Second Council of Nicaea

Last updated
Second Council of Nicaea
Menologion of Basil 024.jpg
Date787
Accepted by
Previous council
Third Council of Constantinople
Next council
Convoked by Constantine VI and Empress Irene (as regent)
President Patriarch Tarasios of Constantinople, legates of Pope Adrian I
Attendance350 bishops (including two papal legates)
Topics Iconoclasm
Documents and statements
veneration of icons approved
Chronological list of ecumenical councils

The Second Council of Nicaea is recognized as the last of the first seven ecumenical councils by the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church. In addition, it is also recognized as such by the Old Catholics and others. Protestant opinions on it are varied.

First seven ecumenical councils

In the history of Christianity, the first seven ecumenical councils include the following: the First Council of Nicaea in 325, the First Council of Constantinople in 381, the Council of Ephesus in 431, the Council of Chalcedon in 451, the Second Council of Constantinople in 553, the Third Council of Constantinople from 680–681 and finally, the Second Council of Nicaea in 787.

Eastern Orthodox Church Christian Church

The Eastern Orthodox Church, officially the Orthodox Catholic Church, is the second-largest Christian church, with approximately 260 million baptised members. It operates as a communion of autocephalous churches, each governed by its bishops in local synods. Roughly half of Eastern Orthodox Christians live in Russia. The church has no central doctrinal or governmental authority analogous to the Bishop of Rome, but the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople is recognised by all as primus inter pares of the bishops. As one of the oldest surviving religious institutions in the world, the Eastern Orthodox Church has played a prominent role in the history and culture of Eastern and Southeastern Europe, the Caucasus, and the Near East.

Catholic Church Largest Christian church, led by the Bishop of Rome

The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide as of 2017. As the world's oldest and largest continuously functioning international institution, it has played a prominent role in the history and development of Western civilisation. The church is headed by the Bishop of Rome, known as the pope. Its central administration is the Holy See.

It met in AD 787 in Nicaea (site of the First Council of Nicaea; present-day İznik in Turkey) to restore the use and veneration of icons (or, holy images), [1] which had been suppressed by imperial edict inside the Byzantine Empire during the reign of Leo III (717–741). His son, Constantine V (741–775), had held the Council of Hieria to make the suppression official.

First Council of Nicaea council of Christian bishops convened in Nicaea in 325

The First Council of Nicaea was a council of Christian bishops convened in the Bithynian city of Nicaea by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in AD 325.

İznik Place in Bursa, Turkey

İznik is a town and an administrative district in the Province of Bursa, Turkey. It was historically known as Nicaea, from which its modern name also derives. The town lies in a fertile basin at the eastern end of Lake İznik, bounded by ranges of hills to the north and south. As the crow flies, the town is only 90 kilometres southeast of Istanbul but by road it is 200 km around the Gulf of İzmit. It is 80 km by road from Bursa.

Veneration the act of honoring a saint, a person who has been identified as having a high degree of sanctity or holiness

Veneration, or veneration of saints, is the act of honoring a saint, a person who has been identified as having a high degree of sanctity or holiness. Angels are shown similar veneration in many religions. Philologically, "to venerate" derives from the Latin verb, venerare, meaning to regard with reverence and respect. Veneration of saints is practiced, formally or informally, by adherents of some branches of all major religions, including Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, and Buddhism.

Background

The veneration of icons had been banned by Byzantine Emperor Constantine V and supported by his Council of Hieria (754 AD), which had described itself as the seventh ecumenical council. [2] The Council of Hieria was overturned by the Second Council of Nicaea only 33 years later, and has also been rejected by Catholic and Orthodox churches, since none of the five major patriarchs were represented. The emperor's vigorous enforcement of the ban included persecution of those who venerated icons and of monks in general. There were also political overtones to the persecution—images of emperors were still allowed by Constantine, which some opponents saw as an attempt to give wider authority to imperial power than to the saints and bishops. [3] Constantine's iconoclastic tendencies were shared by Constantine's son, Leo IV. After the latter's early death, his widow, Irene of Athens, as regent for her son, began its restoration for personal inclination and political considerations.

