Church Fathers: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 12: 32.01.04 Letter XVI-XXI

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Church Fathers: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 12: 32.01.04 Letter XVI-XXI

TOPIC: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 12 (Other Topics in this Collection)
SUBJECT: 32.01.04 Letter XVI-XXI

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Letter XVI. To the Bishops of Sicily.

Leo the bishop to all the bishops throughout Sicily greeting in the Lord.

I. Introductory.

By God's precepts and the Apostle's admonitions we are incited to keep a careful watch over the state of all the churches: and, if anywhere ought is found that needs rebuke, to recall men with speedy care either from the stupidity of ignorance or from forwardness and presumption. For inasmuch as we are warned by the Lord's own command whereby the blessed Apostle Peter had the thrice repeated mystical injunction pressed upon him, that he who loves Christ should feed Christ's sheep, we are compelled by reverence for that see which, by the abundance of the Divine Grace, we hold, to shun the danger of sloth as much as possible: lest the confession of the chief Apostle whereby he testified that he loved God be not found in us: because if he (through us) carelessly feed the flock so often commended to him he is proved not to love the chief Shepherd.

II. Baptism is to Be Administered at Easter-Tide and Not on the Epiphany.

Accordingly when it reached my ears on reliable testimony (and I already felt a brother's affectionate anxiety about your acts, beloved)that in what is one of the chief sacraments of the Church you depart from the practice of the Apostles' constitutionhyperlink by administering the sacrament of baptism to greater numbers on the feast of the Epiphany than at Easter-tide, I was surprised that you or your predecessors could have introduced so unreasonable an innovation as to confound the mysteries of the two festivals and believe there was no difference between the day on which Christ was worshipped by the wise men and that on which He rose again from the dead. You could never have fallen into this fault, if you had taken the whole of your observances from the source whence you derive your consecration to the episcopate; and if the see of the blessed Apostle Peter, which is the mother of your priestly dignity, were the recognized teacher of church-method. We could indeed have endured your departure from its rules with less equanimity, if you had received any previous rebuke by way of warning from us. But now as we do not despair of correcting you, we must show gentleness. And although an excuse which affects ignorance is scarce tolerable in priests, yet we prefer to moderate our needful rebuke and to instruct you plainly in the true method of the Church.

III. One Must Distinguish One Festival from Another in Respect of Dignity and Occasion.

The restoration of mankind has indeed ever remained immutably fore-ordained in God's eternal counsel: but the series of events which had to be accomplished in time through Jesus Christ our Lord was begun at the Incarnation of the Word. Hence there is one time when at the angel's announcement the blessed Virgin Mary believed she was to be with child through the Holy Ghost and conceived: another, when without loss of her virgin purity the Boy was born and shown to the shepherds by the exulting joy of the heavenly attendants: another, when the Babe was circumcised: another, when the victim required by the Law is offered for him: another, when the three wise men attracted by the brightness of the new starhyperlink arrive at Bethlehem from the East and worship the Infant with the mystic offering of Gifts.

And again the days are not the same on which by the divinely appointed pasage into Egypt He was withdrawn from wicked Herod, and on which He was recalled from Egypt into Galilee on His pursuer's death. Among these varieties of circumstance must be included His growth of body: the Lord increases, as the evangelist bears witness, with the progress of age and grace: at the time of the Passover He comes to the temple at Jerusalem with His parents, and when He was absent from the returning company, He is found sitting with the ciders and disputing among the wondering masters and rendering an account of His remaining behind: "why is it," He says, "that ye sought Me? did ye not know that I must be in that which is My Father'shyperlink ," signifying that He was the Son of Him whose temple He was in. Once more when in later years He was to be declared more openly and sought out the baptism of His forerunner John, was there any doubt of His being God remaining when after the baptism of the Lord Jesus the Holy Spirit in form of a dove descended and rested upon Him, and the Father's voice was heard from the skies, "Thou art My beloved Son: in Thee I am well pleasedhyperlink ?" All these things we have alluded to with as much brevity as possible for this reason, that you may know, beloved, that though all the daysof Christ's life were hallowed by many mighty works of Hishyperlink , and though in all His actions mysterious sacramentshyperlink shone forth, yet at one time intimations of events were given by signs, and at one time fulfilment realized: and that all the Saviour's works that are recorded are not suitable to the time of baptism. For if we were to commemorate with indiscriminate honour these things also which we know to have been done by the Lord after His baptism by the blessed John, His whole life- time would have to be observed in a continuous succession of festivals, because all His acts were full of miracles. But because the Spirit of wisdom and knowledge so instructed the Apostles and teachers of the whole Church as to allow nothing disordered or confused to exist in our Christian observances, we must discern the relative importance of the various solemnities and observe a reasonable distinction in all the institutions of our fathers and rulers: for we cannot otherwise "be one flock and one shepherdhyperlink ," except as the Apostle teaches us, "that we all speak the same thing: and that we be perfected in the same mind and in the same judgmenthyperlink ."

