The Second Council of Nicaea was convoked by Emperor Constantine VI and his mother Irene, under Pope Adrian I, and was presided over by the legates of Pope Adrian; it regulated the veneration of holy images. Between 300 and 367 bishops assisted.Preview This Lesson
Buy Councils #7: Council of Nicaea II, 787 A.D. for only $3.99
The Council began on September 24, 787, in the Church of Saint Sophia in Nicaea. Pope Hadrian sent two envoys — both named Peter. One was an Archpresbyter and the other was an Abbot. John and Thomas, both monks and priests, were representatives of the Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem Patriarchs who were in the conquered Islamic states and unable to come to the Council. Approximately 330 to 367 Bishops of the East participated in the Council. Patriarch Taradius of Constantinople conducted most of the business. There were monks, clerics, and imperial secretaries also present during the sessions.
The Imperial Sacra was read during the first session. This was the letter from the Empress Irene and her son Constantine to Pope Hadrian, requesting that a Council be called. The Sacra tells of the dramatic event that caused Irene to ask for the Council. The Patriarch of Constantinople, Paul, was ill. He abdicated his position and became a monk. When asked why, Paul stated that he feared to remain as Patriarch when a prior synod in Constantinople had condemned images which the rest of the Church revered. He was concerned about his soul and so had retired to a monastery. This caused the Empress great concern and as soon as Taradius was appointed Patriarch, she discussed having a Council. Also during the first session, three Bishops who had been against images — Basil of Ancyra, Theodore of Myra and Theodosius of Amorium — confessed their error and were received back into the Church.
Other sessions of the Council were spent in examining Scripture and the writings of the Fathers of the Church as to whether images were permitted. The Bishops found many passages which spoke approvingly of images. St. Gregory Nyssen wrote how he had cried whenever he saw a certain painting of the sacrifice of Isaac and this seemed to strike the Council deeply:
Basil, the most holy bishop of Ancyra, said: Many times the father had read the story, but perchance he had not wept; but when once he saw it painted, he wept.
John the most reverend monk and presbyter and representative of the Eastern high priests, said: If to such a doctor the picture was helpful and drew forth tears, how much more in the case of the ignorant and simple will it bring compunction and benefit….
Theodore the most holy bishop of Catanea, said: If the holy Gregory, vigilant. It is impossible in English to reproduce the play upon the words Γρηγόριος... Please purchase this lesson to continue learning.
Councils #7: Council of Nicaea II, 787 A.D. is part of the following course(s):