Asia Minor

Westernmost peninsula of Asia, name first used by Orosius, c.400; also known as Anatolia and the Levant. After receiving Greek civilization through the victories of Alexander, it became a prosperous Roman province, combining the advantages of both civilizations. Christianity was introduced by the Apostles Peter, Paul, and John, and spread more rapidly than in any other part of the Roman Empire. It was the home of Saint Irenaeus, Saint Polycarp, Saint Gregory of Nazianzus, Saint Gregory of Nyssa, Saint Basil the Great, and Saint John Chrysostom, and the seat of the first General Council (Nicaea in 325). Divided into two ecclesiastical provinces, Asia under Constantinople, and Pontus under Antioch, it included more than 300 episcopal sees, one for practically every town. Though protected for a short time from the Moslem invasions by the Byzantine Empire, Asia Minor has been controlled by the Turks since the 11th century, and a vicariate Apostolic has replaced the ruined sees.