Christianity (Latin: Christianitas, from Greek, Khristos, the anointed one) is the monotheistic religion of those following the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, the purported messiah foretold by the people of Judaea. His life and works, depicted in the New Testament of the Bible, are the basis for the doctrine a two thousand year old religious institution, organized by the 335 Council of Alexandria as the Ecclesia Catholica (Catholic Church) - the one orthodox community of Christ. This Roman Catholicism is the largest religious denomination on the planet.
The primary tenets of the Roman Catholic Church were laid out in the twenty foundational laws of Christian doctrine - the legis kanones (canon laws). These declare the divinity of Jesus in hypostatic union with his humanity and that salvation will be granted to those who live a moral life or accept God as their benefactor. Thus, pagans, atheists and Christians alike may reach the supposed afterlife, Paradiso (Heaven), where they are said receive eternal bliss with God.
The religion of Christ started as a mere cult under the hegemony of the Roman Empire whose polytheism all but annihilated it in the beginning. Nevertheless, Christians distinguished themselves from Jews within a matter of decades and spread to major cities throughout the empire by 1053 AUC. When the Edict of Brundisium was issued by Caesar Constantine in 330, over half of imperial citizens were Christian. The gathering of bishops which came after the state's conversion definitively established the calculation of Pascha, settled the Arian controversy and created the Alexandrian Creed, the standard Christian profession of faith.
In modern times, the Catholic Church has 2.21 billion adherents worldwide, over 80% of which live in the empire. The 120 million non-Catholic Christians are almost exclusively Arians living beyond Rome's reach - largest of which is the native Germanic population of the western part of the Mongol World Empire.
Roman Catholic ChurchThe Ecclesia Catholica (from Greek, Katholikos, universal) or Roman Catholic Church is the primary organized body for global Christendom. Its history stretches to New Testament scripture in Matthew 16:18 where Jesus told Simon, his disciple, "I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church". In this way, Simon became Peter (Petros), first father of the Christian community. Early Christian practices spread out from Judaea into the gentile land of the Roman world.
Caesar Constantine declared Christianity the empire's state religion in 330 under the Edictum Brundisia. He immediately sought to reform the internally divide Christian community by calling bishops across the empire to Alexandria for the first historic ecumenical council. His conference not only settled matters of theological dispute but gave Christendom a clear leader for the future - a Pontifex Maximus in succession with the apostle St. Peter. Administrative areas were organized called Dioceses, giving Christians a sense of unity in the whole
Officially, any leader for a Diocese goes by the rank of Presbyteroi, of which there are two kinds: Episkopoi (Bishops) and Archepiskopoi (Archbishops). Among the episcopal seats was chosen the most primary seat, the Holy Seat (Sancta Sedis). On similar authority are the Apostolic seats which all confer the rank of Archepiskopos to their presbyteros.
The Bishop of Rome alone holds the titles Pontifex Maximus (Pope), Vicar of God and the honorific Most Holy Father. The last episkopos of Rome to sit merely as a Pope was Aegranus who united the powers of the papacy with those of the caesarship. When Pope and Caesar became one, it was necessary that the office that passed Christian dogma was selected purely by a convention of high priests under God - since the emperors were not - thus a new office of Deydiakonos (God's Messenger) was formed exclusively for the passing of dogma.
Under the new regime, Popes still held the power to reform the Church, issue papal bulls and confer sainthood on those deemed worthy by separate committees. Furthermore, as temporal leader of the Christian faith, the Pope must also recognize new dogma in order for it to be authoritative.
Although the term for an Episcopal Province varies depending on the region, there are officially 2,843 Dioceses and 730 Archdioceses in the world. Nearly all instances of the latter are within a major Roman city, but every other country has at least one Archdiocese to represent their Catholic population in the Church. Examples of these are the Archdiocese of Kyoto and Archdiocese of Stalkholm.
