Timeline of important milestones of Christian history


63 BC Roman rule begins in the Holy Land.
c.4 BC

Birth of Jesus Christ


c.30 AD Jesus Christ sentenced and put on the cross.
c.33 Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2).
Sometimes known as the Birthday of the Church.
c.33 Stephen – First Christian martyr (Acts 7).
c.48 Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15).
Gentile Christians accepted along with those of the Jewish religion.
c.60 First manuscript of the Gospel made public (Probably thought to be the Gospel of Matthew).
62 Martyrdom of James, “The Lord’s Brother” (Mt 10, 3).
c.67-68 Apostles Peter and Paul martyred in the reign of the Roman emperor Nero.
70 End of the Jewish rebellion against the Roman Empire. Destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.
From 70 Centre of Christianity moves to Antioch, Alexandria and Rome.
161-80 Widespread persecution of Christians under Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius.
Severe persecutions also occurred under the emperors Decius (249-251) and Diocletian (284-305).
301 Armenia becomes the world’s first country to officially adopt Christianity as the state religion.
312 The Roman emperor Constantine receives a vision of a flaming cross with the words
In hoc signo vinces’ : “With this sign he conquers”.
He defeated his rival Maxentius in the battle of Ponte Milvio, bringing with his army a banner with the image of Christ.

Edict of Milan issued by Constantine

Christianity becomes a legal religion within the Roman empire.

325 Constantine convenes the first ecumenical council in Nicaea (present-day Turkey).
Arian heresy which declared Christ was a created being is refuted. Nicene Creed is drawn up, declaring Christ to be “…Begotten, not made; of one essence with the Father…”
367 Saint Athanasius is the first to list all 27 New Testament books in his festal letter.
381 Ecumenical Council at Constantinople revises the Nicene creed to its current form.
c.382 Saint Jerome begins a translation of the Bible into Latin.
397 Synod at Carthage ratifies the 27 books of the New Testament as sacred scripture.
431 Ecumenical council held at Ephesus refutes Nestorianism.
(The doctrine that Christ was two persons (one human, the other divine) in one body). Mary is declared Theotokos   i.e. “GOD-bearer” or more commonly, “Mother of GOD”.
449 In Ephesus, Pope Leo I delivers his “Tome,” defending Orthodox Christian beliefs, while also affirming papal supremacy.
451 Ecumenical council at Chalcedon affirms Christ as having two distinct natures united in one person (known as the ‘Hypostatic Union’).
553 Ecumenical council at Constantinople affirms teaching of previous councils.
563 Columba establishes a monastery at Iona, one of the oldest Christian religious centres in Western Europe. The abbey was a focal point for the spread of Christianity throughout Scotland
589 Insertion of the filioque  (Latin: “and the son”) into the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed at a council in Toledo.
597 Following a mission authorised by Pope Gregory I, St. Augustine becomes the first Archbishop of Canterbury.
664 Synod of Whitby ratifies the authority of the Pope in England.
680-81 Ecumenical council at Constantinople rejects Monothelite heresy (the doctrine consisting in the affirmation that in Christ there is one will or one operation or energy).
731 Bede writes his Ecclesiastical History.
787 The Ecumenical Council of Nicaea puts an end to the controversy over the use of icons in worship.
The issue over the “rejection of icons,” or “iconoclasm,” would involve the Eastern Church and in particular the Imperial Church of Constantinople for at least a century.
800 Charlemagne is crowned emperor of the Holy Roman Empire by Pope Leo III.
988 Conversion of Prince Vladimir in Kiev (present-day Ukraine and former Russian territory). Growth of Christianity in Russia.

Great Schism

Eastern Orthodox and Western Catholic churches separate.

1095 Pope Urban II authorises the first Crusade to recover the Holy Land from muslims.
1099 Crusaders conquer Jerusalem.
1182 Massacre of Latin inhabitants of Constantinople.
In which large-scale killings of Catholic (or Latin) citizens of Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire, committed by the city’s Orthodox Christian population.

