Christianity in Europe

Christianity is the largest religion in Europe. Christianity has been practiced in Europe since the first century, and a number of the Pauline Epistles were addressed to Christians living in Greece, as well as other parts of the Roman Empire.

According to a 2010 study by the Pew Research Center, 76.2% of the European population identified themselves as Christians.[2]

As 2010 Catholics were the largest Christian group in Europe, accounting for more than 48% of European Christians.[2] The second-largest Christian group in Europe were the Orthodox, who made up 32% of European Christians.[2] About 19% of European Christians were part of the Protestant tradition.[2] Russia is the largest Christian country in Europe by population, followed by Germany and Italy.[2]

Since at least the legalization of Christianity by the Roman Emperor Constantine in the 4th century, Europe has been an important centre of Christian culture, even though the religion was inherited from Africa and the Middle East and important Christian communities have thrived outside Europe such as Oriental Orthodoxy and the Church of the East since the time of Christ. Christian culture has been an important force in Western civilization, influencing the course of philosophy, art, and science.[3][4]

Europe has a rich Christian culture, especially as numerous saints, martyrs and popes were European themselves. All of the Roman Catholic popes from 741 to 2013 were from Europe.[5] Europe brought together many of the Christian holy sites and heritage and religious centers.[6]


Early history

Historians believe that St. Paul wrote his first epistle to the Christians of Thessaloniki (Thessalonians) around AD 52.[7] His Epistle to the Galatians was perhaps written even earlier, between AD 48 and 50.[8] Other epistles written by Paul were directed to Christians living in Greece (1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Philemon, Philippians, 2 Thessalonians) and Rome (Romans) between the 50s and 70s of the first century.

The Record of Saint Dorotheus Bishop of Tyre is that the Church at Tyre sent Saint Aristobulus (of the seventy) to Britain as bishop in AD 37. The Church seems to have been begun by him around the Bristol Channel area and 150 years later we have names of bishops recorded. By AD 550 there are recorded 120 bishops spread throughout the British Isles.

By 201 AD or earlier, under King Abgar the Great, Osroene became the first Christian state.[9][10] Armenia was the second state in the world to adopt Christianity as its state religion in AD 301. The oldest state-built church in the world, Etchmiadzin Cathedral, was built between AD 301-303. It is the seat of the Armenian Apostolic Church. The Roman Empire officially adopted Christianity in AD 380. During the Early Middle Ages, most of Europe underwent Christianization, a process essentially complete with the Baltic Christianization in the 15th century. The emergence of the notion of "Europe" or the "Western World" is intimately connected with the idea of "Christendom", especially since Christianity in the Middle East was marginalized by the rise of Islam from the 7th century, a constellation that led to the Crusades, which although unsuccessful militarily were an important step in the emergence of a religious identity of Europe. At all times, traditions of folk religion existed largely independent from official denominations or dogmatic theology.

From the Middle Ages onwards, as the centralized Roman power waned in southern and central Europe, the dominance of the Catholic Church was the only consistent force in Western Europe.[3]

Movements in art and philosophy, such as the Humanist movement of the Renaissance and the Scholastic movement of the High Middle Ages, were motivated by a drive to connect Catholicism with Greek thought imported by Christian pilgrims.[11][12][13]

East–West Schism and Protestant Reformation

Frauenkirche Dresden August 2004
Dresden Frauenkirche, Lutheran church of Dresden.

The East–West Schism of the 11th century and the Protestant Reformation of the 16th tore "Christendom" into hostile factions. Following the Age of Enlightenment of the 18th century, atheism and agnosticism became widespread in Western Europe. 19th-century Orientalism contributed to a certain popularity of Buddhism, and the 20th century brought increasing syncretism, New Age and various new religious movements divorcing spirituality from inherited traditions for many Europeans. The latest history brought increased secularisation, and religious pluralism.[14]

Cultural influences

Western culture, throughout most of its history, has been nearly equivalent to Christian culture, and many of the population of the Western hemisphere could broadly be described as cultural Christians. The notion of "Europe" and the "Western World" has been intimately connected with the concept of "Christianity and Christendom" many even attribute Christianity for being the link that created a unified European identity.[16]

Though Western culture contained several polytheistic religions during its early years under the Greek and Roman empires, as the centralized Roman power waned, the dominance of the Catholic Church was the only consistent force in Europe.[3] Until the Age of Enlightenment,[17] Christian culture guided the course of philosophy, literature, art, music and science.[3][18] Christian disciplines of the respective arts have subsequently developed into Christian philosophy, Christian art, Christian music, Christian literature etc.

