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A Hstory Of The Councils Of The Church Volumes 1 to 5 by Charles Joseph Hefele D.D.

SEC. 181. Theodosius II. for, Pope Leo I. against, the Robber-Synod. Synods at Rome and Milan

AFTER all that we know and have already brought forward respecting the disposition of the Byzantine Court at that time, it could not be doubted that the Emperor Theodosius II., in spite of all the counter-representations of the Pope and the Latin Court (see above, p. 255 ff.), would confirm the decrees of the Robber-Synod; and he actually did so in a decree which is still extant in Latin, as follows: “When Nestorius endeavoured to violate the old faith, he had been condemned at the Synod of Ephesus. This Synod had also confirmed the Nicene Confession of Faith, and he (the Emperor) had, in accordance with these synodal decrees, published a law condemning Nestorius. More recently, however, Flavian of Constantinople, and another bishop named Eusebius, following the errors of Nestorius, had raised a new controversy, and therefore the Emperor had convoked a great Council of Bishops of all places to Ephesus, which had deposed Flavian, Eusebius, Domnus, Theodoret, and some others on account of their being entangled in the Nestorian heresy. The decrees of this Synod he commended and confirmed, and he gave command that all the bishops of his empire should immediately subscribe the Nicene Creed, and that no adherent of Nestorius or Flavian should ever be raised to a bishopric. If, however, such a thing should be done, he should be deposed. Nothing whatever was to be added to the Nicene word of faith, and nothing should be taken away from it. No one was to read the writings of Nestorius and Theodoret; on the contrary, every one was to give them up to be burnt. The Nestorians were to be tolerated neither in the cities nor in the country, and whoever tolerated them should be punished with confiscation of goods and perpetual exile.”

It was clear that this edict had the force of law only in the Byzantine Empire, and not also in the West; but even in the former, on account of its stringency, it could not obtain universal authority; on the contrary, there now arose a great ecclesiastical schism in the East. Egypt, Thrace, and Palestine held with Dioscurus and the Emperor; the bishops of Syria, Pontus, and Asia, on the contrary, with Flavian. That Theodoret of Cyrus turned to Rome we have already noted, and we may now add that in three letters to the Pope, to Renatus, and to the Archdeacon (Hilarus), he appealed (ἐπικαλεῖσθαι) to the judgment of Rome, of whose Primate he speaks in the strongest terms, asking that a new Synod may be held. To this he requests the Pope to summon him and there to try and examine his teaching, and generally to take an interest in the Oriental Church. At the same time he expresses his complete agreement with the Epistola dogmatica of Leo, upon which he bestows great praise.—Whether Theodoret presented an appeal to Rome in the full sense of the word, or not, is a disputed question which does not concern us very nearly here, and which has been decided in the negative by Quesnel, Dupin, and others, and in the affirmative by the Ballerini and others.

In a second letter Theodoret asked the Patrician Anatolius of Constantinople to intercede for him, that he might have permission to travel to the wished-for Roman Council.

In fact, Pope Leo immediately held a considerable Western Synod (Occidentale concilium it is called by his deacon Hilarus in his letter to Pulcheria), and in agreement with this Synod rejected all that had been done at the Robber-Synod. The libellus synodicus also speaks of this Roman Council, with the addition which is certainly not quite warranted, that Leo had here pronounced an anathema upon Dioscurus and Eutyches, and had sent a solemn announcement of it to the Clergy, Senate, and Laity of Constantinople. More certain is it that Dioscurus, about that time, took upon him to pronounce a sentence of excommunication on Leo, as is clear from the Acts of the Council of Chalcedon.

In agreement with this Roman Synod, Pope Leo immediately wrote, on the 13th October 449, to the Emperor Theodosius II., saying, that until a greater Synod of Bishops from all parts of the world could be held, he should be pleased to allow everything to remain in the status which existed before the recently-held Synod at Ephesus, and to give orders for the holding of an Œcumenical Synod in Italy, especially as Flavian had appealed. As to what must be done after an appeal had been presented, that had already been declared in the Nicene (properly, Sardican) Canons, which he appended.

