LEO THE GREAT
LETTERS I TO XV

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 letter(1), we have understood that certain priests and deacons and clergy of various orders(2) 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 decrees(3): 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 ignorance(4) 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 clergy(5) 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 presumptuous(6) 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 views(7).

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 gift(8), 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 them(9)." 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 lost(1)."

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 Christ(2), neglect to return to his own peoples 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 orders(4) 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.

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 watchmen(5), 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 priesthood(6), 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 them(7). 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 service(8): 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 widowis 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 wife(9)," 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 woman(1)." 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 claim(2) 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 laity(3).

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 interest, and wish to enrich themselves as usurers. 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 gains(4). 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 memory(5), 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).

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 bishops(6) Illyricum an important questions.

The brotherly love of our colleagues makes us read with grateful mind the letters of all priests(7); 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 converse(8). But in this present letter the affection displayed seems to us greater than usual: for it informs us of the state of the churches(9), 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 one(1), 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 predecessor(2) 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 the Canons 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 them(3)]. 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 joined himself 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 consulting their Primate.

Let one be ordained a priest(4) 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 presumption(5). 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 man(6)."

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 us(7): 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 admonition s 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 solemn(9), receive the dignity of the priestly office indiscriminately on any day, which is a reprehensible practice contrary to the canons and tradition of the Fathers(1), 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 deacon(2) 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).

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 repentance(3). 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 profane and 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 laity(4) 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 the same 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 reads, 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 Alexandria(6), 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 morning of 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 Easter(7). 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 is commonly 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 regeneration(8) 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 retained(9)." 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 church(1) 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 celebration(2) be kept, and only those who come early in the day can offer the sacrifice(3). 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 21 June (? 445).

LETTER X.

TO THE BISHOPS OF THE PROVINCE OF VIENNE.

IN THE MATTER OF HILARY, BISHOP OF ARLES(4).

To the beloved brothers, the whole body of bishops of the province of Vienne, Leo, bishop of Rome.

I. The solidarity of the Church built upon the rack of S. Peter must be everywhere maintained.

Our LORD Jesus Christ, Saviour of mankind, instituted the observance of the Divine religion which He wished by the grace of GOD to shed its brightness upon all nations and all peoples in such a way that the Truth, which before was confined to the announcements of the Law and the Prophets, might through the Apostles' trumpet blast go out for the salvation of all men(5), as it is written: "Their sound has gone out into every land, and their words into the ends of the world(6)." But this mysterious function(7) the LORD wished to be indeed the concern of all the apostles, but in such a way that He has placed the principal charge on the blessed Peter, chief of all the Apostles(8): and from him as from the Head wishes His gifts to flow to all the body: so that any one who dares to secede from Peter's solid rock may understand that he has no part or lot in the divine mystery. For He wished him who had been received into partnership in His undivided unity to be named what He Himself was, when He said: "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church(9) :" that the building of the eternal temple by the wondrous gift of GOD'S grace might rest on Peter's solid rock: strengthening His Church so surely that neither could human rashness assail it nor the gates of hell prevail against it. But this most holy firmness of the rock, reared, as we have said, by the building hand of GOD, a man must wish to destroy in over-weaning wickedness when he tries to break down its power, by favouring his own desires, and not following what he received from men of old: for he believes himself subject to no law, and held in check by no rules of GOD's ordinances and breaks away, in his eagerness for novelty, from your use and ours, by adopting illegal practices, and letting what he ought to keep fall into abeyance.

II. Hilary is disturbing the peace of the Church by his insubordination.

But with the approval, as we believe, of GOD, and retaining towards you the fulness of our love which the Apostolic See always, as you remember, expends upon you, holy brethren we are striving to correct these things by mature counsel, and to share with you the task of setting your churches in order, not by innovations but by restoration of the old; that we may persevere in the accustomed state which our fathers handed down to us, and please our GOD through the ministry of a good work by removing the scandals of disturbances. And so we would have you recollect, brethren, as we do, that the Apostolic See, such is the reverence in which it is held, has times out of number been referred to and consulted by the priests of your province as well as others, and in the various matters of appeal, as the old usage demanded, it has reversed or confirmed decisions: and in this way "the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace(1) " has been kept, and by the interchange of letters, our honourable proceedings have promoted a lasting affection: for "seeking not our own but the things of Christ(2)," we have been careful not to do despite to the dignity which GoD has given both to the churches and their priests. But this path which with our fathers has been always so well kept to and wisely maintained, Hilary has quilted, and is likely to disturb the position and agreement of the priests by his novel arrogance: desiring to subject you to his power in such a way as not to suffer himself to be subject to the blessed Apostle Peter, claiming for himself the ordinations of all the churches throughout the provinces of Gaul, and transferring to himself the dignity which is due to metropolitan priests; he diminishes even the reverence that is paid to the blessed Peter himself with his proud words: for not only was the power of loosing and binding given to Peter before the others, but also to Peter more especially was entrusted the care of feeding the sheep(3). Yet any one who holds that the headship must be denied to Peter, cannot really diminish his dignity: but is puffed up with the breath of his pride, and plunges himself into the lowest depth.

III. Celidonius has been restored to his bishopric, the charges against him having been found false.

Accordingly the written record of our proceedings shows what action we have taken in the matter of Celidonius(4), the bishop, and what Hilary said in the presence and hearing of the aforesaid bishop. For when Hilary had no reasonable answer to give in the council of the holy priests, "the secrets of his heart(5)" gave vent to utterances such as no layman could make and no priest listen to. We were grieved, I acknowledge, brothers, and endeavoured to appease the tumult of his mind by patient treatment. For we did not wish to exasperate those wounds which he was inflicting on his soul by his insolent retorts, and strove rather to pacify him whom we had taken up as a brother, although it was he who was entangling himself by his replies, than to cause him pain by our remarks. Celidonius, the bishop, was therefore acquitted, for he had proved himself wrongfully deposed from the priesthood, by the clear replies of his witnesses made in his own presence: so that Hilary, who remained with us, had no opposition to offer. The judgment, therefore, was rescinded, which was brought forward and read to the effect that, as the husband of a widow(6), he could not hold the priesthood. Now this rule we, maintaining the legal constitutions(7), have wished scrupulously adhered to, not only in respect of priests but also of clergy of the lower ranks: that those who have contracted such a marriage, or those who are proved not to be the husbands of only one wife contrary to the apostle's discipline, should not be suffered to enter the sacred service(8). But though we decree that those, whom their own acts condemn, must either not be admitted at all, or, if they have, must be removed, so those who are falsely so accused we are bound to clear after examination held, and not allow to lose their office. For the sentence pronounced would have remained against him, if the truth of the charge had been proved. And so Celidonius, our fellow-bishop, was restored to his church and to that dignity which he ought not to have lost, as the course of our proceedings, and the sentence which was pronounced by us after holding the inquiry testifies.

IV. Hilary's treatment of Projectus does not redound to his credit.

When this business was so concluded, the complaint of our brother and fellow-bishop, Projectus(9), next came before us: who addressed us in a tearful and piteous letter, about the ordaining of a bishop over his head. A letter was also brought to us from his own fellow-citizens, corroborated by a great many individual signatures, and full of the most unpleasant complaints against Hilary: to the effect that Projectus, their bishop, was not allowed to be ill, but his priesthood had been transferred to another without their knowledge, and the heir brought into possession by Hilary, the intruder as if to fill up a vacancy, though the possessor was still alive(1). We should like to hear what you, brothers, think on the point: although we ought not to entertain any doubt about your feelings, when you picture to yourselves a brother lying on a sick-bed and tortured, not so much by his bodily weakness as by pains of another kind. What hope in life is left a man who is visited with despair about his priesthood whilst another is set up in his place? Hilary gives a clear proof of his gentle heart when he believed that the tardiness of a brother's death is but a hindrance to his own ambitious designs. For, as far as in him lay, he quenched the light for him; he robbed him of life by setting up another in his room, and thus causing him such pain as to hinder his recovery. And supposing that his brother's passage from this world was brief, but after the common course of men, what does Hilary seek for himself in another's province, and why does he claim that which none of his predecessors before Patroclus possessed? whereas that very position which seemed to have been temporarily granted to Patroclus by the Apostolic See was afterwards withdrawn by a wiser decision(2). At least the wishes of the citizens should have been waited for, and the testimony of the peoples: the opinion of those held in honour should have been asked, and the choice of the clergy--things which those who know the rules of the fathers are wont to observe in the ordination of priests: that the rule of the Apostle's authority might in all things be kept, which enjoins that one who is to be the priest of a church should be fortified, not only by the attestation of the faithful but also by the testimony of "those who are without(4)," and that no occasion for offence be left, when, in peace and in GOD-pleasing harmony with the full approval of all, one who will be a teacher of peace is ordained.

