Events in Christian History

The true orthodox way of thought has always been historical, has always included the past, but has never been enslaved by it. . . for the strength of the Church is not in the past, present, or future, but in Christ.
-Fr. Alexander Schmemann

Apostolic era (33-100)

  • 33 The Holy Spirit descends on the day of Pentecost.
  • 34 St. Peter founds the See of Antioch.
  • 49 Apostolic Council of Jerusalem rules that Gentiles should not be restrained to Jewish customs and observances.
  • 50 The Apostle Matthew finishes the Gospel of Matthew in Aramaic.
  • 62 Martyrdom of Apostle James the Just, the Lord’s brother and bishop of Jerusalem.
  • 64-67 Persecution of Christians by Emperor Nero.
  • 64 Martyrdom of the Apostle Paul in Rome.
  • 67 Martyrdom of the Apostle Peter in Rome; Apostle Linus elected first bishop of Rome.
  • 69 St. Ignatius of Antioch consecrated to the episcopacy in Antioch.
  • 70 Apostle Mark writes his Gospel; the Temple in Jerusalem is destroyed by the Romans; expulsion of the Christians from the synagogues.
  • 71 Apostle Mark introduces Christianity to Egypt.
  • 80 Gospel of Luke written by the Apostle Luke; Jewish historian (and former general) Josephus writes the Antiquities.
  • 85 Acts of the Apostles is composed by the Apostle Luke.
  • 95 Apostle John writes the Book of Revelation.
  • 96-98 Persecution of Christians under Emperor Domitian.
  • 96 Gospel of John written by that apostle as a supplement and further theological illumination of the Synoptic Gospels.
  • 100 Death of the Apostle John the Theologian.

Ante-Nicene era (100-325)

  • 107 Martyrdom of Ignatius of Antioch.
  • 130 Conversion of Justin Martyr.
  • 150 St. Justin Martyr describes the Divine Liturgy.
  • 155 Martyrdom of Polycarp of Smyrna.
  • 165 Martyrdom of Justin.
  • 200 Martyrdom of St. Irenaeus of Lyons.
  • 246 Paul of Thebes retreats to the Egyptian desert and becomes the first to lead a reclusive life of prayer and fasting.
  • 249-251 Persecution under the Emperor Decius.
  • 251-253 Persecution under Emperor Gaius.
  • 253-260 Persecution under Emperor Valerian.
  • 284 Diocletian ascends the Roman imperial throne, and begins the most severe persecution against the Christians. During his reign, an estimated one million martyrs are slain for Christ.
  • 285 St. Anthony the Great flees to the desert. Through prayer, fasting, labors and love he reaches the state of a “perfect man”. Many gather around him, emulating this new monastic life.
  • 301 St. Gregory the Illuminator converts King Tiridates I of Armenia to the Christian faith.
  • 304 Alban, protomartyr of Britain, killed by Roman authorities.
  • 310 Armenia becomes the first Christian nation.
  • 312 Conversion of Constantine the Great, who defeats Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge and becomes Emperor of the West.
  • 313 The Edict of Milan is issued by St. Constantine the Great and his co-emperor Licinius, officially declaring religious freedom in the Roman Empire and specifically naming toleration for Christianity.
  • 318 St. Pachomius the Great, a disciple of Anthony the Great, organizes a community of ascetics at Tabennis in Egypt, founding cenobitic monasticism.
  • 323 Constantine the Great builds a church on the site of the martyrdom of St. Peter in Rome.

Nicene era (325-451)

  • 325 First Ecumenical Council held in Nicea,
    condemning Arianism, setting the Paschalion, and issuing the first version of the Nicene Creed.
  • 326 Discovery of the True Cross by the Empress St. Helena.
  • 326 King Miraeus of Georgia becomes Christian.
  • 328 Athanasius the Great becomes bishop of Alexandria.
  • 329 St. Athanasius ordains St. Frumentius (Abba Selama) to the priesthood and commissions him to apostolic work in Ethiopia.
  • 330 Amoun and Macarius the Great found monasteries in the Egyptian desert.
  • 336 St Athanasius the Great of Alexandria goes into exile in Treves until 338. He told the Europeans about the rule of St Pachomius the Great, thus awakening interest in monasticism in Europe.
  • 348 Death of St. Pachomius the Great.
  • 350 St. Ninian establishes the church Candida Casa at Whithorn in Galloway, Scotland, beginning the missionary effort to the Picts.
  • 356 Death of St. Anthony the Great.
  • 358 Basil the Great founds the monastery of Annesos in Pontus, the model for Eastern monasticism.
  • 360 St. Martin of Tours founds first French monastery at Liguge.
  • 367 St. Athanasius of Alexandria writes his Paschal letter, listing for the first time the canon of the New Testament of the Holy Scriptures.
  • 373 Death of St Athanasius the Great, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria.
  • 374 Election of Ambrose to the episcopacy of Milan.
  • 375 St. Basil the Great writes On the Holy Spirit, confirming the divinity of the Holy Spirit.
  • 380 Christianity established as the official faith of the Roman Empire by Emperor St. Theodosius the Great.
  • 381 Second Ecumenical Council held in Constantinople,
    condemning Macedonianism, Pneumatomachianism and Appollinarianism, declaring the divinity of the Holy Spirit, confirming the previous Ecumenical Council, and completing the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed.
  • 398 St. John Chrysostom becomes Archbishop of Constantinople.
  • 400 Translation of the Holy Scriptures into Latin as the Vulgate by St. Jerome.
  • 407 Death of John Chrysostom in exile.
  • 412 St Cyril succeeds his uncle Theophilus as Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria.
  • 431 Third Ecumenical Council held in Ephesus,
    condemning Nestorianism and Pelagianism, confirming the use of the term Theotokos to refer to the Virgin Mary; the council also grants autocephaly to the Church of Cyprus; Palladius is sent by the Pope of Rome as a missionary bishop to Ireland.
  • 433 The Formulary of Peace completes the work of the Third Ecumenical Council by reconciling Cyril of Alexandria with John of Antioch.
  • 444 Death of St Cyril, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria.
  • 450 First monasteries established in Wales.

