Church Fathers: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 12: 32.01.01 Letter I-IX

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Church Fathers: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 12: 32.01.01 Letter I-IX

TOPIC: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 12 (Other Topics in this Collection)
SUBJECT: 32.01.01 Letter I-IX

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Letter I. To the Bishop of Aquileia.

I. Through the Negligence of the Authorities the Pelagian Heresy Has Been Spreading in His Province.

From the account of our holy brother and fellow-bishop Septimus which is contained in the subjoined letterhyperlink , we have understood that certain priests and deacons and clergy of various ordershyperlink in your province who have been drawn in by the Pelagian or Caelestian heresy, have attained to catholic communion without any recantation of their peculiar error being required of them; and that, whilst the shepherds set to watch were fast asleep, wolves clothed in sheep-skins but without laying aside their bestial minds have entered into the Lord's sheep-fold: and that they make a practice of what is not allowed even to non-offenders by the injunctions of our canons and decreeshyperlink : to wit that they should leave the churches in which they received or regained their office and carry their uncertainty in all directions, loving to continue wandering and never to remain on the foundations of the Apostles. For without being sifted by any test or bound by any previous confession of faith, they make a great point of their right to the privilege of going to one house after another under cover of their being in communion with the Church, and corrupting the hearts of many through men's ignorancehyperlink of their false name. And yet I am sure they could not do this, if the rulers of the churches had exercised their rightful diligence in the matter of receiving such, and had not allowed any of them to wander from place to place.

II. He Orders a Provincial Synod to Be Convened to Receive the Recantation of the Heretics in Express Terms.

Accordingly, lest this should be attempted any further, and lest this pernicious habit, which owes its introduction to certain persons' negligence, should result in the overthrow of many souls, by this our authoritative injunction we charge you, brother, to give diligence that a synod of the clergyhyperlink of your province be convened, and all, whether priests or deacons or clerics of any rank who have been re-admitted from their alliance with the Pelagians and the Caelestians into catholic communion with such precipitation that they were not first constrained to recant their error, be now at least forced to a true correction, which can advantage themselves and hurt no one, since their deceitfulness has in part been disclosed. Let them by their public confession condemn the authors of this presumptuoushyperlink error and renounce all that the universal Church has repudiated in their doctrine: and let them announce by full and open statements, signed by their own hand, that they embrace and entirely approve of all the synodal decrees which the authority of the Apostolic See has ratified to the rooting out of this heresy. Let nothing obscure, nothing ambiguous be found in their words. For we know that their cunning is such that they reckon that the meaning of any particular clause of their execrable doctrine can be defended if they only keep it distinct from the main body of their damnable viewshyperlink .

III. The Pelagian View of God's Grace is Unscriptural.

And when they pretend to disapprove of and give up all their definitions to facilitate evasion through their complete art of deception, unless their meaning is detected, they make exception of the dogma that the grace of God is given according to the merits of the recipient. And yet surely, unless it is given freely, it is not a gifthyperlink , but a price and compensation for merits: for the blessed Apostle says, "by grace ye have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves but it is the gift of God; not of works lest any should perchance be exalted. For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus in good works, which God prepared that we should walk in themhyperlink ." Thus every bestowal of good works is of God's preparing: because a man is justified by grace rather than by his own excellence: for grace is to every one the source of righteousness, the source of good and the fountain of merit. But these heretics say it is anticipated by men's natural goodness for this reason, that that nature which(in their view) is before grace conspicuous for good desires of its own, may not seem marred by any stain of original sin, and that what the Truth says may be falsified: "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was losthyperlink ."

IV. Prompt Measures are Essential.

You must take heed, therefore, beloved, and with great diligence make provision that offences which have long been removed be not set up again through such men and that no seed of the same evil spring up in your province from a doctrine which has once been uprooted: for not only will it take root and grow, but also will taint the future generations of the Church with its poisonous exhalations. Those who wish to appear corrected must purge themselves of all suspicion: and by obeying us, prove themselves ours. And if any of them decline to satisfy our wholesome injunctions, be he cleric or layman, he must be driven from the society of the Church lest he deal treacherously by others' safety as well as forfeit his own soul.

V.the Canons Must Be Enforced Against Clerics Who Wonder from One Church to Another.

