in 867, Rostislav changed his mind, for political reasons, and turned to the Church of Rome, which in those days began to aspire to be the supreme ecclesiastical center of Christendom. The two fellow-missionaries were then summoned before the Pope, and Cyril stayed in Rome until his death, while Methodius was sent to continue his work as Archbishop of Moravia. As long as Methodius lived, he fought for the preservation of the Slavonic Bible and the Byzantine Liturgy in church use. After his death, however, the Roman See abolished them and replaced them by Latin, scornfully rejecting the Slavonic language as "barbarous and profane."
During the ninth century, too, the Bulgarians received Christianity from the same Byzantine source. The Bulgarians, a Tartar tribe, who had once lived on the shores of the Caspian Sea, migrated thence in the fifth century and, traveling up the Danube, established themselves permanently in the northern part of the Balkan Peninsula. They were at first a heathen people of savage customs, and even practiced human sacrifice; but from 800 onwards they began to progress along the ways of enlightenment, and under the influence of the native Slavs, adopted the Slavonic language and race consciousness. Their proximity to the Byzantine Empire was not at all pleasant to the Byzantines, whom they constantly harried; it had, however, an undoubtedly beneficial influence on the Bulgarians themselves by accustoming them to the atmosphere of Christianity. The first herald of Christianity to the Bulgarians was the sister of their king Boris, who had been initiated into Christian beliefs while she was a prisoner in Constantinople. After 861, however, Boris himself was the hardest and most systematic worker for the Christianisation of his people, having been persuaded on the one hand by a fearful plague from which he had been saved through prayer to Jesus Christ, and on the other by the terrible impression made on his mind by a picture of the Last Judgment, which had been shown to him by the missionary Methodius.
The Conversion of the Bulgarians.
Boris announced to the Byzantine Emperor, Michael III., his intention of being baptized, and informed him that he, too, wished to adopt the name of Michael at his Baptism. He also begged the Emperor and the Patriarch Photius to send him Greek priests; and, having embraced Christianity with the help of the Byzantine Court in 863, he fought in the teeth of all opposition to make his subjects Christians, too. Three years later, the fear of losing his political independence caused him to turn away from his Byzantine neighbors and place his newly-founded Church under the jurisdiction of distant Rome. But when the Papal emissaries reached him, and fell upon the newly-planted vineyard like wild boars (according to the description of the holy Photius), Boris realized whence came the real danger to liberty, and in 869 he returned to the Mother Church. His work was continued by his successors, of whom the most famous was the Tsar of the Bulgarians, Simeon, who flourished in the tenth century. During his reign, the Bulgarians cultivated learning, and the Bulgarian Church enjoyed full independence, with Ochrida as her ecclesiastical center. But in 1018, the Byzantine Emperor Basil the Bulgaroctonus followed up his military victories over the Bulgarians by again subjecting the Bulgarian Church to the Patriarchate of Constantinople.
A much greater conquest for the Orthodox Church of the East was the introduction and dissemination of the Gospel in the vast territories of Russia, which took place a century later than the conversion of the Bulgarians. This important event was preceded by the various attempts made at different times, first of which may be reckoned the traditional visit of Andrew the Apostle to Scythia, and his preaching of the Gospel to the Scythians, who were the ancestors of the Russians. But these original seeds were quickly choked, and for centuries the Russians clung to their worship of Peroun, the god of thunder. Towards the middle of the ninth century, we hear of a second attempt to introduce Christianity into Russia, when the Russian princes, Oskold and Dir, setting out against Constantinople in their canoes, were overtaken and decimated in the Golden Horn by a fierce storm, and, returning terrified to Kiev, begged the Emperor and the Patriarch Photius to send priests to baptize them. Still another attempt was made later on by the Queen Mother Olga, who, when staying at Constantinople in 955, was baptized by the Patriarch Polyeuct and decided to return to her country and to evangelize it herself. But she, too, was laughed at for her pains; and it was left to Olga's grandson, Vladimir, to receive divine inspiration and to prove himself at last the "Isapostle" of Russia.
The Conversion of the Russians.
There is an ingenuous story that Vladimir, tired of his wooden god Peroun and wishing to introduce among his people a more edifying form of religion, invited the representatives of the chief religions of his time to appear before him, so that he might choose from among them the most desirable. He was not attracted by the representative of Mohammedanism, who forbade the drinking of vodka; neither was he satisfied with the persuasions of the representative of Judaism, whose followers were accursed and outcast wanderers, persecuted by all. He dismissed, too, the representative of Rome, with whom, he said, his ancestors had always refused to cultivate relations. But when the Greek philosopher Constantine explained to him the Orthodox Christian faith strengthening his eloquent arguments by a picture representing the Second Advent of our Lord, as Methodius had once done to the King of the Bulgarians, Vladimir could no longer contain himself, and, deeply moved, cried out: "Blessed are the righteous, and miserable indeed are sinners!" In order to strengthen his decision, he sent an official embassy of Boyars to Constantinople to study the matter on the spot and with their own eyes. They went, and attended a patriarchal Mass celebrated in the church of Saint Sophia; and so delighted were they with all that they saw and heard that, on their return to Russia, they told their king that while they were following the Byzantine Service they knew not whether they trod the earth or winged their way in Heaven.
The Baptism of Vladimir and his People.
Vladimir then addressed himself to the Byzantine Emperor, Basil, and begged him to grant him his sister Anna in marriage, to help him to carry out his godly plan, and to send him a number of priests to instruct and baptize the Russian people. Basil willingly agreed to these proposals, and to further God's kingdom on earth Anna sacrificed the palaces of Byzantium for the throne of a semi-barbarous people. The Russians tied their wooden god Peroun to the tail of a horse, and after dragging it thus insultingly through the streets threw in into the river in order to show that they had no further use for it. The banks of the Dnieper swarmed with thousands of people, Boyars and moujiks, who were baptized with their king while the priests from Constantinople, standing in mid-stream on rafts, recited the baptismal prayers. And in the year of grace 988 Russia officially, if not yet wholeheartedly, abjured idolatry and entered the community of Christian peoples. Vladimir died in 1015, leaving the continuation of his work to his successors. The most prominent of these was Yaroslav (1010-1054), who by encouraging learning, building churches and drawing up a code of laws, sought to raise his country to a condition more befitting to a Christian nation.
Vicissitudes of the Russian Church.
It must not, however, be supposed that the vast Russian territories were suddenly transformed as if by magic, nor yet that Christianity was able to establish its supremacy without a struggle. In the north-eastern regions of Russia, idolatry, backed by a divination of the black arts, presented an impenetrable front to the new ideas. Mongol supremacy, which from 1224 to 1480 dominated both Church and State, was a severe stumbling-block to the progress of the Gospel. For centuries, too, the Popes never ceased to covet the land, and pursued their goal of romanisation by sending out at times Dominican and Franciscan friars, at others whole crusades, as did Pope Innocent IV, who in the middle of the thirteenth century incited the king of Sweden to attack Russia. But in spite of everything, the Orthodox faith both survived and prospered. This was due on the one hand to the perseverance in the Orthodox faith of the Russian Kings and Emperors, who followed in the footsteps of the saintly Vladimir, and on the other to the zeal of the prelates of the Russian Church, most of whom were for centuries sent straight from Constantinople.
9. Iconoclastic and other Disputes.
Leo the Isaurian and His Programme of Reform.
The first in date and importance of the religious differences that disturbed our Church in the Middle Ages are the iconoclastic disputes, which spread over nearly a century and a half. Leo, the Isaurian (717-741), though a brave Emperor and a patriotic man, was, unfortunately, ignorant of popular psychology and apt to be carried away to extremes. At that time, enthusiasm for the monastic life was draining the community of its worthiest citizens, the people devoted a great deal of their time to celebrating the festivals of saints, and the multiplication of images and other sacred objects was distorting the spiritual character of Christianity and drawing upon it the criticism both of Mohammedans and Jews. Seeing all this, Leo decided to carry out radical religious reforms, beginning with the images, which seemed to be the most urgent need. In acting thus, he was not entirely without justification, even from a Christian point of view; for the ignorant brought into the use of icons abuses which degraded the spiritual nature of the Christian religion and savored once more of idolatry. He forgot, however, that images are the books of the illiterate; that the art of painting has always served to inspire and perpetuate virtue; that man will always have need of material symbols, and that abuse of them does not preclude their prudent use.
The War Against Images.
When, therefore, Leo issued his two proclamations against images in 726 and 730, the first ordering that all images should be raised higher up, and the second commanding their total removal, he found ranged against him not only the people, but men of proved distinction in learning and piety; such as Germanus, Patriarch of Constantinople, who preferred to retire rather than proceed to such extremes, John of Damascus, who published three fiery apologies for the right use of images, and the Pope of Rome, Gregory II, who protested to the Emperor by letter. But the Isaurian yielded neither to the advice of those wiser than himself nor to the insurrection of his people, and stubbornly carried on his plan of campaign against the images. More unfortunately still, those who carried out the royal commands were uneducated men who committed acts of sheer vandalism. Thus it came about that precious works of art, which would have been the pride of any art gallery, were ruthlessly consigned to the flames; valuable manuscripts were destroyed because of the miniatures that adorned them; the Ecumenical School at Constantinople was burnt down with its splendid library of rare books; and Christian blood was shed when the image of Christ was being hacked down from the Bronze Gateway of the Imperial Palace. For the sake of one abuse, which might have been corrected by the better education of the people, all these abuses were committed, and the state was divided into two fiercely opposed camps: that of the image-lovers and that of the image-breakers.
The Seventh Ecumenical Synod.
When Constantine Copronymus (741-775) succeeded his father, Leo, he not only continued the same policy of war on the images, brutally blinding or cutting off the noses of any monks who disobeyed his decrees; but also outstripping his father in presumption, summoned on his own authority a so-called Ecumenical Synod in 754, in order to condemn all those who held the contrary opinion. But this Synod, from which the five Patriarchs of Christendom were missing, could have little claim to oecumenicity; and although the kings of the Isaurian dynasty, with the support of army and court, spared no effort to carry out their purpose, although many clergymen were found ready to bow to the wishes of their rulers, and Constantine's son, Leo IV, the Khazar (775-780) zealously carried on the iconoclastic work of his father and grandfather, yet in the end the sound conscience of the Church prevailed. In 787, under the regency of the Empress Irene, widow of Leo IV, with Tarasius as Patriarch, and suitable representatives from the other Patriarchates, the Seventh Ecumenical Synod was convened at Nicaea. Avoiding either extreme, this Council chose the golden mean and laid down that the figure of the Cross and holy images, whether colored or plain, whether consisting of stone or of any other material, many be represented on vessels garments, walls or tables, in houses or in public roads; especially figures of Christ, the Virgin, angels or holy men. Such representations it is observed, stimulate spectators to think of the originals, and, while they must not be adored with that worship which is due to God alone (λατρεια) deserve respect and adoration (προσκυνησις).
Even after the decision of the Seventh Ecumenical Synod, the Byzantine Emperors, Leo the Armenian (813-820), Michael the Stammerer (820-829), and Theophilus (829-842), waged incessant war against the images. After the death of the latter, therefore, his widow Theodora, with her brother-in-law, Manuel, her brother Bardas and the Chancellor Theoctistus, realizing that only the recognition of the decisions of the Seventh Ecumenical Council could bring peace to the troubled realm, summoned a great Synod to Constantinople on the first Sunday of Lent in 842. It was presided over by the Ecumenical Patriarch Methodius, and declared that the Decree of the Seventh Ecumenical Synod was binding upon all, and upon this basis the opposing parties were reconciled. With great pomp, the images were then carried back into the churches, and the places of public worship at last recovered their old adornments. That day was known as "Orthodoxy Sunday," and was henceforth appointed as a yearly festival. Protests against the images still continued, but gradually they became weak and spasmodic, until at last they disappeared entirely.
The Paulician Heretics.
During the Middle Ages the Eastern Church was harassed not only by the image-breakers, but also by various other heretics, among whom the most important were the Paulicians and the Bogomils. The Paulicians appeared in Armenia during the seventh century, and survived as a religious system until the twelfth. Their leader was a certain Constantine who took upon himself to continue the work of the Apostle Paul, thus giving this heresy its name, and tried to reproduce the activity of the Apostle to the Gentiles by giving himself the name of Paul's fellow-worker, Silvanus, and by calling the centers of his heresy Macedonia, Achaia, Corinth, Colossae and so forth. He maintained that only he and his followers represented the true Church founded by Jesus Christ, while all others were "Romans" and not Christians. The basis of the Paulician heresy was dualism, or the belief in two gods: the Good God and the Prince of this World, or "Cosmocrator." Further, the Paulicians taught that priesthood was universal, accepted only the New Testament as Holy Writ, and rejected the icons, the intercession of saints, the monastic life, and every form of pomp and mystery in religion. In 752 Constantine Copronymus transplanted the Paulicians to Thrace. After his time, they were mercilessly persecuted by Michael Rhangabe (811-813) and Leo the Armenian (813-820), who set up an inquisition against them and thus forced them to return to Armenia, whence they made constant destructive raids into Byzantine territory. John Zimiskes established them around Philippopolis in 970 to defend the frontiers of the Empire, but from 1118 onwards Alexius Comnenus set out to exterminate them by persuasion and force.
The Bogomil Heretics.
The Bogomils, or Beloved of God, appeared in Bulgaria in the twelfth century, and were most active in that region. The head of this sect was Basil, whom in 1119 Alexius Comnenus arrested, and tried to make him reveal the secrets of his heresy. Finding, however, that violence was of no avail, the Emperor changed his tactics, and treated Basil as a friend and table-companion until his silence was conquered and he unfolded all his mysteries. Then the curtains suddenly parted, and the Patriarch appeared with the Senate to sentence Basil to death at the stake. The conduct of Alexius was hardly honorable; some excuse may, however, be found for him in the fact that the populace was raging against the Bogomils, and that by condemning their leader to the flames, Alexius at least rescued his followers from the hands of the mob. But fire cannot burn out heresy, and more than a century later Bogomils were still to be found, often, indeed, hidden under a monk's cowl. The Bogomils limited Holy Writ to the books of the New Testament, the Prophets and the Psalms, and the only Sacrament they acknowledged was Baptism by the Spirit, and not by water. They, too, believed that two principles governed the world: Christ on the one hand, and on the other Satanael.
10. The Beginning of the Great Schism.
In spite of all local differences of language, nationality and form of worship, the Christian Church had succeeded throughout eight centuries in maintaining absolute unity. In the ninth century, however, East and West began to drift apart, until in the eleventh century the separation between them definitely became an established and permanent fact. The causes of this unfortunate schism, which rent the body of the Church in two, were many and various, and will appear in due course; but chief among them was the spirit of domination which gradually inflamed Rome and caused her to aspire to supreme sovereignty over all the Churches in every part of the world. In order, however, that this matter may be better understood, we must first say something about the original form of Church government throughout the Church, and how the Popes suddenly tried to usurp the reigns of government.
Church Government During the First Three Centuries.
During the first three centuries, the highest ecclesiastical authority was vested in the local bishops, who continued the work of the Apostles as their immediate successors. Not only did they teach their lay flock, and rule their clerical subordinates; they also kept watchful guard over the teaching of uncorrupted Christian doctrine and the moral purity of those under their care. Very soon, however, a certain distinction came to be made among the bishops. Some of them had their seat in the capitals of Roman provinces; others in towns which had received the Gospel directly from the Apostles, and by disseminating it at once among the neighboring towns and villages had become "metropoles" or mother-churches in the Christian sense. Thus there began to emerge Metropolitans, who had their seat in the great centers of the Roman Empire and enjoyed greater privileges than the local bishops who surrounded them. They were the rulers of the ecclesiastical sees, which coincided in extent with the political provinces. As Metropolitans, they ordained the bishops of the daughter-towns; when occasion arose, they convened the local Synods, in which bishops and the clergy of the upper ranks took part; and, presiding at the meetings, were responsible for issuing the necessary decisions. Among the Metropolitans themselves at that time, three came to be particularly distinguished as having their seat in the three greatest cities of the Empire: the Metropolitans of Rome, Alexandria and Antioch, which were in those days pre-eminent. And among these three, the Metropolitan of Rome enjoyed a kind of honorary precedence, not because he had any ecclesiastical jurisdiction over the other Metropolitans, who were all independent rulers in their own see and responsible only to their local Synods, but because Rome was at that time the political capital of the world.
Church Government After Constantine the Great.
This was the state of affairs before Constantine the Great; but in the years following his reign the pressure of more serious problems forced the Church to reorganize her system of government on more comprehensive lines. Since Constantine had divided his Empire into various political dioceses, the Church, obliged to adapt ecclesiastical to political spheres of government, was divided into corresponding ecclesiastical dioceses, each of which was now ruled by an Archbishop. Thus, at this period, the Archbishop of Alexandria exercised supreme supervision over the ecclesiastical affairs of the diocese of Egypt; the Archbishop of Antioch over the diocese of the East; the Archbishop of Ephesus over the diocese of Asia; the Archbishop of Caesarea over the diocese of Pontus; the Archbishop of Heraclea over the diocese of Thrace; the Archbishop of Salonica over the diocese of Eastern Illyricum, and the Archbishop of Rome continued to control the affairs of central and southern Italy. The title of "Patriarch'1 was not yet known, as it first came into use in 451.
The Five Patriarchates.
Before Constantine the Great, Byzantium was an inconspicuous bishopric under the Metropolitan of Heraclea. But from the moment that Constantinople supplanted Old Rome as the capital of the Empire, it was only natural that it should become, too, the Empire's most important archbishopric; and the Fourth Ecumenical Synod declared accordingly that the Archbishop of Constantinople was entitled to equal reverence with the Archbishop of Rome, "because Constantinople was the king's city." For the same reason because, that is to say, the once insignificant town of Byzantium rose to be capital of the world at the time when the ancient city of Rome was dwindling into insignificance. it did not belie the existing state of affairs when in 587 the Emperor Justinian bestowed on the Archbishop of Constantinople, John the Faster, the honorary title of "Ecumenical," which his successors have held ever since. In the course of time, the administrative authority of the Archbishops of Ephesus and Caesarea became subordinate to that of the Archbishop of Constantinople, and Salonica came under Rome; while in 431 the bishopric of Jerusalem was promoted to the rank of an independent ecclesiastical center, as a mark of reverence to the Holy City that had cradled Christianity at its birth. Thus, by the middle of the fifth century, there were in the Christian world five supreme ecclesiastical rulers, who then began to receive the title of Patriarch: namely, the Archbishops of Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem. But in the seventh century the fierce inroads of Mohammedanism into Egypt, Syria and Palestine diminished the three latter Patriarchates, and restricted them in every way. Henceforth, therefore, two ecclesiastical heads remained supreme in Christendom: in the West the Primate of Old Rome, whose authority was steadily growing; and in the East the Primate of New Rome, or Constantinople, who was striving to maintain his ecclesiastical independence.
The Ambition of the Popes of Rome.
In spite of his exalted position and his impressive title of "Ecumenical Patriarch," the Patriarch of Constantinople wielded an authority that in many ways was restricted, and was never able to covet supreme authority throughout the world. The political glory of his throne was overshadowed by the apostolic origin or the renowned holiness of other cities in the East, and his liberty was curtailed not a little by the Byzantine Emperor, who convened the Ecumenical Synods, and sometimes himself issued Decrees of Faith, appointed the Patriarch, and constantly interfered in ecclesiastical affairs. The Pope's position was, however, entirely different. Rome was the only Apostolic Church in the West, and was, therefore, looked up to reverently by the Christians of Italy, Gaul, Spain, Africa and even beyond. The Emperor, whose throne was now in the East, was too far away to meddle in the affairs of the Church of Rome, and heads of the Eastern Church, persecuted by the heretical Emperors, as was, for instance, Athanasius, sought refuge with the Popes. Even the historic past of Rome, once ruler of the whole world, fostered in the heart of the Popes despotic and imperialistic ambitions. Thus, from the very early times, we see the Popes adopting an arrogant attitude towards their fellow-bishops, as when Pope Victor (193-202) tried to impose the Roman customs of celebrating Easter on Polycrates, Bishop of Ephesus, and was rebuked by Irenaeus of Lyons; or when Stephen (257-259) summoned Bishop Cyprian of Carthage to comply with Roman practice regarding the Baptism of heretics, when he was publicly censured by Firmilian of Cappadocia. In spite of all protests, however, the Popes never failed to take advantage of any circumstance that might contribute towards the subjection of other bishops, until, having gathered all the Western Churches under their authority, they judged the moment opportune to encroach on the Churches of the East. They found a pretext for their intrusion in the domestic quarrels and disputes at Constantinople during the ninth century.
