The First Ecumenical Council, also know as The First Council of Nicaea (/naɪˈsiːə/; Greek: Νίκαια [ˈni:kaɪja]) was a council of Christian bishops convened in Nicaea in Bithynia by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in AD 325. This first ecumenical council was the first effort to attain consensus in the church through an assembly representing all of Christendom. It was presided by Hosius of Corduba, a bishop from the West and probably a Papal delegate.
Its main accomplishments were settlement of the Christological issue of the nature of the Son of God and his relationship to God the Father, the construction of the first part of the Creed of Nicaea, establishing uniform observance of the date of Pascha, and promulgation of early canon law.
The Second Ecumenical Council, also known as The First Council of Constantinople (Ancient Greek: Κωνσταντινούπολις Konstantinoúpolis) was a council of Christian bishops convened in Constantinople in AD 381 by the Roman Emperor Theodosius I. This second ecumenical council, an effort to attain consensus in the church through an assembly representing all of Christendom, confirmed the Nicene Creed, expanding the doctrine thereof to produce the Niceno–Constantinopolitan Creed, and dealt with sundry other matters. It met from May to July 381 in the Church of Hagia Irene and was affirmed as ecumenical in 451 at the Council of Chalcedon.
The Third Ecumenical Council, also known as The Council of Ephesus was a council of Christian bishops convened in Ephesus (near present-day Selçuk in Turkey) in AD 431 by the Roman Emperor Theodosius II. This third ecumenical council, an effort to attain consensus in the church through an assembly representing all of Christendom, confirmed the original Nicene Creed , and condemned the teachings of Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople that the Virgin Mary may be called the Christotokos, "Birth Giver of Christ" but not the Theotokos, "Birth Giver of God". It met in June and July 431 at the Church of Mary in Ephesus in Anatolia.
The Fourth Ecumenical Council, also known as The Council of Chalcedon (/kælˈsiːdən/ or /ˈkælsɨdɒn/) was a church council held from October 8 to November 1, AD 451, at Chalcedon (a city of Bithynia in Asia Minor), on the Asian side of the Bosporus, known in modern times as Kadıköy in Istanbul, although it was then separate from Constantinople. The judgements and definitions of divine nature issued by the council marked a significant turning point in the Christological debates that led to the separate establishment of the church in the Western Roman Empire during the 5th century.
The Fifth Ecumenical Council, also known as The Second Council of Constantinople is the fifth of the first seven ecumenical councils recognized as such by both West and East. Eastern Orthodox, Catholics, and Old Catholics unanimously recognize it. The fifth council was convoked by Byzantine Emperor Justinian I under the presidency of Patriarch Eutychius of Constantinople and 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.
The main work of the council was to confirm the condemnation issued by edict in 551 by the Emperor Justinian against the Three Chapters (cf. Three Chapters controversy and Three Chapters schism). The "Three Chapters" were, one, both the person and writings of Theodore of Mopsuestia (d. 428), two, the attacks on Cyril of Alexandria and the First Council of Ephesus written by Theodoret of Cyrus (d. c. 466), and three, the attacks on Cyril and Ephesus by Ibas of Edessa (d. 457).
The Sixth Ecumenical Council, also known as The Third Council of Constantinople, met in 680/681 and condemned monoenergism and monothelitism as heretical and defined Jesus Christ as having two energies and two wills (divine and human).
The Seventh Ecumenical Council, also known as The Second Council of Nicaea, is recognized as the last of the Ecumenical Councils by the Orthodox Church. It met in AD 787 in Nicaea (site of the First Ecumenical Council; present-day İznik in Turkey) to restore the use and veneration of icons (or, holy images), 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.
The earliest Church Fathers, (within two generations of the Twelve Apostles of Christ) are usually called the Apostolic Fathers since tradition describes them as having been taught by the twelve. Important Apostolic Fathers include Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, and Polycarp of Smyrna. In addition, the Didache and Shepherd of Hermas are usually placed among the writings of the Apostolic Fathers although their authors are unknown; like the works of Clement, Ignatius and Polycarp, they were first written in Koine Greek.