We admonish you also to restore to full working that part of the discipline of the Church whereby the holy Fathers and we have often in former times decreed that neither in the grade of the priesthood nor in the order of the diaconate nor in the lower ranks of the clergy, is any one at liberty to migrate from church to church: to the end that each one may persevere where he was ordained without being enticed by ambition, or led astray by greed, or corrupted by men's evil beliefs: and thus that if any one, seeking his own interests, not those of Jesus Christhyperlink , neglect to return to his own peoplehyperlink and church, he may be reckoned out of the pale both in respect of promotion and of the bond of communion. But do not doubt, beloved, that we must be somewhat sorely moved if, as we think not, our decrees for the maintenance of the canons and the integrity of the faith be neglected: because the short-comings of the lower ordershyperlink are to be laid at the door of none so much as of those slothful and remiss rulers who often foster much pestilence by shrinking from the application of a stringent remedy.


1 It is to be supposed that the letter of Septimus, bp. of Altinum, was sent with this letter. See Lett. XVIII. n. 3.

2 Viz. Members of the minor order as they are now called, subdeacons, exorcists, &c.

3 It has been the rule at least since the council of Nicaea (325) that the clergy should stay in the church (or "diocese" as we should call it) of their ordination, cf. Canons of Nicoea his qui Ecclesias deserunt et ad alias transeunt, and xxii. De non suscipiendis alterius Ecclesioe clericis.And we often kind Leo insisting on the observance of the rule.

4 Iiscientiam: the general reading being scientiam, the sense of which is not clear.

5 Sacerdotum: I am in doubt as to what this term here includes, think it probable that all ranks of the clergy were to be summoned. The words sacerdos and antistes in early ecclesiaslical Latin very often mean the bishop (episcopus) specifically rather than the presbyter (sacerrdos secundi ordinis), because it was the bishop who offered the "sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving" (i.e the Eucharist),and the presbyter only in his default; but the term sacerdos does certainly often include the presbyters and also the deacons (sacerdotes tertii ordinis) when In connexion with the priests and bishops, and it seems likely that the whole body of the clergy of the province would be summoned to the synod: see Bright's note 110: also Bingham, Antiq., Bk. 11., chap. xix., §§ 14,15.

6 Superbi (proud): the epithet is well chosen and not a random one: for pride and presumption are at the root of the Pelagian views as birth-sin and baptismal grace: perfectionism is little in accordance with Christian humility.

7 For the same sentiment cf. Prosper, de ingratis, v. 188.

8 The reader need hardly be reminded that in the New Testement "grace" (Lat. Gratia, Gk. xarij) signifies "a free gift."

9 Eph. ii. 8-10.

10 S. Luke ix. 10. Between this and the next chapter some of the mss. And the earlier editions insert a passage from Augustine's Enchiridion, which thus formed chapter iv.

11 A reminiscence of Phil. ii. 21.

12 Plebem: this being the regular term for the "Laity" in early Christian Latin.

13 Sc. Of the clergy.

Letter II. To Septimus, Bishop of Altinum.

(Caution must be observed in receiving Pelagians back, and clergy must stay in the church of their ordination.)

Letter III. From Paschasinus, Bishop of Lilybaeum.

(About the keeping of Easter in 444; recommending the Alexandrine calculation.)

Letter IV. To the Bishops Appointed in Campania, Picenum, Etruria, and All the Provinces.

Leo, bishop of the city of Rome, to all the bishops appointed in Campania, Picenum, Etruria, and all the provinces, greeting in the Lord.

I. Introduction.

As the peaceful settlement of the churches causes us satisfaction, so are we saddened with no slight sorrow whenever we learn that anything has been taken for granted or done contrary to the ordinances of the canons and the discipline of the Church: and if we do not repress such things with the vigilance we ought, we cannot excuse ourselves to Him who intended us to be watchmenhyperlink , for permitting the pure body of the Church, which we ought to keep clean from every stain, to be defiled by contact with wicked schemers, since the framework of the members loses its harmony by such dissimulation.

