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A History Of The Church In Five Books by Theodoret

THIS illustrious champion of the faith was sent into Thrace according to the sentence that had been enacted. Two years after this event Constantius went to Rome. The ladies of rank urged their husbands to petition the emperor for the restoration of the shepherd to his flock: they added, that if this could not be conceded, the flock would go itself in quest of its great pastor. Their husbands replied, that they were afraid of incurring the resentment of the emperor. “If we were to ask him,” they continued, “we should not succeed in obtaining the least concession; but if you were yourselves to present the petition, he would either accede to your request, or else dismiss you without injury.” These noble ladies adopted this suggestion, and presented themselves before the emperor, after having adorned themselves in the most splendid attire, that their rank might be evident from their appearance, in order to ensure greater respect and lenity. Having thus presented themselves before him, they besought him to take pity on the condition of so large a city, deprived of its pastor and ravaged by Wolves. The emperor replied, that the flock possessed a pastor capable of tending it, and that no other was needed in the city. After the banishment of the great Liberius, one of his deacons, named Felix, had been appointed bishop. He preserved inviolate the doctrines set forth in the Nicean confession of faith, yet he held communion with those who had corrupted that faith. For this reason none of the citizens of Rome would enter the church while he was in it. The ladies mentioned these facts to the emperor. Their persuasions were successful; and he commanded that the great Liberius should be recalled from exile, and that the two bishops should conjointly rule the church. The edict of the emperor was read in the race course, and the multitude shouted, that the imperial regulation was just; that the spectators were divided into two factions, each deriving its name from its own colours, and that each faction would now have its own bishop. After having thus ridiculed the edict of the emperor, they all exclaimed with one voice, “There is but one God, one Christ, one bishop.” These were their precise words. Some time after this Christian people had uttered these pious and just acclamations, the holy Liberius returned, and Felix retired to another city.

I have, for the sake of preserving order, appended this narrative to the history of the synod of Milan. I shall now return to the relation of events in their due course.








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