Christianity had a significant impact on education and science and medicine as the church created the bases of the Western system of education,[19] and was the sponsor of founding universities in the Western world as the university is generally regarded as an institution that has its origin in the Medieval Christian setting.[20][21] Many clerics throughout history have made significant contributions to science and Jesuits in particular have made numerous significant contributions to the development of science.[22][23][24] The Civilizing influence of Christianity includes social welfare,[25] founding hospitals,[26] economics (as the Protestant work ethic),[27][28] politics,[29] architecture,[30] literature[31] and family life.[32]

Although the Protestant reformation was a religious movement, it also had a strong impact on all other aspects of European life: marriage and family, education, the humanities and sciences, the political and social order, the economy, and the arts.[33]


Christianity denominations of Europe
European countries by their largest Christian denomination.
     Catholicism with less than 50%
     Catholicism with more than 50%
     Protestantism with less than 50%
     Protestantism with more than 50%
     Orthodoxy with less than 50%
     Orthodoxy with more than 50%


  1. ^ Pew Forum, Religious Composition by Country, 2010-2050
  2. ^ a b c d e Christianity in Europe, including the Asian part of Russia, excluding the European part of Turkey
  3. ^ a b c d Koch, Carl (1994). The Catholic Church: Journey, Wisdom, and Mission. Early Middle Ages: St. Mary's Press. ISBN 978-0-88489-298-4.
  4. ^ Dawson, Christopher; Glenn Olsen (1961). Crisis in Western Education (reprint ed.). ISBN 978-0-8132-1683-6.
  5. ^ "After Benedict: who will be the next Pope?". 12 February 2013. Retrieved 2013-03-12.
  6. ^ Quoted in Robin Lane Fox, The Unauthorized Version, 1992:235.
  7. ^ Johannes Schade (2006), The Encyclopedia of World Religions, Foreign Media Booksll, ISBN 978-1-60136-000-7
  8. ^ Howard Clark Kee, Franklin W. Young (1957), Understanding the New Testament, Prentice Hall, ISBN 978-0-13-948266-3
  9. ^ Cheetham, Samuel (1905). A History of the Christian Church During the First Six Centuries. Macmillan and Co. p. 58.
  10. ^ Lockyer, Herbert (1988). All the Apostles of the Bible. Zondervan. p. 260. ISBN 0310280117.
  11. ^ Koch, Carl (1994). The Catholic Church: Journey, Wisdom, and Mission. High Middle Ages: St. Mary's Press. ISBN 9780884892984.
  12. ^ Koch, Carl (1994). The Catholic Church: Journey, Wisdom, and Mission. Renaissance: St. Mary's Press. ISBN 9780884892984.
  13. ^ Dawson, Christopher; Glenn Olsen (1961). Crisis in Western Education (reprint ed.). p. 25. ISBN 9780813216836.
  14. ^ Henkel, Reinhard and Hans Knippenberg "The Changing Religious Landscape of Europe" edited by Knippenberg published by Het Spinhuis, Amsterdam 2005 ISBN 90-5589-248-3, pages 7-9
  15. ^ Selected T.S. Eliot on Tradition, Poetry, Faith, and Culture
  16. ^ Dawson, Christopher; Glenn Olsen (1961). Crisis in Western Education (reprint ed.). p. 108. ISBN 9780813216836.
  17. ^ Koch, Carl (1994). The Catholic Church: Journey, Wisdom, and Mission. The Age of Enlightenment: St. Mary's Press. ISBN 978-0-88489-298-4.
  18. ^ Dawson, Christopher; Olsen, Glenn (1961). Crisis in Western Education (reprint ed.). ISBN 978-0-8132-1683-6.
  19. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica Forms of Christian education
  20. ^ Rüegg, Walter: "Foreword. The University as a European Institution", in: A History of the University in Europe. Vol. 1: Universities in the Middle Ages, Cambridge University Press, 1992, ISBN 0-521-36105-2, pp. XIX–XX
  21. ^ Verger, Jacques (1999). Culture, enseignement et société en Occident aux XIIe et XIIIe siècles (in French) (1st ed.). Presses universitaires de Rennes in Rennes. ISBN 286847344X. Retrieved 17 June 2014.
  22. ^ Susan Elizabeth Hough, Richter's Scale: Measure of an Earthquake, Measure of a Man, Princeton University Press, 2007, ISBN 0691128073, p. 68.
  23. ^ Woods 2005, p. 109.
  24. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica Jesuit
  25. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica Church and social welfare
  26. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica Care for the sick
  27. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica Property, poverty, and the poor,
  28. ^ Weber, Max (1905). The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.
  29. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica Church and state
  30. ^ Sir Banister Fletcher, History of Architecture on the Comparative Method.
  31. ^ Buringh, Eltjo; van Zanden, Jan Luiten: "Charting the 'Rise of the West': Manuscripts and Printed Books in Europe, A Long-Term Perspective from the Sixth through Eighteenth Centuries", The Journal of Economic History, Vol. 69, No. 2 (2009), pp. 409–445 (416, table 1)
  32. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica The tendency to spiritualize and individualize marriage
  33. ^ Karl Heussi, Kompendium der Kirchengeschichte, 11. Auflage (1956), Tübingen (Germany), pp. 317-319, 325-326
  34. ^ a b c d Predominant Religions
  35. ^ Summary of Religious Bodies in Albania Archived 2013-05-30 at the Wayback Machine (Source: World Christian Encyclopedia, 2001, Oxford University Press. Vol 1: p. 51)
  36. ^ ‹See Tfd›(in Dutch) roman catholic church 4 million members out of a total Dutch population of 16,5 million


