Three hundred eighteen (318) Holy Fathers of First Ecumenical Council

Three hundred eighteen (318) Holy Fathers of First Ecumenical CouncilOn the 31st of May, our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates the First Ecumenical Council and the 318 God-bearing Holy Fathers who participated.

The Sixth Sunday after the Great Feast of All-Holy Pascha is observed by the Orthodox Church as the Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council. This day commemorates the 318 God-bearing Fathers who gathered in the city of Nicaea in 325 A.D. at the request of the Emperor, Saint Constantine the Great, to address the heresy of Arianism together with other issues that concerned the unity of the Church.

Arius was a protopresbyter of the Church of Alexandria, and in 315 A.D., he began to blaspheme against the Son of God saying that He was not the True God, consubstantial (of one essence) with the Father, but rather a work or creation of God and different from the essence and glory of the Father. He also taught that the Son of God had a beginning. These teachings shook the faithful at Alexandria. The Bishop of Alexandria, Alexander, attempted to correct Arius through admonitions, cut him from communion, and finally deposed him in 321 A.D. through a local council. Arius continued with his heretical teachings, creating controversy and division in the Churches of other cities, which led to a theological and ecclesiastical crisis throughout the Christian Church.

Moved with divine zeal and concern for unity, the Emperor Constantine the Great, equal to the Apostles, summoned the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea, a city of Bithynia. It was in this place that the bishops of the Church gathered in 325 A.D. All of them, with one mouth and one voice declared that the Son and Logos/Word of God is one in essence with the Father, True God of True God. The Holy Fathers composed the holy symbol of Faith, the Nicene creed:

“We believe in one God. The Father Almighty. The maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Only-begotten, begotten of the Father before all ages. Light of Light; True God of True God; begotten not made; of one essence with the Father, by Whom all things were made; Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and became man. And He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered, and was buried. And the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of the Father, and He shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead; whose Kingdom shall have no end.”

The Holy Fathers also anathematised Arius for his heretical beliefs and teachings, cutting him off from the Church. Recognising the divine Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council as heralds of the Faith after the divine Apostles, the Church of Christ has appointed this present Sunday for their annual commemoration, in thanksgiving and unto the glory of God, unto their praise and honour, and unto the strengthening of the True Faith.