Leo wrote in similar terms to Pulcheria, and asked for her support with her brother, and his archdeacon Hilarus also appealed in this matter to the influential princess.—We have already seen (see p. 256) that the Pope had also written to Bishop Anastasius of Thessalonica (Epist. 47), and to the Clergy, Laity, and Archimandrites of Constantinople, in order to warn them not to acknowledge the Ephesine Synod (Epp. 50 and 51).—Somewhat later, at Christmas in the same year (449), he appealed again to the Emperor Theodosius, assured him of his stedfastness in the Nicene faith, and repeated the request for the holding of a great Council in Italy.

Before he received an answer to this, in the early part of the year 450, the Latin Emperor Valentinian III. came with his wife Eudoxia (a daughter of Theodosius II.), and his mother Galla Placidia (aunt of Theodosius), to Rome, in order to pay his devotions there on the Festival of the holy Apostle Peter (at the Festival of the See of Peter, S. Peter’s Day, February 22, 450). While they were praying in S. Peter’s Church, Pope Leo came to them in company with many bishops out of various provinces, and earnestly entreated them for their kind intercessions with the Emperor Theodosius. And not only Valentinian but the two exalted ladies responded to his wish, and towards the end of February 450 addressed three letters to the Emperor of the East, and a fourth to his sister Pulcheria, in which, while maintaining the high dignity of the Roman see, they entreat him to commit the existing controversy to the sentence of the Pope, to whom Flavian had appealed, and to a new Council to be held in Italy.

The Emperor Theodosius answered, about Easter 450, with a refusal, saying that everything had been settled at Ephesus with complete liberty and entirely in accordance with the truth, and that Flavian had been justly deposed on account of innovations in the faith.—Before Leo could receive this distressing intelligence, he had already learnt to his joy, that the clergy, the aristocracy, and the people of Constantinople had for the most part remained loyal to the orthodox faith, and were asking for his help and support. He commended them for this in a letter written in March 450, and briefly expounded to them the orthodox doctrine on the person of Christ. Perhaps he was still more rejoiced at a letter from Pulcheria, in which (for the first time) she clearly declared that she saw and abhorred what was erroneous in the teaching of Eutyches. Leo therefore wrote a short letter to her on the 17th of March 450, in which he commended her, saying, that, after the receipt of her letter, he asked her anew for her support, and now with still greater urgency and confidence. On the same day he also exhorted anew the Archimandrites and Priests, Martin and Faustus of Constantinople, to stedfastness in the orthodox faith.

Directly after this, in May 450, Leo endeavoured to interest the Gallican bishops in the dominant doctrinal question, having at the same time to meet with them in order to settle the contest for the primacy between Arles and Vienne; and he succeeded in this with the best results, as is testified by his letter to the Archbishop Ravennius of Aries, and the answer of several Gallican bishops. With equal decision, a year later, the bishops of Upper Italy, at a Synod at Milan, declared in favour of the orthodox faith, and accepted Leo’s Epistola dogmatica, as we see from the letter of Archbishop Eusebius of Milan to the Pope, in the summer of 451.

With equal tact and courtesy as decision Leo further resisted, in his letter of July 16, 450 (Ep. 69), the request of the Emperor Theodosius to recognize Anatolius, the successor of Flavian, as Bishop of Constantinople. Anatolius had, in a special letter, of which only a fragment yet remains, requested this confirmation from Rome, and the Emperor, as well as the consecrators of the new bishop, had supported his request. Leo therefore wrote to Theodosius: Before he could decide on this matter, the elected person must first of all testify to his orthodoxy, a thing which was required of every Catholic. Anatolius should therefore read the writings of the Fathers of the Church on the doctrine of the Incarnation, particularly those of S. Cyril and of the Synod of Ephesus, also the letter of the Pope to Flavian, and then publicly subscribe an orthodox confession of faith, and send it to the apostolic see and to all the churches. At the same time, he said he was sending two bishops, Abundius and Asterius, and two priests, Basil and Senator, as legates, to Constantinople, in order to speak more confidentially with the Emperor, and to explain to him the creed of the Pope. If the Bishop of Constantinople should honestly agree with this creed, he would rejoice at having secured the peace of the Church, and lay aside all other doubts (respecting Anatolius); in case, however, some should still fail to agree with the true faith of the Pope and the Fathers, then an Œcumenical Council in Italy would be necessary, to the holding of which the Emperor would, he hoped, consent.