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.
  • 490 St. Brigid founds the monastery of Kildare in Ireland.
  • 533 Foundation of the Diocese of Selefkia in Central Africa by the Emperor Justinian.
  • 537 Construction of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople begun by Emperor St. Justinian the Great.
  • 553 Fifth Ecumenical Council held in Constantinople
    in an attempt to reconcile the Chalcedonians with the non-Chalcedonians— the Three Chapters of Theodore of Mopsuestia, Theodoret of Cyrrhus, and Ibas of Edessa are condemned for their pro-Nestorian nature, and Origen and his writings are also condemned.
  • 563 Consecration of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople; St. Columba arrives on Iona and establishes his monastery there.
  • 662 Death of St Maximus the Confessor.
  • 668 St. Theodore of Tarsus is appointed as archbishop of Canterbury.
  • 680-681 Sixth Ecumenical Council is held in Constantinople,
    condemning Monothelitism and affirming the Christology of St. Maximus the Confessor, affirming that Christ has both a natural (human) will and a divine will. Patriarch Sergius of Constantinople and Pope Honorius of Rome are both explicitly anathematized for their support of the Monothelite heresy.
  • 685 First monastics come to Mount Athos.
  • 780 Death of St John of Damascus.
  • 787 Seventh Ecumenical Council is held in Nicea,
    condemning Iconoclasm and affirming the veneration of the holy icons, declaring that worship is due to God alone, and that the honor paid to icons passes to its prototype.
  • 826 St. Ansgar arrives in Denmark and begins preaching; King Harald Klak of Denmark converts to Christianity.
  • 836 Death of St Theodore the Studite.
  • 843 The Triumph of Orthodoxy occurs on the first Sunday of Great Lent, restoring the icons to the churches.

Late Byzantine era (843-1453)

  • 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.
  • 864 Prince Boris of Bulgaria is baptized.
  • 877 Death of St. Ignatius I of Constantinople, who appoints St. Photius to succeed him.
  • 885 Death of St Methodius, apostle to the Slavs.
  • 911 Russian envoys visit Constantinople to ratify a treaty, sent by Oleg, Grand Prince of Rus’.
  • 957 St Olga is baptised in Constantinople.
  • 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.
  • 1015 Death of St Vladimir of Kiev, Prince of Rus’, apostle of the Russians and Ruthenians.
  • 1022 Death of St Simeon the New Theologian.
  • 1051 Monastery of the Kiev Caves founded.
  • 1054 Relations between the Church of East and West Rome become forever and tragically divided as the Church of West Rome separates herself due to ecclesiastical and theological disagreements to that which has been preserved through collegiate and ecumenical ties. Prominent among these were the issues of “filioque”, whether leavened or unleavened bread should be used in the Eucharist, the Western Pope’s claim to universal jurisdiction, and the place of Constantinople in relation to the Pentarchy.
  • 1088 Founding of monastery of St. John the Theologian on Patmos.
  • 1235 Death of St Sava of Serbia.
  • 1359 Death of St Gregory Palamas, Athonite monk and Archbishop of Thessalonica.
  • 1383 St Stephen of Perm, missionary to the Zyrians, consecrated bishop.
  • 1453 Constantinople falls to the invasion of the Ottoman Turks. End of the Roman Empire in the East.

Post-Imperial era (1453-1821)

  • 1455 Gutenberg makes the first printed Bible.
  • 1517 St Maximus the Greek invited to Russia to translate the Greek service books and correct the Russian ones.
  • 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.
  • 1552 Death of St Basil the blessed, Fool for Christ, critic of Ivan IV Grozny, for whom St Basil’s Cathedral in Red Square is named.
  • 1569 Martyrdom of St Philip, Metropolitan of Moscow, at the hands of Ivan IV Grozny.
  • 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.”
  • 1685 Orthodoxy introduced in Beijing, China by the Church of Russia.
  • 1767 A community of Orthodox Greeks establishes itself in New Smyrna, Florida.
  • 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.

Modern era (1821-present)

  • 1864 First Orthodox parish established on American soil in New Orleans, Louisiana, by Greeks.
  • 1871 Nikolai Kasatkin establishes Orthodox mission in Japan.
  • 1879 Church of Constantinople recognizes the autocephaly of the Church of Serbia.
  • 1885 Church of Constantinople recognizes the autocephaly of the Church of Romania.
  • 1899 Restoration of Arabs to the Patriarchal throne of Antioch.
  • 1918 The Bolshevik Revolution throws the Church of Russia into chaos, effectively stranding the fledgling Orthodox mission in America; St. Nicholas Romanov, Tsar of Russia is martyred together with his wife St. Alexandra and children.
  • 1923 Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia granted autonomy by the Church of Constantinople.
  • 1924 Church of Constantinople recognizes the autocephaly of the Church of Poland.
  • 1925 Church of Romania becomes a patriarchate.
  • 1937 Church of Constantinople recognizes the autocephaly of the Church of Albania.
  • 1938 St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary (Crestwood, New York) and St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary (South Canaan, Pennsylvania) founded.
  • 1943 Church of Russia recognizes the autocephaly of the Church of Georgia.
  • 1957 Church of Russia grants autonomy to the Church of China.
  • 1989 Church of Constantinople recognizes the autocephaly of the Church of Georgia.