V. Hilary's action was very reprehensible throughout, and we have restored Projectus.

But Hilary came upon them unawares and departed no less suddenly, accomplishing many journeys with great speed, as we have ascertained, and traversing distant provinces with such haste that he seems to have coveted a reputation for the swiftness of a courier rather than for the sobriety of a priest(5). For these are the words of the citizens in the letter that has been addressed to us:--"He departed before we knew he had come." This is not to return but to flee, not to exercise a shepherd's wholesome care, but to employ the violence of a thief and a robber, as saith the LORD: "he that entereth not by the door into the sheep-fold(6), but climbeth up some other way, is a thief and a robber." Hilary, therefore, was anxious not so much to consecrate a bishop as to kill him who was sick, and to mislead the man whom he set over his head by wrongful ordination. We, however, have done what, as GOD is our Judge, we believe you will approve: after holding counsel with all the brethren we have decreed that the wrongfully ordained man should be deposed and the Bishop Projectus abide in his priesthood: with the further provision that when any of our brethren in whatsoever province shall decease, he who has been agreed upon to be metropolitan of that province shall claim for himself the ordination of his successor.

These two matters, as we see, have been settled, though there are many other points in them which seem to have violated the principles of the Church, and ought to be visited with just censure and judgment. But we cannot linger on them any further, for we are called off to other matters on which we must carefully confer with you, holy brethren.

VI. Hilary's practice of using armed violence must be suppressed.

A band of soldiers, as we have learnt follows the priest through the provinces and helps him who relies upon their armed support in turbulently invading churches, which have lost their own priests. Before this court(7) are dragged for ordination men who are quite unknown to the cities over which they are to be set. For as one who is well known and approved is sought out in peace, so must one who is unknown, when brought forward, be established by violence. I beg and entreat and beseech you in GOD's name prevent such things, brethren, and remove all occasion for discord from your provinces. At all events we acquit ourselves before GOD in beseeching you not to allow this to proceed further. In peace and quietness should they be asked for who are to be priests. The consent of the clergy, the testimony of those held in honour the approval of the orders and the laity should be required(8). He who is to govern all, should be chosen by all(9). As we said before, each metropolitan should keep in his own hands the ordinations that occur in his own province, acting in concert with those who precede the rest in seniority of priesthood, a privilege restored to him through us. No man should claim for himself another's rights. Each should keep within his own limits and boundaries, and should understand that he cannot pass on to another a privilege that belongs to himself. But if any one neglecting the Apostle's prohibitions and paying too much heed to personal favour, wishes to give up his precedence, thinking he can pass his rights on to another, not he to whom he has yielded, but he who ranks before the rest of the priests within the province in episcopal seniority, should claim to himself the power of ordaining. The ordination should be performed not at random but on the proper day: and it should be known that any one who has not been ordained on the evening of Saturday, which precedes the dawn of the first day of the week(1), or actually on the LORD'S day cannot be sure of his status. For our forefathers judged the day of the LORD'S resurrection(2) as alone worthy of the honour of being the occasion on which those who are to be made priests are given to GOD.

VII. Hilary is deposed not only from his usurped jurisdiction, but also from what of right belongs to him, and is restricted to his own single bishopric.

Let each province be content with its own councils. and let not Hilary dare to summon synodal meetings besides, and by his interference disturb the judgments of the LORD'S priests. And let him know that he is not only deposed from another's rights, but also deprived of his power over the province of Vienne which he had wrongfully assumed. For it is but fair, brethren, that the ordinances of antiquity should be restored, seeing that he who claimed for himself the ordinations of a province for which he was not responsible, has been shown in a similar way in the present case also to have acted so that, as he has on more than one occasion brought on himself sentence of condemnation by his rash and insolent words, he may now be kept by our command in accordance with the clemency of the Apostolic See(3) to the priesthood of his own city alone. He is not to be present then at any ordination: he is not to ordain because, conscious of his deserts, when he was required to answer for his action, be trusted to make good his escape by disgraceful flight, and has put himself out of Apostolic communion, of which he did not deserve to be a partaker(4): and we believe this was by GOD'S providence, who brought him to our court, though we did not expect him, and caused him to retire by stealth in the midst of holding the inquiry, that he should not be a partner in our communion(5).

VIII. Excommunication should be inflicted only on those who are guilty of some great crime, and even then not hastily.

No Christian should lightly be denied communion(6), nor should that be done at the will of an angry priest which the judge's mind ought to a certain extent unwillingly and regretfully to carry out for the punishment of a great crime. For we have ascertained that some have been cut off from the grace of communion for trivial deeds and words, and that the soul for which Christ's blood was shed has been exposed to the devil's attacks and wounded, disarmed, so to say, and stript of all defence by the infliction of so savage a punishment as to fall an easy prey to him. Of course if ever a case has arisen of such a kind as in due proportion to the nature of the crime committed to deprive a man of communion, he only who is involved in the accusation must be subjected to punishment: and he who is not shown to be a partner in its commission ought not to share in the penalty. But what wonder that one who is wont to exult over the condemnation of priests, should show himself in the same light towards laymen.

IX. Leontius is appointed in Hilary's room.

Wherefore, because our desire seems very different to this (for we are anxious that the settled state of all the Churches and the harmony of the priests should be maintained,) exhorting you to unity in the bond of love, we both entreat, and consistently with our affection admonish you, in the interests of your peace and dignity, to keep what has been decreed by us at the inspiration of GOD and the most blessed Apostle Peter, after sifting and testing all the matters at issue, being assured that what we are known to have decided in this way is not so much to our own advantage as to yours. For we are not keeping in our own hands the ordinations of your provinces, as perhaps Hilary, with his usual untruthfulness, may suggest in order to mislead your minds, holy brethren: but in our anxiety we are claiming for you that no further innovations should be allowed, and that for the future no opportunity should be given for the usurper to infringe your privileges. For we acknowledge that it can only redound to our credit, if the diligence of the Apostolic See be kept unimpaired among you, and if in our maintenance of Apostolic discipline we do not allow what belongs to your position to fall to the ground through unscrupulous aggressions. And since seniority is always to be respected, we wish Leontius(7), our brother and fellow-bishop, a priest well approved among you, to be promoted to this dignity, if it please you that without his consent no further council be summoned by you, holy brethren, and that he may be honoured by you all as his age and good fame demands, the metropolitans being secured in their own dignity and rights. For it is but fair, and no injury seems to accrue to any of the brethren, if those who come first in seniority of the priesthood should, as their age deserves, have deference paid to them by the rest of the priests in their own provinces, GOD keep you safe, beloved brethren.

LETTER XI.

AN ORDINANCE OF VALENTINIANUS III.

(Confirming Leo's sentence upon Hilary.)

LETTER XII.

Leo, bishop of the city of Rome, to all the bishops of Mauritania Caesariensis in Africa greeting the LORD.