The Pretension of Pope Nicholas to Become Arbiter of the East.
Having certain causes of dissatisfaction with the Patriarch Ignatius, the Byzantine Emperor Michael III (842-867) and his uncle and colleague Bardas, deposed him and appointed in his place a man whose virtue, wisdom and competence were universally acknowledged the chief Secretary of State, Photius. The supporters of Ignatius, instead of accepting the situation for the sake of maintaining peace in the Church, appealed to Rome, complaining of the injustice done them. Nicholas I, who was Pope at that time, was the most ambitious of all the Popes; and in order to uphold the un-evangelical principle of papal supremacy he did not scruple to make use of certain false documents, namely, the forged decretals that appeared about that time. Seeing a favorable opportunity for intervening in Eastern affairs, Nicholas thereupon appointed himself as judge over the two conflicting parties by his own authority. He declared that the throne of Constantinople legally belonged to Ignatius, and rejected the election of Photius on the one hand because it had been made without his approval, and on the other because it had raised, within a single week, a mere layman to the rank of Archbishop. In putting forward these claims, the Pope overlooked the facts that his pretended right of general supervision had never in any place been acknowledged; that Photius had the support not only of the court, but of the majority of the clergy and people; and that Ambrosius, Farasius, Nicephorus and other Church leaders of the past had all been elected bishops straight from the rank of laymen.
Photius as the Defender of the Independence of his Throne.
When, therefore, the Pope's legates arrived in Constantinople and took part in the Synod convened in 861 by common consent of Ignatians and Photians, they were forced by the logic of facts to give their judgment in favor of Photius and to admit that the existing state of affairs was both right and lawful. Nicholas, furious that the Eastern people did not submit slavishly to his arbitrary demands, convened a Synod of his own in Rome in 863, and excommunicated the Patriarch of Constantinople. Seeing, however, that the Byzantines took no notice of his unreasonable behavior, he turned his attention to the young Church of Bulgaria, which had only recently been founded through the activities of Photius himself, and tried to detach it from its allegiance to its Mother-Church. It was then that Photius, fighting valiantly for the freedom of Eastern Christendom, sent out to the Patriarchs of the East, in 867, his famous encyclical letter, denouncing the Pope for corrupting the faith by inserting into the Creed the word "filioque," which was unknown even in ancient Rome itself; for readministering the Chrism to the Bulgarian Christians, on the pretext that they had previously been baptized by married priests from Constantinople; for tyrannizing over the Churches of the West; and for scandalously interfering in disputes outside his own jurisdiction.
The So-Called Eighth Ecumenical Synod and its Denunciation.
Unfortunately for Constantinople, the matter did not rest there. Basil the Macedonian, a groom who had risen to be the colleague and adopted son of Emperor Michael, murdered the latter in 867 and had himself proclaimed Emperor in his place. In order to revenge himself on Photius, who had refused to administer the Sacraments to him after this murderous deed, Basil then deposed him from his throne and brought back Ignatius, entering into relations with the Pope in an attempt to secure himself in his unlawfully acquired position. Pope Adrian II, who in pride and ambition was hardly inferior to his predecessor, seized the psychological moment to exact from Basil, as the price of Roman benevolence, the official condemnation of Photius, his arch-enemy, by a great Synod. Basil consented, and in 869 the great Synod was convened, coercion or persuasion having been brought to bear on the bishops. The Pope's representatives at the Synod triumphed at the voting. The Pope was acknowledged as "supreme and absolute head of all the Churches, superior even to Ecumenical Synods"; Photius was anathematized and degraded as a "patricide and a new Judas"; and the Eastern Church paid heavily for the sins of the court and the obstinacy of the Ignatians. But it was not long before both parties returned to their senses, realizing the dangers they were exposed to from Roman despotism; and Ignatians and Photians quickly joined hands again. At a great Synod convened at Constantinople in 879 they unanimously denounced the servile and forced Synod of 869, which is still called the "Eighth Ecumenical Synod" by the Western Church, and acknowledged the full justification of the manly stand made against the Papacy by the great Patriarch and Confessor, Photius, thanks to whom the Eastern Church has managed to preserve intact both faith and freedom.
11. The Completion of the Great Schism.
Michael Cerularius and Leo IX.
With the anathema pronounced on Photius by the papal legates at the false Synod of 869, and with the categorical disavowal of this false Synod by the East in 879, a chill fell on the relations between the Orthodox and the Western Churches, but there was as yet no formal schism. It was not until 1054, when Michael Cerularius was Patriarch of Constantinople and Leo IX. Pope of Rome, that the schism finally became an established fact and the two Churches were irremediably estranged. Cerularius had written a letter to Bishop John of Trania in Italy, enumerating the innovations introduced by the Roman Church, and had begged him to give this letter a wide hearing in order that the truth might prevail. The letter did indeed receive wide publicity, and came to the notice particularly of Pope Leo, who sent its author a very sharp reply, severely rebuking him for presuming to censure a Church which had never before been censured by anybody. The Emperor of Constantinople, Constantine Monomachus, who had need of the Pope to protect his threatened political interests in Italy, sent him a most conciliatory reply, asking him to send his legates to study the position with a view to restoring friendly relations. The Pope did indeed send Cardinal Humbert, but apparently on a mission far from pacific. For when the latter arrived in Constantinople, he not only behaved with great insolence towards the Patriarch, but made his way to the Church of Saint Sophia where he laid on the altar a bull of excommunication against the Eastern Church, stigmatizing her as the repository of all the heresies of the past, and then hastily disappeared. When the Patriarch heard what had occurred, he too drew up a sentence of excommunication against the Western Church, which the other Patriarchs jointly signed. Thus the cleavage between the two Churches has become complete.
Thenceforward, various unfortunate occurrences contributed to make this division permanent. The most terrible of all were the Crusades, which, though looked upon by the West as heroic enterprises inspired by sacred zeal for the deliverance of the Holy Land, were to the East nothing less than a scourge and a calamity. The Crusaders, who represented a lower stage of civilization and were inflamed against the Orthodox by intolerance and fanaticism, looted, pillaged, profaned and destroyed everything. Everywhere they left in their wake tokens of their fearful passage. In the Ionian and the Aegean Islands, they deposed the Orthodox bishops, and forced the Greek clergy to submit to Latin bishops. In Cyprus, as we shall see further on, they tied the Orthodox monks to the tails of horses, and thus made them gallop to their death. In Salonica they held orgies. Particularly in Constantinople were outrages committed by the armies of the Fourth Crusade led by Baldwin. They dishonored old men and young girls; they slung the Holy Sacraments out into the streets, and drove donkeys into the Church of Saint Sophia to carry away the looted treasures of the church; they hacked down the diamond-studded altar and set a low woman to sing and dance upon the Patriarch's throne to outrage the holiest feelings of the Eastern Church. The Greek Patriarchs of Antioch and Jerusalem, in terror of these fierce invasions, were obliged to abandon their dioceses in Syria and Palestine, and to seek refuge within the Byzantine Empire. Eastern Christianity can never forget the behavior of those European barbarians who by their looting and plundering and their sixty years of tyrannical misrule in Constantinople (1204-1261) prepared the way for the destruction of the Byzantine Empire and hastened on its downfall.
Emperors Driven by Necessity to Favor Reunion.
In spite of all this, however, the Byzantine Emperors continued to the last to beg the friendship of Rome, from whom they still hoped to receive military support in their wars against the infidels, although this policy was always radically opposed by the deep antipapal feeling of their people. Among many such Emperors whom we have omitted to mention was Michael Palaeologus, who became master of Constantinople in 1261 after seizing the throne and putting out the eyes of the lawful successor, exploits for which he was excommunicated by the Patriarch and hated by his people. Fearing a new invasion of his empire from the West, and wishing to propitiate the Pope, Michael not only entered into correspondence with Urban II, flatteringly addressing him as "head of the Church," but even sent envoys to the Latin General Council at Lyons in 1274, where they signed an agreement of reunion on the basis of papal supremacy. Though later Michael changed his course, not having received from Rome the expected military assistance for which he had sacrificed his religious convictions, he had incurred the hostility of his people as a traitor to the faith, and when he died not a soul attended his funeral. A similar Emperor was Andronicus III, who in 1339 sent the Calabrian archimandrite Barlaam to Pope Benedict XII at Avignon, then the seat of the Popes, at the time when Osman was marching on Constantinople. But the embassy failed, and on his return Barlaam found himself so unpopular in Constantinople that he was obliged to leave the city and retire to Italy, where he joined the Roman Church. Another such Emperor was John V Palaeologus, who, in 1369, paid a personal visit to Rome and promised the full submission of the Eastern Church. He even kissed the Pope's foot, according to the Latin chroniclers; for Murad had by then made himself master of most of the Balkan Peninsula, and pitched his camp at Adrianople, at the very gates of the Byzantine capital. All these humiliating advances proved, however, to be useless since they in no way expressed the true opinion of the people.
John VII Palaeologus at Ferrara.
The last and most tragic attempt to reunite the two Churches, which failed as dismally as all its predecessors, was made by John VII Palaelogus, last Emperor but one of the expiring Byzantine Empire. Accompanied by the aged Patriarch Joseph, by Mark of Ephesus, Bessarion of Nicaea, George Scholarius, George Gemistus, and other prominent figures in Church and State, John traveled at the Pope's expense to the Synod held at Ferrara in 1438, ostensibly in order to come to some agreement on the reunion of the Churches with Pope Eugenius IV, but really to meet the Western rulers and appeal to them as fellow-Christians for military help to save the remnant of his Empire. But in spite of the Pope's many promises, he received no military aid. All that he and his followers received was an abundance of insults and humiliations, under the pressure of which he was persuaded to sign away the liberty of the Eastern Church.
The False Union of Florence.
To prevent the withdrawal of the Greeks, the Pope removed the Synod of Florence, and to force them into submission he even withheld from them the money he had promised for their expenses, so that they were reduced to selling their vestments in order to obtain food. The unfortunate Patriarch Joseph (who was destined to die in that unfriendly land), was asked at their first meeting to bow like a slave before the arrogant Pope and kiss his foot. Only the indomitable Mark of Ephesus remained unshakable, and silenced the Latin divines by the wealth of his eloquence and his manly behavior. At last, on July 6th, 1439, the so-called "union" was proclaimed, and under pressure from the Emperor, for whom the only important point at issue was the preservation of the State, the representatives of the Eastern Church, with the single exception of Mark, signed a formal document acknowledging the Pope as the supreme head of Christendom, accepting the doctrine of the double procession of the Holy Ghost, purgatory, the use of unleavened bread at Communion, and all the unevangelical innovations of the Roman Church.
The Consequences of the False Union.
When, however, the men who had been forced to sign this document returned in a sorry plight to Constantinople, they found awaiting them a hostile people, horrified to learn what had taken place, who rejected them as traitors. The Emperor, necessarily pursuing his policy of friendship with the Pope, appointed to the Patriarchate a cleric who shared his own opinions, Metrophanes; but the people insultingly nicknamed him "Metrophonus" (matricide) to show their hatred of the royal choice. Bessarion of Nicaea, who was in favor of union and in sympathy with the Emperor's policy, was obliged to leave the Eastern Empire and to seek refuge in Italy, where the Pope rewarded him with a cardinal's hat. The valiant Mark, on the other hand, was received by the Byzantines with great honors and acclaimed as the champion of Orthodoxy. To calm public excitement, Metrophanes was deposed, and a new Patriarch chosen, Athanasius, a man of acknowledged Orthodox principles. And in 1451 a Synod, which was convened in Constantinople and attended by all the Patriarchs of the Eastern Church, denounced and formally rejected the false Synod of Florence as the product of trickery, violence and oppression. So great was the people's repugnance for any measure of advance towards the tyrannical Church of Rome, that, when a few days before the fall of Constantinople, the last Byzantine Emperor, Constantine XII Palaeologus, allowed Roman priests to celebrate Mass in the Church of Saint Sophia, the populace arose in fury and demanded the re-consecration of the church to wash out this sacrilegious stain. Orthodoxy had suffered much from the Pope and his organs; and the saying of Notaras that "a Turkish turban is preferable to a Latin hat" vividly expresses the conviction that the dangers of latinisation were more to be dreaded than the dangers of Mohammedanism. Orthodoxy was bruised but not crushed under the Turkish yoke. But not many years had passed before those Orthodox Christians, both in Southern Italy and elsewhere, who had acknowledged the Pope's supremacy, were absorbed in to the Roman Church.
12. The Enslavement of the Eastern Church by Mohammedanism.
The Founder of Mohammedanism.
Mohammedanism first made its appearance during the seventh century, and should therefore have been spoken of earlier. It seemed, however, more appropriate to discuss it in the section dealing with mediaeval times, since it was then that its disastrous consequences became fully apparent, and culminated in the subjection of the ancient Churches of the East to rulers of another faith. Mohammedanism owes its origin to Mohammed, a poor shepherd gifted with a profound religious sense and the power of seeing visions. The miserable condition of Arabia, poor and sparsely populated by tribes who were perpetually fighting each other and whose religion had degenerated into the lowest form of polytheism, the worship of plants and stones, inspired him with the lofty ambition of uniting his fellow-countrymen in the bonds of a nobler religion and drawing them after him to the conquest of the world. Thanks to the activities of a few monks and of missionaries from Byzantium, Christianity was not entirely unknown to Arabia; Judaism, too, had left some trace in the wake of the Jewish merchants who came and went there. Mohammed took what he had heard of these two creeds, and, making this the basis of his teaching, built up from it a religious system, which he first began to preach in the narrow circle of his own family.
When, however, Mohammed emerged in 622 from the privacy of his family to present himself to a wider public as a messenger of God and to preach his new religion openly in Mecca, the people of Mecca rose up against him menacingly, and sought his death. He was obliged to take flight on a dromedary, and to seek refuge at Medina, which was the first town wholeheartedly to embrace his doctrine and to range herself at his side. The Mohammedans therefore count the year of Mohammed's flight or "Hegira" as the first year of their religious calendar, just as we reckon our era from the year of our Saviors birth. From Medina, Mohammed set out with his followers to subdue Mecca and gradually won over the whole of Arabia, which he inspired with religious fervor and led forth to political conquests. He believed himself to be fulfilling a divine mission, and even imagined at times that he received commands from Heaven, carried to him by angels; he had, moreover, an unshakable belief in the destiny of Islam, his new religion, as a world-wide power. Let us see what were the tenets of this new religion.
The Dogmatic and Ethical System of Mohammedanism.
The Mohammedan faith is based on the belief that there is no other God but Allah. In earlier times he sent various messengers down to earth, such as Enoch, Abraham, Moses and Jesus; but the greatest of all his prophets was Mohammed, the Comforter predicted in the Gospels, lately sent to fulfill all that they had left unfulfilled. The Jews had distorted the teaching of Moses by underrating him; the Christians had distorted the teaching of Jesus by overrating Him; and it was therefore the duty of all good Moslems to force both Jews and Christians to renounce their errors and follow the one true faith revealed by Allah through Mohammed, the greatest of his prophets. The Holy Trinity did not exist, neither did God become Man, for there was no need of atonement between God and man. The world was ruled by an implacable destiny, against which the human will was powerless. Allah would be merciful to Mohammedans after death, and would establish them in a land flowing with milk and honey and butter, where they would be waited upon by beautiful maidens; but sinners and infidels were destined to a fearful Hell. It followed, therefore, that the greatest possible sin was to remain outside Islam, whereas the greatest virtue was to convert as many as possible to the faith; hence, those who fell in wars against the unbelievers would have the foremost places in Paradise. The other duties of the good Musulman were ceremonial, consisting in the washing of hands, fasting, and the holy pilgrimage to the Kaaba at Mecca, the oldest temple of the Arabs. Mohammedanism probed no deeper than this, leaving the evils of slavery and polygamy uncondemned. Such were the doctrines of Mohammed, which were written down on skins by his followers after his death, and compose the holy book of Mohammedanism, the Koran.
Islam as a Conquering Power.
Mohammed died in 632, and his work was continued, by his own command, by his successors, the caliphs. Abu Bekr (632-634) conquered Damascus; Omar (634-643) invaded Persia, completed the conquest of Syria and brought Palestine and Egypt into subjection; and Othman (643-65) finally subdued Persia and conquered nearly the whole of Northern Africa. After them, Muaviah besieged Constantinople by land and sea for seven years (672-678), and was only prevented from capturing it at that early date by the valiant Emperor of Byzantium, Constatine Pogonatus, who burnt up his fleet by means of the "liquid fire" invented by the Greek engineer Callinicus. But even after this disaster the Arabs quickly recovered their victorious zeal; and, in 711, setting out from the shores of Africa, they poured through the straits of Gibraltar to Spain, and advanced right into France, where the brave Frankish general, Charles Martel, at last routed them decisively at the famous battle of Poitiers, in 732, exactly one hundred years after the death of Mohammed. Justice, however, compels the reminder that it was not Charles Martel alone who saved Europe from the inrushing tide of Mohammedanism by defeating a single section of the Arab armies. It was in a much greater measure the Byzantine Emperors, Heraclius, Constans and Constantine Pogonatus, who by struggling for a hundred years against the terrible enemy had blunted the sharp edge of its attack.
The Subjection of the Patriarchates of Jerusalem, Antioch and Alexandria.
Mohammedanism had at all events severely reduced the boundaries of Eastern Christendom and bereft it of its fairest provinces; and the long-famed Patriarchates of Jerusalem, Antioch and Alexandria, which had come under Arab rule as early as the seventh century, had lost their ancient glory and vitality. During Omar's siege of Jerusalem, Sophronius, the prudent Patriarch, headed a deputation to the Caliph and surrendered the town to him on favorable terms, thus averting its destruction. Omar received him generously, and allowed the Christians to retain their Holy Shrines unmolested on the sole condition of payment of the "haratsi," or capital tax. But in Syria and elsewhere the "haratsi" was not considered sufficient, and those who would not change their faith were forced to submit to every kind of humiliation. They were not allowed to ride a horse; the building of churches, the public conducting of religious processions, bell-ringing, and the setting-up of crosses on graves, were all forbidden; and they were debarred from holding official positions. Unfortunately, the Mohammedan conquest of Syria and Egypt was facilitated by the great religious disputes of the seventh century, which were raging in those provinces at the time. Nestorians, Copts and Jacobites were consumed by such hatred of the Orthodox Christians of the region, whom they called "Melchites" or Royalists, that they hailed the advent of Mohammedan rule as a deliverance.
The Siege of Constantinople by Mohammed II.
For seven centuries Constantinople stood fast as the rock of Christian Europe, on which the irresistible tide of Islam beat in vain. But even she was destined to fall at last, exhausted, on the fatal Tuesday, the 29th May, 1453. The founder of Mohammedanism had foretold that one day "the great city, surrounded on two sides by sea and on one by land," would fall into the hands of his followers. This prophecy was fulfilled, not by the Arabs, but by the Turks, who appeared from the depths of Asia about 1050, and after receiving Islam from the Arabs, absorbed them politically, and themselves took up the mission of spreading their religion abroad. The Byzantine Empire was by this time in a tragic position, after battling for a thousand years with barbarian enemies on every side. The sixty years of Latin rule in Constantinople (1204-1261) had seriously undermined its foundations; and the continual Turkish invasions had reduced it everywhere to a kingdom of humble dimensions. Mohammed II, who was to be surnamed "the Conqueror," surrounded the capital with a fanatical army 250,000 strong, while the Christian soldiers gathered round the last Emperor, Constantine Palaeologus, numbered barely 7,000. Even so, Constantine was bold enough to return a dignified answer when his powerful enemy demanded the peaceful surrender of the city: "To give up the city to you is neither in my power, nor in the power of any man that dwells therein; for with one accord we all prefer to die, and shall not spare our lives."
