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Christianity is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus is the Christ, whose coming as the messiah was prophesied in the Hebrew Bible, called the Old Testament in Christianity, and chronicled in the New Testament. It is the world's largest religion with about 2.4 billion followers.
Christianity began as a Second Temple Judaic sect in the 1st century in the Roman province of Judea. Jesus' apostles and their followers spread around Syria, the Levant, Europe, Anatolia, Mesopotamia, Transcaucasia, Egypt, and Ethiopia, despite initial persecution. It soon attracted gentile God-fearers, which led to a departure from Jewish customs, and, after the Fall of Jerusalem, AD 70 which ended the Temple-based Judaism, Christianity slowly separated from Judaism.
Emperor Constantine the Great converted to Christianity before his death (337), and was baptized by bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia; Constantine decriminalized Christianity in the Roman Empire by the Edict of Milan (313), later convening the Council of Nicaea (325) where Early Christianity was consolidated into what would become the State church of the Roman Empire (380). The early history of Christianity's united church before major schisms is sometimes referred to as the "Great Church". The Church of the East split after the Council of Ephesus (431) and Oriental Orthodoxy split after the Council of Chalcedon (451) over differences in Christology, while the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church separated in the East–West Schism (1054), especially over the authority of the bishop of Rome. Similarly, Protestantism split in numerous denominations from the Latin Catholic Church in the Reformation era (16th century) over theological and ecclesiological disputes, most predominantly on the issue of justification and the primacy of the bishop of Rome. Following the Age of Discovery (15th–17th century), Christianity was spread into the Americas, Oceania, sub-Saharan Africa, and the rest of the world via missionary work.
Christianity remains culturally diverse in its Western and Eastern branches, as well as in its doctrines concerning justification and the nature of salvation, ecclesiology, ordination, and Christology. The four largest branches of Christianity are the Catholic Church (1.3 billion/50.1%), Protestantism (920 million/36.7%), the Eastern Orthodox Church (260 million) and Oriental Orthodoxy (86 million/both together 11.9%), amid various efforts toward unity (ecumenism). Their creeds generally hold in common Jesus as the Son of God—the logos incarnated—who ministred, suffered, and died on a cross, but rose from the dead for the salvation of mankind; as referred to as the gospel, meaning the "good news", in the Bible (scripture). Describing Jesus' life and teachings are the four canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John with the Jewish Old Testament as the gospel's respected background.
A papal conclave
is the method by which the Roman Catholic Church
fills the office of Bishop of Rome
, whose incumbent is known as the Pope
, the head of the Church. The electors, when locked together in a room for this purpose, form a conclave
, (from the Latin cum clave
"with a key") which they are not permitted to leave until a new Pope is elected. Conclaves have been employed since the Second Council of Lyons
decreed in 1274
that the electors should meet in seclusion. They are now held in the Sistine Chapel
in the Palace of the Vatican
Since the year 1061, the College of Cardinals has served as the sole body charged with the election of the Pope, the source of the term Prince of the church for cardinals. In earlier times, members of the clergy and the people of Rome were entitled to participate, in much the same way as the laity helped determine the choice of bishops throughout the Catholic Church during this early period. Popes may make rules relating to election procedures; they may determine the composition of the electoral body, replacing the entire College of Cardinals if they were to so choose.
) (died on 10 November between 627 and 631) was the fourth Archbishop of Canterbury
. He was sent from Italy to England by Pope Gregory the Great
, on a mission to convert the Anglo-Saxons, probably arriving with the second group of missionaries despatched in 601. Justus became the first Bishop of Rochester
in 604, and attended a church council in Paris in 614. Following the death of King Æthelberht of Kent
in 616, Justus was forced to flee to Gaul
, but was reinstated in his diocese the following year. In 624 Justus became Archbishop of Canterbury, overseeing the despatch of missionaries to Northumbria
. After his death he was revered as a saint, and had a shrine in St Augustine's Abbey
A Christian martyr is a person who is killed for following Christianity, through stoning, crucifixion, burning at the stake or other forms of torture and capital punishment. The word "martyr" comes from the Greek word μάρτυς, mártys, which means "witness." At first, the term applied to Apostles. Once Christians started to undergo persecution, the term came to be applied to those who suffered hardships for their faith. Finally, it was restricted to those who had been killed for their faith. The early Christian period before Constantine I was the "Age of martyrs". A martyr's death was considered a "baptism in blood," cleansing one of sin, similar to the effect of baptism in water. Early Christians venerated martyrs as powerful intercessors, and their utterances were treasured as inspired by the Holy Spirit.
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