IV. The Reason Explained Why Easier and Whitsuntide are the Proper Seasons for Baptism.

Although, therefore, both these things which are connected with Christ's humiliation and those which are connected with His exaltation meet in one and the same Person, and all that is in Him of Divine power and human weakness conduces to the accomplishment of our restoration: yet it is appropriate that the power of baptism should change the old into the new creature on the death-day of the Crucified and the Resurrection-day of the Dead: that Christ's death and His resurrection may operate in the re-bornhyperlink , as the blessed Apostle says: "Are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized in Christ Jesus, were baptized in His death? We were buried with Him through baptism into death; that as Christ rose from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with the likeness of His death, we shall be also (with the likeness) of His resurrectionshyperlink ," and the rest which the Teacher of the Gentiles discusses further in recommending the sacrament of baptism: that it might be seen from the spirit of this doctrine that that is the day, and that the time chosen for regenerating the sons of men and adopting them among the sons of God, on which by a mystical symbolism and formhyperlink , what is done in the limbs coincides with what wasdone in the Head Himself, for in the baptismal office death ensues through the slaying of sin, and threefold immersion imitates the lying in the tomb three days, and the raising out of the water is like Him that rose again from the tombhyperlink . The very nature, therefore of the act teaches us that that is the recognized day for the general reception of the gracehyperlink , on which the power of the gift and the character of the action originated. And this is strongly corroborated by the consideration that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, after He rose from the dead, handed on both the form and power of baptizing to His disciples, in whose person all the chiefs of the churches received their instructions with these words, "Go ye and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghostshyperlink ." On which of course He might have instructed them even before His passion, had He not especially wished it to be understood that the grace of regeneration began with His resurrection. It must be added, indeed, that the solemn season of Pentecost, hallowed by the coming of the Holy Ghost is also allowed, being as it were, the sequel and completion of the Paschal feast. And while other festivals are held on other days of the week, this festival (of Pentecost) always occurs on that day, which is marked by the Lord's resurrection: holding out, so to say, the hand of assisting grace and inviting those, who have been cut off from the Easter feast by disabling sickness or length of journey or difficulties of sailing, to gain the purpose that they long for through the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the Only-begotten of God Himself wished no difference to be felt between Himself and the Holy Spirit in the Faith of believers and in the efficacy of His works: because there is no diversity in their nature, as He says, "I will ask the Father and He shall give you another Comforter that He may be with you for ever, even the Spirit of Truthhyperlink ;" and again: "But the Comforter which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I said unto youhyperlink ;" and again: "When He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He shall guide you into all the Truthhyperlink ." And thus, since Christ is the Truth, and the Holy Spirit the Spirit of Truth, and the name of "Comforter" appropriate to both, the two festivals are not dissimilar, where the sacrament is the samehyperlink .

V. S. Peter's Example as an Authority for Whitsuntide Baptisms.

And that we do not contend for this on ours own conviction but retain it on Apostolic authority, we prove by a sufficiently apt example, following the blessed Apostle Peter, who, on the very day on which the promised coming of the Holy Ghost filled up the number of those that believed, dedicated to God in the baptismal font three thousand of the people who had been converted by his preaching. The Holy Scripture, which contains the Acts of Apostleshyperlink , teaches this in its faithful narrative, saying, "Now when they heard this they were pricked in the heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the Apostles, what shall we do, brethren? But Peter said unto them, Repent ye and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, unto the remission of your sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For to you is the promise, and to your children and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call unto Him. With many other words also he testified and exhorted them saying, Save yourselves from this crooked generation. They then that received his word were baptized, and there were added in that day about three thousandhyperlink ."

