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Canons of the seven ecumenical councils
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The holy and Ecumenical Seventh Council was held in Nicaea, Bithynia, the second to convene in that city, during the reign of Constantine and his mother Irene, A.D. 783. Of the Fathers attending it, 350 were Orthodox, but seventeen others joined it who had formerly been iconomachs, but who later repented and were accepted by it. So that in all there were 367. Outstanding and distinguished ones among them were Tarasius the Patriarch of Constantinople, Peter the Archpresbyter of Rome, and Peter, he too another presbyter and the abbot of the monastery of St. Sabbas in Rome, all of them acting as representatives of Pope Adrian. Thomas the Syncellus and hieromonach and John the hieromonach, filling the places of the Apostolic thrones, or, more explicitly, acting instead of Apollinarius of Alexandria, Theodoret of Antioch, and Elias of Jerusalem. The monks also exercised great influence in this Council, seeing that there were 136 of them present as archimandrites of monasteries. This Council was assembled against the ungodly iconomachs who used to disparage the Christians. The Council anathematized them, and especially Anastasius, Constantine, and Nicetas, the pseudopatriarchs who held office during the time of the iconomachs, on the ground that they not only refused to kiss and bow down in adoration before the holy icons, but they even called them idols, and burned them up, and trod them underfoot, and dragged them about in the streets, and in every way treated them insultingly and contemptuously. After abrogating (Act 6) the falsely so-called definition of the pseudo-council held in the reign of Constantine Copronymus in Blachernae, with deacons Epiphanius and John reading it; and after proclaiming St. Germanus, and John Damascene, and George Cyprius Orthodox and Saints, it issued a definition in its Act 7 worded as follows: “We define the rule with all accuracy and diligence, in a manner not unlike that befitting the shape of the precious and vivifying Cross, that the venerable and holy icons, painted or mosaic, or made of any other suitable material, be placed in the holy churches of God upon sacred vessels and vestments, walls and panels, houses and streets, both of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ, and of our intemerate Lady the holy Theotoke, and also of the precious Angels, and of all Saints. For the more frequently and oftener they are continually seen in pictorial representation, the more those beholding are reminded and led to visualize anew the memory of the originals which they represent and for whom moreover they also beget a yearning in the soul of the persons beholding the icons. Accordingly, such persons are prompted not only to kiss these and to pay them honorary adoration, what is more important, they are imbued with the true faith which is reflected in our worship which is due to God alone and which befits only the divine nature (worship is defined by St. Basil the Great as being an intense and continual and non-avolating culture respecting the object worshiped: see his Epitomized Definitions, p. 850). But this worship must be paid in the way suggested by the form of the precious and vivifying Cross, and the holy Gospels, and the rest of sacred institutions, and the offering of wafts of incense, and the display of beams of light, to be done for the purpose of honoring them, just as it used to be the custom to do among the ancients by way of manifesting piety. For any honor paid to the icon (or picture) redounds upon the original, and whoever bows down in adoration before the icon, is at the same time bowing down in adoration to the substance (or hypostasis) of the one therein painted. For thus the doctrine of our Holy Fathers, it was the tradition of the universal Church. The 7th Ec. C. is recognized by the c. of Holy Wisdom and all interpreters of the c. The proceedings of this 7th are found in vol. 11 of the Synods, pg. 719.