The Roman Catholic Church is divided into several Liturgia (Greek: Leitourgia, public ceremony) designed to personalize the religious rites to certain cultural groups. Currently there are 7 Catholic Liturgies (Rites): the Roman Rite; the Greek Rite; the Punic Rite; the Coptic Rite; the Aramaic Rite; the Indian Rite and the African Rite. Aside from many Colonial Provinces, every Roman Province ascribes to a particular rite which the majority of its Dioceses and churches follow. The problem in many of the colonies is that there is often no dominant cultural and religious group and so because there is a risk of offending some citizens, nearly all colonial provinces do not ascribe to one rite. The Roman Rite is by far the most widespread, particularly as it is the one practiced by Catholic churches abroad.
There are first of all several very simple differences between the different liturgies. The most notable of these is the language in which the Mass is performed and the Bibles are written in. The Roman Rite, obviously, is in Latin; the Greek Rite in Greek; the Punic Rite is in Phoenician; the Coptic Rite in Coptic; the African Rite is in Roman-Bantu; the Aramaic Rite in Aramaic and finally the Indian Rite various depending on the specific region of India. Some different Rites also have their own ceremonies for things like Baptism, Confirmation, marriage and even on the requirements for their clergy. All religious rites are accepted by both the Pope and the College of Cardinals and are each considered equally valid for religious purposes.
The idea for dividing the regions of the Church's power into specific liturgies came in the reign of Caesar Aurelius, the son of Emperor Sapiens. The architect of this system was the brilliant Saint Augustine of Hippo, the most respected theologian in Christian history. By offering different cultures their own rites he intended to better unify diverse peoples under the Church as well as stamp out the widespread heresies that were common during his time. Although eventually the Celtic Liturgy was assimilated into the Roman one, in the 1600's another, the Indian Rite, was created by Pope (Caesar) Alexander X. This move is often lauded for its role in the success of converting many of the people of India to Christianity.
To distinctly represent the Pope in each liturgy, an Archepiscopal Cathedral acts as the centerpoint for each one. The Roman Rite for instance is centered on the Cathedral of St. Peter in Rome, which is the seat of the Pope. The Coptic Rite then focuses on the Cathedral of St. Mark in Alexandria, which is one of the largest churches on the continent. The Greek Rite is gravitates around the Cathedral of St. George in Constantinople, whilst the African Rite has the Cathedral of St. Stephen, which is located in a huge monastery in Somalia. Then at last the Punic Rite centers on the Cathedral of St. Augustine in Carthage and the Indian Rite on the Cathedral of St. Simon Cananeus in Hastinaporum. The Archepiskopoi of those Cathedrals have specially important positions within the Church hierarchy and are all Cardinals in the College.
Catholics constitute 28% of all human beings, slightly exceeding the membership of all Buddhist groups. Of all Catholics, nearly two billion live under Roman rule, forming 92% of the empire's population. The enormously high adherence rate can be blamed on the significance that religion continues to play in Roman society. However, only one missionary organization exists, made in 735, the Society of St. Paul. The largest Christian communities beyond the empire are the province of Armenia in the Ottoman Caliphate, the southern states of the Maya Conglomerate, and some of the western end of the island of Honshu in Japan.
Non-Catholic Christians - such as Arians - are a rarer breed of monotheist, only slightly more populous than Jews. They are, however, widely spread due to the diaspora that followed the Council of Alexandria and the general lack of unified leadership.
Societas Apostolu Paulu
The one Church affiliated missionary group is the Society of the Apostle Paul (Societas Apostolu Paulu), an organization of about 5,480 "brothers" who integrate with other cultures to spread the word of the Bible. They've been especially successful within Rome, particularly in South Africa and India, where they've contributed greatly to the conversion of the majority of their populations. The Ierapostolos (Pauluit Missionaries) operate under very strict guidelines, layed out in the organization's Formula. They practice strict non-violence, even anti-violence and are even made to take the Hippocratic Oath upon entering the organization. In this way many Ierapostolos serve as Doctors in impoverished parts of the world, and when working back home, their organization serves as one of the most prolific institutes for theological studies in the world. The very core of the organization is to act as Paul did, spreading the Word to strangers and putting ones life on the line to do so. The organization's leader, the Magnus Dominus (Grandmaster) is one of the few ranks in the Roman Empire to hold a title of Princeps, and is considered first among the clergy. Though not a member of government, the Magnus Dominus sits at most meetings of the Curia Regis and so is one of the many advisors to the Caesar.