Timeline of Church History (Modern Era (1821-1917))
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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.
Modern era (1821-1917)
- 1821 Metr. Germanos of Patra declares Greek independence on Day of Annunciation (March 25), also Kyriopascha; martyrdom of Patr. Gregory V of Constantinople, Abp. Kyprianos of Cyprus, and Abp. Gerasimos of Crete in retaliation.
- 1823 Icon of Panagia Evangelistria found on Tinos, led by a vision from Pelagia of Tinos, becoming the most venerated pilgrimage item in Greece, at the Church of Evangelistria.
- 1825 Russia and Britain establish Alaska/Canada boundary.
- 1829 Treaty of Adrianople ends Greek War of Independence, culminating in the creation of the modern Greek state.
- ca. 1830 Slavophile movement begins in Russia.
- 1831 Return of 3,000,000 Uniates to the Orthodox Church at Vilnius in 1831.
- 1832 Church of Serbia becomes de facto autocephalous.
- 1833 Church of Greece declares autocephaly, making it independent of the Constantinople; death of Seraphim of Sarov.
- 1835 On February 2 the Ecumenical Patriarch Constantius II of Constantinople (1834-35) celebrating with 12 bishops and an enormous flood of the faithful, consecrated the rebuilt Church of the Life-Giving Font dedicating it to the Most Holy Theotokos.
- 1838 Oxford theologian Sir William Palmer was the principal originator of the heretical Branch Theory, in his two-volume Treatise on the Church of Christ.
- 1839 Synod of Polotsk abolishes Union of Brest-Litovsk in all areas under Russian rule as Greek Catholic dioceses in Lithuania and Belarus re-enter the Orthodox Church (with the exception of the eparchy of Chelm, in Polish territory, which was itself integrated into the Russian Orthodox Church in 1875).
- 1840s Correspondence of Anglican William Palmer with Alexei Khomakiov, and Philaret of Moscow towards establishment of Western Rite church in England.
- ca.1840s Emergence of the Neo-Byzantine architectural revival style in the Russian Empire and Western Europe.
- 1843-46 Massacre of over 10,000 Assyrian Christians (Nestorian, Jacobite, Chaldean) in Tiyare and Hakkari, near Nineveh in Kurdistan, by Beder Khan-bey.
- 1847 Restoration of Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem by Pope Pius IX; the first Russian Ecclesiastical Mission was sent to Jerusalem.
- 1848 Encyclical of the Eastern Patriarchs sent by the primates and synods of the four ancient patriarchates of the Orthodox Church, condemning the Filioque as heresy, declaring the Roman Catholic Church to be heretical, schismatic, and in apostasy, repudiating Ultramontanism and referring to the Photian Council of 879-880 as the "Eighth Ecumenical Council."
- 1848-1920 Patriarchate of Karlovci.
- 1850 Church of Constantinople recognizes autocephaly of Church of Greece.
- 1851 Translation into English of Septuagint by Lancelot C. L. Brenton; Ottoman Empire recognizes France as supreme Christian authority in Holy Land and grants it possession of the Church of the Nativity.
- 1852 Ottoman Empire makes division of Church of the Holy Sepulchre permanent.
- 1852-72 Tregelles' critical Greek text of the New Testament.
- 1853-56 Crimean War fought between Russia and the Ottoman Empire together with Britain and France, beginning over which church would be recognized as the "sovereign authority" of the Christian faith in the Holy Land.
- 1854 Immaculate Conception declared dogma by Roman Catholic Church.
- 1855 Death of Søren Kierkegaard, founder of Christian existentialism.
- 1856 Pressed by the European powers, the Ottoman Sultan signed the Hatti-Humayun reform edict issued after the Crimean War, providing for the re-organization of the millet system, allowing any citizen of the Ottoman Empire to change their creed and be Christian again.
- 1857 The Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem was officially inaugurated with the recognition of the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire.
- 1858 The Russian Empire bought the Russian Compound district in central Jerusalem (outside the walls), to offer Russian pilgrims spiritual supervision, provide assistance, and sponsor charitable and educational work among the Orthodox Arab population of Palestine and Syria.
- 1859 Constantin von Tischendorf discovers Codex Sinaiticus at St. Catherine's Monastery; Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection published; Christian quarter of Damascus sacked by a Muslim mob also involving Turkish troops.
- 1860 Death of Alexei Khomiakov, co-founder of the Slavophile movement.
- 1864 First Orthodox parish established on American soil in New Orleans, Louisiana, by Greeks; death of Jacob Netsvetov; Pope Pius IX presented his Syllabus of Errors.
- 1865 Church of Romania declares its independence from the Church of Constantinople.