The Last Hours of Constantinople.
When Constantine realized that destruction was at last inevitable, he placed himself and his city in the hands of God and prepared to die a Christian death. He first commanded that a litany should be held throughout the city; and bishops, priests, monks, men, women and children, all joined in the procession weeping and crying: "Lord, have mercy, and save Thine inheritance!" Then he addressed the men around him in noble and moving words, urging them to face death with the courage of martyrs; whereupon they all cried out with one voice: "Yes, let us die for the faith of Christ and for our fatherland." The Emperor went to Saint Sophia to take his last Communion; then, mounting the gate of Romanus, began to direct the desperate defense. In a moment of enthusiasm he cried: "Victory, victory! God is fighting by our side." But he was suddenly surrounded by the enemy and fell dead, to disappear beneath the piled corpses. Soon after, the city was being sacked. The men were butchered, and the young girls led away into captivity; the sacred Vessels were used as common drinking-cups for the wild orgies of the victorious Turks; and the Conqueror rode arrogantly into the far-famed Church of Saint Sophia, to kneel down on the altar and transform it into a Moslem mosque.
The Significance of the Fall of Constantinople.
The fall of Constantinople marked the collapse of the last bulwark of Eastern Christianity and civilization. Other provinces swiftly shared its fate; Serbia fell in 1459, the Peloponnesus in 1459, Trebizond in 1461, Bosnia in 1463, Albania in 1467, and Herzegovina in 1483. This historic event had great consequences, and taught important lessons. From the patriotic point of view, the fall of Constantinople was a heroic exploit, reviving the ancient glories of Thermopylae; for once again a small band of Greeks joined fateful issue with outnumbering foes, with the certainty that they were facing death. From the international point of view, the fall of Constantinople opened a well of intellectual life to Europe; for the fugitive scholars from Constantinople settled in the West and sowed the seeds of Renascence and Reformation. And from the religious point of view, with which we are mainly concerned, the fall of Constantinople caused the strongest possible manifestation of religious fervor, which never ceased to comfort our ancestors either when the enemy was breaking into the city, or when they were bowed beneath the conqueror's yoke. Great was their fall, but great their consoling hope. At the moment that the Turks entered the Church of Saint Sophia (so says a widespread popular tradition) the Divine Liturgy was being held, and the horror-stricken priests were frozen to marble at their posts. But a day will come when the fair city shall be restored again to Christianity; and then the marble priests will come to life again and finish their interrupted Liturgy.
13. Mediaeval Letters.
Characteristics of Mediaeval Theology.
The birth and development of Christian Literature took place during ancient times, and particularly during the fourth and fifth centuries, the golden age of Theology. Borrowing from declining Hellenism its language, philosophy, rules of rhetoric and poetical metres, Christianity blended together, as body and soul, Gospel thought and Greek expression, thereby producing those masterpieces of the great Fathers, whose profound learning was only rivaled by the brilliance and originality of their style. But during the Middle Ages the position changed. Progress gave place to stagnation, and slavish imitation replaced their bold and unfettered originality. In ancient times, church writers had followed the platonic method of investigating ideas; now, they adopted the Aristotelian method, gathering in the accumulated knowledge of the past and classifying it with care. Biblical interpretation consisted now of catenae or quotations from the works of the Fathers, synoptically arranged. Dogmatics were built up on the basis of patristic authority. Pulpit eloquence modeled itself on the striking sermons of the Fathers, without, however, recapturing their fire. The great church historians, Eusebius, Socrates and Theodoretus, were succeeded by mere chroniclers, who wove together in their histories ecclesiastical and political events, or by compilers of legends, who aimed at the edification of the people rather than the preservation of historical truth. Polemical Theology alone made progress during the Middle Ages, thanks to the Church's struggles against heresy, and particularly against Rome. Mysticism fastened upon the ecclesiastical mind, and sought beneath the simplest manifestations of divine worship symbols of a higher significance. Generally speaking, the Mediaeval period was not creative; it acted, however, as guardian to an older sum of thought, which it transmitted to posterity. Here, in chronological order, are its principal representatives.
Theology During the Iconoclastic Quarrels.
The period of Iconoclastic troubles (700-850) was in the main destructive of sacred learning, which was pursued chiefly by the monks. But certain church writers distinguished themselves during that time, and chief among them John of Damascus and Theodore of Studium. John of Damascus (d. 760) was a man remarkable for his profound learning and knowledge of the Greek tongue. Standing at the junction of ancient and mediaeval times, he embodied the former in his comprehensive erudition, and introduced the latter by his gift of method; he is often considered as the last of the great Greek Fathers. John of Damascus lived under the Iconoclastic Emperors, Leo the Isaurian and Constantine Copronymus, and died in the monastery of Saint Sabas in Palestine. The work for which he is chiefly remembered is In Defense of Images, in which he defends their use with logical and persuasive arguments; but he was not only a controversialist. He distinguished himself as a dogmatist with his Exposition of the Orthodox Faith; as an apologist by his defense of Christianity against Mohammedanism; as a preacher to whose eloquence his surviving sermons bear witness; and as a poet and hymnographer by works which are still chanted in our Church today, and for which he was surnamed "Chrysorroas." Theodore of Studium (d. 826) who flourished under the Iconoclastic Emperors Leo the Armenian and Michael the Stammerer, by whom he was flogged, chained and sent into exile, was the aristocratic abbot of the famous Monastery of Studium in Constantinople, and wielded with equal success both abbot's staff and scholar's pen. His catechisms, epistles, sermons and poems, which have been preserved for us, illustrate his erudition.
Theology Under the Macedonian Emperors: Photius.
The Iconoclastic age was followed by that of the Macedonian dynasty (850-1054), a period of literary revival in the Byzantine Empire, during which even the Emperors themselves, such as Leo the Wise (d. 911) and Constantine Porphyrogenitus (d. 959) devoted themselves to letters, and composed among other things ecclesiastical hymns and sermons. On the threshold of this stands its most famous figure, Photius (d. 891), who dominated all his contemporaries as the treasury of learning and the encyclopedia of all knowledge; whose judgment was equal to his erudition, and whose piety was only rivaled by his love for independence, so that even his enemies were reluctantly forced to admire him. His many-sided learning is mainly apparent in his Myriobiblon, in which he pronounces flawless criticisms on about three hundred works, historical, geographical, philosophical, literary, mathematical, rhetorical, medical, and especially theological, which he had read at various times, and of which many would be entirely unknown to us if he had not kept this record of them. His theological skill is exemplified by his Amphilochia, addressed to the Bishop of Cyzicus Amphilochus, and containing the solution of upward of eight hundred difficulties which the bishop had submitted to him; by his Letters, which are of great theological as well as historical importance; and by his treatise On the Mystagogy of the Holy Spirit. And his experience of legal affairs is demonstrated by his edition on the one hand of the Syntagma of Canon Law, and on the other of the Nomocanon, which contained the imperial laws in their relation to Sacred or Canon Law. Church hymns were also written by this great prelate, whose name shines like a pillar of fire in the annals of the Mediaeval Church.
Theology Under the Macedonian Emperors after Photius.
After Photius, certain other church writers are worthy of mention. Simeon Metaphrastes, who lived during the tenth century, was entrusted by the Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus with the preparation, from the material that had been accumulated for centuries, of a revised and more critical edition of the Lives of the Saints, for the use and edification of the people. Ecumenius of Tricca, also in the tenth century, annotated the Acts, the Epistles and the book of Revelation on the basis of the commentaries of the early Fathers. Simeon, the eleventh century abbot of the Monastery of St. Mamas in Constantinople, so delighted his contemporaries by his Chapters of practical mysticism and his extensive literary activity, that they called him "the New Theologian." Nicetas Stethatus, a pupil of this same Simeon, who later became abbot of the famous Monastery of Studium, employed his pen mainly in the denunciation of Latin innovations, and his works were sent to Italy with the censorious letter of Patriarch Michael Cerularius, which served as a pretext to the Papists to complete the schism between the two Churches in 1054.
Theology Under the Comnenian Dynasty.
The age of the Comnenians (1054-1250), during which not only men but women, too, devoted themselves to literature, following the example of Eudokia, daughter of Isaac Comnenus, and Anna, daughter of Alexius I, was another period of theological activity, and saw the rise of many distinguished men: Michael Psellus (d.c. 1100), who taught philosophy in the Academy of Constantinople during the reign of Constantine Monomachus, was a man of wide and many-sided culture, whom his contemporaries, with their characteristic exaggeration in the bestowal of pompous titles, had nicknamed "the greatest of philosophers." Nicetas of Serres, who flourished about 1077, composed commentaries in the form of catenae, founded on the interpretations of earlier Fathers, on the Book of Job, St. Matthew's Gospel and the First Epistle to the Corinthians. Theophylact, Archbishop of Ochrida in Bulgaria from 1076, was another brilliant commentator of the Scriptures, and annotated almost the whole of the New Testament besides some portions of the Old. He has also left us one hundred and thirty letters, in which he laments the still uncivilized conditions of his foreign diocese. Euthymius Zigabenus, who wrote at the beginning of the twelfth century under Alexius Comnenus, was yet another brilliant commentator, and has left us excellent interpretations of the Psalms, the Gospels and the Epistles. Under instruction from Alexius, he also compiled, from the wealth of material already available, his Dogmatic Panoply, a work destined as a weapon for Orthodoxy against every kind of heresy. Nicholas of Methone (c. 1155) is the author of a work both clever and attractive on The development of the theological elements in the teaching of Proclus1 the Platonist, in which he compares Platonic and Christian principles and demonstrates the incomparable superiority of the latter. Eustathius, Archbishop of Salonica from 1175, was present when Salonica fell into the hands of the Normans in 1185, and has left us a lively description of the sack of the town. He was both theologian and scholar, the author of precious commentaries on Homer and Pindar; pastor and patriot, and an enthusiast reformer of degenerate monasticism. Two distinguished canonists also flourished during this period: John Zonaras and Theodore Balsamon. Both these men published during the twelfth century collections of Canon Law with important commentaries.
Theology Under the Palaeologue Dynasty.
During the last period of Byzantine history, that of the Palaeologi (1250-1453), a number of writers still appear to deserve some mention. Nicephorus Vlemmides (thirteenth century) sternly castigated the errors of the Roman Church both by word and pen. Constantine Armenopulos, in the fourteenth century, produced a synopsis of the Nomocanon compiled by Photius. Gregory Palamas (d. 1360), the distinguished Metropolitan of Salonica, devoted his pen mainly to the defense of the Hesychasts, or Quitists, of Mount Athos against the attacks of Barlaam, but is also the author of other works, among which the Dialogue between Body and Soul is well worth reading. Nicholas Cabasilas, who succeeded Gregory as Metropolitan of Salonica, was a great lover and exponent of Mystical Theology, as is shown by his commentary on the Liturgy and particularly by his beautiful book Concerning the Life of Christ. Macarius of Philadelphia (c. 1350) annotated the Book of Genesis, and the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Luke. Simeon of Salonica (d. 1429) is an authority on liturgical matters, although, like all the other writers of his times, he follows the mystical and allegorical method of interpretation. Mark Eugenicus of Ephesus (d. 1449) distinguished himself at Florence above all his fellows by his indomitable character and his refusal to sign the would- be Act of Union, which so disappointed the Pope that, on learning of it, he cried out: "Then we have accomplished nothing!" Mark's writings are chiefly directed against the Pope. Lastly, let us mention Sylvester Syropulos, who was also present at Florence, and who has left us an honest and heart-breaking account of all he witnessed there, edited later under the title A true history of a false union.
14. Christian Life and Worship.
The Condition of Morals.
The morality of mediaeval life was disfigured by many blemishes. Many Christians confined their virtue to the observance of outward forms, and considered that frequent attendance at festivals and holy days, pilgrimages to famous shrines, the worship of wonder-working images, and similar ceremonies were enough to justify them in their Christian calling. The Emperors themselves were often the worst sinners in this respect. Michael III, nicknamed the Drunkard, who treated everything holy and sacred with mockery, was yet constantly presenting wonderful votive offerings to St. Sophia. And Basil the Macedonian, who assassinated him in order to seize the throne for himself, built churches to propitiate the Archangel Michael, who at his death would carry off his soul and bring it up to judgment. Blinding and mutilation were common occurrences in the palaces of those days. And yet these kings considered themselves as anointed by God to be the leaders and absolute rulers of their people, a conviction which accounts for their perpetual interference in the affairs of the Church. It was they who negotiated with Rome, against the wishes of their whole people; they who convened Synods and condemned heretics; and they who arbitrarily elected and deposed the Patriarchs. "I built thee, even, and I will break thee too," were the words of a certain Emperor to a Patriarch who had fallen out of favor.
The Reverse of the Medal.
It must not, however, be supposed from what has just been said that the Middle Ages were a period of unrelieved darkness in which virtue was unknown. That faith lived on in the heart of the people, although too often dormant, is evident from their fervent prayers and supplications during their political reverses, and from the general and passionate litanies held in times of earthquake, pestilence, and other such calamities. That this faith, moreover, was not dead and barren is proved by the institution of every kind that existed for the succour of the poor and the orphaned, under the direct care of the Church. And if, on the one hand, the interference of the State in ecclesiastical affairs marked an abuse of power, it revealed on the other hand the great interest taken in religion at that time, when the idea of a state without religion was inconceivable, and when even the Byzantine Emperors themselves were sometimes skilled theologians. Neither should it be forgotten that, though some of the heads of the Church submitted through weakness to the imperial will, there was yet no lack of fearless prelates who valiantly defended the independence of their Church and, like other Nathans, rebuked the errors of their rulers. Patriarchs such as Germanus, Photius, Nicholas the Mystic and Arsenius, are the brightest jewels of the Orthodox Church.
The Progress of Monasticism.
The monks continued as before to lead an austerely moral life. They practised prayer and fasting, devoted themselves to sacred literature, particularly under the Iconoclastic and Macedonian Emperors, and were frequently called upon to fill the highest offices in the Church. John of Damascus, Theodore of Studium, Methodius, Cyril, Nicetas Stethatus and Nicephorus Vlemmides, were all members of monastic orders, of which their zeal and their devout learning are worthy ornaments. Many new centers of monastic life sprang up during this period. The Monastery of The Sleepless Ones,, of Studium, of the Peribleptus, and others, were all founded in Constantinople; the island of Patmos saw the establishment of the Monastery of the Theologus, and Greece the Mega Spelaion. This period, too, saw the rise of Athos, whose first abot, John Colobus received in 867 the gift of the whole peninsula of Athos from the Emperor Basil the Macedonian. In 960, under Nicephorus Phokas, the venerable Athanasius built the Monastery of the "Megale Lavra" on Mount Athos, and drew up a monastic rule that divided the life of the monks between work and prayer. In the course of time, the Monasteries founded on Mount Athos or "Holy Mountain" as it was called, came to be divided into "cenobite" and "idiorrhythin." In the former, the monks all lived under a common rule not only of worship, but of diet; while in the latter the monks were free to arrange for their food in their own cells. Apart from these monks who led a communal life subject to a definite rule, there were still many hermits who led a life of complete solitude cut off from all their fellows.
The Degeneration of Monastic Life.
Monasticism, however, having so greatly extended its sphere, soon began to give justification to its critics. It had, in the first place, inordinately swollen its ranks. Whether fit or unfit for the monastic life, hundreds of men were constantly flocking to it, many of them with the sole object of avoiding their social responsibilities and their national obligations. Having once renounced the world, it was henceforth their duty to remain in their monastery; but many of them circulated in the towns, meddled in worldly matters, wore long, curly hair after the worldly fashion, and rivaled the most frivolous worldlings in ostentatious parade. Others were completely ignorant, and fanatically inimical to learning; so that there came a time when educated monks were rather the exception than the rule. Generally speaking, the account of monasticism which has been left for us by its enthusiastic admirer, Eustathius of Salonica, reveals not a little corruption among the monks; and it is this corruption that accounts for certain curious varieties of monastic life, to which Eustathius also refers. Some of these newfangled monks adopted the peculiar distinction of living naked; some never washed their feet, and others went perpetually filthy. Some kept an unbroken silence; some went about in chains; some lived all their life on the tops of trees or pillars; and some, finally, buried themselves alive in the earth. Still others, according to Choniates, called themselves "suppliants"; and, following the example of Moses and Miriam after the crossing of the Red Sea, they spent the hour of divine worship in dancing with the nuns to the praise and glory of the Lord.
Churches and Icons.
The Middle Ages saw an enormous increase in the building of places of worship, which provided an adequate outlet for the religious feeling of the people, without, however, improving from an architectural point of view on the magnificent achievement of Justinian in the Church of Saint Sophia. The only difference and innovation was in respect of the roofing and the exterior of the church. Whereas in Justinian's time a single semi-circular dome had been considered sufficient to roof the whole building, the architects now preferred to construct around the central dome a number of smaller ones, supporting each one of them on a polygonic base so as to give it the appearance of a many-lighted lantern. The attention to ornament, too, which had formerly been concentrated on the interior of the church, now began to extend to the exterior as well, where beauty was sought by the skilful disposal of colored bricks. The brilliant but costly inlay-work of mosaic inside the church was replaced by the less expensive decoration of frescoes painted in liquid colors. Symbolic representation either disappeared entirely, or was confined to signs carved in wood beneath the sacred pictures on the iconostasis. Byzantine Iconography grew up austere, uncompromising and, as it were, foreign to the vanities of this world, breathing out a lesson of superhuman holiness. The iconoclasts set upon it barbarously, and very few works survived, except a certain number in the Monasteries of Mount Athos particularly. Such as they are, however, and taken in conjunction with the miniatures found in manuscripts, they suffice to prove that the criticism leveled at Byzantine Hagiography is in no way justified. Mount Athos and Salonica were the main artistic centers of Mediaeval Christianity in the East; and thence, it is said, came the great Greek artist of the thirteenth century, Manuel Panselenus, whose rules of painting are still observed today by the sacred artists of our Church. Statues were never permitted in Orthodox churches; but other plastic arts were brilliantly cultivated, such as wood-carving, gold-working, enameling and embroidery.
Ceremonies and Sacraments.
Theologians were not yet agreed as to the number of the Sacraments. John of Damascus, in his work On the Orthodox Faith, mentions two, which are indeed the most essential, Baptism and Holy Eucharist; Nicholas Babasilas refers to three, Baptism, the Chrism and the Eucharist; and Theodore of Studium to six, Baptism, the Chrism, the Eucharist, Ordination, Initiation into a monastic order, and the Rites of Burial. It was only in the fifteenth century that the great liturgist Simeon of Salonica first taught that there are seven Sacraments namely, Baptism, the Chrism, the Eucharist, Repentance, Ordination, Marriage and Unction; and from his day to our own this reckoning has been accepted by the Church. The rite of Baptism has always been performed by a triple immersion and emersion in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. The Chrism was performed by anointing with Holy Oil. The Holy Eucharist was celebrated with leavened bread, for the use of unleavened bread, habitual to the Armenians, the Jacobites and the Latin Church, was strictly forbidden to the Orthodox; and though Orthodox believers always continued to receive the Communion under both its forms, it appears that from the twelfth century onwards there arose the practice of using a spoon for the lay congregation, while the right of communion directly from the Chalice was reserved for the clergy. The confession of sins to a spiritual father was considered an essential preliminary to Repentance, which was, therefore, called "Confession," and was a necessary preparation for Holy Communion; penance was imposed on those whose sins were particularly heavy not for punishment, but to assist their recovery. Marriage was optional for the clergy, but the higher offices of the Church were only tenable by unmarried clerics. The dissolution of marriage was normally only brought about by the death of one of the partners, after which the survivor might contract a second and third, but never a fourth marriage. Finally, the ceremony of Unction developed from a simple anointing with oil, after suitable prayers had been offered for the restoration of health, into a rich and imposing ceremony, consisting of seven parts and performed by seven priests.
