All Aboard?

The Council of Nicaea lives on in the imagination of the Church, both East and West. In this photograph taken in 1925, Russian Orthodox patriarchs prepare to board a train for St. David's, Wales, to celebrate Nicaea's 16th centenary. In Rome that same year, Pope Pius XI planned a party of his own in the Vatican basilica, declaring Nicaea a formative event for the Catholic understanding of the nature of Christ.

Protestants too have honored Nicaea in their own way. Anglicans, among others, recite the Nicene Creed in church every Sunday, and many Protestants (perhaps unknowingly) celebrate Nicaea in their hymns. One of the most beloved is Reginald Heber's "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty," which ends with a rousing "God in Three Persons, blessed Trinity." Written for Trinity Sunday, the hymn was set to music by John B. Dykes, who named the tune "Nicaea."

Wipe Out Those Arian Barbarians

Theodosius the Great may have dealt a death blow to Arians in the Roman Empire at the Council of Constantinople (381), but the heresy got a new lease on life among the barbarian Goths. Particularly influential was Theodoric the Great (d. 526), a ruthless military tactician (he murdered his rival) who adopted Arianism as his religion and built numerous Arian churches in Raverina, Italy. When the Byzantine Emperor Justinian recovered Ravenna in 535, he resolved to erase any Arian influence from the city. One example is a mosaic in the Basilica of San Apollinare Nuovo, formerly Theodoric's palace church, that has obviously been altered—the mosaic likely originally displayed Theodoric with his family or members of his court. Look closely, and you can still see in the far left column a hand that Justinian's artists apparently ...

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