VI. In Cases of Urgency Other Times Art Allowable for Baptism.

Wherefore, as it is quite clear that these two seasons of which we have been speaking are the rightful ones for baptizing the chosen in Church, we admonish you, beloved, not to add other days to this observance. Because, although there are other festivals also to which much reverence is due in God's honour, yet we must rationally guard this principal and greatest sacrament as a deep mystery and not part of the ordinary routinehyperlink : not, however, prohibiting the licence to succour those who are in danger by administering baptism to them at any time. For whilst we put off the vows of those who are not pressed by ill health and live in peaceful security to those two closely connected and cognate festivals, we do not at any time refuse this which is the only safeguard of true salvation to any one in peril of death, in the crisis of a siege, in the distress of persecution, in the terror of shipwreck.

VII. Our Lord's Baptism by John Very Different to the Baptism of Believers.

But if any one thinks the feast of the Epiphany, which in proper degree is certainly to be held in due honour, claims the privilege baptism because, according to some the Lord came to St. John's baptism on the same day, let him know that the grace of that baptism and the reason of it were quite different, and is not on an equal footing with the power by which they are re-born of the Holy Ghost, of whom it is said, "which were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of Godhyperlink ." For the Lord who needed no remission of sin and sought not the remedy of being born again, desired to be baptized just as He desired to be circumcised, and to have a victim offered for His purification: that He, who had been "made of a womanhyperlink )," as the Apostle says, might become also "under the law" which He had come, "not to destroy but to fulfilhyperlink ," and by fulfilling to end, as the blessed Apostle proclaims, saying: "but Christ is the end of the law unto righteousness to every one that believethhyperlink ." But the sacrament of baptism He founded in His own personhyperlink , because "in all things having the pre-eminencehyperlink ," He taught that He Himself was the Beginning. And He ratified the power of re-birth on that occasion, when from His side flowed out the blood of ransom and the water of baptismhyperlink . As, therefore, the Old Testament was the witness to the new, and "the law was given by Moses: but grace and truth came through Jesus Christhyperlink ;" as the divers sacrifices prefigured the one Victim, and the slaughter of many lambs was ended by the offering up of Him, of whom it is said, "Behold the Lamb of God; behold Him that taketh away the sin of the worldhyperlink ;" so too John, not Christ, but Christ's forerunner, not the bridegroom, but the friend of the bridegroom, was so faithful in seeking, "not His own, but the things which are Jesus Christ'shyperlink ," as to profess himself unworthy to undo the shoes of His feet: seeing that He Himself indeed baptized "in water unto repentance," but He who with twofold power should both restore life and destroy sins, was about to "baptize in the Holy Ghost and firehyperlink ." then, beloved brethren, all these distinct proofs come before you, whereby to the removal of all doubt you recognize that in baptizing the elect who, according to the Apostolic rule have to be purged by exorcisms, sanctified by fastings and instructed by frequent sermons, two seasons only are to be observed, viz. Easter and Whitsuntide: we charge you, brother, to make no further departure from the Apostolic institutions. Because hereafter no one who thinks the Apostolic rules can be set at defiance will go unpunished.

VIII. The Sicilian Bishops are to Send Three Theirnumber to Each of the Half-Yearly Meetings of Bishops at Rome.

Wherefore we require this first and foremost for the keeping of perfect harmony, that, according to the wholesome rule of the holy Fathers that there should be two meetings of bishops every yearhyperlink , three of you should appear without fail each time, on the 29th of September, to join in the council of the brethren: for thus, by the aid of Gov's grace, we shall the easier guard against the rise of offences and errors in Christ's Church: and this council must always meet and deliberate in the presence of the blessed Apostle Peter, that all his constitutions and canonical decrees may remain inviolate with all the Lord's priests.

These matters, upon which we thought it necessary to instruct you by the inspiration of the Lord, we wish brought to your knowledge by our brothers and fellow-bishops, Bacillus and Paschasinus. May we learn by their report that the institutions of the Apostolic See are reverently observed by you. Dated 21 Oct., in the consulship of the illustrious Alipius and Ardaburis (447).


1 From this letter it might be gathered that it was a universal practice of the early Church based on the precepts of the apostles, to restrict Baptism to the feasts of Easter and Whitsuntide, and exclude Epiphany. Whereas as a matter of fact the restriction was almost exclusively Roman ; all the Eastern Churches and a good many of the Western recognizing the Epiphany as a suitable occasion for the rite. Leo is too fond of claiming Apostolic authority for his dictates, and none such exists here, as far as we know.