Constantine V Emperor of the Romans

Constantine V was Byzantine emperor from 741 to 775. His reign saw a consolidation of Byzantine security from external threats. As an able military leader, Constantine took advantage of civil war in the Muslim world to make limited offensives on the Arab frontier. With this eastern frontier secure, he undertook repeated campaigns against the Bulgars in the Balkans. His military activity, and policy of settling Christian populations from the Arab frontier in Thrace, made Byzantium's hold on its Balkan territories more secure. Religious strife and controversy was a prominent feature of his reign. His fervent support of Iconoclasm and opposition to monasticism led to his vilification by later Byzantine historians and writers, who denigrated him as Kopronymos or Copronymus (Κοπρώνυμος), meaning the dung-named.

The iconoclast Council of Hieria was a Christian council of 754 which viewed itself as ecumenical, but was later rejected by the medieval Catholic Church. It was summoned by the Byzantine, Eastern Roman Emperor Constantine V in 754 in the palace of Hieria opposite Constantinople. The council supported the emperor's iconoclast position in the Byzantine iconoclasm controversy, condemning the spiritual and liturgical use of iconography as heretical.

Pentarchy model of Church organization historically championed in the Eastern Orthodox Church

Pentarchy is a model of Church organization historically championed in the Eastern Orthodox Church. It was formulated in the laws of Emperor Justinian I (527–565) of the Roman Empire. In the model, the Christian church is governed by the heads (patriarchs) of the five major episcopal sees of the Roman Empire: Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem.

In 784 the imperial secretary Patriarch Tarasius was appointed successor to the Patriarch Paul IV—he accepted on the condition that intercommunion with the other churches should be reestablished; that is, that the images should be restored. However, a council, claiming to be ecumenical, had abolished the veneration of icons, so another ecumenical council was necessary for its restoration.

Church (building) Building used for Christian religious activities

A church building or church house, often simply called a church, is a building used for Christian religious activities, particularly for Christian worship services. The term is often used by Christians to refer to the physical buildings where they worship, but it is sometimes used to refer to buildings of other religions. In traditional Christian architecture, a church interior is often structured in the shape of a Christian cross. When viewed from plan view the vertical beam of the cross is represented by the center aisle and seating while the horizontal beam and junction of the cross is formed by the bema and altar.

Pope Adrian I was invited to participate, and gladly accepted, sending an archbishop and an abbot as his legates.

Pope Adrian I Pope from 772 to 795

Pope Adrian I was Bishop of Rome and ruler of the Papal States from 1 February 772 to his death in 795. He was the son of Theodore, a Roman nobleman.

Archbishop Bishop of higher rank in many Christian denominations

In Christianity, an archbishop is a bishop of higher rank or office. In some cases, such as the Lutheran Church of Sweden and the Church of England, the title is borne by the leader of the denomination. Like popes, patriarchs, metropolitans, cardinal bishops, diocesan bishops, and suffragan bishops, archbishops are in the highest of the three traditional orders of bishops, priests, and deacons. An archbishop may be granted the title or ordained as chief pastor of a metropolitan see or another episcopal see to which the title of archbishop is attached.

Abbot Religious title

Abbot, meaning "father", is an ecclesiastical title given to the male head of a monastery in various traditions, including Christianity. The office may also be given as an honorary title to a clergyman who is not the head of a monastery. The female equivalent is abbess.

An icon of the Seventh Ecumenical Council (17th century, Novodevichy Convent, Moscow). Seventh ecumenical council (Icon).jpg
An icon of the Seventh Ecumenical Council (17th century, Novodevichy Convent, Moscow).

In 786, the council met in the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople. However, soldiers in collusion with the opposition entered the church, and broke up the assembly. [4] As a result, the government resorted to a stratagem. Under the pretext of a campaign, the iconoclastic bodyguard was sent away from the capital – disarmed and disbanded.