I. The disorderly appointments of bishops which have been made in the province are reprehensible.

Inasmuch as the frequent accounts of those who visited us made mention of certain unlawful practices among you with regard to the ordination of priests, the demands of religion required that we should strive to arrive at the exact state of the case in accordance with that solicitude which by the Divine command we bestow on the whole Church: and so we delegated the charge of this to our brother and fellow-priest, Potentius. who was setting out from us: and who, according to what we wrote and addressed to you by him, was to make inquiry as to the facts about the bishops whose election was said to be faulty, and to report everything faithfully to us. Wherefore, because the same Potentius has most fully disclosed all to our knowledge, and has by his truthful account made clear to us, under what and what manner of governors some of Christ's congregations are placed in certain parts of the province of (Mauritania) Caesariensis, we have found it necessary to open out the grief wherewith our hearts are vexed for the dangers of the LORD'S flocks, by sending this letter also to you beloved: for we are surprised that either the over-bearing conduct of intriguers or the rioting of the people had so much weight with you in a time of disorder, that the chief pastorate and governance of the Church was handed over to the unworthiest persons, and such as were farthest removed from the priestly standard. This is not to consult but harm the peoples' interests: and not to enforce discipline but to increase differences. For the integrity of the rulers is the safeguard of those who are under them: and where there is complete obedience, there the form of doctrine is sound. But an appointment which has either been made by sedition or seized by intrigue, even though it offend not in morals or in practice, is nevertheless pernicious from the mere example of its beginning: and it is hard for things to be carried to a good issue which were started with a bad beginning.

II. In no case ought bishops to be ordained hastily.

But if in every grade of the Church great forethought and knowledge has to be employed, lest there be any thing disorderly or out of place[8] in the house of the LORD: how much more carefully must we strive to prevent mistakes in the election of him who is set over all the grades? For the peace and order of the LORD'S whole household will be shaken, if what is required in the body be not found in the head. Where is that precept of the blessed Apostle Paul uttered through the Spirit of GOD, whereby in the person of Timothy the whole number of Christ's priests are instructed, and to each one of us is said: "Lay hands hastily on no one, and do not share in other men's sins[9]?" What is to lay on hands hastily but to confer the priestly dignity on unproved men before the proper age[1], before there has been time to test them, before they have deserved it by their obedience, before they have been tried by discipline? And what is to share in other men's sins but for the ordainer to become such as is he who ought not to have been ordained by him? For just as a man stores up for himself the fruit of his good work, if he maintains a right judgment in choosing a priest: so one who receives an unworthy priest into the number of his colleagues, inflicts grievous loss upon himself. We must not then pass over in the case of any one that which is laid down in the general ordinances: nor is that advancement to be reckoned lawful which has been made contrary to the precepts of GOD's law.

III. The Apostolic precept about the marriage of the clergy based upon the marriage of Christ with the Church of which it is a figure.

For as the Apostle says that among other rules for election he shall be ordained bishop who is known to have been or to be "the husband of one wife," this command was always held so sacred that the same condition was understood as necessary to be observed even in the wife[2] of the priest-elect: lest she should happen to have been married to another man before she entered into wedlock with him, even though he himself had had no other wife. Who then would dare to allow this injury to be perpetrated upon so great a sacrament[3], seeing that this great and venerable mystery is not without the support of the statutes of GOD's law as well, whereby it is clearly laid down that a priest is to marry a virgin, and that she who is to be the wife of a priest[4] is not to know another husband? For even then in the priests was prefigured the Spiritual marriage of Christ and His Church: so that since "the man is the head of the woman[5]," the spouse of the Word may learn to know no other man but Christ, who did rightly choose her only, loves her only, and takes none but her into His alliance. If then even in the Old Testament this kind of marriage among priests is adhered to, how much more ought we who are placed under the grace of the Gospel to conform to the Apostle's precepts: so that though a man be found endowed with good character, and furnished with holy works, he may nevertheless m no wise ascend either to the grade of deacon, or the dignity of the presbytery, or to the highest rank of the bishopric, if it has been spread abroad either that he himself is not the husband of one wife, or that his wife is not the wife of one husband.

IV. Premature promotions are to be avoided.

But when the Apostle warns and says: "and let these also first be proved, and so let them minister[6]," what else do we think must be understood but that in these promotions we should consider not only the chastity of their marriages, but also the deserts of their labours, lest the pastoral office be entrusted to men who are either fresh from baptism, or suddenly diverted from worldly pursuits? for through all the ranks of the Christian army in the matter of promotions it ought to be considered whether a man can manage a greater charge. Rightly did the venerable opinions of the blessed Fathers in speaking of the election of priests reckon those men fit for the administration of sacred things who had been slowly advanced through the various grades of office, and had given such good proof of themselves therein that in each one of them the character of their practices bore witness to their lives[7]. For if it is improper to attain to the world's dignities without the help of time and without the merit of having toiled, and if the seeking of office is branded unless it be supported by proofs of uprightness, how diligently and how carefully ought the dispensing of divine duties and heavenly dignities to be carried out, lest in aught the apostolic and canonical decrees be violated, and the ruling of the LORD's Church be committed to men who being ignorant of the lawful constitutions anti devoid of all humility wish not to rise from the lowest grade, but to begin with the highest: for it is extremely unfair and preposterous that the inexpert should be preferred to the expert, the young to the old, the raw recruits to those who have seen much service. In a great house, indeed, as the Apostle explains[8], there must needs be divers vessels, some of gold and of silver, and some of wood and of earth: but their purpose varies with the quality of their material, and the use of the precious and of the cheap kinds is not the same. For everything will be in disorder if the earthen ware be preferred to the golden, or the wooden to the silver. And as the wooden or earthen vessels are a figure of those men who are hitherto conspicuous for no virtues; so in the golden or silver vessels they no doubt are represented who, having passed through the fire of long experience, and through the furnace of protracted toil have deserved to be tried gold and pure silver. And if such men get no reward for their devotion, all the discipline of the Church is loosened, all order is disturbed, while men who have undergone no service obtain undeserved preferment by the wrongful choice of the electing body.

V. He distinguishes between laymen who have been raised to the bishoprics and digamous clerks, forgiving the former and not the latter.

Since then either the eager wishes of the people or the intrigues of the ambitious have had so much weight among you that we understand not only laymen, but even husbands of second wives or widows have been promoted to the pastoral office, are there not the clearest reasons for requiring that the churches in which such things have been done should be cleansed by a severer judgment than usual, and that not only the rulers themselves, but also those who ordained them should receive condign punishment? But there stand on our one hand the gentleness of mercy, on our other the strictness of justice. And because "all the paths of the LORD are loving-kindness and truth[9]," we are forced according to our loyalty to the Apostolic See so to moderate our opinion as to weigh men's misdeeds in the balance (for of course they are not all of one measure), and to reckon some as to a certain extent[1] pardonable, but others as altogether to be repressed. For they who have either entered into second marriages or joined themselves in wedlock with widows are not allowed to hold the priesthood, either by the apostolic or legal authority: and much more is this the case with him who, as it was reported to us, is the husband of two wives at once, or him who being divorced by his wife is said to have married another, that is, supposing these charges are in your judgment proved. But the rest, whose preferment only so far incurs blame that they have been chosen to the episcopal function from among the laity, and are not culpable in the matter of their wives, we allow to retain the priesthood upon which they have entered, without prejudice to the statutes of the Apostolic See, and without breaking the rules of the blessed Fathers, whose wholesome ordinance it is that no layman, whatever amount of support he may receive, shall ascend to the first, second, or third rank in the Church until he reach that position by the legitimate steps[2]. For what we now suffer to be to a certain extent[3] venial, cannot hereafter pass unpunished, if any one perpetrates what we altogether forbid: because the forgiveness of a sin does not grant a licence to do wrong, nor will it be right to repeat an offence with impunity which has partly[4] been condoned.

VI. Donatus, a converted Novatian, and Maximus, an ex-Donatist, are retained in their episcopal office.

Donatus of Salacia, who, as we learn, has been converted from the Novatians[5] with his people, we wish to preside over the LORD's flock, on condition that he remembers he must send a certificate of his faith to us, in which he not only condemns the error of the Novatian dogma, but also unreservedly confesses the catholic truth. Maximus, also, although he was culpably ordained when a layman, yet if he is now no longer a Donatist, and has abjured the spirit of schismatic depravity, we do not depose from his episcopal dignity, which he has obtained irregularly, on condition that he declare himself a catholic by drawing Up a certificate for us.