We see that, even during the life of Theodosius II., Leo regarded the holding of a new great Synod as superfluous, in case all the bishops should, without any such Synod, make an orthodox confession of the faith—a circumstance which casts a necessary light, which has not been sufficiently regarded, upon his conduct after the death of Theodosius.

The same is contained in a letter of Leo’s to Pulcheria, of the same date (Epist. 70). A third, addressed a day later, to the Archimandrites of Constantinople, says that Anatolius and his consecrators (among them Dioscurus, whose excommunication of the Pope followed afterwards) had informed him of the election and ordination of the new Bishop of Constantinople, but not of his orthodoxy, and of the suppression of heresy in his neighbourhood. He had therefore sent four legates to the Emperor, and asked the Archimandrites to support them according to their ability.

SEC. 182. Pulcheria and Marcian come to the Throne

It is probable that Theodosius was already dead when those papal legates arrived at Constantinople, for he died in consequence of a fall from his horse, July 28, 450. As he left no male succession, and as his sister Pulcheria, in the year 415, when he was still a boy, had been raised to be Augusta and Co-regent, the crown now fell to her, and not to Eudoxia, the daughter of the late Emperor, who was married to Valentinian III., the Emperor of the West. As, however, a woman had never governed the Roman Empire alone, either in the East or in the West, Pulcheria offered her hand and her throne to Marcian, one of the most distinguished generals and statesmen of the time, a man very highly esteemed for piety and ability, on condition that she should not be disturbed in her vow of perpetual virginity. On Marcian’s consenting, she presented him to her assembled council as her husband and as the future Emperor. The selection met with universal approval in the army, among the officers of state, and among the people, and Marcian was solemnly crowned on the 24th of August 450. The Emperor Valentinian gave his assent to that which had been done, and the new Emperor gained for himself such renown, that all writers number him among the best, the most pious, and the most virtuous of princes that ever sat upon a throne, and many exalt him even above Constantine and Theodosius the Great.

Upon this the position of ecclesiastical affairs suddenly changed, since Marcian, like Pulcheria, was devoted to the orthodox faith, and, moreover, the previous chief protector of Eutychianism, the minister Chrysaphius, was executed on account of his numerous acts of injustice (whether shortly before or after the death of Theodosius is doubtful). Dioscurus rightly foresaw what he had to fear from the new Emperor, and therefore endeavoured to prevent his recognition in Egypt; but the attempt miscarried, and could only strengthen the dislike entertained for the Alexandrian, who was now doubly deserving of punishment. With Pope Leo, on the other hand, Marcian entered into friendly correspondence soon after he ascended the throne, and informed him at once, in his first letter (at the end of August or the beginning of September 450), that by God’s providence, and the election of the Senate and the army, he had become Emperor. He adds that he now, above all things, in the cause of the orthodox faith, for the sake of which he had obtained his power, appealed to Leo, who had the oversight and the first place in the faith (τήν τε σὴν ἁγιωσύνην ἐπισκοπεύουσαν καὶ ἄρχουσαν τῆς θείας πίστεως), and requested him to intercede with God for the security of his government. Finally, he declares that he is favourable to the holding of the Synod suggested by Leo (σοῦ αὐθεντοῦντος), for the extirpation of heresy and the restoration of peace.

Somewhat later, on the 22d of November 450, the Emperor Marcian addressed a second letter to Leo, and assured him anew of his zeal for the true religion, remarking that he had received the papal legates with pleasure and in a friendly manner (the four named above, who had been sent to Theodosius). It now only remained that the Pope should be pleased to come in person to the East, and there to celebrate the Synod. If this, however, was too great a burden to lay upon him, Leo would inform him of it, so that by a circular letter he might summon all the bishops of the East, of Thrace, and of Illyricum, to a place that might suit him (the Emperor) to a Synod. There they should establish what might be advantageous to the Catholic faith, in accordance with the manner stated by the Pope (in his letter to Flavian).