The lengthening of the Church Calendar by the creation of new festivals and holidays in honor of the Lord, the Virgin Mary and the Saints, was followed by an enrichment of the Church Hymnal, in which the people and events commemorated were extolled. It is pleasant to record that, though the golden age of Sacred Poetry was at the beginning of the Middle Ages, and almost coincides with the Iconoclastic period. The first centuries of Christianity were spent in the attempt to free Christian Hymnology from the bondage of classical models; for, with few exceptions, all Christian poets composed their poems in accordance with the metre and language of Homer, Pindar, or Anacreon. Many years went by before the ancient forms of prosody gave way to meters based on the accentuation of words, and the unintelligible language of Homer and Pindar was replaced by a new tongue which was both popular and harmonious. This reform found its most perfect exponent in Romanus the Melodus, who is sometimes thought to have lived in the eighth century and sometimes still earlier. Tradition has it that Romanus lay sleeping one Christmas Day, when the Virgin appeared to him in a dream and, offering him a scroll of papyrus, urged him to eat it. When he did so, he savored a taste sweeter than honey; and, rising full of enthusiasm, he went up into the pulpit and began to sing before the whole congregation: "The Virgin today bringeth forth the Supersubstantial and the earth offereth the cave to the Unapproachable."
Devoting himself thenceforth to the writing of hymns, he became the Orpheus of the Church; for poetic inspiration, fertility of imagination, suppleness of style and simplicity of language, are in no other ecclesiastical poet found in such happy combination. Around the name of Romanus, with whom Byzantine poetry attains its most perfect flowering, revolve others such as those of Andreas of Crete (d. 732), Ger-manus of Constantinople (d. 734), Cosmas the Singer (d. 760), Theophanes Graptus (d. 818), Theodore of Studium (d. 826), Methodius of Constantinople (d. 846), and others; and there were even Emperors, such as Justinian, Leo the Wise, Constantine Porphyrogenitus and Theodore Lascaris, who aspired to compose hymns for the Church; but none of them equaled or excelled Ronianus. At first the poets themselves set their poems to music, orally teaching the melody to their pupils. But later, John of Damascus (d. 780), who distinguished himself as much in hymnography as in theology, invented the system of musical notation, and transmitted to his successors a written record of the eight musical modes on which the various church hymns were chanted. He then went on to compose his Oktoechus, which contains poems divided according to the tune to which they are to be sung. It may here be noted that the hymnology of the Eastern Church has never made use of the organ, although the organ was a Greek invention, much used at the Hippodrome and in the palaces of Byzantium, and introduced thence into the West during the reign of Constantine Copronymus.
15. The Night of Oppression and the Dawn of Liberty.
The Conqueror's Promises to Scholarius.
On the day of the fall of Constantinople, its conqueror, Mohammed II (1430-1481) acted towards the Christians like a blood-thirsty tiger; later, however, he changed his attitude, and began to cajole them with promises. Some say that he hoped thereby to retain within his Empire the industrious workers who would provide him with the necessary taxes; others think that he wished to isolate them completely from European influence; and others, again, take the more probable view that he was simply complying with certain injunctions in the Koran, which permitted a measure of self-government to members of mono-theist communities, provided that they paid a tributary tax. Having learnt, therefore, that the patriarchal throne was vacant, he ordered that a suitable man should be elected to it; and when the learned Gennadius Scholarius was chosen and appeared before him, the Conqueror received him favorably, clothed him with a precious cope, put a pastoral staff into his hand, and presented him with a thousand florins and a white horse. "Rule your flock in peace," he said, "and enjoy our friendship; and keep all the privileges of your predecessors." Thenceforth, according to the clear orders of Mohammed II, the Orthodox Patriarch was to continue in his duties with his attendant clerics, unmolested and exempt from taxes; he was left in possession of the Christian churches, allowed to perform freely all the ceremonies of Christian worship, and expected at the same time to supervise the domestic affairs of his people. The same privileges were accorded by the Conqueror to the Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem in 1455, when he recognized and confirmed the rights of the Greek race over Holy Shrines.
The Conqueror's Violation of his Promises.
Unfortunately, however, the fanaticism, with which the Mohammedan rulers were imbued, made it impossible for them to respect promises forced from them by necessity and prudent cunning. The Conqueror himself, who shortly before had recognized the Christian churches as places of worship for his Christian subjects (with the exception of Saint Sophia, which he had appropriated from the beginning), rapidly changed his mind, and transformed twelve of the most beautiful of them into Mohammedan mosques. When, moreover, after a very short time, Gennadius retired from the Patriarchate, Mohammed, forgetting his promises of exemption from tribute, exacted at each new patriarchal election a sum of money known as "peskesi," which grew ever larger at each subsequent election; so that, whereas at first it had amounted to one thousand gold pieces, it had risen to two thousand five hundred by 1475 at the election of Patriarch Raphael, who, not being able to collect this great sum, was deposed and sent in fetters into the streets to seek charity from the passers-by. For even against the person of the Patriarch Mohammed's violence knew no bounds; witness, among other examples, his behavior towards the Patriarch Joasaph (1464-1466) whom he insulted by cutting off his beard because he had refused to confirm an illegal marriage, while at the same time he cut off the nose of the Patriarch's first chaplain. The Conqueror also systematically organized that abominable system of child-kidnapping, which owed is origin to Sultan Orchan in the year 1328. Every fourth year Turkish officers marched through the provinces, and from one Christian family in every ten chose a child not more than seven years old, whom they carried away to Constantinople, educated to Mohammedan fanaticism in an institution specially created for the purpose, and then placed m the fearsome military regiment of the Janizaries. Thus, from Christian flesh and blood were wrought Christianity's most deadly foes, who turned their swords against their own fathers and brothers.
A pious question asked by Selim I.
All the successors of the Conqueror equaled him in ferocity, and some, indeed, surpassed him. Selim I (1512-1530) submitted to the mufti the question whether it were more profitable to his soul to bring the whole world into subjection, or to convert his Empire wholly to Islam. When he was told that the latter achievement would be more acceptable to Allah, he instigated a fierce persecution against his Christian subjects, commanding his Grand Vizier to turn all the churches that had been spared by the Conqueror into mosques; and to kill all Christians who would not change their faith. But the Grand Vizier, who was fortunately of a milder disposition than his ruler, secretly communicated the Sultan's decree to the Patriarch Theoleptus, who presented himself before the Divan, bringing as witnesses three aged Janizaries, who had been present at the fall of Constantinople, appealed to the privileges promised by the Conqueror, and thus managed to restrain the fanatical rage of the tyrant from fulfilling his most violent threats. He was not, however, able to save all the churches; for such beautiful and stately buildings, said the Sultan's counselors, should not be used for the worship of idols. Among the few churches that escaped at that time was that of the "Pammakaristos," to which the Patriarchate was transferred, after the destruction of the church of the Holy Apostles, which had succeeded Saint Sophia. But in 1586 the church of the Pammakaristos, too, was seized by the ferocious hordes of Murad III and turned into a mosque; and after removing from place to place, the Orthodox Patriarchate at last settled in the year 1600 at the church of St. George in the district of Phanari, where it has remained until this day.
Peskesi, Haratsi, Child-Kidnapping and Forced Conversion to Islam.
The sufferings of the Church under Turkish rule were not confined merely to the loss of the places of worship. The "peskesi" levied at each patriarchal election still continued to grow, even attaining the sum of 4,600 gold coins; and since frequent changes of Patriarch meant to Turkish voracity more frequent payment of the "peskesi," forcible changes became so numerous that during a single period of eighty years (1620-1702) no fewer than fifty Patriarchs ascended the steps of the Patriarchal throne. For what value, in the Sultan's eyes, could be attached to a head of the Greek nation whose very life was constantly in jeopardy? Murad IV in 1638, had the Patriarch, Cyril Lucar, drowned in the Bosphorus. Mohammed IV, in the years 1651 and 1657 respectively, caused the Patriarchs Parthenius II and Parthenius III to be hanged. Whatever happened in the capital had its echo in the provinces. A tribute of money was exacted by the rulers at the appointment of every Metropolitan, just as it was at every Patriarchal election, and the life of a bishop was no more safe than that of a Patriarch. Meanwhile, the "haratsi," or capital tax, which every Christian subject had to pay for the privilege of bearing his head on his shoulders, also increased. Child-kidnapping, that hungry Minotaur, grew more frequent; not every fourth year, as in the time of the Conqueror, but every year the children were now collected, and not under seven, but under fifteen years of age. There were orgies of forced conversions to Islam at the expense of the subject Christians. According to Meletius Pegas, in Egypt alone thirty thousand Christians had their tongues cut out, so that the parents might not transmit the Christian faith to their children. And according to Montealbani, who travelled through Albania in 1625, there was not one of the remaining Christians whose son or brother or some other relation had not turned Mohammedan. In 1620 the number of Christians in Albania was 350,000. By 1650, they had been reduced to 50,000 that is, to one-seventh of their former number.
Dawning Improvement in the Conditions of the Subject Race.
More tolerable days began to dawn for the Christian subjects in Turkey, from the moment that Peter the Great (1682-1725), Emperor of the free and Orthodox country of Russia, began, in pursuance of a definite policy whose ultimate aim was the removal of the Russian capital to Constantinople, o take under his protection those Christians who were groaning beneath the foreign yoke. This policy was followed, after Peter the Great by all his successors, and among others by Catherine II, who indeed incited the Greeks by many promises to rebel against the Turks in 1770, only to abandon them afterwards to the latter's avenging sword. Russia's right of intervention on behalf of the Christians in Turkey was at all events recognized by the European Powers, who confirmed this right in 1774 by the Treaty of Kainartzik. Apart from the self-seeking interest taken in the oppressed Christians by Russia, which was an important factor in the improvement of their position, the Phanariotes themselves also contributed towards this result. These men were Greeks who lived in the district of Phanari, where the Patriarchate had eventually settled, and who, distinguished by their intelligence, politeness, European culture, and knowledge of languages, were often raised by the Sultan to high positions, such as that of secretary, interpreter, privy counselor, or even governor of one of the Turkish provinces of Walachia and Moldavia. Thus, to the best of their ability, they found opportunities to influence the Sultans, and to intercede with them on behalf of their less fortunate fellow-Greeks and Christians.
The Greek Revolution.
On the 25th March, 1821, in the Hagia Laura, the Archbishop of Old Patras, Germanus, raised the banner of rebellion against the Turks, bearing the motto of "Freedom or Death," and the whole of the Greek mainland, with the Peloponnesus and the Aegean Islands, rose up to an unequal struggle. This event, which touched the hearts of sensitive people in the West, correspondingly enraged the Sultan, who swore revenge against the revolutionaries. The first victim of his rage was the cultured and ascetic Patriarch of Constantinople, Gregory V, who, on April 22nd, Easter Day of that same year, was hanged from the gates of the Patriarchate, and whose dead body, after having been dragged through the streets of Constantinople by the crowd, was finally flung into the sea. After him, the Metropolitans of Ephesus, Chalcedon, Derki, Salonica and Adrianople, were all put to death in a similar manner in various parts of the Seven-Hilled City. The Great Logothete, Stephen Mavrogenes, was beheaded, and the Grand Interpreter of the Fleet, Nicholas Mourouzes, was butchered with his brother. Not only in Constantinople, but in Adrianople, Larissa, Cyprus, Crete and other places as well, the blood of many venerable bishops was shed, sometimes even upon the holy altar. But after seven years of war, the little country of Greece achieved her independence.
Haiti Serif and Hatti Houmayioun.
The establishment of a kingdom in independent Greece by the Protocol of London in 1830, and the simultaneous proclamation of the semi-independence of Serbia and Montenegro, were followed in 1839 by Turkey's publication of the document known as "Hatti Serif," which gave pledge of security for the life, honor and property of all Turkish subjects, irrespective of their religious views. After the terrible Crimean War of 1854, Turkey issued in 1856 another declaration, the "Hatti Houmayioun," which proclaimed full religious and civil equality, abolished the taxation of Patriarchs and bishops, removed all restrictions on the building of Christian churches and schools, recommended the setting up of committees consisting of both clerical and lay members to examine matters not strictly ecclesiastical in scope, and provided for the establishment of mixed tribunals on which members of other religions might sit together with Mohammedans. But that all this was a mere pretence adopted by the Turk to deceive the Western Powers, whose frequent intervention he bitterly resented, nourishing as he does an implacable hatred against all Christians, was clearly proved by the periodical and methodical attempts to exterminate all the followers of the Gospel which he never ceased to organize. In 1860, the massacre of Druses in Lebanon and Damascus claimed thousands of victims. In 1876, 1885 and 1896 hundreds of thousands of Armenians were massacred in Constantinople and in other parts of the Ottoman empire; and in the coastal and interior districts of Asia Minor, m 1922, the slaughter of Armenians and of the native Greeks, who had been established there since Homeric times, amounted to millions. However that may be, the Orthodox Christian peoples of Greece, Serbia, Rumania, Bulgaria, Albania and the islands of the Mediterranean, who for centuries were tormented under the Turkish yoke, are now enjoying the great gift of freedom; and for that, at least, our thanks are due to God.
16. The Four Most Ancient Patriarchates and Cyprus.
The Patriarchate of Constantinople.
The Patriarchate of Constantinople, which had formerly owed its superiority over the other Patriarchates merely to the historical significance of the city itself, assumed a much greater importance after the fall of Constantinople, because of the ecclesiastical and civil privileges accorded to it by the Turks. However far practice might lag behind, in theory and in principle the Patriarch of Constantinople had the right to resume in his own person and represent before the Divan the whole Orthodox race, whose national leader he was held to be; to watch over their spiritual life; to look after their churches and monasteries; to settle family disputes among his flock; to confirm wills, and to grant divorces. Moreover, since the other three Patriarchal Thrones of the East were situated far from the Sultan's capital and were themselves in a very sorry state, the Patriarch of Constantinople not infrequently took up the defense of their interests also before the Sublime Porte, not from a despotic wish to trample on their liberties, but from a brotherly spirit of concern for his weaker brethren. The half civil, half ecclesiastical functions of the Ecumenical Patriarch were indicated even by his vestments, which were similar to those of the Byzantine Emperors, and by the two-headed eagle depicted on his "encolplion" and on his seal.
The System of Government.
During the first three centuries after the fall of Constantinople, the Patriarch had the co-operation of two administrative bodies; namely, the "Holy Synod," which was composed of bishops and deliberated over the most important affairs, and the "Ecclesiastical Council/ which consisted of office-bearers, and dealt with less weighty matters. But in 1763, during the patriarchate of Samuel I, this system of Church government was replaced by the senatorial system, known as "Gerontismos." Twelve bishops, that is to say, chosen from the places nearest to Constantinople, were continuously in attendance on the Patriarch, permanently assisting him in the work of government, and representing all their fellow-bishops. From one point of view, this system was a good one, because, through long experience and frequent contact with the rulers, it trained a group of men to knowledge of the dangers surrounding them and understanding of the methods by which such dangers might be averted. It had, however, the great disadvantage that in the course of time the rule of these "elders" became arbitrary, since all authority was centered in their hands. A hundred years after its institution, therefore, the system of Gerontismos was abolished, and a new administrative system, better suited to modern requirements, was introduced by the "General Regulations" drawn up in 1862. By these regulations, the affairs of the Patriarchate were divided into the purely "spiritual," or those that concern faith and morals, and the "material," which deal with the supervision of schools, the control of bills, the property of monasteries, the settlement of wills, and other kindred matters. The care of the former was entrusted to the "Holy Synod," which was composed of twelve bishops of the Ecumenical Throne, elected in rotation, and was so constituted that its members were constantly being renewed, all the bishops in turn taking part in the administration; while to deal with the latter a "Mixed Council" was created, on which four members of the Holy Synod sat together with eight eminent laymen, duly elected by the people.
The Area of Jurisdiction.
It was particularly during the eighteenth century that the area subject to the jurisdiction of Ecumenical Patriarchate reached its widest extent. At time there were dependent upon it about one hundred and Archbishops, Metropolitans and bishops, who had their in Thrace, Macedonia, Epirus, Albania, Greece, the an and Ionian Islands, Montenegro, Serbia, Bulgaria, Moldavia and Walachia, Hungary, and the region called e Russia," which marked the limit of the Patriarch's authority; for although the Metropolis of Moscow had been promoted to the rank of an independent and self-sufficing Russian Ecclesiastical Center in the sixteenth century, Kiev the Archbishopric of Little Russia, still continued to acknowledge the Patriarch of Constantinople as its spiritual head. The desperate circumstances contributed towards the extension of the Patriarch's sphere of authority. Bulgarians, Serbs, Vlachs, Albanians and other peoples were being crushed by the all-powerful Turk, and needed protection if they were to save at least their faith; and what other refuge had they but the Ecumenical Patriarchate? Thus, in 1766 and 1767, under the previously mentioned Patriarch Samuel, the Archbishopric of Ipek and Ochrida, which were at that time the ecclesiastical centers of the Churches of Serbia and Bulgaria respectively, came spontaneously to the Ecumenical Patriarch, requesting him to take them under his authority. Such was the vast extent of the Patriarchate of Constantinople during the eighteenth century. But the political independence, which from the beginning of the nineteenth century onwards began to be enjoyed by Greece, Serbia, Rumania, Bulgaria, and, lastly, Albania, also resulted in the emancipation of these countries from the ecclesiastical authority of the Patriarchate. Consequently, and particularly after the wholesale eradication of Christianity by the Kemalists from the land of the "Seven Stars of the Apocalypse," the boundaries of this Patriarchate, first in rank and in authority, have been signally reduced.
The Struggle of the Patriarchate for the Retention of its Privileges.
During recent years, all the efforts of the Patriarchate of Constantinople have been directed towards the retention of those privileges which were the only guarantee of its continued existence under rulers of another faith, and which, though recognized by the Turks from the beginning in accordance with the teaching of the Koran, had never ceased to be the object of their treacherous attack. Under Sultan Hamid, that great enemy and butcher of the Christians, these attempts on the liberties of the Patriarchate reached their most formidable dimensions, and it was in his reign, in the year 1883, that the famous "question of the privileges" began. Gifted Patriarchs, such as Joachim III, Joachim IV and Dionysius V, exhausted their precious energies in defense of these privileges. Sometimes, indeed, their valiant resistance succeeded in stemming the tide of Turkish violence, as when, for instance, in 1891, Dionysius V proclaimed a state of persecution in the Church and closed the churches until the Porte surrendered; but the Turkish policy of eradicating the Christian element from their Empire was never abandoned either under the despotic rule of Hamid, or by the pseudo-constitutional New Turk rulers who succeeded him, until finally Kemal, finding Christian Europe in a state of exhaustion as a result of the recent great war, took advantage of the opportunity to carry out the old policy in all its unparalleled ferocity.
The Patriarchate of Alexandria.