VII. The case of Aggarus and Tyberianus (ordained with tumult) is referred to the bishops.

But concerning Aggarus and Tyberianus, whose case is different from the others who were ordained from among the laity, in this that their ordination is reported to have been accompanied by fierce riots and savage disturbances, we have entrusted the whole matter to your judgment, treat relying upon your investigation of the case, we may know what to decide about them.

VIII. Maidens who have suffered violence are not to compare themselves with others.

Those handmaids of GOD who have lost their chastity by the violence of barbarians, will be more praiseworthy in their humility and shame-fastness, if they do not venture to compare themselves to undefiled virgins. For although every sin springs from the desire, and the will may have remained unconquered and unpolluted by the fall of the flesh still this will be less to their detriment, if they grieve over losing even in the body what they did not lose in spirit.

IX. These injunctions to be carded out without contentiousness.

And so now that you see yourselves, beloved, fully instructed through David, our brother and fellow-bishop, who is approved to us both by his personal character and his priestly worth, on[nearly][6] all the points which our brother Potentius' account contained, it remains, brothers, that you receive our healthful exhortations harmoniously, and that doing nothing in rivalry, but acting unanimously with entire devotion and zeal, you obey the constitution of GOD and His Apostles, and in nothing suffer the well-considered decrees of the canons to be violated. For what we from the consideration of certain reasons have now relaxed must henceforward be guarded by the ancient rules, lest, what we have on this occasion with merciful lenity conceded, we may hereafter have to visit with condign punishment[7], acting with special and direct vigour against those who in ordaining bishops have neglected the statutes of the holy fathers, and have consecrated men whom they ought to have rejected. Wherefore if any bishops have consecrated such an one priest as ought not to be, even though in some measure they have escaped any loss of their personal dignity, yet they shall have no further right of ordination, nor shall ever be present at that sacrament which, neglecting the judgment of GOD, they have improperly conferred.

X. The appointment of bishops over too small places is inexpedient and must be discontinued.

That of course which pertains to the priestly dignity we wish to be observed in common with all the statutes of the canons, viz., that bishops be not consecrated in any place nor in any hamlet[8], nor where they have not been consecrated before; for where the flocks are small and the congregations small, the care of the presbyters may suffice, whereas the episcopal authority ought to preside only over larger flocks and more crowded cities, lest contrary to the divinely-inspired decrees of the holy Fathers the priestly office be assigned over villages and rural estates[9] or obscure and thinly-populated townships, and the position of honour, to which only the more important charges should be given, be held cheap from the very number of these that hold it. And this bishop Restitutus has reported to have been done in his own diocese, and he has with good reason requested that when the bishops of those places where they ought not to have been ordained die in the natural course, the places themselves should revert to the jurisdiction of the same prelate to whom they formerly belonged and were attached. It is indeed useless for the priestly dignity to be diminished by the superfluous multiplications of the office through the inconsiderate complaisance of the ordainer.

XI. Virgins violated against their will are to be treated as somewhat different to the others, but not to be denied Communion.

Now concerning those who, having made a holy vow of virginity[as we said above, chap. viii.], have suffered the violence of barbarians, and have lost their spotless purity not in spirit but in body, we consider such moderation ought to be observed that they should be neither degraded to the rank of widows nor yet reckoned in the number of holy and undefiled virgins: yet, if they persevere in the virgin life, and in heart and mind guard the reality of chastity, participation in the sacraments is not to be denied them, because it is unfair that they should be accused or branded for what their wishes did not surrender, but was stolen by the violence of foes.

XII. The care of Lupicinus is in part dealt with and in part referred to them.

The case also of bishop Lupicinus[2] we order to be heard there, but at his urgent and frequent entreaties we have restored him to communion for this reason, that, as he bad appealed to our judgment, we saw that while the matter was pending he had been undeservedly suspended from communion. Moreover there is this also in addition, that it was clearly rash to ordain one over his head who ought not to have been ordained until Lupicinus, having been placed before you or convicted, or having at least confessed, had opportunity to submit to a just sentence, so that, according to the requirements of ecclesiastical discipline, he who was consecrated might receive his vacant place.

XIII. All disputes to be dealt with on the spot first and then referred to the Apostolic See.

But whenever other eases arise which concern the state of the Church and the harmony of priests, we wish them to be first sifted by yourselves in the fear of the LORD, and a full account of all matters settled or needing settlement sent to us, that those things which have been properly and reasonably decided, according to the usage of the Church, may receive our corroborative sanction also. Dated 10th August.

LETTER XIII.

TO THE METROPOLITAN BISHOPS IN THE PROVINCES OF ILLYRICUM.

Leo congratulates them on accepting the authority of Anastasius over them (given in Lett. IV.).

LETTER XIV.

TO ANASTASIUS, BISHOP OF THESSALONICA.

Leo, bishop of the City of Rome, to Anastasius, bishop of Thessalonica.

I. Prefatory.

If with true reasoning you perceived all that has been committed to you, brother, by the blessed apostle Peter's authority, and what has also been entrusted to you by our favour, and would weigh it fairly, we should be able greatly to rejoice at your zealous discharge of the responsibility imposed on you[3].

II. Anastasius is taxed with exceeding the limits of his vicariate, especially in his violent and unworthy treatment of Atticus.

Seeing that, as my predecessors acted towards yours, so too I, following their example, have delegated my authority to you[4], beloved: so that you, imitating our gentleness, might assist us in the care which we owe primarily to all the churches by Divine institution, and might to a certain extent make up for our personal presence in visiting those I provinces which are far off from us: for it would be easy for you by regular and well-timed inspection to tell what and in what cases you could either, by your own influence, settle or reserve for our judgment. For as it was free for you to suspend the more important matters and the harder issues while you awaited our opinion, there was no reason nor necessity for you to go out of your way to decide what was beyond your powers. For you have numerous written warnings of ours in which we have often instructed you to be temperate in all your actions: that with loving exhortations you might provoke the churches of Christ committed to you to healthy obedience. Because, although as a rule there exist among careless or slothful brethren things which demand a strong hand in rectifying them; yet the correction ought to be so applied as ever to keep love inviolate. Wherefore also it is that the blessed Apostle Paul, in instructing Timothy upon the ruling of the Church, says: "an eider rebuke not, but intreat him as a father: the young men as brethren: old women as mothers: young women as sisters in all purity[5]." And if this moderation is due by the Apostle's precept to all and any of the lower members, how much more is it to be paid without offence to our brethren and fellow-bishops? in order that although things sometimes happen which have to be reprimanded in the persons of priests, yet kindness may have more effect on those who are to be corrected than severity: exhortation than perturbation: love than power. But they who "seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's[6]," easily depart from this law, and finding pleasure rather in domineering over their subjects than in consulting their interests, are swoln with the pride of their position, and thus what was provided to secure harmony ministers to mischief. That we are obliged to speak thus causes us no small grief. For I feel myself in a certain measure drawn into blame, on discovering you to have so immoderately departed from the rules handed down to you. If you were careless of your own reputation, you ought at least to have spared my good name: lest what only your own mind prompted should seem done with our approval. Do but read, brother, our pages with care, and peruse all the letters sent by holders of the Apostolic See to your predecessors, and you will find injunctions either from me or from my predecessors on that in which we learn you have presumed.

For there has come to us our brother Atticus, the metropolitan[7] bishop of Old Epirus, with the bishops of his province, and with tearful pleading has complained of the undeserved contumely he has suffered, in the presence of your own deacons who, by giving no contradiction to these woeful complaints, showed that what was impressed upon us did not want for truth. We read also in your letter, which those same deacons of yours brought, that brother Atticus had come to Thessalonica, and that he had also sealed his agreement in a written profession, so that we could not but understand concerning him that it was of his own will and free devotion that he had come, and that he had composed the statement of his promise of obedience, although in the very mention of this statement a sign of injury was betrayed. For it was not necessary that he should be bound in writing, who was already proving his obedience by the very dutifulness of his voluntary coming. Wherefore these words in your letter bore witness to the bewailings of the aforesaid, and through his outspoken account that which had been passed over in silence is laid bare, namely that the Praefecture of Illyricum had been approached, and the most exalted functionary among the potentates of the worlds had been set in motion to expose an innocent prelate: so that a company was sent to carry out the aweful deed who were to enlist all the public servants in giving effect to their orders, and from the church's holy sanctuary charged with no crime, or at best a false one, was dragged a priest, to whom no truce was granted in consideration of his grievous ill-health or the cruel winter weather: but he was forced to take a journey full of hardships and dangers through the pathless snows. And this was a task of such toil and peril that some of those who accompanied the bishop are said to have succumbed[9].