At the same time there arrived in Rome a third letter, one from Pulcheria, with the important intelligence that Bishop Anatolius of Constantinople had come over to the orthodox side, had acknowledged the confession of faith contained in the papal letter (to Flavian), and had rejected the (Eutychian) heresy which had recently found acceptance with some, as Leo might perceive from Anatolius’ own letter. The latter had subscribed the doctrinal letter (Epistola dogmatica) of Leo without any hesitation. The Pope would be pleased to grant the expression required by the Emperor (as to whether he would come to the Council in person or not), so that all the bishops of the East, of Thrace, and Illyricum might be summoned to a Synod. At this a resolution should be taken respecting the Catholic confession, and respecting the bishops who had been for some time in a state of separation (the adherents of the Robber-Synod), at Leo’s suggestion (σοῦ αὐθεντοῦντος). At the command of the Emperor the body of Flavian had been brought to Constantinople, and solemnly laid in the basilica of the apostles, where the former bishops lay buried. The Emperor had further ordered the recall of those bishops who had been exiled with Flavian on account of the faith. Their episcopal sees should, however, not be restored to them until the close of the Synod about to be held.

That Theodoret of Cyrus was included among the bishops recalled we learn from his letters 138 to 140, in which he declares the convocation of a new Synod to be very necessary. This was as strongly insisted upon and asked for by Eusebius of Dorylæum, who, as it appears, had not yet been recalled from exile, and was still in Rome, under the protection of the Pope.

SEC. 183. Synods at Constantinople

The information which Pulcheria gave, as we have seen, respecting Bishop Anatolius, is connected with a Synod which the latter had held, a short time before, at Constantinople. That at this Synod the whole clergy of that city, the monks, and many bishops who were present, had accepted Leo’s letter to Flavian, we learn from Leo himself in his 88th letter, dated June 24, 451; and besides, there is a reference to it, as well as to a still earlier Synod at Constantinople under Anatolius, in the Acts of the fourth session of Chalcedon. The Metropolitan Photius of Tyre then complained that Eustathius of Berytus had taken from him some towns belonging to his province, and that this had been confirmed by a Synod at Constantinople under Anatolius. In the reply to this, Eustathius related, “that very recently the letter of Leo had been sent for subscription by the Synod at Constantinople (under Anatolius) to the absent metropolitans, and in like manner at the (somewhat earlier) Synod held during the life of Theodosius II. those who were absent had been allowed to add their subscriptions, and it was of this that Photius was complaining.” We see from this that Anatolius held two Synods before the Council of Chalcedon, for, more exactly, as is clear from the further contents of the Acts, that Anatolius had twice collected around him those bishops who were then present in Constantinople at what is called a σύνοδος ἐνδημοῦσα, the first time under Theodosius II., in reference to the matter of Photius, the second time under Marcian, for the acknowledgment of the orthodox faith and the Epistola dogmatica of Leo. Hardouin and Walch, on the other hand, have erroneously fused the two Synods into one, and Remi Ceillier, too, has spoken only of one.

We obtain a more complete account of the second Synod under Anatolius in the history of the life of S. Abundius, who, as we saw above (p. 268), was then Pope’s legate at Constantinople. This biography certainly is not written by a contemporary, and is not very ancient; but the fragment from the Acts of the Synod which it embodies (which is also distinguished by a different style from the rest, from the word mox) has a good claim to credibility, as has been shown by the Ballerini and by Walch. It says that Anatolius had held a Council of all the bishops (that is, then present at Constantinople), archimandrites, priests, and deacons. The letter of Leo, which his legate Abundius delivered, had been publicly read. Anatolius had agreed to it summa devotione, and had subscribed it, and at the same time had pronounced an anathema upon Eutyches, Nestorius, and the adherents of their heresies. The same had been done by all the bishops, priests, archimandrites, and deacons. For this Abundius and the other legates of the Pope had immediately given thanks to God, and on their part had pronounced an anathema upon Eutyches and his adherents, as well as upon Nestorius.—The time of the holding of this Synod at Constantinople cannot now be exactly ascertained; but it may be inferred from the letter of Pulcheria, noticed above, that it took place shortly before that letter was composed (probably in November 450).