2 It will be noticed that Leo's order of events, though probably correct is not that of the modern Kalendar, which places the Epiphany (Jan. 6) soon after the Circumcision (Jan. 1), and not after the Purification (Feb. 2) unless it was some little time after, Herod's cruelty was unnecessarily great in including children of two years old in his massacre (S. Matt. ii. 16).

3 S. Luke ii. 49, in his quoe Patris mei sunt (Vulgate): this version leaves the exipression e0n toi=j tou= Patro/j mou in its original ambiguity, but Leo's counmentary immediately following gives his decision in favour of "in My Father's house".

4 S. Matt. iii. 17.

5 Innumeris consecratos fuisse virtutibus, where virtutes, as often, corresponds to the Gk. duna/meij .

6 Sacramentorum mysteria coruscasse : it is instructive to find the two words here conjoined, Leo so often using them apparently as equivalents. No one, moreover aftor reading this sentence can doubt what in early times Western Christians meant by sacramentum , see Letter XII. chap. 3, &c.

7 S. John x. 17.

8 1 Cor. i. 10.

9 Renascentibus (pres. Part.) here, not renatis(past).

10 Rom vi. 3-5. Notice the support here given to the marginal aIternative of the R.V., "united with," instead of "united in" ( Lat. Complantati similitudini, &c.).

11 Per similitudinem et formam mysterii.

12 This was a favourite interpretation of the symbolism with the fathers. Cf. Serm. LXX., chap. 4, and Brights n. 97 thereon.

13 Celebrandoe generaliter gratioe, where generaliter has much the same sense as the Eng. "generally" has in the definition of a sacrament in the Eng. Ch. Catechism as "generally necessary to salvation."

14 S. Matt. xxviii. 19.

15 S. John xiv. 16.

16 Ibid. 26.

17 Ibid. xvi. 13.

18 It need hardly be pointed out that these words ,"where the sacrament is the same," refer to the sacra - mentum (in its Leonine sense), that has just been explained, viz,, that Christus est veritas et spiritus sanctus est spiritus veritatus.

19 Leo does not often quote from the Acts, and here he expressly includes it in the Canon, and alludes to its authenticity (fideli historia docet.

20 Acts ii. 37-41.

21 Principalis et maximi sacramenti custodienda nobis est mystica et rationalis exceptio ( another reading being exemplatio (symbolism), which Quesnel prefers, thinking that the words have reference to the appropriateness of this symbolic rite of Baptism being performed at Easter-tide).

22 S. John i. 13.

23 Gal. iv 4.

24 S. Matt. v. 17.

25 Rom. x. 4.

26 Babtismi sui in se condidit sacramentum : the baptism of Christ has very generally been associated with the Epiphany : the record of it, for instance, in S. Luke iii. 15-23, is the 2nd morning lesson for the Festival in the English Church. It is, however, not clear who the "some" were whom Leo mentions above as putting Christ's baptism on the same day as the Epiphany; perhaps he means the Eastern Church."

27 Col. i. 18.

28 Cf. Lett.XXVIII. (The Tome), chap. vi., where the same explanation of the sacred incident in the Lord's passion is given.

29 S. John i. 17. Cf. Rev. xix. 20. "for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophesy."

30 S. John i. 29.

31 Phil. ii. 21.

32 S. Matt. iii. 11; S. Luke iii. 16.

33 Cf. Lett.XIV., chap. 8, where the same rule is laid down.

Letter XVIIhyperlink .

To all the bishops of Sicily (forbidding the sale of church property except for the advantage of the church).

Leo, the pope(hyperlink ), to all the bishops of Sicily.

The occasion of specific complaints claims our attention as having "the care of all the churches," that we should make a perpetual decree precluding all bishops from adopting as a practice what in two churches of your province has been unscrupulously suggested and wrongfully carried out. Upon the clergy of the church in Tauromenium deploring the destitution they were in from the bishop having squandered all its estates by selling giving away, and otherwise disposing of them, the clergy of Panormus, who have lately had a new bishop, raised a similar complaint about the misgovernment of the former bishop in the holy synod, at which we were presiding. Although, therefore, we have already given instructions as to what is for the advantage of both Churches, yet test this vicious example of abominable plundering should hereafter be taken as a precedent, we wish to make this our formal command binding on you, beloved, for ever. We decree, therefore, that no bishopwithout exception shall dare to give away, or to exchange, or to sell any of the property of his church: unless he foresees an advantage likely to accrue from so doing, and after consultation with the whole of the clergy, and with their consent he decides upon what will undoubtedly profit that church. For presbyters, or deacons, or clerics of any rank who have connived at the churches losses, must know that they will be deprived of both rank and communion: because it is absolutely fair, beloved brethren, that not only the bishop, but also the whole of the clergy should advance the interests of their church and keep the gifts unimpaired of those who have contributed their own substance to tile churches for the salvation of their souls. Dated 20 Oct., in the consulship of the illustrious Calepius (447).


