Sunday 2 September 2018

Council of Nicaea

The First Council of Nicaea was a council of Christian bishops convened in the Bithynian city of Nicaea (now İznik, Bursa province, Turkey) by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in AD 325. Constantine I organized the council along the lines of the Roman Senate and presided over it, but did not cast any official vote.

First Council of Nicaea, 325 AD

Council of Nicaea was the first effort to attain consensus in the Church through an assembly representing all of Christendom. Hosius of Corduba, who was probably one of the Papal legates, may have presided over its deliberations.

Eastern Orthodox icon depicting the First Council of Nicaea

It resulted in the first uniform Christian doctrine, called the Nicene Creed. With the creation of the creed, a precedent was established for subsequent local and regional councils of Bishops (Synods) to create statements of belief and canons of doctrinal orthodoxy—the intent being to define unity of beliefs for the whole of Christendom. The council was recommended by a synod led by Hosius of Córdoba in the Eastertide of 325.

An icon of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ,
 which is celebrated throughout Eastertide
In the summer of 325, the bishops of all provinces were summoned to Nicaea, a place reasonably accessible to many delegates, particularly those of Asia Minor, Georgia, Armenia, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Greece, and Thrace. This was the first general council in the history of the Church summoned by emperor Constantine I.

Constantine the Great

Constantine I had invited around 1,800 bishops of the Christian church in Council of Nicaea within the Roman Empire even from Britain, but a smaller and unknown number attended. Eusebius of Caesarea counted more than 250, Athanasius of Alexandria counted 318, and Eustathius of Antioch estimated "about 270" (all three were present at the council).
Eusebius of Caesarea

The council was formally opened 20 May, in the central structure of the imperial palace at Nicaea, with preliminary discussions of the Arian question. Emperor Constantine arrived nearly a month later on 14 June. One of the projects undertaken by the Council was the creation of a Creed, a declaration and summary of the Christian faith.

A fresco depicting the First Council of Nicaea

The long-term effects of the Council of Nicaea were significant. For the first time, representatives of many of the bishops of the Church convened to agree on a doctrinal statement. Also for the first time, the Emperor played a role, by calling together the bishops under his authority, and using the power of the state to give the council's orders effect. 

The Council of Nicaea

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