Second Council of Nicaea

The Second Council of Nicaea is recognized as the last of the first seven ecumenical councils by the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church. In addition, it is also recognized as such by the Old Catholics and others. Protestant opinions on it are varied.

It met in AD 787 in Nicaea (site of the First Council of Nicaea; present-day İznik in Turkey) to restore the use and veneration of icons (or, holy images),[1] which had been suppressed by imperial edict inside the Byzantine Empire during the reign of Leo III (717–741). His son, Constantine V (741–775), had held the Council of Hieria to make the suppression official.

Second Council of Nicaea
Accepted by
Previous council
Next council
Convoked byConstantine VI and Empress Irene (as regent)
PresidentPatriarch Tarasios of Constantinople, legates of Pope Adrian I
Attendance350 bishops (including two papal legates)
Documents and statements
veneration of icons approved
Chronological list of ecumenical councils


The veneration of icons had been banned by Byzantine Emperor Constantine V and supported by his Council of Hieria (754 AD), which had described itself as the seventh ecumenical council.[2] The Council of Hieria was overturned by the Second Council of Nicaea only 33 years later, and has also been rejected by Catholic and Orthodox churches, since none of the five major patriarchs were represented. The emperor's vigorous enforcement of the ban included persecution of those who venerated icons and of monks in general. There were also political overtones to the persecution—images of emperors were still allowed by Constantine, which some opponents saw as an attempt to give wider authority to imperial power than to the saints and bishops.[3] Constantine's iconoclastic tendencies were shared by Constantine's son, Leo IV. After the latter's early death, his widow, Irene of Athens, as regent for her son, began its restoration for personal inclination and political considerations.

In 784 the imperial secretary Patriarch Tarasius was appointed successor to the Patriarch Paul IV—he accepted on the condition that intercommunion with the other churches should be reestablished; that is, that the images should be restored. However, a council, claiming to be ecumenical, had abolished the veneration of icons, so another ecumenical council was necessary for its restoration.

Pope Adrian I was invited to participate, and gladly accepted, sending an archbishop and an abbot as his legates.

Seventh ecumenical council (Icon)
An icon of the Seventh Ecumenical Council (17th century, Novodevichy Convent, Moscow).

In 786, the council met in the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople. However, soldiers in collusion with the opposition entered the church, and broke up the assembly.[4] As a result, the government resorted to a stratagem. Under the pretext of a campaign, the iconoclastic bodyguard was sent away from the capital – disarmed and disbanded.

The council was again summoned to meet, this time in Nicaea, since Constantinople was still distrusted. The council assembled on September 24, 787 at the church of Hagia Sophia. It numbered about 350 members; 308 bishops or their representatives signed. Tarasius presided,[5] and seven sessions were held in Nicaea.[6]


  • First Session (September 24, 787) – Three bishops, Basilius of Ancyra, Theodore of Myra and Theodosius of Amorium begged for pardon for the heresy of iconoclasm.
  • Second Session (September 26, 787) – Papal legates read the letters of Pope Hadrian I asking for agreement with veneration of images; the bishops of the council answered: "We follow, we receive, we admit".
  • Third Session (September 28, 787) — Other bishops having made their abjuration, were received into the council.
  • Fourth Session (October 1, 787) — Proof of the lawfulness of the veneration of icons was drawn from Exodus 25:19 sqq.; Numbers 7:89; Hebrews 9:5 sqq.; Ezekiel 41:18, and Genesis 31:34, but especially from a series of passages of the Church Fathers;[1] the authority of the latter was decisive.
  • Fifth Session (October 4, 787) – It was claimed that the iconoclast heresy came originally from Jews, Saracens, and Manicheans.
  • Sixth Session (October 6, 787) – The definition of the pseudo-Seventh council (754) was read and condemned.
  • Seventh Session (October 13, 787) – The council issued a declaration of faith concerning the veneration of holy images.
    Ayasofya Iznik 902
    Hagia Sophia of Nicaea, where the Council took place; Iznik, Turkey.
    İznik Ayasofya Camii
    Hagia Sophia, İznik

