Jesus Christ Savior | The Byzantine missionaries Saints Cyril and Methodius brought Christianity to Moravia, and Cyril created the Cyrillic alphabet for their liturgy, which became the basis of the Slavic languages, including Russian. (Image, St. Sophia Cathedral – Kiev, Ukraine).

The Byzantine Empire of the East, with its capital in Constantinople, flourished for a thousand years. The Emperor Theodosius the Great proclaimed Christianity as the official state religion of the Roman Empire in 380. The Empire reached its zenith under Emperor Justinian, the author of the Justinian Code of Law, who ruled from 527 to 565. Justinian built the beautiful Church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople in 539, which became a center of religious thought.

The writings of the Greek Fathers of the Church such as Saints Basil, John Chrysostom, and Maximus the Confessor influenced the spiritual formation of early Christianity. The Byzantine or Greek liturgy is based on the tradition of St. Basil and the subsequent reform of St. John Chrysostom. The Byzantine missionaries Saints Cyril and Methodius brought Christianity to Moravia, and Cyril created the Cyrillic alphabet for their liturgy, which became the basis of the Slavic languages, including Russian.

Kiev was once the capital of the country of Kievan Rus, which comprised the modern nations of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. Influenced by his grandmother Olga, Prince Vladimir of Kiev adopted Byzantine Christianity in 988, converting Russia to the Byzantine Orthodox faith. In the sixteenth century, a Russian mystic Philotheus of Pskof noted that Rome and Constantinople, the second Rome, had fallen, but “Moscow, the third Rome,” stands. The Russian Orthodox Church today is the largest Eastern Orthodox faith with over 110 million members.

Our anonymous author is a physician and a Masters graduate in Theology and Christian Ministry from Franciscan University, Steubenville, Ohio. He teaches Sunday Bible Class at St. James Catholic Church and serves both Pastoral Care and the Medical Staff at St. Joseph’s Hospital.

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