Ignatius of Antioch (also known as Theophorus) (c. 35–110) was the third bishop or Patriarch of Antioch and a student of the Apostle John. En route to his martyrdom in Rome, Ignatius wrote a series of letters which have been preserved. Important topics addressed in these letters include ecclesiology, the sacraments, the role of bishops, and Biblical Sabbath. He is the second after Clement to mention Paul's epistles.
Polycarp of Smyrna (c. 69 – c. 155) was a Christian bishop of Smyrna (now İzmir in Turkey). It is recorded that he had been a disciple of "John." The options for this John are John, the son of Zebedee, traditionally viewed as the author of the Gospel of John, or John the Presbyter. Traditional advocates follow Eusebius in insisting that the apostolic connection of Polycarp was with John the Evangelist, and that he was the author of the Gospel of John, and thus the Apostle John.
Polycarp tried and failed to persuade Pope Anicetus to have the West celebrate Passover on 14 Nisan, as in the East. Around 155, the Smyrnans demanded Polycarp's execution as a Christian, and he died a martyr. The story of his martyrdom describes how the fire built around him would not burn him, and that when he was stabbed to death, so much blood issued from his body that it quenched the flames around him. Polycarp is recognized as a saint in both the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches.
His epistle, 1 Clement (c. 96), was copied and widely read in the Early Church. Clement calls on the Christians of Corinth to maintain harmony and order. It is the earliest Christian epistle aside from the New Testament.
Those who wrote in Greek are called the Greek (Church) Fathers. Famous Greek Fathers include: Clement of Rome, Irenaeus of Lyons, Clement of Alexandria, Athanasius of Alexandria, John Chrysostom, Cyril of Alexandria, the Cappadocian Fathers (Basil of Caesarea, Gregory Nazianzus, Peter of Sebaste, Gregory of Nyssa), Maximus the Confessor, and John of Damascus.
Irenaeus was bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul, which is now Lyon(s), France. His writings were formative in the early development of Christian theology, and he is recognized as a saint by both the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church. He was a notable early Christian apologist. He was also a disciple of Polycarp.
His best-known book, Against Heresies (c.180) enumerated heresies and attacked them. Irenaeus wrote that the only way for Christians to retain unity was to humbly accept one doctrinal authority—episcopal councils. Irenaeus proposed that the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John all be accepted as canonical.
Clement of Alexandria (Titus Flavius Clemens) was the first member of the church of Alexandria to be more than a name, and one of its most distinguished teachers. He united Greek philosophical traditions with Christian doctrine and valued gnosis that with communion for all people could be held by common Christians. He developed a Christian Platonism. Like Origen, he arose from Catechetical School of Alexandria and was well versed in pagan literature.
Origen, or Origen Adamantius (c.185–c.254) was a scholar and theologian. According to tradition, he was an Egyptian who taught in Alexandria, reviving the Catechetical School where Clement had taught. The patriarch of Alexandria at first supported Origen but later expelled him for being ordained without the patriarch's permission. He relocated to Caesarea Maritima and died there after being tortured during a persecution.
Using his knowledge of Hebrew, he produced a corrected Septuagint. He wrote commentaries on all the books of the Bible. In Peri Archon (First Principles), he articulated the first philosophical exposition of Christian doctrine. He interpreted scripture allegorically and showed himself to be a stoic, a Neo-Pythagorean, and a Platonist. Like Plotinus, he wrote that the soul passes through successive stages before incarnation as a human and after death, eventually reaching God. He imagined even demons being reunited with God. For Origen, God was not Yahweh but the First Principle, and Christ, the Logos, was subordinate to him. His views of a hierarchical structure in the Trinity, the temporality of matter, "the fabulous preexistence of souls", and "the monstrous restoration which follows from it" were declared anathema in the 6th century. Because of his heretical views, Origen is technically not a Church Father by many definitions of that term but instead may simply be referred to as an ecclesiastical writer.