    It was determined that

    As the sacred and life-giving cross is everywhere set up as a symbol, so also should the images of Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, the holy angels, as well as those of the saints and other pious and holy men be embodied in the manufacture of sacred vessels, tapestries, vestments, etc., and exhibited on the walls of churches, in the homes, and in all conspicuous places, by the roadside and everywhere, to be revered by all who might see them. For the more they are contemplated, the more they move to fervent memory of their prototypes. Therefore, it is proper to accord to them a fervent and reverent adoration, not, however, the veritable worship which, according to our faith, belongs to the Divine Being alone – for the honor accorded to the image passes over to its prototype, and whoever venerate the image venerate in it the reality of what is there represented.

  • Eighth Session (October 23, 787) – The last session was held in Constantinople at the Magnaura Palace. The Empress Irene and her son were present and they signed the document.
Ayasofya Iznik 902
Hagia Sophia of Nicaea, where the Council took place; Iznik, Turkey.
İznik Ayasofya Camii
Hagia Sophia, İznik

The clear distinction between the adoration offered to God and that accorded to the images may well be looked upon as a result of the iconoclastic reform. The twenty-two canons[7] drawn up in Constantinople also served ecclesiastical reform. Careful maintenance of the ordinances of the earlier councils, knowledge of the scriptures on the part of the clergy, and care for Christian conduct are required, and the desire for a renewal of ecclesiastical life is awakened.

The council also decreed that every altar should contain a relic, which remains the case in modern Catholic and Orthodox regulations (Canon VII), and made a number of decrees on clerical discipline, especially for monks when mixing with women.

Acceptance of the Council by various Christian bodies

The papal legates voiced their approval of the restoration of the veneration of icons in no uncertain terms, and the patriarch sent a full account of the proceedings of the council to Pope Hadrian I, who had it translated (Pope Anastasius III later replaced the translation with a better one). In the West, the Frankish clergy initially rejected the Council at a synod in 794, and Charlemagne, then King of the Franks, supported the composition of the Libri Carolini in response, which repudiated the teachings of both the Council and the iconoclasts. A copy of the Libri was sent to Pope Hadrian, who responded with a refutation of the Frankish arguments.[8] The Libri would thereafter remain unpublished until the Reformation, and the Council is accepted as the Seventh Ecumenical Council by the Roman Catholic Church.

This council is celebrated in the Eastern Orthodox Church, and Eastern Catholic Churches of Byzantine Rite as "The Sunday of the Triumph of Orthodoxy" each year on the first Sunday of Great Lent—the fast that leads up to Pascha (Easter)—and again on the Sunday closest to October 11 (the Sunday on or after October 8). The former celebration commemorates the council as the culmination of the Church's battles against heresy, while the latter commemorates the council itself.

Many Protestants follow the French reformer John Calvin in rejecting the canons of the council for what they believe was the promotion of idolatry. He rejected the distinction between veneration (douleia, proskynesis) and adoration (latreia) as unbiblical "sophistry" and condemned even the decorative use of images.[9] In subsequent editions of the Institutes he cites an influential Carolingian source, now ascribed to Theodulf of Orleans, which reacts negatively to a poor Latin translation of the council's acts. Calvin does not engage the apologetic arguments of John of Damascus or Theodore the Studite, apparently because he is unaware of them.

Translations of the Acts

There are only a few translations of the above Acts in the modern languages:

  • English translation made in 1850 by an Anglican priest, John Mendham; presented in a wide controversy, which in its turn is probably the most extensive and well commented translation of Libri Carolini.
  • The Canons and excerpts of the Acts in The Seven Ecumenical Councils of the Undivided Church, translated by Henry R. Percival and edited by Philip Schaff (1901).
  • Translation made by Kazan Theological Academy (published from 1873 to 1909) – a seriously corrupted translation of the Acts of the Councils into Russian.[10]
  • A relatively new Vatican's translation (2004) into Italian language. Publishers in Vatican mistakenly thought[11] that they made the first translation of the Acts into European languages.[12]
  • The new (2016) Russian version of the Acts of the Council is a revised version of the translation made by Kazan Theological Academy, specifying the cases of corruption by the Orthodox translators.[13] There are several dozens of such cases, some of them are critical.