Jerusalem reconquered by muslims.

By an army led by Sultan Saladin.

1189 Third Crusade led by Richard the Lionheart of England.
1204 Sack of Constantinople during the fourth crusade.
Fought between Crusader Christians and Byzantine Christians.
The conflict ended on April 12 with the victory of the besiegers who conquered the capital of the Byzantine Empire.
1216/23 Papal approval of the Dominican and Franciscan mendicant (‘begging’) orders.
1266-73 Thomas Aquinas writes his great work of systematic Theology: Summa Theologiae.
1305 Papacy moved to Avignon following a dispute with Philip IV of France.
c.1341 Gregory Palamas’ defense of Orthodox spirituality. Rise of Hesychasm, an ascetic doctrine and practice prevalent among monks in the Christian East since the time of the Desert Fathers and still practiced today on Mount Athos.
c.1376 John Wycliffe writes “Civil Dominion”, arguing for reform of the church.
1378 Following the return of the Papacy to Rome, rival claimants (Antipopes) emerge. Dispute ends in 1417 with election of Martin V.
c.1380 John Wycliffe translates the Bible into Middle English.

Ottomans conquer Constantinople

Ottoman Empire conquers Constantinople, the Christian capital of the Eastern Roman Empire


Beginning the Protestant reformation.

Martin Luther posts his 95 Theses in Wittenburg, Germany.

1521 Diet of Worms – Luther’s final breach with the Catholic church.
Martin Luther, summoned to recant his theses, spoke before the assembly from April 16 to 18, but instead of recanting he defended his reform of Christianity, which would later be called the Protestant Reformation.
1525 William Tyndale completes his translation of the Bible into English.
1534 Ignatius of Loyola founds the Jesuits.
1534 Act of Supremacy passed – Henry VIII becomes supreme head of the English church.
1536 John Calvin publishes his “Institutes of the Christian Religion”.
1545-63 Council of Trent – Roman Catholic Counter-Reformation, convened in response to the spread of the Protestant Reformation in Europe.
1549 Thomas Cranmer publishes the Book of Common Prayer in England, the doctrinal and liturgical reference text of the Church of England and the churches belonging to the Anglican Communion.
1555 Peace of Augsburg ends religious wars in Germany.
1611 Publication of the King James Version of the Bible.
1618-48 Protestant/Catholic conflict in Germany (Thirty Years War).

The “Great Awakening”

A revival movement among Protestants in the USA.

1738 John and Charles Wesley converted. They lead an Evangelical revival in England and form the Methodist church.
1854 Dogma of the Immaculate conception of Mary proclaimed by the Roman Catholic church.
1870-1 Vatican Council I. Proclaimed the dogma of papal infallibility, which holds that the Pope cannot err when he speaks ex cathedra, it means as a doctor or universal pastor of the Church.
1906 Azusa street revival in Los Angeles. Beginnings of the Pentecostal movement.
1910 World Mission Conference in Edinburgh, considered the birthplace of the contemporary ecumenical movement.
It was on that occasion that a permanent commission for the promotion of Christian unity was established for the first time.
1918 Billy Graham born. Later becomes one of the most prominent evangelists in Christian history.
1948 Formation of the World Council of Churches.
1950 Dogma of the Assumption of Mary proclaimed by the Roman Catholic Church.
1962-5 Second Vatican council. Major reforms in the Roman Catholic church are initiated.
Mutual anathemas of 1054 between Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches lifted.
1999 Signing of the Joint Declaration on Justification by the Lutheran and Roman Catholic Churches, the result of an extensive ecumenical dialogue.
It affirms that the churches now share “a common understanding of our justification by GOD’s grace through faith in Christ.
2005 Death of Pope John Paul II, who is succeeded by Pope Benedict XVI.

Two Popes for the first time

Resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, who is succeeded by Pope Francis.

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