Church of the Holy Apostles church in Istanbul

The Church of the Holy Apostles, also known as the Imperial Polyándreion, was a Greek Eastern Orthodox church in Constantinople, capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. The first structure dates to the 4th century, though future emperors would add to and improve on the space. It was second in size and importance only to the Hagia Sophia among the great churches of the capital. When Constantinople fell to the Ottomans in 1453, the Holy Apostles briefly became the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church. Three years later the edifice, which was in a dilapidated state, was abandoned by the Patriarch, and in 1461 it was demolished by the Ottomans to make way for the Fatih Mosque.

Constantinople capital city of the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire, the Latin and the Ottoman Empire

Constantinople was the capital city of the Roman Empire (330–395), of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, of the brief Crusader state known as the Latin Empire (1204–1261) and of the Ottoman Empire (1453–1923). In 1923 the capital of Turkey, the successor state of the Ottoman Empire, was moved to Ankara and the name Constantinople was officially changed to Istanbul. The city is located in what is now the European side and the core of modern Istanbul. The city is still referred to as Constantinople in Greek-speaking sources.

The council was again summoned to meet, this time in Nicaea, since Constantinople was still distrusted. The council assembled on September 24, 787 at the church of Hagia Sophia. It numbered about 350 members; 308 bishops or their representatives signed. Tarasius presided, [5] and seven sessions were held in Nicaea. [6]

Proceedings


The clear distinction between the adoration offered to God and that accorded to the images may well be looked upon as a result of the iconoclastic reform. The twenty-two canons [7] drawn up in Constantinople also served ecclesiastical reform. Careful maintenance of the ordinances of the earlier councils, knowledge of the scriptures on the part of the clergy, and care for Christian conduct are required, and the desire for a renewal of ecclesiastical life is awakened.

The council also decreed that every altar should contain a relic, which remains the case in modern Catholic and Orthodox regulations (Canon VII), and made a number of decrees on clerical discipline, especially for monks when mixing with women.

Acceptance by various Christian bodies

The papal legates voiced their approval of the restoration of the veneration of icons in no uncertain terms, and the patriarch sent a full account of the proceedings of the council to Pope Hadrian I, who had it translated (Pope Anastasius III later replaced the translation with a better one). In the West, the Frankish clergy initially rejected the Council at a synod in 794, and Charlemagne, then King of the Franks, supported the composition of the Libri Carolini in response, which repudiated the teachings of both the Council and the iconoclasts. A copy of the Libri was sent to Pope Hadrian, who responded with a refutation of the Frankish arguments. [8] The Libri would thereafter remain unpublished until the Reformation, and the Council is accepted as the Seventh Ecumenical Council by the Catholic Church.

The council is celebrated in the Eastern Orthodox Church, and Eastern Catholic Churches of Byzantine Rite as "The Sunday of the Triumph of Orthodoxy" each year on the first Sunday of Great Lent, the fast that leads up to Pascha (Easter), and again on the Sunday closest to October 11 (the Sunday on or after October 8). The former celebration commemorates the council as the culmination of the Church's battles against heresy, while the latter commemorates the council itself.

Many Protestants follow the French reformer John Calvin in rejecting the canons of the council, which they believe promoted of idolatry. He rejected the distinction between veneration (douleia, proskynesis) and adoration (latreia) as unbiblical "sophistry" and condemned even the decorative use of images. [9] In subsequent editions of the Institutes , he cited an influential Carolingian source, now ascribed to Theodulf of Orleans, which reacts negatively to a poor Latin translation of the council's acts. Calvin did not engage the apologetic arguments of John of Damascus or Theodore the Studite, apparently because he was unaware of them.[ citation needed ]

Translations

There are only a few translations of the above Acts in the modern languages:

See also

Related Research Articles

Ecumenical council conference of ecclesiastical dignitaries and theological experts convened to discuss and settle matters of Church doctrine and practice

An ecumenical council is a conference of ecclesiastical dignitaries and theological experts convened to discuss and settle matters of Church doctrine and practice in which those entitled to vote are convoked from the whole world (oikoumene) and which secures the approbation of the whole Church.