  1. ^ As the denomination surpass Lutheranism in its country, since the early 2010s

See also

Bible translations into the languages of Europe

Since Peter Waldo's Franco-Provençal translation of the New Testament in the late 1170s, and Guyart des Moulins' Bible Historiale manuscripts of the Late Middle Ages, there have been innumerable vernacular translations of the scriptures on the European continent, greatly aided and catalysed by the development of the printing press, first invented by Johannes Gutenberg in the late 1430s.

Charta Oecumenica

The Charta Oecumenica (Latin for "Ecumenical Charter") is a joint document from the Conference of European Churches (CEC) and the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE, Consilium Conferentiarum Episcoporum Europae) which contains guidelines for increasing co-operation among the churches in Europe. It was signed by the presidents of the CEC and the CCEE on 22 April 2001 (Sunday after Easter) on the occasion of the European ecumenical meeting in Strasbourg.

Christianization of Iberia

The Christianization of Iberia (Georgian: ქართლის გაქრისტიანება kartlis gakrist'ianeba) refers to the spread of Christianity in the early 4th century by the sermon of Saint Nino in an ancient Georgian kingdom of Kartli, known as Iberia in classical antiquity, which resulted in declaring it as a state religion by then-pagan King Mirian III of Iberia. Per Sozomen, this led the king's "large and warlike barbarian nation to confess Christ and renounce the religion of their fathers". The king would become the main sponsor, architect, initiator and an organizing power of all building processes. Per Socrates of Constantinople, the "Iberians first embraced the Christian faith" alongside the Abyssinians, but most probably Kartli would become a second state after the Kingdom of Armenia, its longtime southern neighbor, that officially embraced the new religion. The Georgian and Armenian monarchs were among the first anywhere in the world to convert to a Christian faith. Prior to the Christological controversies their Caucasian Christianity was extraordinarily inclusive, pluralistic and flexible that only saw the rigid ecclesiological hierarchies established much later, particularly as "national" churches crystallized from the 6th century. Despite the tremendous diversity of the region, the Christianization process was a pan-regional and a cross-cultural phenomenon in the Caucasus. The Jews of Mtskheta, the royal capital of Kartli, that did play a significant role in the Christianization of the kingdom, would give a strong impetus to deepen the ties between the Georgian monarchy and the Holy Land leading to an increasing presence of Georgians in Palestine, as the activities of Peter the Iberian confirm, including the oldest attested Georgian Bir el Qutt inscriptions found in the Judaean Desert.Iberia was a factor in a competitive diplomacy of the Roman and Sasanian Empires, and on occasion became a major player in proxy wars between the two empires. Iberia, a Georgian monarchy, that shared many institutions and concepts with the neighboring Iranians, being physically connected to their "Iranian Commonwealth" since the Achaemenid period through commerce, war or marriage, its adoption of Christianity meant that King Mirian III made a cultural and historical choice with profound international implications, though his decision was never tied with the Roman diplomatic initiatives. Iberia, from its Hellenistic-era establishment to the conversion of the crown, embarked on a new multi-phased process that took centuries to complete, resulting in the emergence of a strong Georgian identity.

