Robert of Molesme
Saint Robert of Molesme was an abbot, one of the founders of the Cistercian Order and is honored as a Christian saint. Robert was born about 1029, a nobleman from Champagne, a younger son, who entered the Benedictine abbey of Montier-la-Celle near Troyes at age fifteen and rose to the office of prior, he was made the abbot of Saint Michel-de-Tonnerre around the year 1070, but he soon discovered that the monks were quarrelsome and disobedient, so he returned to Montier-la-Celle. Meanwhile, two hermits from a group of monks that had settled at Collan went to Rome and asked Pope Gregory VII to give them Robert as their superior; the pope granted their request, as of 1074 Robert served as their leader. Soon after, Robert moved the small community to Molesme in the valley of Langres in Burgundy; the establishment consisted of only huts made of branches surrounding a chapel in the forest, dedicated to the Holy Trinity. Molesme Abbey became known for its piety and sanctity, Robert's reputation as a saintly man grew.
It is because of this reputation. He lived with Robert's community for a time before going on to found the Grande Chartreuse, the first Carthusian monastery. In 1098 there were 35 dependent priories of Molesme, other annexes and some priories of nuns. Donors from the surrounding area vied with one another in helping the monks. Benefactors sent their children to the abbey for education and other non-monastic activities began to dominate daily life; the vast land holdings they had acquired required a large number of employees. As the community grew wealthy, it began to attract men seeking entry for the wrong reasons, they caused a division among the brothers. Robert twice was ordered back by the Pope. In 1098, Robert and twenty-one of his monks left Molesme with the intention of never returning. Renaud, the viscount of Beaune, gave this group a desolate valley in a deep forest. Saints Stephen Harding and Alberic – two of Robert's monks from Molesme – were pivotal in founding the new house; the archbishop of Lyons, being persuaded that they could not subsist there without the endorsement of an influential churchman, wrote in their favour to Eudo, duke of Burgundy.
Eudo paid for the construction they had begun, helped the monks finance their operating expenses and gave them much land and cattle. The bishop of Challons elevated the new monastery to the canonical status of an abbey. In 1099, the monks of Molesme asked Robert to return and agreed to submit to his interpretation of the Rule of St. Benedict, he agreed and Molesme became a major center for the Benedictines under his tutelage. Albéric was made successor abbot with Stephen Harding as prior. Robert died on 17 April 1111. Pope Honorius III canonized him in 1222, his feast day in the Roman Catholic Church was at first observed on 17 April transferred to April 29, combined with the feast of Alberic and Stephen Harding and is observed in our day on 26 January. The Vie de saint Robert de Molesme was written by his immediate successor as abbot of Molesme; this article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Herbermann, Charles, ed.. "article name needed". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton
Manorialism was an essential element of feudal society. It was the organizing principle of rural economy that originated in the Roman villa system of the Late Roman Empire, was practiced in medieval western and parts of central Europe as well as China, it was replaced by the advent of a money-based market economy and new forms of agrarian contract. Manorialism was characterised by the vesting of legal and economic power in a Lord of the Manor, supported economically from his own direct landholding in a manor, from the obligatory contributions of a subject part of the peasant population under the jurisdiction of himself and his manorial court; these obligations could be payable in several ways, in labor, in kind, or, on rare occasions, in coin. In examining the origins of the monastic cloister, Walter Horn found that "as a manorial entity the Carolingian monastery... differed little from the fabric of a feudal estate, save that the corporate community of men for whose sustenance this organization was maintained consisted of monks who served God in chant and spent much of their time in reading and writing."Manorialism died and piecemeal, along with its most vivid feature in the landscape, the open field system.
It outlasted serfdom as it outlasted feudalism: "primarily an economic organization, it could maintain a warrior, but it could well maintain a capitalist landlord. It could be self-sufficient, yield produce for the market, or it could yield a money rent." The last feudal dues in France were abolished at the French Revolution. In parts of eastern Germany, the Rittergut manors of Junkers remained until World War II. In Quebec, the last feudal rents were paid in 1970 under the modified provisions of the Seigniorial Dues Abolition Act of 1935; the term is most used with reference to medieval Western Europe. Antecedents of the system can be traced to the rural economy of the Roman Empire. With a declining birthrate and population, labor was the key factor of production. Successive administrations tried to stabilise the imperial economy by freezing the social structure into place: sons were to succeed their fathers in their trade, councilors were forbidden to resign, coloni, the cultivators of land, were not to move from the land they were attached to.