See also


  1. ^ a b Gibbon, p.1693
  2. ^ Council of Hieria, Canon 19, "If anyone does not accept this our Holy and Ecumenical Seventh Synod, let him be anathema from the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, and from the seven holy Ecumenical Synods!"
  3. ^ Warren T. Treadgold (1997). A History of the Byzantine State and Society. Stanford University Press. p. 388. ISBN 978-0-8047-2630-6. Retrieved 27 January 2013.
  4. ^ Ostrogorsky, p.178.
  5. ^ Gibbon, p.1693.
  6. ^ Ostrogorsky, p.178
  7. ^ "NPNF2-14. The Seven Ecumenical Councils - Christian Classics Ethereal Library".
  8. ^ Hussey, J. M. (1986). The Orthodox Church in the Byzantine Empire. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 49–50.
  9. ^ cf. John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion 1.11
  10. ^ See:
  11. ^ See: N. Tanner, "Atti del Concilio Niceno Secondo Ecumenico Settimo, Tomi I–III, introduzione e traduzione di Pier Giorgio Di Domenico, saggio encomiastico di Crispino Valenziano", in "Gregorianum", N. 86/4, Rome, 2005, p. 928.
  12. ^ Roman Catholic Church, Atti del Concilio Niceno Secondo Ecumenico Settimo (Citta del Vaticano: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2004) ISBN 9788820976491
  13. ^ ISBN 9785446908912


Further reading

  • Mendham, John, tr. The seventh general council, the second of Nicaea, held A.D. 787, in which the worship of images was established with copious notes from the "Caroline books", compiled by order of Charlemagne for its confutation, London, W.E. Painter, 1850.
  • Concilium Universale Nicaenum Secundum. Concilium actiones I-III, ed. Erich Lambertz (Acta Conciliorum Oecumenicorum 2,3,1), Berlin, New York 2008. ISBN 978-3-11-019002-1 Edition with introduction in the sources.
Comba (Lycia)

Comba or Komba (Ancient Greek: τὰ Κὀμβα) was a city in ancient Lycia.Comba lay inland, near Mount Cragus, and the cities Octapolis and Symbra.Its site is located near Gömbe in Asiatic Turkey.Comba appears as a bishopric, a suffragan of the metropolitan see of Myra at a relatively late stage: it is not mentioned in the Notitia Episcopatuum of Pseudo-Epiphanius, composed during the reign of Emperor Heraclius (c. 640), and its bishops appear only in the second half of the 7th century. The first is John, who participated in the Quinisext Council of 692. Bishop Constantine was at the Second Council of Nicaea in 787, while another Constantine was one of the fathers of the Council of Constantinople (879) that rehabilitated the patriarch Photios I of Constantinople.A Notitia Episcopatuum of the 12th century still reports the presence of this diocese, even if it is not certain that at that time it still existed; the diocese certainly disappeared with the Turkish conquest of the next century.No longer a residential bishopric, Comba is today listed by the Catholic Church as a titular see.

Council of Constantinople (815)

The Council of Constantinople of 815 was held in the Byzantine capital, in the Hagia Sophia, and initiated the second period of the Byzantine Iconoclasm.

Shortly before it convened, the iconophile Patriarch Nikephoros I was deposed by Emperor Leo V the Armenian in favour of the iconoclast Theodotos I. Theodotos presided over the council, which reinstated iconoclasm, repudiating the Second Council of Nicaea and reaffirming the decisions of the Council of Hieria of 754. Although the meeting had been convened at the behest of the iconoclast Emperor, much of the Iconoclast effort was driven by other clerics, including the later patriarchs Antony I and John VII. In the aftermath of this synod Theodotos is represented as torturing by starvation more than one iconodule abbot in an attempt to force them into agreement with his ecclesiastical policy.

