Church Fathers: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 12: 32.01.16 Letter CXXXVI-CLVII

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Church Fathers: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 12: 32.01.16 Letter CXXXVI-CLVII

TOPIC: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 12 (Other Topics in this Collection)

Other Subjects in this Topic:

Letter CXXXVI. To Marcian Augustus.

(Simultaneously with CXXXV., on the subject of his reconciliation with Anatolius.)

Letter CXXXVII. To the Same, and on the Same Day.

(On the subject of Easter, acknowledging the trouble Proterius has taken, - to which is joined a request that the accounts of the oeconomihyperlink should be audited by priests, not lay persons.)


1 Aeconomi (stewards) revere officers appointed to manage the revenues of each diocese under the bishops' direction, when the bishops and their archdeacons had enough to do otherwise:cf. Bingham, Antiq., Bk. III. chap. xii.

Letter CXXXVIII. To the Bishops of Gaul and Spain.(on Easter.)

Letter CXXXIX. To Juvenal, Bishop of Jerusalem.

Leo, bishop of the city of Rome, to Juvenal, bishop of Jerusalem.

1.he Rejoices Over Juvenal's Return to Orthodoxy, Though Chiding Him Far Having Gone Astray.

When I received your letter, beloved, which our sons Andrew the presbyter and Peter the deacon brought me, I rejoiced indeed that you had been allowed to return to the seat of your bishopric; but when all the reasons came to my remembrance, which brought you into such excessive troubles, I grieved to think you had been yourself the source of your adversities by failing in persistency of opposition to the heretics: for men can but think you were not bold enough to refute those with whom when in error you professed yourself satisfied. For the condemnation of Flavian of blessed memory, and the acceptance of the most unholy Eutyches, what was it but the denial of our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh? which He Himself of His great mercy caused to be overthrown, when by the authority of the holy Council of Chalcedon He brought to nought that accursed judgment of the Synod of Ephesus without debarring any of the attainted from being healed by correction. And therefore, because in the tithe of long-suffering, you have chosen return to wisdom rather than persistency in folly, I rejoice that you have so sought the heavenly remedies as at last to have become a defender of the Faith which is assailed by heretics. For, though no priest ought to be ignorant of that which he preacheshyperlink , yet any Christian living at Jerusalem is more inexcusable than all the ignorant, seeing that he is taught to understand the power of the Gospel, not only by the written word but by the witness of the places themselves, and what elsewhere may not be disbelieved, cannot there remain unseen. Why is the understanding in difficulty, where the eyes are its instructors? And why are things read or heard doubtful, where all the mysteries of man's salvation obtrude themselves upon the sight and touch? As if to each individual doubter the Lord still used His human voice and said, why are "ye disturbed and why do thoughts arise into your hearts? see My hands and My feet that it is I myself. Handle Me and see because (or that) a spirit hath not bones and flesh, as ye see Me havehyperlink ."

II. Let Him Be Strengthened in His Faith by the Holy Associations of Life Place Where He Lives.

Make use, therefore, beloved brother, of these incontrovertible proofs of the catholic Faith and support the preaching of the Evangelists by the testimony of the holy places in which you live. In your country is Bethlehem, in which the Light of Salvation sprang from the womb of the Virgin of the house of Davidhyperlink , whom wrapped in swaddling clothes the manger of the crowded inn received. In your country was the Saviour's infancy announced by angels, adored by magi, sought by Herod through the death of many infants. In your country was it that His boyhood grew, His youth ripened, and His true man's nature reached to perfect manhood by the increase of the body, not without food for hunger, not without sleep for rest, not without tears of pity, not without fear and dread: for He is one and the same Person, who in the form of God wrought great miracles of power, and in the form of a slave underwent the cruelty of the passion. This the very cross unceasingly says to you: this the stone of the sepulchre cries out, under which the Lord in human condition lay, and from which by Divine power He rose. And when you approach the mount of Olivet, to venerate the place of the Ascension, does not the angel's voice ring in your ears, which says to those who were dumb-founded at the Lord's uplifting, "ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing into heaven? this Jesus, Who was taken up from you into heaven, shall so come, as ye saw Him going into heavenhyperlink ."

III. The Facts of the Gospel Attest the Incarnation.

The true birth of Christ, therefore, is confirmed by the true cross; since He is Himself born in our flesh, Who is crucified in our flesh, which, as no sin entered into it., could not have been mortal, unless it had been that of our race. But in order that He might restore life to all, He undertook the cause of all and rendered void the force of the old bond, by paying it for all, because He alone of us all did not owe it: that, as by one man's guilt all had become sinners, so by one man's innocence all might become innocent, righteousness being bestowed upon men by Him Who had undertaken man's nature. For in no way is He outside our true bodily nature, of Whom the Evangelist in beginning his story says, "the book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abrahamhyperlink ," with which the blessed Apostle Paul's teaching agrees, when he says "whose are the fathers and of whom is Christ according to the flesh, Who is above all God blessed for everhyperlink ," and so to Timothy "remember," he says, "that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead, of the seed of Davidhyperlink ."