The workers of the land were on their way to becoming serfs. Several factors conspired to merge the status of former slaves and former free farmers into a dependent class of such coloni: it was possible to be described as servus et colonus, "both slave and colonus". Laws of Constantine I around 325 both reinforced the semi-servile status of the coloni and limited their rights to sue in the courts; the legal status of adscripti, "bound to the soil", contrasted with barbarian foederati, who were permitted to settle within the imperial boundaries, remaining subject to their own traditional law. As the Germanic kingdoms succeeded Roman authority in the West in the fifth century, Roman landlords were simply replaced by Germanic ones, with little change to the underlying situation or displacement of populations; the process of rural self-sufficiency was given an abrupt boost in the eighth century, when normal trade in the Mediterranean Sea was disrupted. The thesis put forward by Henri Pirenne supposes that the Arab conquests forced the medieval economy into greater ruralization and gave rise to the classic feudal pattern of varying degrees of servile peasantry underpinning a hierarchy of localised power centers.
The word derives from traditional inherited divisions of the countryside, reassigned as local jurisdictions known as manors or seigneuries. The lord held a manorial court, governed by local custom. Not all territorial seigneurs were secular. By extension, the word manor is sometimes used in England to mean any home area or territory in which authority is held in a police or criminal context. In the generic plan of a medieval manor from Shepherd's Historical Atlas, the strips of individually worked land in the open field system are apparent. In this plan, the manor house is set apart from the village, but often the village grew up around the forecourt of the manor walled, while the manor lands stretched away outside, as still may be seen at Petworth House; as concerns for privacy increased in the 18th century, manor houses were located a farther distance from the village. For example, when a grand new house was required by the new owner of Harlaxton Manor, Lincolnshire, in the 1830s, the site of the existing manor house at the edge of its village was abandoned for a new one, isolated in its park, with the village out of view.
In an agrarian society, the conditions of land tenure underlie all economic factors. There were two legal systems of pre-manorial landholding. One, the most common, was the system of holding land "allodially" in full outright ownership; the other was a use of precaria or benefices. To these two systems, the Carolingian monarchs added a third, the aprisio, which linked manorialism with feudalism; the aprisio made its first appearance in Charlemagne's province of Septimania in the south of France, when Charlemagne had to settle the Visigothic refugees who had fled with his retreating forces after the failure of his Zaragoza expedition of 778. He solved this problem by allotting "desert" tracts of uncultivat
Burgundy is a historical territory and a former administrative region of France. It takes its name from the Burgundians, an East Germanic people who moved westwards beyond the Rhine during the late Roman period. "Burgundy" has referred to numerous political entities, including kingdoms and duchies spanning territory from the Mediterranean to the Low Countries. Since January 2016, the name Burgundy has referred to a specific part of the French administrative region of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, an entity comprising four departments: Côte-d'Or, Saône-et-Loire, Nièvre; the first recorded inhabitants of the area that became Burgundy were Celts, who were incorporated in the Roman Empire as Gallo-Romans. During the 4th century, the Burgundians, a Germanic people, who may have originated in Bornholm, settled in the western Alps, they founded the Kingdom of the Burgundians, conquered in the 6th century by another Germanic tribe, the Franks. Under Frankish dominion, the Kingdom of Burgundy continued for several centuries.
The region was divided between the Duchy of Burgundy and the Free County of Burgundy. The Duchy of Burgundy is the better-known of the two becoming the French province of Burgundy, while the County of Burgundy became the French province of Franche-Comté meaning free county. Burgundy's modern existence is rooted in the dissolution of the Frankish Empire. In the 880s, there were four Burgundies, which were the Kingdom of Upper and Lower Burgundy, the duchy and the county. During the Middle Ages, Burgundy was home to some of the most important Western churches and monasteries, including those of Cluny, Cîteaux, Vézelay. Cluny, founded in 910, exerted a strong influence in Europe for centuries; the first Cistercian abbey was founded in 1098 in Cîteaux. Over the next century, hundreds of Cistercian abbeys were founded throughout Europe, in a large part due to the charisma and influence of Bernard of Clairvaux; the Abbey of Fontenay, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is today the best-preserved Cistercian abbey in Burgundy.