I am quite dumb-founded, beloved brother, yea and I am also sore grieved that you brought yourself to be so savagely and violently moved against one about whom you had laid no further information than that when summoned to appear he put off and excused himself on the grounds of illness; especially when, even if he deserved any such treatment, you should have waited till I had replied to your consulting letter. But, as I perceive, you thought too well of my habits, and most truly foresaw how fair-minded[1] an answer I was likely to make to preserve harmony among priests: and therefore you made haste to carry out your movements without concealment, lest when you had received the letter of our forbearance dictating another course, you should have no licence to do that which is done. Or perhaps some crime had reached your ears, and metropolitan bishop that you are, the weight of some new charge pressed you hard? But that this is not consistent with the fact, you yourself make certain by laying nothing against him. Yet even if he had committed some grave and intolerable misdemeanour, you should have waited for our opinion: so as to arrive at no decision by yourself until you knew our pleasure. For we made you our deputy, beloved, on the understanding that you were engaged to share our responsibility, not to take plenary powers on yourself. Wherefore as what you bestow a pious care on delights us much, so your wrongful acts grieve us sorely. And after experience in many cases we must show greater foresight, and use more diligent precaution: to the end that through the spirit of love and peace all matter of offence may be removed from the LORD'S churches, which we have commended to you: the pre-eminence of your bishopric being retained in the provinces, but all your usurping excesses being shorn off.

III. The rights of the metropolitans under the vicariate of Anastasius are to be observed.

Therefore according to the canons of the holy Fathers, which are framed by the spirit of GOD and hollowed by the whole world's reverence, we decree that the metropolitan bishops Of each province over which your care. brother, extends by our delegacy shall keep untouched the rights of their position which have been handed down to them from olden times: but on condition that they do not depart from the existing regulations by any carelessness or arrogance.

IV. The negative qualifications of a bishop determined.

In cities whose governors[3] have died let this form be observed in filling up their place: he, who is to be ordained, even though his good life be not attested, shall be not a layman, not a neophyte, nor yet the husband of a second wife, or one who, though he has or has had but one, married a widow. For the choosing of priests is of such surpassing importance that things which in other members of the Church are not blame-worthy, are yet held unlawful in them.

V.Continence is required even in sub deacons.

For although they who are not within the ranks of the clergy are free to take pleasure in the companionship of wedlock and the procreation of children, yet for the exhibiting of the purity of complete continence, even sub-deacons are not allowed carnal marriage: that "both those that have, may be as though they had not[4]," and those who have not, may remain single. But if in this order, which is the fourth from the Head[5], this is worthy to be observed, how much more is it to be kept in the first, or second, or third, lest any one be reckoned fit for either the deacon's duties or the presbyter's honourable position, or the bishop's pre-eminence, who is discovered not yet to have bridled his uxorious desires.

VI. The election of a bishop must proceed by the wishes of the clergy and people.

When therefore the choice of the chief priest is taken in hand, let him be preferred before all whom the unanimous consent of clergy and people demands, but if the votes chance to be divided between two persons, the judgment of the metropolitan should prefer him who is supported by the preponderance of votes and merits: only let no one be ordained against the express wishes of the place: lest a city should either despise or hate a bishop whom they did not choose, and lamentably fall away from religion because they have not been allowed to have when they wished.

VII. Metropolitans are to refer to their Vicar: the made of electing metropolitans is laid down.

However the metropolitan bishop should refer to you, brother, about the person to be consecrated bishop, and about the consent of the clergy and people: and he should acquaint you with the wishes of the province: that the due celebration of the ordination may be strengthened by your authority also. But to right selections it will be your duty to cause no delay or hindrance, lest the LORD'S flocks should remain too long with their shepherd's care.

Moreover when a metropolitan is defunct and another has to be elected in to his place, the bishops of the province must meet together in the metropolitical city: that after the wishes of all the clerics and all the citizens have been sifted, the best man may be chosen from the presbyters of that same church or from the deacons, and you are to be informed of his name by the priests of the province, who will carry out the wishes of his supporters on ascertaining that you agree with their choice[6]. For whilst we desire proper elections to be hampered by no delays, we yet allow nothing to be done presumptuously without your knowledge.

VIII. Bishops are to hold provincial councils twice a year.

Concerning councils of bishops we give no other instructions than those laid down for the Church's health by the holy Fathers[7]: to wit that two meetings should be held a year, in which judgment should be passed upon all the complaints which are wont to arise between the various ranks of the Church. But if perchance among the rulers themselves a cause arise (which GOD forbid) concerning one of the greater sins, such as cannot be decided by a provincial trial, the metropolitan shall take care to inform you, brother, concerning the nature of the whole matter, and if, after both parties have come before you, the thing be not set at rest even by your judgment, whatever it be, let it be transferred to our jurisdiction.

IX. Translation from one see to another is to be prohibited.

If any bishop, despising the insignificance of his city, shall intrigue for the government of a more populous place, and transfer himself by whatever means to a larger flock, he shall first be driven from the chair he has usurped, and also shall be deprived of his own: so shall he preside neither over those whom in his greed he coveted, nor over those whom in his arrogance he spurned. Therefore let each be content with his own bounds, and not seek to be raised above the limits of his present post.

X. Bishops are not to entice or receive the clergy of another diocese.

A cleric from another diocese let no (bishop) accept or invite against the wishes of his own bishop: but only when giver and receiver agree together thereupon by friendly compact. For a man is guilty of a serious injury who ventures either to entice or withhold from a brother's church that which is of great use or high value. And so, if such a thing happen within the province, the metropolitan shall force the deserting cleric to return to his church: but if he has withdrawn himself still further off, he shall be recalled by your authoritative command: so that no occasion be left for either desire of gain or intrigue.

XI. When the Vicar shall require a meeting of bishops, two from each province will be sufficient.

In summoning bishops to your presence, we wish you to show great forbearance: lest under a show of much diligence you seem to exult in your brethren's injuries. Wherefore if any greater case arise for which it is reasonable and necessary to convene a meeting of brethren, it may suffice, brother, that two bishops should attend from each province, whom the metropolitans shall think proper to be sent, on the understanding that those who answer the summons be not detained longer than fifteen days from the time fixed.

XII. In case of difference of opinion between the Vicar and the bishops, the bishop of Rome must be consulted. The subordination of authorities in the Church expounded.

But if in that which you believed necessary to be discussed and settled with the brethren, their opinion differs from your own wishes, let all be referred to us, with the minutes of your proceedings attested, that all ambiguities may be removed, and what is pleasing to God decided. For to this end we direct all our desires and pains, that what conduces to our harmonious unity and to the protection of discipline may be marred by no dissension and neglected by no slothfulness. Therefore, dearly beloved brother, you and those our brethren who are offended at your extravagant conduct (though the matter of complaint is not the same with all), we exhort and warn not to disturb by any wrangling what has been rightfully ordained and wisely settled. Let none "seek what is his own, but what is another's," as the Apostle says: "Let each one of you please his neighbour for his good unto edifying(8)." For the cementing of our unity cannot be firm unless we be bound by the bond of love into an inseparable solidity: because "as in one body we have many members, but all the members have not the same office; so we being many are one body in Christ, and all of us members one of another(9)." The connexion of the whole body makes all alike healthy, all alike beautiful: and this connexion requires the unanimity indeed of the whole body, but it especially demands harmony among the priests. And though they have a common dignity, yet they have not uniform rank; inasmuch as even among the blessed Apostles, notwithstanding the similarity of their honourable estate, there was st certain distinction of power, and while the election of them all was equal, yet it was given to one to take the lead of the rest. From which model has arisen a distinction between bishops also, and by an important ordinance it has been provided that every one should not claim everything for himself: but that there should be in each province one whose opinion should have the priority among the brethren: and again that certain whose appointment is in the greater cities should undertake a fuller responsibility, through whom the care of the universal Church should converge towards Peter's one seat, and nothing anywhere should be separated from its Head. Let not him then who knows he has been set over certain others take it ill that some one has been set over him, but let him himself render the obedience which he demands of them: and as he does not wish to bear a heavy load of baggage, so let him not dare to place on another's shoulders a weight that is insupportable. For we are disciples of the humble and gentle Master who says: "Learn of Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart, and ye shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden light(3)." And how shall we experience this, unless this too comes to our remembrance which the same LORD says: "He that is greater among you, shall be your servant. But he that exalteth himself, shall be humbled: and he that humbleth himself, shall be exalted(4)."

