The Eighteenth Century
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1702 Tsar Peter of Russia promised freedom of conscience to foreigners living in Russia.

1705 Pope Clement XI (1700-1721) issued the bull Vineam Domini Sabaoth, annuling the Peace of the Church (see 1669) in France by requiring subscription to the Formulary of 1656 without qualification.

1706 An Anglican congregation was established in Moscow.  It moved to St. Petersburg in 1723.

1707  The first volume of Grabe’s Septuagint was published.  The fourth and last volume appeared in 1720.  Grabe’s Septuagint is based on Codex Alexandrinus (A).  Contrast this with the Sixtine Edition of 1587, which depends on Vaticanus.  Some believe that Codex A reflects Origen's recension of the Septuagint, at least to an extent.

1708 Pope Clement XI (1700-1721), to avoid commiting himself to the doctrine of Mary’s Immaculate Conception, ordered a festival called for the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary immaculate.

1709 Having refused to submit to the bull Vineam Domini Sabaoth, the nuns of Port Royal were excommunicated, then dispersed to other convents.  The convent was leveled, and corpses in the graveyard were dug up and thrown into a single pit in the cemetary of St. Lambert.  This event signals the victory of the Jesuits over the Jansenist movement.

1713 Pope Clement XI issued the bull Unigenitus, condemning Jansenism and the proposition that “The reading of Sacred Scripture is for all”; adding, “We strictly forbid them [the laity] to have the books of the Old and New Testament in the vulgar tongue.”   It also condemned the error that “The Lord’s Day ought to be sanctified by Christians with readings of pious works and above all of the Holy Scriptures. It is harmful for a Christian to wish to withdraw from this reading.”  The bull was very unpopular in France, where an edition of the gospels with Jansenist notes had been published.  The Emperor of Austria forbade the distribution of Unigenitus.  This bull was used in Sicilian seminaries as an example of the fallibility of Popes.  In France, the Gallicans opposed the bull on the grounds that the pope had no right to impose a doctrine on the French church without the consent of the French bishops and without the agreement of a General Council.

1716 Between this year and 1724 a dialogue was conducted between the English non-Jurors (who refused to swear allegiance to William of Orange) and the Orthodox, in hopes of establishing communion.  The non-Jurors were troubled by the Orthodox doctrine of the real presence, veneration of Mary, the saints, and the Holy Icons, and the interchange was suspended.

1717 In this year and again in 1733 Poland passed laws persecuting non-Catholic minorities.  Poland had enjoyed religious tolerance since the Compact of Warsaw in 1573.

1718 Tsar Peter tasked Feofan Propkovich, a monk of the academy in Kiev, with the task of formulating an Ecclesiastical Regulation by which the Church in Russia would be governed.  The regulation was brought into effect in 1721.

1721  In keeping with the new Ecclesiastical Regulation (see 1718), Tsar Peter the Great declared the Moscow Patriarchate to be abolished, and set up the Spiritual College or Holy Synod to replace it.  Stephen Yavorsky was the first president of the Holy Synod.  Peter’s Spiritual (Ecclesiastical) Regulation, which established the Holy Synod, viewed the church as an arm of the state, not as a spiritual institution.  The Holy Synod was supervised by the Chief Procurator, an official of the Russian government.

The Ecclesiastical Regulation also encouraged training, and 46 new schools for priests opened within 4 years.  Priests were to study theology, history, politics, geography, arithmetic, geometry, and physics.  The laity were required to attend church, and a fine was assessed for absences.  

1721 In Russia, mixed-faith marriages were legalized, but only if the Orthodox partner remained in his or her faith, and all children were raised Orthodox.