Christianization of Kievan Rus'

The Christianization of Kievan Rus' took place in several stages. In early 867, Patriarch Photius of Constantinople announced to other Orthodox patriarchs that the Rus', baptised by his bishop, took to Christianity with particular enthusiasm. Photius's attempts at Christianizing the country seem to have entailed no lasting consequences, since the Primary Chronicle and other Slavonic sources describe the tenth-century Rus' as firmly entrenched in paganism. Following the Primary Chronicle, the definitive Christianization of Kievan Rus' dates from the year 988 (the year is disputed), when Vladimir the Great was baptized in Chersonesus and proceeded to baptize his family and people in Kiev. The latter events are traditionally referred to as baptism of Rus' (Russian: Крещение Руси, Ukrainian: Хрещення Русі) in Russian and Ukrainian literature.

Churches European Rural Network

The Churches European Rural Network (CERN) is a network of individuals and representatives of churches in Europe advocating the concerns of rural and agricultural communities within the Church and beyond. CERN has a particular interest in promoting Christian pastoral care in rural communities. The impact of the reforms to the European Union's Common Agriculture Policy is of interest, especially in the effects that this would have on the lives of many farmers.

The network is mainly concentrated in Germany and the UK, but with other individuals also playing an active role. CERN also has close connections with the Conference of European Churches. The Secretary of CERN is the Reverend Rudi Job, a retired pastor living near Kaiserslautern, Germany. The name of the network in German is Europäischer Arbeitskreis für Landfragen.

Communion of Western Orthodox Churches

The Communion of Western Orthodox Churches (CWOC; French: Communion des Églises orthodoxes occidentales, CEOO), also known as the Western Orthodox Church, is a communion of Christian churches of Orthodox tradition, standing alongside the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox communions. The Western Orthodox communion is distinguished by its adherence to the liturgical and spiritual customs of western Christianity.

Conference of European Churches

The Conference of European Churches (CEC) was founded in 1959 to promote reconciliation, dialogue and friendship between the churches of Europe at a time of growing Cold War political tensions and divisions.

In its commitment to Europe as a whole the Conference seeks to help the European churches to renew their spiritual life, to strengthen their common witness and service and to promote the unity of the Church and peace in the world.

The CEC is a fellowship of some 114 Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican, and Old Catholic Churches from all countries of Europe, plus 40 National Council of Churches and Organisations in Partnership. The CEC was founded in 1959 and has offices in Brussels and Strasbourg.

Council of Christian Churches of an African Approach in Europe

The Council of Christian Churches of an African Approach in Europe (CCCAAE) is a Christian ecumenical organization established in 2001. It is a member of the World Council of Churches.