IV. Those Who are Still in Error Must Be Thoroughly Instructed in the Historic Faith.

But how many are the authorities, both in the New and Old Testaments, by which this truth is declared, as befits the antiquity of your See, you clearly understand, seeing that the belief of the Fathers and my letter written to Flavian, of holy memory, of which you yourself made mention, confirmed, as they have been, by the universal synod, are sufficient for you. And therefore it behoves you, beloved, to take heed that no one raise a murmur against the unspeakable mystery of our Redemption and Hope. But if there are any who are still in the darkness of ignorance or the discord of perversity, let them be instructed by the authority of those whose doctrine in God's Church was apostolical and clear, that they may recognize that on the Incarnation of God's Word we believe what they did, and may not by their obstinacy place themselves outside the Body of Christ, in which we died and rose with Him: because neither loyalty to the Faith nor the plan of the mystery admits that either the Godhead should be possible in its own essence. or the reality be falsified in His taking on Him of our flesh. Dated 4th September, in the consulship of the illustrious Aetius and Studius (454).


1 Quod proedicat, some mss. quid proedicat (what to preach): some also add quoniam qui ignorat, ignorabitur (from 1 Cor. xiv. 38).

2 S. Luke xxiv. 38, 39.

3 Salutifer Davidicoe Virginis partus illuxit.

4 Acts i. 2.

5 S. Matt. i. 1.

6 Rom. ix. 5.

7 2 Tim. ii. 8.

Letter CXL. To Julian, Bishop of Cos.

(Now that Dioscorus is dead, the peace of the Church will be more easily restored.)

Letter CXLI. To the Same.

(on Several Minor Points of Detail)

Letter CXLII. To Marcian Augustus.

(Inter alia thanking him for the trouble he has taken about the Easter of 455.)

Letter CXLIII. To Anatolius, Bishop of Constantinople.

(Briefly asking him to extirpate all remains of heresy.)

Letter CXLIV. To Julian, Bishop of Cos.

(Speaking of Run, Ours Which Have Reached Him of Disturbances at Alexandria, and Begging of Him to Be on the Alert.)

Letter Leo Augustushyperlink .

(Asking him to help the church of Alexandria in appointing a good bishop in place of the murdered Proteriushyperlink .)


1 Marcian died in 457, and was succeeded by Leo of Thrace.

2 On Marcian's death there had been a rising, in which Proterius had been brutally murdered, and a monk named Timothy Aelurus set up in his stead.

Letter CXLVI. To Anatolius, Bishop of Constantinople.

(Begging him to take precautions lest the change of Emperor should be made the occasion for fresh outbreaks of heresy.)Letter CXLVII. TO Julian, Bishop OF Cos, And Aetius, The Presbyter.

(Charging him to uphold the acts of Chalcedon, and to help in choosing a good successor to Proterius.)

Letter CXLVIII. To Leo Augustus.

(Thanking him for assurances made that he would guard the interests of the Church.)

Letter CXLIX. To Basil, Bishop of Antioch.

(Asking him to give no countenance to the demand for a new Synod.)

Letter CL to Euxitheus, Bishop of Thessalonica

(and Others).(to the Same Effect.)

Letter CLI. To Anatolius, Bishop of Constantinople.

(He is to keep the church of Constantinople free from all heresy.)

Letter CLII. To Julian, Bishop of Cos.

(Charging him to see that the preceding letters reach their destination.)

Letter CLIII. To Aetius, Presbyter ,of Constantinople.

(Asking him to assist in the distribution of these letters.)

Letter CLIV. To the Egyptian Bishops.

(See Letter CLVIII.)

Letter CLV. To Anatolius, Bishop of Constantinople.

(In which he incites him to watchfulness, and complains that certain of the clergy in Constantinople are in collusion with the adversary.)

Letter CLVI. To Leo Augustus.

Leo, the bishop, to Leo Augustus.