1722 At a synod held in Constantinople this year, the Orthodox made the following pronouncement regarding the state of the dead and the existence of purgatory:  “[W]e the godly, following the truth and turning away from such innovations, confess and accept two places for the souls of the dead, paradise and hell, for the righteous and sinners, as the holy Scripture teaches us.  We do not accept a third place, a purgatory, by any means, since neither Scripture nor the holy Fathers have taught us any such thing.  However, we believe these two places have many abodes ... None of the teachers of the Church have handed down or taught such a purgatory, but they all speak of one single place of punishment, hades, just as they teach about one luminous and bright place, paradise.  But both the souls of the holy and the righteous go indisputably to paradise and those of the sinners go to hades, of whom the profane and those who have sinned unforgivably are punished forever and those who have offended forgivably and moderately hope to gain freedom through the unspeakable mercy of God.  For on behalf of such souls, that is of the moderately and forgivably sinful, there are in the Church prayers, supplications, liturgies, as well as memorial services and almsgiving, that those souls may receive favor and comfort.  Thus when the Church prays for the souls of those who are lying asleep, we hope there will be comfort for them from God, but not through fire and purgatory, but through divine love for mankind, whereby the infinite goodness of God is seen.”  This from an encyclical to the church in Antioch.

1723 The four ancient Patriarchates recognized the termination of the Patriarchate of Moscow and the establishment of the Holy Synod.

1724 Creation of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church from the Antiochian Orthodox Church. Upon the death of Patriarch Athanasios III Debbas, two rival parties within the Church supported different candidates.  The pro-Roman party, centered in Damascus, elected Cyril VI patriarch, while those opposed to union with Rome, whose power base was centered in Aleppo, supported a Cypriot monk, Sylvester, whom Athanasios had designated to be his successor.  Constantinople and the Ottoman government recognized Sylvester.  In 1728, Cyril's election was recognized by Pope Benedict XIII.  Roughly one-third of the Orthodox followed Cyril into schism.

1727 Catherine I (1725-27) ordered all Jews to depart Russia and Ukraine.  This edict was not enforced.

1732 Geoge Berkeley (later Anglican bishop of Cloyne, Ireland) published Alciphron; or, The Minute Philosopher, a defense of Christianity against deists and freethinkers. 

1738 The Anglican priest John Wesley, and his brother Charles, both reported conversion experiences.  Working with George Whitefield, the Wesleys began the Methodist Revival within the Church of England.  The Methodists split from the Anglicans in 1795.

1738 In Russia, a Jew was convicted of converting a naval officer to Judaism.  Both were burned to death on 15 July.

1740 Ludovica Antonio Muratori published a late second century list of New Testament scriptures, the Muratorian Canon.  See year 200 above.

1741 Elizabeth (1741-62) ruled Russia.  She confiscated most of the monastic lands.

1742 The Jews were evicted from Russia.  The empress’s court physician, Antonio Nunes Ribeiro Sanchez, was prevented from returning to Russia to resume his post.

1744 Publication of Rattay’s The Ancient Liturgy of the Church of Jerusalem.  This work was influential in the 1764 revision of the Scottish Communion Service (based on Laud’s 1637 liturgy and the 1549 Book of Common Prayer).  The 1764 Scottish Communion Service in turn formed the basis of the service used in the Episcopal Church in the US after the American War of Independence (see 1789).

1748 Publication of David Hume’s An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding.  He concluded that rational inquiry could only make headway among ideas (e.g., as in Euclid’s geometry); it makes no progress in the world of facts (which could very well be other than they are).  In this way he asserted that causality is not a rational principle, but a habit of the mind.

1752 The Gregorian calendar was adopted in England.  The calendar was adrift by 12 days (it had been only 10 days off in 1582).  To accommodate the change, Christmas Day 1782 became Epiphany, 1783.  (Wednesday, September 2, 1752 was followed by Thursday, September 14.)  Common people complained that they had been robbed of 12 days of their lives.  Epiphany (January 6) came to be called “Old Christmas.”

1755 Anti-Roman feelings had become quite strong in the Middle East.  The Patriarchs of Constantinople, Alexandria, and Jerusalem declared Roman Catholic baptism invalid, and ordered the rebaptism of converts.

1757 Pope Benedict XIV (1740-58) permitted the reading of Bible translations “if such Bible-versions in the vernacular are approved by the apostolic see or are edited with annotations derived from the holy fathers of the Church or from learned and Catholic men.”  This overturned the Roman Catholic Church’s long-standing prohibition on reading the Bible in the vernacular (see 1546, 1559, 1564, 1596, and 1606).

