Twenty Ecumenical Councils, The

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Fr. Clement Raab, OFM - 136 pages PB

The Church is essentially conservative. Her conservatism is not merely a measure of prudence and good judgment; it is an intrinsic necessity. No matter what she may consider, decide, or undertake, she always harks back to the beginning.
After twenty [one] centuries the “pillar and ground of truth” has not moved a whit from her primitive position, while all other human foundations have either crumbled to dust or have been driven headlong by the maelstrom of this fast changing world. To these, the ideal looms hazily in the distant future; to the Church, it stands firmly in the distant past. The closer she aligns herself with Christ, the surer she is of ultimate success and victory, being “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone” (Eph. II:20).

The present volume is designed to serve as a ready survey and reference book on the history of the councils. It is to serve as an aid, primarily to the cleric or lay student who has neither the time nor the opportunity to delve into, and analyze sources and controversies, but who is satisfied to learn the outstanding facts and findings concerning which Church historians generally agree. This brief and positive sketch of the twenty great events in history, so vibrant with life and so far-reaching in their consequences, will afford him, we trust, a very definite and appreciable knowledge of the nature and history of Holy Mother Church.
Originally published in 1937, this re-issue of Fr. Raab’s classic work on the history of the Ecumenical Councils did not include anything about Vatican II, because its convocation still lay in the future. We have not added to his work since so much has already been written of the newest Council elsewhere.


First Ecumenical Council    Page 1
Place:    Nicaea
Time:    325
Pope:    St. Sylvester I, 314–335
Emperor:    Constantine the Great, 306–337
Work of the Council: Condemnation of the heresy of Arius by clearly defining the consubstantiality of God the Son with God the Father.

Second Ecumenical Council    Page 5
Place:    Constantinople (first).
Time:    381
Pope:    St. Damascus I, 367–384
Emperor:    Theodosius the Great, 379–394
Work of the Council: Condemnation of the heresy of Macedonius by clearly defining the divinity of the Holy Ghost.

Third Ecumenical Council     Page 8
Place:    Ephesus
Time:    431
Pope:    St. Celestine I, 423–432
Emperor:    Theodosius II, 408–450
Work of the Council: Condemnation of the heresy of Nestorius by clearly defining the divine maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Fourth Ecumenical Council    Page 13
Place:    Chalcedon.
Time:    451
Pope:    St. Leo I, the Great, 440–461   
Emperor:    Marcian, 450–457
Work of the Council: Condemnation of the heresy of Eutyches.

Fifth Ecumenical Council    Page 19
Place:    Constantinople (second).
Time:    553
Pope:    Vigilius, 540–555
Emperor:    Justinian I, 527–565
Work of the Council: Condemnation of the “Three Chapters.”

Sixth Ecumenical Council    Page 23
Place:    Constantinople (third).   
Time:    680
Pope:    St. Agatho, 678–682
Emperor:    Constantine IV, 668–685
Work of the Council: Condemnation of the heresy of the Monothelites.

Seventh Ecumenical Council    Page 29
Place:    Nicaea (second).
Time:    787
Pope:    Hadrian I, 772–795
Emperor:    Constantine VI, 780–801
Work of the Council: Condemnation of iconoclasm.

Eighth Ecumenical Council    Page 33
Place:    Constantinople (fourth).
Time:    869
Pope:    Hadrian II, 867–872
Emperor:    Basil, 867–896
Work of the Council: Removal of the schism caused by Photius.

Ninth Ecumenical Council    Page 37
Place:    Lateran in Rome (first).
Time:    1123
Pope:    Callistus II, 1118–1124
Emperor:    Henry V, 1106–1125
Work of the Council: Confirmation of the Concordat of Worms and abolition of the strife over investiture.

Tenth Ecumenical Council    Page 41
Place:    Lateran in Rome (second).
Time:    1139
Pope:    Innocent II, 1130–1143
Emperor:    Conrad III, 1137–1152
Work of the Council: Abolition of the papal schism and condemnation of the heresy of Peter of Bruys.

Eleventh Ecumenical Council    Page 44
Place:    Lateran in Rome (third).
Time:    1179
Pope:    Alexander III, 1159–1181
Emperor:    Frederick Barbarossa, 1152–1190
Work of the Council: Regulation of election of a pope and condemnation of the Albigensian heresy.

Twelfth Ecumenical Council    Page 47
Place:    Lateran in Rome (fourth).
Time:    1215
Pope:    Innocent III, 1198–1216
Emperor:    Otto IV, 1208–1215
Work of the Council: Recovery of the Holy Land, reform of discipline, condemnation of the Albigensian heresy.

Thirteenth Ecumenical Council    Page 52
Place:    Lyons in France (first).
Time:    1245
Pope:    Innocent IV, 1241–1254
Emperor:    Frederick II, 1215–1250
Work of the Council: The excommunication of Frederick II.

Fourteenth Ecumenical Council    Page 55
Place:    Lyons in France (second).
Time:    1274
Pope:    St Gregory X, 1271–1276
Emperor:    Rudolph of Habsburg, 1273–1291
Work of the Council: Help for the Holy Land, union of the Greeks with the Latins, reform of morals.

Fifteenth Ecumenical Council    Page 60
Place:    Vienne in France.
Time:    1311–1314
Pope:    Clement V, 1305
Emperor:    Henry VII, 1308–1313
Work of the Council: (1) The case of the Knights Templars; (2) help for the Holy Land; (3) reform of morals.

Sixteenth Ecumenical Council    Page 65
Place:    Constance.
Time:    1414
Pope:    Gregory XII, 1406–1417
    Martin V, 1417–1431
Emperor:    Sigismund, 1410–1437
Work of the Council: (1) Removal of the papal schism; (2) extirpation of heresy;
(3) general reformation of the Church in “Head and members.”

Seventeenth Ecumenical Council    Page 73
Place:    Basel 1431–1437
    Ferrara 1438
    Florence 1439–1443
Time:    1431–1443
Pope:    Eugene IV, 1431–1447
Emperor:    Albrecht II, 1438–1439
    Frederick III, 1440–1493
Work of the Council: (1) Extirpation of heresy and the Greek schism;
(2) re-establishment of peace among Christian Princes; (3) reform of the
Church in “Head and members.”

Eighteenth Ecumenical Council    Page 84
Place:    Lateran in Rome (fifth).
Time:    1512–1517
Pope:    Julius II, 1503–1513
    Leo X, 1513–1521
Emperor:    Maximilian I, 1493–1519
Work of the Council: (1) The rooting out of schism; (2) the reform of the Church; (3) the crusade against the Turks.

Ninteenth Ecumenical Council    Page 91
Place:    Trent.
Time:    1545–1549 (First Period)
    1551–1552 (Second Period)
    1562–1563 (Third Period)
Pope:    Paul III, 1534–1549
    Julius III, 1550–1555
    Plus IV, 1559–1565
Emperor:    Charles V, 1519–1556
    Ferdinand I, 1556–1564
Work of the Council: Extirpation of heresy (against the innovators of the
16th century) and reform of morals.

Twentieth Ecumenical Council    Page 108
Place:    Vatican, Rome.
Time:    1869–1870
Pope:    Plus IX, 1864–1878
Work of the Council: Condemnation of existing errors and definition of papal

Bibliography    Page 115
Index    Page 116

Fr. Clement Raab, OFM

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