[map of Greece] Independent republic of southeastern Europe. The country was evangelized by Saint Paul during his second and third missions, when he visited Neapolis, Philippi, where the first Christian Church on European soil was established, Thessalonica, Berooa, Corinth, and Athens, where he converted Dionysius the Areopagite, first Bishop of Athens. The Churches of Athens and Corinth were the most important, the latter being the first center of Christianity in Greece. According to tradition, Saint Andrew preached in Scythia, Thrace, Epirus, Macedonia, and Achaia, and was crucified at Patras; he is claimed by the patriarchs of Constantinople as their first predecessor. Saint Thomas and Saint Matthew also are said to have visited Greece, which formed part of Illyricum and was dependent on the Patriarchate of Rome. With the Eastern Schism, Greece passed to the Patriarchate of Constantinople and became embroiled in the Arian heresy, which reached its height under Michael Crerularius. The first restoration of the Latin Rite was attempted by the Crusaders, who in 1204 occupied Greece and the islands of the Archipelago; they were succeeded by the kings of Aragon (1311-1394) and the dukes of Florence (1394-1458), who tried unsuccessfully to reclaim the schismatics by persecution. The Turkish conquest in the 16th century relieved the schismatics who allied themselves with the invaders. Greece threw off the yoke of Turkey (1821-1829), became an independent kingdom (1830-1923), and in 1924 was established as a republic. The Greek Orthodox is the religion of the state and all activities detrimental to it are forbidden, though freedom of worship is granted to all denominations. The Apostolic delegation of Athens was erected in 1834 by Gregory XVI, and the majority of the Catholics, including many foreigners, such as Maltese, Italians, and Levantines, belong to the Latin Rite.

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