SEC. 184. Pope Leo wishes to restore Ecclesiastical Unity without a new Council

Archbishop Anatolius of Constantinople had also, on his side, sent envoys to the Pope, the priest Casterius, and the two deacons Patricius and Asclepiades, in order to inform him of all that had taken place. “When they returned, Leo gave them letters to Anatolius, to the Emperor, to Pulcheria, and to Bishop Julian of Cos, which are all dated April 13, 451, and are still preserved. The letter to the Emperor (Ep. 78) is only a letter of courtesy; in that to Pulcheria (Ep. 79), however, the Pope says that it was especially by her influence that first the Nestorian and now the Eutychian heresy had been subdued. He thanks her for the benefits she has conferred upon the Church, for the kind support of the Roman legates, for the recall of the banished Catholic bishops, and for the honourable burial of the body of Flavian. He further adds, that he has learned from his legates, and from the envoys of Anatolius, that many of those bishops who had given ear to the impiety now wished for reconciliation and restoration to the communion of the Catholics; and this should be granted to them by the papal legates and by Anatolius in common, if they had corrected their error, and by their own signatures condemned the heresy. He also mentions that Eusebius of Dorylæum still remained with him, and had been received into his communion. The Empress should be pleased to take under her protection the Church of this man, which, as was reported, had been devastated by the intruded bishop. Finally, he recommends to her also Bishop Julian of Cos, and the clergy of Constantinople, who had remained faithful to Flavian.

The letter to Anatolius (Ep. 80) begins with the expression of joy that this bishop and his whole church had taken the side of evangelical truth. He received him therefore with affection into the one chaste communion (of the Bride of Christ), and approved of the documents furnished with the subscriptions (of the Synod of Constantinople). In regard to the bishops who had allowed themselves to be led astray by the violence of the Robber-Synod to side with foreign injustice, he confirmed the decree established in the presence and with the co-operation of his legates (at the Synod of Constantinople), that these must for the present be satisfied to be again received into communion with their churches; Anatolius might, however, in conjunction with the papal legates, consider which of them should again be taken into full Church communion with the Pope. First, however, they must be required to anathematize the heresies. The names of Dioscurus, Juvenal, and Eustathius of Berytus must be struck out of the diptychs, and must no longer be read at the altar in Constantinople. In regard to Eusebius of Dorylæum, Julian of Cos, and the clergy of Constantinople, who had remained faithful to Flavian, Leo repeats what he had already said in his letter to Pulcheria, and closes with the request that this letter of his should be generally made known.

The fourth letter, which Leo signed on the 13th April 451, and gave to the envoys of Anatolius, was addressed to Julian of Cos (Epist. 81), and speaks first of the great dangers to which Julian had been exposed on account of his adherence to orthodoxy. For this reason, he had been forced to flee to Rome, and it had been pleasant to the Pope to be able to speak with him. But it was still better that now the times had changed in favour of orthodoxy and of Julian, and that he could live in the East again in freedom and without danger. He heard with pleasure that most of the misguided bishops now wished to return again to Church communion; some, however, were obstinate, and must be treated with severity. His legates, whom he would send to the East, would in this matter arrange what was proper with Julian.—For some reason unknown to us, the sending of these new legates was delayed until June, and the envoys of Anatolius returned alone with the four letters which have just been mentioned.

About the same time Leo received a new letter from the Emperor, which was brought to him by Tatian, the prefect of the city, but which is now lost. The Pope answered this on the 23d of April 451, and first of all bestowed great commendation upon the zeal of the Emperor, and then adds: “It would not be right to respond to the demand of a few fools, and give occasion for new disputations and allow a new inquiry to be made as to whether the doctrine of Eutyches were heretical or not, and whether Dioscurus had rightly judged or not (at the Synod which was to be held). The most of those who had gone astray had already found their way back, and had asked for pardon. Therefore they must not now consider the question as to what was the true faith, but which of those who had erred should have favour shown to them, and in what way it should be shown. Therefore he would more fully communicate to the Emperor, who was so anxious for a Synod, his view on this subject by the new legates who would soon arrive.”

These new legates were sent by Leo after the former ones, Abundius and the others, had returned, and had brought with them another letter from the Emperor, which is now lost. To the new legates he gave four letters, dated June 9 (probably the day of their departure from Rome), to Marcian, Pulcheria, Anatolius, and Julian of Cos, which, like the earlier letters, are not without significance for the preliminary history of the Council of Chalcedon.

