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Albania, Orthodox Church of

John A. McGuckin

Subject Religion

Key-Topics atheism, church and state, missionaries

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405185394.2011.x


Christianity came to Albania in the 4th century from the north and south of the country, in the form of Byzantine as well as Latin missionaries. The country's borderland status, poised between the ancient Latin and Greek empires, gave it a liminal status, and the Christian tradition of the land has always tended to represent both Eastern and Western Christian aspects. Albania is today a religiously mixed country. About 20 percent of the population are Orthodox and 10 percent are Roman Catholic. This Christian land underwent extensive Islamicization after the fall of Byzantium to the Ottomans in 1453. The leadership, and much of the general populace, quickly converted to the religion of their new masters. The current Islamic population now numbers 70 percent of the total. The Orthodox of this land historically leaned to the Byzantine church, and in its golden age the metropolitanate of Ohrid was a provincial rival to Constantinople in the excellence of its liturgical and intellectual life. The Byzantine archeological remains there are still highly impressive and the metropolitanate's leadership was often staffed by significant Byzantine clergy and intellectuals. In 1767, pressured by its Ottoman political masters, the patriarchate of Constantinople absorbed the church under its direct ecclesiastical rule and thereafter directly appointed Albania's metropolitan archbishops, all of ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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