Council of Hieria

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The iconoclast Council of Hieria was a Christian council which viewed itself as ecumenical, but was later rejected by the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches. It was summoned by the Byzantine Emperor Constantine V in 754 in the palace of Hieria opposite Constantinople. The council supported the iconoclast position of the emperors of this period.

338 bishops attended. No patriarchs or representatives of the five patriarchs were present: Constantinople was vacant while Antioch, Jerusalem and Alexandria were controlled by Saracens.

It styled itself as the Seventh Ecumenical Council, though its opponents described it as the Mock Synod of Constantinople or the Headless Council. Its rulings were overturned almost entirely by the Second Council of Nicaea in 787, which supported the veneration of icons.

Legitimacy of the Council

After the later triumph of the Iconodules, this council became known as a robber council, i.e. as uncanonical. Edward J. Martin writes,[1] "On the ecumenical character of the Council there are graver doubts. Its president was Theodosius, archbishop of Ephesus, son of the Emperor Apsimar. He was supported by Sisinnius, bishop of Perga, also known as Pastillas, and by Basil of Antioch in Pisidia, styled Tricaccabus. Not a single Patriarch was present. The see of Constantinople was vacant. Whether the Pope and the Patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem were invited or not is unknown. They were not present either in person or by deputy. The Council of Nicaea [II] considered this was a serious flaw in the legitimacy of the Council. 'It had not the co-operation of the Roman Pope of the period nor of his clergy, either by representative or by encyclical letter, as the law of Councils requires.'[2] The Life of Stephen borrows this objection from the Acts and embroiders it to suit the spirit of the age of Theodore. It had not the approval of the Pope of Rome, although there is a canon that no ecclesiastical measures may be passed without the Pope.'[3] The absence of the other Patriarchs is then noticed."[2] This is a Roman argument: the Eastern Churches do not see the approval of the Pope as obligatory for ecumenical councils, and the patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem did not receive invitations to the subsequent second Council of Nicaea either.


  1. ^ Edward J. Martin, A History of the Iconoclastic Controversy , p.46
  2. ^ a b citing J. D. Mansi, XIII, 207d
  3. ^ citing Vit Steph, 1144c

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