(NOTE: The electronic text obtained from The Electronic Bible Society was
not completely corrected. EWTN has corrected all discovered errors.)
ST. LEO THE GREAT
[Translated by the Rev. Charles Lett Feltoe, M.A., late Fellow of Clare
LETTER LX: TO PULCHERIA AUGUSTA.
(He hopes for her intercession to procure the condemnation of
LETTER LXI: TO MARTINUS AND FAUSTUS, PRESBYTERS.
(Reminding them of a former letter he has written to them, viz. Lett.
(Letters LXII., LXIII., LXIV., are the Emperor Theodosius' answers (a)
to Valentinian, (b) to Galla Placidia, and (c) to Licinia Eudoxia (assuring
them of his orthodoxy and care for the Faith.)
LETTER LXV: FROM THE BISHOPS OF THE PROVINCE OF ARLES.
(Asking Leo to confirm the privileges of that city, which they allege
date from the mission of Trophimus, by S. Peter, and more recently ratified
by the Emperor Constantine.)
LETTER LXVI: LEO'S REPLY TO LETTER LXV.
Leo, the pope, to the dearly-beloved brethren Constantinus,
Armentarius, Audientius Severianus, Valerianus, Ursus, Stephanus,
Nectarius, Constantius, Maximus, Asclepius, Theodorus, Justus Ingenuus,
Augustalis, Superventor, Ynantius, Fonteius, and Palladius.
I. The bishop of Vienne has anticipated their appeal. He proposes to
arbitrate with impartiality.
When we read your letter, beloved, which was brought to us by our sons
Petronius the presbyter and Regulus the deacon, we recognized how
affectionate is the regard in which you hold our brother and fellow-bishop,
Ravennius: for your request is that what his predecessor deservedly lost
for his excessive presumption may be restored to him. But your petition,
brothers, was forestalled by the bishop of Vienne, who sent a letter and
legates with the complaint that the bishop of Aries had unlawfully claimed
the ordination of the bishop of Vasa. Accordingly, as we had to show such
respect both for the canons of the fathers and for your good opinion of us,
that in the matter of the churches' privileges we should allow no
infringement or deprivation, it were incumbent on us to preserve the peace
within the province of Vienne by employing such righteous moderation as
should disregard neither ancient usage nor your desires.
II. The bishop of Vienne is to retain jurisdiction over four neighbouring
cities: the rest to belong to Arles.
For alter considering the arguments advanced by the clergy present on
either side, we find that the cities of Vienne and Arles within your
province have always been so famous, that in certain matters of
ecclesiastical privilege, now one, now the other, has alternately taken
precedence, though the national tradition is that formerly they had
community of rights. And hence we suffer not the city of Vienne to be
altogether without honour, so far as concerns ecclesiastical jurisdiction,
especially as it already possesses the authority of our decree for the
enjoyment of its privilege: to wit the power which, when taken away from
Hilary, we thought proper to confer on the bishop of Vienne. And that he
seem not suddenly and unduly lowered, he shall hold rule over the four
neighbouring towns, that is, Valentia, Tarantasia, Genava and
Gratianopolis, with Vienne herself for the fifth, to the bishop of which
shall belong the care of all the said churches. But the other churches of
the same province shall be placed under the authority and management of the
bishop of Arles, who from his temperate moderation we believe will be so
anxious for love and peace as by no means to consider himself deprived of
that which he sees conceded to his brother. Dated 5th of May, in the
consulship of Valentinianus Augustus (7th time), and the most famous
LETTER LXVII: TO RAVENNIUS, BISHOP OF ARLES.
To his dearly-beloved brother Ravennius, Leo the pope.
We have kept our sons Petronius the presbyter, and Regulus the deacon,
long in the City, both because they deserved this from their favour in our
eyes, and because the needs of the Faith, which is now being assailed by
the error of some, demanded it. For we wished them to be present when we
discussed the matter, and to ascertain everything which we desire through
you, beloved, should reach the knowledge of all our brethren and fellow-
bishops, specially deputing this to you, dear brother, that through your
watchful diligence our letter, which we have issued to the East in defence
of the Faith, or else that of Cyril of blessed memory, which agrees
throughout with our views, may become known to all the brethren; in order
that being furnished with arguments they may fortify themselves with
spiritual strength against those who think fit to insult the Lord's
Incarnation with their misbeliefs. You have a favourable opportunity,
beloved brother, of recommending the commencement of your episcopacy to all
the churches and to our God, if you will carry out these things in the way
we have charged and enjoined you. But the matters which were not to be
committed to paper, in reliance on God's aid, you shall carry out
effectually, as we have said, and laudably, when you have learnt about them
from the mouths of our aforesaid sons. God keep you safe, dearest brother.
Dated 5th of May, in the consulship of the most glorious Valentinianus (for
the 7th time) and of the famous Avienus (450).
LETTER LXVIII: FROM THREE GALLIC BISHOPS TO ST. LEO.
Ceretius, Salonius and Veranus to the holy Lord, most blessed father,
and pope most worthy of the Apostolic See, Leo.
I. They congratulate and thank Leo for the Tome.
Having perused your Excellency's letter, which you composed for
instruction in the Faith, and sent to the bishop of Constantinople, we
thought it our duty, being enriched with so great a wealth of doctrine, to
pay our debt of thanks by at least inditing you a letter. For we appreciate
your fatherly solicitude on our behalf, and confess that we are the more
indebted to your preventing care because we now have the benefit of the
remedy before experiencing the evils. For knowing that those remedies are
well-nigh too late which are applied after the infliction of the wounds,
you admonish us with the voice of loving forethought to arm ourselves with
those Apostolic means of defence. We acknowledge frankly, most blessed
pope[8a], with what singular loving-kindness you have imparted to us the
innermost thoughts of your breast, by the efficacy of which you secure the
safety of others: and while you extract the old Serpent's infused poison
from the hearts of others, standing as it were on the watch-tower of Love,
with Apostolic care and watchfulness you cry aloud, lest the enemy come on
us unawares and off our guard, lest careless security expose us to attack,
O holy Lord, most blessed father and pope, most worthy of the Apostolic
See. Moreover we; who specially belong to you, are filled with a great
and unspeakable delight, because this special statement of your teaching is
so highly regarded wherever the Churches meet together, that the unanimous
opinion is expressed that the primacy of the Apostolic See is rightfully
there assigned, from whence the oracles of the Apostolic Spirit still
receive their interpretations.
II. They ask him to correct or add to their copy of the Tome.
Therefore, if you deem it worth while, we entreat your holiness to run
through and correct any mistake of the copyist in this work, so valuable
both now and in the future, which we have had committed to parchment,
in our desire to preserve it, or if you have devised anything further in
your zeal, which will profit all who read, give orders in your loving care
that it be added to this copy, so that not only many holy bishops our
brethren throughout the provinces of Gaul, but also many of your sons among
the laity, who greatly desire to see this letter for the revelation of the
Truth, may be permitted, when it is sent back to us, corrected by your holy
hand, to transcribe, read and keep it. If you think fit, we are anxious
that our messengers should return soon, in order that we may the speedier
have an account of your good health over which to rejoice: for your well-
being is our joy and health.
May Christ the Lord long keep your eminence mindful of our humility, O
holy Lord, most blessed father and pope most worthy of the Apostolic See.
I, Ceretius, your adopted (son?), salute your apostleship, commending
me to your prayers.
I, Salonius, your adorer, salute your apostleship, entreating the aid
of your prayers.
I, Veranus, the worshipper of your apostleship, salute your
blessedness, and beseech you to pray for me.
LETTER LXIX: (TO THEODOSIUS AUGUSTUS.)
Leo, the bishop, to Theodosius ever Augustus.
I. He suspends his opinion on the appointment of Anatolius till he has made
open confession of the catholic Faith.
In all your piously expressed letters amid the anxieties, which we
suffer for the Faith, you have afforded us hope of security by supporting
the Council of Nicaea so loyally as not to allow the priests of the LORD to
budge from it, as you have often written us already. But lest I should seem
to have done anything prejudicial to the catholic defence, I thought
nothing rash on either side ought meanwhile to be written back on the
ordination of him who has begun to preside over the church of
Constantinople, and this not through want of loving interest, but waiting
for the catholic Truth to be made clear. And I beg your clemency to bear
this with equanimity that when he has proved himself such as we desire
towards the catholic Faith, we may the more fully and safely rejoice over
his sincerity. But that no evil suspicion may assail him about our
disposition towards him, I remove all occasion of difficulty, and demand
nothing which may seem either hard or controvertible but make an invitation
which no catholic would decline. For they are well known and renowned
throughout the world, who before our time have shone in preaching the
catholic Truth whether in the Greek or the Latin tongue, to whose learning
and teaching some even of our own day have recourse, and from whose
writings a uniform and manifold statement of doctrine is produced: which,
as it has pulled down the heresy of Nestorius, so has it cut off this error
too which is now sprouting out again. Let him then read again what is the
belief on the LORD'S Incarnation which the holy fathers guarded and has
always been similarly preached, and when he has perceived that the letter
of Cyril of holy memory, bishop of Alexandria, agrees with the view of
those who preceded him [wherein he wished to correct and cure Nestorius,
refuting his wrong statements and setting out more clearly the Faith as
defined at Nicaea, and which was sent by him and placed in the library of
the Apostolic See], let him further reconsider the proceedings of the
Ephesian Synod wherein the testimonies of catholic priests on the Lord's
Incarnation are inserted and maintained by Cyril of holy memory. Let him
not scorn also to read my letter over, which he will find to agree
throughout with the pious belief of the fathers. And when he has realized
that that is required and desired from him which shall serve the same good
end, let him give his hearty assent to the judgment of the catholics, so
that in the presence of all the clergy and the whole people he may without
any reservation declare his sincere acknowledgment of the common Faith, to
be communicated to the Apostolic See and all the Lord's priests and
churches, and thus the world being at peace through the one Faith, we may
all be able to say what the angels sang at the Saviour's birth of the
Virgin Mary, "Glory in the highest to God and on earth peace to men of good
II. He promises to accept Anatolius on making this confession, and asks for
a council in Italy to finally define the Faith.
But because both we and our blessed fathers, whose teaching we revere
and follow, are in concord on the one Faith, as the bishops of all the
provinces attest, let your clemency's most devout faith see to it that such
a document as is due may reach us as soon as may be from the bishop of
Constantinople, as from an approved and catholic priest, that is, openly
and distinctly affirming that he will separate from his communion any one
who believes or maintains any other view about the Incarnation of the Word
of God than my statement and that of all catholics lays down, that we may
fairly be able to bestow on him brotherly love in Christ. And that swifter
and fuller effect, God aiding us, may be given through your clemency's
faith to our wholesome desires, I have sent to your piety my brethren and
fellow-bishops Abundius and Asterius, together with Basilius and Senator
presbyters, whose devotion is well proved to me, through whom, when they
have displayed the instructions which we have sent, you may be able
properly to apprehend what is the standard of our faith, so that, if the
bishop of Constantinople gives his hearty assent to the same confession, we
may securely, as is due, rejoice over the peace of the Church and no
ambiguity may seem to lurk behind which may trouble us with perhaps
ungrounded suspicions. But if any dissent from the purity of our Faith and
from the authority of the Fathers, the Synod which has met at Rome for that
purpose joins with me in asking your clemency to permit a universal council
within the limits of Italy; so that, if all those come together in one
place who have fallen either through ignorance or through fear, measures
may be taken to correct and cure them, and no one any longer may be allowed
to quote the Synod of Niches in a way which shall prove him opposed to its
Faith; since it will be of advantage both to the whole Church and to your
rule, if one God, one Faith and one mystery of man's Salvation, be held by
the one confession of the whole world.
Dated 17th July in the consulship of the illustrious Valentinianus for
the seventh time) and Avienus (450).
LETTER LXX: TO PULCHERIA AUGUSTA.
(In which he again says he is waiting for Anatolius' acceptance of
Cyril's and his own statement of the Faith, and looks forward to a Synod in
LETTER LXXI: TO THE ARCHIMANDRITES OF CONSTANTINOPLE.
(Complaining of Anatolius' silence.)