The Abbey of Vezelay a UNESCO site, is still a starting point for pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela. Cluny was totally destroyed during the French Revolution. During the Hundred Years' War, King John II of France gave the duchy to his youngest son, Philip the Bold; the duchy soon became a major rival to the crown. The court in Dijon outshone the French court both economically and culturally. In 1477, at the battle of Nancy during the Burgundian Wars, the last duke Charles the Bold was killed in battle, the Duchy itself was annexed by France and became a province; however the northern part of the empire was taken by the Austrian Habsburgs. With the French Revolution in the end of the 18th century, the administrative units of the provinces disappeared, but were reconstituted as regions during the Fifth Republic in the 1970s; the modern-day administrative region comprises most of the former duchy. The region of Burgundy is both larger than the old Duchy of Burgundy and smaller than the area ruled by the Dukes of Burgundy, from the modern Netherlands to the border of Auvergne.
Today, Burgundy is made up of the old provinces: Burgundy: Côte-d'Or, Saône-et-Loire, southern half of Yonne. This corresponds to the old duchy of Burgundy. However, the old county of Burgundy is not included inside the Burgundy region, but it makes up the Franche-Comté region. A small part of the duchy of Burgundy is now inside the Champagne-Ardenne region. Nivernais: now the department of Nièvre; the northern half of Yonne is a territory, not part of Burgundy, was a frontier between Champagne, Île-de-France, Orléanais, being part of each of these provinces at different times in history. The climate of this region is oceanic, with a continental influence; the regional council of Burgundy was the legislative assembly of the region, located in the capital city Dijon at 17 boulevard de la Trémouille until its merger to form the regional council of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté. Burgundy is one of France's main wine producing areas, it is well known for both its red and white wines made from Pinot noir and Chardonnay grapes although other grape varieties can be found, including Gamay, Pinot blanc, Sauvignon blanc.
The region is divided into the Côte-d'Or, where the most expensive and prized Burgundies are found, Beaujolais, the Côte Chalonnaise and Mâcon. The reputation and quality of the top wines, together with the fact that they are produced in small quantities, has led to high demand and high prices, with some Burgundies ranking among the most expensive wines in the world. With regard to cuisine, the region is famous for the Burgundian dishes coq au vin, beef bourguignon, époisses de Bourgogne cheese. Tourist sites of Burgundy include the Rock of Solutré, the Tournus cathedral, Brancion, the castles of Cormatin and Couches, the palace of the dukes of Burgundy in Dijon, the Pézanin Arboretum, Vézelay Abbey. Earlier, the southeastern part of Burgundy was industrial, with coal mines near Montceau-les-Mines and iron foundries and crystal works in Le Creusot; these industries declined in the second half of the twentieth century, Le Creusot has tried to reinvent itself as a tourist town. Lecomte, Bernard.
Burgundy, What a Story!. ISBN 978-2-902650-02-6. Davies, Norman. "Ch.3: Burgundia: Five, Six or Seven Kingdoms (c. 411-1
Christian monasticism is the devotional practice of individuals who live ascetic and cloistered lives that are dedicated to Christian worship. It began to develop early in the history of the Christian Church, modeled upon scriptural examples and ideals, including those in the Old Testament, but not mandated as an institution in the scriptures, it has come to be regulated by religious rules and, in modern times, the Canon law of the respective Christian denominations that have forms of monastic living. Those living the monastic life are known by the generic terms nuns; the word monk originated from the Greek monachos "monk", itself from monos meaning "alone". Monks did not live in monasteries at first, they began by living alone, as the word monos might suggest; as more people took on the lives of monks, living alone in the wilderness, they started to come together and model themselves after the original monks nearby. The monks formed communities to further their ability to observe an ascetic life.