I. There is No Need to Open the Question of Doctrine Again Now.

Your clemency's letter, which was full of vigorous faith and of the light of truth, I have respectfully received, which I wish I could obey, even in the matter of my personal attendance, which your Majesty thinks necessary; for then I should gain the greater advantage from the sight of your splendour. But I believe you will approve of my view when reason has shown it preferable. For since with holy and spiritual zeal you consistently maintain the Church's peace, and nothing is more conducive to the defence of the Faith than to adhere to those things which have been incontrovertibly defined under tile unceasing guidance of the Holy Spirit, we shall seemhyperlink to be doing our best to upset the decrees, and at the bidding of a heretic's petition to overthrow the authorities which the universal Church has adopted, and thus to remove all limits from the conflicts of Churches, and giving full rein to rebellion, to extend rather than appease contentions. And hence because after the disgraceful scenes at the synod of Ephesus, whereat through the wickedness of Dioscorus the catholic Faith was rejected, and Eutyches' heresy accepted, nothing more useful could be devised for the preservation of the Christian Faith than that the holy Synod of Chalcedon should rescind his wicked acts, and that such care should be bestowed thereat on heavenly doctrine, that nothing should linger in any one's mind in disagreement with the utterances of either the Prophets or the Apostles, such moderation of course being observed that only the persistent rebels should be east off from the unity of the Church, and no one who was penitent should be denied pardon, what more in accordance with men's expectations or with religion will your Majesty be able to decree, than that no one henceforth be permitted to attack what has been determined by decrees which are Divine rather than human, lest they be truly worthy but to lose God's gift, who have dared to doubt concerning His Truth?

II. The Proposal to Reconsider the Question Proceeds from Antichrist or the Devil Himself.

Since, therefore, the universal Church has become a rock (petra) through the building up of that original Rockhyperlink , and the first of the Apostles, the most blessed Peter, heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock (petra) I will build My Churchhyperlink ," who is there who dare assail such impregnable strength, unless he be either antichrist or the devil, who, abiding unconverted in his wickedness, is anxious to sow lies by the vessels of wrath which are suited to his treachery, whilst under the false name of diligence he pretends to be in search of the Truth. And his unrestrained madness and blind wickedness has deservedly brought contempt and disrepute on himself, so that while he rages against the holy church of Alexandria with diabolical purpose, men may learn the character of those who desire to reconsider the Synod of Chalcedon. For it cannot possibly have been that an opinion was there expressed contrary to the holy Synod of Nicaea, as the heretics falsely maintain, who pretend that they hold the faith of the Nicene Council, in which our holy and venerable fathers, being assembled against Arius, affirmed not that the Lord's Flesh, but that the Son's Godhead was homoousion with the Father, whereas in the Council of Chalcedon against the blasphemy of Eutyches, it was defined that the Lord Jesus Christ took the reality of our body from the substance of the Virgin-mother.

III. All the Bishops of Christendom Agree with Him in This.

Therefore in addressing our most Christian Emperor, who is worthy to be classed among the champions of Christ, I use the freedom of the catholic Faith and fearlessly exhort you to throw in your lot with Apostles and Prophets; firmly to despise and reject those who have deprived themselves of their Christian name, and not to let blasphemous parricides, who, it is agreed, wish to annul the Faith, discuss that Faith under treacherous pretexts. For since the Lord has enriched your clemency with such insight into His mystery, you ought unhesitatingly to consider that the kinglypower has been conferred on you not for the governance of the world alone but more especially for the guardianship of the Church: that by quelling wicked attempts you may both defend that which has been rightly decreed, and restore true peace where there has been disturbance, that is to say by deposing usurpershyperlink of the rights of others and reinstating the ancient Faith in the See of Alexandria, that by your reforms God's wrath may be appeased, and so He take not vengeance for their doings on a people hitherto religious, but forgive them. Set before the eyes of your heart, venerable Emperor, the fact that all the Lord's priests which are in all the world, are beseeching you on behalf of that Faith, wherein is Redemption for the whole world. In which those maintainers of the Apostolic Faith more particularly appeal to you who have presided over the Church of Alexandria, entreating your Majesty not to allow heretics who have rightfully been condemned for their perversity, to continue intheir usurpationhyperlink ; for, whether you look at the wickedness of their error or consider the deed which their madness has perpetrated, not only are they unable to be admitted to the dignity of the priesthood, but they even deserve to be cut off from the name of Christian. For - and I entreat your Majesty's forgiveness for saying so - they to some extent dim your own splendour, most glorious Emperor, when such treacherous parricides dare to ask for that which even the guiltless could not lawfully obtain.

