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The Nicene Creed

The Apostles Creed | The Athanasian Creed

The Nicene-Constantinopolitan or Nicene Creed draws its great authority from the fact that it stems from the first two ecumenical Councils (in 325 and 381). It remains common to all the great Churches of both East and West to this day.

-Catechism of the Catholic Church §195


Summary History of the Nicene Creed
(Excerpt from Father Edward McNamara's Zenit column, June 26, 2006

The perspective the creed as we know it was first sketched out at the Councils of Nicaea (325) and Constantinople (381) although in its developed form it first appears in the acts of the Council of Chalcedon (451).

This creed was probably based on a baptismal profession of faith and encapsulated what were perceived as the essential tenets of the faith.

Above all it was a response to Arian and other heresies and defended the doctrine of the Trinity and Christ's true humanity and divinity. [...]

The practice of reciting the creed at Mass is attributed to Patriarch Timothy of Constantinople (511-517), and the initiative was copied in other churches under Byzantine influence, including that part of Spain which was under the empire at that time.

About 568, the Byzantine emperor Justinian ordered the creed recited at every Mass within his dominions. Twenty years later (589) the Visigoth king of Spain Reccared renounced the Arian heresy in favor of Catholicism and ordered the creed said at every Mass.

About two centuries later we find the practice of reciting the creed in France and the custom spread slowly to other parts of Northern Europe.

Finally, when in 1114, Emperor Henry II came to Rome for his coronation as Holy Roman Emperor, he was surprised that they did not recite the creed. He was told that since Rome had never erred in matters of faith there was no need for the Romans to proclaim it at Mass. However, it was included in deference to the emperor and has pretty much remained ever since, albeit not at every Mass but only on Sundays and on certain feasts.

Eastern and Western Christians use the same creed except that the Latin version adds the expression "filioque" (and the Son) to the article regarding the procession of the Holy Spirit, a difference that has given rise to endless and highly complex theological discussions.

Credo

Credo in unum Deum,
Patrem omnipoténtem, factórem caeli et terrae, visibílium ómnium et invisibílium.

Et in unum Dóminum Iesum Christum,
Fílium Dei unigénitum,
et ex Patre natum, ante ómnia saécula.
Deum de Deo, lumen de lúmine,

Deum verum de Deo vero,
génitum, non factum, consubstantiálem Patri:
per quem ómnia facta sunt.
Qui propter nos hómines et propter nostram salútem descéndit de caelis.

Et incarnátus est de Spíritu Sancto
ex María Vîrgine, et homo factus est.

Crucifíxus étiam pro nobis sub Póntio Piláto;
passus et sepúltus est,
et resurréxit tértia die, secúndum Scriptúras,
et ascéndit in caelum, sedet ad déxteram Patris.
Et íterum ventúrus est cum glória,
iudicáre vivos et mórtuos,
cuius regni non erit finis.

Et in Spíritum Sanctum, Dóminum et vivificántem:
qui ex Patre Filióque procédit.
Qui cum Patre et Filio simul adorátur et conglorificátur:
qui locütus est per prophétas.
Et unam, sanctam, cathólicam et apostólicam Ecclésiam.
Confíteor unum baptísma in remissiónem peccatórum.
Et exspecto resurrectiónem mortuórum,
et vitam ventúri saéculi. Amen

I believe in one God
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth
of all things visible and invisible.

I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the Only-begotten Son of God,
born of the Father before all ages.
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father;
through Him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation
He came down from heaven.

(At the following words, up to and including “and became man”, all bow)
and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate
of the Virgin Mary,
and became man.

For our sake He was crucified under Pontius Pilate,
He suffered death and was buried,
and rose again on the third day
in accordance with the Scriptures.
He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead.
His kingdom will have no end.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets;
I believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.
I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
I look forward to the resurrection of the dead
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

 


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