Next in rank after the Patriarchate of Constantinople comes that of Alexandria, which was most illustrious during the first few centuries of Christianity, but declined so miserably after the Monophysite troubles and the appearance of Mohammedanism that at the beginning of the seventeenth century its churches numbered only three. Almost the only occupation of its Patriarchs, who had their seat in Cairo whenever they were not forced to seek shelter under the protecting wing of the Patriarch of Constantinople, was to beg for the financial support necessary to buttress the Patriarchate against the twin dangers of Mohammedanism and heresy. Thus, when Cyril Lucar was Patriarch of Alexandria, he sent out his Logothete Maximus in 1608 to beg for material aid from all Orthodox Christians everywhere. The Patriarch Samuel Capasules addressed himself in 1712 to Queen Anne of England, and in 1717 to the Emperor Peter the Great of Russia. Similarly, in 1763 the Patriarch Matthew implored the aid of the Empress Catherine II of Russia and of her son Paul; for when he became Patriarch of Alexandria, "he found the Church in great disorder both within and without; the churches dilapidated, the poor distressed and unvisited, the Throne deeply in debt, the Christians unshepherded und hesitating to their faith, the lambs pasturing side by side with goats and wolves, so that the latter often seized upon the former, and the priests living a careless life." Fortunately from the days of Mehmet Ali Pasha (1806-1848) onwards' conditions began to improve. Greek merchants began to go down into Egypt, and vigorous Greek communities were founded in Alexandria, Cairo, Port Said, Suez, and elsewhere. Brighter days thus dawned for this Church, especially after it had come under the energetic rule of Patriarchs such as Sophronius (1870-1899), Photius (1900-1925, and Meletius Metaxakis (1926-today), under whom the debts of the Patriarchate were liquidated, churches were built, schools multiplied, charitable organizations were developed, and new life was infused into Orthodoxy in Africa. Today the seat of the Patriarchate is in Alexandria, where around the Patriarch assembles his Synod, composed of seven Metropolitans. The Patriarchate embraces over eighty churches, the majority of which are in Egypt, while others are scattered in Nubia, Abyssinia, Tunis and the Transvaal. Concrete evidence of its abundant vitality is provided by its scientific reviews, its brilliant preachers, its printing press, its seminary, its orphanages, schools, and other philanthropic institutions.
The Patriarchate of Antioch.
The Patriarchate of Antioch, too, had to weather many storms. After its once flourishing Orthodoxy had suffered sorely from the Monophysite heresy during the sixth century, after it had been subdued by the Mohammedan invaders in the seventh century, it was fated to endure yet further evils at the hand of the Papists, whom the Crusaders established in Syria, when they had evicted the Orthodox clergy. When the Papists were driven out by the Mameluks in 1268, the Orthodox clergy were restored to their positions; but from 1700 onwards, Roman Catholic propaganda reappeared in Syria, more vigorous and better organized than before, and by means of its schools, universities, monastic orders, and influential political protectors, continued to carry on its work of conversion. The spread of the Unia in the Throne of Antioch was also assisted by certain latinising prelates, such as Cyril III, who usurped the Patriarchate in 1724, and whose activities were combated with apostolic zeal by his lawful rival Silvester (1724-1766) by means of rounds of visits, encyclical letters, sermons, written works and schools. Silvester's struggle in defense of Orthodoxy was continued by his successors, Daniel (d. 1791), Anthemius (d. 1813), Seraphim (d. 1823) and Methodius (d. 1850). After the Papists, the Protestants bore down upon the unfortunate Patriarchate; and after the Protestants, the Russian Pan-Slavists who, disguising their political aims under the mask of a defense of Orthodoxy, began to sow dissension between the Orthodox Syrians and their Greek pastors. Thus incited, the Arabic-speaking Syrians dismissed their Greek-speaking Metropolitans; and, disregarding alike the rules of Canon Law and the protests of the three other Patriarchates, they elected as Patriarch of Antioch Meletius (1899-1906), who completed the arabisation of the Church of which John Chrysostom and John of Damascus had been the brightest ornaments. The Orthodox Christians of Syria are not, however, at bottom inimical to the Greeks; and the cessation of Pan-Slavist propaganda among them was sufficient to restore them to more brotherly feelings. Today this Patriarchate has its seat at Damascus, whither it was removed in 1269, and embraces about twelve Metropolitans.
The Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
The Patriarchate of Jerusalem, whose seat is, and always has been, at Jerusalem, has the distinctive characteristic of having always constituted a monastic Brotherhood, with the Patriarch as its abbot, and with the special vocation of tending and guarding the Sacred Shrines of the Holy Land. The Patriarch is assisted in his work by the Holy Synod, consisting of twelve titular bishops and seven Archimandrites. The life of this Patriarchate has been an incessant struggle for the maintenance of its privileged position against more powerful and more numerous rivals. The Brotherhood of Jerusalem can trace its rights over the Sacred Shrines right back to the time of Constantine the Great, when the Shrines were first established; and it can also claim as further proof the recognition and confirmation of these rights by the Caliph Omar in the seventh century. But from the times of the Crusades onwards, the Roman Church, too, began to lay claim to rights over the Shrines; and in the of Sultan Selim I (1512-1520) both she and others contrived, by means of large payments to the Turks and the support of powerful protectors, surreptitiously to acquire certain privileges, although our Church still remains in possession of the greatest number. As though foreign enemies were not enough, there appeared in 1885 the Russian Palestinian Society, with the ostensible aim of founding churches, schools, hostels and bishops' palaces, and thus raising the position and reputation of Orthodoxy, but with the secret intention of accomplishing the Russianisation of Palestine. But the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre continued nevertheless to perform its duties and to retain its coveted position. The maintenance and adornment of the Sacred Shrines for centuries; the regular distribution of alms to the indigent natives; the upkeep of schools, hospitals, hostels and printing presses; the rebuilding in 1810 of the Church of the Resurrection which had been burnt down; the maintenance of the excellent "Theological School of the Cross" during its long years of valuable service; all this, and many other unavoidable expenses burdened the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher with almost overwhelming debts, although the Greek people never failed to send its contributions of money on behalf of the Holy Sepulcher. Lately, however, a certain measure of order has been restored to the financial affairs of the Church of Jerusalem, foreshadowing also a closer attention to spiritual matters.
The Church of Cyprus.
The Church of Cyprus, like the four eldest Patriarchates, can also boast of great antiquity. Founded in the year 45 by the Apostles Paul and Barnabas, and numbering among her members saints such as Spiridon and Epiphanius, she was granted the privilege of autonomy by the Third Ecumenical Synod, which forbade the Archbishop of Antioch to interfere in the affairs of Cyprus. Unfortunately, in 1191, Richard Coeur de Lion took possession of the island, and sold it to the Knights Templar; and thenceforward the unfortunate Cypriotes, under the yoke of the fanatical Roman Catholic Lusignans, underwent every km of suffering for the sake of their national and religious independence. Not only did the Templar intruder transform the majority of them into serfs, but the Pope imposed on them a Roman Archbishop, to whom the Orthodox bishops were obliged to swear the oath of allegiance. In 1231, in the presence of the Portuguese Pelagius, the representative of Pope Honorius III, the Thirteen Holy Fathers were martyred, having been condemned as heretics for not accepting the innovations of the Roman Church. They were first tied to the tails of horses and dragged over stones, then burnt together with animals, so that it should be impossible to collect their bones. The Venetian occupation of the island in 1489 was merely the substitution of anew tyranny for the old; and the only redeeming feature of the Turkish conquest which followed in 1571 was that it drove away from the island all the Roman intruders. The crowning act of Turkish ferocity was the strangling at Nicosia of the Archbishop of Cyprus, Cyprianus, the Metropolitans of Paphos, Kition and Kyrenia, and other Cypriot notables, by the blood-thirsty Turkish Governor, Kuchuk Mechmet, during the first year of the Greek Revolution (1821). In 1878, Cyprus was taken over by Great Britain, whence had come her first conqueror, Richard Coeur de Lion. But the two hundred and fifty thousand Orthodox Greeks of this martyred island, who constitute four-fifths of its whole population, will never turn their thoughts to higher things until they are freed from foreign domination, and return once more to the care of their natural mother-land.
17. Russia. Greece, Serbia, Rumania, Bulgaria and Syria.
Other Orthodox Churches.
The Orthodox, Eastern and Apostolic Church, which embraces a total of two hundred and fifty million souls in the world today, is not represented only by the four oldest Patriarchates and the Greek Orthodox Church of Cyprus. By the grace of God, it is also represented by various local and independent Churches; namely, the Churches of Russia, Greece, Serbia, Rumania, Bulgaria, Poland and Georgia, together with the autonomous Churches of Finland, Czechoslovakia, Esthonia and America, and the Churches of the Dispersion in Europe. Nor must we forget the Orthodox Greeks of the Dodekanese and of Albania. It is impossible in the present work to dwell upon the history of all these Churches. Something must, however, be said about the first five, which are the most important of them.
The Church of Russia in Modern Times.
Whether it had its headquarters at Kiev, as at first, at Vladimir, whither it went in 1229, or at Moscow, as happened in 1328, the Church of Russia never ceased to consider as her spiritual head the Patriarchate of Constantinople, from whence she had received Christianity. It is, indeed, true that when in 1588 the Patriarch of Constantinople, Jeremiah II, visited Russia to beg for alms, he proclaimed this grown-up daughter of the Church independent, and recognized the Metropolitan of Moscow as the fifth Patriarch of the Eastern Church. But either because he thought that this office would concentrate a dangerous measure of power in the hands of its possessors, or for other more political reasons, Peter the Great quietly suppressed it in 1721; and with the co-operation of the great Russian theologian Procopovicius, set up the Permanent Administrative Synod, with its seat at Petrograd, communicating this change to the Patriarchs of the East, who all accepted it. Peter the Great also worked towards the improvement of the clergy by founding clerical schools and reforming the monasteries His example was followed by Catherine II and by the Tsars who succeeded her, in whose time the Russian Church rejoiced in the possession of four important Theological Academies and numerous seminaries, and succeeded not only in fulfilling her obligations towards her own members, but also in supporting flourishing missions among the Israelites, Tartars and Japanese. Unfortunately, since the recent great war, all these promising shoots have been uprooted by the Bolshevists, who, after overthrowing the Tsarist Throne, now delude themselves with the idea that they can overthrow the Throne of God. At the present time, atheism is the official cult of Soviet Russia. Christians are persecuted merely for being Christians. Magnificently built churches have been transformed into clubs, music-halls, cinemas and theatres. Icons of inimitable beauty, painted by Publioff or Stroganoff, who lived in the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries respectively, are sold abroad or publicly burnt in the squares. Those who have remained devout, and are still attached to the ways of their fathers, live for the most part in exile, while many have either been killed or are languishing in prison. In the years 1918, 1919 and 1920 alone, twenty-six bishops and six thousand seven hundred and fifty-five priests were martyred by the Bolshevists, leaving out of account thousands and millions of other victims. Bolshevism is founded on the materialistic and earth-bound principles of Communism, while the Gospel exhorts us to follow higher and more spiritual things. "Religion and Communism" says Bukharim "conflict with each other both in theory and in practice.... War to the death against every form of religion!" And another writer adds: "The Christians sympathy and love, which are contrary to our own beliefs." Consequently, the only official society in Russia is the of Atheists," under whose inspiration ten thousand anti-religious clubs pursue their work throughout the vast lands of Russia, foolishly seeking to transform human nature put out the inextinguishable light of its religious instincts. There is not the slightest doubt that the ultimate solution of this vast tragedy will be, as ever in the past, the triumph of the Cross. But the tangled plot that must precede it is bitter indeed for the struggling Orthodox Russians, who call for all our prayers.
The Church of Greece in Modern Times.
The Church of Greece, which had likewise suffered greatly under Turkish tyranny, entered on a new stage of its life from the day when it threw off that heavy yoke. The flag of the Revolution received the blessing of the Greek clergy; clerics distinguished themselves as military leaders; and clerics, again, sat on the first national councils of New Greece. From the time of Leo the Isaurian (714-741), the Church of those regions had been a dependency of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, to which it was organically joined. But the leaders of the Revolution considered that their political independence from Turkey would not be complete unless it were accompanied by ecclesiastical emancipation. Hence at the General Assembly of Nauplion in 1833, and at the proclamation of the Constitution under King Otto in 1844, the representatives of the nation declared that, although the Church of Greece was and would always remain united with the Great Church of Constantinople on matters of dogma, it would henceforth enjoy complete autonomy in matters of government. To a great extent they were right; for ecclesiastical boundaries had always conformed to political ones, and a free country should have a free Church. But for a long time the Ecumenical Patriarchate would not consent. It saw the Church's property broken up, ostensibly to supply the Church's needs, but actually to be squandered by the laity. It feared that the administrative secession of the Church of Greece might be taken as a precedent by other Balkan peoples who were not yet prepared for self-government; and it was particularly apprehensive lest the Protestant advisers of King Otto should introduce into the young state of Greece forms of government contrary to Orthodox principles. In the end, however, it gave in, and issued in 1850 the Synodical Tome on the emancipation of the Church in Greece, declaring her right to self-government. In the years that followed the Revolution, the boundaries of the Church of Greece, like those of the nation itself, were restricted. But in 1863, the Ionian Islands were united to the Motherland; in 1878, Thes-8aly and part of Epirus; in 1913 Southern Macedonia, Crete and some of the Aegean Islands; and in 1922, Western Thrace. As a result of these various increases in national territory, the boundaries of the Church of Greece were also extended, at the expense of those of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, under whose jurisdiction they had been for centuries. To-day, the Church of Greece includes about eighty Metropoles, of which thirty-three belonged to pre-war Greece, while forty-seven have been added since the war. It is governed by a double Synod: the "Periodical Synod," which assembles once a year in Athens and includes all the bishops, and the "Permanent Synod," which consists of eight bishops and deals with everyday affairs. Both Synods are presided over by the Archbishop of Athens, who also bears the title of "Archbishop of the whole of Greece." The Church of Greece is faced by many problems. Her bishops are all men of scholarly education, and financially independent; but her priests are often wanting both in education and financial means. Theological and clerical schools do indeed exist; but as the priesthood is an almost unpaid calling, their students usually turn to other professions. The people are attached to the Orthodox faith, which is, however, continually being undermined by foreign propaganda; and though Orthodoxy is considered as the official state religion of Greece, the rulers of the country passively watch the misappropriation of ecclesiastical property, and keep the Church in subjection. Against all these evils, the Church of Greece is hard at work. The position of the clergy is gradually improving; sermons are much sought after; the religious press is growing; charitable institutions are being founded; and religious life is progressing both in theory and in practice.
Church of Serbia in Modern Times.
The fortunes of the Church of Serbia were similar to those of the Church of Greece; she suffered and grew with her nation. A period of great glory dawned for her in the middle of the fourteenth when the great Serbian prince, Stephen Dushan, taking advantage of the internal troubles of the Byzantine Empire, extended his conquests from, the Danube to the Aegean and the Adriatic; and, aspiring to establish his capital at Constantinople, called himself "Tsar and Emperor of Serbs and Greeks." In those days, the Serbian Church enjoyed full independence, which had been granted to her in 1221, when the Byzantine Emperor Theodore Lascaris and the Ecumenical Patriarch Germanus recognized the Archbishop of Ipek as the ecclesiastical head of the Serbs. But days of slavery soon came to the Serbs, too; and the same Mohammed II who had destroyed the Byzantine Empire soon conquered the Serbian territories. Three centuries later, when the Serbs had done whatever they could to improve their own condition, they at last turned once more to the Ecumenical Patriarchate in 1766, and requested the reigning Patriarch Samuel to take them under his protecting care. Thus, the Serbian provinces of Ipek, Prizren, Skoplie, Belgrade, etc. formed during the eighteenth century departments of the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, until Serbia rose against the Turks under Karageorgevitch and Ovrenovitch in 1817 and gradually achieved her political independence. One result of this independence was a measure of emancipation for the Serbian Church from the Ecumenical Patriarchate, granted by the Synodical Tome issued in 1831. But the Church's emancipator was not yet complete; for Serbian bishops still frequently received their ordination from Constantinople, and the Metropolitan of Belgrade, who was appointed head of the Serbian Church, though elected by the rulers of Serbia, was confirmed in his office by the Ecumenical Patriarchate. This period of transition was brought to an end by the Synodical Tome of 1879, by which the Patriarchate of Constantinople recognized the Church of Serbia as a totally independent and self-governing sister in the full meaning of the word. Since the Balkan and European War, the Serbia of today has become an extensive country incorporating not only Northern Macedonia and a considerable portion of Albania, but also a large part of Austria; and has been joined by Montenegro, whose ruler, called the "Vladika," once combined in his person the supreme offices of Church and State, being at once both king and bishop. To-day Yugoslavia, or Southern Slavia, by which title the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes is known, contains about thirty Metropoles and Bishoprics, at the head of which stands the Patriarch of Belgrade; for since 1922 the Orthodox Church of Serbia has been raised to the rank of Patriarchate. This Church, too, is governed by two Synods, annual and permanent, both of which are presided over by the Serbian Patriarch.
The Church of Rumania in Modern Times.
Another Orthodox country whose boundaries have been notably extended by recent wars is Rumania. The Rumanians first appeared in the Balkans during the twelfth century, and were called by their contemporaries Vlachs. Descendants of the ancient Roman colonists and speaking a Latin language, they are the only people of Roman origin who do not acknowledge the Roman Catholic Church. At first they had joined forces with their Bulgarian neighbors to form the Vlachobulgarian Empire, and waged war against the Byzantine Empire, even while they submitted to its cultural influence. Later, however, the Vlachs and Bulgarians parted company, owing to their differences both of origin and of language. The dependence of the Rumanian Church from the Ecumenical Patriarchate during the period of Turkish domination is evident and is attested by contemporary catalogues, in which the Rumanian provinces are numbered among those subject to the Patriarchate. Indeed, certain towns in Rumanian history, such as Bukharest, Jassy and others, developed into centers of Greek culture, thanks to the large Greek colonies established there before the Greek Revolution, and to the Greek Phanariotes who from the seventeenth century onwards were sent out by the Sultans as governors of those regions. When by the treaty of 1856 Rumania achieved her political independence, Prince Couza, following the example of the Churches of Russia and Greece, sought to withdraw the Rumanian Church entirely from the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and to introduce a new order of affairs in harmony, as he thought, the needs of modern times. Couza's reforming laws were passed by the Rumanian Parliament in 1864 and 1865. For a long time, however, the Ecumenical Patriarchate resisted this change; firstly, because this new legislation tended towards the subservience of the Church to the State, and secondly, because in the ardor of his reform Couza confiscated all the richest properties owned by Athos, Sinai and the Holy Sepulcher in Rumania, without either compensating their owners or even using them for ecclesiastical purposes. At last, in 1885, under the Patriarchate of Joachim IV, the Great Church published the Synodical Tome, in which the Church of the Kingdom of Rumania (for Rumania had been made a kingdom in 1881) was legally proclaimed an independent and self-governing sister-Church. There was still occasional friction between Rumania and the Mother-Church, as in the matter of the Coutsovlachs of Macedonia, whom Rumania insisted on treating as Rumanians, in spite of their own desire to belong to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, whose fortunes they had shared for centuries. It is to be hoped, however, that this difficulty, too, has been solved by the new frontiers set up the Great War. To-day the Orthodox Church of Rumania includes twenty-eight Metropolitans, bishops and assistant bishops, elected by a general assembly of bishops and members of the Lower and Upper Houses of Parliament. It is governed by a Periodical Synod which assembles under the chairmanship of the Patriarch of Bukharest; for the Church of Rumania, like that of Serbia, was raised to the rank of a Patriarchate in 1925 because of the great increase in the size of the kingdom.
The Church of Bulgaria in Modern Times.