LETTER XV.

TO TURRIBIUS, BISHOP OF ASTURIA(5),

UPON THE ERRORS OF THE PRISCILLIANISTS.

Leo, bishop, to Turribius, bishop, greeting.

I. Introductory.

Your laudable zeal for the truth of the catholic Faith, and the painstaking devotion you expend in the exercise of your pastoral office upon the LORD'S flock is proved by your letter, brother, which your deacon has handed to us, in which you have taken care to bring to our knowledge the nature of the disease which has burst forth in your district from the remnants of an ancient plague. For the language of your letter, and your detailed statement, and the text of your pamphlet(6), explains clearly that the filthy puddle of the Priscillianists again teems with life amongst you(7). For there is no dirt which has not flowed into this dogma from the notions of all sorts of heretics: since they have scraped together the motley dregs from the mire of earthly opinions and made for themselves a mixture s which they alone may swallow whole, though others have tasted little portions of it.

In fact, if all the heresies which have arisen before the time of Priscillian were to be studied carefully, hardly any mistake will be discovered with which this impiety has not been infected: for not satisfied with accepting the falsehoods of those who have departed from the Gospel under the name of Christ, it has plunged itself also in the shades of heathendom, so as to rest their religious faith and their moral conduct upon the power of demons and the influences of the stars through the blasphemous secrets of the magic arts and the empty lies of astrologers. But if this may be believed and taught, no reward will be due for virtues, no punishment for faults, and all the injunctions not only of human laws but also of the Divine constitutions will be broken down: because there will be no criterion of good or bad actions possible, if a fatal necessity drives the impulses of the mind to either side, and all that men do is through the agency not of men but of stars. To this madness belongs that monstrous division of the whole human body among the twelve signs of the zodiac, so that each part is ruled by a different power: and the creature, whom GOD made in His own image, is as much under the domination of the stars as his limbs are connected one with the other. Rightly then our fathers, in whose times this abominable heresy sprung up, promptly pursued it throughout the world, that the blasphemous error might everywhere be driven from the Church: for even the leaders of the world so abhorred this profane folly that they laid low its originator, with most of his disciples, by the sword of the public laws. For they saw that all desire for honourable conduct was removed, all marriage-ties undone, and the Divine and the human law simultaneously undermined, if it were allowed for men of this kind to live anywhere under such a creed. And this rigourous treatment was for long a help to the Church's law of gentleness which, although it relies upon the priestly judgment, and shuns blood-stained vengeance, yet is assisted by the stern decrees of Christian princes at times when men, who dread bodily punishment, have recourse to merely spiritual correction. But since many provinces have been taken up with the invasions of the enemy(9), the carrying out of the laws also has been suspended by these stormy wars. And since intercourse came to be difficult among GOD'S priests and meetings rare, secret treachery was free to act through the general disorder, and was roused to the upsetting of many minds by those very ills which ought to have counteracted it. But which of the peoples and how many of them are free from the contagion of this plague in a district where, as you point out, dear brother, the minds even of certain priests have sickened of this deadly disease: and they who were believed the necessary quellers of falsehood and champions of the Truth are the very ones through whom the Gospel of God is enthralled to the teaching of Priscillian: so that the fidelity of the holy volumes being distorted to profane meanings, under the names of prophets and apostles, is proclaimed not that which the Holy Spirit has taught, but what the devil's servant has inserted. Therefore as you, beloved, with all the faithful diligence in your power, have dealt under 16 heads with these already condemned opinions(1), we also subject them once more to a strict examination; lest any of these blasphemies should be thought either bearable or doubtful.

II. (1) The Priscillianists' denial of the Trinity refuted.

And so under the first head is shown what unholy views they hold about the Divine Trinity: they affirm that the person of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost is one and the same, as if the same GOD were named now Father, now Son, and now Holy Ghost: and as if He who begot were not one, He who was begotten, another, and He who proceeded from both, yet another; but an undivided unity must be understood, spoken of under three names, indeed, but not consisting of three persons. This species of blasphemy they borrowed from Sabellius, whose followers were rightly called Patripassians also: because if the Son is identical with the Father, the Son's cross is the Father's passion (patris-passio): and the Father took on Himself all that the Son took in the form of a slave, and in obedience to the Father. Which without doubt is contrary to the catholic faith, which acknowledges the Trinity of the Godhead to be of one essence (<greek>omoousion</greek>) in such a way that it believes the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost indivisible without confusion, eternal without time, equal without difference: because it is not the same person but the same essence which fills the Unity in Trinity

III. (2) Their fancy about virtues proceeding from GOD refuted.

Under the second head is displayed their foolish and empty fancy about the issue of certain virtues from GOD which he began to possess, and which were posterior to GOD Himself in His own essence. In this again they support the Arians' mistake, who say that the Father is prior to the Son, because there was a time when He was without the Son: and became the Father then when He begot the Son. But as the catholic Church abhors them, so also does it abhor these who think that what is of the same essence was ever wanting to GOD. For it is as wicked to speak of Him as progressing as it is to call Him changeable. For increase implies change as much as does decrease.

IV. (3) Their account of the epithet "Only begotten" refuted.

Again the third head is concerned with these same folk's impious assertion that the Son of GOD is called "only-begotten" for this reason that He alone was born of a virgin. To be sure they would not have dared to say this, had they not drunk the poison of Paul of Samosata and Photinus: who said that our LORD Jesus Christ did not exist till He was born of the virgin Mary. But if they wish something else to be understood by their tenet, and do not date Christ's beginning from His mother's womb, they must necessarily assert that there is not one Son of GOD, but others also were begotten of the most High Father, of whom this one is born of a woman, and therefore called only-begotten, because no other of GOD's sons underwent this condition of being born. Therefore, whithersoever they betake themselves, they fall into an abyss of great impiety, if they either maintain that Christ the LORD took His beginning from His mother, or do not believe Him to be the only-begotten of GOD the Father: since He who was GOD was born of a mother, and no one was born of the Father except the Word.

V. (4) Their fasting on the Nativity and Sunday disapproved of.

The fourth head deals with the fact that the Birth-day of Christ, which the catholic Church thinks highly of as the occasion of His taking on Him true man, because "the Word became flesh and dwelt in us(2)," is not truly honoured by these men, though they make a show of honouring it, for they fast on that day, as they do also on the LORD's day, which is the day of Christ's resurrection. No doubt they do this, because they do not believe that Christ the LORD was born in true man's nature, but maintain that by a sort of illusion there was an appearance of what was not a reality, following the views of Cerdo and Marcion, and being in complete agreement with their kinsfolk, the Manichaeans. For as our examination has disclosed and brought home to them, they(3) drag out in mournful fasting the LORD'S day which for us is hollowed by the resurrection of our Saviour: devoting this abstinence, as the explanation goes, to the worship of the sun: so that they are throughout out of harmony with the unity of our faith, and the day which by us is spent in gladness is past in self-affliction by them. Whence it is fitting that these enemies of Christ's cross and resurrection should accept an opinion (like this) which tallies with the doctrine they have selected.

