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Christianity in Turkey


Islam has been the dominant religion in Turkey since the Ottoman forces captured Constantinople (Istanbul) in 1453. However, prior to that date, Constantinople was the center of the Eastern branch of the Holy Roman Empire. And going back even further in history, Turkey was an important center of Christian activities during the first several centuries A.D.

The ancient city of Ephesus, founded by the Greeks on the Aegean coast of Anatolia, was home to one of the most prominent Christian communities of the first century. It was to the members of that community that St. Paul directed his Epistle to the Ephesians. It is said that the Virgin Mary, accompanied by St. John, journeyed to Ephesus to spend her last years there.

St. Nicholas of Myra, a fourth-century Bishop, was the real-life person whose good works gave rise to the legends of Santa Claus. St. Nicholas died in Lycia, on the southern coast of Anatolia, in 342 A.D., where to this day a ceremony is held in his honor every December.

And it was in Capadocia (Kapadokya), in the center of modern-day Turkey, that early Christians, fearing persecution by their enemies, constructed a remote urban hideout in the eerie form of cave dwellings, shown in the photo above.

Thus, although today fewer than one percent of Turkey's inhabitants are Christians, they live in a land rich in associations with the history of their faith.

Online Resources

You can find a wealth of resources on many religions in the McKinley Internet Yellow Pages and the McKinley Magellan Internet Guide.

Posted July, 1996.
© Copyright 1996 OBS