LETTER LXXII: TO FAUSTUS, ONE OF THE ARCHIMANDRITES
(Commending his faith and exhorting him to steadfastness.)
LETTER LXXIII: FROM VALENTINIAN AND MARCIAN.
(Announcing their election as Emperors (A.D. 450), and asking his
prayers that (per celebrandam synodum, te auctore), peace may be restored
to the Church.)
LETTER LXXIV: TO MARTINUS, ANOTHER OF THE ARCHIMANDRITES AT CONSTANTINOPLE.
(Commending his steadfastness in the Faith.)
LETTER LXXV: TO FAUSTUS AND MARTINUS TOGETHER.
(Condemning the Latrocinium and maintaining that Eutyches equally with
Nestorius promotes the cause of Antichrist.)
LETTER LXXVI: FROM MARCIANUS AUGUSTUS TO LEO.
(Proposing that he should either attend a Synod at Constantinople or
help in arranging some other more convenient place of meeting.)
LETTER LXXVII: FROM PULCHERIA AUGUSTA TO LEO.
(In which she expresses her assurance that Anatolius is orthodox, and
begs him to assist her husband in arranging for the Synod, and announces
that Flavian's body has been buried in the Basilica of the Apostles at
Constantinople and the exiled bishops restored.)
LETTER LXXVIII: LEO'S ANSWER TO MARCIANUS.
(Briefly thanking him.)
LETTER LXXIX: TO PULCHERIA AUGUSTA.
Leo, bishop of the city of Rome to Pulcheria Augusta.
I. He rejoices at Pulcheria's zeal both against Nestorius and Eutyches.
That which we have always anticipated concerning your Grace's holy
purposes, we have now proved fully true, viz. that, however varied may be
the attacks of wicked men upon the Christian Faith, yet when you are
present and prepared by the LORD for its defence, it cannot be disturbed.
For God will not forsake either the mystery of His mercy or the deserts of
your labours, whereby you long ago repelled the crafty foe of our holy
religion from the very vitals of the Church: when the impiety of Nestorius
failed to maintain his heresy because it did not escape you the handmaid
and pupil of the Truth, how much poison was instilled into simple folk by
the coloured falsehoods of that glib fellow. And the sequel to that mighty
struggle was that through your vigilance the things which the devil
contrived by means of Eutyches, did not escape detection, and they who had
chosen to themselves one side in the twofold heresy, were overthrown by the
one and undivided power of the catholic Faith. This then is your second
victory over the destruction of Eutyches' error: and, if he had had any
soundness of mind, that error having been once and long ago routed and put
to confusion in the person of his instigators, he would easily have been
able to avoid the attempt to rekindle into life the smouldering ashes, and
thus only share the lot of those, whose example he had followed, most
glorious Augusta. We desire, therefore, to leap for joy and to pay due vows
for your clemency's prosperity to God, who has already bestowed on you a
double palm and crown through all the parts of the world, in which the
Lord's Gospel is proclaimed.
II. He thanks her for her aid to the catholic cause, and explains his
wishes about the restoration of the lapsed bishops.
Your clemency must know, therefore, that the whole church of Rome is
highly grateful for all your faithful deeds, whether that you have with
pious zeal helped our representatives throughout and brought back the
catholic priests, who had been expelled from their churches by an unjust
sentence, or that you have procured the restoration with due honour of the
remains of that innocent and holy priest, Flavian, of holy memory, to the
church, which he ruled so well. In all which things assuredly your glory is
increased manifold, so long as you venerate the saints according to their
deserts, and are anxious that the thorns and weeds should be removed from
the Lord's field. But we learn as well from the account of our deputies as
from that of my brother and fellow-bishop, Anatolius, whom you graciously
recommend to me, that certain bishops crave reconciliation for those who
seem to have given their consent to matters of heresy, and desire catholic
communion for them: to whose request we grant effect on condition that the
boon of peace should not be vouch-soled them till, our deputies acting in
concert with the aforesaid bishop, they are corrected, and with their own
hand condemn their evil doings; because our Christian religion requires
boil that true justice should constrain the obstinate, and love not reject
III. He commends certain bishops and churches to her care.
And because we know how much pious care your Grace deigns to bestow on
catholic priests, we have ordered that you should be informed that my
brother and fellow-bishop, Eusebius, is living with us, and sharing our
communion, whose church we commend to you; for he that is improperly
asserted to have been elected in his place, is said to be ravaging it. And
this too we ask of you, Grace, which we doubt not you will do of your own
free will, to extend the favour which is due as well to my brother and
fellow-bishop, Julian, as to the clergy of Constantinople, who clung to the
holy Flavian with faithful loyalty. On all things we have instructed your
Grace by our deputies as to what ought to be done or arranged. Dated April
13, in the consulship of the illustrious Adelfius (451).
LETTER LXXX: (TO ANATOLIUS, BISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE.) Leo, the
bishop, to Anatolius, the bishop.
I. He rejoices at Anatolius having proved himself orthodox.
We rejoice in the Lord and glory in the gift of His Grace, Who has
shown you a follower of Gospel-teaching as we have found from your letter,
beloved, and our brothers' account whom we sent to Constantinople: for now
through the approved faith of the priest, we are justifying in presuming
that the whole church committed to him will have no wrinkle nor spot of
error, as says the Apostle, "for I have espoused you to one husband to
present you a pure virgin to Christ." For that virgin is the Church, the
spouse of one husband Christ, who suffers herself to be corrupted by no
error, so that through the whole world we have one entire and pure
communion in which we now welcome you as a fellow, beloved, and give our
approval to the order of proceedings which we have received, ratified, as
was proper, with the necessary signatures. In order, therefore, that your
spirit in turn, beloved, might be strengthened by words of ours, we sent
back after the Easter festival with our letters, our sons, Casterius, the
Presbyter, and Patricius and Asclepias, the Deacons, who brought your
writings to us, informing you, as we said above, that we rejoice at the
peace of the church of Constantinople, on which we have ever spent such
care that we wish it to be polluted by no heretical deceit.
II. The penitents among the backsliding bishops are to be received back
into full communion upon some plan to be settled by Anatolius and Leo's
But concerning the brethren whom we learn from your letters, and from
our delegates' ac count, to be desirous of communion with us, on the ground
of their sorrow that they did not remain constant against violence and
intimidation, but gave their assent to another's crime when terror had so
bewildered them, that with hasty acquiescence they ministered to the
condemnation of the catholic and guiltless bishop (Flavian), and to the
acceptance of the detestable heresy (of Eutyches), we approve of that which
was determined upon in the presence and with the co operation of our
delegates, viz., that they should be content meanwhile with the communion
of their own churches, but we wish our delegates whom we have sent to
consult with you, and come to some arrangement whereby those who condemn
their ill-doings with full assurances of penitence, and choose rather to
accuse than to defend themselves, may be gladdened by being at peace and in
communion with us; on condition that what has been received against the
catholic Faith is first condemned with complete anathema. For otherwise in
the Church of God, which is Christ's Body, there are neither valid
priesthoods nor true sacrifices, unless in the reality of our nature the
true High Priest makes atonement for us, and the true Blood of the spotless
Lamb makes us clean. For although He be set on the Father's right hand, yet
in the same flesh which He took from the Virgin, he carries on the mystery
of propitiation, as says the Apostle, "Christ Jesus Who died, yea, Who also
rose, Who is on the right hand of God, Who also maketh intercession for
us." For our kindness cannot be blamed in any case where we receive
those who give assurance of penitence, and at whose deception we were
grieved. The boon of communion with us, therefore, must neither harshly be
withheld nor rashly granted, because as it is fully consistent with our
religion to treat the oppressed with a Christlike charity, so it is fair to
lay the full blame upon the authors of the disturbance.
III. The names of Dioscorus, Juvenal, and Eustathius are not to be read
aloud at the holy altar.
Concerning the reading out of the names of Dioscorus, Juvenal, and
Eustathius at the holy altar, it beseems you, beloved, to observe that
which our friends who were there present said ought to be done, and which
is consistent with the honourable memory of S. Flavian, and will not turn
the minds of the laity away from you. For it is very wrong and unbecoming
that those who have harassed innocent catholics with their attacks, should
be mingled indiscriminately with the names of the saints, seeing that by
not forsaking their condemned heresy, they condemn themselves by their
perversity: such men should either be chastised for their unfaithfulness;
or strive hard after forgiveness.
IV. One or two instructions about individuals.
But our brother and fellow-bishop, Julian, and the clergy who adhered
to Flavian of holy memory, rendering him faithful service, we wish to
adhere to you also beloved, that they may know him who we are sure lives by
the merits of his faith with our God to be present with them in you. We
wish you to know this too, beloved, that our brother and fellow-bishop
Eusebius, who for the Faith's sake endured many dangers and toils, is at
present staying with us and continuing in our communion; whose church we
would that your care should protect, that nothing may be destroyed in his
absence, and no one may venture to injure him in anything until he come to
you bearing a letter from us. And that our or rather all Christian people's
affection for you may be stirred up in greater measure, we wish this that
we have written to you, beloved, to come to all men's knowledge, that they
who serve our God may give thanks for the consummation of the peace of the
Apostolic See with you. But on other matters and persons you will be more
fully instructed, beloved, by the letter you will have received through our
delegates. Dated 13 April, in the consulship of the illustrious Adelfius
LETTER LXXXI: TO BISHOP JULIAN.
(Warning him to be circumspect in receiving the lapsed.)
LETTER LXXXII: TO MARClAN AUGUSTUS.
I. After congratulating the Emperor on his noble conduct, he deprecates
random inquiries into the tenets of the Faith.
Although I have replied already to your Grace by the hand of the
Constantinopolitan clergy, yet on receiving your clemency's mercy through
the illustrious prefect of the city, my son Tatian, I found still greater
cause for congratulation, because I have learnt your strong eagerness for
the Church's peace. And this holy desire as in fairness it deserves,
secures for your empire the same happy condition as you seek for religion.
For when the Spirit of God establishes harmony among Christian princes, a
twofold confidence is produced throughout the world, because the progress
of love and faith makes the power of their arms in both directions
unconquerable, so that God being propitiated by one confession, the
falseness of heretics and the enmity of barbarians are simultaneously
overthrown, most glorious Emperor. The hope, therefore, of heavenly aid
being increased through the Emperor's friendship, I venture with the
greater confidence to appeal to your Grace on behalf of the mystery of
man's salvation, not to allow any one in vain and presumptuous craftiness
to inquire what must be held, as if it were uncertain. And although we may
not in a single word dissent from the teaching of the Gospels and Apostles,
nor entertain any opinion on the Divine Scriptures different to what the
blessed Apostles and our Fathers learnt and taught, now in these latter
days unlearned and blasphemous inquiries are set on foot, which of old the
Holy Spirit crushed by the disciples of the Truth, so soon as the devil
aroused them in hearts which were suited to his purpose.
II. The points to be settled are only which of the lapsed shall be
restored, and on what terms.
But it is most inopportune that through the foolishness of a few we
should be brought once more into hazardous opinions, and to the warfare of
carnal disputes, as if the wrangle was to be revived, and we had to settle
whether Eutyches held blasphemous views, and whether Dioscorus gave wrong
judgment, who in condemning Flavian of holy memory struck his own death-
blow, and involved the simpler folk in the same destruction. And now that
many, as we have ascertained, have betoken themselves to the means of
amendment, and entreat forgiveness for their weak hastiness, we have to
determine not the character of the Faith, but whose prayers we shall
receive, and on what terms. And hence that most religious anxiety which you
deign to feel for the proclamation of a Synod, shall have fully and timely
put before it all that I judge pertinent to the needs of the case, by means
of the deputies who will with all speed, if God permit, reach your Grace.
Dated the 23rd of April in the consulship of the illustrious Adelfius
LETTER LXXXIII: TO THE SAME MARCIAN.
(Congratulating him on his benefits to the Church, and deprecating a
Synod as inopportune.)
LETTER LXXXIV: TO PULCHERIA AUGUSTA.
(Announcing the despatch of his legates to deal with the lapsed, and
asking that Eutyches should be superseded in his monastery by a catholic,
and dismissed from Constantinople.)