1762 Reign of Catherine II (1762-96) in Russia.  On 4 December she invited non-Jewish foreigners to immigrate.

1763 St. Paissy Velichkovsky became abbot of the monastery of Niamets in Romania.  He turned it into a great spiritual center, translating the works of the Greek fathers into Slavonic.  From Niamets monastic (and hesychastic) revival spread into Russia.  Also, a Slavonic translation of the Philokalia (see 1782) was made, and published in Moscow in 1793.

1764 On February 26, Church lands in Russia became the property of the state, and bishops and monasteries were salaried.  The Church lands provided the state with roughly 1.4 million rubles per year, from which only about 460,000 rubles per year went to pay clerical salaries.  Only 161 of 572 monasteries were left open.  

1764 The empress Catherine ordered Prince Dashkov to protect Jews wishing to emigrate from Poland to Russia.

1764 St. Makarios (1731-1805) became Archbishop of Corinth.  Due to Turkish rule, most children were not being given an education.  Makarios built public schools in his diocese and published books.  He also corrected church practices and theology.

1769 Jews were permitted to settle in Ukraine.

1769 On 12 February, the empress Catherine published Regulations for the Catholic Community in Russia.  These regulations dictated the number of Franciscan priests (6), forbade proselytizing, ordered the creation of a Catholic school, and exempted the church from town taxes.  It did not, however, interfere in Catholic doctrine.

1770+ Twelve hundred Kiev-region Uniate churches returned to Orthodoxy.

1772 First partition of Poland – lands were distributed to Austria, Prussia and Russia.  The partition was precipitated by of Russian intervention on behalf of persecuted minorities who had lost their rights with the laws restricting religious freedom in Poland, passed in 1717 and 1733.

1772 On 14 December, the empress Catherine broke the dependency of Catholics in her newly acquired territories on bishops in Poland.  She established a new Catholic bishopric in Mogilev, in charge of all Catholics within the Russian empire, including monastics.

1772 The publication of John Glen King’s Rites and Ceremonies of the Greek Church in Russia made Russian forms of worship more familiar to the English.

1773 On 21 July, Pope Clement XIV suppressed the Jesuit order through the bull Dominus ac Redemptor, giving in to pressure from the Spanish and French.

1773 In November, the empress Catherine determined not to promulgate the papal bull suppressing the Jesuits within Russian territory.  (Since the partition of Poland, many Catholics were now within Russian territory.)  Her action helped ensure the continuing survival of the order.

1774 The British Parliament protected the rights of Roman Catholics in Canada with the Quebec Act.

1776 The king of Poland banned executions for witchcraft.

1777 The empress Catherine approved the establishment of a Jesuit novitiate in Polotsk.

1779 St. Kosmas the Aetolian (1714-79) executed by Turkish authorities.  Under Turkish rule, cultural and religious life in Greece was dying.  St. Kosmas preached the faith in Greece rather after a Wesleyan fashion, traveling throughout the country.  Seeing the Orthodox faith and Greek language as inextricably connected, St. Kosmas also founded many Greek schools.

1779 John Murray founded the first Universalist Church, in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

1781 Publication of Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason.  At least partly in response to David Hume’s philosophy (see 1748), Kant speculated that the real world cannot be known, and that the world we know is determined by modes of understanding.  In this way, he re-established the sway of rationality over phenomena, at the expense of knowledge of the real world.

1781 The Holy Roman emperor Joseph II signed the Edict of Toleration, which gave non-Catholic minorities in the empire toleration.  As a result of the edict, some monasteries were dissolved, diocesan boundaries redrawn, and seminaries came under state control.  The edict also urged the cessation of some festivals and superstitious practices that conflicted with Enlightenment sentiments.

1782 Pope Pius VI (1775-99) visited the Holy Roman emperor Joseph II in Vienna.  He attempted to convince Joseph to weaken his 1781 Edict of Toleration, but Joseph was not moved.