Icon religious work of art, generally a panel painting, in Eastern Christianity

An icon is a religious work of art, most commonly a painting, in the cultures of the Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodoxy, the Roman Catholic, and certain Eastern Catholic churches. The most common subjects include Christ, Mary, saints and angels. Although especially associated with portrait-style images concentrating on one or two main figures, the term also covers most religious images in a variety of artistic media produced by Eastern Christianity, including narrative scenes. Icons can represent various scenes in the Bible.

Second Council of Constantinople Council of the Christian church held from held from 5 May to 2 June 553

The Second Council of Constantinople is the fifth of the first seven ecumenical councils recognized by both the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church. It is also recognized by the Old Catholics and others. Protestant opinions and recognition of it are varied. Some Protestants, such as Calvinists and Lutherans, recognize the first four councils, whereas most Anglo-Catholics accept all seven. Constantinople II was convoked by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I under the presidency of Patriarch Eutychius of Constantinople. It was held from 5 May to 2 June 553. Participants were overwhelmingly Eastern bishops—only sixteen Western bishops were present, including nine from Illyricum and seven from Africa, but none from Italy—out of the 152 total.

Germanus I of Constantinople Patriarch of Constantinople

Saint Germanus I was Patriarch of Constantinople from 715 to 730. He is regarded as a saint, by both the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches, with a feast day of 12 May.

Saint Theophanes the Confessor was a member of the Byzantine aristocracy who became a monk and chronicler. He served in the court of Emperor Leo IV the Khazar before taking up the religious life. Theophanes attended the Second Council of Nicaea in 787 and resisted the iconoclasm of Leo V the Armenian, for which he was imprisoned. He died shortly after his release.

Tarasios of Constantinople Patriarch of Constantinople

Saint Tarasios was Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople from 25 December 784 until his death on 25 February 806.

Iconodulism designates the religious veneration of icons. The term comes from Neoclassical Greek εἰκονόδουλος (eikonodoulos), meaning "one who serves images". It is also referred to as Iconophilism designating a positive attitude towards the religious use of icons. In the history of Christianity, Iconodulism was manifested as a moderate position, between two extremes: Iconoclasm and Iconolatry.

Iconolatry designates the idolatric worship or adoration of icons. In the history of Christianity, iconolatry was manifested mainly in popular worship, as a superstitious belief in the divine nature of icons. It was practiced as a direct adoration of icons, and other objects representing various saints, angels and the God. One of extreme practices of iconolatry was scraping parts of icons into the Holy Communion.

<i>Libri Carolini</i> book by Theodulf van Orléans

The Libri Carolini, Opus Caroli regis contra synodum, also called Charlemagne's Books or simply the Carolines, are the work in four books composed on the command of Charlemagne, around 790, to refute the supposed conclusions of the Byzantine Second Council of Nicaea (787), particularly as regards its acts and decrees in the matter of sacred images. They are "much the fullest statement of the Western attitude to representational art that has been left to us by the Middle Ages". The work appears to have been very largely a polemic based on a misunderstanding of the actual position taken by the Byzantine church, which was quietly archived when this was realized, probably in Rome.

Feast of Orthodoxy

The Feast of Orthodoxy is celebrated on the first Sunday of Great Lent in the liturgical calendar of the Eastern Orthodox Church and of the Byzantine Rite Eastern Catholic Churches. The Feast is kept in memory of the final defeat of iconoclasm and the restoration of the icons to the churches.

Byzantine Iconoclasm two periods in the history of the Byzantine Empire when the use of religious images or icons was opposed by religious and imperial authorities

Byzantine Iconoclasm refers to two periods in the history of the Byzantine Empire when the use of religious images or icons was opposed by religious and imperial authorities within the Orthodox Church and the temporal imperial hierarchy. The "First Iconoclasm", as it is sometimes called, existed between about 726 and 787. The "Second Iconoclasm" was between 814 and 842. According to the traditional view, Byzantine Iconoclasm was started by a ban on religious images by Emperor Leo III and continued under his successors. It was accompanied by widespread destruction of images and persecution of supporters of the veneration of images. The pope remained firmly in support of the use of images throughout the period, and the whole episode widened the growing divergence between the Byzantine and Carolingian traditions in what was still a unified church, as well as facilitating the reduction or removal of Byzantine political control over parts of Italy.