Council of Hieria

The iconoclast Council of Hieria was a Christian council of 754 which viewed itself as ecumenical, but was later rejected by the medieval Catholic Church (what would later fracture into the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic communions). It was summoned by the Byzantine, Eastern Roman Emperor Constantine V in 754 in the palace of Hieria opposite Constantinople. The council supported the emperor's iconoclast position in the Byzantine iconoclasm controversy, condemning the spiritual and liturgical use of iconography as heretical.

Opponents of the council described it as the Mock Synod of Constantinople or the Headless Council because no patriarchs or representatives of the five great patriarchates were present: the see of Constantinople was vacant; Antioch, Jerusalem and Alexandria were under Islamic dominion; while Rome was not asked to participate. Its rulings were anathematized at the Lateran Council of 769 before being overturned almost entirely by the Second Council of Nicaea in 787, which upheld the orthodoxy of and endorsed the veneration of holy images.

Cremna, Pisidia

Cremna (Greek Κρῆμνα) was a town in Pisidia. It was first taken by Amyntas, commander of the Galatian auxiliary army of Brutus and Cassius, who became king of Galatia and Pisidia on going over to the side of Mark Antony. Octavian allowed him to remain king until his death in 25 BC. After this it became a Roman colony, as Strabo says; and there are imperial coins with the epigraph COL. IVL. AVG. CREMNA, which stands for Colonia Iulia Augusta [Felix] Cremnena. Its first coins appear to have been minted under Hadrian. Ptolemy mentions the Cremna Colonia, and according to him it is in the same longitude as Sagalassus.The donatio given by the emperor Aurelian (270–275) promised a period of great prosperity for Cremna; but in 276 the town was taken by an Isaurian robber, named Lydius, who used it as a base for looting the region, giving rise to the only visit of a Roman Emperor to the region, that of Marcus Claudius Tacitus. Later, the town was inserted in the Roman province of Pamphylia Secunda. The name of only one of its bishops is known: Theodorus, present at the Second Council of Nicaea in 787. No longer a residential bishopric, Cremna is today listed by the Catholic Church as a titular see.At some time in the high Middle Ages the ancient site of the town was abandoned, the population transferring itself to the present village of Çamlık.

The ancient site of Cremna was identified in the district of Bucak in 1874, and excavations began in 1970. It stands on a hill dominating the ancient Cestrus River (today Aksu); very few of the site's old buildings are still standing, generally consisting of heaps of stone.

Double monastery

A double monastery (also double house) is a monastery combining a separate community of monks and one of nuns, joined in one institution. More common in the monasticism of Eastern Christianity, where they are found since the 4th century, in the West the establishment of double monasteries became popular after Columbanus and were found in Anglo-Saxon England and Gaul. Double monasteries were forbidden by the Second Council of Nicaea in 787, though it took many years for the decree to be enforced. In a significantly different way, double monasteries were revived again after the 12th century, when a number of religious houses were established on this pattern, among Benedictines and possibly the Dominicans. The 14th-century Bridgittines were consciously founded using this form of community.

Examples include the original Coldingham Monastery in Scotland, Barking Abbey in London, and Einsiedeln Abbey and Fahr Monastery in Switzerland, controlled by the abbot of Einsiedeln. In general, monks and nuns lived in separate buildings but were usually united under an Abbess as head of the entire household, and would have chanted the Liturgy of the Hours and attended Mass together in the Chapel. Either an abbess or an abbot would normally have control over both houses, and it was only in exceptional circumstances that each would have its own superior.

Eudocia (Lycia)

Eudocia (Ancient Greek: Εὐδοκία) was a town in ancient Lycia.