In his letter to the Emperor, Leo gives a brief review of what he (the Emperor) had already done for the good of the Church, and then he adds: In order to cleanse all the provinces of the empire from the heresy, as had been done in the capital, he sent the bishop Lucentius, and the priest Basil, as legates in the East, in order to complete the restoration of the penitent members of the Robber-Synod to communion with Anatolius, and these legates he commended to the Emperor. He had himself desired the holding of a Synod of which the Emperor spoke; but the necessity of the present time did not allow the meeting of bishops, since those very provinces whose bishops were most necessary for the Synod (the Western) were at present greatly afflicted by war (by Attila), and could not dispense with their shepherds. The Emperor might therefore put off the holding of the Synod to a more peaceful time. On this subject his legates would speak further. Leo wrote much the same to Pulcheria, but in addition he entreated her to have Eutyches removed from the neighbourhood of Constantinople (from his monastery) to a more remote place, so that he might not easily have intercourse with those whom he had misled. At the same time she should give orders that a Catholic abbot should be appointed to the monastery of which Eutyches had been the head, in order to deliver this community from false doctrine.

Leo requested Bishop Anatolius of Constantinople, in common with the papal legates, to arrange all that was advantageous to the Church (in reference to the restoration of those who had fallen away). In this it should be a leading rule, that all former members of the Robber-Synod should be required to pronounce an anathema upon Eutyches, his doctrine, and his adherents. With respect to those who had been most seriously implicated, the Apostolic see reserved the decision, and Anatolius should not, without this, allow the names of such persons to be read in the church.—Finally, the Pope requests Bishop Julian of Cos in all ways to support his legates, as they also had received a commission to act steadily in communion with Julian.

SEC. 185. The Emperor Marcian summons an Œcumenical Council. The Pope assents, and nominates Legates

When Leo wrote these last letters, the Emperor had already, on the 17th of May 451, in his own name and in that of his co-Emperor, summoned an Œcumenical Council to Nicæa, which was to open on the 1st of September of the current year. The edict is addressed to the metropolitans, and is as follows: “That which concerns the true faith and the orthodox religion is to be preferred to everything else. For if God is gracious to us, then our Empire will be firmly established. Since now doubt has arisen respecting the true faith, as is shown by the letters of the most holy Bishop of Rome, Leo, we have resolved that a holy Council shall be held at Nicæa in Bithynia, so that, by consent of all, the truth may be proved, and that without passion the true faith may be more clearly declared, so that no doubt and no disturbance of unity may for the future take place. Therefore your holiness is required to attend at Nicæa on the next 1st of September, together with such members as you may think fit of devoted, wise, and orthodox bishops. We shall ourselves, unless we are prevented by any warlike expeditions, be present in person at the venerable Synod.”—This edict of convocation is still preserved to us in two copies, of which the one is addressed to no particular metropolitan, the other to Anatolius of Constantinople. The latter bears the date of the 17th, or, according to the old Latin translation, the 23d of May.

On hearing of this summons, Leo again addressed a letter, June 24, 451, to the Emperor Marcian, at the beginning of which he expresses his dissatisfaction with what has been done in the words: “I thought that your grace would have been able to comply with my wish to postpone the Synod to a more convenient time out of regard to the present pressure, so that bishops from all provinces might be present, and thus form a really Œcumenical Council. But since from love to the Catholic faith you wish this assembly to be held now, in order to offer no impediment to your pious will, I have chosen as my representative my fellow-bishop Paschasinus (of Lilybæum, now Marsala, in Sicily), whose province appears to be less disquieted by war, and have joined with him the priest Boniface. These two, together with the previous legates (at Constantinople), the bishop Lucentius and the presbyter Basil, and Julian of Cos, shall form the representatives of the papal see at the Synod, and in particular, Paschasinus shall there preside in my place.”

The document in which Leo appoints Paschasinus as first legate no longer exists; but we still possess a letter of Leo’s to Paschasinus, also dated June 24, 451, saying that the Pope sent to him his Epistola dogmatica and some other patristic documents, which he had also entrusted to his previous envoys to Constantinople (in causa Anatolii), so that he might be more accurately informed on the subject in question. To this he adds a short instruction on heresy in regard to Eutyches, and declares that the whole Church of Constantinople, together with the convents and many bishops, had agreed to his doctrinal letter, and had subscribed an anathema on Nestorius and Eutyches. Nay more, according to the most recent letter from Anatolius, the Bishop of Antioch had sent round Leo’s letter to all his bishops, and in common with them had declared his agreement with it, and the repudiation of Nestorius and Eutyches. Finally, the Pope gives him the commission, not belonging, however, to this subject, to examine, along with men who understood the matter, the day on which Easter should be held in 455, as the Easter reckoning of Theophilus (of Alexandria) for this year was erroneous.