According to Christianity historian Robert Louis Wilken, "By creating an alternate social structure within the Church they laid the foundations for one of the most enduring Christian institutions..." Monastics dwell in a monastery, whether they live there in community, or in seclusion. The basic idea of monasticism in all its varieties is seclusion or withdrawal from the world or society; the object of this is to achieve a life whose ideal is different from and at variance with that pursued by the majority of humanity, the method adopted, no matter what its precise details may be, is always self-abnegation or organized asceticism. Monastic life is distinct from the "religious orders" such as the friars, canons regular, clerks regular, the more recent religious congregations; the latter has some special work or aim, such as preaching, liberating captives, etc. which occupies a large place in their activities. While monks have undertaken labors of the most varied character, in every case this work is extrinsic to the essence of the monastic state.
Both ways of living out the Christian life are regulated by the respective church law of those Christian denominations that recognize it. Christian monastic life does not always involve communal living with like-minded Christians. Christian monasticism has varied in its external forms, broadly speaking, it has two main types the eremitical or secluded, the cenobitical or city life. St. Anthony the Abbot may be called St. Pachomius of the second; the monastic life is based on Jesus's amen to "be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect". This ideal called the state of perfection, can be seen, for example, in the Philokalia, a book of monastic writings, their manner of self-renunciation has three elements corresponding to the three evangelical counsels: poverty and obedience. Monks and friars are two distinct roles. In the thirteenth century "...new orders of friars were founded to teach the Christian faith," because monasteries had declined. First-century groups such as the Essenes and the Therapeutae followed lifestyles that could be seen as precursors to Christian monasticism.
Early Christian monasticism drew its inspiration from the examples of the Prophet Elijah and John the Baptist, who both lived alone in the desert, above all from the story of Jesus’ time in solitary struggle with Satan in the desert, before his public ministry. The Carmelites find inspiration in the Old Testament prophet Elijah. From the earliest times within the Christian Church, there were individual hermits who lived a life in isolation in imitation of Jesus's 40 days in the desert, they have left no confirmed only hints in the written record. Communities of virgins who had consecrated themselves to Christ are found at least as far back as the 2nd century. There were individual ascetics, known as the "devout", who lived not in the deserts but on the edge of inhabited places, still remaining in the world but practicing asceticism and striving for union with God. Eremitic monasticism, or solitary monasticism, is characterized by a complete withdrawal from society; the word ` eremitic' comes from the Greek word eremos.
This name was given because of St. Anthony of the Desert, or St. Anthony of Egypt, who left civilization behind to live on a solitary Egyptian mountain in the third century. Though he was not the first Christian hermit, he is recognized as such as he was the first known one. Paul the Hermit is the first Christian known to have been living as a monk. In the 3rd century, Anthony of Egypt lived as a hermit in the desert and gained followers who lived as hermits nearby but not in actual community with him; this type of monasticism is called eremitical or "hermit-like". An early form of "proto-monasticism" appeared as well in the 3rd century among Syriac Christians through the "Sons of the covenant" movement. Eastern Orthodoxy looks to Basil of Caesarea as a founding monastic legislator, as well to as the example of the Desert Fathers. Another option for becoming a solitary monastic was to become an anchoress; this began because there were women who wanted to live the solitary lifestyle but were not able to live alone in the wild.
Thus they would go to the Bishop for permission who would perform the rite of enclosure. After this was completed the anchoress would live alone in a room that had a window that opened
Odo of Cluny
Odo of Cluny was the second abbot of Cluny. He enacted various reforms in the Cluniac system of Italy, he is venerated as a saint by the Eastern Orthodox Churches. His feast day is 18 November. There is the Vita Odonis written by John of Salerno. Odo was born the son of Abbo, feudal lord of Deols, near Le Mans and his wife Arenberga. According to the Vita written by Odo's disciple John, the couple had long been childless, one Christmas-eve, Abbo prayed to Our Lady to obtain for him the gift of a son; when the child was born, his grateful father entrusted the boy to Saint Martin. Both his parents joined monasteries, his brother Bernard became a monk. While yet a child, Odo was sent first to the court of Count of Anjou. Odo developed a particular devotion to Mary, under the title “Mother of Mercy", an invocation by which he would address her throughout his life. In the 9th and 10th centuries, the tomb of St Martin of Tours was considered one of the holiest sites in western Christendom. At age 19 Odo was tonsured as a canon of the Church of St. Martin in Tours, where he spent six years studying classic authors, the Fathers of the Church and music.
