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Anglicanism is a Western Christian tradition which has developed from the practices, liturgy, and identity of the Church of England following the English Reformation.
Adherents of Anglicanism are called "Anglicans". The majority of Anglicans are members of national or regional ecclesiastical provinces of the international Anglican Communion, which forms the third-largest Christian communion in the world, after the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church. They are in full communion with the See of Canterbury, and thus the Archbishop of Canterbury, whom the communion refers to as its primus inter pares (Latin, "first among equals"). He calls the decennial Lambeth Conference, chairs the meeting of primates, and is the president of the Anglican Consultative Council. Some churches that are not part of the Anglican Communion or recognised by the Anglican Communion also call themselves Anglican, including those that are part of the Continuing Anglican movement and Anglican realignment.
Anglicans base their Christian faith on the Bible, traditions of the apostolic Church, apostolic succession ("historic episcopate"), and the writings of the Church Fathers. Anglicanism forms one of the branches of Western Christianity, having definitively declared its independence from the Holy See at the time of the Elizabethan Religious Settlement. Many of the new Anglican formularies of the mid-16th century corresponded closely to those of contemporary Protestantism. These reforms in the Church of England were understood by one of those most responsible for them, Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and others as navigating a middle way between two of the emerging Protestant traditions, namely Lutheranism and Calvinism.
In the first half of the 17th century, the Church of England and its associated Church of Ireland were presented by some Anglican divines as comprising a distinct Christian tradition, with theologies, structures, and forms of worship representing a different kind of middle way, or via media, between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism – a perspective that came to be highly influential in later theories of Anglican identity and expressed in the description of Anglicanism as "Catholic and Reformed". The degree of distinction between Protestant and Catholic tendencies within the Anglican tradition is routinely a matter of debate both within specific Anglican churches and throughout the Anglican Communion. Unique to Anglicanism is the Book of Common Prayer, the collection of services in one Book used for centuries. The Book is acknowledged as a principal tie that binds the Anglican Communion together as a liturgical rather than a confessional tradition or one possessing a magisterium as in the Roman Catholic Church.
After the American Revolution, Anglican congregations in the United States and British North America (which would later form the basis for the modern country of Canada) were each reconstituted into autonomous churches with their own bishops and self-governing structures; these were known as the American Episcopal Church and the Church of England in the Dominion of Canada. Through the expansion of the British Empire and the activity of Christian missions, this model was adopted as the model for many newly formed churches, especially in Africa, Australasia, and Asia-Pacific. In the 19th century, the term Anglicanism was coined to describe the common religious tradition of these churches; as also that of the Scottish Episcopal Church, which, though originating earlier within the Church of Scotland, had come to be recognised as sharing this common identity.
The medieval cathedrals of England
, dating from between approximately 1040 and 1540, are a group of twenty-five buildings which together constitute a major aspect of the country’s artistic heritage. Though diversified in style, they are united by a common function. As cathedrals
, each of these buildings serves as central church for an administrative region (or diocese) and houses the throne of a bishop
(“catedra” from the Latin). Each church also serves as a regional centre and a focus of regional pride and affection.
One of the points of interest of the English cathedrals is the way in which much of the history of medieval architecture can be demonstrated within a single building which typically has important parts constructed in several different centuries and with no attempt whatever to make the later work match or follow through on an earlier plan. For this reason a comprehensive architectural chronology must jump backwards and forwards from one building to another. Only at one building, Salisbury Cathedral, is stylistic unity demonstrated.
Saint Alban is venerated as the first-recorded British Christian martyr.
Jesus Christ supporting an English flag and staff in the crook of his right arm depicted in a stained glass window in Rochester Cathedral, Kent
A world map showing the Provinces of the Anglican Communion (Blue). Shown are the Churches in full communion with the Anglican Church: The Nordic Lutheran churches of the Porvoo Communion (Green), and the Old Catholic Churches in the Utrecht Union (Red).
Richard Hooker (1554–1600), one of the most influential figures in shaping Anglican theology and self-identity.
Queen Elizabeth I revived the Church of England in 1559, and established a uniform faith and practice. She took the title "Supreme Governor".
The Arms of the See of Canterbury.
The vestments of a deacon, including a stole over the left shoulder.
1854 image of the ruins of Jamestown Church, the first Anglican church in North America
Did you know...
(1501/1507–19 May 1536) was the second wife
of Henry VIII of England
and the mother of Elizabeth I of England
. Henry's marriage to Anne, and her subsequent execution, made her a key player in the political and religious upheaval that was the start of the English Reformation
. In 1525, Henry VIII became enamoured with Anne and began his pursuit of her. It soon became the one absorbing object of the king's desires to secure an annulment from his wife, Catherine of Aragon
so he could marry Anne. As a result of Anne's marriage to the king, the Church of England
was forced to break with Rome
and was brought under the king's control. Anne gave birth to a baby girl who would one day reign as Queen Elizabeth I of England
. When Anne failed to quickly produce a male heir, the king grew tired of her and a plot was hatched by Thomas Cromwell
to do away with her. Although the evidence against her was unconvincing, Anne was beheaded on charges of adultery
, and high treason
in 1536. Following the coronation of her daughter Elizabeth as queen, Anne was venerated as a martyr and heroine of the English Reformation, particularly through the works of John Foxe
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