Although William Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) said that the Synecdemus of Hierocles mentions four towns in Asia Minor called Eudocia (Εὐδοκία), including one in Lycia, other scholars report the Synecdemus as calling one or more of them Eudocias or Eudoxias. and the name of the Lycian town as it appears in the text of the Synecdemus as edited by Parthey in 1866 is clearly Eudocias (Εὐδοκιάς), while noting that in some Notitiae Episcopatuum the name is given as Eudoxias (Εὐδοξιάς).Lequien, who mentions no town in Lycia called Eudocia, says that the Synecdemus called a town in Lycia Eudocias and one in Pamphylia Eudoxias, but that other sources speak of the Pamphylian town also as Eudocias. He sees in the presence in the Synecdemus both of a Lycian Telmessus and a Lycian Eudocias and also of a Pamphylian Termessus and a Pamphylian Eudoxias or Eudocias proof that they were all distinct cities. It is curious then that, although, when speaking of Telmessus, he says that it was the Pamphylian Termessus and the Pamphylian Eudocias that for long had the same bishop, when he speaks of the Lycian Eudocias, he attributes to that see the same bishops that he attributes elsewhere to the Pamphylian Eudocias, calling the two most ancient one either bishops of Telmessus and Eudocias (when speaking of Lycia) or bishops of Termessus and Eudocias (when speaking of Pamphylia). The bishops that he mentions for both towns that he calls Eudocias are Timotheus (at the 431 Council of Ephesus), Zenodotus (at the 451 Council of Ephesus), and Photius or Photinus (at the 787 Second Council of Nicaea).The more recent study by Gams makes no mention of any bishopric in Lycia called either Eudocias or Eudocia, but mentions both the Lycian Telmessus and the Pamphylian Termessus and Eudocias.The Annuario Pontificio speaks of a no longer residential, and therefore now titular, episcopal see in the Roman province of Lycia as called Eudocia. It was a suffragan of Myra, the metropolitan see and capital of that province. The Annuario Pontificio states that the town that it calls Eudocia was near Makri, the name that at least by the 9th century was given to the city previously called Telmessus, which is now Fethiye, Muğla Province, Turkey.

Eudocias (Pamphylia)

Eudocias (Ancient Greek: Εὐδοκιάς) or Eudocia (Ancient Greek: Εὐδοκία) was an ancient town in the Roman province of Pamphylia Secunda, in the neighbourhood of Termessus.

According to William Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), the Synecdemus of Hierocles mentions four towns in Asia Minor, including one in Pamphylia, called Eudocia (Εὐδοκία), but other scholars report the Synecdemus as calling the Pamphylian town Eudocias. Lequien says the Synecdemus spoke of the Pamphylian town as Eudoxias but himself, in line with other sources, uses the form "Eudocias". Parthey's 1866 edition of the Synecdemus gives the name of the Pamphylian town as Eudocia, but notes that the earlier editions of Wesseling (1735) and Bekker (1840) gave the name as Eudocias.In recent studies, "Eudocias" is the form of the name given by George E. Bean, and by Hülya Yalçınsoy and Süleyman Atalay.The original name of the town seems to have been Anydros. It was rebuilt in the 5th century and renamed Eudocias in honour of Empress Aelia Eudocia, the wife of Theodosius II, and under this name is mentioned in the Synecdemus. Bishop Timotheus of Termessus and Eudocias took part in the Council of Ephesus in 431 and Bishop Sabinianus of Termessus, Eudocias and Iobia in a synod held in Constantinople in 448. But in 458, the suffragans of the metropolitan see of Perge (the capital of Pamphylia Secunda) who signed a joint letter to the Byzantine Emperor regarding the murder of Proterius of Alexandria included both Auxentius of Termessus and Innocentius of Eudocias, showing that Eudocias had by then become a distinct episcopal see. From then on Eudocias and Termessus appear as separate sees in the Notitiae Episcopatuum even as late as the 10th century.Other sources too give the names of these bishops of Eudocias, adding to them Callistus (or Calixtus), who took part in the Second Council of Nicaea in 787.No longer a residential bishopric, Eudocias is today listed by the Catholic Church as a titular see.Its site is tentatively located near Evdirhan in Asiatic Turkey.

First seven ecumenical councils

In the history of Christianity, the first seven ecumenical councils include the following: the First Council of Nicaea in 325, the First Council of Constantinople in 381, the Council of Ephesus in 431, the Council of Chalcedon in 451, the Second Council of Constantinople in 553, the Third Council of Constantinople from 680–681 and finally, the Second Council of Nicaea in 787.