LETTER LXXXV: TO ANATOLIUS, BISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE.
Leo, the bishop, to the bishop Anatolius.
I. Anatolius with Leo's delegates is to settle the question of the
receiving back of those who had temporarily gone astray after Eutyches.
Although I hope, beloved, you are devoted to every good work, yet that
your activity may be rendered the more effective, it was needful and
fitting to despatch my brothers Lucentius the bishop and Basil the
presbyter, as we promised, to ally themselves with you, beloved, that
nothing may be done either indecisively or lazily in matters, which concern
the welfare of the universal Church; for as long as you are on the spot, to
whom we have entrusted the carrying out of our will, all things can be
conducted with such moderation that the claims of neither kindness nor
justice may be neglected, but without the accepting of persons, the Divine
judgment may be considered in everything. But that this may be properly
observed and guarded, the integrity of the catholic Faith must first of all
be preserved, and, because in all cases "narrow" and steep "is the way that
leadeth unto life," there must be no deviation from its track, either to
the right hand or to the left. And because the evangelical and Apostolic
Faith has to combat all errors, on the one side casting down Nestorius, on
the other crushing Eutyches and his accomplices, remember the need of
observing this rule, that all those who in that synod, which cannot, and
does not deserve to have the name of Synod, and in which Dioscorus
displayed his bad feeling, and Juvenal his ignorance, grieve as we learn
from your account, beloved, that they were conquered by fear, and being
overcome with terror, were able to be forced to assent to that iniquitous
judgment, and who now desire to obtain catholic communion, are to receive
the peace of the brethren after due assurance of repentance, on condition
that in no doubtful terms they anathematize, execrate and condemn Eutyches
and his dogma and his adherents.
II. The case of the more serious offenders must be reserved for the
But concerning those who have sinned more gravely in this matter, and
claimed for themselves a higher place in the same unhappy synod, in order
to irritate the simple minds of their lowlier brethren by their pernicious
arrogance, if they return to their right mind, and ceasing to defend their
action, turn themselves to the condemnation of their particular error, if
these men give such assurance of penitence as shall seem indisputable, let
their case be reserved for the maturer deliberations of the Apostolic See,
that when all things have been sifted and weighed, the right conclusion may
be arrived at about their real actions. And in the Church over which the
Lord has willed you to rule, let none such as we have already written
have their names read at the altar until the course of events shows what
ought to be determined concerning them.
III. Anatolius is requested to co-operate loyally with Leo's delegates.
But concerning the address presented to us by your clergy, beloved,
there is no need to put my sentiments into a letter: it is sufficient to
entrust all to my delegates, whose words shall carefully instruct you on
every point. And so, dearest brother, do your endeavour with these brethren
whom we have chosen as suitable agents in so great a matter faithfully and
effectually to carry out what is agreeable to the Church of God: especially
as the very nature of the case, and the promise of Divine aid incite you,
and our most gracious princes show such holy faith, such religious
devotion, that we find in them not only the general sympathy of Christians,
but even that of the priesthood. Who assuredly in accordance with that
piety, whereby they boast themselves to be servants of God, will receive
all your suggestions for the benefit of the catholic Faith in a worthy
spirit, so that by their aid also the peace of Christendom can be restored
and wicked error destroyed. And if on any points more advice is needed, let
word be quickly sent to us, that after investigating the nature of the
case, we may carefully prescribe the rightful measures. Dated 9th of June
in the consulship of the illustrious Adelfius (451).
LETTER LXXXVI: TO JULIAN, BISHOP OF COS.
(Begging him for friendship's and the Church's sake to assist his
legates in quelling the remnants of heresy.)
LETTER LXXXVII: TO ANATOLIUS, BISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE.
(Commending to him two presbyters, Basil and John, who being accused of
heresy had come to Rome, and quite convinced Leo of their orthodoxy.)
LETTER LXXXVIII: TO PASCHASINUS, BISHOP OF LILYBAEUM.
Leo, the bishop, to Paschasinus, bishop of Lilybaeum.
I. He sends a copy of the Tome and still further explains the heterodoxy of
Although I doubt not all the sources of scandal are fully known to you,
brother, which have arisen in the churches of the East about the
Incarnation of our LORD Jesus Christ, yet, test anything might have chanced
to escape your care, I have despatched for your attentive perusal and study
our letter, which deals with this matter in the fullest way, which we
sent to Flavian of holy memory, and which the universal Church has
accepted; in order that, understanding how completely this whole
blasphemous error has with God's aid been destroyed, you yourself also in
your love towards God may show the same spirit, and know that they are
utterly to be abhorred, who, following the blasphemy and madness of
Eutyches, have dared to say there are not two natures, i.e. perfect Godhead
and perfect manhood, in our LORD, the only-begotten Son of God, who took
upon Himself to restore mankind; and think they can deceive our wariness by
saying they believe the one nature of the Word to be Incarnate, whereas the
Word of God in the Godhead of the Father, and of Himself, and of the Holy
Spirit has indeed one nature; but when He took on Him the reality of our
flesh, our nature also was united to His unchangeable substance: for even
Incarnation could not be spoken of, unless the Word took on Him the flesh.
And this taking on of flesh forms so complete a union, that not only in the
blessed Virgin's child-bearing, but also in her conception, no division
must be imagined between the Godhead and the life-endowed flesh, since
in the unity of person the Godhead and the manhood came together both in
the conception and in the childbearing of the Virgin.
II. Eutyches might have been warned by tire fate of former heretics.
A like blasphemy, therefore, is to be abhorred in Eutyches, as was once
condemned and overthrown by the Fathers in former heretics: and their
example ought to have benefited this foolish fellow, in putting him on his
guard against that which he could not grasp by his own sense, lest he
should render void the peerless mystery of our salvation by denying the
reality of human flesh in our LORD Jesus Christ. For, if there is not in
Him true and perfect human nature, there is no taking of us upon Him, and
the whole of our belief and teaching according to his heresy is emptiness
and lying. But because the Truth does not lie and the Godhead is not
possible, there abides in God the Word both substances in one Person, and
the Church confesses her Saviour in such a way as to acknowledge Him both
impossible in Godhead and possible in flesh, as says the Apostle, "although
He was crucified through (our) weakness, yet He lives by the power of
III. He sends quotations from the Fathers, and announces that the churches
of the East have accepted the Tome.
And in order that you may be the fuller instructed in all things,
beloved, I have sent you certain quotations from our holy Fathers, that you
may clearly gather what they felt and what they preached to the churches
about the mystery of the Lord's Incarnation, which quotations our deputies
produced at Constantinople also together with our epistle. And you must
understand that the whole church of Constantinople, with all the
monasteries and many bishops, have given their assent to it, and by their
subscription have anathematized Nestorius and Eutyches with their dogmas.
You must also understand that I have recently received the bishop of
Constantinople's letter, which states that the bishop of Antioch has sent
instructions to all the bishops throughout his provinces, and gained their
assent to my epistle, and their condemnation of Nestorius and Eutyches in
IV. He asks him to settle the discrepancy between the Alexandrine and the
Roman calculation of Easter for 455, by consulting the proper authority.
This also we think necessary to enjoin upon your care that you should
diligently inquire in those quarters where you are sure of information
concerning that point in the reckoning of Easter, which we have found in
the table of Theophilus, and which greatly exercises us, and that you
should discuss with those who are learned in such calculations, as to the
date, when the day of the Lord's resurrection should be held four years
hence. For, whereas the next Easter is to be held by God's goodness on
March 23rd, the year after on April 12th, the year after that on April 4th,
Theophilus of holy memory has fixed April 24th to be observed in 455, which
we find to be quite contrary to the rule of the Church; but in our Easter
cycles as you know very well, Easter that year is set down to be kept on
April 17th. And therefore, that all our doubts may be removed, we beg you
carefully to discuss this point with the best authorities, that for the
future we may avoid this kind of mistake. Dated June 24th in the consulship
of the illustrious Adelfius (451).
LETTER LXXXIX: TO MARCIAN AUGUSTUS.
(Appointing Paschasinus the bishop and Boniface a presbyter, and Julian
the bishop, his representatives at the Synod, as the Emperor is determined
it should be held at once.)
LETTER XC: TO MARClAN AUGUSTUS.
(Assenting perforce to the meeting of the Synod, but begging him to see
that the Faith be not discussed as doubtful.)
LETTER XCI: TO ANATOLIUS, BISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE.
(Telling him that he has appointed Paschasinus, Boniface, and Julian,
bishop of Cos, to represent him at the Synod.)
LETTER XCII: TO JULIAN, BISHOP OF COS.
(Asking him to act as one of his representatives at the Synod.) LETTER
XCIII: TO THE SYNOD OF CHALCEDON,
Leo, the bishop of the city of Rome, to the holy Synod, assembled at
I. He excuses his absence from the Synod, and introduces his
I had indeed prayed, dearly beloved, on behalf of my dear colleagues
that all the Lord's priests would persist in united devotion to the
catholic Faith, and that no one would be misled by favour or fear of
secular powers into departure from the way of Truth; but because many
things often occur to produce penitence and God's mercy transcends the
faults of delinquents, and vengeance is postponed in order that reformation
may have place, we must make much of our most merciful prince's piously
intentioned Council, in which he has desired your holy brotherhood to
assemble for the purpose of destroying the snares of the devil and
restoring the peace of the Church, so far respecting the rights and dignity
of the most blessed Apostle Peter as to invite us too by letter to
vouchsafe our presence at your venerable Synod. That indeed is not
permitted either by the needs of the times or by any precedent. Yet in
these brethren, that is Paschasinus and Lucentius, bishops, Boniface and
Basil, presbyters, who have been deputed by the Apostolic See, let your
brotherhood reckon that I am presidings at the Synod; for my presence is
not withdrawn from you, who am now represented by my vicars, and have this
long time been really with you in the proclaiming of the catholic Faith: so
that you who cannot help knowing what we believe in accordance with ancient
tradition, cannot doubt what we desire.
II. He entreats them to re-state the Faith as laid down in the Tome.
Wherefore, brethren most dear, let all attempts at impugning the
Divinely-inspired Faith be entirely put down, and the vain unbelief of
heretics be laid to rest: and let not that be defended which may not be
believed: since in accordance with the authoritative statements of the
Gospel, in accordance with the utterances of the prophets, and the teaching
of the Apostles, with the greatest fulness and clearness in the letter
which we sent to bishop Flavian of happy memory, it has been laid down what
is the loyal and pure confession upon the mystery of our LORD Jesus
III. The ejected bishops must be restored, and the Nestorian canons retain
But because we know full well that through evil jealousies the state of
many churches has been disturbed, and a large number of bishops have been
driven from their Sees for not receiving the heresy and conveyed into
exile, while others have been put into their places though yet alive, to
these wounds first of all must the healing of justice be applied, nor must
any one be deprived of his own possession that some one else may enjoy it:
for if, as we desire, all forsake their error, no one need lose his present
rank, and those who have laboured for the Faith ought to have their rights
restored with every privilege. Let the decrees specially directed against
Nestorius of the former Synod of Ephesus, at which bishop Cyril of holy
memory presided; still retain their force, lest the heresy then condemned
flatter itself in aught because Eutyches is visited with condign
execration. For the purity of the Faith and doctrine which we proclaim in
the same spirit as our holy Fathers, equally condemns and impugns the
Nestorian and the Eutychian misbelief with its supporters. Farewell in the
Lord, brethren most dear. Dated 26th[5a], of June, in the consulship of the
illustrious Adelfius (451).
LETTER XCIV: TO MARCIAN AUGUSTUS.
(Commending his legates to him and praying for the full success of the
Synod, if it adhere to the Faith once delivered to the saints.)
LETTER XCV: TO PULCHERIA AUGUSTA BY THE HAND OF THEOCTISTUS THE
Leo, the bishop to Pulcheria Augusta.
I. He informs the Empress that he has loyally recognized the Council
ordered by her, and sent representatives with letters to it.