1 This letter is suspected by Quesnel as being, if not spurious, at least the production of some later Leo than our own: but he would seem to have hardly sufficient ground for his conjecture and the docoment is interesting as showing the existence of Church endowments at the time, and alas ! of their mismanagement.Two centuries before indeed we have Cyprian in Africa uttering a somewhat similar complaint: e.g. de laps. vi., de unit. eccl. xxvi., Lett. XV. 3. It does not appear. however there that the clergy actually misappropriated Church funds, only that they were greedy and intent on worldy gain.

2 Papa. This title. which in later times came throughout the West to denote exclusively the Bishop of Rome, was originally in the West no less than it is still in the East, the common appellation of all priests and spiritual fathers of the Church.

Letter XVIII. To Januarius, Bishop of Aquileiahyperlink

Leo, bishop of the city of Rome, to Januarius, bishop of Aquileia.

Those who renounce heresy and schism and return to the Church must make their recantation very clear: those who are clerics may retain their rank but not be promoted.

On reading your letter, brother, we recognized the vigour of your faith, which we already were aware of, and congratulate you on the watchful care you bestow as pastor. on the keeping of Christ's flock: lest the wolves, that enter in under guise of sheep, should tear the simple ones to pieces in their bestial fierce- ness, and not only themselves run riot without restraint, but also spoil those which are sound. And lest the vipery deceit should effect this, we have thought it meet to warn you, beloved, reminding you that it is at the peril of his soul, for any one of them who has fallen away from us into a sect of heretics and schismaticshyperlink , and stained himself to whatever extent with the pollution of heretical communion, to be received into catholic communion on coming to his senses without making legitimate and express satisfaction. For it is most wholesome and full of all the benefits of spiritual healing that presbyters or deacons, or sub-deacons or clerics of any rank, who wish to appear reformed, and entreat to return once more to the catholic Faith which they had long ago lost, should first confess without ambiguity that their errors and the authors of the errors themselves are condemned by them, that their base opinions may be utterly destroyed, and no hope survive of their recurrence, and that no member may be harmed by contact with them, every point having been met with its proper recantation. With regard to them we also order the observance of this regulation of the canonshyperlink , that they consider it a great indulgence, if they be allowed to remain undisturbed in their present rank without any hope of further advancement: but only on consideration of their not being defiled with second baptismhyperlink . No slight penalty does he incur from the Lord, who judges any such person fit to be advanced to Holy Orders. If advancement is granted to those who are without blame, only after full examination, how much more ought it to be refused to those who are under suspicion. Accordingly, beloved brother, in whose devotion we rejoice, bestow your care on our directions, and take order for the circumspect and speedy carrying out of these laudable suggestions and wholesome injunctions, which affect the welfare of the whole Church. But do not doubt, beloved, that, if what we decree for the observance of the canons, and the integrity of the Faith be neglected (which we do not anticipate), we shall be strongly moved: because the faults of the lower orders are to be referred to none more than to slothful and careless governors, who often foster much disease by refusing to apply the needful remedy. Dated 30 Dec., in the consulship of the illustrious Calepius and Ardaburis (447).


1 The Ballerinii's conjecture is at least very plausible, that this Januarius was the successor of that Bishop of Aquileia to whom Letter I. was written 5 years previously upon the same subject of the Pelagian error. The text of this letter is almost word for word identical with letter II.. written to Septimus, Bishop of Altinum, on the same occasion as Lett. I.

2 Schismaticorrum, considering how easily heresy leads to schism and schism to heresy, there is no need with Quesnel to consider that Novatiaus or Donatists are being here attacked.The Ballerinii say with justice: - generalis regula hic indicatur omnibus tum hoereticis tum schismaticis ad ecclesiam redeuntibus communis.

3 What canon is here alluded to is uncertain: the Ballerinii think perhaps the 8th Nicene canon, extending its application from the Cathari or Novatians to all heresies and schism.

