Christianity is a faith with a long and detailed history, with numerous events of lasting significance occurring throughout the ages.
Each week brings the anniversaries of great milestones, horrid tragedies, amazing triumphs, and everything in between.
Here are just a few things that happened this week in Church history. They include the sudden death of a pope, peace between Catholics and Protestants, and the start of a Medieval Church Council.
Second Council of Nicaea Begins – Sept. 24, 787
This week marks the beginning of the Seventh Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church, also called the Second Council of Nicaea.
Held more than 450 years after the first Council of Nicaea, the prevailing issue that the Council dealt with was the controversy over Iconoclasm, which argued that the use of icons in worship was idolatrous.
"With the exception of these monks and the Roman legates, all the members of the Council were subjects of the Byzantine Empire. Their number, bishops as well as representatives of bishops, varies in the ancient historians between 330 and 367," noted the Catholic Encyclopedia.
After several sessions, the last of which was held in the Byzantine capital of Constantinople, the Council concluded that using images for worship did not mean that one was worshipping said images, including icons.
"If anyone does not accept representation in art of evangelical scenes, let him be anathema," the Council declared. "If anyone does not salute such representations as standing for the Lord and His saints, let him be anathema."
Peace of Augsburg – Sept. 25, 1555
This week marks the anniversary of the first agreement made between the Catholic Church and the nascent Protestant movement to coexist with one another.
In the years after Martin Luther began the Reformation, violence had ensued between Catholics and Lutherans in the German states within the Holy Roman Empire.
On Sept. 25, 1555, the Diet of Augsburg released a peace agreement that allowed German princes to choose whether they wanted to adhere to a Protestant statement of faith known as the Augsburg Confession.
"His Imperial Majesty, and We, and the electors, princes, and estates of the Holy Empire will not make war upon any estate of the empire on account of the Augsburg Confession and the doctrine, religion, and faith of the same, nor injure nor do violence to those estates that hold it, nor force them, against their conscience, knowledge, and will, to abandon the religion, faith, church usages, ordinances, and ceremonies of the Augsburg Confession," read the Peace agreement.
"Nor shall We, through mandate or in any other way, trouble or disparage them, but shall let them quietly and peacefully enjoy their religion, faith, church usages, ordinances, and ceremonies, as well as their possessions, real and personal property, lands, people, dominions, governments, honors, and rights."
Pope John Paul I Dies – Sept. 29, 1978
This week marks the anniversary of the sudden death of Pope John Paul I. Known as the "Smiling Pope" for his good humor, John Paul I had come to power after the previous pontiff, Paul VI, had died following a heart attack.
Born Albino Luciani in 1912 and basing his papal name off of his predecessors John XXIII and Paul VI, before becoming pope, John Paul had participated in the Second Vatican Council.
John Paul died suddenly after only 33 days in power, making his one of the shortest papal reigns in history. It also led to many conspiracy theories surrounding his unexpected death.
"The official cause of death was myocardial infarction — heart attack — but confusion in the details of his demise fed instant rumors of foul play," noted Crisis magazine.
"Within a few months of the pope's death, Abbé Georges de Nantes from the League of the Catholic Counter Reformation was crying murder."