Athanasius of Alexandria (c.293–2 May 373) was a theologian, Pope of Alexandria, and a noted Egyptian leader of the 4th century. He is remembered for his role in the conflict with Arianism and for his affirmation of the Trinity. At the First Council of Nicaea (325), Athanasius argued against the Arian doctrine that Christ is of a distinct substance from the Father.
The Cappadocians promoted early Christian theology and are highly respected in both Western and Eastern churches as saints. They were a 4th-century monastic family, led by Saint Macrina the Younger (324–379) to provide a central place for her brothers to study and meditate, and also to provide a peaceful shelter for their mother. Abbess Macrina fostered the education and development of three men who collectively became designated the Cappadocian Fathers: Basil the Great (330–379) who was the second oldest of Macrina's brothers and became a bishop; Gregory of Nyssa (c.335 – after 394) who also became a bishop of the diocese associated thereafter with his name; and Peter of Sebaste (c.340 – 391) who was the youngest brother and became bishop of Sebaste.
These scholars along with a close friend, Gregory Nazianzus, set out to demonstrate that Christians could hold their own in conversations with learned Greek-speaking intellectuals. They argued that Christian faith, while it was against many of the ideas of Plato and Aristotle (and other Greek Philosophers), it was an almost scientific and distinctive movement with the healing of the soul of man and his union with God at its center. They made major contributions to the definition of the Trinity finalized at the First Council of Constantinople in 381 and the final version of the Nicene Creed.
Subsequent to the First Council of Nicea, Arianism did not simply disappear. The semi-Arians taught that the Son is of like substance with the Father (homoiousios), as against the outright Arians who taught that the Son was unlike the Father (heterousian). So the Son was held to be like the Father but not of the same essence as the Father. The Cappadocians worked to bring these semi-Arians back to the Orthodox cause. In their writings they made extensive use of the formula "three substances (hypostases) in one essence (homoousia)", and thus explicitly acknowledged a distinction between the Father and the Son (a distinction that Nicea had been accused of blurring) but at the same time insisting on their essential unity.
John Chrysostom (c.347–c.407), archbishop of Constantinople, is known for his eloquence in preaching and public speaking; his denunciation of abuse of authority by both ecclesiastical and political leaders, recorded sermons and writings making him the most prolific of the eastern fathers, and his ascetic sensibilities. After his death (or according to some sources, during his life) he was given the Greek epithet chrysostomos, meaning "golden mouthed", rendered in English as Chrysostom.
Chrysostom is known within Christianity chiefly as a preacher and theologian, particularly in the Eastern Orthodox Church; he is the patron saint of orators in the Roman Catholic Church. Chrysostom is also noted for eight of his sermons that played a considerable part in the history of Christian antisemitism, which were extensively cited by the Nazis in their ideological campaign against the Jews.
Cyril of Alexandria (c.378–444) was the Bishop of Alexandria when the city was at its height of influence and power within the Roman Empire. Cyril wrote extensively and was a leading protagonist in the Christological controversies of the late 4th and early 5th centuries. He was a central figure in the First Council of Ephesus in 431, which led to the deposition of Nestorius as Archbishop of Constantinople. Cyril's reputation within the Christian world has resulted in his titles "Pillar of Faith" and "Seal of all the Fathers".
Maximus the Confessor (also known as Maximus the Theologian and Maximus of Constantinople) (c.580–13 August 662) was a Christian monk, theologian, and scholar. In his early life, he was a civil servant and an aide to the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius. However, he gave up this life in the political sphere to enter into the monastic life.
After moving to Carthage, Maximus studied several Neo-Platonist writers and became a prominent author. When one of his friends began espousing the Christological position known as Monothelitism, Maximus was drawn into the controversy, in which he supported the Chalcedonian position that Jesus had both a human and a divine will. Maximus is venerated in both Eastern Christianity and Western Christianity. His Christological positions eventually resulted in his torture and exile, soon after which he died. However, his theology was vindicated by the Third Council of Constantinople, and he was venerated as a saint soon after his death. His feast day is celebrated twice during the year: on 21 January and on 13 August. His title of Confessor means that he suffered for the faith, but not to the point of death, and thus is distinguished from a martyr. His Life of the Virgin is thought to be the earliest complete biography of Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Saint John of Damascus, also known as John Damascene (c.676–4 December 749) was a Syrian Christian monk and priest. Born and raised in Damascus, he died at his monastery, Mar Saba, near Jerusalem.