Two days later, on the 26th of June 451, Leo wrote again to the Emperor Marcian that “he had indeed wished that the Synod, which he had himself desired, and which the Emperor had judged necessary, for the pacification of the Eastern Church, should be held later; as, however, the Emperor, from religious zeal, was hastening the matter, he would not oppose it, but he prayed and most solemnly adjured the Emperor that he would not allow the ancient faith to be brought into question at the Synod, and old condemned propositions to be renewed; but would see that the definitions of the Synod of Nicæa remained in force.”

In a letter to Anatolius, dated on the same day, Leo expresses his astonishment that so short an interval had been allowed for the assembling of the Synod. How could he transmit the intelligence respecting it, in proper time, into all the provinces (of the West), so that a truly Œcumenical Council might take place? In order, however, not to act in opposition to the Emperor, he had already appointed legates for the Synod, and he tells Anatolius their names.

In a third letter, also dated June 26, Leo gave a commission to Bishop Julian of Cos to represent the Pope at the Synod now summoned to meet at Nicæa, in union with the other legates. At last he despatched himself sub codem a letter to the Synod which had been convoked, in which he says: “Since it is agreeable to God to show mercy to the penitent, the decision of the Emperor to convoke a Synod for the warding off of the wiles of Satan, and for the restoration of the peace of the Church, should be thankfully acknowledged. In this he had preserved the right and distinction of the Apostle Peter, and had asked the Pope for his personal presence at this assembly. But this was permitted neither by the necessity of the times nor by previous custom. His legates, however, would preside in his place, and he would in that way, although not in bodily form, be present. As the Synod knew (from his Epistola dogmatica) what he believed to be in accordance with the ancient tradition, they could not doubt as to what he wished. No opposition to the true faith should be allowed at the Synod; as the true faith in regard to the Incarnation of Christ, in accordance with apostolic teaching, was fully set forth in his letter to Flavian. It must also be a special business of the Synod to assist those bishops to regain their rights who had been unjustly persecuted and deposed on account of their resistance to heresy. The resolutions of the earlier Synod of Ephesus under Cyril must remain in force, and the Nestorian heresy must gain no advantage from the condemnation of the Eutychian.”

It has been wondered why Leo no longer declares urgent the Synod which had been previously so earnestly desired by him—why, in fact, he perhaps no longer wished it to be held. Various motives have been attributed to him on this subject, as though he had some doubts as to the presidency of the Synod, and perhaps also had thought that his Epistola dogmatica was now near to being universally received, and to attaining high authority, as was the case in former times with some of the writings of Cyril; and that the Synod might perhaps diminish the consideration in which his doctrinal letter was held.—The matter can, however, be explained quite naturally and easily in the following manner:

(a) At the time when Leo desired a Synod in Italy, orthodoxy had been brought into doubt by the falling away of most of the bishops of the Byzantine Empire. A great Synod was therefore needed to set forth the true doctrine of the Person of Christ.

(b) Since the change in the throne, however, almost all the bishops of the East who had previously erred, had again returned in penitence to the communion of the Church, had pronounced anathema on Eutychianism and Nestorianism, and had agreed to the famous doctrinal letter of the Pope. Thus orthodoxy was secured, and the principal question solved, and the chief ground removed, for the convocation of a new Synod (cf. above, p. 267 f.).

(c) Only the secondary point still remained: the complete reconciliation of the penitent bishops and the punishment of the obstinate. This matter could be arranged by the papal legates at Constantinople, in union with Anatolius, and with the support of the Emperor, without a Synod.

(d) If, however, a new Synod, and that in the East, should assemble, Leo feared nothing from the Eutychians, but something from the Nestorians, since a good many bishops of Syria were still suspected of Nestorianism. Leo was afraid that they, or others in their name, would take advantage of the rejection of Eutychianism, and would originate a new discussion on orthodoxy in favour of Nestorianism. That this was his chief fear, is clear especially from his 93d letter (see p. 281). And in order to remove this danger, he repeats so often in his letters to the Emperor and the Empress, that the faith must in no wise again be called in question at the Synod.