These seven events represented an attempt by Church leaders to reach an orthodox consensus, restore peace and develop a unified Christendom. Eastern Orthodox Christians, Oriental Orthodox Christians, the Church of the East, Anglican, Old Catholic, and Roman Catholics, all trace the legitimacy of their clergy by apostolic succession back to this period and beyond, to the earlier period referred to as Early Christianity.

This era begins with the First Council of Nicaea, which enunciated the Nicene Creed that in its original form and as modified by the First Council of Constantinople of 381 was seen by all later councils as the touchstone of orthodoxy on the doctrine of the Trinity.

The Eastern Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church accept all seven of these councils as legitimate ecumenical councils. The Oriental Orthodox Churches accept only the first three, while the Church of the East accepts only the first two. There is also one additional council (the Quinisext Council), which was held between the sixth and seventh ecumenical councils (in AD 692), and which issued organizational, liturgical and canonical rules but did not discuss theology. It is accepted as ecumenical by the Eastern Orthodox Church alone, however the Eastern Orthodox do not give it a number, but rather count it as a continuation of the sixth council. The Catholic Church does not accept the Quinisext Council, but both the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church consider that there have been more ecumenical councils after the first seven (see: Eighth ecumenical council, Ninth ecumenical council, and Catholic ecumenical councils).

Fourth Council of Constantinople (Catholic Church)

For the Eastern Orthodox synod (879–880), see Fourth Council of Constantinople (Eastern Orthodox).The Fourth Council of Constantinople was the eighth Catholic Ecumenical Council held in Constantinople from October 5, 869, to February 28, 870. It included 102 bishops, three papal legates, and four patriarchs. The Council met in ten sessions from October 869 to February 870 and issued 27 canons.

The council was called by Emperor Basil I the Macedonian and Pope Adrian II. It deposed Photios, a layman who had been appointed as Patriarch of Constantinople, and reinstated his predecessor Ignatius.

The Council also reaffirmed the decisions of the Second Council of Nicaea in support of icons and holy images and required the image of Christ to have veneration equal with that of the gospel book.A later council, the Greek Fourth Council of Constantinople, was held after Photios had been reinstated on the order of the emperor. Today, the Catholic Church recognizes the council in 869–870 as "Constantinople IV", while the Eastern Orthodox Churches recognize the councils in 879–880 as "Constantinople IV" and revere Photios as a saint. At the time that these councils were being held, this division was not yet clear. These two councils represent a growing divide between East and West. The previous seven ecumenical councils are recognized as ecumenical and authoritative by both Eastern Orthodox and Catholic Christians. These kinds of differences led eventually to the East–West Schism of 1054.


Gyrovagues (sometimes Gyrovagi or Gyruvagi) were wandering or itinerant monks without fixed residence or leadership, who relied on charity and the hospitality of others.

The term, coming from French, itself from Late Latin gyrovagus (gyro-, "circle" and vagus, "wandering"), is used to refer to a kind of monk, rather than a specific order, and may be pejorative as they are almost universally denounced by Christian writers of the Early Middle Ages. The Council of Chalcedon (451) and Second Council of Nicaea (787) prohibit this practice. The "gyrovagi" were denounced as wretched by Benedict of Nursia, who accused them of indulging their passions and cravings. Augustine called them Circumcelliones (circum cellas = those who prowl around the barns) and attributed the selling of fake relics as their innovation. Cassian also mentions a class of monk, which may have been identical, who were reputed to be gluttons who refused to fast at the proper times.

Up until the time of Benedict, several attempts had been made by various synods at suppressing and disciplining monks who refused to settle in a cloister. With the establishment of the Rule of St. Benedict in the 8th century, the cenobitic and eremitic forms of monasticism became the accepted form of monasticism within the Christian Church, and the wandering monk phenomenon faded into obscurity.


Iconolatry (Greek εἰκών eikon, "picture or image," and λατρεία latreia, "worship or adoration") designates the idolatric worship or adoration of icons. In the history of Christianity, iconolatry was manifested mainly in popular worship, as a superstitious belief in the divine nature of icons. It was practiced as a direct adoration of icons, and other objects representing various saints, angels and the God. One of extreme practices of iconolatry was scraping parts of icons into the Holy Communion.