A polymath whose fields of interest and contribution included law, theology, philosophy, and music, before being ordained, he served as a chief administrator to the Muslim caliph of Damascus, wrote works expounding the Christian faith, and composed hymns which are still in use in Eastern Christian monasteries. The Catholic Church regards him as a Doctor of the Church, often referred to as the Doctor of the Assumption because of his writings on the Assumption of Mary.
Those fathers who wrote in Latin are called the Latin (Church) Fathers.
Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus (c.155–c.222), who was converted to Christianity before 197, was a prolific writer of apologetic, theological, controversial and ascetic works. He was born in Carthage, the son of a Roman centurion.
Tertullian denounced Christian doctrines he considered heretical, but later in life adopted the Montanist religion, regarded as a heretical sect by the mainstream Church. He wrote three books in Greek and was the first great writer of Latin Christianity, thus sometimes known as the "Father of the Latin Church". He was evidently a lawyer in Rome. He is said to have introduced the Latin term "trinitas" with regard to the Divine (Trinity) to the Christian vocabulary (but Theophilus of Antioch already wrote of "the Trinity, of God, and His Word, and His wisdom", which is similar but not identical to the Trinitarian wording), and also probably the formula "three Persons, one Substance" as the Latin "tres Personae, una Substantia" (itself from the Koine Greek "τρεῖς ὑποστάσεις, ὁμοούσιος; treis Hypostases, Homoousios"), and also the terms "vetus testamentum" (Old Testament) and "novum testamentum" (New Testament).
In his Apologeticus, he was the first Latin author who qualified Christianity as the "vera religio", and systematically relegated the classical Roman Empire religion and other accepted cults to the position of mere "superstitions".
Later in life, Tertullian joined the Montanists, a heretical sect that appealed to his rigorism. He used the early church's symbol for fish—the Greek word for "fish" being ΙΧΘΥΣ which is an acronym for "Ἰησοῦς Χριστός, Θεοῦ Υἱός, Σωτήρ" (Jesus Christ, God's Son, Saviour)—to explain the meaning of Baptism since fish are born in water. He wrote that human beings are like little fish.
Saint Cyprian (Thascius Caecilius Cyprianus) (died September 14, 258) was bishop of Carthage and an important early Christian writer. He was born in North Africa, probably at the beginning of the 3rd century, perhaps at Carthage, where he received an excellent classical (pagan) education. After converting to Christianity, he became a bishop and eventually died a martyr at Carthage. He emphasized the necessity of the unity of Christians with their bishops, and also the authority of the Roman See, which he claimed was the source of "priestly unity"'.
Hilary of Poitiers (c.300 – c.368) was Bishop of Poitiers and is a Doctor of the Church. He was sometimes referred to as the "Hammer of the Arians" (Latin: Malleus Arianorum) and the "Athanasius of the West." His name comes from the Greek word for happy or cheerful. His optional memorial in the Roman Catholic calendar of saints is 13 January. In the past, when this date was occupied by the Octave Day of the Epiphany, his feast day was moved to 14 January.
Pope Damasus I (305 – 384) was active in defending the Early Church against the threat of schisms. In two Roman synods (368 and 369) he condemned the heresies of Apollinarianism and Macedonianism, and sent legates to the First Council of Constantinople that was convoked in 381 to address these heresies. He also wrote in defense of the Roman See's authority, and inaugurated use of Latin in the Mass, instead of the Koine Greek that was still being used throughout the Church in the West in the liturgy.
Saint Ambrose was an archbishop of Milan who became one of the most influential ecclesiastical figures of the 4th century. He is counted as one of the four original doctors of the Church. He offered a new perspective on the theory of atonement.