II. Slaves and Serfs (Coloni) are Not to Be Ordained.

Men are admitted commonly to the Sacred Order who are not qualified by any dignity of birth or character: even some who have failed to obtain their liberty from their masters are raised to the rank of the priesthoodhyperlink , as if sorry slaves were fit for that honour; and it is believed that a man can be approved of God who has not yet been able to approve himself to his master. And so the cause for complaint is twofold in this matter, because both the sacred ministry is polluted by such poor partners in it, and the rights of masters are infringed so far as unlawful possession is rashly taken of themhyperlink . From these men, therefore, beloved brethren, let all the priests of your province keep aloof; and not only from them, but from others also, we wish you to keep, who are under the bond of origin or other condition of servicehyperlink : unless perchance the request or consent be intimated of those who claim some authority over them. For he who is to be enrolled on the divine service ought to be exempt from others, that he be not drawn away from the Lord's camp in which his name is entered, by any other bonds of duty.

III. A Man Who Has Married Twice or a Widow is Not Eligible as a Priest.

Again, when each man's respectability of birth and conduct has been established, what sort of person should be associated with the ministry of the Sacred Altar we have learnt both from the teaching of the Apostle and the Divine precepts and the regulations of the canons, from which we find very many of the brethren have turned aside and quite gone out of the way. For it is well known that the husbands of widows have attained to the priesthood: certain, too, who have had several wives, and have led a life given up to all licentiousness, have had all facilities put in their way, and been admitted to the Sacred Order, contrary to that utterance of the blessed Apostle, in which he proclaims and says to such, "the husband of one wifehyperlink ," and contrary to that precept of the ancient law which says by way of caution: "Let the priest take a virgin to wife, not a widow, not a divorced womanhyperlink ." All such persons, therefore, who have been admitted we order to be put out of their offices in the church and from the title of priest by the authority of the Apostolic See: for they will have no claimhyperlink to that for which they were not eligible, on account of the obstacle in question: and we specially claim for ourselves the duty of settling this, that if any of these irregularities have been committed, they may be corrected and may not be allowed to occur again, and that no excuse may arise from ignorance: although it has never been allowed a priest to be ignorant of what has been laid down by the rules of the canons. These writings, therefore, we have addressed to your provinces by the hand of Innocent, Legitimus and Segetius, our brothers and fellow-bishops: that the evil shoots which are known to have sprung up may be torn out by the roots, and no tares may spoil the Lord's harvest. For thus all that is genuine will bear much fruit, if that which has been wont to kill the growing crop be carefully cleared away.

IV. Usurious Practices Forbidden for Clergy and for Laityhyperlink .

This point, too, we have thought must not be passed over, that certain possessed with the love of base gain lay out their money at in terest, and wish to enrich themselves asusurers. For we are grieved that this is practised not only by those who belong to the clergy, but also by laymen who desire to be called Christians. And we decree that those who have been convicted be punished sharply, that all occasion of sinning be removed.

V. A Cleric May Not Make Money in Another's Name Any More Than in His Own.

The following warning, also, we have thought fit to give, that no cleric should attempt to make money in another's name any more than in his own: for it is unbecoming to shield one's crime under another man's gainshyperlink . Nay, we ought to look at and aim at only that usury whereby what we bestow in mercy here we may recover from the Lord, who will restore a thousand fold what will last for ever.

VI. Any Bishop Who Refuses Consent to These Rules Must Be Deposed.

This admonition of ours, therefore, proclaims that if any of our brethren endeavour to contravene these rules and dare to do what is forbidden by them, he may know that he is liable to deposition from his office, and that he will not be a sharer in our communion who refuses to be a sharer of our discipline. But lest there be anything which may possibly be thought to be omitted by us, we bid you, beloved, to keep all the decretal rules of Innocent of blessed memoryhyperlink , and also of all our predecessors, which have been promulgated about the orders of the Church and the discipline of the canons, and to keep them in such wise that if any have transgressed them he may know at once that all indulgence is denied him.

Dated 10th of October, in the consulship of the illustrious Maximus(a second time) and Paterius(a.d. 443).