4 Si tamen iterata tinctione non fuerint maculati. Cf. Can. Afric., 27, neque permittendum ut rebaptizati ad clericatus gradum promoveantur.

Letter XIX. To Dorus, Bishop of Beneventum.

Leo, bishop, to Dorus his well-beloved brother.

I. He Rebukes Dorus Far Allowing a Junior Presbyter to Be Promoted Over the Heads of the Seniors, and the First and Second in Seniority for Acquiescing.

We grieve that the judgment, which we hoped to entertain of you, has been frustrated by our ascertaining that you have done things which by their blame-worthy novelty infringe the whole system of Church discipline: although you know full well with what care we wish the provisions of the canons to be kept through all the churches of the Lord, and the priests of all the peoples to consider it their especial duty to prevent the violation of the rules of the holy constitutions by any extravagances. We are surprised, therefore, that you who ought to have been a strict observer of the injunctions of the Apostolic See have acted so carelessly, or rather so contumaciously, as to show yourself not a guardian, but a breaker of the laws handed on to you. For from the report of your presbyter, Paul, which is subjoined, we have learnt that the order of the presbyterate has been thrown into confusion with you by strange intrigues and vile collusion; in such a way that one man has been hastily and prematurely promoted, and others passed over whose advancement was recommended by their age, and who were charged with no fault. But if the eagerness of an intriguer or the ignorant zeal of his supporters demanded that which custom never allowed, viz., that a beginner should be preferred to veterans, and a mere boy to men of years, it was your duty by diligence and teaching to check the improper desires of the petitioners with all reasonable authority: lest he whom you advanced hastily to the priestly rank should enter on his office to the detriment of those with whom he associated and become demoralized by the growth within him, not of the virtue of humility, but of the vice of conceithyperlink . For you were not unaware that the Lord had said that "he that humbleth himself shall be exalted: but he that exalteth himself shall be humbledhyperlink ," and also had said, "but ye seek from little to increase, and from the greater to be lesshyperlink ." For both actions are out of order and out of placehyperlink : and all the fruit of men's labours is lost, all the measure of their deserts is rendered void, if the gaining of dignity is proportioned to the amount of flattery used: so that the eagerness to be eminent belittles not only the aspirer himself, but also him that connives at him. But if, as is asserted, the first and second presbyter were so agreeable to Epicarpius being put over their heads as to demand his being honoured to their own disgrace, that which they wished ought not to have been granted them when they were voluntarily degrading themselves: because it would have been worthier of you to oppose than to yield to such a pitiable wish. But their base and cowardly submission could not be to the prejudice of others whose consciences were good, and who had not done despite to God's grace; so that, whatever the transaction was whereby they gave up their precedence to another, they could not lower the dignity of those that came next to them, nor because they had placed the last above themselves, could he take precedence of the rest.

II. The Presbyters, Who Gave Way, to Be Degraded with the Usurper to the Bottom: the Rest to Keep Their Places.

The aforesaid presbyters, therefore, who have declared themselves unworthy of their proper rank, though they even deserved to be deprived of their priesthood; yet, that we may show the gentleness of the Apostolic See in sparing them, are to be put last of all the presbyters of the Church: and that they may bear their own sentence, they shall be below him also whom they preferred to themselves by their own judgment: all the other presbyters remaining in the order which the time of his ordination assigns to each. And let none except the two aforesaid suffer any loss of dignity, but let this disgrace attach to those only who chose to put themselves below a junior who had only lately been ordained: that they may feel that that sentence of the gospels applies to themselves when it is said: "with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, the same shall be measured unto youhyperlink ." But let Paul the presbyter retain his place from which with praiseworthy firmness he did not budge: and let no further encroachments be made to any one's harm: so that you, beloved, who not undeservedly get the discredit of the whole matter, may with all speed take measures to cure it at least by putting these our injunctions into effect; lest, if a second time a just complaint be lodged with us, we be forced into stronger displeasure: for we would rather restore discipline by correcting what is done wrong, than increase the punishment. Know that we have entrusted the carrying out of our commands to our brother and fellow-bishop Julius, that all things may straightway be established, as we have ordained. Dated 8th March, in the consulship of the illustrious Postumianus (448).


1 Nequem sacerdotali propere provehebas honore, ad iniuriam eorum quibis sociabatur, inciperet minorque se fieret: the text is no doubt corrupt, though the general sense is clear: the emendation minorque se for miror quis is made almost certain by the quotations that follow, especially the second.