Jerome (c.347–September 30, 420) is best known as the translator of the Bible from Greek and Hebrew into Latin. He also was a Christian apologist. Jerome's edition of the Bible, the Vulgate, is still an important text of Catholicism.
Augustine (13 November 354–28 August 430), Bishop of Hippo, was a philosopher and theologian. Augustine is one of the most important figures in the development of Western Christianity. Augustine was radically influenced by Platonism. He framed the concepts of original sin and just war as they are understood in the West. When Rome fell and the faith of many Christians was shaken, Augustine wrote The City of God, in which he defended Christianity from pagan critics and developed the concept of the Church as a spiritual City of God, distinct from the material City of Man. Augustine's work defined the start of the medieval worldview, an outlook that would later be firmly established by Pope Gregory the Great.
Augustine was born in present day Algeria to a Christian mother, Saint Monica. He was educated in North Africa and resisted his mother's pleas to become Christian. He took a concubine and became a Manichean. He later converted to Christianity, became a bishop, and opposed heresies, such as Pelagianism. His works—including The Confessions, which is often called the first Western autobiography—are still read around the world. After his word work to proclaim the word of God, he is now regarded as a father saint to many institutions, and some have been named after him.
Saint Gregory I the Great (c.540–12 March 604) was pope from 3 September 590 until his death. He is also known as Gregorius Dialogus (Gregory the Dialogist) in Eastern Orthodoxy because of the Dialogues he wrote. He was the first of the popes from a monastic background. Gregory is considered one of the four great Latin Fathers of the Church (the others being Ambrose, Augustine, and Jerome). Of all popes, Gregory I had the most influence on the early medieval church.
Saint Isidore of Seville (Spanish: San Isidro or San Isidoro de Sevilla, Latin: Isidorus Hispalensis) (c.560–4 April 636) was Archbishop of Seville for more than three decades and is considered, as the historian Montalembert put it in an oft-quoted phrase, "le dernier savant du monde ancien" ("the last scholar of the ancient world"). Indeed, all the later medieval history-writing of Hispania (the Iberian Peninsula, comprising modern Spain and Portugal) was based on his histories.
At a time of disintegration of classical culture and aristocratic violence and illiteracy, he was involved in the conversion of the royal Visigothic Arians to Orthodoxy, both assisting his brother Leander of Seville and continuing after his brother's death. He was influential in the inner circle of Sisebut, Visigothic king of Hispania. Like Leander, he played a prominent role in the Councils of Toledo and Seville. The Visigothic legislation which resulted from these councils is regarded by modern historians as exercising an important influence on the beginnings of representative government.
A few Church Fathers wrote in Syriac; many of their works were also widely translated into Latin and Greek.
Aphrahat (c. 270–c. 345) was a Syriac-Christian author of the 3rd century from the Adiabene region of Northern Mesopotamia, which was within the Persian Empire, who composed a series of twenty-three expositions or homilies on points of Christian doctrine and practice. He was born in Persia around 270, but all his known works, the Demonstrations, come from later on in his life. He was an ascetic and celibate, and was almost definitely a son of the covenant (an early Syriac form of communal monasticism). He may have been a bishop, and later Syriac tradition places him at the head of Mar Matti monastery near Mosul, in what is now northern Iraq. He was a near contemporary to the slightly younger Ephrem the Syrian, but the latter lived within the sphere of the Roman Empire. Called the Persian Sage (Syriac: ܚܟܝܡܐ ܦܪܣܝܐ, ḥakkîmâ p̄ārsāyā), Aphrahat witnesses to the concerns of the early church beyond the eastern boundaries of the Roman Empire.
Ephrem the Syrian (ca. 306 – 373) was a Syriac deacon and a prolific Syriac-language hymnographer and theologian of the 4th century from the region of Syria. His works are hailed by Christians throughout the world, and many denominations venerate him as a saint. He has been declared a Doctor of the Church in Roman Catholicism. He is especially beloved in the Syriac Orthodox Church.