Your clemency's religious care which you unceasingly bestow on the
catholic Faith, I recognize in everything, and give God thanks at seeing
you take such interest in the universal Church, that I can confidently
suggest what I think agreeable to justice and kindness, and so what thus
far your pious zeal through the mercy of Christ has irreproachably
accomplished, may the more speedily be brought to an issue which we shall
be thankful for, O most noble Augusta. Your clemency's command, therefore,
that a Synod should be held at Nicaea, and your gently expressed refusal
of my request that it should be held in Italy, so that all the bishops in
our parts might be summoned and assemble, if the state of affairs had
permitted them, I have received in a spirit so far removed from scorn as to
nominate two of my fellow-bishops and fellow-presbyters respectively to
represent me, sending also to the venerable synod an appropriate missive
from which the brotherhood therein assembled might learn the standard
necessary to be maintained in their decision, lest any rashness should do
detriment either to the rules of the Faith, or to the provisions of the
canons, or to the remedies required by the spirit of loving kindness.
II. In the settlement of this matter that moderation must be observed which
was entirely absent at Ephesus.
For, as I have very often stated in letters from the beginning of this
matter, I have desired that such moderation should be observed in the midst
of discordant views and carnal jealousies that, whilst nothing should be
allowed to be wrested from or added to the purity of the Faith, yet the
remedy of pardon should be granted to those who return to unity and peace.
Because the works of the devil are then more effectually destroyed when
men's hearts are recalled to the love of God and their neighbours. But how
contrary to my warnings and entreaties were their actions then, it is a
long story to explain, nor is the need to put down in the pages of a letter
all that was allowed to be perpetrated in that meeting, not of judges but
of robbers, at Ephesus; where the chief men of the synod spared neither
those brethren who opposed them nor those who assented to them, seeing that
for the breaking down of the catholic Faith and the strengthening of
execrable heresy, they stripped some of their rightful rank and tainted
others with complicity in guilt; and surely their cruelty was worse to
those whom by persuasion they divorced from innocence, than to those whom
by persecution they made blessed confessors.
III. Those who recant their error must be treated with forbearance.
And yet because such men have harmed themselves most by their wrong-
doing, and because the greater the wounds, the more careful must be the
application of the remedy, I have never in any letter maintained that
pardon must be withheld even from them if they came to their right mind.
And although we unchangeably abhor their heresy, which is the greatest
enemy of Christian religion, yet the men themselves, if they without any
doubt amend their ways and clear themselves by full assurances of
repentance, we do not judge to be outcasts from the unspeakable mercy of
God: but rather we lament with those that lament, "we weep with those that
weep[7a]," and obey the requirements of justice in deposing without
neglecting the remedies of loving-kindness: and this, as your piety knows,
is not a mere word-promise, but is also borne out by our actions, inasmuch
as nearly all who had been either misled or forced into assenting to the
presiding bishops, by rescinding what they had decreed and by condemning
what they had written, have obtained complete acquittal from guilt and the
boon of Apostolic peace.
IV. Even the authors of the mischief may find room far forgiveness by
If, therefore, your clemency deigns to reflect upon my motives, it will
be satisfied that I have acted throughout with the design of bringing about
the abolition of the heresy without the loss of one soul; and that in the
case of the authors of these cruel disturbances I have modified my practice
somewhat in order that their slow minds might be aroused by some feelings
of compunction to ask for lenient treatment. For although since their
decision, which is no less blasphemous than unjust, they cannot be held in
such honour by the catholic brotherhood as they once were, yet they still
retain their sees and their rank as bishops, with the prospect either of
receiving the peace of the whole Church, after true and necessary signs of
repentance or, if (which God forbid) they persist in their heresy, of
reaping the reward of their misbelief. Dated 20th of July, in the
consulship of the illustrious Adelfius (451).
LETTER XCVI: TO RAVENNIUS, BISHOP OF ARLES.
(Requesting him to keep Easter on March 23 in 452.)
LETTER XCVII: FROM EUSEBIUS, BISHOP OF MILAN, TO LEO.
(Informing him that the Tome has been approved by the Synod of Milan,
and containing the subscriptions of the bishops there assembled.)
LETTER XCVIII: FROM THE SYNOD OF CHALCEDON TO LEO.
The great and holy and universal Synod, which by the grace of God and
the sanction of our most pious and Christ-loving Emperors has been gathered
together in the metropolis of Chalcedon in the province of Bithynia, to the
most holy and blessed archbishop of Rome, Leo.
I. They congratulate Leo on taking the foremost part in maintaining the
"Our mouth was filled with joy and our tongue with exultation." This
prophecy grace has fitly appropriated to us for whom the security of
religion is ensured. For what is a greater incentive to cheerfulness than
the Faith? what better inducement to exultation than the Divine knowledge
which the Saviour Himself gave us from above for salvation, saying, "go ye
and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the
Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all
things that I have enjoined you." And this golden chain leading down
from the Author of the command to us, you yourself have stedfastly
preserved, being set as the mouthpiece unto all of the blessed Peter, and
imparting the blessedness of his Faith unto all. Whence we too, wisely
taking you as our guide in all that is good, have shown to the sons of the
Church their inheritance of Truth, not giving our instruction each singly
and in secret, but making known our confession of the Faith in conceit,
with one consent and agreement And we were all delighted, revelling, as at
an imperial banquet, in the spiritual food, which Christ supplied to us
through your letter: and we seemed to see the Heavenly Bridegroom actually
present with us. For if "where two or three are gathered together in His
name," He has said that "there He is in the midst of them," must He not
have been much more particularly present with 520 priests, who preferred
the spread of knowledge concerning Him to their country and their ease? Of
whom you were, chief, as the head to the members, showing your goodwill
in the person of those who represented you; whilst our religious Emperors
presided to the furtherance of due order, inviting us to restore the
doctrinal fabric of the Church, even as Zerubbabel invited Joshua to
II. They detail Dioscorus' wicked acts.
And the adversary would have been like a wild beast outside the fold,
roaring to himself and unable to seize any one, had not the late bishop of
Alexandria thrown himself for a prey to him, who, though he had done many
terrible things before, eclipsed the former by the latter deeds; for
contrary to all the injunctions of the canons, he deposed that blessed
shepherd of the saints at Constantinople, Flavian, who displayed such
Apostolic faith, and the most pious bishop Eusebius, and acquitted by his
terror-won votes Eutyches, who had been condemned for heresy, and restored
to him the dignity which your holiness had taken away from him as unworthy
of it, and like the strangest of wild beasts, falling upon the vine which
he found in the finest condition, He uprooted it and brought in that which
had been cast away as unfruitful, and those who acted like true shepherds
he cut off, and set over the flocks those who had shown themselves wolves:
and besides all this he stretched forth his fury even against him who had
been charged with the custody of the vine by the Saviour, we mean of course
your holiness, and purposed excommunication against one who had at heart
the unifying of the Church. And instead of showing penitence for this,
instead of begging mercy with tears, he exulted as if over virtuous
actions, rejecting your holiness' letter and resisting all the dogmas of
III. We have deposed Eutyches, treating him as mercifully as we could.
And we ought to have left him in the position where he had placed
himself: but, since we profess the teaching of the Saviour "who wishes all
men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the Truth," as a fact we
took pains to carry out this merciful policy towards him, and called him in
brotherly fashion to judgment, not as if trying to cut him off but
affording him room for defence and healing; and we prayed that he might be
victorious over the many charges they had brought against him, in order
that we might conclude our meeting in peace and happiness and Satan might
gum no advantage over us. But he, being absolutely convicted by his own
conscience, by shirking the trial gave countenance to the accusations
and rejected the three lawful summonses he received. In consequence of
which, we ratified with such moderation as we could the vote which he had
passed against himself by his blunders, stripping the wolf of his
shepherd's skin, which he had long been convicted of wearing for a
pretence. Thereupon our troubles ceased and straightway a time of welcome
happiness set in: and having pulled up one tare, we filled the whole world
to our delight with pure grain: and having received, as it were, full power
to root up and to plant, we limited the up-rooting to one and carefully
plant a crop of good fruit. For it was God who worked, and the triumphant
Euphemia who crowned the meeting as for a bridal[4a], and who, taking our
definition of the Faith as her own confession, presented it to her
Bridegroom by our most religious Emperor and Christ-loving Empress,
appeasing all the tumult of opponents and establishing our confession of
the Truth as acceptable to Him, and with hand and tongue setting her seals
to the votes of us all in proclamation thereof These are the things we have
done, with you present in the spirit and known to approve of us as
brethren, and all but visible to us through the wisdom of your
IV. They announce their decision that Constantinople should take precedence
next to Rome, and ask Leo's consent to it.
And we further inform you that we have decided on other things also for
the good management and stability of church matters, being persuaded that
your holiness will accept and ratify them, when you are told. The long
prevailing custom, which the holy Church of God at Constantinople had of
ordaining metropolitans for the provinces of Asia, Pontus and Thrace, we
have now ratified by the votes of the Synod, not so much by way of
conferring a privilege on the See of Constantinople as to provide for the
good government of those cities, because of the frequent disorders that
arise on the death of their bishops, both clergy and laity being then
without a leader and disturbing church order. And this has not escaped your
holiness, particularly in the case of Ephesus, which has often caused you
annoyance. We have ratified also the canon of the 150 holy Fathers who
met at Constantinople in the time of the great Theodosius of holy memory,
which ordains that after your most holy and Apostolic See, the See of
Constantinople shall take precedence, being placed second: for we are
persuaded that with your usual care for others you have often extended that
Apostolic prestige which belongs to you, to the church in Constantinople
also, by virtue of your great disinterestedness in sharing all your own
good things with your spiritual kinsfolk. Accordingly vouchsafe most holy
and blessed father to accept as your own wish, and as conducing to good
government the things which we have resolved on for the removal of al
confusion and the confirmation of church order. For your holiness'
delegates, the most pious bishops Paschasinus and Lucentius, and with them
the right Godly presbyter Boniface, attempted vehemently to resist these
decisions, from a strong desire that this good work also should start from
your foresight, in order that the establishment of good order as well as of
the Faith should be put to your account. For we duly regarding our most
devout and Christ loving Emperors, who delight therein, and the illustrious
senate and, so to say, the whole imperial city, considered it opportune to
use the meeting of this ecumenical Synod for the ratification of your
honour, and confidently corroborated this decision as if it were initiated
by you with your customary fostering zeal, knowing that every success of
the children rebounds to the parent's glory. Accordingly, we entreat you,
honour our decision by your assent, and as we have yielded to the head our
agreement on things honourable, so may the head also fulfil for the
children what is fitting. For thus will our pious Emperors be treated with
due regard, who have ratified your holiness' judgment as law, and the See
of Constantinople will receive its recompense for having always displayed
such loyalty on matters of religion towards you, and for having so
zealously linked itself to you in full agreement. But that you may know
that we have done nothing for favour or in hatred, but as being guided by
the Divine Will, we have made known to you the whole scope of our
proceedings to strengthen our position and to ratify and establish what we
LETTER XCIX: FROM RAVENNUS AND OTHER GALLIC BISHOPS.
(Announcing that the Tome has been accepted in Gaul also as a
definitive statement of the Faith, with the bishops' subscriptions.)
LETTER C: FROM THE EMPEROR MARCIAN.
(Dealing much more briefly with the same subjects as Letter XCVIII.
LETTER CI: FROM ANATOLIUS, BISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE, TO LEO.
(Dealing with much the same subjects as Letter XCVIII. from Anatolius'
own standpoint: Chap. iii. is translated in extenso as illustrating
XCVIII., chap. iii.)
III. He describes the circumstances under which the doctrine of the
Incarnation had been formulated by the Synod.