Odo would say that the monks of the monastery of St. Martin of Tours had been spoiled by all the wealth and gifts brought by the pilgrims, had abandoned the Rule they were required to follow, he would tell his monks that the religious at Tours no longer attended nightly Lauds for fear of getting their fine shoes dirty. Odo's experience at Tours led him to embrace the monastic reform movement. In 901 he traveled to Paris where he spent four years completing a course of theological studies, including the study of philosophy under Remigius of Auxerre. Upon his return to Tours, Odo adopted a ascetic lifestyle. One day, in reading the rule of Saint Benedict, he was confounded to see how much his life fell short of the maxims there laid down, he determined to embrace a monastic state; the count of Anjou, his patron, refused to consent, Odo spent three years in a cell, with one companion, in the practice of penance and contemplation. At length, he resolved that no impediments should any longer hinder him from consecrating himself to God in the monastic state.
He resigned his canonry, secretly repaired to the monastery of Beaume, in the diocess of Besançon, where the Abbot Berno admitted him to the habit. He brought with him only his books. Around 909 Odo entered Baume, under the direction of Abbot Berno. Berno had joined the Benedictine Order at the Abbey of St. Martin in Autun, where Hugh of Anzy le Duc had introduced stricter adherence to the Rule of Saint Benedict. Berno was sent to the diocese of Besancon to restore the monastery at Baume-les-Messieurs, which had fallen into neglect. Bishop Turpio of Limoges ordained Odo to the priesthood, which Odo was obliged to accept under obedience. However, Odo was so depressed by this. Odo and the bishop talked about the evil condition of the church and all the abuses that were occurring, Odo spoke about the book of Jeremiah, the bishop was so impressed with his words, that he asked Odo to write it down. Odo said he could not do so without first getting permission from Berno, the bishop got Berno's permission, Odo wrote down his second book the Collationes.
Odo became superior of the abbey school at Baume. In 910 Abbot Berno left Baume to found Cluny Abbey, taking some of the monks with him, it is not clear at what point Odo left Baume for Cluny. Berno had control of six monasteries when he died in 927, three of which he gave to Wido and the other three he gave to Odo; the monks of Cluny elected Odo as abbot. The bishop threatened Odo with excommunication if he continued to refuse, thus Odo accepted the office. At Berno's death in 927, Odo became abbot of three monasteries: Deols and Cluny. Baume became the possession of Wido, the leader of the monks that persecuted Odo when he was with them at Baume. Following Berno's death, Wido attempted to gain control of Cluny by force, but Pope John X sent a letter to Rudolf, King of the Franks to intervene. Cluny was still not finished construction when Odo became abbot, he continued construction efforts but he ran into financial difficulties. Odo had a strong devotion to St Martin of Tours for most of his life.
He continued to pray to St Martin for the monastery's problems. One story recounts the one year, on the feast day of Martin of Tours, Odo saw an old man looking over the unfinished building; the old man went to Odo and said that he was St Martin and that if the monks continued to persevere that he would arrange it for the money they needed to come to them. A few days 3000 solidi of gold was brought as a gift to Cluny. Odo continued to uphold the Benedictine Rule at Cluny. Throughout Odo's rule of Cluny, the monastery continually enjoy protection from both Popes and temporal rulers, who guaranteed the monastery's independence. Many times during Odo's reign, Cluny's property was extended. During his tenure as abbot, the monastic church of SS. Peter and Paul was completed. Odo taught the monks that the lame were the porters of the gates of paradise. If a monk was rude or harsh to a beggar who came to the monastery gates, Odo would call the beggar back and tell him,'When he who has served thee
First Council of the Lateran
The Council of 1123 is reckoned in the series of Ecumenical councils by the Catholic Church. It was convoked by Pope Callixtus II in December, 1122 after the Concordat of Worms; the Council sought to: bring an end to the practice of the conferring of ecclesiastical benefices by people who were laymen. The council convoked by Callistus II was significant in size: three hundred bishops and more than six hundred abbots assembled at Rome in March, 1123. During the Council the decisions of the Concordat of Worms were ratified. Various other decisions were promulgated; the First Lateran Council was called by Pope Callistus II whose reign began February 1, 1119. It demarcated the end of the Investiture controversy which had begun before the time of Pope Gregory VII; the issues had been contentious and had continued with unabated bitterness for a century. Guido, as he was called before his elevation to the papacy, was the son of William I, Count of Burgundy, he was connected with nearly all the royal houses of Europe on both sides of his family.