The strong feeling of patriotism characteristic of the Local Orthodox Churches has frequently brought them into collision with each other. Hence arose the Coutsovlach question previously referred to, the Panslavist intrigues in Palestine and elsewhere, and the long, bloody strife caused by Balkan rivalry during the years of Turkish misrule, when religion was used as a pretext for the creation of extension of political rights. All these quarrels are distressing to the Orthodox heart; but none more so than the irregular way in which the Church of Bulgaria sought her emancipation from the Patriarchate, whose protection she had enjoyed in more troubled times. It was only natural that the liberation of Greece, Serbia and Rumania from the Turkish yoke should fan the flame of Bulgarian independence. But whereas the other Balkan peoples had first gained their political freedom, and had then acquired their ecclesiastical independence, the Bulgarians reversed the process, and pursued ecclesiastical independence with terrorism and dynamite as a means towards political conquests. Although one of the main principles of Canon Law is that two Orthodox Church leaders of equal rank shall never exist side by side in the same place, in 1870, by the authority of a Turkish fireman, the Bulgarians deliberately set up a Bulgarian Exarchate in Constantinople, as the supreme head of the Bulgarian nation and the rival and equal of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The Patriarchate proceeded to make every possible concession. It permitted the use of the Bulgarian tongue in all the schools in Bulgaria; it sent Bulgarian bishops to Bulgaria; and it accepted the establishment of a Bulgarian Exarchate exclusively for the Bulgarian nation, with the sole reservation that it should commemorate in public worship the name of the Patriarch. But the Bulgarians would accept no compromise. With their eye on Macedonia and Thrace, they dreamt of a great Bulgarian Empire extending as far as the Aegean and the Adriatic, and incorporating a mixed population of Greeks, Serbs, Albanians and Vlachs, with its capital at Constantinople. They demanded that they and their Exarchate should rule not only in purely Bulgarian regions, but in mixed and foreign territory as well, so that by means of their comitadjis they might stamp the whole of the Balkans with a Bulgarian impression and thus prepare the way for the new cosmogony that was approaching. It was impossible for the Mother-Church to accept such a situation. Summoning, therefore, to Constantinople in 1872 a Great Synod of fifty members under the chairmanship of the Patriarch Anthimus VI, she excommunicated the Bulgarians for causing a schism in the ecclesiastical body of Orthodoxy by their subservience to political interests, a proceeding not consonant with the Gospel. Thenceforward, the relations between the Patriarchate and the Bulgarian Exarchate became strained. The entire blame does not however, rest only with Bulgaria; for, behind her, Russian Pan-Slavism lay concealed, scheming to make Bulgaria a bridge towards the conquest of Constantinople and the Rus-sianisation of the Balkans. The recent Great War has put an end to Russian ambitions. Bulgaria is now an independent kingdom within its natural boundaries. The new Balkan world has been created, and Macedonia definitely portioned out. There is no doubt that, since the causes of friction have now been removed, the relations between Bulgaria and the Patriarchate will soon be regularized and restored, to the satisfaction of all who wish to see the Orthodox Eastern Church a single compact and imposing body.
The Church of Syria.
It is well known that it was at Antioch that the followers of Christ were first called Christians. The Church of Antioch was founded by the Apostle Peter who headed the church there for seven years, from 37 to 44 A.D. In its early Christian days, Antioch was the richest city of all Syria and the Christians there supported many other communities of new believers. A Synod held at Antioch in the year 341 issued twenty-five Canons dealing with ecclesiastical matters and these precepts were observed by both the Eastern and Western Churches. St. John of Chrysostom, the most eloquent preacher of all Christendom, was born in Antioch and began his religious career there. During his time, Antioch was a city of 200,000 inhabitants and was called the Athens of the East. Antioch became the capital of the diocese of Anatolia when the Byzantine Empire was divided into prefectures by Constantine the Great. Thus all of Syria was included in the jurisdiction of Antioch. In the seventh century, Syria was overrun by the Arabs but the invaders gave the Christians personal and religious freedom. Damascus was proclaimed as the capital of Syria and of all the Arabian Empire. The Patriarch was required to change his residence from Antioch to Damascus where the Patriarchate is still located. Due to Moslem domination from the seventh to the eleventh centuries, the Church of Antioch became practically isolated from the other Eastern Orthodox Churches. From the end of the eleventh to the beginning of the fourteenth centuries, Syria, along with Palestine, was under the dominance of the Crusaders. During this period the Patriarchs of Antioch and Jerusalem lived in exile in Constantinople. Early in the fourteenth century the Crusaders were expelled from Syria and a Moslem regime was again established. Later, in the seventeenth century, internal troubles in the Church of Antioch caused a division in the population with some becoming Uniate Romans. For a long period of time, the Patriarch of Antioch and his Metropolitans were elected in Constantinople. Now they are taken from the native population and are elected by the Hierarchy of the Patriarchal Throne of Antioch. Under the Patriarch there are fourteen dioceses each headed by a bishop.
(The above section, "The Church of Syria," is reprinted from the book Faith of Our Fathers, by Rev. Leonid Soroka and Stan W. Carlson.).
18. Orthodoxy in America.
The Albanian Orthodox Church in America was organized by Dr. Fan S. Noli in Boston in 1908. Father Noli was ordained in 1908 by Russian Metropolitan Platon and elected Bishop by his people. As has been noted, Bishop Noli returned to Albania to lead his country's fight for freedom. When his work in Albania was interrupted, he spent a period of time organizing Albanian congregations in other European countries.
Bishop Noli returned to the United States in 1930 to resume leadership of the Albanian Orthodox Church in America and present is the Bishop of the Church. There are thirteen Albanian Orthodox churches in the United States with the Cathedral located in Boston. The Albanian Orthodox Church in America is a completely self-governing group with no connection with any church abroad.
The first Bulgarian Orthodox Church in America was built in Madison, Illinois, in 1907. Bulgarian immigration to the United States had increased greatly after 1903, with most of the Bulgarian Orthodox Christians attending Russian Orthodox Churches.
In 1922 the Bulgarian Orthodox Mission of the Holy Synod of Bulgaria began attempts to organize the Bulgars. In January, 1938, a Bishopric in the United States was established with Archbishop Andrey, the present head of the churches, appointed in July, 1938.
There are now twenty-three organized parishes of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church in the United States with two more in Canada. There are also fifteen communities that are not yet constituted as parishes. The Cathedral is located in New York City and the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan includes North and South America and Australia.
The foundations of the very first Greek Orthodox Church in the New World, America, were placed in the year 1866 at New Orleans.
This was really four years before the actual beginning of the immigration to America of the Orthodox Christians of Greek descent. Even before the first few immigrants of 1870 set foot upon the new land, this first little church existed in New Orleans as a result of the hope of a few Greek merchants residing in that city. The Greeks feel deeply about the religion of their fathers and, as time went on, with immigration increasing, the churches sprang up quickly in various areas of America. At that period the jurisdiction of these communities of Greek Christians came under the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. Priests were sent out from the motherland to the churches in the New World.
March 1908, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, headed by Patriarch Joachim III, transferred the spiritual jurisdiction of the Greek Orthodox churches "abroad" to the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece. This was maintained for the next ten years much to the disadvantage of the communities of America disadvantage because there was no religious leader present, on American soil, to provide necessary organization in the scattered areas of the many growing communities.
Fortunately, Meletios Metaxakis, Metropolitan of Athens, visiting in the United States in 1918, saw that the need for religious leadership was indispensable right at the source, not back in the mother country. He began at once organizing the Greek Orthodox Churches in America by establishing the Synodical Conclave on October 20, 1918, with Bishop Alexander of Rodostolou as Synodical Supervisor.
Metropolitan of Athens, Meletios, went back to Greece, but returned to America in three years to continue the organization of the Church. This was February 1921. While still residing in America, on the 25th of November of that year, he was elevated to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople as Meletios IV. The following January 1922, he arrived in Constantinople.
There in his new position, by a Synodical Act the first of March, he revoked the Patriarchal Decree of 1908. Thus all the Greek Communities abroad were made to be directly under the Ecumenical Patriarchate and were removed from dependence upon the Holy Synod of Greece. On May 11, 1922, he declared the Church of America an Archdiocese. He placed Bishop Alexander Rodostolou as the Archbishop of North and South America, with three Bishoprics Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco. This was progress. There was hindrance though to speedier progress between the years 1922 and 1930. During this period political events in Greece divided the Greeks in America. The communities became divided ecclesiastically, for to a Christian Orthodox, life's core is his church. Fortunately, the need of religious unity and concord was realized in time. The newly elected Patriarch of Constantinople Photios II undertook the elimination of discord.
Metropolitan of Corinth Damaskinos was sent to America in May of 1930 for the purpose of temporarily governing the Greek Communities in America and establishing order therein. During the same year Archbishop Alexander and Bishops Philaretos of Chicago and Joachim of Boston departed for Greece where they were appointed Metropolitans.
On August 20 of that same important year, Metropolitan Athenagoras of Kerkyra was elected Archbishop of America, arriving in New York on February 24, 1931. Two days later he was enthroned in the Church of St. Eleftherios in New York. Meanwhile Exarch Metropolitan Damaskinos had fulfilled his mission of establishing order and departed for home.
In the next years there were other ecclesiastical changes. By 1949 Archbishop Athenagoras had served as leader of the Greek Orthodox Church in America for eighteen years, a well loved and important worker for the faith. He left to be appointed Patriarch of Constantinople.
Most Reverend Michael, Metropolitan of Corinth, came at this time to serve as Archbishop of North and South America, for, at the Holy Synod of October 11,1949, he had been elected to this duty. Archbishop Michael is now assisted by Bishops Germanos of Nyssa, Athenagoras of Elaia, Ezekiel of Nazianzos, Demetrios of Olympus, Germanos of Constantia, Polyefktos of Tropaiou, and Irenaios of Abydus, for South America.
Under the jurisdiction of the Greek Archdiocese of North and South America there are the following: All the Greek Communities in the United States of America, Canada, the Bahama Islands, Cuba, Mexico, the Republic of Panama, Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay. The 357 communities are now well organized and there are over 400 priests serving them.
The communities support parochial schools, Sunday Schools and chapters of the Greek Orthodox Youth of America (GOYA). Three-fourths of the communities have afternoon Greek Schools, Sunday Schools, Choirs and Ladies' Charity Societies. Over half have the youth clubs affiliated with the GOYA and the Olympians (National Greek Orthodox Archdiocese Junior Youth Organization). There are also now seven Eastern Orthodox chaplains serving in the armed forces of the United States and two of these are Greek Orthodox.
The Archdiocese maintains the Theological Seminary established in 1937 at Pomfret, Conn., and transferred to Brook-line, Mass., in 1946. There American youth of Greek Orthodox lineage are trained for the priesthood and as teachers.
The Archdiocese in 1944 established St. Basil's Academy in Garrison, N. Y. This has two branches one for Greek women teacher preparation and the other a public school for very young girls of Greek parentage. This particular academy is under the care of the Greek Ladies Philoptochos Society.
From the tiny foundation of one little church in New Orleans, built by a few hopeful Greek merchants in 1866, has grown the Greek Orthodox Church of America, now a member of both the National and the World Council of the Churches of Christ. In August 1954, Archbishop Michael was named one of the six co-presidents of the World Council of the Churches of Christ. The foundation was built on faith and hope and stands today in solid truth for an ever-growing Christian world.
The first Romanian Orthodox Church to by established in the United States was St. Mary's in Cleveland, Ohio, which was organized on August 15, 1904. Earlier, in 1901, two Romanian Orthodox churches had been organized in Canada. The first Romanian priest to visit the United States was the Reverend George Hertea, but his stay in this country was only temporary. Father Moses Balea, who became the pastor of St. Mary's in Cleveland in November, 1905, was the first of the clergy to come to the United States to stay.
Until the time of World War I, all Romanian clergymen came from the Romanian homeland, but with the cutting off of immigration, a number of Americans of Romanian origin were ordained by Russian Orthodox Bishops in America. Several years after the termination of World War I, the Metropolitan of Sibiu in Transylvania sent eleven priests to America, five of them remaining in the United States permanently.
Beginning in 1911, several attempts were made to organize an American diocese of the Romanian Orthodox Church. On February 24, 1918, a group of delegates who met in Youngs-town, Ohio, voted to establish a United States Episcopate. This Episcopate was incorporated and its establishment was confirmed at a subsequent meeting held in Cleveland in April, 1923. The organization, however, did not become active.
The need for a unified Romanian church organization in America became more apparent in 1924 when it was found that three sources of ecclesiastical authority were recognized by Romanian Orthodox clergymen. Those ordained in Romania considered themselves under the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan of Transylvania, those ordained in America recognized the Russian-American Bishop Adam, and those of the clergy in Canada considered themselves under the authority of the Metropolitan of Moldavia.
A Romanian Orthodox Episcopate was organized at a church congress held in Detroit, Michigan, in April, 1929. This new Romanian Orthodox Diocese in America was headed by a provisional commission composed of four priests and eight laymen with the Very Reverend John Trutza of Cleveland as President. Repeated requests were made for a bishop to be sent to the United States.
On March 24, 1935, the Right Reverend Policarp Morusca was consecrated bishop for the American Diocese. He was installed on July 4, 1935, in St. George's Cathedral in Detroit.
Under Bishop Policarp the Romanian Orthodox Church in America grew to more than forty parishes.
Bishop Policarp returned to Romania in August, 1939, to attend a meeting of the Holy Synod. The outbreak of World War II shortly after prevented his return to America and the political changes which followed World War II complicated matters further and he remained in Europe. Bishop Policarp is still the canonical head of the American Episcopate.
The American Romanian churches decided recently to return to their original autonomous status. On July 2, 1951, the Right Reverend Valerian D. Trifa was elected as Bishop Coadjutor at a Church Congress held in Chicago, Illinois, and the name of the American Diocese was officially changed to the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate (Diocese) of America.
The Romanian Orthodox Church in America is divided into five deaneries or districts: Cleveland, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, and Canada. The Cathedral of St. George is located in Detroit.
The Russian Orthodox Church came to America by way of Alaska. Vitus Bering, a Dane who entered the Russian Navy in 1704, was chosen by Peter the Great to explore the North Pacific. Before Bering left St. Petersburg in 1725, Catherine the Great, who had succeeded Peter, gave her support to the plan.
After an exploration trip during which he proved that Asia and North America were separate continents, Bering returned overland to St. Petersburg. He then built two ships, naming them the St. Pete and the St. Paul, and sailed eastward from Kamchatka in 1741. During the voyage the ships became separated and were never reunited.
Driven by storms and with his crew dying from scurvy, Vitus Bering landed on an island in the Commander Islands group. This island, where Bering died, was later named for h«n in his honor. Bering's voyages clarified the geography of the entire North Pacific and were the basis for Russian claims to the northwest coast of America. Alaska, later purchased from Russia by the united States in 1867 for $7,200,000, was included in Bering's discoveries and became known as Russian-America. The first Russian colonization took place in 1783.
Russian trading expeditions worked down the coast of America and in 1809 a Russian settlement was established in California, located about sixty miles north of San Francisco and named Fort Ross.
The Russians who settled in Alaska and California founded churches soon after their arrival. The first Russian Orthodox missionaries arrived at Kodiak Island, off the Alaskan mainland, in August of 1794. This first mission had a two-fold purpose: to give spiritual service to the men of the Russian Trading Company and to evangelize the native Aleuts. The leader of this mission was Archimandrite Joasaph.
The Orthodox religion flourished and soon spread to all parts of the Aleutian Islands and to the Alaskan mainland. In Alaska, a Russian Orthodox Church was built on the present site of Sitka in 1815. This edifice became the Cathedral for the first Russian Orthodox Diocese on the American continent. Innocentius (Vemiaminoff), who was ordained on December 15th, 1848, became the first Bishop of this Diocese.
In 1869, two years after Russia had sold Alaska to the United States, a Russian Orthodox Church was built in San Francisco, California, and in 1871 Bishop John transferred the seat of his cathedral from Sitka, Alaska, to San Francisco. Bishop Nestor, who succeeded Bishop John, received official permission from the Russian Synod in 1881 to establish his diocese headquarters in San Francisco and property at 1715 Powell St. was purchased for $38,000, for this purpose.
In 1888, Bishop Vladimir came to San Francisco to succeed Bishop Nestor and during his administration the first Russian-Uniat parish, located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, returned to the Orthodox fold. The Very Reverend Alexis Toth was the priest of the Minneapolis congregation which became the Mother Parish of all Orthodox churches in the United States and Canada located east of San Francisco.
Bishop Nicolas succeeded Bishop Vladimir in 1891 and in 1898 Bishop Nicholas was succeeded by Bishop Tikhon who later became the Patriarch of Russia. Tikhon founded the first Russian Orthodox Theological Seminary in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1905. This seminary building is still standing and is now used for Sunday School classes and church organizations of St. Mary's Russian Orthodox Church. This first missionary school was also established in Minneapolis in 1897.
Bishop Tikhon also transferred the Episcopal See and its Ecclesiastical Consistory from San Francisco to New York City where the Russian Orthodox headquarters for this hemisphere are still located. Under Tikhon, St. Nicholas Cathedral in New York was built in 1901. He was elevated to the rank of Archbishop in 1903 with jurisdiction over all of North America. Successors to Tikhon were Archbishops Platon and Eudokim. Under Platon's administration more than a hundred new parishes were formed.
In 1919 the Russian Church in America held its first Sobor or general council at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A second Sobor was held in Detroit in 1924 at which time Metropolitan Platon was chosen as the ruling Bishop. He had previously headed the Russian Orthodox Church in America from 1907 to 1914. The same council declared that henceforth the Church in America was to be autonomous.
Metropolitan Platon died in April, 1934. He was succeeded by Bishop Theophile under whose tenure the Federated Russian Orthodox Clubs were founded. Since the death of Theophile in 1950, Metropolitan Leonty had headed the Russian Orthodox Churches of North and South America.
The growth of Orthodoxy in North America has been steady. In the United States, Canada and Alaska there are several hundred parishes of the Russian Orthodox faith.
Serbian immigration to the United States reached serious proportions about 1890 and four years later, in 1894, the first Serbian Church in America was founded in Jackson, California, by Archimandrite Sebastian Dabovich. This church was dedicated to St. Sava, the great national Saint of Serbia. Until after World War I, the spiritual welfare of the Serbian Church in America was under the guidance of the Russian Bishop of San Francisco.
In 1900 there were six Serbian congregations in America and in 1906 there were ten. Fifteen years later this number had increased to twenty. In 1926, with thirty-five Serbian churches making up the American Diocese, Archimandrite Mardary Uskokovich was consecrated by Patriarch Dimitriji of Serbia as the first Bishop of the Serbian Orthodox Church in America. Under his guidance the diocese increased to forty-six parishes in the United States and Canada. The Cathedral of the Serbian Church, built and opened in 1945, is located in New York City.
In 1878 the first Syrian family of record came to America, but there was little immigration from Syria and Lebanon until around 1890. From 1900 to 1910 about 5000 persons a year immigrated from these countries to the United States with a peak of about 9,000 arriving in 1913 and in 1914.
The Syrian Mission of the Russian Orthodox Church, founded in 1892, took over the spiritual welfare of the Syrian Orthodox people in the New World, and the first Syrian Church Society was founded in New York in 1895.
Archimandrite Raphael Hawaweeny was brought from the Academy of Kazan in October of 1895 to oversee Syrian church activities in America. In 1904 he was consecrated as Vicar-Bishop to the Russian Archbishop and became the first Orthodox Bishop of any nationality to be consecrated in the United States. He served capably until his death in 1915.
In 1914, Metropolitan Germanos, Bishop of Zahle, Lebanon, in the Patriarchate of Antioch, came to America and during his stay in the United States several parishes were organized. In 1924 there were seventeen Syrian Orthodox churches with resident pastors and seven more with a priest in attendance but without parish buildings. The Syrian Mission of the Russian Church consisted of an additional twenty-two parishes and one mission under the jurisdiction of Bishop Aftimios Ofeish who had been consecrated as Bishop of Brooklyn in 1917 to succeed Bishop Raphael.
For several years, the Syrian churches of America remained under separate ecclesiastical jurisdiction. In 1933, Archbishop Aftimios resigned and Metropolitan Germanos returned to Beirut where he died in 1934. Bishop Victor Abo-Assaley, representing the Patriarch of Antioch in the United States, died in September of 1934.
Archimandrite Antony Bashir was appointed as Vicar in America by the Patriarch and he was subsequently elected Bishop of the American Syrian churches. In 1936 he was consecrated in New York by Metropolitan Theodosios of Tyre and Sidon who had been sent to the United States for this purpose. In June of 1940, Archbishop Antony was elevated to the rank of Metropolitan Archbishop of New York and all North America. Under his leadership the Syrian Orthodox Church has grown to eighty parishes in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
The early history of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church parallels that of the Orthodox Church in Russia. Later, under Polish rule and subsequent Communist domination, the Orthodox Church in the Ukraine became practically non-existent. The Independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church, both in the Ukraine and America, came into being after World War I.
Several hundred thousand Ukrainians had migrated to the United States from 1870 until 1914 and many of the early Ukrainian congregations in this country entered the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church. A later large migration, between 1945 and 1951, increased the number of Ukrainians in America.