Eastern Europe

Eastern Europe is the eastern part of the European continent. There is no consistent definition of the precise area it covers, partly because the term has a wide range of geopolitical, geographical, cultural, and socioeconomic connotations. There are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region". A related United Nations paper adds that "every assessment of spatial identities is essentially a social and cultural construct".

One definition describes Eastern Europe as a cultural entity: the region lying in Europe with the main characteristics consisting of Greek, Byzantine, Eastern Orthodox, Russian, and some Ottoman culture influences. Another definition was created during the Cold War and used more or less synonymously with the term Eastern Bloc. A similar definition names the formerly communist European states outside the Soviet Union as Eastern Europe. The majority of historians and social scientists view such definitions as outdated or relegated, but they are still sometimes used for statistical purposes.

Eastern Orthodoxy in Europe

The Eastern Orthodoxy in Europe constitutes the second largest Christian denomination. European Eastern Orthodox Christians are predominantly present in Eastern and Southeastern Europe, and they are also significantly represented in diaspora throughout the Continent. The term Eastern Orthodox Europe is informally used to describe the predominantly Eastern Orthodox countries of Eastern Europe, as well as Greece, Cyprus, and one Caucasus state, Georgia. These include Belarus, Bulgaria, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Russia, Serbia, and Ukraine.

Faculty of Theology of the Evangelical Baptist Union of Spain

The Faculty of Theology of the Evangelical Baptist Union of Spain (Spanish: Facultad de Teología de la Unión Evangélica Bautista de España), also known as the Theological Seminary of UEBE (Spanish: Seminario Teológico UEBE), is an accredited theological Institute offering graduate and undergraduate degrees in theology. It is affiliated with the Union of Evangelical Baptists of Spain. The seminary campus is located in Alcobendas in the Comunidad de Madrid, Spain.

Gothic Christianity

Gothic Christianity refers to the Christian religion of the Goths and sometimes the Gepids, Vandals, and Burgundians, who may have used the translation of the Bible into the Gothic language and shared common doctrines and practices.

The Gothic tribes converted to Christianity sometime between 376 and 390 AD, around the time of the fall of the Western Roman Empire. Gothic Christianity is the earliest instance of the Christianization of a Germanic people, completed more than a century before the baptism of Frankish king Clovis I.

The Gothic Christians were followers of Arianism. Many church members, from simple believers, priests, and monks to bishops, emperors, and members of Rome's imperial family followed this doctrine, as did two Roman emperors, Constantius II and Valens.

After their sack of Rome, the Visigoths moved on to occupy Spain and southern France. Having been driven out of France, the Spanish Goths formally embraced Nicene Christianity at the Third Council of Toledo in 589.

Lydia of Thyatira

Lydia of Thyatira (Greek: Λυδία) is a woman mentioned in the New Testament who is regarded as the first documented convert to Christianity in Europe. Several Christian denominations have designated her a saint.


The Mozarabs (Spanish: mozárabes [moˈθaɾaβes]; Portuguese: moçárabes [muˈsaɾɐβɨʃ]; Catalan: mossàrabs [muˈsaɾəps]; from Arabic: مستعرب‎, romanized: musta‘rab, lit. 'Arabized') are a modern historical term that refers to the Iberian Christians who lived under Moorish rule in Al-Andalus. Although their descendants remained unconverted to Islam, they were mostly fluent in Arabic and adopted elements of Arabic culture. The local Romance vernaculars, heavily permeated by Arabic, spoken by Christians and Muslim alike has also come to be known as Mozarabic language. Mozarabs were mostly Roman Catholics of the Visigothic or Mozarabic Rite.

Most of the Mozarabs were descendants of Hispanic Christians and were primarily speakers of Mozarabic (late Latin of Iberia) under Islamic rule. They also included those members of the former Visigothic ruling elite who did not convert to Islam or emigrate northwards after the Muslim conquest.