2 S. Luke xiv. 11 and xviii. 14.

3 Vos autem quoeritis de pusillo crescere et de maiore minores asse.This remarkable addition to S. Matt. xx. 28 is found in Cod. D, in some Syriac and many Latin copies: read Westcott's note in Appendix C: 3 to Introduction to Study &c.

4 Inordinatum proeposterum. Cf. Lett. XII., chap.

5 S. Matt. vii. 2 ; S. Mark iv. 24 ; S. Luke vi. 36.

Letter XX. To Eutyches, an Abbot of Constantinople.

Leo, the bishop, to his dearly-beloved son, Eutyches, presbyter.

He thanks him far his information about the revival of Nestorianism and commends his zeal.

You have brought to our knowledge, beloved, by your letter that through the activity of somehyperlink the heresy of Nestorius has been again reviving. We reply that your solicitude in this matter has pleased us, since the remarks we have received are an indication of your mind. Wherefore do not doubt that the Lord, the Founder of the catholic Faith, will befriend you in all things. And when we have been able to ascertain more fully by whose wickedness this happens, we must make provision with the help of God for the complete uprooting of this poisonous growth which has long ago been condemned. God keep thee safe, my beloved son. Dated 1st June, in the consulship of the illustrious Postumianus and Zeno (448).

Letter XXI. From Eutyches to Leohyperlink .

I. He States His Account of the Proceedings at the Synod.

God the Word is before all else my witness, being confident of my hope and faith in Christ the Lord and God of all, and discerning the proof of my holding the truth in these matters: but I call on your holiness, too, to bear witness to my heart and to the reasonableness of my opinions and words. But the wicked devil has exercised his evil influence upon my zeal and determination, whereby his power ought to have been destroyed. Whereupon he has exerted all his proper power and aroused Eusebius, bishop of the town of Dorylaeum, against me, who presented an allegationhyperlink to the holy bishop of the church in Constantinople, Flavian, and to certain others whom he found in the same city assembled on various matters of their own: in this he called me heretic, not raising any true accusation but contriving destruction for me and disturbance for the churches of God.

Their holinesses summoned me to reply to his accusation: but though I was delayed by a serious illness besides my advanced age, I came to clear myself, knowing well that a faction had been formed against my safety. And, indeed, together with a writ of appealhyperlink to which my signature was appended, I offered them a statement showing my confession upon the holy Faith. But when the holy Flavian did not receive the document, nor order it to be read, yet heard me in reply utter word for word that Faith which was put forth at Nicaea by the holy Synod, and confirmed at Ephesus, I was required to acknowledge two natures, and to anathematize those who denied this. But I, fearing the decision of the synod, and not wishing either to take away or to add one word contrary to the Faith put forth by the holy Synod of Nicaea, knowing, too, that our holy and blessed fathers and bishops Julius, Felix, Athanasius, and Gregoriushyperlink rejected the phrase "two natures," and not daring to discuss the nature of God the Word, who came into flesh in the last days entering the womb of the holy virgin Mary unchangeably as he willed and knew, becoming man in reality, not in fancy, nor yet venturing to anathematize our aforesaid Fathers, I asked them to let your holiness know these things, that you might judge what seemed right to you, undertaking by all means co follow your ruling.

II. His Explanations Were Allowed No Hearing.

But without listening to any thing which I said, they broke up the Synod and published the sentence of my degradation, which they were getting ready against me before the inquiry. So much slander were they factiously making up against me that even my safety would have been endangered had not the help of God at the intercession of your holiness quickly snatched me from the assault of military force. Then they began to force the heads of other monasterieshyperlink to subscribe to my degradation (a thing which was never done either towards those who have professed themselves heretics, nor even against Nestorius himself), insomuch that when to reassure the people I tried to set forthhyperlink statements of my faith, not only did they, who were plotting the aforesaid faction against me, prevent them being heard, but also seized them that straightway I might be held a heretic before all.