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church in America held its first convention in 1931. Congregations consisting of former Uniats were added to the Ukrainian Orthodox Parishes and the Very Reverend Joseph Zuk was chosen as bishop-elect of the American Diocese in July, 1932. He was consecrated in September of that year and served as head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Churches in America until his death on February 23, 1934.
Bishop Bohdan Shpilka, who succeeded Bishop Zuk, was consecrated by Archbishop Athenagoras of the Greek Orthodox Church on February 28,1937. He still serves as the head of American Ukrainian Orthodox Churches under the Ecumenical Patriarch. Technically, Bishop Bohdan is a Suffragan of the Greek Archbishop within the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. There are forty-five parishes and missions under Bishop Bohdan with the Cathedral located in New York City.
The American Ukrainian Orthodox Church was organized about 1919-1920 as an independent church. In February of 1924, Archbishop John Theodorovich arrived in the United States from Kiev, Ukraine. He was chosen bishop-elect of the American Ukrainian Orthodox Church and Argentina. The Ukrainian churches grew in number after the mass migrations to America after World War II.
In a convention held in 1949 at Allentown, Pennsylvania, Archbishop Mstyslaw S. Skrypnik was elected to head the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of America with Bishop Bohdan as Suffragan Bishop.
In October of 1950, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of America, headed by Archbishop Mstyslaw S. Skrypnik and the American Ukrainian Orthodox Church, headed by Archbishop John Theodorovich, merged to form the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the United States of America under independent jurisdiction. Bishop Bohdan did not join in this merger and he became head of Ukrainian churches remaining under Ecumenical jurisdiction.
The United Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the United States has its headquarters in South Brook, New Jersey, and includes 96 parishes in the United States under its jurisdiction. The Most Reverend Metropolitan John Theodorovich heads the church. Metropolitan Dr. Ilarion Ohienko, with headquarters in Winnipeg, heads the Independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Canada.
(Text material in this chapter, except the section about the Greek Church, is reprinted from Faith of Our Fathers: The Eastern Orthodox Religion, by the Rev. Leonid Soroka and Stan W. Carlson. Published by The Olympic Press, 806 N. E. Fourth Street, Minneapolis 13, Minnesota, and copyrighted, 1954, by Stan W. Carlson. This material is reprinted by special permission of the copyright owner.).
19. The Relations of Orthodoxy with Roman Catholicism and Protestantism.
Pape Attacks on the Eastern Church.
The Roman Church never ceased to dream of the subjection of the Eastern Church, and never failed to exploit any disorders, wherever they occurred, to her own advantage. Hailing the fall of Constantinople as a divine punishment inflicted on the stiff-necked Greeks, she soon sent out against the Christians of the East her formidable Jesuits, who, from 1583 onwards, began to appear successively in Constantinople, Chios, Smyrna, Damascus, Naxos, Nauplion, Patras, Athens and elsewhere. As though these were not enough, in 1581, Pop£ Gregory XIII founded the College of St. Athanasius in Rome, where clever young Greeks chosen from Greek districts were brought up according to Roman Catholic principles, and then went out, like another kind of Janizaries, against the faith which had nursed their infancy. And further, in 1622, Pope Gregory XV instituted his "Propaganda on behalf of the unbelievers," the object of which was described by the Papal Bull as "the conversion of the nations of the Turkish Empire, once glorious and dowered with admirable divine gifts, that now lie sunk in a besotted condition and, having fallen to the level of wild beasts, only continue to exist in order to swell the multitudes of Hell, to the greater glory of Satan and his angels." Diplomacy and bribery, calumny and coercion, persuasion and dissension, these were the various weapons employed by the despotic Roman Church in her efforts to dominate her needy brethren.
Papism in Constantinople: Cyril Lucar.
The famous Cyril Lucar (1572-1638), the most progressive and enlightened of the Patriarchs under Turkish rule, was the most eminent victim of the unbrotherly hatred of Rome. Lucar, who was born in Crete and educated in Venice and Padua, was sent into Poland in 1595 as legate of the Patriarchate of Alexandria. There he witnessed the struggle that was being waged between Catholics and Orthodox, and very soon realized both the magnitude of the danger threatening from Rome and also the only means of averting it, namely, collaboration with the Protestants. When, therefore, after about eighteen years as Patriarch of Alexandria, he was called to the Patriarchal Throne of Constantinople in 1621, he not only carried on a correspondence with many distinguished Protestants, but even, at critical times, had recourse to the diplomatic aid of the ambassadors of England and Holland. But, just as he was assisted by the representatives of Protestant powers, so the Jesuits continued to fight him under the protection of Catholic France and Austria. In 1627 Lucar founded the first Greek press in Constantinople; but the Jesuits at once reported to the Grand Vizier that the press was intended to combat Mohammedanism, and a hundred and fifty Janizaries immediately raided and destroyed it. Had it not been for the intervention of the English ambassador, Cyril himself would also have been destroyed; but if he was spared this time, it was only to fall a victim later to the calumny of the Jesuits, who falsely accused him of conspiring secretly with the Cossacks towards the revolt of the Greeks against the Turks. For the fifth and last time he was deposed from his Throne, and after embarking on a boat that was ostensibly to take him into exile, he was drowned by his guards in the waters of the Bosphorus. The murder of Lucar, for which, according to Ricaut, Rome paid the sum of 30,000 crowns, will always remain as an indelible stigma on the Papacy.
Papism in Palestine and Syria.
The conduct of the Roman Catholics in other centers of Orthodoxy differed in no wise from their behavior in Constantinople. In Palestine, where they had possessed no rights until the sixteenth century, when the Patriarch Dorotheos (1493-1534) first granted them a monastery as a favor, they lost no time in setting on foot their machinations. Thus under the Patriarch Sophronius (1579-1608) we see them offering the Turks six thousand florins, through the medium of the French Ambassador, to evict the Orthodox from Calvary and the Cave; whereupon Sophronius, to preserve his rights over the Holy Shrines, was obliged to offer the Turks double that sum. In 1633, in the reign of Sultan Murad, another similar attempt was made, accompanied by a forged golden bull, and lavish presents to the Sultan and Vizier; and though this, too, ended in failure, because the forgery was discovered, the Papist never ceased to put forward new claims, until in 1847 they succeeded in restoring the Roman Patriarchate which had been established for a short time during the Crusades. The same policy was followed by the Papists in Syria, where in the first half of the eighteenth century they managed to win over two native Patriarchs of Antioch, Cyril and Seraphim, and to found the Patriarchate of the "Greco-Melchites." To this day, Jesuit colleges, lavishly supported by subscriptions from France, continue to foster the propagation of Roman Catholicism.
Papism in Russia and in Less Distant Countries.
Thanks to the activities of the Jesuits, Orthodoxy was also persecuted in the south of Russia, when a false union with Rome was declared at Brest in 1594, while two Russian apostates, Potzeus and Terleski, traveled to Rome and kissed the Pope's toe, claiming that they did so on behalf of the whole body of the Russian Church. Not only here, but in Red Russia, Volhynia, Lithuania and Galicia, too, the Orthodox were mercilessly persecuted by the Catholics. And if Papist rage reached out so far and so widely, it may well be imagined how Rome behaved towards the Orthodox Christians in countries closer to her. In the Ionian Islands, she did not allow Orthodox bishops, but only priests, who were obliged to be present at the enthronement and funeral of Roman Catholic bishops. The Orthodox colony in Venice, who had fled there at the fall of Constantinople, were forbidden to have their own church until 1553, when the Republic of Venice, for commercial reasons, gave them the necessary permission. The Orthodox inhabitants of Hungary, Slavonia and Croatia, who had migrated thither from Thrace, Macedonia, Thessaly and Greece in 1687, were allowed by the Jesuits to use their own language and service but forced to recognize papal supremacy; while the Greco-Italians of Calabria, Sicily, Tuscany and Geneva were gradually absorbed into the Roman Church by means of the Jesuitical "accomodatio."
The Papal Unia in Greece Today.
Right up to the present day, the Papists have persevered in the use of these same methods, in spite of their proved futility; and the "Unia" is, indeed, their dearest weapon of attack. Catholic priests of foreign nationalities, who have adopted Greek names and dress like the Greek clergy, appear in the midst of Athens itself, and try to pass themselves off as Orthodox priests. Their churches are impeccably Byzantine in style; their ritual is also Byzantine, and the liturgical language the Greek of the Gospels. On one point only (for the present at least) do they differ from Orthodox usage: they commemorate the name of the Pope in their prayers, as Supreme High Priest and Pontifex. These false Greek priests are lavishly paid by Rome, and spend equally lavishly, especially among the indigent refugees, to whom particularly they represent themselves as ministers of the Greek Orthodox Church, and whom they seek to lure by offering them pecuniary aid. But the God of righteousness will surely never prosper with His blessing such tortuous scheming. The official Orthodox Church of the country, making use of books, sermons and various other means, has never ceased denouncing to her flock these wolves in sheep's clothing; and the recent circulars published by Anthimus VI, Patriarch of Constantinople, Basil, Metropolitan of Smyrna, and Chrysostom Papadopoulos, Archbishop of Athens, are particularly impressive. To protect her children from the Papist converters, who designedly give out that there is no difference between Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy, the Orthodox Church of later centuries has been compelled in self-defense to insist on the re-baptism of all who revert to her from Papal error. Unfortunately, Rome has no intention of changing her attitude towards the Churches of the East; for the Christian elements of equality and love are entirely foreign to her imperialistic system. Pernot assures us that, during the recent War, the Vatican prayed for the victory of the Turks (c'est pour les Turques qu'il faisait les voeux), because "from the point of view of the Vatican, it was preferable that the Turkish Crescent should appear on the dome of Saint Sophia, rather than the Greek Cross"!
The First Protestant Letter.
Just as the eleventh century saw the division of the One Church of Christ into the Eastern and Western Churches, so the sixteenth witnessed the disruption of the latter into the Roman and Protestant Churches. The corruption of faith and morals that had invaded Romanism, the intellectual decadence of the Roman clergy, and the absolutism of the Pope, who wore a triple tiara to illustrate his dominion over earthly, heavenly and infernal affairs, these were the causes which inspired the three great reformers, Luther, Calvin and Zwingli, to protest against the Church of Rome, and to rouse up against her half of Western Christendom. Busily engaged in waging their long battle with sword and pen, these men had no time to think of the enslaved Church of the East, who, long before them, had lifted her voice in protest against the arrogance of Rome. One of them, however, did remember her; this was Melanchthon, one of Luther's earliest fellow-workers, who upon meeting Demetrius Mysos, about to depart for Constantinople, at Wittenberg in 1559, entrusted him with a letter for the reigning Patriarch, Joasaph II In this letter he thanks God that in the midst of so great a multitude of ungodly and abominable foes, He has preserved for Himself a flock that rightly honors and calls upon His Son Jesus Christ"; and he assures the Patriarch that the followers of the Reformation also "devoutly observe the Holy Scriptures, the Canons of the Holy Synods, and the teaching of the Greek Fathers, while they abhor the prattle, superstition and self-erected doctrines of the uncultured Latins."
The Theologians of Tubingen, the Protestants of Poland, and the Confession of Cyril Lucas.
Melanchthon received no reply to his letter. When, however, in 1574, the Tubingen professors Martin Crusius and Jacob Andrew, wrote to the Patriarch of Constantinople, Jeremias II, sending him the Augsburg Confession, which was the first formal exposition of Protestantism, Jeremias replied with dignity and sincerity, thus initiating an important exchange of correspondence, in the course of which Protestantism was nevertheless criticized on many points for not keeping step with the truth. In 1600, the locum-tenens of the Ecumenical Throne, Meletius Pegas, replied in a similar way to the Protestants of Poland, who were suffering a common persecution with the Orthodox at the hands of the Jesuits, and who, after the Synod of Vilna, proposed an ecclesiastical union between them. "The union of those opposed to each other" (so ran the reply made by Meletius) "is devoutly to be desired, but Protestantism and Orthodoxy differ from each other on essential points. Let us, however, love one another, and let us not lose hope." But an entirely different course was, it seems, pursued by the previously mentioned great Patriarch, Cyril Lucar, who was favorably disposed towards the ideas of the Reformers. He collaborated with the Protestants against the Papists; he carried on a friendly correspondence with various Protestants, including George Abbot, the Archbishop of Canterbury, bewailing to them the sufferings of the Greeks; he dispatched the precious "Codex Alexandrinus" to Charles I of England in 1628, as a thank-offering for his rescue from the Janizaries; and he sent Metrophanes Critopoulos to study at Oxford at princely expense. In addition to all this, it is said that he even drew up and published a Confession, in which he accepted Calvinistic beliefs; but on this point the evidence is confused. Through two of her Synods, the first at Constantinople in 1638 and the second at Jassy in 1642, the Orthodox Church denounced this Confession as tending towards Calvinism, without, however, associating it with the person of Cyril Lucar; and who knows but that on this point also Lucar may have been the victim of forgery?
It was not long before Protestantism began to break up into a multitude of heresies, owing partly to its lack of unity in dogma and government, an partly to the individual interpretation of the Bible according to each man's lights. Representatives of some of these heretical sects, particularly from America, visited Greece as early as 1810; and others arrived immediately after the Revolution, with the object of assisting the Greeks towards their national and spiritual awakening. Some of them opened schools, which were the crying need of the times, and other distributed books or gave out copies of the Holy Scriptures either in the original text or in modern Greek translation. The Greeks at first welcomed them without suspicion as their benefactors; and certain Patriarchs of Constantinople, such as Cyril VI in 1814 and Gregory V in 1819, applauded the propagation of the Bible and praised the popular Greek translations as being of great benefit to the people. But when the Protestant missionaries began to reveal their secret designs by trying to effect conversions and by distributing together with the Scriptures little volumes offensive to Orthodox sentiments, they aroused the enmity of the nation and immediately became unpopular, while their Scriptures were consigned to public bonfires. The Greeks, who have suffered so greatly for the preservation of their faith, are acutely sensitive to any attack on it. That is why, after more than a century of activity in Greece, Protestantism can today point to no greater achievement than a handful of so-called "Evangelicals" in Athens and elsewhere.
Anglicans and Orthodox.
The relations between the Orthodox and Anglican Churches are rather different, for the latter, alone among the various branches of Protestantism, both acknowledges the three orders of Priesthood and more or less honors the sacred Tradition. As we have already noted, relations were first established between Orthodox and Anglicans in the time of Lucar. They were renewed again in the eighteenth century, when the Non-jurors (that section of the Church who refused to take the oath of allegiance to George I of England) submitted a plan of union with the Eastern Church to the Patriarchs of the East. But it was particularly from 1869 onwards that Anglicans and Orthodox began to come closer together, when the Patriarch of Constantinople, Gregory VI, after receiving with great satisfaction letters from Campbell, Archbishop of Canterbury, in favor of union, sent an encyclical letter to his clergy directing them to bury members of the Anglican Church, in the absence of Anglican ministers, and dispatched the learned Archbishop of Syra Alexander Lycurgos, to England, in order to strengthen the bonds between the two Churches. Since then, Anglican bishops have more than once visited the Churches of the East, as John of Salisbury in 1898, the present Bishop of London at the beginning of the Great War, and the present Archbishop of Canterbury, Cosmo Lang, who was welcomed in Athens last year. Bishops from Greece, Russia, Serbia and other countries, not forgetting the Patriarchs Photius of Alexandria and Damianos of Jerusalem, have visited England in return, and have joined with the Anglicans in solemn prayer in St. Paul's Cathedral and Westminster Abbey. A great forward step in the relations between the two Churches was taken in the summer of 1930, when almost the whole of the Orthodox Church sent its representatives to the Lambeth Conference, under the leadership of the present enterprising and progressive Patriarch of Alexandria, Meletius Metaxakis, in order to discuss and discover terms of union. This friendship between Anglicanism and Orthodoxy is due in the first place to the recognition by the Orthodox Church of the validity of Anglican Orders, which has always been disputed by the Roman Church; secondly, to the abstention of the Anglican Church from efforts to convert the Orthodox; and thirdly, to the exchange of letters of peace on ceremonial occasions. The Anglican and Orthodox Churches differ from each other on points of dogma, and a sacramental union between them is for the present still remote. The variety of belief, which characterizes the one Church, is incompatible with the uniformity of faith, professed by the other. But by the mutual interest they take in each other, and by the brotherly nature of their external relations, Anglicanism and Orthodoxy are marking out the path that all separate Churches should follow towards the eventual attainment of full and catholic unity.
20. Theological Literature.
Theological Literature after the Fall of Constantinople.
Theological literature in the Greek-speaking Orthodox, Eastern and Apostolic Church does not, naturally enough, reveal the same progress that marked it in earlier periods. Learning flourishes best in free territories; and the times when a monk here and there barely contrived to assemble a few youths at night in the porch of the Church, to teach them the Eight Church Tunes and the Psaltery, were hardly propitious to scholarly research. Yet the love of learning did not entirely desert the Greek clergy. On the one hand, a few centers of learning, such as the "Patriarchal School of the Nation" in Constantinople, which succeeded the Philosophical School of the Patriarchate before the fall, continued to function, though hardly to flourish; and, on the other, a few chosen men were fortunate enough to pursue their studies in Europe, especially in the towns of Venice, Padua, Pisa and Florence, then famous as scholastic centers, and were thus enabled, on their return home, to hand on the torch of learning. From the seventeenth century onwards, public schools began to be founded among the Greeks, such as those on Athos, in Patmos, at Salonica, Castoria, Cozani, Janina, Moschopolis, Cydonia, Smyrna, Trebizond, Bukharest and Jassy, where notable scholars, for the most part clergyman, prepared the way for the Independence of the nineteenth century, and, through it, for the simultaneous scientific and theological Renascence of the Orthodox East. Ecclesiastical literature subsequent to the fall of Constantinople does, therefore, exist, and is witnessed to by such of its productions as were circulate in print, or remained in Manuscript form in various libraries. We shall now enumerate a few representatives of this literature, dealing with each century in succession.
Scholars of the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries.
Gennadius Scholarius (d. 1460) was the first Patriarch after the fall of Constantinople, whose learning illuminated, comet-like, the dark night of slavery that succeeded it. His works which are now being published in full for the first time, fill ten large volumes; notable among them are those directed against the Latins, his Refutation of the errors of Judaism, and his Dialogue with Mohammed II. Matthew Camariotes, who was a contemporary of Scholarius, was appointed by him head of the National School of the Patriarchate. He composed an Exposition of the Creed, and a pathetic "Monody," lamenting the fall of Constantinople. Manuel the Peloponnesian (d. 1551), who was chartophylax, or registrar, and orator of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, is the author of a Refutation of the arguments of Friar Francisco, a work on Mark of Ephesus, and treatises against Gemistus and Bessarion, and against Purgatory. Maximus the Hagiorite, the Greek (d. 1556), was invited to Russia by Prince Basil in 1518, in order to revise the Russian ecclesiastical books, as we have seen previously. He wrote against the Reformation, the Jews, the Heathen, and the Mohammedans. Jeremias II, Patriarch of Constantinople (d. 1595), made himself famous by his correspondence with the Lutheran theologians of Tubingen, which he carried on with the collaboration of the head of the Patriarchal School, John Zygomala. Meletius Pegas (d. 1603), Patriarch of Alexandria, was a student of Latin, Hebrew, Syriac and Arabic. He composed, among other works, the Orthodox Doctrine... Maximus Margunius (d. 1602), Bishop of Cerigo, was both poet and prose-writer, both Hellenist and Latinist. One of his works is the Dialogue between a Greek and a Latin.
Scholars of the Seventeenth Century.