1 Cf. Ezek. iii. 17.

2 Sacerdotii see note 5 on Letter 1.

3 Though no doubt S. Leo's language is here harsh and offensive to modern ears, it is not. I think, substantially out of agreement with S. Paul's own teaching (cf. Philemon: 1 Cor. vii. 21; or Ephes vi. 5; Col. iii. 22; Tit. ii. 9), and certainly not with th spirit of the age. The 73rd Apost. Canon forbids any slave to be ordained without his master's consent, and without previously obtaining his freedom. However, in the times of S. Jerome S. Basil and S. Greg. Nazianzen, we find cases of slaves being ordained. However much we in the latter half of the nineteenth century regret to hear a great father of the Church speak in this way we must not forget that In the first half of this self-same century the very same opinion would have been bold on the subject in many parts of the civilized world.

4 Qui originali (al. Origini) aut alicui condicioni obligati sunt. The class of people alluded to were the coloni (serfs): such of them as were so by birth were called originarii and there were other classes of them also (alicui condicioni obligati). The essential difference between all coloni and the ordinary servi was that the latter's service was personal. the former were servi terroe, adscripti glaeboe. Thus there is a strong resemblance between them and the villeins (villani) of medieval and modern Europe. For the order concerning them here given, cf. 2nd Council of Orleans (538), which ordains "ut nullus servilibus colonariisque condicibus obligatus iuxta statuta sedis Apostolicoe ad honeres ecclesiasticos admittatur nisi prius aut testamento aut per tabulas legitime constiterit absolutum.

5 1 Tim. iii, 2, unius uxoris virum with the Vulgate, cf. Letter xii.

6 Lev. xxi. 13, 14, cf. a letter of Innocent I. to Victricius bishop of Rothomagus (Rouen) chap. v., ut mulierem (viduam) clericus non ducat uxorem: quia scriptum est: sacerdos virginem uxorem accipiat non eiectam," and for the former quotation, cf. Ibid. chap vii. Ne is qui secundam duxerit uxorem, clericus fiat: quia scriptum est unius virum. The 18th Apostolic Canon gives a similar order. All these rules would seem to refer to marriage before, not after, ordination. The latter was against the spirit of the early Church.

7 The older editions here add pro arbitrio (by dispensation). which Quesnel considers a gloss added later when dispensation was sometimes granted to digamous clerks.

8 The practice of usury and trading generally is often forbidden In the Canons, &c., for the clergy, but its Prohibition for the laity is much more unusual: cf., however, Canon V. of the Council ofCarthage (4 19), quod (sc. Fenus accipere in laicis, reprehenditur id multo magis debet et in clericis praedamnari. Scripture certainly is against the clergy participating in lucrative employments, though it was not easy always to prevent them: it had become, for Instance. a common practice in S. Cyprian's day in the North African Church (cf. de laps. 6). But the secular laws certainly countenanced it in the laity (As Aug. Ep. 154 acknowledges). Leo the Emperor is said by Crotius to have been the first who "existimans omne fenus Christiano interdictum, lege id ipsum communi sanxit"(Quesnel).

9 Crimen suum commodis alienis impendere.I am not sure that this can mean what I say.

10 This was S. Innocent 1.. who was Pope from 402 to 417. One of his decretal letters was quoted from in note 1 to chap. iii. Of this Letter.

Letter V. To the Metropolitan Bishops of Illyricum.

(Appointing Anastasius of Thessalonica his Vicar in the province, and expressing his wishes about its government, for which see Letter VI.)

Letter VI. To Anastasius, Bishop of Thessalonica.

Leo to his beloved brother Anastasius.

I. He is Pleased to Have Been Consulted by the Bishopshyperlink Illyricum an Important Questions.

The brotherly love of our colleagues makes us read with grateful mind the letters of all priestshyperlink ; for in them we embrace one another in the spirit as if we were face to face, and by the intercourse of such epistles we are associated in mutual conversehyperlink . But in this present letter the affection displayed seems to us greater than usual: for it informs us of the state of the churcheshyperlink , and urges us to a vigilant exercise of care by a consideration of our office, so that being placed, as it were, on a watch-tower, according to the will of the Lord, we should both lend our approval to things when they run in accordance with our wishes, and correct, by applying the remedies of compulsion, what we observe gone wrong through any aggression: hoping that abundant fruit will be the result of our sowing the seed, if we do not allow those things to increase which have begun to spring up to the spoiling of the harvest.