Iconolatry is the opposite of iconoclasm, and also should not be confused with iconophilia, designating the moderate veneration of icons. Both extreme positions, iconolatry and iconoclasm, were rejected in 787 by the Second Council of Nicaea, being the seventh Ecumenical Council. The Council decided that holy icons should not be destroyed, as was advocated and practiced by the Byzantine iconoclasm, nor worshiped or adored, as was practiced by iconolatry, but rather venerated and respected as symbolic representations of God, angels or saints.

Leucius Charinus

Leucius, called Leucius Charinus by Photios I of Constantinople in the ninth century, is the name applied to a cycle of what M. R. James termed "Apostolic romances" that seems to have had wide currency long before a selection was read aloud at the Second Council of Nicaea (787) and rejected. Leucius is not among the early heretical teachers mentioned by name in Irenaeus' Adversus haereses (ca. 180). Most of the works seem to have come into existence in the mid-third century.The fullest account of Leucius is that given by Photius (Codex 114), who describes a book, called The Circuits of the Apostles, which contained the Acts of Peter, John, Andrew, Thomas, and Paul, that was purported to have been written by "Leucius Charinus" which he judged full of folly, self-contradiction, falsehood, and impiety (Wace); Photius is the only source to give his second name, "Charinus". Epiphanius (Haer. 51.427) made Leucius a disciple of John who joined his master in opposing the Ebionites, a characterization that appears unlikely, since other patristic writers agree that the cycle attributed to him was docetic, which denies the humanity of Jesus as Christ. Augustine knew the cycle, which he attributed to "Leutius", which his adversary Faustus of Mileve thought had been wrongly excluded from the New Testament canon by the Catholics. Gregory of Tours found a copy of the Acts of Andrew from the cycle and made an epitome of it, omitting the "tiresome" elaborations of detail he found in it.The "Leucian Acts" are as follows:

The Acts of John

The Acts of Peter

The Acts of Paul

The Acts of Andrew

The Acts of ThomasThe Leucian Acts were most likely redacted at a later date to express a more orthodox view. Of the five, the Acts of John and Thomas have the most remaining Gnostic content.

Libri Carolini

The Libri Carolini ("Charles' books"), Opus Caroli regis contra synodum ("The work of King Charles against the Synod"), also called Charlemagne's Books or simply the Carolines, are the work in four books composed on the command of Charlemagne, around 790, to refute the supposed conclusions of the Byzantine Second Council of Nicaea (787), particularly as regards its acts and decrees in the matter of sacred images. They are "much the fullest statement of the Western attitude to representational art that has been left to us by the Middle Ages". The work appears to have been very largely a polemic based on a misunderstanding of the actual position taken by the Byzantine church, which was quietly archived when this was realized, probably in Rome.

The Libri Carolini were never promulgated at the time apart from being sent to Pope Adrian I who responded with a grandis et verbosa epistola (dignified and wordy letter), and remained all but unknown until they were first printed in 1549, by Jean du Tillet, Bishop of Meaux, under the name of Eriphele. They contain 120 objections against the Second Council of Nicaea, and are couched in harsh, reproachful terms, including the following: dementiam ("folly"), priscae Gentilitatis obsoletum errorem ("an old and outmoded pagan misunderstanding"), argumenta insanissima et absurdissima ("most insane and absurd reasoning"), derisione dignas naenias ("screeds worthy of derision"), etc. The modern edition of this text, by Ann Freeman and Paul Meyvaert (Hannover 1998), is called Opus Caroli regis contra synodum ("The work of King Charles against the Synod"), and is based on the manuscript in the Vatican Library, which is now generally accepted as a Carolingian working manuscript "hastily finished up", when it became clear that the work was now redundant.When the work resurfaced during the Protestant Reformation, it caused a good deal of excitement and confusion. Despite its support of images, John Calvin refers to it approvingly in later editions of his Institutes of the Christian Religion (Book 1, Ch 11, section 14), and uses it in his argument against the veneration of images.


