Timeline of Church History

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Revision as of 17:52, September 16, 2005 by Hayesstw (talk | contribs) (Ante-Nicene era (100-325))
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The History of the Church is a vital part of the Orthodox Christian faith. Orthodox Christians are defined significantly by their continuity with all those who have gone before, those who first received and preached the truth of Jesus Christ to the world, those who helped to formulate the expression and worship of our faith, and those who continue to move forward in the unchanging yet ever-dynamic Holy Tradition of the Orthodox Church.

Apostolic era (33-100)

Ante-Nicene era (100-325)

Nicene era (325-451)

Byzantine era (451-843)

  • 451 Fourth Ecumenical Council meets at Chalcedon, condemning Eutychianism and Monophysitism, affirming that Christ has two natures; this eventually led to a schism, with the Church of Alexandria being divided into Chalcedonian and non-Chalcedonian factions, with a similar schism occurring in the Church of Antioch along with it.
  • 452 Proterios, who was appointed Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria to replace Dioscuros (who had been deposed at the Council of Chalcedon) convened a synod in Alexandria to try to reconcile the Chalcedonian and non-Chalcedonian groups.
  • 466 Church of Antioch elevates the bishop of Mtskheta to the rank of Catholicos of Kartli, thus rendering the Church of Georgia autocephalous.
  • 477 Bishop Timothy ("the Wild Cat") of Alexandria, who opposed the Council of Chalcedon, exiled the Orthodox bishops from Egypt.
  • 484 Founding of the Monastery of St. Sabbas in the Judean wilderness; Synod of Beth Papat in Persia declares the Nestorian doctrine as the official theology of the Assyrian Church of the East, centered in Edessa.

Late Byzantine era (843-1453)

  • 846 Muslim raid of Rome.
  • 852 St. Ansgar founds the churches at Hedeby and Ribe in Denmark.
  • 858 St. Photius the Great becomes patriarch of Constantinople.
  • 861 Ss. Cyril and Methodius depart from Constantinople to missionize the Slavs; council presided over by papal legates held in Constantinople which confirms St. Photius the Great as patriarch.
  • 862 Ratislav of Moravia converts to Christianity.
  • 863 First translations of Biblical and liturgical texts into Church Slavonic by Ss. Cyril and Methodius.
  • 863 The Venetians steal relics of St Mark from Alexandria.
  • 864 Prince Boris of Bulgaria is baptized.
  • 867 Council in Constantinople held, presided over by Photius, which anathematizes Pope Nicholas I of Rome for his attacks on the work of Greek missionaries in Bulgaria and the use by papal missionaries of the heretical Filioque; Pope Nicholas dies before hearing the news of his excommunication; Basil the Macedonian has Emperor Michael III murdered and usurps the Imperial throne, reinstating Ignatius as patriarch of Constantinople.
  • 869-870 The Robber Council of 869-870 is held, deposing St. Photius the Great from the Constantinopolitan see and putting the rival claimant Ignatius on the throne, declaring itself to be the "Eighth Ecumenical Council."
  • 870 Conversion of Serbia.
  • 877 Death of St. Ignatius I of Constantinople, who appoints St. Photius to succeed him.
  • 879-880 The Eighth Ecumenical Council is held in Constantinople, confirming Photius as Patriarch of Constantintople, anathematizing additions to the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, and declaring that the prerogatives and jurisdiction of the Roman pope and the Constantinopolitan patriarch are essentially equal; this council is reluctantly accepted by Pope John VIII of Rome.
  • 883 Muslims burn the monastery of Monte Cassino.
  • 885 Mount Athos gains political autonomy.
  • 912 Normans become Christian.
  • 962 Denmark becomes a Christian nation with the baptism of King Harald Blaatand ("Bluetooth").
  • 963 St. Athanasius of Athos establishes the first major monastery on Mount Athos, the Great Lavra.
  • 988 Baptism of Rus' begins with the conversion of St. Vladimir of Kiev.
  • 995 St. Olaf of Norway proclaims Norway to be a Christian kingdom.
  • 1000 Christianization of Greenland and Iceland.
  • 1008 Conversion of Sweden.
  • 1009 Patriarch Sergius II of Constantinople removes the name of Pope Sergius IV of Rome from the diptychs of the Church of Constantinople, because the pope had written a letter to the patriarch including the Filioque; Muslims destroy the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
  • 1014 Filioque used for the first time in Rome by Pope Benedict VIII at the coronation of Henry II, Holy Roman Emperor.
  • 1017 Danish king Canute converts to Christianity.
  • 1051 Monastery of the Kiev Caves founded.
  • 1054 Cardinal Humbert excommunicates Michael Cerularius, Patriarch of Consantinople, a major centerpoint in the formation of the Great Schism between East and West.
  • 1066 Normans invade England flying the banner of the Pope of Rome, defeating King Harold of England at the Battle of Hastings, beginning the reformation of the church and society there to align with Latin continental ecclesiology and politics.
  • 1071 Turkish capture of Jerusalem.
  • 1073 Hildebrand becomes Pope Gregory VII and launches the "Gregorian" reforms (celibacy of the clergy, primacy of the papacy over the empire, right of the Pope to depose emperors).
  • 1088 Founding of monastery of St. John the Theologian on Patmos.
  • 1095 Launching of the First Crusade.
  • 1096 Persecution of Jews by Crusaders.
  • 1098 Crusaders capture Antioch.
  • 1099 Crusaders capture Jerusalem.
  • 1144 Bernard of Clairvaux calls for a Second Crusade to rescue the besieged Latin kingdom of Jerusalem, and Louis VII of France and Konrad III of Germany join the Crusaders, but they are defeated by the Muslims.
  • 1180 Last formal, canonical acceptance of Latins to communion at an Eastern altar in Antioch.
  • 1187 Saladdin retakes Jerusalem.
  • 1189 Third Crusade is led by King Richard the Lion-Hearted of England, King Philip Augustus II of France, and Emperor Frederick Barbarossa.
  • 1204 Crusaders of the Fourth Crusade sack Constantinople, laying waste to the city and stealing many holy relics and other items; Great Schism generally regarded as having been completed by this act.
  • 1268 Egyptian Mamelukes capture Antioch.
  • 1336 Meteora in Greece is established as a center of Orthodox monasticism.
  • 1341-1351 Three sessions of the Ninth Ecumenical Council held in Constantinople, affirming the hesychastic theology of St. Gregory Palamas and condemning the rationalistic philosophy of Barlaam of Calabria.
  • 1379 Western "Great Schism" ensues, seeing the simultaneous reign of three Popes of Rome.
  • 1389 Serbs are defeated by Ottoman Turks of Sultan Murad I.
  • 1396 First English Bible translated by John Wyclif.
  • 1417 End of Western "Great Schism" at the Council of Constance.
  • 1439 Ecclesiastical reunion with the West is attempted at the Council of Florence, where only St. Mark of Ephesus refuses to capitulate to the demands of the delegates from Rome.
  • 1448 Church of Russia declares its independence from the Church of Constantinople.
  • 1453 Constantinople falls to the invasion of the Ottoman Turks.