1782 The Philokalia, an anthology of ascetic and mystical texts from the fourth to the fifteenth century,  was published in Vienna.  It was compiled by St. Macarius, Metropolitan of Corinth, and St. Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain.

1782 Without waiting for papal approval, the empress Catherine raised Mogilev to an archbishopric.  The pope finally agreed to the move in 1783.

1783 The Treaty of Versailles ended the American war of independence.

1784 Dr. Samuel Seabury consecrated bishop at Aberdeen, Scotland.  He then returned to Connecticut to lead the Protestant Episcopal Church in that state and in Rhode Island.

1784 The empress Catherine placed Irakli Lisovsky, a Uniate bishop, in charge of all Uniate secular and regular clergy.

1786 Sir William James proposed the hypothesis that Sanscrit, Latin, Greek, Germanic, and Celtic were all derived form a dead Indo-European original.

1786 On 7 May, the empress Catherine published an edict giving Jews civil equality in Russia.  This was the first such statement in Europe.

1786 Scipione di’ Ricci, bishop of Pistoia-Prato, presided over a synod held to reform the Catholic Church in Tuscany.  The synod of Pistoia approved a series of decrees that endorsed Jansenism and Gallicanism.  The Grand Duke of Tuscany, Peter Leopold (later the Holy Roman emperor Leopold II) enthusiastically supported the synod.

1787 On April 23, a national assembly of Tuscan bishops met in Florence.  It rejected the decrees of the synod of Pistoia (1786).

1788 The “Protestation of the English Catholics” was signed by the vicars-general and practically all Catholic clergy and laity of note.  It attested to Parliament that “we acknowledge no infallibility of the Pope.”  This statement was instrumental in the passage of the Relief Act in 1790.

1789 The first official prayer book of the Episcopal Church in the US issued.  The Communion Service was based on the 1764 Scottish service.  (See 1744.)

1790 Under the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, the French Assembly nationalized Church lands.  The Church became a department of the state and clergy, state officials.

1791 On March 10, Pope Pius VI (1775-99) denounced the French Revolution and the Civil Constitution of the Clergy.

1793 On January 21, Louis XVI, king of France, beheaded.

1793/5 Twenty-three hundred Uniate churches returned to Orthodoxy under Catherine the Great (1762-96).  Almost all of Red and White Ruthenia had come under Russian control with the second and third partitions of Poland in 1793 and 1795.

1794 Publication of Richard Brothers’ A Revealed Knowledge of the Prophecies and Times.  Brothers announced that the world would be destroyed in 1795.  He claimed to be the heir of king David and stated that the Jews would be restored to Palestine in 1798, with himself as their ruler.  Brothers ended his days in confinement as a lunatic.

1794 Pope Pius VI (1775-99) condemned 85 propositions of the synod of Pistoia (1786).  Bishop Ricci later recanted.

1794 The empress Catherine ordered that Jews pay twice the taxes Christians in the same social class were paying.

1794 Publication of Richard Brothers’ A Revealed Knowledge of the Prophecies and Times.  Brothers announced that the world would be destroyed in 1795.  He claimed to be the heir of king David and stated that the Jews would be restored to Palestine in 1798, with himself as their ruler.  Brothers ended his days in confinement as a lunatic.

1796 The Uniate Metropolitanate of Kiev ceased to exist.

1797 As a result of Bonaparte’s invasion of Italy (1796), Pope Pius VI (1775-99) signed the treaty of Tolentino, by which he surrendered Bologna and Tolentino.

1798 Pope Pius VI (1775-99) was forced into exile from Rome by French troops.  Premillenialists saw this as a fulfillment of prophecies of the 1260-day reign of “the Beast,” dating the rise of the papacy to 538.

1800 Orthodox influence in the Holy Land began a dramatic rise in this period.  Latin monks were lamenting that the Church of the Nativity had been in Greek hands for forty or fifty years.  A steady flow of financial aid and pilgrims streamed into the Holy Land from Russia.