A few were Arab and Berber Christians coupled with Muslim converts to Christianity who, as Arabic speakers, naturally were at home among the original Mozarabs. Prominent examples of Muslims who became Mozarabs by embracing Christianity are the Andalusian rebel and Anti-Umayyad military leader, Umar ibn Hafsun. The Mozarabs of Muslim origin were descendants of those Muslims who converted to Christianity, following the conquest of Toledo and perhaps also, following the expeditions of king Alfonso I of Aragon. These Mozarabs of Muslim origin, who converted en masse at the end of the 11th century, many of them Muladi (ethnic Iberians previously converted to Islam), are totally distinct from the Mudéjars and Moriscos who converted gradually to Christianity between the 12th and 17th centuries. Some Mozarabs were even Converso Sephardi Jews who likewise became part of the Mozarabic milieu.

Separate Mozarab enclaves were located in the large Muslim cities, especially Toledo, Córdoba, Zaragoza, and Seville.

Outline of Europe

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Europe.

Persecution of Christians in the Eastern Bloc

After the October Revolution of November 7, 1917 (October 25 Old Calendar) there was a movement within the Soviet Union to unite all of the people of the world under Communist rule (see Communist International). This included the Eastern bloc countries as well as the Balkan States. Communism as interpreted by Vladimir Lenin and his successors in the Soviet government required the abolition of religion and to this effect the Soviet government launched a long-running campaign to eliminate religion from society. Since some of these Slavic states tied their ethnic heritage to their ethnic churches, both the peoples and their churches were targeted by the Soviets.Across Eastern Europe following World War II, the parts of the Nazi Empire conquered by the Soviet Red Army, and Yugoslavia became one party Communist states and the project of coercive conversion to atheism continued. The Soviet Union ended its war time truce against the Russian Orthodox Church, and extended its persecutions to the newly Communist Eastern bloc: "In Poland, Hungary, Lithuania and other Eastern European countries, Catholic leaders who were unwilling to be silent were denounced, publicly humiliated or imprisoned by the Communists. Leaders of the national Orthodox Churches in Romania and Bulgaria had to be cautious and submissive", wrote Geoffrey Blainey. While the churches were generally not as severely treated as they had been in the Soviet Union, nearly all their schools and many of their churches were closed, and they lost their formally prominent roles in public life. Children were taught atheism, and clergy were imprisoned by the thousands. In the Eastern Bloc, Christian churches, along with Jewish synagogues and Islamic mosques were forcibly "converted into museums of atheism." The total number of Christian victims under the Soviet regime has been estimated to range between 12–20 million.Richard Wurmbrand, Romanian evangelical Christian minister and author, described the systematic persecution of Christians in one East Bloc nation.

However, persecution of Christians, especially Protestants, Pentecostals and non-registered minority denominations, has continued after the fall of the Soviet Union, in many countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, notably Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Belarus.

Simone (given name)

Simone is a given name that can be used for males or females. Derived from the Hebrew name Shimon, the name came into regular usage across European cultures thanks to the popularity of Christianity in Europe and the Biblical character Simeon. Depending on the language, Simone may be used as a masculine or feminine name. In Italian, Simone is a masculine name, pronounced with three syllables, as see-MO-ne, and its feminine form is Simona. In French and English, Simone is a feminine name, pronounced with two syllables, either as SEE-MAWN or sə-MON, and its masculine form in both languages is Simon. Additionally, Simone, as a girl's name, may be spelled Simonne outside of France and people of Italian heritage may bear Simone as a patronymic surname.

State church of the Roman Empire

With the Edict of Thessalonica in 380 AD, Emperor Theodosius I made Nicene Christianity the Empire's state religion. The Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodoxy, and the Catholic Church each claim to stand in continuity with the church to which Theodosius granted recognition, but do not look on it as specific to the Roman Empire.