VI. (5) Their view that the soul is part of the Divine being refuted.

The fifth head refers to their assertion that man's soul is part of the Divine beings(4), and that the nature of our human state does not differ from its Creator's nature. This impious view has its source in the opinions of certain philosophers, and the Manichaeans and the catholic Faith condemns it: knowing that nothing that is made is so sublime and so supreme as that its nature should be itself GOD. For that which is part of Himself is Himself, and none other than the Son and Holy Spirit. And besides this one consubstantial, eternal, and unchangeable Godhead of the most high Trinity there is nothing in all creation which, in its origin, is not created out of nothing. Besides anything that surpasses its fellow-creatures is not ipso facto GOD, nor, if a thing is great and wonderful, is it identical with Him "who alone doeth great wonders(5)." No man is truth, wisdom, justice; but many are partakers of truth, wisdom, and justice. But GOD alone is exempt from any participating: and anything which is in any degree worthily predicated of Him is not an attribute, but His very essence. For in the Unchangeable there is nothing added, there is nothing lost: because "to be(6)" is ever His peculiar property, and that is eternity. Whence abiding in Himself He renews all things(7), and receives nothing which He did not Himself give. Accordingly they are over-proud and stone-blind who, when they say the soul is part of the Divine Being, do not understand that they merely assert that GOD is changeable, and Himself suffers anything that may be inflicted upon His nature.

VII. (6) Their view that the devil was never goad, and is therefore not GOD's creation, refuted.

The sixth notice points out that they say the devil never was good, and that his nature is not GOD's handiwork, but he came forth out of chaos and darkness: because I suppose he has no instigator, but is himself the source and substance of all evil: whereas the true Faith, which is the catholic, acknowledges that the substance of all creatures spiritual or corporeal is good, and that evil has no positive existence(8); because GOD, who is the Maker of the Universe, made nothing that was not good. Whence the devil also would be good, if he had remained as he was made. But because he made a bad use of his natural excellence, and "stood not in the truth(9)," he did not pass into the opposite substance, but revolted from the highest good to which he owed adherence: just as they themselves who make such assertions run headlong from truth into falsehood, and accuse nature of their own spontaneous delinquencies, and are condemned for their voluntary perversity: though of course this evil is in them, but is itself not a substance but a penalty inflicted on substance.

VIII. (7) Their rejection of marriage condemned.

In the seventh place follows their condemnation of marriages and their horror of begetting children: in which, as in almost all points, they agree with the Manichaeans' impiety. But it is for this reason, as their own practices prove, that they detest the marriage tie, because there is no liberty for lewdness where the chastity of wedlock and of offspring is preserved.

IX. (8) Their disbelief in the resurrection of the body has been already condemned by the Church.

Their eighth point is that the formation(1) of men's bodies is the device of the devil, and that the seed of conception is shaped by the aid of demons in the wombs of women: and that for this reason the resurrection of the flesh is not to be believed because the stuff of which the body is made is not consistent with the dignity of the soul. This falsehood is without doubt the devil's work, and such monstrous opinions are the devices of demons who do not mould men in women's bellies, but concoct such errors in heretics' hearts. This unclean poison which flows especially from the fount of the Manichaean wickedness has been already(2) arraigned and condemned by the catholic Faith.

X. (9) Their nation that "the children of promise" are conceived by the Holy Ghost is utterly unscriptural and uncatholic.

The ninth notice declares that they say the sons of promise are born indeed of women but conceived by the Holy Spirit: lest that offspring which is born of carnal seed should seem to share in GOD's estate. This is repugnant and contrary to the catholic Faith which acknowledges every man to be formed by the Maker of the Universe in the substance of his body and soul, and to receive the breath of life within his mother's womb: though that taint of sin and liability to die remains which passed from the first parent into his descendants; until the sacrament of Regeneration comes to succour him, whereby through the Holy Spirit we are re-born the sons of promise, not in the fleshly womb, but in the power of baptism. Whence David also, who certainly was a son of promise, says to GOD: "Thy hands have made me and fashioned me(3)." And to Jeremiah says the LORD, "Before I formed thee in the womb I knew thee, and in thy mother's belly I sanctified thee(4)."

XI. (10) Their theory that souls have a previous existence before entering man refuted.

Under the tenth head they are reported as asserting that the souls which are placed in men's bodies have previously been without body and have sinned in their heavenly habitation, and for this reason having fallen from their high estate to a lower one alight upon ruling spirits s of divers qualities, and after passing through a succession of powers of the air and stars, some fiercer, some milder, are enclosed in bodies of different sorts and conditions, so that whatever variety and inequality is meted out to us in this life, seems the result of previous causes. This blasphemous fable they have woven for themselves out of many persons' errors(6): but all of them the catholic Faith cuts off from union with its body, persistently and truthfully proclaiming that men's souls did not exist until they were breathed into their bodies, and that they were not there implanted by any other than GOD, who is the creator both of the souls and of the bodies. And because through the transgression of the first man the whole stock of the human race was tainted, no one can be set free from the state of the old Adam save through Christ's sacrament of baptism, in which there are no distinctions between the re-born, as says the Apostle: "For as many of you as were baptized in Christ did put on Christ: there is neither Jew nor Greek: there is neither bond nor free: there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus(7)." What then have the course of the stars to do with it, or the devices of destiny? what the changing state of mundane things and their restless diversity? Behold how the grace of GOD makes all these unequals equal, who, whatever their labours in this life, if they abide faithful, cannot be wretched, for they can say with the Apostle in every trial: "who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, 'For thy sake we are killed all the day long, we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.' (Ps. xliv. 22.) But in all these things we overcome through Him that loved us (8)." And therefore the Church, which is the body of Christ, has no fear about the inequalities of the world, because she has no desire for temporal goods: nor does she dread being overwhelmed by the empty threats of destiny, for she knows she is strengthened by patience in tribulations.

XII. (II) Their astrological notions condemned.

Their eleventh blasphemy is that in which they suppose that both the souls and bodies of men are under the influence of fatal stars: this folly compels them to become entangled in all the errors of the heathen, and to strive to attract stars that are as they think favourable to them, and to soften those that are against them. But for those who follow such pursuits there is no place in the catholic Church; a man who gives himself up to such convictions separates himself from the body of Christ altogether.

XIII. (12) Their belief that certain powers rule the soul and the stars the body, is unscriptural and preposterous.

The twelfth of these points is this, that they map out the parts of the soul under certain powers, and the limbs of the body under others: and they suggest the characters of the inner powers that rule the soul by giving them the names of the patriarchs, and on the contrary they attribute the signs of the stars to those under which they put the body. And in all these things they entangle themselves in an inextricable maze, not listening to the Apostle when he says. "See that no one deceive you through philosophy and vain deceit after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ; for in Him dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, and in Him ye are made full, who is the head of every principality and power(9)." And again: "let no man beguile you by a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, treading on things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by the senses of his flesh, not holding fast the Head from whom all the body, being supplied and knit together through the joints and bands, increaseth with the increase of GOD(1)." What then is the use of admitting into the heart what the law has not taught, prophecy has not sung, the truth of the Gospel has not proclaimed, the Apostles' teaching has not handed down? But these things are suited to the minds of those of whom the Apostle speaks, "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but having itching ears, will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts: and will turn away indeed their hearing from the truth, and turn aside unto fables(2)." And so we can have nothing in common with men who dare to teach or believe such things, and strive by any means in their power to persuade men that the substance of flesh is foreign to the hope of resurrection, and so break down the whole mystery of Christ's incarnation: because it was wrong for Christ to take upon Him complete manhood if it was wrong for Him to emancipate complete manhood.

XIV. (13) Their fanciful division of the Scriptures rejected.

In the thirteenth place comes their assertion that the whole body of the canonical Scriptures is to be accepted, under the names of the patriarchs(3): because those twelve virtues which work the reformation of the inner man are pointed out in their names, and without this knowledge no soul can effect its reformation, and return to that substance from which it came forth. But this wicked delusion the Christian wisdom holds in disdain, for it knows that the nature of the true Godhead is inviolable and immutable: but the soul, whether living in the body or separated from the body, is subject to many passions: whereas, of course, if it were part of the divine essence, no adversity could happen to it. And therefore there is no comparison between them: One is the Creator, the other is the creature. For He is always the same, and suffers no change: but the soul is changeable, even if not changed, because its power of not changing is a gift, and not a property.