But since after passing judgment upon him we had to come to an
agreement with prayers and tears upon a definition of the right Faith; for
that was the chief reason for the Emperor's summoning the holy Synod, at
which your holiness was present in the spirit with us, and wrought with us
by the God-fearing men who were sent from you; we, having the protection of
the most holy and beautiful martyr Euphemia, have all given ourselves to
this important matter with all deliberateness. And as the occasion demanded
that all the assembled holy bishops should publish a unanimous decision for
clearness and for an explicit statement of the Faith in our Lord-Jesus
Christ the LORD God who is found and revealed even to those who seek Him
not, yes, even to those who ask not for Him, in spite of some attempts
to resist at first, nevertheless showed us His Truth, and ordained that it
should be written down and proclaimed by all unanimously and without
gainsaying, which thus confirmed the souls of the strong, and invited into
the way of Truth all who were swerving therefrom. And, indeed, after
unanimously setting our names to this document, we who have assembled in
this ecumenical Synod in the name of the Faith of the same most holy and
triumphant martyr, Euphemia, and of our most religious and Christ-loving
Emperor Marcian, and our most religious and in all things most faithful
daughter the Empress Pulcheria Augusta, with prayer and joy and happiness,
having laid on the holy altar the definition written in accordance with
your holy epistle for the confirmation of our Fathers' Faith, presented it
to their pious care; for thus they had asked to receive it, and, having
received it, they glorified with us their Master Christ, who had driven
away all the mist of heresy and had graciously made clear the word of
Truth. And in this way was simultaneously established the peace of the
Church and the agreement of the priests concerning the pure Faith by the
LETTER CII: TO THE GALLIC BISHOPS.
(Thanking them for their letter (viz. XCIX.) to him, and announcing the
result of the Synod of Chalcedon.)
LETTER CIII: TO THE GALLIC BISHOPS.
(Written later: enclosing a copy of the sentence against Eutyches and
LETTER CIV: (To Marcian Augustus, about the presumption of Anatolius, by
the hand of Lucian the bishop and Basil the deacon.)
Leo, the bishop, to Marcian Augustus.
I. He congratulates the Emperor on his share in the triumph of the catholic
By the great bounty of God's mercy the joys of the whole catholic
Church were multiplied when through your clemency's holy and glorious zeal
the most pestilential error was abolished among us; so that our labours the
more speedily reached their desired end, because your God-serving Majesty
bad so faithfully and powerfully assisted them. For although the liberty of
the Gospel had to be defended against certain dissentients in the power of
the Holy Ghost, and through the instrumentality of the Apostolic See, yet
God'S grace has shown itself more manifestly (than we could have hoped) by
vouchsafing to the world that in the victory of the Truth only the authors
of the violation of the Faith should perish and the Church restored to
her soundness. Accordingly the war which the enemy of our peace had stirred
up, was so happily ended, the Lord's right hand fighting for us, that when
Christ triumphed all His priests shared in the one victory, and when the
light of Truth shone forth, only the shades of error, with its champions,
were dispelled. For as in believing the LORD'S own resurrection, with a
view to strengthen the beginnings of Faith, confidence was much increased
by the fact that certain Apostles doubted of the bodily reality of our LORD
Jesus Christ, and by examining the prints of the nails and the wound of the
spear with sight and touch removed the doubts of all by doubting; so now,
too, while the misbelief of some is refuted, the hearts of all hesitaters
are strengthened, and that which caused blindness to some few avails for
the enlightenment of the whole body. In which work your clemency duly and
rightly rejoices, having faithfully and properly provided that the devil's
snares should do no hurt to the Eastern churches, but that to propitiate
God everywhere more acceptable holocausts should be offered; seeing that
through the mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus, one and the
self-same creed is held by people, priests, and princes, O most glorious
son and most clement Augustus.
II. Considering all the circumstances Anatolius might have been expected to
show more modesty.
But now that these things, about which so great a concourse of priests
assembled, have been brought to a good and desirable conclusion, I am
surprised and grieved that the peace of the universal Church which had been
divinely restored is again being disturbed by a spirit of self-seeking. For
although my brother Anatolius seems necessarily to have consulted his own
interest in forsaking the error of those who ordained him, and with
salutary change of mind accepting the catholic Faith, yet he ought to have
taken care not to mar by any depravity of desire that which he is known to
have obtained through your means. For we, having regard to your faith
and intervention, though his antecedents were suspicious on account of
those who consecrated him, wished to be kind rather than just towards
him, that by the use of healing measures we might assuage all disturbances
which through the operations of the devil had been excited; and this ought
to have made him modest rather than the opposite. For even if he had been
lawfully and regularly ordained for conspicuous merit, and by the wisest
selection yet without respect to the canons of the Fathers, the ordinances
of the Holy Ghost, and the precedents of antiquity, no votes could have
availed in his favour. I speak before a Christian and a truly religious,
truly orthodox prince (when I say that) Anatolius the bishop detracts
greatly from his proper merits in desiring undue aggrandizement.
III. The City of Constantinople, royal though it be, can never be raised to
Let the city of Constantinople have, as we desire, its high rank, and
under the protection of God's right hand, long enjoy your clemency's rule.
Yet things secular stand on a different basis from things divine: and there
can be no sure building save on that rock which the Lord has laid for a
foundation. He that covets what is not his due, loses what is his own. Let
it be enough for Anatolius that by the aid of your piety and by my favour
and approval he has obtained the bishopric of so great a city. Let him not
disdain a city which is royal, though he cannot make it an Apostolic
See; and let him on no account hope that he can rise by doing injury to
others. For the privileges of the churches determined by the canons of the
holy Fathers, and fixed by the decrees of the Nicene Synod, cannot be
overthrown by any unscrupulous act, nor disturbed by any innovation. And in
the faithful execution of this task by the aid of Christ I am bound to
display an unflinching devotion; for it is a charge entrusted to me, and it
tends to my condemnation if the rules sanctioned by the Fathers and drawn
up under the guidance of God's Spirit at the Synod of Nicaea for the
government of the whole Church are violated with my connivance (which God
forbid), and if the wishes of a single brother have more weight with me
than the common good of the Lord's whole house.
IV. He asks the Emperor to express his disapproval of Anatolius' self-
And therefore knowing that your glorious clemency is anxious for the
peace of the Church and extends its protection and approval to those
measures which conduce to pacific unity, I pray and beseech you with
earnest entreaty to refuse all sanction and protection to these
unscrupulous attempts against Christian unity and peace, and put a salutary
check upon my brother Anatolius' desires, which will only injure himself,
if he persists: that he may not desire things which are opposed to your
glory and the needs of the times, and wish to be greater than his
predecessors, and that it may be free for him to be as pre-eminent as he
can in virtues, in which he will be partaker only if he prefer to be
adorned with love rather than puffed up with ambition. The conception of
this unwarrantable wish he ought indeed never to have received within the
secret of his heart, but when my brothers and fellow-bishops who were there
to represent me withstood him, he might at least have desisted from his
unlawful self-seeking at their wholesome opposition. For both your gracious
Majesty and his own letter affirm that the legates of the Apostolic See
opposed him as they ought with the most justifiable resistance, so that his
presumption was the less excusable in that not even when rebuked did it
V. And to try to bring him to a right mind.
And hence, because it becomes your glorious faith that, as heresy was
overthrown, God acting through you, so now all self-seeking should be
defeated, do that which beseems both your Christian and your kingly
goodness, so that the said bishop may obey the Fathers, further the cause
of peace, and not think he had any right to ordain a bishop for the
Church of Antioch, as he presumed to do without any precedent and contrary
to the provisions of the canons: an act which from a longing to re-
establish the Faith and in the interests of peace we have determined not to
cancel. Let him abstain therefore from doing despite to the rules of the
Church and shun unlawful excesses, lest in attempting things un-favourable
to peace he cut himself off from the universal Church. I had much liefer
love him for acting blamelessly than find him persist in this presumptuous
frame of mind which may separate him from us all. My brother and fellow-
bishop, Lucian, who with my son, Basil the deacon, brought your clemency's
letter to me, has fulfilled the duties he undertook as legate with all
devotion: for he must not be reckoned to have failed in his mission, the
course of events having rather failed him. Dated the 22nd of May in the
consulship of the illustrious Herculanus (452).
LETTER CV: (TO PULCHERIA AUGUSTA ABOUT THE SELF-SEEKING OF ANATOLIUS.)
Leo the bishop to Pulcheria Augusta.
I. He congratutates the Empress on the triumph of the Faith, but regrets
the introduction of a new controversy into the Church.
We rejoice ineffably with your Grace that the catholic Faith has been
defended against heretics and peace restored to the whole Church through
your clemency's holy and God-pleasing zeal: giving thanks to the Merciful
and Almighty God that He has suffered none save those who loved darkness
rather than light to be defrauded of the gospel-truth: so that by the
removal of the mists of error the purest light might arise in the hearts of
all, and that darkness-loving foe might not triumph over certain weak
souls, whom not only those who stood unhurt but also those whom he had made
to totter have overcome, and that by the abolition of error the true Faith
might reign throughout the world, and "every tongue might confess that the
LORD Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father." But when the whole
world had been confirmed in the unity of the Gospel, and the hearts of all
priests had been guided into the same belief, it had been better that
besides those matters for which the holy Synod was assembled, and which
were brought to a satisfactory agreement through your Grace's zeal, nothing
should be introduced to counteract so great an advantage, and that a
council of bishops should not be made an occasion for the inopportune
advancing of an illegitimate desire.
II. The Nicene canons are unalterable and binding universally.
For my brother and fellow-bishop Anatolius not sufficiently considering
your Grace's kindness and the favour of my assent, whereby he gained the
priesthood of the church of Constantinople, instead of rejoicing at what he
has gained, has been inflamed with undue desires beyond the measure of his
rank, believing that his intemperate self-seeking could be advanced by the
assertion that certain persons had signified their assent thereto by an
extorted signature: notwithstanding that my brethren and fellow-bishops,
who represented me, faithfully and laudably expressed their dissent from
these attempts which are doomed to speedy failure. For no one may venture
upon anything in opposition to the enactments of the Fathers' canons which
many long years ago in the city of Nicaea were founded upon the decrees of
the Spirit, so that any one who wishes to pass any different decree injures
himself rather than impairs them. And if all pontiffs will but keep them
inviolate as they should, there will be perfect peace and complete harmony
through all the churches: there will be no disagreements about rank, no
disputes about ordinations, no controversies about privileges, no strifes
about taking that which is another's; but by the fair law of love a
reasonable order will be kept both in conduct and in office, and he will be
truly great who is found free from all self-seeking, as the Lord says,
"Whosoever will become greater among you, let him be your minister, and
whosoever will be first among you shall be your slave; even as the Son of
Man came not to be ministered unto but to minister." And yet these
precepts were at the time given to men who wished to rise from a mean
estate and to pass from the lowest to the highest things; but what more
does the ruler of the church of Constantinople covet than he has gained? or
what will satisfy him, if the magnificence and renown of so great a city is
not enough? It is too arrogant and intemperate thus to step beyond all
proper bounds and trampling on ancient custom to wish to seize another's
right: to increase one man's dignity at the expense of so many
metropolitans' primacy, and to carry a new war of confusion into peaceful
provinces which were long ago set at rest by the enactments of the holy
Nicene Synod: to break through the venerable Fathers' decrees by alleging
the consent of certain bishops, which even the course of so many years has
not rendered effective. For it is boasted that this has been winked at for
almost 60 years now, and the said bishop thinks that he is assisted
thereby; but it is vain for him to look for assistance from that which,
even if a man dared to wish for it, yet he could never obtain.
III. Only by imitating his predecessor will he regain Leo's confidence: the
assent of the bishops is declared null and void.
Let him realize what a man he has succeeded, and expelling all the
spirit of pride let him imitate Flavian's faith, Flavian's modesty,
Flavian's humility, which has raised him right to a confessor's glory. If
he will shine with his virtues, he will merit all praise, and in all
quarters he will win an abundance of love not by seeking human advancement
but by deserving Divine favour. And by this careful course I promise he
will bind my heart also to him, and the love of the Apostolic See, which we
have ever bestowed on the church of Constantinople, shall never be violated
by any change. Because if sometimes rulers fall into errors through want of
moderation, yet the churches of Christ do not lose their purity. But the
bishops' assents, which are opposed to the regulations of the holy canons
composed at Nicaea in conjunction with your faithful Grace, we do not
recognize, and by the blessed Apostle Peter's authority we absolutely dis-
annul in comprehensive terms, in all ecclesiastical cases obeying those
laws which the Holy Ghost set forth by the 318 bishops for the pacific
observance of all priests in such sort that even if a much greater number
were to pass a different decree to theirs, whatever was opposed to their
constitution would have to be held in no respect.