Ephrem wrote a wide variety of hymns, poems, and sermons in verse, as well as prose biblical exegesis. These were works of practical theology for the edification of the church in troubled times. So popular were his works, that, for centuries after his death, Christian authors wrote hundreds of pseudepigraphal works in his name. Ephrem's works witness to an early form of Christianity in which Western ideas take little part. He has been called the most significant of all of the fathers of the Syriac-speaking church tradition
Isaac of Antioch (451–452), one of the stars of Syriac literature, is the reputed author of a large number of metrical homilies (The fullest list, by Gustav Bickell, contains 191 which are extant in MSS), many of which are distinguished by an originality and acumen rare among Syriac writers.
Isaac of Nineveh was a 7th-century Assyrian bishop and theologian best remembered for his written work. He is also regarded as a saint in the Church of the East, the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church and among the Oriental Orthodox Churches, making him the last saint chronologically to be recognised by every apostolic Church. His feast day falls on January 28. Isaac is remembered for his spiritual homilies on the inner life, which have a human breadth and theological depth that transcends the Nestorian Christianity of the Church to which he belonged. They survive in Syriac manuscripts and in Greek and Arabic translations.
The Desert Fathers (there were also Desert Mothers) were male Orthodox Christian hermits, ascetics, and monks who lived mainly in the Scetes desert of Egypt beginning around the third century AD. The Apophthegmata Patrum is a collection of the writings of some of the early desert monks and nuns, representing the Divine Wisdom they received, still in print as Sayings of the Desert Fathers. The most well known was Anthony the Great, who moved to the desert in 270–271 and became known as both the father and founder of desert monasticism. By the time Anthony died in 356, thousands of monks and nuns had been drawn to living in the desert following Anthony's example — his biographer, Athanasius of Alexandria, wrote that "the desert had become a city." The Desert Fathers had a major influence on the development of Christianity.
Amma Syncletica of Alexandria, a Christian saint and Desert Mother of the 4th century, was of a wealthy background and is reputed to have been very beautiful. From childhood, however, Syncletica was drawn to God and the desire to dedicate her life to him.
From the time she gained responsibility for her family's affairs, after the death of her parents, she gave all that had been left her to the poor. With her younger sister Syncletica abandoned the life of the city and chose to reside in a crypt adopting the life of a hermit. Her holy life soon gained the attention of locals and gradually many women came to live as her disciples in Christ.
St. Syncletica is regarded as a "Desert Mother" and her sayings are recorded with those of the Desert Fathers. She is believed to have died in her eightieth year, around 350 AD.
Amma Syncletica is commemorated 5 January in the Orthodox Church, Eastern Catholic Churches, and the Roman Catholic Church.
Saint Pachomius (Greek: Παχώμιος, ca. 292–348), also known as Pachome and Pakhomius (/pəˈkoʊmiəs/), is generally recognized as the founder of Christian cenobitic monasticism. Coptic churches celebrate his feast day on 9 May, and Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches mark his feast on 15 May. In the Lutheran Church, the saint is remembered as a renewer of the church, along with his contemporary (and fellow desert saint), Anthony of Egypt on January 17.
Macarius of Egypt (c. 300 – 391) was a Coptic Egyptian Christian monk and hermit. He is also known as Macarius the Elder, Macarius the Great and The Lamp of the Desert.
Saint Moses the Black (330–405), (also known as Abba Moses the Robber, the Abyssinian, the Ethiopian and the Strong) was an ascetic monk and priest in Egypt in the fourth century AD, and a notable Desert Father.
Abba Poemen (Greek: Ὁ Ἅγιος Ποιμήν; ποιμήν means "shepherd") (c. 340–450) was an Egyptian monk and early Desert Father who is the most quoted Abba (Father) in the Apophthegmata Patrum (Sayings of the Desert Fathers). Abba Poemen was quoted most often for his gift as a spiritual guide, reflected in the name "Poemen" ("Shepherd"), rather than for asceticism. He is considered a saint in Eastern Christianity. His feast day is August 27 in Julian calendar (September 9 in Gregorian calendar).
