Christianity in Europe

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Christianity is the largest religion in Europe. Christianity has been practiced in Europe since the 1st century, and a number of the Pauline Epistles were addressed to Christians living in Greece, as well as Rome. According to a survey by Pew Research Center 75% of Europeans considered themselves Christians,[2] Catholics were at the time of the survey the largest Christian group in Europe, accounting for more than 48% of European Christians.[2] The second-largest Christian group in Europe was the Orthodox, who made up 32% of European Christians.[2] Although the Protestant Reformation began in Europe, only about 19% of European Christians were part of the Protestant tradition.[2] Russia is the largest Christian country in Europe by population, followed by Germany and Italy.[2]

For at least a millennium and a half, Europe has been nearly equivalent to Christian culture, even though the religion was inherited from West Asia.[3] The Christian culture was the predominant force in western civilization, guiding the course of philosophy, art, and science.[4][5]

Europe has a rich Christian culture, especially as numerous saints, martyrs and popes were European themselves. All of the popes from 741 to 2013 were from Europe.[6] Europe brought together many of the Christian holy sites and heritage and religious centers.[7]


Main article: Christendom

Early history[edit]

Historians believe that St. Paul probably wrote his first epistle to the Christians of Thessaloniki around 52 AD.[8] His Epistle to the Galatians was perhaps written even earlier, between 48 and 50 AD.[9] Other epistles written by Paul were directed to Christians living in Greece (1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Philemon, Philippians, 2 Thessalonians) and Rome (Romans) between 50-70s AD.

The Record or Saint Dorotheus Bishop of Tyre is that the Church at Tyre sent Saint Aristobulus (of the seventy) to Britain as bishop in AD37. The Church seems to have been begun by him around the Bristol Channel area and 150 years later we have names of bishops recorded. By AD550 there are recorded 120 bishops spread throughout the British Isles.

Armenia was the first country in the world to adopt Christianity as its state religion in 301AD. The Mar Thoma Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, Kodungaloor; the first Christian church in India, built 52 A. D. The oldest state-built Church in the world, Etchmiadzin Cathedral, was built between AD 301-303. It is the Seat of the Armenian Apostolic Church. The Roman Empire officially adopted Christianity in AD 380. During the Early Middle Ages, most of Europe underwent Christianisation, a process essentially complete with the Christianisation of Scandinavia in the High Middle Ages. The emergence of the notion of "Europe" or "Western World" is intimately connected with the idea of "Christendom", especially since Christianity in the Middle East was marginalized by the rise of Islam from the 7th century, a constellation that led to the Crusades, which although unsuccessful militarily were an important step in the emergence of a religious identity of Europe. At all times, traditions of folk religion existed largely independent from official denomination or dogmatic theology.

From the Middle Ages onwards, as the centralized Roman power waned in southern and central Europe, the dominance of the Catholic Church was the only consistent force in Europe.[4]

Movements in art and philosophy, such as the Humanist movement of the Renaissance and the Scholastic movement of the High Middle Ages, were motivated by a drive to connect Catholicism with Greek thought imported by Christian pilgrims.[10][11][12]

East–West Schism and Protestant Reformation[edit]

The East–West Schism of the 11th century and the Protestant Reformation of the 16th tore "Christendom" into hostile factions. Following the Age of Enlightenment of the 18th century, atheism and agnosticism became widespread in Western Europe. 19th century Orientalism contributed to a certain popularity of Buddhism, and the 20th century brought increasing syncretism, New Age and various new religious movements divorcing spirituality from inherited traditions for many Europeans. The latest history brought increased secularisation, and religious pluralism.[13]



  1. ^ Pew Forum, Religious Composition by Country, 2010-2050
  2. ^ a b c d e Christianity in Europe, excluding the Asian part of Russia, including the European part of Turkey
  3. ^ Dawson, Christopher; Glenn Olsen (1961). Crisis in Western Education (reprint ed.). p. 108. ISBN 978-0-8132-1683-6. 
  4. ^ a b Koch, Carl (1994). The Catholic Church: Journey, Wisdom, and Mission. Early Middle Ages: St. Mary's Press. ISBN 978-0-88489-298-4. 
  5. ^ Dawson, Christopher; Glenn Olsen (1961). Crisis in Western Education (reprint ed.). ISBN 978-0-8132-1683-6. 
  6. ^ "After Benedict: who will be the next Pope?". 12 February 2013. Retrieved 2013-03-12. 
  7. ^ Quoted in Robin Lane Fox, The Unauthorized Version, 1992:235.
  8. ^ Johannes Schade (2006), The Encyclopedia of World Religions, Foreign Media Books, ISBN 978-1-60136-000-7 
  9. ^ Howard Clark Kee, Franklin W. Young (1957), Understanding the New Testament, Prentice Hall, ISBN 978-0-13-948266-3 
  10. ^ Koch, Carl (1994). The Catholic Church: Journey, Wisdom, and Mission. High Middle Ages: St. Mary's Press. ISBN 9780884892984. 
  11. ^ Koch, Carl (1994). The Catholic Church: Journey, Wisdom, and Mission. Renaissance: St. Mary's Press. ISBN 9780884892984. 
  12. ^ Dawson, Christopher; Glenn Olsen (1961). Crisis in Western Education (reprint ed.). p. 25. ISBN 9780813216836. 
  13. ^ Henkel, Reinhard and Hans Knippenberg "The Changing Religious Landscape of Europe" edited by Knippenberg published by Het Spinhuis, Amsterdam 2005 ISBN 90-5589-248-3, pages 7-9
  14. ^ a b c d Predominant Religions
  15. ^ [1]
  16. ^ (Dutch) roman catholic church 4 million members out of a total Dutch population of 16,5 million

See also[edit]