IV. He requests the Empress to give his letter her favourable
And so I request your Grace to receive in a worthy spirit this lengthy
letter, in which I had to explain my views, at the hands of my brother and
fellow-bishop Lucianus, who, as far as in him lies, has faithfully executed
the anxious duties of his undertaking as my delegate, and of my son Basil,
the deacon. And because it is your habit to labour for the peace and unity
of the Church, for his soul's health keep my brother Anatolius the bishop,
to whom I have extended my love by your advice, within those limits which
shall be profitable to him, that as your clemency's glory is magnified
already for the restoration of the Faith, so it may be published abroad for
the restraint of self-seeking. Dated the 22nd of May, in the consulship of
the illustrious Herculanus (452).
LETTER CVI: TO ANATOLIUS, BISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE, IN REBUKE OF HIS SELF-
Leo, the bishop, to Anatolius, the bishop.
I. He commends Anatolius far his orthodoxy, but condemns him far his
Now that the light of Gospel Truth has been manifested, as we wished,
through God's grace, and the night of most pestilential error has been
dispelled from the universal Church, we are unspeakably glad in the Lord,
because the difficult charge entrusted to us has been brought to the
desired conclusion, even as the text of your letter announces, so that,
according to the Apostle's teaching, "we all speak the same thing, and that
there be no schisms among us: but that we be perfect in the same mind and
in the same knowledge." In devotion to which work we commend you,
beloved, for taking part: for thus you benefited those who needed
correction by your activity, and purged yourself from all complicity with
the transgressors. For when your predecessor Flavian, of happy memory, was
deposed for his defence of catholic Truth, not unjustly it was believed
that your ordainers seemed to have consecrated one like themselves,
contrary to the provision of the holy canons. But God's mercy was present
in this, directing and confirming you, that you might make good use of bad
beginnings, and show that you were promoted not by men's judgment, but by
God's loving-kindness: and this may be accepted as true, on condition that
you lose not the grace of this Divine gift by another cause of offence. For
the catholic, and especially the Lord's priest, must not only be entangled
in no error, but also be corrupted by no covetousness; for, as says the
Holy Scripture, "Go not after thy lusts, and decline from thy desire"
Many enticements of this world, many vanities must be resisted, that the
perfection Of true self-discipline may be attained the first blemish of
which is pride, the beginning of transgression and the origin of sin. For
the mind greedy of power knows not either how to abstain from things
forbidden nor to enjoy things permitted, so long as transgressions go
unpunished and run into undisciplined and wicked excesses, and wrong doings
are multiplied, which were only endured in our zeal for the restoration of
the Faith and love of harmony.
II. Nothing can cancel or modify the Nicene canons.
And so after the not irreproachable beginning of your ordination, after
the consecration of the bishop of Antioch, which you claimed for yourself
contrary to the regulations of the canons. I grieve, beloved, that you have
fallen into this too, that you should try to break down the most sacred
constitutions of the Nicene canons: as if this opportunity had expressly
offered itself to you for the See of Alexandria to lose its privilege of
second place, and the church of Antioch to forego its right to being third
in dignity, in order that when these places had been subjected to your
jurisdiction, all metropolitan bishops might be deprived of their proper
honour. By which unheard of and never before attempted excesses you went so
far beyond yourself as to drag into an occasion of self-seeking, and force
connivance from that holy Synod which the zeal of our most Christian prince
had convened, solely to extinguish heresy and to confirm the catholic
Faith: as if the unlawful wishes of a multitude could not be rejected, and
that state of things which was truly ordained by the Holy Spirit in the
canon of Nicaea could in any part be overruled by any one. Let no synodal
councils flatter themselves upon the size of their assemblies, and let not
any number of priests, however much larger, dare either to compare or to
prefer themselves to those 318 bishops, seeing that the Synod of Nicaea is
hollowed by God with such privilege, that whether by fewer or by more
ecclesiastical judgments are supported, whatever is opposed to their
authority is utterly destitute of all authority.
III. The Synod of Chalcedon, which met for one purpose, ought never to have
been used for another.
Accordingly these things which are found to be contrary to those most
holy canons are exceedingly unprincipled and misguided. This haughty
arrogance tends to the disturbance of the whole Church, which has purposed
so to misuse a synodal council, as by wicked arguments to over-persuade, or
by intimidation to compel, the brethren to agree with it, when they had
been summoned simply on a matter of Faith, and had come to a decision on
the subject which was to engage their care. For it was on this ground that
our brothers sent by the Apostolic see, who presided in our stead at the
synod with commendable firmness, withstood their illegal attempts, openly
protesting against the introduction of any reprehensible innovation
contrary to the enactments of the Council of Nicaea. And there can be no
doubt about their opposition, seeing that you yourself in your epistle
complain of their wish to contravene your attempts. And therein indeed you
greatly commend them to me by thus writing, whereas you accuse yourself in
refusing to obey them concerning your unlawful designs, vainly seeking what
cannot be granted, and craving what is bad for your soul's health, and can
never win our consent. For may I never be guilty of assisting so wrong a
desire, which ought rather to be subverted by my aid, and that of all who
think not high things, but agree with the lowly.
IV. The Nicene canons are for universal application and not to be wrested
to private interpretations.
These holy and venerable fathers who in he city of Nicaea, after
condemning the blasphemous Arius with his impiety, laid down a code of
canons for the Church to last till the end of the world, survive not only
with us but with the whole of mankind in their constitutions; and, if
anywhere men venture upon what is contrary to their decrees, it is ipso
facto null and void; so that what is universally laid down for our
perpetual advantage can never be modified by any change, nor can the things
which were destined for the common good be perverted to private interests;
and thus so long as the limits remain, which the Fathers fixed, no one may
invade another's right but each must exercise himself within the proper and
lawful bounds, to the extent of his power, in the breadth of love; of which
the bishop of Constantinople may reap the fruits richly enough, if he
rather relies on the virtue of humility than is puffed up with the spirit
V. The sanction alleged to have been accorded 60 years ago to the supremacy
of Constantinople over Alexandria and Antioch is worthless.
"Be not highminded," brother, "but fear(2)," and cease to disquiet with
unwarrantable demands the pious ears of Christian princes, who I am sure
will be better pleased by your modesty than by your pride. For your purpose
is in no way whatever supported by the written assent of certain bishops
given, as you allege, 60 years ago(3), and never brought to the knowledge
of the Apostolic See by your predecessors; and this transaction, which from
its outset was doomed to fall through and has now long done so, you now
wish to bolster up by means that are too late and useless, viz., by
extracting from the brethren an appearance of consent which their modesty
from very weariness yielded to their own injury. Remember what the Lord
threatens him with, who shall have caused one of the little ones to
stumble, and get wisdom to understand what a judgment of GOD he will have
to endure who has not feared to give occasion of stumbling to so many
churches and so many priests. For I confess I am so fist bound by love of
the whole brotherhood that I will not agree with any one in demands which
are against his own interests, and thus you may clearly perceive that my
opposition to you, beloved, proceeds from the kindly intention to restrain
you from disturbing the universal Church by sounder counsel. The rights of
provincial primates may not be overthrown nor metropolitan bishops be
defrauded of privileges based on antiquity. The See of Alexandria may not
lose any of that dignity which it merited through S. Mark, the evangelist
and disciple of the blessed Peter, nor may the splendour of so great a
church be obscured by another's clouds, Dioscorus having fallen through his
persistence in impiety. The church of Antioch too, in which first at the
preaching of the blessed Apostle Peter the Christian name arose(4), must
continue in the position assigned it by the Fathers, and being set in the
third place must never be lowered therefrom. For the See is on a different
footing to the holders of it; and each individual's chief honour is his own
integrity. And since that does not lose its proper worth in any place, how
much more glorious must it be when placed in the magnificence of the city
of Constantinople, where many priests may find both a defence of the
Fathers' canons and an example of uprightness in observing you?
VI. Christian love demands self-denial not self-seeking.
In thus writing to you, brother, I exhort and admonish you in the Lord,
laying aside all ambitious desires to cherish rather a spirit of love and
to adorn yourself to your profit with the virtues of love, according to the
Apostle's teaching. For love "is patient and kind, and envies not, acts not
iniquitously, is not puffed up, is not ambitious, seeks not its owns(5)."
Hence if love seeks not its own, how greatly does he sin who covets
another's? From which I desire you to keep yourself altogether, and to
remember that sentence which says, "Hold what thou hast, that no other take
thy crown(6)." For if you seek what is not permitted, you will deprive
yourself by your own action and judgment of the peace of the universal
Church. Our brother and fellow-bishop Lucian and our son Basil the deacon,
attended to your injunctions with all the zeal they possessed, but justice
refused to give effect to their pleadings. Dated the 22nd of May in the
consulship of the illustrious Herculanus (452).
LETTER CVII: TO JULIAN, BISHOP OF COS.
(Expostulating with him for putting personal considerations before the
good of the Church in the matter of the precedence of the See of
LETTER CVIII: TO THEODORE, BISHOP OF FORUM JULII: Leo, the bishop, to
Theodore, bishop of Forum Julii.
I. Theodosus should not have approached him except through his
Your first proceeding, when anxious, should have been to have consulted
your metropolitan on the point which seemed to need inquiry, and if he too
was unable to help you, beloved, you should both have asked to be
instructed (by us); for in matters, which concern all the Lord's priests as
a whole, no inquiry ought to be made without the primates. But in order
that the consulter's doubts may in any case be set at rest, I will not keep
back the Church's rules about the state of penitents.
II. The grace of penitence is for those who fall after baptism.
The manifold mercy of God so assists men when they fall, that not only
by the grace of baptism but also by the remedy of penitence is the hope of
eternal life revived, in order that they who have violated the gifts of the
second birth, condemning themselves by their own judgment, may attain to
remission of their crimes, the provisions of the Divine Goodness having so
ordained that GOD'S indulgence cannot be obtained without the supplications
of priests. For the Mediator between GOD and men, the Man Christ Jesus, has
transmitted this power to those that are set over the Church that they
should both grant a course of penitence(7) to those who confess, and, when
they are cleansed by wholesome correction admit them through the door of
reconciliation to communion in the sacraments. In which work assuredly the
Saviour Himself unceasingly takes part and is never absent from those
things, the carrying out of which He has committed to His ministers.
saying: "Lo, I am with you all the days even to the completion of the
age(8):" so that whatever is accomplished through our service in due order
and with satisfactory results we doubt not to have been vouchsafed through
the Holy Spirit.
III. Penitence is sure only in this life.
But if any one of those for whom we entreat God be hindered by some
obstacle and lose the benefit of immediate absolution, and before he attain
to the remedies appointed, end his days in the course of nature, he will
not be able when stripped of the flesh to gain that which when yet in the
body he did not receive. And there will be no need for us to weigh tile
merits and acts of those who have thus died, seeing that the LORD our God,
whose judgments cannot be found out, has reserved for His own decision that
which our priestly ministry could not complete: for He wishes His power to
be so feared that this fear may benefit all, and every one may dread that
which happens to the lukewarm or careless. For it is most expedient and
essential that the guilt of sins should be loosed by priestly supplication
before the last day of life.
IV. And yet penitence and reconciliation must not be refused to men in
But to those who in time of need and in urgent danger implore the aid
first of penitence, then of reconciliation, must neither means of amendment
nor reconciliation be forbidden: because we cannot place limits to God's
mercy nor fix times for Him with whom true conversion suffers no delay of
forgiveness, as says God's Spirit by the prophet, "when thou hast turned
and lamented, then shalt thou be saved(9);" and elsewhere, "Declare thou
thy iniquities beforehand, that thou may'st be justified(1);" and again,
"For with the Lord there is mercy, and with Him is plenteous
redemption(2)." And so in dispensing God's gifts we must not be hard, nor
neglect the tears and groans of self-accusers, seeing that we believe the
very feeling of penitence springs from the inspiration of God, as says the
Apostle, "lest perchance God will give them repentance that they may
recover themselves from the snares of the devil, by whom they are held
captive at his will(3)."
V. Hazardous as deathbed repentance is, the grace of absolution must not be
refused even when it can be asked for only by signs.