IV. The Difference Between the Two Petitions Which Have Been Presented to the Emperor.

Petitions have been presented to your Majestyhyperlink , copies of which you subjoined to your letter. But in that which comes in deprecation from the catholics, a list of signatures is contained: and because their case had good reason in it, the names of individuals, and even their dignified rank is confidently disclosed. But in that, which heretical intrusion has not feared to offer to our orthodox Emperor under the vague sanction of a motley body, all particular names are withheld for this reason, lest not only the paucity of members but also their worth might be discovered. For they think it expedient to conceal their number, though their quality is indicated, and not improperly they are afraid to proclaim their position, seeing that they deserve to be condemned. In the one document therefore is contained the petition of catholics, in the other the fictions of heretics are set forth. Here the overthrow of the Lord's priests, of the whole Christian people, and of the monasteries is bemoaned: there is displayed the continuance of gigantic wrongs, so that what ought never to have been heard ofhyperlink is allowed to be widely extended.

V. It is a Great Opportunity for the Emperor to Show His Faith.

Is it not clear which side you ought to support and which to oppose, if the Church of Alexandria, which has always been the "house of prayer," is not now to be "a den of robbershyperlink ?" For surely it is manifest that through the cruellest and maddest savagery all the light of the heavenly mysteries is extinguished. The offering of the sacrifice is cut off, the hallowing of the chrism has failedhyperlink , and from the murderous hands of wicked men all the mysteries have withdrawn themselves. Nor can there be any manner of doubt what decree ought to be passed on these then, who after unutterable acts of sacrilege, after shedding the blood of a most highly reputed priest, awlscattering the ashes of his burnt body to be the sport of the winds of heaven, dare to demand for themselves the rights of a usurped dignity and to arraign before councils the inviolable Faith of the Apostolic teaching. Great, therefore, is the opportunity for you to add to your diadem from the Lord's hand the crown of faith also, and to triumph over the Church's foes: for, if it be matter of praise to you to vanquish the armies of opposing nations, how great will be the glory of freeing from its mad tyrant the church of Alexandria, the affliction of which is an injury to all Christians?

VI. He Promises More Detailed Statements an the Faith Subsequently, and Begs Him to Correct Certain Things in Which Anatolius is Remiss.

But in order that my correspondence may have the effect on your Majesty of a mouth to mouth colloquy, I have seen that whatever suggestions I would make about our commonFaith, must be conveyed in subsequent communicationshyperlink . And lest the pages of this epistle reach too great a length, I have comprised in another letter what is agreeable to the maintenance of the catholic Faith, in order that, though the published statements of the Apostolic See were sufficient, yet theseadditional statements might also break down the snares of the heretics. For your Majesty's priestly and Apostolic mind ought to be still further kindled to righteous vengeance by this pestilential evil, which mars the purity of the church of Constantinople, in which are found certain clerics, who agree with the interpretations of the heretics and within the very heart of the Church assist them by their supporthyperlink . In removing whom if my brother Anatolius is found remiss through too good-natured leniency, vouchsafe to show your laith by administering this remedy also to the Church, that such men be driven not only from the ranks of the clergy, but also from dwelling in the city. I commend to you your Majesty's loyal subjects, bishop Julian and presbyter Aetius, with a request that you will deign to listen quietly to their suggestions in defence of the catholic Faith, because they are in good truth men who may be found helpful to your faith in all things. Dated the 1st of Dec. in the consulship of the illustrious Constantine and Rufus (457).


1 i.e. by carrying out your plan. The appeal to the Emperor's orthodoxy must be regarded as diplomatic rather than accurate for Leo was the nominee of Arianism, if not himself an Arian.

2 Per illius principalis petroe oedificationem : here petra is apparently Christ Himself, cf. Letter XXVIII. chap. 5, and Bright's n. 64.

3 S. Matt. xvi. 18.

4 Sc. Timothy Aelurus.

5 Pervasione, others read persuasione(false opinion).

6 These had come, one from either side, as the sequel shows:That of the catholics was signed by fourteen bishops, four presbyters, and two deacons (Ball.).

7 Audiri : others auderi (to have been ventured on).

8 S. Luke xix. 46.

9 Cf. Serm. LXVI. chap. 2, nobiscum est signaculum circumcisionis, sanctificationo chrismatum, consecratio saceraotum : see Bright's n. 90, from which we learn that "this chrism was that which, from the second century, had been administered in connection with Confirmation." This rite, which had at first been part of the Baptism itself, was now apparently performed at a shorter or longer interval after Baptism according to the convenience of the Bishop: cf. Serm. LXXVII. 1.

10 Viz. Letters CLXII., CLXIV., and esp. CLXV. (which last is in a large measure a rescription of Letter CXXIV. q.v.).

11 Two of these are mentioned by name subsequently, e.g. in Lett. CLVII. (to Anatolius ), chap 4, viz. Atticus a presbyter and Andrew, in which chapter he blames Anatolius severely for his double-dealing ( cogor vehementius de tua dissimulatione causari, etc.).

Letter CLVII. To Anatolius, Bishop of Constantinople.

(Urging him to active measures in certain specified matters.)