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Mapping Cultural Space Across Eurasia

People of God


The "Birth" of a Universal Church

El Greco (and workshop)
Pentecost, ca.1600


Global Distribution of Major Christian Denominations Today

“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other languages, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.” Act 2: 1-6 King James version















The Pentecost is considered as the birthday of the Christian Church. Fifty days after Jesus’ Resurrection the Holy Spirit has descended upon the Apostles and other followers and enabled them to spread the Christian dogma around the world, thus unifying the people in a global Christian community. However, this idea of a Church - almost a utopia in itself - has taken a different path than the one promised by the first congregation. The following centuries found the Christian world divided in different denominations, often hostile to each other. Divisions led to controversy and even wars. Today the global map depicts a fragmented Church, an image that finds almost no overlaps with El Greco’s icon of the Pentecost.