II. Following the Examples of His Predecessors He Nominates Anastasius Metropolitan of Illyricum.

Now therefore, dear brother, that your request has been made known to us through our son Nicolaus the priest, that you, too, like your predecessors, might receive from us in our turn authority over Illyricum for the observance of the rules, we give our consent and earnestly exhort that no concealment and no negligence may be allowed in the management of the churches situated throughout Illyricum, which we commit to you in our stead, following the precedent of Siricius of blessed remembrance, who then, for the first time, acting on a fixed method, entrusted them to your last predecessor but onehyperlink , Anysius of holy memory, who had at the time well deserved of the Apostolic See, and was approved by after events: that he might render assistance to the churches situated in that province whom he wished kept up to discipline. Noble precedents must be followed with eagerness that we may show ourselves in all things like those whose privileges we wish to enjoy. We wish you to imitate your last predecessorhyperlink but one as well as of your immediate predecessor who is known equally with the former to have both deserved and employed this privilege: so that we may rejoice in the progress of the churches which we commit to you in our stead. For as the conduct of matters progresses creditably when committed to one who acts well and carries out skilfully the duties of the priestly position, so it is found to be only a burden to him who, when power is entrusted to him, uses not the moderation that is due.

III. Ordinees Must Be Carefully Selected with Especial Reference to Thecanons of the Church.

And so, dear brother, hold with vigilance the helm entrusted to you, and direct your mind's gaze around on all which you see put in your charge, guarding what will conduce to your reward and resisting those who strive to upset the discipline of the canons. The sanction of God's law must be respected, and the decrees of the canons should be more especially kept. Throughout the provinces committed to thee let such priests be consecrated to the Lord as are commended only by their deserving life and position among the clergy. Permit no licence to personal favour, nor to canvassing, nor to purchased votes. Let the cases of those who are to be ordained be investigated carefully and let them be trained in the discipline of the Church through a considerable period of their life. But if all the requirements of the holy Fathers are found in them, and if they have observed all that we read the blessed Apostle Paul to have enjoined on such, viz., that he be the husband of one wife, and that she was a virgin when he married her, as the authority of God's law requires,[then ordain themhyperlink ]. And this we are extremely anxious should be observed, so as to do away with all place for excuses, lest any one should believe himself able to attain to the priesthood who has taken a wife before he obtained the grace of Christ, and on her decease joinedhimself to another after baptism. Seeing that the former wife cannot be ignored, nor the previous marriage put out of the reckoning, and that he is as much the father of the children whom he begot by that wife before baptism as he is of those whom he is known to have begotten by the second after baptism. For as sins and things which are known to be unlawful are washed away in the font of baptism, so what are allowedor lawful are not done away.

IV. The Metropolitans Must Not Ordain Hastily Nor Without Consultingtheir Primate.

Let one be ordained a priesthyperlink throughout these churches inconsiderately; for by this means ripe judgments will be formed about those to be elected, if your scrutiny, brother, is dreaded. But let any bishop who, contrary to our command, is ordained by his metropolitan without your knowledge, know that he has no assured position with us, and that those who have taken on themselves so to do must render an account of their presumptionhyperlink . But as to each metropolitan is committed such power that he has the right of ordaining in his province, so we wish those metropolitans to be ordained, but not without ripe and well-considered judgment. For although it is seemly that all who are consecrated priests should be approved and well-pleasing to God, yet we wish those to have peculiar excellence whom we know are going to preside over the fellow-priests who are assigned to them. And we admonish you, beloved, to see to this the more diligently and carefully, that you may be proved to keep that precept of the Apostles which runs, "lay hands suddenly on no manhyperlink ."

V. Points Which Cannot Be Settled at the Provincial Synod are to Be Referred to Rome.

Any of the brethren who has been summoned to a synod should attend and not deny himself to the holy congregation: for there especially he should know that what will conduce to the good discipline of the Church must be settled. For all faults will be better avoided if more frequent conferences take place between the priests of the Lord, and intimate association is the greatest help alike to improvement and to brotherly love. There, if any questions arise, under the Lord's guidance they will be able to be determined, so that no bad feeling remains, and only a firmer love exists among the brethren. But if any more important question spring up, such as cannot be settled there under your presidency, brother, send your report and consult us, so that we may write back under the revelation of the Lord, of whose mercy it is that we can do ought, because He has breathed favourably upon ushyperlink : that by our decision we may vindicate our right of cognizance in accordance with old-established tradition and the respect that is due to the Apostolic See: for as we wish you to exercise your authority in our stead, so we reserve to ourselves points which cannot be decided on the spot and persons who have made appeal to us.