He had been named the papal legate to France by Pope Paschal II. During Guido's tenure in this office, Paschal II yielded to the military threats of Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor, was induced to issue the Privilegium in the year 1111. By this document the Church gave up much of what had been claimed and subsequently attained by Pope Gregory VII and his Gregorian Reforms; these concessions did not bring the expected peace but were received with violent reactionary opposition everywhere. Europe had come to expect an end to the Investiture controversy, was not willing to return to the old days when the Holy Roman Emperor named the pope; the greatest resistance was seen in France and was led by Guido, who still held the office of the papal legate. He had been present in the Lateran Synod of 1112 which had proclaimed the Privilegium of 1111. On his return to France, Guido convoked an assembly of the Burgundian bishops at Vienne. There the lay investiture of the clergy was denounced as heretical. A sentence of excommunication was pronounced against Henry V, who had extorted through violence from the pope the concessions documented in the Privilegium.
The agreement was deemed to be opposed to the interests of the Church. The decrees from the assembly of Vienne which denounced the Privilegium were sent to Paschal II with a request for confirmation. Pope Paschal II confirmed these which were received in general terms, on October 20, 1112. Guido was created cardinal by Pope Paschal II; the latter did not seem to have been pleased with Guido’s bold and forward attacks upon Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor. On the death of Paschal II, January 21, 1118, Gelasius II was elected pope, he was seized by the Italian allies of Henry V, on his liberation by the populace fled to Gaeta, where he was crowned. Henry V received no satisfactory reply, he set about naming Burdinus, the archbishop of Braga, as his own pope. This pope assumed the name Gregory VIII, but came to be known as antipope Gregory VIII. Burdinus had been deposed and excommunicated because he had crowned Henry V and the Holy Roman Emperor in Rome in 1117; the excommunication of Bardinus was reiterated in Canon 6 of the document produced by Lateran I.
Gelasius II promptly excommunicated the antipope Gregory VIII and Henry V. Gelasius was forced to flee under duress from the army of Henry V, took refuge in the monastery of Cluny, where he died in January 1119. On the fourth day after the death of Gelasius II, February I, 1119, owing to the exertions of Cardinal Cuno, Guido was elected pope and assumed the title of Callistus II, he was crowned Pope at Vienne on February 9, 1119. Because of his close connection with the great royal families of Germany, France and Denmark, Callistus' papacy was received with much anticipation and celebration throughout Europe. There was a real hope throughout the Continent that the Investiture controversy might be settled once and for all. In the interest of conciliation the papal embassy was received by Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor at Strasburg. However, it soon became clear that Henry was not willing to concede his presumed and ancient right to name the pope and bishops within his kingdom. To demonstrate conciliation or because of political necessity, Henry withdrew his support for antipope Gregory VIII.