(e) This fear lay the nearer to the Pope that at this very time, in the year 451, the Latin kingdom was seriously harassed by the migration of nations and by wars (Attila), and therefore but few Latin bishops could come to the Synod. From this cause its chief supports and those of orthodoxy would be wanting, in opposition both to Nestorianism and to Eutychianism. How easily misled, however, and how uncertain in doctrine, many Greek bishops were, the Robber-Synod had already more than sufficiently shown. The desire of the Pope, that the Synod should be held in the West, that is, should be attended by many Latin bishops, was therefore quite legitimate, and dictated by his interest in orthodoxy.

(f) At the same time it is not to be forgotten that from a Synod in the Byzantine Empire, there was to be feared a derangement of the relative positions of bishops established by the sixth canon of Nicæa, not as though the Bishop of Byzantium would now have wished to be raised above the Bishop of Rome, but because, since the second Œcumenical Council, Constantinople had often endeavoured to take precedence of the ancient patriarchates of Alexandria and Antioch, and to place himself immediately by the side of the Bishop of Rome—an assumption which the Pope, in his own interest and in that of the other ancient patriarchs, was bound to resist. That Leo had in fact given his legates instructions in reference to this point, we shall presently see.

In the month of July 451, the papal legates already mentioned took their journey from Rome, and Leo gave them letters of commendation to the Emperor and the Empress, dated July 20, 451. In both he speaks again of his having wished for a Synod in Italy, and that it should be held at a later time; in order, however, to respond to the imperial zeal, he had nominated legates for the approaching Synod. In the letter to Pulcheria he expresses also with considerable fulness his view, with which we are acquainted, as to the forgiveness to be extended to the penitent bishops.

The special instruction which Leo gave to his legates has been lost, and we find only two fragments of it preserved in the transactions of the Synod of Chalcedon. In the first session of the Synod, the papal legate, Bishop Paschasinus declared: “We have a command from the apostolic Bishop of Rome, who is the head of all the churches. It is there ordered that Dioscurus shall have no seat in the assembly.”—The second fragment is embodied in the Acts of the 16th session of Chalcedon, where the papal legate, the priest Boniface, read from his instructions the words: “The decision of the holy fathers (at Nicæa in regard to the rank of the great metropolitans) you must in no wise allow to be interfered with, and you must in every way preserve and defend my prerogative in your person. And if any, presuming upon the importance of their cities, should try to arrogate anything to themselves, you must resist this with all stedfastness.”

In accordance with the imperial command, many bishops had come to Nicæa in the summer of 451, but Marcian himself, through war and other hindrances, was prevented from appearing in person, and therefore, in a letter (without date) which still exists in Latin, he prayed the assembled fathers to have patience and to postpone the proceedings, until it should be possible for him to arrive, as he hoped soon to do. It was probably about the same time that Pulcheria gave the governor of Bithynia the command, that as very many bishops had already arrived at Nicæa, and she herself hoped soon to be able to appear in person, he should in the meantime remove from the city those clerics, monks, and laymen who were neither summoned by the court to the city, nor were brought with them by their bishops, but appeared to have come of their own accord, to excite disorder.

As, however, the arrival of the Emperor and Empress was still longer delayed, the assembled bishops addressed a letter to Marcian, in which they informed him how painful this was for them, and especially for the weak and sickly among them. In consequence of this the Emperor commanded the transference of the Synod to Chalcedon, and therefore wrote to the bishops: “As the delay fell so heavily upon them, and as the legates of the Pope awaited his personal presence, and made their own arrival at Nicæa dependent upon it, the bishops might, if they pleased, remove to Chalcedon, because this was so near the capital that he could attend in person both to the business in Constantinople and to that of the Council.” In a second letter of the 22d of September 451, the Emperor requested the bishops to hasten their departure for Chalcedon, assuring them that, in spite of the recent occurrences in Illyria (invasions of that province by the Huns), he would be present at the Synod, and dispelled any doubt they might have, lest, from the nearness of Chalcedon to Constantinople, they should there be in danger from the adherents of Eutyches.








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