- 1867 Sale of Alaska to United States; death of Ignatius Brianchaninov.
- 1869 Celebration of first miracle of the Icon of the Theotokos at Chernigov-Gethsemane; Russian synod authorizes corrected text of Western Rite liturgy and Benedictine offices.
- 1870 Papal Infallibility declared Roman Catholic dogma necessary for salvation by First Vatican Council; Papal States cease to exist; Old Catholic schism occurs; Old Catholics openly courted by Russian church in France and Germany.
- 1871 Nikolai Kasatkin establishes Orthodox mission in Japan.
- 1871-78 German Kulturkampf against Roman Catholicism.
- 1872 Council in Jerusalem declares phyletism to be heresy; Church of Bulgaria gains de facto autocephaly by a decree of the Sultan; the Holy Trinity Cathedral was built as the center piece of the Russian Compound in Jerusalem, backed by the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society based in St. Petersburg and designed by Russian architect Martin Ivanovich Eppinger in the Neo-Byzantine style.
- 1873 Philotheos Bryennios discovers the Didache in manuscript with copies of several early Church documents.
- 1875 Uniate diocese of Chelm in Poland incorporated into Russian Orthodox Church under Alexander II, with all of the local Uniates converted to Orthodoxy.
- 1876 Theophan the Recluse begins issuing a translation of the Philokalia in Russian.
- 1877 Death of Arsenios of Paros.
- 1877-1895 The classic 3-Volume Edition of the Corpus Iuris Civilis (Code of Justinian) is published by Theodorus Mommsen, Paulus Krueger, Rudolf Schoell, & Wilhelm Kroll.
- 1879 Church of Constantinople recognizes autocephaly of Church of Serbia; death of Innocent of Alaska; Joseph Julian Overbeck journeys to Constantinople to request approval from patriarch for use of Roman liturgy and Benedictine offices.
- 1881 Wave of anti-Jewish pogroms in Russia causes mass migration of Jews (2.5 million Jews settle in the United States, thousands settle in Palestine).
- 1882 Synod of Constantinople gives conditional approval to use of Roman liturgy and Benedictine offices; Nihilist philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche declares “God is dead”; Mitrophan Ji becomes the first Chinese ordained a priest in the Church of China.
- 1884 The Way of a Pilgrim published in Kazan; international Anglican monastic Order of the Holy Cross is founded, following the Rule of St. Benedict, best known for publishing the Saint Augustine's Prayer Book in 1947.
- 1885 Church of Constantinople recognizes autocephaly of Church of Romania; English Revised Version published; Archbishop of Canterbury officially removes all of Apocrypha from King James Bible.
- 1886 Church of Maria Magdalene built on slope of Mount of Olives, in the Garden of Gethsemane in Jerusalem by Tsar Alexander III.
- 1888 Typikon of the Great Church of Christ is published with revised church services, prepared by Protopsaltis George Violakis, issued with the approval and blessing of the Ecumenical Patriarch, while the Sabaite (monastic) Typikon continues to be used in Russia.
- 1889 Federation of Old Catholic Churches, not in communion with Rome, at the Union of Utrecht.
- ca. 1890 Unseen Warfare further revised by Theophan the Recluse.
- 1890-1 Bp. Vladimir (Sokolovsky-Avtonomov) receives a parish of Swiss Old Catholics at Dyckesville, Wisconsin, as Western Rite parish.
- 1891 Death of Ambrose of Optina.
- 1892 Pastoral visit of Bp. Nicholas (Ziorov) to Western Rite parish in Wisconsin.
- 1894 Praeclara Gratulationis Publicae (on the Reunion of Christendom), an Encyclical Letter of Pope Leo XIII promulgated on June 20, called for the reunion of Eastern and Western churches into the "Unity of the Faith", while also condemning Freemasonry; criticized by Ecumenical Patriarch Anthimus VII in 1895.
- 1895 Reply of Synod of Constantinople to Pope Leo XIII.
- 1896 Pope Leo XIII issues the bull Apostolicae Curae which declares Anglican Orders "absolutely null and utterly void".
- 1896-1906 Oxyrhynchus papyri discovered in Egypt dating from the Ptolemaic and Roman periods, including portions of the New Testament.
- 1898 Last ethnically Greek patriarch of Antioch deposed; Western Rite diocese organized in Czechoslovakia by Church of Russia; Russian Church established a missionary station in Urmia, Iran, resulting in a group of Nestorians, headed by a bishop Yuhanna, being received into the communion of the Russian Orthodox Church. 29th May 1898, the foundations of the first Greek Orthodox Church on the Australian continent, the Holy Trinity, were laid in Sydney.