VI. Priests and Deacons May Not Be Ordained on Weekdays Any More Than Bishops.

You shall take order that this letter reach the knowledge of all the brethren, so that no one hereafter find an opportunity to excuse himself through ignorance in observing these things which we command. We have directed our letter of admonitionhyperlink to the metropolitans themselves also of the several provinces, that they may know that they must obey the Apostolic injunctions, and that they obey us in beginning to obey you, brother, our delegate according to what we have written. We hear, indeed, and we cannot pass it over in silence, that only bishops are ordained by certain brethren on Sundays only; but presbyters and deacons, whose consecration should be equally solemnhyperlink , receive the dignity of the priestly office indiscriminately on any day, which is a reprehensible practice contrary to the canons and tradition of the Fathershyperlink , since the custom ought by all means to be kept by those who have received it with respect to all the sacred orders: so that after a proper lapse of time he who is to be ordained a priest or deaconhyperlink may be advanced through all the ranks of the clerical office, and thus a man may have time to learn that of which he himself also is one day to be a teacher. Dated the 12th of January, in the consulship of Theodosius(18th time) and Albinus(444).


1 The letter to the college of bishops was written the same day, and forms No. 5 in the Leonine series(in Migne).

2 Sacerdotum here obviously = episcoporum, see Letter 1. note 5.

3 quibus sermone epistolis mutuo commeant bus sociamur. notice the interlaced order of the words in the sentence which is not, I think, without design as quaintly expressing his meaning.

4 Sc. In your province.

5 Siricius was Bishop of Rome 384-398. Damasus, 366-384, is said by Innocent 1. to have been the first to do this but not like Siricius, "acting on a fixed method," certa quadam ratione.

6 Proedecessoris tui. Anysius is said to have lived on into the time of Innocent. Anastasius' immediate predecessor, selected by Innocent (decessoris tui in the next line), was named Rufus.

7 These words are not found in the mss. apparently, but are necessary to the sense. For the requirement cf. Letter IV. chapter iii.

8 Here the word is antistes and no doubt it signifies "bishop," as the next sentence clearly shows.

9 The organization of the province then included(1)the bishops under (2) metropolitans of district under (3) one supreme primate of the province, who was in his turn responsible to the Bishop of Rome.

10 1 Tim. v. 22.

11 The word is as, aspiraverit (the notion of which is to favour), not inspiraverit (to Inspire), as we might have expected.

12 Viz., Letter V.

13 Circa quos par consecratio fieri debet. I take this as a valuable statement in the mouth of Leo, who so seldom refers specifically to the lower orders of the ministry.

14 There seems to be no canon on the point before Leo's time: but he alludes to the tradition again in Letter IX. Chap. 1 and CXI. Chap. 2 (q.v.).

15 Qui sacerdos (? Secundi ordinis here) vel levita (=diaconus) ordinandus est.

Letter VII. To the Bishops Throughout Italy.

Leo to all the bishops set over the provinces of Italy greeting.

I. Many Manichaeans Have Been Discovered in Rome.

We call you to a share in our anxiety, that with the diligence of shepherds you may take more careful heed to your flocks entrusted to you that no craft of the devil's be permitted: lest that p ague, which by the revealing mercy of the Lord is driven off from our flocks through our care, should spread among your churches before you are forewarned, and are still ignorant of what is happening, and should find means of stealthily burrowing into your midst, and thus what we are checking in the City should take hidden root among you and grow up. Our search has discovered in the City a great many followers and teachers of the Manichaean impiety, our watchfulness has proclaimed them, and our authority and censure has checked them: those whom we could reform we have corrected and driven to condemn Manichaeus with his preachings and teachings by public confession in church, and by the subscription of their own hand, and thus we have lifted those who have acknowledged their fault from the pit of their iniquity by granting them room for repentancehyperlink . A good many, however, who had so deeply involved themselves that no remedy could assist them, have been subjected to the laws in accordance with the constitutions of our Christian princes, and lest they should pollute the holy flock by their contagion; have been banished into perpetual exile by public judges. And all the profaneand disgraceful things which are found as well in their writings as in their secret traditions, we have disclosed and clearly proved to the eyes of the Christian laityhyperlink that the people might know what to shrink from or avoid: so that he that was called their bishop was himself tried by us, and betrayed the criminal views which he held in his mystic religion, as the record of our proceedings can show you. For this, too, we have sent you for instruction: and after reading them you will be in a position to understand all the discoveries we have made.