Earlier in the 4th century, following the Diocletianic Persecution of 303-313 and the Donatist controversy that arose in consequence, Constantine had convened councils of bishops to define the orthodoxy of the Christian faith, expanding on earlier Christian councils. A series of ecumenical councils convened by successive emperors met during the 4th and 5th centuries, but Christianity continued to suffer rifts and schisms surrounding the issues of Arianism, Nestorianism, and Miaphysitism. In the 5th century the Western Empire decayed as a polity: invaders sacked Rome in 410 and in 455, and Odoacer, an Arian barbarian warlord, forced Romulus Augustus, the last nominal Western Emperor, to abdicate in 476. However, apart from the aforementioned schisms, the church as an institution persisted in communion, if not without tension, between the east and west. In the 6th century the Byzantine armies of the Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian I recovered Italy and other sections of the western Mediterranean shore. The Eastern Roman Empire soon lost most of these gains, but it held Rome, as part of the Exarchate of Ravenna, until 751, a period known in church history as the Byzantine Papacy. The Muslim conquests of the 7th century would begin a process of converting most of the then-Christian world in West Asia and North Africa to Islam, severely restricting the reach both of the Byzantine Empire and of its church. Missionary activity directed from Constantinople, the Byzantine capital, did not lead to a lasting expansion of the formal link between the church and the Byzantine emperor, since areas outside the empire's political and military control set up their own distinct churches, as in the case of Bulgaria in 919.

Justinian I, who became emperor in Constantinople in 527, recognized the patriarchs of Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem as the top leadership of the Church (see Pentarchy). However, Justinian claimed "the right and duty of regulating by his laws the minutest details of worship and discipline, and also of dictating the theological opinions to be held in the Church".In Justinian's day, the Christian church was not entirely under the Emperor's control even in the East: the Oriental Orthodox had seceded, having rejected the Council of Chalcedon in 451, and called the adherents of the imperially recognized Church "Melkites", from Syriac malkâniya "imperial". In western Europe, Christianity was mostly subject to the laws and customs of nations that owed no allegiance to the emperor in Constantinople. While eastern-born popes appointed or at least confirmed by the Eastern Emperor continued to be loyal to him as their political lord, they refused to accept his authority in religious matters, or the authority of such a council as the imperially convoked Council of Hieria of 754. Pope Gregory III (731-741) was the last Bishop of Rome to ask the Byzantine ruler to ratify his election. With the crowning of Charlemagne by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800 as Imperator Romanorum, the political split between east and west became irrevocable. Spiritually, Chalcedonian Christianity persisted, at least in theory, as a unified entity until the Great Schism and its formal division with the mutual excommunication in 1054 of Rome and Constantinople. The Eastern Roman Empire finally collapsed with the Fall of Constantinople to the Islamic Ottoman Turks in 1453.

The obliteration of the Empire's boundaries by Germanic peoples and an outburst of missionary activity among these peoples, who had no direct links with the Eastern Roman Empire, and among Pictic and Celtic peoples who had never been part of the Roman Empire, fostered the idea of a universal church free from association with a particular state. On the contrary, "in the East Roman or Byzantine view, when the Roman Empire became Christian, the perfect world order willed by God had been achieved: one universal empire was sovereign, and coterminous with it was the one universal church"; and the church came, by the time of the demise of the Byzantine Empire in 1453, to merge psychologically with it to the extent that its bishops had difficulty in thinking of Christianity without an emperor.Modern authors refer to the church associated with the emperor in a variety of ways: as the catholic church, the orthodox church, the imperial church, the imperial Roman church, or the Byzantine church, although some of these terms are also used for wider communions extending outside the Roman Empire. The legacy of the idea of a universal church carries on, directly or indirectly, in today's Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Church, as well as in others, such as the Anglican Communion.

Western Europe

Western Europe is the region comprising the western part of Europe. Though the term Western Europe is commonly used, there is no commonly agreed-upon definition of the countries that it encompasses.

Significant historical events that have shaped the concept of Western Europe include the rise of Rome, the adoption of Greek culture during the Roman Republic, the adoption of Christianity by Roman Emperors, the division of the Latin West and Greek East, the Fall of the Western Roman Empire, the reign of Charlemagne, the Viking invasions, the East–West Schism, the Black Death, the Renaissance, the Age of Discovery, the Protestant Reformation as well as the Counter-Reformation of the Catholic Church, the Age of Enlightenment, the French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, the two world wars, the Cold War, the formation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the expansion of the European Union.

Christianity in Europe
Sovereign states
States with limited
Dependencies and
other entities

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