- 1899 Restoration of Arabs to the Patriarchal throne of Antioch.
- 1900 Martyrdom of Orthodox Christians in Chinese Boxer (Yihetuan Movement) Rebellion.
- 1901 "Evangelakia" riots in Athens Greece in November, over translations of New Testament into Demotic (modern) Greek, resulting in fall of both government and Metropolitan of Athens.
- 1903 Uncovering of the relics of Seraphim of Sarov.
- 1904 Ecumenical Patriarchate publishes the "Patriarchal" Text of the Greek New Testament, based on about twenty Byzantine manuscripts; petition to Russian synod by Abp. Tikhon (Belavin), Bp. Raphael (Hawaweeny), and Fr. John Kochurov to permit adaption of services taken from Anglican Book of Common Prayer for use by Orthodox people.
- 1904-1905 German scholar and sociologist Max Weber published The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, dealing with the Sociology of religion and stressing that particular characteristics of ascetic Protestantism (particularly Calvanism) influenced the development of capitalism, bureaucracy and the rational-legal state in the West.
- 1905 Death of Apostolos Makrakis; Tsar Nicholas Romanov's decree on freedom of religion results in about 250,000 Ruthenians returning to Uniatism; seat of Russian Orthodox bishop in America moved from San Francisco to New York, as immigration from Eastern Europe and the reception of ex-Uniates shifts the balance of Orthodox population to eastern North America.
- 1906 Rev. Henry Joy Fynes-Clinton (1875-1959) founds the Anglican and Eastern Churches Association, becomes General Secretary of the Association from 1906-1920.
- 1907 Archim. Eusebius Matthopoulos founds Zoe Brotherhood; Papal Bull Ea Semper issued, effectively subordinating Greek Catholic clergy in the United States to local Roman Catholic bishops; Commission on Anglican and Old Catholic Affairs of Russian synod reports in favor of adaptation of services from Book of Common Prayer and sets out criteria; ordination in Constantinople of first African-American Orthodox priest, the Very Rev. Fr. Raphael Morgan, Priest-Apostolic to America and the West Indies.
- 1908 Fr. Nikodemos Sarikas sent to Johannesburg, Transvaal, by Ecumenical Patriarchate as first Orthodox priest there, leaving after a short time for German East Africa (later Tanzania) because of the opposition of Johannesburg Greeks to mission among Africans.
- 1908 Death of John of Kronstadt.
- 1910 Edinburgh Missionary Conference is the formal beginning of the modern Protestant Christian ecumenical movement, a precursor to the World Council of Churches.
- 1912 Death of Nicholas of Japan; Kyriopascha occurs.
- 1913 In a decree on August 27 the Holy Synod of Russia declared the Onomatodoxy/Imiaslavie movement a heresy.
- 1914 Martyrdom of Fr. Maxim Sandovich, Protomartyr of the Lemko people; Christmas Truce between British and German troops stationed along the Western Front during Christmas 1914.
- 1915-1918 Armenian Genocide in Turkey.
- 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 done here will always be to some extent arbitrary, though it was attempted 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 or purely political events are mentioned for their importance in history related to Orthodoxy or for reference.
The following are published writings that provide an overview of Church history:
From an Orthodox perspective
- Schmemann, Alexander. The Historical Road of Eastern Orthodoxy.
- Ware, Timothy. The Orthodox Church: New Edition. (ISBN 0140146563)
From a Heterodox perspective
- Cairns, Earle E. Christianity Through the Centuries: A History of the Christian Church. (ISBN 0310208122)
- Collins, Michael, ed.; Price, Matthew Arlen. Story of Christianity: A Celebration of 2000 Years of Faith. (ISBN 0789446057)
- Gonzalez, Justo L. A History of Christian Thought, Volume 3: From the Protestant Reformation to the Twentieth Century. (ISBN 0687171849)
- Gonzalez, Justo L. The Story of Christianity, Volume 2: Reformation to the Present Day. (ISBN 0060633166)
- Hastings, Adrian, ed. A World History of Christianity. (ISBN 0802848753)
- Jones, Timothy P. Christian History Made Easy. (ISBN 1890947105)
- Noll, Mark A. Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity. (ISBN 080106211X)
- Pelikan, Jaroslav. The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Volume 5: Christian Doctrine and Modern Culture (since 1700). (ISBN 0226653803)
- Schaff, Philip. History of the Christian Church. (ISBN 156563196X)
- Walton, Robert C. Chronological and Background Charts of Church History. (ISBN 0310362814)
- History of Orthodox Christianity (QuickTime movies)
- Timeline of Patriarchal History. Order of St. Andrew the Apostle. Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. (Pop-up Video Presentation, in Sections)