Patristics or patrology is the study of the early Christian writers who are designated Church Fathers. The names derive from the combined forms of Latin pater and Greek patḗr (father). The period is generally considered to run from the end of New Testament times or end of the Apostolic Age (c.  AD 100) to either AD 451 (the date of the Council of Chalcedon) or to the Second Council of Nicaea in 787.

Plato of Sakkoudion

Platon the Studite, also Plato of Sakkoudion (Greek: Ὅσιος Πλάτων τῆς Μονῆς τῶν Σακκουδίων), probably Constantinople, ca. 735 – Constantinople, 4 April 814, was a Byzantine minor official who became a monk in 759. After refusing the metropolitan see of Nicomedia or the headship of a monastery in Constantinople, in 783 he founded the monastery of Sakkoudion on Mount Olympus in Bithynia, of which he became the first abbot. He is notable, along with his nephew Theodore Stoudites, for his iconodule stance during the Byzantine Iconoclasm and his participation in the Second Council of Nicaea, and to his firm opposition to the second marriage of Emperor Constantine VI to his niece Theodote (the "Moechian Controversy"). He was canonized by the Church, and his feast day is April 4.

Sabas of Stoudios

Sabas of Stoudios was an abbot of the Monastery of Stoudios who played a leading role at the Second Council of Nicaea (787 AD).

Saint Darius

St. Dario (or Darius) is a saint of the Oriental Orthodox Churches, the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church. His feast day is celebrated October 21 (or December 19 in the Catholic Church).

Darius is mentioned in the old martyrologies as having been martyred in the 4th century in Nicaea alongside Zosimus, Paul and Secundus. Their presence there points to the city having an active Christian population at the beginning of this century. Nicaea (now İznik) would become the site of the First Council of Nicaea (325) and the Second Council of Nicaea (787), respectively the first and seventh Ecumenical councils

Theodotus I of Constantinople

"Theodotus I" and "Patriarch Theodotus I" redirect here. They could also refer to Theodotus of Antioch, patriarch of Antioch in 420–429.Theodotos I Kassiteras, Latinized as Theodotus I Cassiteras (Greek: Θεόδοτος Α΄ Κασσιτερᾶς or Κασσιτηρᾶς; died January 821) Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople from 1 April 815 to January 821.Theodotos was born in Nakoleia, as the son of the patrikios Michael Melissenos by the sister of Eudokia, the last wife of Emperor Constantine V. Theodotos had become attached to the court bureaucracy and was a confidant of Emperor Michael I Rangabe.

By the time Michael I was deposed by Leo V the Armenian in 813, Theodotos was an elderly spatharokandidatos, whom the near-contemporary Scriptor Incertus describes as "meek" and "uneducated". On 14 March 815, Leo forced the resignation of Patriarch Nikephoros I, and appointed the pro-iconoclast Theodotos Melissenos in his place. Later in 815, the new patriarch presided over a Church council in Constantinople, which overturned the Second Council of Nicaea and reinstated the ban on the veneration of icons, thus beginning the second period of Byzantine Iconoclasm. Much of the Iconoclast effort in the council was driven by other clerics, including the later Patriarchs Antony I and John VII. In the aftermath of this synod Theodotos is representing as torturing by starvation at more than one iconodule abbot in an attempt to force them into agreement with his ecclesiastical policy.

He ceases to be mentioned in the sources after the murder of Leo V and accession of Michael II the Amorian in December 820.

Theophanes the Confessor

Saint Theophanes the Confessor (Greek: Θεοφάνης Ὁμολογητής; c. 758/760 – March 12, 817/818) was a member of the Byzantine aristocracy who became a monk and chronicler. He served in the court of Emperor Leo IV the Khazar before taking up the religious life. Theophanes attended the Second Council of Nicaea in 787 and resisted the iconoclasm of Leo V the Armenian, for which he was imprisoned. He died shortly after his release.

Theophanes is venerated on March 12 in the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church. (He should not be confused with Theophanes of Nicaea, whose is commemorated on October 11.)

First seven ecumenical councils
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Catholic Church
Partly recognized by the
Eastern Orthodox Church
Recognized by the
Oriental Orthodox Church

Middle Ages

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