Shenoute the Great, Saint Shenoute the Archimandrite (347-465 or 348-466 (also called Shenouda)) was the abbot of the White Monastery in Egypt. He is considered a saint by the Oriental Orthodox Churches, and is one of the most renowned saints of the Coptic Orthodox Church.
Saint Arsenius the Deacon, sometimes known as Arsenius of Scetis and Turah, Arsenius the Roman or Arsenius the Great, was a Roman imperial tutor who became an anchorite in Egypt, one of the most highly regarded of the Desert Fathers, whose teachings were greatly influential on the development of asceticism and the contemplative life.
The "later" Church Fathers are those Fathers that came after St. John of Damascus, who is considered the last of the Church Fathers by the Catholic Church.
Theodore the Studite (also known as Theodorus Studita, St. Theodore of Stoudios, and St. Theodore of Studium; 759–826) was a Byzantine Greek monk and abbot of the Stoudios Monastery in Constantinople. Theodore's letter, containing suggested monastery reform rules, is the first recorded stand against slavery. He played a major role in the revivals both of Byzantine monasticism and of classical literary genres in Byzantium. He is known as a zealous opponent of iconoclasm, one of several conflicts that set him at odds with both emperor and patriarch.
Photios I (Greek: Φώτιος Phōtios; c. 810 – c. 893), also spelled Photius (/ˈfoʊʃəs/) or Fotios, was the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople from 858 to 867 and from 877 to 886; He is recognized in the Eastern Orthodox Church as St. Photios the Great.
Photios is widely regarded as the most powerful and influential Patriarch of Constantinople since John Chrysostom, and as the most important intellectual of his time, "the leading light of the ninth-century renaissance". He was a central figure in both the conversion of the Slavs to Christianity and the Photian schism.
Photios was a well-educated man from a noble Constantinopolitan family. Photius's great uncle was a previous Patriarch of Constantinople, Tarasius. He intended to be a monk, but chose to be a scholar and statesman instead. In 858, Emperor Michael III (r. 842–867) deposed Patriarch Ignatius of Constantinople, and Photios, still a layman, was appointed in his place. Amid power struggles between the pope and the Byzantine emperor, Ignatius was reinstated. Photios resumed the position when Ignatius died (877), by order of the Byzantine emperor. The new pope, John VIII, approved Photios's reinstatement. Catholics regard a Fourth Council of Constantinople (Roman Catholic) as anathematizing Photios as legitimate. Eastern Orthodox regard a second council named the Fourth Council of Constantinople (Eastern Orthodox), reversing the first, as legitimate. The contested Ecumenical Councils mark the end of unity represented by the first seven Ecumenical Councils.
Athanasius the Athonite (Greek: Αθανάσιος ο Αθωνίτης), also called Athanasios of Trebizond (c. 920 – c. 1003), was a Byzantine monk who founded the monastic community on Mount Athos, which has since evolved into the greatest centre of Eastern Orthodox monasticism.
Symeon the New Theologian (also sometimes referred to as Simeon the New Theologian), (Greek: Συμεὼν ὁ Νέος Θεολόγος; 949–1022 AD) was a Byzantine Christian monk and poet who was the last of three saints canonized by the Eastern Orthodox church and given the title of "Theologian" (along with John the Apostle and Gregory of Nazianzus). "Theologian" was not applied to Symeon in the modern academic sense of theological study, but to recognize someone who spoke from personal experience of the vision of God. One of his principal teachings was that humans could and should experience theoria (literally "contemplation," or direct experience of God).
Symeon the Metaphrast (also referred to as Simon or Symeon the Logothete, in classicizing usage Symeon Metaphrastes) was the author of the 10 volume medieval Greek menologion, or collection of saint's lives. He lived in the second half of the 10th century. About his life we know only very few details.
The Eastern Orthodox Church honors him as a saint, with his feast day falling on November 9. A service composed in his honour is found in the Menaion. Also numerous prayers which have been attributed to him are found in various Orthodox liturgical books.