It was agreed that Pope Callistus would meet at Mousson. On June 8, 1119, Callistus held a synod at Toulouse to proclaim the disciplinary reforms he had worked to attain in the French Church. In October, 1119, he opened the council at Reims. Louis VI of France and most of the barons of France attended this council along with more than four hundred bishops and abbots; the Pope was to meet with Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor at Mousson. However, Henry showed up with an army of thirty thousand men. Callistus left Reims for Mousson, but upon learning of the warlike stance of Henry retreated back to Reims. Here, the Church dealt with issues of concubinage of the clergy, it was clear by now that Henry was in no mood to reconcile and a compromise with him was not to be had. The Conclave at Reims considered the situation and determined, as an entire Church, to formally excommunicate both Henry V and the antipope Gregory VIII; this occu
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Eastern Orthodox Church the Orthodox Catholic Church, is the second-largest Christian church, with 200–260 million members. It operates as a communion of autocephalous churches, each governed by its bishops in local synods, although 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 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, the Near East. Eastern Orthodox theology is based on the Nicene Creed; the church teaches that it is the One, Holy and Apostolic church established by Jesus Christ in his Great Commission, that its bishops are the successors of Christ's apostles. It maintains, its patriarchates, reminiscent of the pentarchy, autocephalous and autonomous churches reflect a variety of hierarchical organisation.
Of its innumerable sacred mysteries, it recognises seven major sacraments, of which the Eucharist is the principal one, celebrated liturgically in synaxis. The church teaches that through consecration invoked by a priest, the sacrificial bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ; the Virgin Mary is venerated in the Eastern Orthodox Church as the God-bearer, honoured in devotions. The Eastern Orthodox Church shared communion with the Roman Catholic Church until the East–West Schism in 1054, triggered by disputes over doctrine the authority of the Pope. Before the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451, the Oriental Orthodox churches shared in this communion, separating over differences in Christology; the majority of Eastern Orthodox Christians live in Southeast and Eastern Europe, Cyprus and other communities in the Caucasus region, communities in Siberia reaching the Russian Far East. There are smaller communities in the former Byzantine regions of the Eastern Mediterranean, in the Middle East where it is decreasing due to persecution.
There are many in other parts of the world, formed through diaspora and missionary activity. In keeping with the church's teaching on universality and with the Nicene Creed, Orthodox authorities such as Saint Raphael of Brooklyn have insisted that the full name of the church has always included the term "Catholic", as in "Holy Orthodox Catholic Apostolic Church"; the official name of the Eastern Orthodox Church is the "Orthodox Catholic Church". It is the name by which the church refers to itself in its liturgical or canonical texts, in official publications, in official contexts or administrative documents. Orthodox teachers refer to the church as Catholic; this name and longer variants containing "Catholic" are recognised and referenced in other books and publications by secular or non-Orthodox writers. The common name of the church, "Eastern Orthodox Church", is a shortened practicality that helps to avoid confusions in casual use. From ancient times through the first millennium, Greek was the most prevalent shared language in the demographic regions where the Byzantine Empire flourished, Greek, being the language in which the New Testament was written, was the primary liturgical language of the church.
For this reason, the eastern churches were sometimes identified as "Greek" before the Great Schism of 1054. After 1054, "Greek Orthodox" or "Greek Catholic" marked a church as being in communion with Constantinople, much as "Catholic" did for communion with Rome; this identification with Greek, became confusing with time. Missionaries brought Orthodoxy to many regions without ethnic Greeks, where the Greek language was not spoken. In addition, struggles between Rome and Constantinople to control parts of Southeastern Europe resulted in the conversion of some churches to Rome, which also used "Greek Catholic" to indicate their continued use of the Byzantine rites. Today, many of those same churches remain, while a large number of Orthodox are not of Greek national origin, do not use Greek as the language of worship. "Eastern" indicates the geographical element in the Church's origin and development, while "Orthodox" indicates the faith, as well as communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.
There are additional Christian churches in the east that are in communion with neither Rome nor Constantinople, who tend to be distinguished by the category named "Oriental Orthodox". While the church continues to call itself "Catholic", for reasons of universality, the common title of "Eastern Orthodox Church" avoids casual confusion with the Roman Catholic Church; the first known use of the phrase "the catholic Church" occurred in a letter written about 110 AD from one Greek church to another. The letter states: "Wheresoever the bishop shall appear, there let the people be as where Jesus may be, there is the universal Church." Thus from the beginning, Christians referred to the Church as the "One, Holy and Apostolic Church". The Eastern Orthodox Church claims that it is today the continuation and preservation of that same early Church. A number of other Christian churches make a similar claim: the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion, the Assyrian Church and the Oriental Orthodox.
In the Eastern Orthodox v