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The Eastern Orthodox Church, officially the Orthodox Catholic Church, is the second-largest Christian church, with approximately 260 million baptised members.It operates as a communion of autocephalous churches, each governed by its bishops in local synods, although roughly half of Eastern Orthodox Christians live in Russia. The church has no central doctrinal or governmental authority analogous to the Bishop of Rome, but the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople is recognised by all as primus inter pares ("first among equals") of the bishops. As one of the oldest surviving religious institutions in the world, the Eastern Orthodox Church has played a prominent role in the history and culture of Eastern and Southeastern Europe, the Caucasus, and the Near East.

Eastern Orthodox theology is based on the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed (known simply as the Nicene Creed). The church teaches that it is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic church established by Jesus Christ in his Great Commission, and that its bishops are the successors of Christ's apostles. It maintains that it practices the original Christian faith, as passed down by holy tradition. Its patriarchates, reminiscent of the pentarchy, and autocephalous and autonomous churches reflect a variety of hierarchical organisation. Of its innumerable sacred mysteries, it recognises seven major sacraments, of which the Eucharist is the principal one, celebrated liturgically in synaxis. The church teaches that through consecration invoked by a priest, the sacrificial bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ. The Virgin Mary is venerated in the Eastern Orthodox Church as the God-bearer, honoured in devotions.

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Emperor Manuel I
The Second Crusade (1147–1149) was the second major crusade launched by the Roman Catholic Church, called in 1145 in response to the fall of the County of Edessa the previous year. The Second Crusade was announced by Pope Eugene III, and was the first of the crusades to be led by European kings. The armies of the French and the German kings marched separately across Europe and were somewhat hindered by Byzantine emperor Manuel I Comnenus. Prior to the arrival of the Crusaders, Manuel had broken off his military campaign against the Sultanate of Rüm and signed a truce with his enemy Sultan Mesud I. This was done so that Manuel would be free to concentrate on defending his empire from the Crusaders, who had gained a reputation for theft and treachery since the First Crusade and were widely suspected of harbouring designs on Constantinople. Some of the French were outraged by Manuel's truce with the Seljuks and called for an alliance with Roger II of Sicily and an attack on Constantinople, but they were restrained by their King.

After crossing the Byzantine Empire into Anatolia, both the French and German armies were separately defeated by the Seljuk Turks. The remnants of their armies reached Jerusalem and, in 1148, participated in an ill-advised attack on Damascus. The crusade in the east was a failure for the Crusaders and a great victory for the Muslims. It would ultimately lead to the fall of Jerusalem and the Third Crusade at the end of the 12th century.

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Church of St John the Baptist Chesme, Russia
Credit: A.Savin

The Chesme Church is a small Russian Orthodox church at 12 Lensoveta Street, in Saint Petersburg, Russia. It was built by the Russian court architect Yury Felten in 1780, at the direction of Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia. A memorial church,it was erected adjacent to the Chesme Palace between Saint Petersburg and Tsarskoye Selo to commemorate the anniversary of Russia's 1770 victory over Turkish forces in Chesme Bay (Turkish: Çeşme) in the Aegean Sea during the Russo-Turkish War of 1768–1774.

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Saint Mammes and Duke Alexander Tapestry

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Pontius Pilate's wife is unnamed in the New Testament, where she appears a single time in the Gospel of Matthew. Alternate Christian traditions named her (Saint) Procula, Proculla, Procla, Prokla, Procle or Claudia. Also combinations like Claudia Procles or Claudia Procula are used. No verifiable biography exists on the life of Pilate’s wife. Details of her life are surmised from Christian legend and tradition. In the New Testament, the only reference to Pilate’s wife exists in a single sentence by Matthew. According to the Gospel of Matthew 27:19, she sent a message to her husband asking him not to condemn Jesus Christ to death: ‘While Pilate was sitting in the judgment hall, his wife sent him a message: “Have nothing to do with that innocent man, because in a dream last night, I suffered much on account of him.” Procula (Procla, Prokla) is recognized as a saint in two churches within the Eastern Christian tradition: the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, she is celebrated on 27 October. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church celebrates Pilate and Procula together on 25 June.

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