Hence it behoves each individual Christian to listen to the judgment of
his own conscience, lest he put off the turning to God from day to day and
fix the time of his amendment at the end of his life; for it is most
perilous for human frailty and ignorance to confine itself to such
conditions as to be reduced to the uncertainty of a few hours, and instead
of winning indulgence by fuller amendment, to choose the narrow limits of
that time when space is scarcely found even for the penitent's confession
or the priest's absolution. But, as I have said, even such men's needs must
be so assisted that the free action of penitence and the grace of communion
be not denied them, if they demand it even when their voice is gone, by the
signs of a still clear intellect. And if they be so overcome by the stress
of their malady that they cannot signify in the priest's presence what just
before they were asking for, the testimony of believers standing by must
prevail for them, that they may obtain the benefit of penitence and
reconciliation simultaneously, so long as the regulations of the Fathers'
canons be observed in reference to those persons who have sinned against
God by forsaking the Faith.
VI. He is to bring this letter to the notice of the metropolitan.
These answers, brother, which I have given to your questions in order
that nothing different be done under the excuse of ignorance, you shall
bring to the notice of your metropolitan; that if there chance to be any of
the brethren who before now have thought there was any doubt about these
points, they may be instructed by him concerning what I have written to
you. Dated June 11th in the consulship of the illustrious Herculanus (452).
LETTER CIX: TO JULIAN, BISHOP OF COS.
Leo, the pope, to Julian, the bishop.
I. He laments over the recent rioting in Palestine.
The information which you give, brother, about the riotous doings of
the false monks(4) is serious and to no slight degree lamentable; for they
are due to the war which the wicked Eutyches by the madness of deceivers is
waging against the preaching of the Gospel and the Apostles, though it will
end in his own destruction and that of his followers but this is delayed by
the long-suffering of God, in order that it may appear how greatly the
enemies of the cross of Christ are enslaved to the devil; because heretical
depravity, breaking through its ancient veil of pretence can no longer
restrain itself within the limits of its hypocrisy, and has poured forth
all its long-concealed poison, raging against the disciples of the Truth
not only with pen but also with deeds of violence(5), in order to wrest
consent from unlearned simplicity or from panic-stricken faith. But the
sons of light ought not to be so afraid of the sons of darkness, as being
sane to acquiesce in the ideas of madmen or to think that any respect
should be shown to men of this kind; for, if they would rather perish than
recover their senses, provision must be made lest their escape from
punishment should do wider harm, and long toleration of them should lead to
the destruction of many.
II. The ringleaders must be removed to a distance.
I am not unaware what love and favour is due to our sons, those holy
and true monks, who forsake not the moderation of their profession, and
carry into practice what they promised by their vows. But these insolent
disturbers, who boast of their insults and injuries to priests(6), are to
be held not the slaves of Christ, but the soldiers of Antichrist, and must
be chiefly humiliated in the person of their leaders, who incite the
ignorant mob to uphold their insubordination. And hence, seeing that our
most merciful Prince loves the catholic Faith with all the devotion of a
religious heart, and is greatly offended at the effrontery of these rebel
heretics, as is everywhere reported, we must appeal to his clemency that
the instigators of these seditions be removed from their mad congregations;
and not only Eutyches and Dioscorus but also any who have been forward in
aiding their wrongheaded madness, be placed where they can hold no
intercourse with their partners in blasphemy: for the simpleness of some
may chance to be healed by this method, and men will be more easily
recalled to soundness of mind, if they be set free from the incitements of
III. He sends a letter of S. Athanasius to show that the present heresy is
only a revival of former exploded heresies.
But lest the instruction necessary for the confirmation of faithful
spirits or the refutation of heretics should be wanting or not expressed, I
have sent the letter of bishop Athanasius of holy memory addressed to
bishop Epictetus(7), whose testimony Cyril of holy memory made use of at
the Synod of Ephesus against Nestorius, because it has so clearly and
carefully set forth the Incarnation of the Word', as to overthrow both
Nestorius and Eutyches by anticipation in the heresies of those times. Let
the followers of Eutyches and Dioscorus dare to accuse such an authority as
this of ignorance or of heresy, who assert that our preaching goes astray
from the teaching and the knowledge of the Fathers. But it ought to avail
for the confirmation of the minds of all the Lord's priests, who, having
been already detected and condemned of heresy in respect of the authorities
they followed, now begin more openly to set forth their blasphemous dogma,
lest, if their meaning were hid beneath the cloke of silence it might still
be doubtful whether the triple error of Apollinaris(8), and the mad notion
of the Manichees was really revived in them. And as they no longer seek to
hide themselves but rise boldly against the churches of Christ, must we not
take care to destroy all the strength of their attempts, observing. as I
have said, such discrimination as to separate the incorrigible from the
more docile spirits: for "evil conversations corrupt good manners(9)," and
"the wise man will be sharper than the pestilent person who is
chastised(1);" in order that in whatever way the society of the wicked is
broken up, some vessels may be snatched from the devil's hand? For we ought
not to be so offended at scurrilous and empty words as to have no care for
IV. He expresses a hope that Juvenal's timely acknowledgment of error will
be imitated by the rest.
But bishop Juvenal, whose injuries are to be lamented, joined himself
too rashly to those blasphemous heretics, and by embracing Eutyches and
Dioscorus, drove many ignorant folk headlong by his example, albeit he
afterwards corrected himself by wiser counsels. These men, however, who
drank in more greedily the wicked poison, have become the enemies of him,
whose disciples they had been before, so that the very food he had supplied
them was turned to his own ruin: and yet it is to be hoped they will
imitate him in amending his ways, if only the holy associations of the
neighbourhood in which they dwell will help them to recover their senses.
But the character of him(2) who has usurped the place of a bishop still
living cannot be doubted from the character of his actions, nor is it to be
disputed that he who is loved by the assailants of the Faith must be a
misbeliever. Meanwhile, brother, do not hesitate to continue with anxious
care to keep me acquainted with the course of events by more frequent
letters. Dated November 25th in the consulship of Herculanus (452).
LETTER CX: FROM MARCIAN AUGUSTUS.
(Expressing surprise that Leo has not by now confirmed the acts of the
Synod, and asking for a speedy confirmation.)
LETTER CXI: TO MARCIAN AUGUSTUS.
(About Anatolius' mistake in deposing Actions from the office of
archdeacon and putting in Andrew instead.)
LETTER CXII: TO PULCHERIA AUGUSTA.
(On the same subject more briefly.)
LETTER CXIII: TO JULIAN, BISHOP OF COS.
Leo, bishop of Rome, to Julian, bishop of Cos.
I. After thanks for Julian's sympathy he complains of the deposition of
Aetius from the archdeaconry.
I acknowledge in your letter, beloved, the feelings of brotherly love,
in that you sympathize with us in true grief at the many grievous evils we
have borne: But we pray that these things which the LORD has either allowed
or wished us to suffer, may avail to the correction of those who live
through them(3), and that adversities may cease through the cessation of
offences. Both which results will follow through the mercy of God, if only
He remove the scourge and turn the hearts of His people to Himself. But as
you, brother, are saddened by the hostilities which have raged around us,
so I am made anxious because, as your letter indicates, the treacherous
attacks of heretics are not set at rest in the church of Constantinople,
and men seek occasion to persecute those who have been the defenders of the
catholic Fairly. For so long as Aetius is removed from his office of
archdeacon under pretence of promotion(4) and Andrew is taken into his
place, who had been cast off for associating with heretics; so long as
respect is shown to the accusers of Flavian of holy memory, and the
partners or disciples of that most pious confessor are put down, it is only
too clearly shown what pleases the bishop of the church itself. Towards
whom I put off taking action till I hear the merits of the case and await
his own dealing with me in the letter our son Aetius tells me he will send,
giving opportunity for voluntary correction, whereby I desire my vexation
to be appeased. Nevertheless, I have written to our most clement Prince and
the most pious Augusta about these things which concern the peace of the
Church; and I do not doubt they will in the devoutness of their faith take
heed lest a heresy already condemned should succeed in springing up again
to the detriment of their own glorious work.
II. He asks Julian to act for him as Anatolius is deficient in vigour.
See then, beloved brother, that you bestow the necessary thought on the
cares of the Apostolic See, which by her rights as your mother commends to
you, who were nourished at her breast, the defence of the catholic Truth
against Nestorians and Eutychians, in order that, supported by the Divine
help, you may not cease to watch the interests of the city of
Constantinople, lest at any time the storms of error arise within her. And
because the faith of our glorious Princes is so great that you may
confidently suggest what is necessary to them, use their piety for the
benefit of the universal Church. But if ever you consult me, beloved, on
things which you think doubtful, my reply shall not fail to supply
instruction, so that, apart from cases which ought to be decided by the
inquiries of the bishops of each particular church, you may act as my
legate and undertake the special charge of preventing the Nestorian or
Eutychian heresy reviving in any quarter; because the bishop of
Constantinople does not possess catholic vigour, and is not very jealous
either for the mystery of man's salvation or for his own reputation:
whereas if he had any spiritual activity, he ought to have considered by
whom he was ordained, and whom he succeeded in such a way as to follows the
blessed Flavian rather than the instruments of his promotion. And,
therefore, when our most religious Princes deign in accordance with my
entreaties to reprimand our brother Anatolius on those matters, which
deservedly come under blame, join your diligence to theirs, beloved, that
all causes of offences may be removed by the application of the fullest
correction and he cease from injuring our son Aetius. For with a catholic-
minded bishop even though there was something which seemed calculated to
annoy in his archdeacon, it ought to have been passed over from regard for
the Faith, rather than that the most worthless heretic should take the
place of a catholic. And so when I have learnt the rest of the story, I
shall then more clearly gather what ought to be done. For, meanwhile, I
have thought better to restrain my vexation and to exercise patience that
there might be room for forgiveness.
III. He asks for further information about the rioting in Palestine and in
But with regard to the monks of Palestine, who are said this long time
to be in a state of mutiny, I know not by what spirit they are at present
moved. Nor has any one yet explained to me what reasons they seem to bring
forward for their discontent: whether for instance, they wish to serve the
Eutychian heresy by such madness, or whether they are irreconcilably vexed
that their bishop could have been misled into that blasphemy, whereby, in
spite of the very associations of the holy spots, from which issued
instruction for the whole world, he has alienated himself from the Truth of
the Lord's Incarnation, and in their opinion that cannot be venial in him
which in others had to be wiped out by absolution. And therefore I desire
lobe more fully informed about these things that proper means may he taken
for their correction; because it is one thing to arm oneself wickedly
against the Faith, and another thing to be immoderately disturbed on behalf
of it. You must know, too, that the documents which Aetius the presbyter
told me before had been dispatched, and the epitome of the Faith which you
say you have sent, have not yet arrived. Hence, if an opportunity offers
itself of a more expeditious messenger, I shall be glad for any information
that may seem expedient to be sent me as soon as possible. I am anxious to
know about the monks of Egypt(5), whether they have regained their
peacefulness and their faith, and about the church of Alexandria, what
trustworthy tidings reaches you: I wish you to know what I wrote to its
bishop or his ordainers, or the clergy, and have therefore sent you a copy
of the letter. You will learn also what I have said to our most clement
Prince and our most religious Empress from the copies sent.
IV. He asks for a Latin translation of the acts of Chalcedon.
I wish to know whether my letter(6) has been delivered to you, brother,
which I sent you by Basil the deacon, upon the Faith of the Lord's
Incarnation, while Flavian of holy memory was still alive; for I fancy you
have never made any comment on its contents. We have no very clear
information about the acts of the Synod, which were drawn up at the time of
the council at Chalcedon, on account of the difference of language(7). And
therefore i specially enjoin upon you, brother, that you have the whole
collected into one volume, accurately translated of course into Latin, that
we may not be in doubt on any portion of the proceedings, and that there
may be no manner of uncertainty after you have taken pains to bring it
fully within my understanding. Dated March 11th, in the consulship of the
illustrious Opilio (453).
LETTER CXIV: TO THE BISHOPS ASSEMBLED IN SYNOD AT CHALCEDON.