Gregory Palamas (Γρηγόριος Παλαμάς) (1296–1359) was a monk of Mount Athos in Greece and later the Archbishop of Thessaloniki known as a preeminent theologian of Hesychasm. The teachings embodied in his writings defending Hesychasm against the attack of Barlaam are sometimes referred to as Palamism, his followers as Palamites. Palamas is venerated as a Saint in the Eastern Orthodox Church. Some of his writings are collected in the Philokalia. The second Sunday of the Great Lent is called the Sunday of Gregory Palamas in those Churches that commemorate him according to the Byzantine Rite. He also has a feast day on November 14.
Nicholas Cabasilas (Greek: Νικόλαος Καβάσιλας; born 1319/1323 in Thessalonica; died 1392) was a Byzantine mystic and theological writer.
Cabasilas is a saint within the Orthodox Church. His feast day is June 20. Interestingly enough, the Roman Catholic Church uses extracts from his Life in Christ as readings in the Liturgy of the Hours.
Mark of Ephesus (born Manuel Eugenikos) was a hesychast theologian of the late Palaiologan period who became famous for his rejection of the Council of Ferrara-Florence (1438-1439). As a monk in Constantinople, Mark was a prolific hymnographer and a devoted Palamite. As a theologian and a scholar, he was instrumental in the preparations for the Council of Ferrara-Florence, and as Metropolitan of Ephesus and delegate for the Patriarch of Alexandria, he was one of the most important voices at the synod. After renouncing the Council as a lost cause, Mark became the leader of the Orthodox opposition to the Union of Florence, thus sealing his reputation as a defender of Orthodoxy and pillar of the Church.
Saint Innocent of Alaska (August 26, 1797 – March 31, 1879, O.S.), also known as Saint Innocent Metropolitan of Moscow (Russian Святитель Иннокентий Митрополит Московский) was a Russian Orthodox missionary priest, then the first Orthodox bishop and archbishop in the Americas, and finally the Metropolitan of Moscow and all Russia. Remembered for his missionary work, scholarship, and leadership in Alaska and the Russian Far East during the 19th century, he is known for his abilities as a scholar, linguist, and administrator, as well as his great zeal for his work.
St. Theophan the Recluse, also known as Theophan Zatvornik or Theophanes the Recluse (Russian: Феофан Затворник), (January 10, 1815 – January 6, 1894) is a well-known saint in the Russian Orthodox Church. He was born George Vasilievich Govorov, in the village of Chernavsk. His father was a Russian Orthodox priest. He was educated in the seminaries at Livny, Orel and Kiev. In 1841 he was ordained, became a monk, and adopted the name Theophan. He later became the Bishop of Tambov.
He is especially well-known today through the many books he wrote concerning the spiritual life, especially on the subjects of the Christian life and the training of youth in the faith. He also played an important role in translating the Philokalia from Church Slavonic into Russian. The Philokalia is a classic of Orthodox spirituality, composed of the collected works of a number of church fathers which were edited and placed in a four volume set in the 17th and 18th centuries. A persistent theme is developing an interior life of continuous prayer, learning to "pray without ceasing" as St. Paul teaches in his first letter to the Thessalonians.
Saint John of Kronstadt (Russian: Иоанн Кронштадтский) (19 October 1829, Sura, Arkhangelsk–20 December 1908, Kronstadt) was a Russian Orthodox Christian presbyter and a member of the synod of the Russian Orthodox Church. He was a striking, unconventional personality, deeply pious and immensely energetic. He was one of the most internationally famous and beloved Orthodox Christian leaders of his time.
Seraphim Rose (born Eugene Dennis Rose; August 13, 1934 – September 2, 1982), also known as Seraphim of Platina, was an American hieromonk of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia who co-founded the St. Herman of Alaska Monastery in Platina, California. He translated Orthodox Christian texts and authored several polemical works. His writings have been credited with helping to spread Orthodox Christianity throughout the West; his popularity equally extended to Russia itself, where his works were secretly reproduced and distributed by samizdat during the Communist era, remaining popular today.