The followers of Jesus called him Christ. Christ is a Greek word that means “chosen one.” Sometimes after his death, the followers of Jesus became known as Christians. Eventually, a group of Christians combined the stories of the life and wisdom of Jesus into four books known as the Gospels. Gospel means “good news.” The holy book of Christianity, the Bible, comprises two sections. The Old Testament consists of the sacred writings of the Jewish people and was written in Hebrew long before Jesus lived. The New Testament of the Bible includes the Gospels, along with letters by Christian writers. The Bible has been translated into more than 1,500 languages and read by more people than any other book.
About half of the world’s Christian population is Roman Catholic. Pope Francis (born Jorge Mario Bergoglio) is the leader of the Roman Catholic Church. Catholic is a Latin word that means “universal,” and at one time, almost all Christians followed the teachings of the Pope. Roman refers to the fact that the Pope has lived in Rome for over five hundred years. Most Christians in Eastern Europe belong to Eastern Orthodox Churches. The Eastern Orthodox churches split with the Roman church in the Middle Ages. Many European leaders, including Martin Luther, John Calvin, and King Henry VIII of England, protested against the Pope during the Reformation. In addition to Roman Catholicism, Christian sects in America today include Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Pentecostals, Mormons, and Episcopalians.