III. He Appeals to Leo for Protection.

I take refuge, therefore, with you the defender of religion and abhorrer of such factions, bringing in even still nothing strange against the faith as it was originally handed down to us, but anathematizing Apollinaris, Valentinus, Manes, and Nestorius, and those who say that the flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour, descended from heaven and not from the Holy Ghost and from the holy Virgin, along with all heresies down to Simon Magus. Yet nevertheless I stand in jeopardy of my life as a heretic. I beseech you not to be prejudiced against me by their insidious designs about me, but to pronounce the sentence which shall seem to you right upon the Faith, and in future not to allow any slander to be uttered against me by this faction, nor let one be expelled and banished from the number of the orthodox who has spent his seventy years of lite in continence and all chastity, so that at the very end of life he should suffer shipwreck. I have subjoined to this my letter both documents, that which was presented by my accuser at the Synod, and that which was brought by me but not received, as well as the statement of my faith and those things which have been decreed upon the two natures by our holy Fathershyperlink .

Eutyches' Confession of Faith.

I call upon you before God, who gives life to all things, and Christ Jesus, who witnessed that good confession under Pontius Pilate, that you do nothing by favour. For I have held the same as my forefathers and from my boyhood have been illuminated by the same Faith as that which was laid down by the holy Synod of 318 most blessed bishops who were gathered at Nicaea from the whole world, and which was confirmed and ratified afresh for sole acceptance by the holy Synod assembled at Ephesus: and I have never thought otherwise than as the right and only true orthodox Faith has enjoined. And I agree to everything that was laid down about the same Faith by the same holy Synod: of which Synod the leader and chief was Cyril of blessed memory bishop of the Alexandrians, the partner and sharer in the preaching and in the Faith of those saints and elect of God, Gregory the greater, and the other Gregoryhyperlink , Basil, Athanasius, Atticus and Proclus. Him and all of them I have held orthodox and faithful, and have honoured as saints, and have esteemed my masters. But I utter an anathema on Nestorius, Apollinaris, and all heretics down to Simon, and those who say that the flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ came down from heaven. For He who is the Word of God came down from heaven without flesh and was made flesh in the holy Virgin's womb unchangeably and unalterably as He Himself knew and willed. And He who was always perfect God before the ages, was also made perfect man in the end of the days for us and for our salvation. This my full profession may your holiness consider.

I, Eutyches, presbyter and archimandrite, have subscribed to this statement with my own hand.


1 Quesnel is of opinion that Eutyches' letter had accused Domnus, Bishop of Antioch and Theodoret, Bishop of Cyrus (cf. Lett.CXX.,chapters iv and v.),of Nestorianizing,and that he thus had gained the approbation of Leo before his own unsoundness had been made known.

1 Contrary to my general plan, I have thought it wiser, in the matter of the Eutychian controversy, to include other than Leo's own writings, that the reader may fulfil the precept audi alteram partem in what was the most important doctrinal discussion of Leo's term of office. This Letter (XXI.) bears the stamp of genuineness upon it, though the Gk. original is not found. It is from a collection of docuuments bearing on Nestorianism published ex ms. Casinensi, first by Christianus Lupus (?), and afterwards by Stephanus Baluzius (1630-I718).

2 See introduction, p. vii.

3 Libelli sc. (appellationis ad Leonem): this is referred to by Flavian (Lett XXVI., chap. iii.) and denied.

4 Of these four worthies, Athanasius; is is too well known to need further notice. Gregorius is either Greg. Nazianzen, Bishop of Constantinople (circ. 380) or Greg. of Nyssa, both great champions of the Church against Arianism (not, as the Ball.,Greg. Thaumaturgus, Bishop of Neo-Coesarea 244-70): Julius was a Bishop of Rome (337-52): an excerpt from one of his letters is printed by the Ball. at the end of this letter as the passage on which Eutyches based his error, though they suspect it (not unnaturally) as being an Apollinarian imposition: Felix is probably no other than the Arian Bishop of Rome, Felix II. . (355-8) whose appointment is characterized by Athanasius as effected "by antichristian wickedness," but who is yet a canonized saint and martyr of the Roman Church (see Schaff's Hist., vol. ii. p. 371; iii. 635, 6).

5 Abbots' signatures are found attached to the condemnation of Eutyches by the synod ot Constantinople.

6 Cf. Letter XXVI., chap. ii., propositiones iniuriarum publice ponens et maledictionibus plenas Gr. proqemeta u#brej kai\ loio\ori/aj a0na/mesta) which is flavian's account of the matter.

7 Of these four documents (1) Eusebius' libellus is preserved in, Act I Chalcedon; (2) is not forthcoming; (3) is appended below; and (4) a fragment of the testimony of Julius, which is given, does not seem important enongh to be added in this edition especially as its genuineness is denied.

8 Here we have the two Gregorys mentioned: cf. n. 7. above.