II. The Bishops of Italy Rarest Not Allow Those Manichaeans Who Have Quitted the City to Escape or Lie Concealed.

And because we know that a good many of those who are involved here in too close an accusation for them to clear themselves have escaped, we have sent this letter to you, beloved, by our acolyth: that your holiness, dear brothers, may be informed of this, and see fit to act with diligence and caution, lest the men of the Manichaean error be able to find opportunity of hurting your people and of teaching their impious doctrines. For we cannot otherwise rule those entrusted to us unless we pursue with the zeal of faith in the Lord those who are destroyers and destroyed: and with what severity we can bring to bear, cut them off from intercourse with sound minds, lest this pestilence spread much wider. Wherefore I exhort you, beloved, I beseech and warn you to use such watchful diligence as you ought and can employ in tracking them out, lest they find opportunity of concealment anywhere. For as he will have a due recompense of reward from God, who carries out what conduces to the health of the people committed to him; so before the Lord's judgment-seat no one will be able to excuse himself from a charge of carelessness who has not been willing to guard his people against the propagators of an impious misbelief. Dated 30 January, in the consulship of the illustrious Theodosius Augustus (18th time) and Albinus (444).

Letter VIII. The Ordinance of Valentinian III. Concerning the Manichaeans.

(The Manichaeans are to be turned out of the army and the City, and to lose all their rights as citizens.)

Letter IX. To Dioscorus, Bishop of Alexandria.

Leo, the bishop, to Dioscorus, bishop of Alexandria, greeting.

I. The Churches of Rome and Alexandria Should Be at One in Everything.

How much of the divine love we feel for you, beloved, you will be able to estimate from this, that we are anxious to establish your beginnings on a surer basis, lest anything should seem lacking to the perfection of your love, since your meritorious acts of spiritual grace, as we have proved, are already in your favour. Fatherly and brotherly conference, therefore, ought to be most grateful to you, holy brother, and received by you in thesame spirit as you know it is offered by us. For you and we ought to be at one in thought and act, so that as we readhyperlink , in us also there may be proved to be one heart and one mind. For since the most blessed Peter received the headship of the Apostles from the Lord, and the church of Rome still abides by His institutions, it is wicked to believe that His holy disciple Mark, who was the first to govern the church of Alexandriahyperlink , formed his decrees on a different line of tradition: seeing that without doubt both disciple and master drew but one Spirit from the same fount of grace, and the ordained could not hand on aught else than what he had received from his ordainer. We do not therefore allow it that we should differ in anything, since we confess ourselves to be of one body and faith, nor that the institutions of the teacher should seem different to those of the taught.