Post-Imperial era (1453-1821)

  • 1455 Gutenberg makes the first printed Bible.
  • 1480 Spanish Inquisition.
  • 1517 Martin Luther nails his Ninety-Five Theses to the door at Wittenburg, sparking the Protestant Reformation; Ottomans conquer Jerusalem, Antioch and Alexandria, when Joakim the Athenian was Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria.
  • 1534 King Henry VIII declares himself supreme head of the Church of England.
  • 1547 Council of Trent held to answer the Protestant Reformation.
  • 1575 Church of Constantinople grants autonomy to Church of Sinai.
  • 1582 Institution of the Gregorian Calendar by Pope Gregory XIII.
  • 1589 Autocephaly of the Church of Russia recognized; the primate of the Church of Russia is styled as "patriarch."
  • 1596 At the Union of Brest-Litovsk, several million Ukrainian and Byelorussian Orthodox Christians, living under Polish rule, leave the Church of Russia and recognize the Pope of Rome, without giving up their Byzantine liturgy and customs, creating the Uniate church.
  • 1627 Pope and Patriarch Cyril Lukaris of Alexandria presented the famous "Codex Alexandrinus" to King Charles I of England for "safe keeping".
  • 1642 The Council of Jassy (Iaşi) revises Peter Moghila's confession to remove overtly Roman Catholic theology. Also confirms the canonicity of certain of the deuterocanonical books.
  • 1652-1658 Patriarch Nikon of Moscow revises liturgical books to bring them into conformity with the Greek liturgical customes, leading to the excommunication of dissenters, who become known as the Old Believers.
  • 1647 An Orthodox Church is erected in Tunisia.
  • 1652 A school and hospital were established in Old Cairo by Patriarch Joannikios.
  • 1685 Orthodoxy introduced in Beijing, China by the Church of Russia.
  • 1715 Metropolitan Arsenios of Thebaid sent to England by Pope and Patriarch Samuel of Alexandria to negotiate with non-juror Anglican bishops (those who had refused to take the oath to William and Mary).
  • 1724 Melkite schism, many faithful from the Church of Antioch become Uniates.
  • 1767 A community of Orthodox Greeks establishes itself in New Smyrna, Florida.
  • 1768 Jews are massacred during riots in Russia-occupied Poland.
  • 1782 First publication of the Philokalia; autonomy of Church of Sinai confirmed by Church of Constantinople.
  • 1794 Missionaries, including St. Herman of Alaska, arrive at Kodiak Island, bringing Orthodoxy to Russian Alaska.
  • 1811 Autocephaly of the Church of Georgia revoked by the Russian imperial state after Georgia's annexation, making it subject to the Church of Russia.

Modern era (1821-present)


  • Some of these dates are necessarily a bit vague, as records for some periods are particularly difficult to piece together accurately.
  • The division of Church History into separate eras as we do here will always be to some extent arbitrary, though we have tried to group periods according to major watershed events.
  • This timeline is necessarily biased toward the history of the Orthodox Church, though a number of non-Orthodox events are mentioned for their importance in history related to Orthodoxy.