Fourth Council of Constantinople (Catholic Church) 8th ecumenical council of the Catholic Church held in Constantinople from 5 Oct. 869 to 28 Feb. 870

The Fourth Council of Constantinople was the eighth ecumenical council of the Catholic Church held in Constantinople from October 5, 869, to February 28, 870. It included 102 bishops, three papal legates, and four patriarchs. The Council met in ten sessions from October 869 to February 870 and issued 27 canons.

History of the East–West Schism refers to history of the East–West Schism that occurred in 1054, representing one of the most significant events in the history of Christianity. It includes various events and processes that led to the Schism, and also those events and processes that occurred as a result of the Schism. Eastern and Western Christians had a history of differences and disagreements, some dating back even to the period of Early Christianity. At the very root of what later became the Great Schism were several questions of pneumatology and ecclesiology. The most important theological difference occurred over various questions regarding the procession of the Holy Spirit, and the use of the Filioque clause in the Creed. One of the main ecclesiological issues was the question of Papal supremacy. Other points of difference were related to various liturgical, mainly ritual and disciplinary customs and practices. Some political and cultural processes also contributed to the breakout of the Schism.

Christianity in the 8th century Christianity-related events during the 8th century

Christianity in the 8th century was much affected by the rise of Islam in the Middle East. By the late 8th century, the Muslim empire had conquered all of Persia and parts of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) territory including Egypt, Palestine, and Syria. Suddenly parts of the Christian world were under Muslim rule. Over the coming centuries the Muslim nations became some of the most powerful in the Mediterranean basin.

History of Eastern Orthodox theology

The history of Eastern Orthodox Christian theology begins with the life of Jesus and the forming of the Christian Church. Major events include the Chalcedonian schism with the Oriental Orthodox miaphysites, the Iconoclast controversy, the Photian schism, the Great Schism between East and West, and the Hesychast controversy. The period after the Second World War saw a re-engagement with the Greek, and more recently Syriac, Fathers that included a rediscovery of the theological works of St. Gregory Palamas, which has resulted in a renewal of Orthodox theology in the 20th and 21st centuries.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to the Catholic Ecumenical Councils.

Timeline of Orthodoxy in Greece (717–1204)

This is a timeline of the presence of Orthodoxy in Greece. The history of Greece traditionally encompasses the study of the Greek people, the areas they ruled historically, as well as the territory now composing the modern state of Greece.

Saint George the Confessor, also known as Saint George of Antioch, was the Bishop of Antioch in Pisidia in the 8th century. He is venerated as a saint in the Eastern Orthodox Church and his feast day is 19 April.

References

  1. 1 2 Gibbon, p.1693
  2. Council of Hieria, Canon 19, "If anyone does not accept this our Holy and Ecumenical Seventh Synod, let him be anathema from the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, and from the seven holy Ecumenical Synods!" http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/icono-cncl754.asp
  3. Warren T. Treadgold (1997). A History of the Byzantine State and Society. Stanford University Press. p. 388. ISBN   978-0-8047-2630-6 . Retrieved 27 January 2013.
  4. Ostrogorsky, p.178.
  5. Gibbon, p.1693.
  6. Ostrogorsky, p.178
  7. "NPNF2-14. The Seven Ecumenical Councils - Christian Classics Ethereal Library". www.ccel.org.
  8. Hussey, J. M. (1986). The Orthodox Church in the Byzantine Empire. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 49–50.
  9. cf. John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion 1.11
  10. See: http://www.knigafund.ru/books/12281/read
  11. See: N. Tanner, "Atti del Concilio Niceno Secondo Ecumenico Settimo, Tomi I–III, introduzione e traduzione di Pier Giorgio Di Domenico, saggio encomiastico di Crispino Valenziano", in "Gregorianum", N. 86/4, Rome, 2005, p. 928.
  12. Catholic Church, Atti del Concilio Niceno Secondo Ecumenico Settimo (Citta del Vaticano: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2004) ISBN   9788820976491
  13. ISBN   9785446908912

Sources

Further reading

]