XV. (14) Their idea that the Scriptures countenance their subjecting of the body to the starry influences denied.

Under the fourteenth heading their sentiments upon the state of the body are stated, viz., that it is, on account of its earthly properties, held under the power of stars and constellations, and that many things are found in the holy books which have reference to the outer man with this object, that in the Scriptures themselves a certain opposition may be seen at work between the divine and the earthly nature: and that which the powers that rule the soul claim for themselves may be distinguished from that which the fashioners of the body claim. These stories are invented that the soul may be maintained to be part of the divine substance, and the flesh believed to belong to the bad nature: since the world itself, with its elements, they hold to be not the work of the good GOD, but the outcome of an evil author: and that they might disguise these sacrilegious lies under a fair cloak, they have polluted almost all the divine utterances with the colouring of their unholy notions.

XVI. (15) Their falsified copies of the Scriptures, and their apocryphal books prohibited.

And on this subject your remarks under the fifteenth head make a complaint, and express a well-deserved abhorrence of their devilish presumption, for we too have ascertained this from the accounts of trustworthy witnesses, and have found many of their copies most corrupt, though they are entitled canonical. For how could they deceive the simple-minded unless they sweetened their poisoned cups with a little honey, lest what was meant to be deadly should be detected by its over-nastiness? Therefore care must be taken, and the priestly diligence exercised to the uttermost, to prevent falsified copies that are out of harmony with the pure Truth being used in reading. And the apocryphal scriptures, which, under the names of Apostles(4), form a nursery-ground for many falsehoods, are not only to be proscribed, but also taken away altogether and burnt to ashes in the fire. For although there are certain things in them which seem to have a show of piety, yet they are never free from poison, and through the allurements of their stories they have the secret effect of first beguiling men with miraculous narratives, and then catching them in the noose of some error. Wherefore if any bishop has either not forbidden the possession of apocryphal writings in men's houses, or under the name of being canonical has suffered those copies to be read in church which are vitiated with the spurious alterations of Priscillian, let him know that he is to be accounted heretic, since he who does not reclaim others from error shows that he himself has gone astray.

XVIl. (16) About the writings of Dictinius(5).

Under the last head a just complaint was made that the treatises of Dictinius which he wrote in agreement with Priscillian's tenets were read by many with veneration: for if they think any respect is due to Dictinius' memory, they ought to admire his restoration rather than his fall. Accordingly it is not Dictinius but Priscillian that they read: and they approve of what he wrote in error, not what he preferred after recantation. But let no one venture to do this with impunity, nor let any one be reckoned among catholics who makes use of writings that have been condemned not by the catholic Church alone but by the author himself as well. Let not those who have gone astray be allowed to make a fictitious show, and under the veil of the Christian name shirk the provisions of the imperial decrees. For they attach themselves to the catholic Church with all this difference of opinion in their heart, with the object of both making such converts as they can, and escaping the rigour of the law by passing themselves off as ours. This is done by Priscillianists and Manichaeans alike; for there is such a close bond of union between the two that they are distinct only in name, but in their blasphemies are found at one: because although the Manichaeans reject the Old Testament which the others pretend to accept, yet the purpose of both tends to the same end, seeing that the one side corrupts while receiving what the other assails and rejects.

But in their abominable mysteries, which the more unclean they are, are so much the more carefully concealed, their crime is but one, their filthy-mindedness one, and their foul conduct similar. And although we blush to speak so plainly, yet we have tracked it out with the most painful searches, and exposed it by the confession of Manichaeans who have been arrested, and thus brought it to the public knowledge: lest by any means it might seem matter of doubt, although it has been disclosed by the mouth of the men themselves, who had performed the crime, in our court, which was attended not only by a large gathering of priests, but also by men of repute and dignity, and a certain number of the senate and the people, even as the missive which we have addressed to you, beloved, shows to have been done. And there has been found out and widely published about the immoral practices of the Priscillianists just what was also found out about the foul wickedness of the Manichaeans. For they who are throughout on a level of depravity in their ideas, cannot be unlike in their religious matters.

So having run through all that the detailed refutation contains, with which the contents of the memorial of their views does not disagree, we have, I think, satisfactorily shown what our opinion on the matters which you, brother, have referred to us, and how unbearable it is if such blasphemous errors find acceptance in the hearts even of some priests, or to put it more mildly, are not actively opposed by them. With what conscience can they maintain the honourable position which has been given them, who do not labour for the souls entrusted to them? Beasts rush in, and they do not close the fold. Robbers lay wait, and they set no watch. Diseases multiply, and they seek out no remedies. But when in addition they refuse assent to those who act more warily, and shrink from anathematizing by their written confession blasphemies which the whole world has already condemned, what do they wish men to understand except that they are not of the number of the brethren, but on the enemy's side?

XVIII. The body of Christ really rested in the tomb, and really rose again.

Furthermore in the matter which you placed last in your confidential letter, I am surprised that any intelligent Christian should be in difficulty as to whether when Christ descended to the realms below, his flesh rested in the tomb: for as it truly died and was buried, so it was truly raised the third day. For this the LORD Himself also had announced, saying to the Jews, "destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up(6)." Where the evangelist adds this comment: "but this He spake of the temple of His body." The truth of which the prophet David also had predicted, speaking in the person of the LORD and Saviour, and saying: "Moreover my flesh also shall rest in hope; because Thou will not leave my soul in Hades, nor give Thy Holy One to see corruption(7)" From these words surely it is clear that the LORD'S flesh being buried, both truly rested and did not undergo corruption: because it was quickly revived by the return of the soul, and rose again. Not to believe this is blasphemous enough, and is undoubtedly of a piece with the doctrine of Manichaeus and Priscillian, who with their blasphemous conceptions pretend to confess Christ, but only in such a way as to destroy the reality of His incarnation, and death, and resurrection.

Therefore let a council of bishops be held among you, and let the priests of neighbouring provinces meet at a place suitable to all: that, on the lines of our reply to your request for advice, a full inquiry may be made as to whether here are any of the bishops who are tainted with the contagion of this heresy: for they must without doubt be cut off from communion, if they refuse to condemn this most unrighteous sect with all its wrongful conceptions. For it can nohow be permitted that one who has undertaken the duty of preaching the Faith should dare to maintain opinions contrary to Christ's gospel and the creed of the universal Church. What kind of disciples will there be in a place where such masters teach? What will the people's religion, or the salvation of the laity be, where against the interests of human society the holiness of chastity is uprooted, the marriage-bond overthrown, the propagation of children forbidden, the nature of the flesh condemned, and, in opposition to the true worship of the true GOD, the Trinity of the Godhead is denied, the individuality of the persons confounded, man's soul declared to be the Divine essence, and enclosed in flesh at the Devil's will, the Son of GOD proclaimed only-begotten in right of being born of a Virgin, not begotten of the Father, and at the same time maintained to be neither true offspring of GOD, nor true child of the virgin: so that after a false passion and an unreal death, even the resurrection of the flesh reassumed out of the tomb should be considered fictitious? But it is vain for them to adopt the name of catholic, as they do not oppose these blasphemies: they must believe them, if they can listen so patiently to such words. And so we have sent a letter to our brethren and fellow-bishops of the provinces of Tarraco, Carthago, Lusitania and Gallicia, enjoining a meeting of the general synod. It will be yours, beloved, to take order that our authoritative instructions be conveyed to the bishops of the aforesaid provinces. But should anything, which GOD forbid, hinder the coming together of a general council of Gallicia(8), at least let the priests come together, the assembling of whom our brothers Idacius and Ceponius shall look to, assisted by your own strenuous efforts to hasten the applying of remedies to these serious wounds by a provincial synod also. Dated July 21, in the consulship of the illustrious Calipius and Ardaburis (447).

Return to Volume 35 Index