During the seventeenth century, the following men particularly distinguished themselves: Gabriel Severus (d. 1616) was, from 1577 onwards, the first bishop of the Greeks in Venice, under the title of Bishop of Philadelphia. He wrote a Treatise on the Sacraments, an Exposition against those who say that the Children of the Eastern Church are schismatic, and various other works. George Koressios (d. 1633) was a theologian and doctor, who wrote on the Sacraments, on Transubstantiation, on Predestination, on Grace and Free Will, on the Procession of the Holy Ghost, etc. Maximus Callipolites (d. 1637) was the first to translate the New Testament into modern Greek. Cyril Lucar (d. 1638), the illustrious Patriarch and martyr, is the author of several brief polemical works against the Roman Catholics, a Compendium against the Jews, and (as is generally believed) a Confession of the Christian Faith, which aroused great opposition on account of its Calvinistic tendency. Metrophanes Critopoulos (d. 1641) who studied at Oxford and in Germany, and later became Patriarch of Alexandria, composed the Confession of the Eastern Church known under his name. Peter Mogila (d. 1647), Metropolitan of Kiev in Russia, and a Vlach by descent, composed his Confession in order to protect his flock against the prevailing errors of Roman and Protestant belief. This was later expanded and perfected by the learned Cretan, Meletius Syrigos (d. 1662), when it was countersigned, to give it greater validity, by the Patriarchs of the East, and thus became the official Exposition of the Orthodox Faith. Nicholas Kerameus (d. 1672), a doctor and scholar, is the author of a work entitled The sin of those who calumniate the one and only Catholic Church. Nectarius of Jerusalem (d. 1676) wrote Refutation of Papal Supremacy, full of weighty arguments and wide learning, from which many later writers have borrowed freely. Dositheos of Jerusalem (d. 1707) who reigned as Patriarch for thirty-eight years, composed, among other works, a History of the Patriarchs of Jerusalem.
Scholars of the Eighteenth Century.
Here are the most distinguished names among scholars of the eighteenth century: Elias Meniates (d. 1714), Bishop of Kalavryta, was an excellent linguist and a man of great eloquence. His Sermons, remarkable for their harmony and vivacity, are still read with enjoyment by the people; and in his work entitled The Mumbling-Block he demonstrates that Papal Supremacy was the chief cause of the Great Schism. Meletius of Athens (d. 1714) composed works on astronomy, geography and rhetoric, but he is chiefly famous for his Church History. His brothers, Johannikius and Sophronius Leihoudae (d. 1717 and 1730) were both priests, who, after a fruitful ministry in various centers of Hellenism, went to Russia at the invitation of the Tsar Theodore, and founded the Academy of Moscow, where they themselves taught literature, philosophy and theology. The Leihoudae brothers revised the Slavonic Scriptures, and also wrote various works in defense of the Orthodox Faith. Chrysanthos of Jerusalem (d. 1731) has left us a History and Description of the Holy Land, and a small but valuable work on the Ecclesiastical Offices. Eustratius Argentes (d. 1760), a learned doctor, wrote theological works, among which a treatise on Unleavened Wafers is notable for its wide learning and sound judgment. Eugenius Bulgaris (d. 1800), who was head of the schools of Janina and Athos, and was later promoted by Catherine II to the Archbishopric of Slavonia and Kherson, was the greatest and most erudite of modern Greek clerics. He spoke and wrote ten languages, translated Virgil into Homeric verses and introduced modern philosophy into Greece. He also edited the complete works of Theodoret, translated the work of Zoernikau on the Procession of the Holy Ghost, and is himself the author of The Orthodox Confession, Address on Tolerance, Dogmatic Theology, First Century from the Incarnation of Christ, Pious Talk, etc. Nicephorus Theotokis (d. 1800), who succeeded Eugenius as Archbishop of Slavonia, before being transferred to Astrachan, rivaled his predecessor in his knowledge of theology, philosophy and physics. Among other works, he published a Catena of notes commenting the Pentateuch; and his Sunday Courses, in which he interprets in beautiful modern Greek the extracts from the Gospels and Epistles appointed for each Sunday, are still extremely popular. Anthimus of Jerusalem (d. 1808) composed a Syntagma of theology and a Commentary on the Psalms. Nicodemus the Hagiorite (d. 1809) was a studious monk, whose pen is responsible for many works in hagiography, asceticism, mysticism, liturgies, canon law and practical exegesis. He wrote Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles and the Psalms, the New Martyrology, the Invisible Battle, the Spiritual Exercises, the Excellence of a Christian, the book of Confession, etc.; but his most important work is the Rudder of the Orthodox Church, which contains all the sacred canons together with a commentary on them.
The Nineteenth Century.
The nineteenth century marks at last a notable step forward. Till then, sacred scholarship had, as it were, wandered through the East vagrant and homeless; but the return of freedom now afforded her permanent habitations once again. As early as 1810, the English nobleman Wildford, a friend of Greece and of Orthodoxy, had founded, for the benefit of the Greeks, the Ionian Academy of Corfu, which was indeed of inestimable service to them. In 1837 the town of modern Athens acquired her University, in which serious scholars taught theology. In 1844, the Patriarchate of Constantinople founded the Theological School at Halki for the scientific training of future bishops; and its example was followed in 1853 by the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, which founded the Theological School of the Cross. Around these main centers, other smaller ones sprang up. The Greek State and the Church provided scholarships to enable successful students to go to Germany, where they specialized in certain branches of study, and returned to Greece to transmit the latest results of theological science as lecturers or professors. This practice was followed not only by the Greek-speaking Orthodox, but by the Rumanian, Serbian and Bulgarian-speaking Orthodox as well; for they, too, on acquiring national independence, provided themselves with Universities and Theological Schools, and sent their graduates abroad, and especially to Russia, to complete their studies. For, before the cataclysmic advent of Bolshevism, Russia exercised a great attraction over the Orthodox peoples of the Balkans, especially the Serbs and Bulgarians, not only because she shared the same faith, but also because from the point of view of religious scholarship, she had reached an enviable state of development, maintaining as she did four excellent Theological Academies and possessing an ample supply of capable teachers and learned works. Today, however, the Academies closed; while of her scholars some are teaching outside like the eminent theologian Nicholas Glubakovski, who is now a professor at the University of Sophia, while others have congregated in Paris and founded there, as a temporary measure, the Institute of Russian Studies. The nineteenth century, at all events, gave a new impulse to Orthodox Theology both in breadth and depth; in breadth, because theological writers no longer confined themselves, as formerly to purely polemical works, but embraced every branch of Theology; and in depth, because historical and critical research was henceforth recognized as the only reliable method. Here, again, are some of the most prominent names.
Scholars of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries.
Constantine Oeconomos (d. 1857) distinguished himself as an eloquent preacher and an excellent Hellenist. He is the author of many works, but is most famous for his well known book on the Septuagint, in which he supports the Greek text, though not without a measure of exaggeration. Theocletus Pharmakides (d. 1860), professor of the Ionian School in Corfu, and later at the University of Athens, was a liberal opponent of the conservative Oeconomos. Before the missionaries had revealed their real designs, he gave his support to the Modern Greek translations of the Bible, and he also exercised considerable influence on the development of ecclesiastical government in Greece. Besides other literary works, he published an edition of the New Testament, copiously annotated. Dionysius Cleopas (d. 1861), who was professor first at the School of the Cross in Jerusalem, and then at the University of Athens, disputed the critical conclusions of Oeconomos. His best work is an edition of the Catechism of Cyril of Jerusalem, with many learned annotations. Andronicos DemetracopoulosI (d. 1872), priest of the Greek Community in Leipzig, devoted himself to the discovery and publication of unpublished Greek codices lying hidden in the libraries of Europe. Constantine Contogones (d. 1878), a learned and devout professor at the University of Athens, published a Hebrew Archaeology, Introduction to the Scriptures, an Ecclesiastical History and Patristics. He was also the chief editor of the Gospel Herald, the first really serious review to be published in Greece. Nicholas Damalas (d. 1892), professor at the University of Athens, worked mainly as a commentator, and left an Introduction to the New Testament and an annotated edition of the three Synoptic Gospels. Nicephorus Calogeras (d. 1896) wrote, among other things, Pastoral Theology, and edited from a manuscript copy the Commentary of Zigabenus on St. Paul's Epistles. John Scaltsunes (d. 1904), was a student of law, but also an excellent Christian apologist, as may be seen by his works on The Harmonies of Christianity and Science, Psychological Studies, and others. Philotheos Bryennios (d. 1918), was professor at the Theological School of Halki and later Metropolitan of Nicomedia. He discovered and edited the Epistles of Clement of Rome, and the Teaching of the Apostles. Anastasius Kyriacos (d. 1923), professor at the University of Athens, left as his chief work an Ecclesiastical History in three volumes. Apostolos Christodoulos (d. 1914), professor and principal of the Theological School of Halki, has left us books on Patristics and Canon Law. Among living writers, we may mention Manuel Gedeon as a great authority on Byzantine matters, Basil Antoniades as a learned commentator and moralist, Gregory Papamichael as a widely-read apologist, and Chrysostom Papadopoulos, once Director of the School of the Cross, and now Archbishop of Athens, as an unrivalled historian and astoundingly prolific author.
21. Christian Life and Worship.
The Sins of the Enslaved Christians.
There is a dark and ugly side to the moral life of the Orthodox under their Turkish conquerors. "The captive Jews (wrote Ypsilantes, the author of Events After the Fall) had realized that their servitude was the result of their revolt against the Lord, and so they sat down by the river of Babylon and wept in repentance of their sins. But the Greeks, even after all the evils of their servitude, are still impenitent." And one by one he describes in his book the shortcomings of his fellow-countrymen. Envy and hatred of each other were not infrequent. Some of the clergy did not scruple to intrigue against their fellows with the Turks, in order to scramble into their shoes. Others bought the office of bishop by simony; many imitated their rulers not only in their inner arrogance, but in their outward display of luxury and dress. The pulpits were for the most part empty, owing to the prevailing ignorance of the clergy, and superstition reigned among the people. Because the Turks looked upon the Christians merely as property from which the greatest possible amount of money was to be extorted, the Christians themselves became intent on money above all. A characteristic feature of this worship of money was dowry-hunting, which caused many girls who lacked fortune to remain unmarried; and the voice of the Church was constantly upraised in denunciation of this scandal, threatening the dowry-hunters with excommunication. For in those days it was only by means of the barbarous mediaeval weapon of excommunication that these erring souls might be induced to return to their senses.
The Virtues of the Enslaved Christians.
And yet, if we turn to the brighter side of the picture, what holiness went side by side with these gross aberrations! The houses of prayer were crowded; and fasts and other ecclesiastical injunctions were strictly observed. Charity was a natural obligation. The Christians frequently collected money among themselves to set free prisoners or those who were unjustly being kept in gaol; and for centuries their pennies had supported hospitals, orphanages and schools, whereas the Moslem State, far from helping them, only attacked them as an enemy. To this deep-seated spirit of charity many institutions owed their foundation, the hospitals of Smyrna in 1745, of Adrianople in 1752, of Constantinople in 1753, of Brousa in 1808, the leper-house of Crete in 1818, the leper-hospital of Chios in 1830, the orphanage of Constantinople in 1853, and many more, which were followed later by other more perfect and numerous charitable establishments due to the generosity of great national benefactors. And if we consider the settling of 1,5000,000 Christian refugees, who after the recent catastrophe in Asia Minor arrived penniless in the poverty-stricken country of Greece, and were at once received and sheltered as brothers, we shall readily acknowledge that the spirit of Christ is still alive and active in the Eastern Church.
Orthodox Missionaries and Martyrs in Modern Times.
The same thing might be said about the missionary zeal of the Orthodox Church, which European historians consider as nonexistent. I do not allude to the Russian Orthodox missions of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to Siberia, China and Japan, which reflect great credit on the Orthodox Church. I will not even go so far as to say that the dawning civilization of the Turks owes not a little to their long contact with the Orthodox, and the latter's silent influence upon them. But I refer especially to those Greek bishops and clerics of all ranks who in the darkest days visited the Christian provinces, and, at peril of their lives, built churches, founded schools, and saved the faith that was threatened with extinction. One of these, Cosmas the Aetolian, succeeded in founding two hundred and ten schools in Epirus, Macedonia and Greece, before his head fell at last, under the sword of the Turkish executioner, while his lips murmured the words of the Psalmist: "We went through fire and through water, but Thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place" (66:12). We admire the missionaries who preach Christ among savage peoples, and suffer martyrdom for the Christian faith. But were the Turks of those days less savage than Hottentots and Kaffirs, and did but few of the Orthodox suffer martyrdom in Turkey for the sake of Jesus Christ and His Gospel? The modern martyrs of the East are legion, and their long procession stretches from the fall of Constantinople, when Mohammed the Conqueror slaughtered the children of Notaras one by one before the eyes of their dying father, who cried as each head fell: "Righteous art Thou, O Lord, and upright are Thy judgments!" (Psalm 119:137), until the last Metropolitan of Smyrna, Chrysostom, whom in 1922, Nuredin Pasha, after steeping Smyrna in Christian blood, handed over to the frenzied Turkish mob to be torn to pieces.
The Holy Mountain.
Monastic life still continued to flourish during later centuries, and provided the harassed Church with a constant supply of zealous and fearless clerics. Its chief center remains to this day the Holy Mountain ("Hagion Oros") as Mount Athos is habitually called, which is the home of about 5,000 monks, mostly Greeks, but with a certain number of Russians, Rumanians, Serbs, Bulgarians and Georgians, or Iberians. They are distributed among twenty monasteries, twelve sketae, two hundred and four cells, and various other lonely hermitages; and are governed as a confederation by a "Community" of twenty members, each of whom also represents one of the twenty monasteries. The Community also recognizes the Patriarchate of Constantinople as its supreme head, and accepts its decisions. As early as 1749, the "Athonias School" was founded for the education of the Hagiorite monks, and was staffed by such excellent teachers as Neophytos Kausokalybetes and Eugenius Bulgaris. Today, however, it lies almost idle; for, with a few exceptions, both past and present, the monks have unfortunately no love of learning, and confine their activities to prayer, agriculture and light handwork.
Other Monastic Centers.
Another and smaller center of monastic life than Athos is that upon Mount Sinai, whose monastery dates from as far back as the sixth century, when it was founded by Justinian the Great. This brotherhood is ruled by an abbot who is also an autonomous Archbishop, and only owes his ordination to the Patriarch of Jerusalem. The Patriarchate of Jerusalem may itself be considered as a center of monastic life; for the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher, which controls it, is nothing but a body of monks, living in communal life and acknowledging the Patriarch as their abbot. Other monasteries, notable for their perseverance in the faith, their richly-stocked libraries, or their struggles on behalf of national independence, were, during the past centuries, and in some cases continue to be, those of Meteora in Thessaly, of Eikosiphoenissa in Macedonia, of Sumela in Pontus, of the Theologos in Patmos, of the Holy Trinity in Halki, where the Theological Academy of the Ecumenical Patriarchate is functioning, and of the Holy Virgin, also in Halki, in which the School of Greek Merchants used to be established, and many others. And as in Greek-speaking localities, so in Rumanian and Slavonic regions many convents and monasteries similarly flourished, or are still flourishing, extending hospitality to all, and offering a safe haven to many of life's castaways. But the secular powers do not look favorably on this mode of life, and have gradually but steadily pursued the course of closing the monasteries and confiscating their property. This practice was begun by the Greek Government as early as 1833, and has severely curtailed the list of 250 monasteries which then existed in Greece. The Rumanian Government did the same, when in 1862, through Couza, it seized the property owned by the Holy Land and other Sacred Institutions in Rumania; and a similar policy was adopted by the government of Tsarist Russia, which in 1876 laid hands on the property, which Greek monasteries owned in the Caucasus and elsewhere in Russia. It must be admitted, however, that in spite of all its services during the past, the monasticism of the Eastern Church is now an out-of-date phenomenon, and calls for reform along more practical and social lines.
If any progress has been achieved in ecclesiastical art during recent centuries, it is in the powerful Russian Empire of the Tsars that we must seek it. It was mainly in Russia that magnificent churches continued to be built, still on the basis of the styles transplanted from Byzantium, but influenced by elements from Italian, Polish, Georgian and Persian art. Belfries topped by a crown, and peculiar vaulted towers decorated these churches, which were adorned within by icons, many of them lying concealed under precious metals, but many revealing their art naked and full of the expression of a mystic passion. Within them, too, the singing of the choirs rang out in rich, complex and moving harmonies, combining the old Byzantine airs with the polyphonic music of modern Europe. But in the enslaved East, the opposite was the case. There the Mohammedan conqueror would not allow the building of important churches, and for a long time even forbade the repairing of the old. He refused to let the Cross appear on their roof, and would not suffer bell-ringing and public choir-singing to take place. The Christians of the East in no wise differed from those who, in the first centuries of Christianity, used to worship their Savior in caves and catacombs. Only at the beginning of the nineteenth century did some slight impulse begin to stir in the ecclesiastical arts of the Balkans. Cathedrals are being built by native architects; iconography is cultivated by the Brotherhood of Josaphaei on Athos, and others; and the more polyphonic music of Chaviaras and Spathes is beginning to be introduced through the Greek communities in Europe. All these, however, are but tentative efforts, and have as yet produced no perfect results.
The Word of God.
We may welcome as signs of good omen the religious fraternities, Catechetical Schools and Christian Associations of Young Men and Young Women, all of which have as their aim a revival of the religious spirit through study and the practical application of God's Word to daily life. The official Church steadily encourages these movements, although they are as yet but slight and spasmodic. And since the study of the Scriptures is the object of such movements, the Church has more than once contributed towards their publication in recent years. Thus, in 1843, with the assistance of the Bible Society of England, she published the Old Testament according to the Septuagint text; later she gave her blessing to the purely Greek edition, prepared by Martinus; in 1904, at the expense of the reigning Ecumenical Patriarch, Constantine Valiades, and under the supervision of Professor Basil Antoniades, the first critical edition of the New Testament appeared from the press of the Patriarchate; and in 1928 and 1929 that splendid society in Athens, known as ΖΩΗ ("Life"), which forms a kind of missionary body for work at home, put into circulation a new, careful, handy and inexpensive edition of the Old and New Testaments. But Greek editions of the Bible always confine themselves to the official text in the Alexandrian tongue, which differs only slightly from Greek as it is written today. Translations of the Scriptures are opposed neither by dogmatical nor by scientific reason, and are therefore accepted by the Russians and by others. They are not, however, considered without reluctance by the Greeks; firstly, because they are reminiscent of the surreptitious efforts at conversion made by the Protestant missionaries; secondly, because the Greeks are proud of possessing the Scriptures either in the original text, as is the case with the New Testament, or in the first translation, made from a text centuries older than the Massoretico-Hebrew of today, as is the case with the Old Testament; and thirdly, because a valid translation into Modern Greek by men with both the literary and the theological equipment necessary for the task, has never yet been made. The last modern Greek translation of the Gospels was the work of a merchant living in England, who chose this means for propagating his theories on the vulgarization of the written Greek language.
Pressing Problems to be Solved in the Near Future.
The recent reform of the calendar, which most Orthodox Churches have accepted, and thanks to which East and West once again celebrate on the same days the most important of their fixed festivals, has raised the further question of the celebration of Easter, on which the moveable festivals depend, and which only an Ecumenical Synod of the Orthodox is competent to decide. But it is not only the question of Easter that demands the convocation of an Ecumenical Synod; there are many other urgent problems which have been accumulating for years, and which now call for settlement. Among them are the reform of the education of the clergy from the double aspect of scholarship and social service; the struggle against atheist and communist teaching; the general use of sermons; the simplifications of over-elaborate ritual; the reform of monastic life in a more practical direction; the marriage of the clergy; the reduction of fast-days; the revision of the degrees of relationship prohibiting marriage; the establishment and operation of both home and foreign missions; the relations of the Orthodox Church with other Christian Churches, especially with the Anglican Church; and many other matters. But, dominating all the other questions that will engage the attention of the coming General Synod, stands the one essential question of how the local parts composing the Orthodox Eastern Church, at present so loosely bound together, are to achieve real and effectual unity in one single body; and how, renouncing once and for all their allegiance to distinct political ideologies, and setting aside their national differences, they are to place themselves under the exclusive leadership of Jesus Christ, and strive together with a single will to extend the dominion of the Kingdom of God.