II. Fixed Days Should Be Observed for Ordaining Priests and Deacons.

That therefore which we know to have been very carefully observed by our fathers, we wish kept by you also, viz. that the ordination of priests or deacons should not be performed at random on any day: but after Saturday, the commencement of that night which precedes the dawn of the first day of the week should be chosen on which the sacred benediction should be bestowed on those who are to be consecrated, ordainer and ordained alike fasting. This observance will not be violated, if actually on the morningof the Lord's day it be celebrated without breaking the Saturday fast: for the beginning of the preceding night forms part of that period, and undoubtedly belongs to the day of resurrection as is clearly laid down with regard to the feast of Easterhyperlink . For besides the weight of custom which we know rests upon the Apostles' teaching, Holy Writ also makes this clear, because when the Apostles sent Paul and Barnabas at the bidding of the Holy Ghost to preach the gospel to the nations, they laid hands on them fasting and praying: that we may know with what devoutness both giver and receiver must be on their guard lest so blessed a sacrament should seem to be carelessly performed. And therefore you will piously and laudably follow Apostolic precedents if you yourself also maintain this form of ordaining priests throughout the churches over which the Lord has called you to preside: viz. that those who are to be consecrated should never receive the blessing except on the day of the Lord's resurrection, which iscommonly held to begin on the evening of Saturday, and which has been so often hallower in the mysterious dispensations of God that all the more notable institutions of the Lord were accomplished on that high day. On it the world took its beginning. On it through the resurrection of Christ death received its destruction, and life its commencement. On it the apostles take from the Lord's hands the trumpet of the gospel which is to be preached to all nations, and receive the sacrament of regenerationhyperlink which they are to bear to the whole world. On it, as blessed John the Evangelist bears witness when all the disciples were gathered together in one place, and when, the doors being shut, the Lord entered to them, He breathed on them and said: "Receive the Holy Ghost: whose sins ye have remitted they are remitted to them: and whose ye have retained, they shall be retainedhyperlink ." On it lastly the Holy Spirit that had been promised to the Apostles by the Lord came: and so we know it to have been suggested and handed down by a kind of heavenly rule, that on that day we ought to celebrate the mysteries of the blessing of priests on which all these gracious gifts were conferred.

III. The Repetition of the Holy Eucharist on the Great Festivals is Not Undesirable.

Again, that our usage may coincide at all points, we wish this thing also to be observed, viz. that when any of the greater festivals has brought together a larger congregation than usual, and too great a crowd of the faithful has assembled for one churchhyperlink to hold them all at once, there should be no hesitation about repeating the oblation of the sacrifice: lest, if those only are admitted to this service who come first, those who flock in afterwards, should seem to be rejected: for it is fully in accordance with piety and reason, that as often as a fresh congregation has filled the church where service is going on, the sacrifice should be offered as a matter of course. Whereas a certain portion of the people must be deprived of their worship, if the custom of only one celebrationhyperlink be kept, and only those who come early in the day can offer the sacrificehyperlink . We admonish you, therefore, beloved, earnestly and affectionately that your carefulness also should not neglect what has become a part of our own usage on the pattern of our fathers' tradition, so that in all things we may agree together in our beliefs and in our performances. Consequently, we have given this letter to our son Possidonius, a presbyter, on his return, that he may bear it to you, brother; he has so often taken part in our ceremonials and ordinations, and has been sent to us so many times that he knows quite well what Apostolic authority we possess in all things.Dated 21June (? 445).


1 Poenitentiam concedendo, i.e. we have not finally excommunicated them, but, dealing leniently, we have given them opportunity of reinstating themselves in the peace of the Church, by going through a due course of penance (satisfactio). It is important to explain this clearly to those who in the present day, are ignorant of the strict discipline of the early Church. And are liable to forget that penance was then a valuable means to repentance.

2 plebei

1 Sc. In Acts iv. 32.

2 S. Mark, the evangelist and disciple of S. Peter, is the radional founder of the church of Alexandria.

3 That is to say, the weekly resurrection festival (Sunday) begins with the vespers of the preceding evening: this is notably the case in the yearly festival of Easter at least In Western use.

4 Sacramentum regenerationis: the reference in the first part of the sentence seems to be S. Mark xvi. 15, and here in the latter part to S. Matt. xxviii. 19, and both these records seem to refer to the same manifestation. S. Matthew says it was to "the eleven disciples"in Galilee, in "the mountain where Jesus had appointed them," that He gave the command, if indeed vv. 16-20 of the xxviiith chapter form one continuous narrative. The author of S. Mark xvi. 9-20 says it was to the eleven "as they sat at meat." Is it possible that Leo took anakeimenoij to mean as they were partaking of the Holy Eucharist? if not, what countenance is there for his assertion of its being on the first day ot the week ?

5 S. John xx. 22, 23.

6 Basilica, q.v. in Smith's Dict. Of Christian Antiquities.

7 Missoe.

8 It can hardly escape notice that the people here are distinctly said "to offer the sacrifice" in the person of their representative and mouthpiece, the priest. And this is the language and intention of all Liturgies (ancient and modern) of the Church.