(In answer to their Letter (XCVIII.), approving of their acts in the
general so long as nothing is contrary to the canons of Nicaea.)
LETTER CXV: TO MARCIAN AUGUSTUS.
(Congratulating him upon the restoration of peace to the Church, and
the suppression of the riotous monks; giving his consent also, as a liege
subject of the Emperor's, to the acts of Chalcedon, and asking him to make
this known to the Synod.)
LETTER CXV: TO PULCHERIA AUGUSTA.
(Commending her pious zeal and informing her of Iris assent to the acts
LETTER CXVII: TO JULIAN, BISHOP OF COS.
Leo to Julian the bishop.
I. He wishes his assent to the Acts of Chalcedon to be widely known.
How watchfully and how devotedly you guard the catholic Faith, brother,
the tenor of your letter shows, and my anxiety is greatly relieved by the
information it contains; supplemented as it is by the most religious piety
of our religious Emperor, which is clearly shown to be prepared by the Lord
for the confirmation of the whole Church; so that, whilst Christian princes
act for the Faith with holy zeal, the priests of the Lord may confidently
pray for their realm.
What therefore our most clement Emperor deemed needful I have willingly
complied with, by sending letters to all the brethren who were present at
the Synod of Chalcedon, in which to show that I approved of what was
resolved upon by our holy brethren about the Rule of Faith; on their
account to wit, who in order to cloke their own treachery, pretend to
consider invalid or doubtful such conciliar ordinances as are not ratified
by my assent albeit, after the return of the brethren whom I had sent in my
stead, I dispatched a letter to the bishop of Constantinople; so that, if
he had been minded to publish it, abundant proof might have been furnished
thereby how gladly I approved of what the synod had passed concerning the
Faith. But, because it contained such an answer as would have run counter
to his self-seeking, he preferred my acceptance of the brethren's
resolutions to remain unknown, lest at the same time my reply should become
known on the absolute authority of the Nicene canons. Wherefore take heed,
beloved, that you warn our most gracious prince by frequent reminders that
he add his words to ours and order the letter of the Apostolic See to be
sent round to the priests of each single province, that hereafter no enemy
of the Truth may venture to excuse himself under cover of my silence.
II. He expresses his thanks for the zeal shown by the Emperor and the
And as to the edict of the most Christian Emperor, in which he has
shown what the ignorant folly of certain monks deserved and as to the reply
of the most gracious Augusta, in which she rebuked the heads of the
monasteries, I wish my great rejoicing to be known, being assured that this
fervour of faith is bestowed upon them by Divine inspiration, in order that
all men may acknowledge their superiority to rest not only on their royal
state but also on their priestly holiness: whom both now and formerly I
have asked to treat you with full confidence, being assured of their good
will, and that they will not refuse to give ear to necessary suggestions.
III. He wishes to know the effect of his letter to the Empress Eudocia.
And, because the most clement Emperor has been pleased to charge me
secretly by our son Paulus with the task of admonishing our daughter the
most clement Augusta Eudocia(8), I have done what he wished, in order that
from my letter she may learn how profitable it will be to her if she
espouses the cause of the catholic Faith, and have managed that she should
further be admonished by a letter from that most clement prince her son;
nothing doubting that she herself, too, will set to work with pious zeal to
bring the leaders of sedition to a knowledge of the consequences of their
action, and, if they understand not the utterances of those who teach them,
to make them at least afraid of the powers of those who will punish them.
And so what effect this care of ours produces, I with to know at once by a
letter from you, beloved, and whether their ignorant contumacy has at
length subsided: as to which if they think there is any doubt about our
teaching, let them at least not reject the writings of such holy priests as
Athanasius, Theophilus and Cyril of Alexandria, with whom our statement of
the Faith so completely harmonizes that any one who professes consent to
them disagrees in nothing with us. IV. Aetius must be content at present
with the Emperor's favour.
With our son Aetius(9) the presbyter we sympathize in his sorrow; and,
as one has been put into his place who had previously been judged worthy of
censure, there is no doubt that this change tends to the injury of
catholics. But these things must be borne patiently meanwhile, lest we
should be thought to exceed the measure of our usual moderation, and for
the present Aetius must be content with the encouragement of our most
clement prince's favour, to whom I have but lately so commended him by
letter that I doubt not his good repute has been increased in their most
V. Anatalius shows no contrition in his subsequent acts.
This too we would have you know, that bishop Anatolius after our
prohibition so persisted in his rash presumption as to call upon the
bishops of Illyricum to subscribe their names: this news was brought us by
the bishop who was sent by the bishop of Thessalonica(1) to announce his
consecration. We have declined to write to Anatolius about this, although
you might have expected us to do so, because we perceived he did not wish
to be reformed. I have made two versions of my letter to the Synod, one
with a copy of my letter to Anatolius subjoined, one without it; leaving it
to your judgment to deliver the one which you think ought to be given to
our most clement prince and to keep the other. Dated 21st March, in the
consulship of the illustrious Opilio (453).
LETTER CXVIII: TO THE SAME JULIAN, BISHOP OF COS.
(In which, after speaking of his own efforts for the Faith, he objects
to monks being permitted to preach, especially if heretically inclined, and
asks Julian to stir up the Emperor's zeal for the Faith.)
LETTER CXIX: TO MAXIMUS, BISHOP OF ANTIOCH, BY THE HAND OF MARIAN THE
PRESBYTER, AND OLYMPIUS THE DEACON.
Leo to Maximus of Antioch.
I. The Faith is the mean between the two extremes of Eutyches and
How much, beloved, you have at heart the most sacred unity of our
common Faith and the tranquil harmony of the Church's peace, the substance
of your letter shows, which was brought me by our sons, Marian the
presbyter and Olympius the deacon, and which was the more welcome to us
because thereby we can join as it were in conversation, and thus the grace
of GOD becomes more and more known and greater joy is felt through the
whole world over the revelation of catholic Truth. And yet we are sore
grieved at some who still (so your messengers indicate) love their
darkness; and though the brightness of day has arisen everywhere, even
still delight in the obscurity of their blindness, and abandoning the
Faith, remain Christians in only the empty name, without knowledge to
discern one error from another, and to distinguish the blasphemy of
Nestorius from the impiety of Eutyches. For no delusion of theirs can
appear excusable, because they contradict themselves in their perverseness.
For, though Eutyches' disciples abhor Nestorius, and the followers of
Nestorius anathematize Eutyches, yet in the judgment of catholics both
sides are condemned and both heresies alike are cut away from the body of
the Church: because neither falsehood can be in unison with us. Nor does it
matter in which direction of blasphemy they disagree with the truth of the
LORD's Incarnation, since their erroneous opinions hold neither with the
authority of the Gospel nor with the significance of the mystery(2).
II. Maximus is to keep the churches of the East free from these two
And therefore, beloved brother, you must with all your heart consider
over which church the LORD has set you to preside, and remember that system
of doctrine of which the chief of all the Apostles, the blessed Peter, laid
the foundation, not only by his uniform preaching throughout the world, but
especially by his teaching in the cities of Antioch and Rome: so that you
may understand that he demands of him who is set over the home of his own
renown those institutions which he handed down, as he received them from
the Truth Itself, which he confessed. And in the churches of the East, and
especially in those which the canons of the most holy Fathers at Nicaea(3)
assigned to the See of Antioch, you must not by any means allow
unscrupulous heretics to make assaults on the Gospel, and the dogmas of
either Nestorius or Eutyches to be maintained by any one. Since, as I have
said, the rock (petra) of the catholic Faith, from which the blessed
Apostle Peter took his name at the LORD'S hands, rejects every trace of
either heresy; for it openly and clearly anathematizes Nestorius for
separating the nature of the Word and of the flesh in the blessed Virgin's
conception, for dividing the one Christ into two, and for wishing to
distinguish between the person of the Godhead and the person of the
Manhood: because He is altogether one and the same who in His eternal Deity
was born of the Father without time, and in His true flesh was born of His
mother in time; and similarly it eschews Eutyches for ignoring the reality
of the human flesh in the LORD Jesus Christ, and asserting the
transformation of the Word Himself into flesh, so that His birth, nurture,
growth, suffering, death and burial, and resurrection on the third day, all
belonged to His Deity only, which put on not the reality but the semblance
of the form of a slave.
III. Antioch as the third See in Christendom is to retain her privileges.
And so it behoves you to use the utmost vigilance, lest these depraved
heretics dare to assert themselves; for you must resist them with all the
authority of priests, and frequently inform us by your reports what is
being done for the progress of the churches. For it is right that you
should share this responsibility with the Apostolic See, and realize that
the privileges of the third See in Christendom(4) give you every confidence
in action, privileges which no intrigues shall in any way impair: because
my respect for the Nicene canons is such that I never have allowed nor ever
will the institutions of the holy Fathers to be violated by any innovation.
For different sometimes as are the deserts of individual prelates, yet the
rights of their Sees are permanent: and although rivalry may perchance
cause some disturbance about them, yet it cannot impair their dignity.
Wherefore, brother, if ever you consider any action ought to be taken to
uphold the privileges of the church of Antioch, be sure to explain it in a
letter of your own, that we may be able to reply to your application
completely and appropriately.
IV. Anatolius' attempts to subvert the decisions of Nicaea are futile.
But at the present time let it be enough to make a general proclamation
on all points, that if in any synod any one makes any attempt upon or seems
to take occasion of wresting an advantage against the provisions of the
Nicene canons, he can inflict no discredit upon their inviolable decrees:
and it will be easier for the compacts of any conspiracy to be broken
through than for the regulations of the aforesaid canons to be in any
particular invalidated. For intrigue loses no opportunity of stealing an
advantage, and whenever the course of things brings about a general
assembly of priests, it is difficult for the greediness of the unscrupulous
not to try to gain some unfair point: just as in the Synod of Ephesus which
overthrew the blasphemous Nestorius with his dogma, bishop Juvenal believed
that he was capable of holding the presidency of the province of Palestine,
and ventured to rally the insubordinate by a lying letter(5). At which
Cyril of blessed memory, bishop of Alexandria, being properly dismayed,
pointed out in his letter to me(6) to what audacity the other's cupidity
had led him: and with anxious entreaty begged me hard that no assent should
be given his unlawful attempts. For be it known to you that we found the
original document of Cyril's letter which was sought for in our book- case,
and of which you sent us copies. On this, however, my judgment lays
especial stress that, although a majority of priests through the wiliness
of some came to a decision which is found opposed to those constitutions of
the 318 fathers, it must be considered void on principles of justice: since
the peace of the whole Church cannot otherwise be preserved, except due
respect be invariably shown to the canons.
V. If Leo's legates in any way exceeded their instructions, they did so
Of course, if anything is alleged to have been done by those brethren
whom I sent in my stead to the holy Synod, beyond that which was germane to
the Faith, it shall he of no weight at all: because they were sent by the
Apostolic See only for the purpose of extirpating heresy and upholding the
catholic Faith. For whatever is laid before bishops for inquiry beyond the
particular subjects which come before synodal councils may admit of a
certain amount of free discussion, if the holy Fathers have laid down
nothing thereon at Nicaea. For anything that is not in agreement with their
rules and constitutions can never obtain the assent of the Apostolic See.
But how great must be the diligence with which this rule is kept, you will
gather from the copies of the letter which we sent to the bishop of
Constantinople, restraining his cupidity; and you shall take order that it
reach the knowledge of all our brethren and fellow- priests.
VI. No one but priests are allowed to preach.
This too it behaves you, beloved, to guard against, that no one except
those who are the LORD'S priests dare to claim the right of teaching or
preaching, be he monk or layman(7), who boasts himself of some knowledge.
Because although it is desirable that all the Church's sons should
understand the things which are right and sound, yet it is permitted to
none outside the priestly rank to assume the office of preacher, since in
the Church of GOD all things ought to be orderly, that in Christ's one body
the more excellent members should fulfil their own duties, and the lower
not resist the higher. Dated the 11th of June, in the consulship of the
illustrious Opilio (453).
LETTER CXX: TO THEODORET, BISHOP OF CYRUS, ON PERSEVERANCE IN THE FAITH.
Leo, the bishop, to his beloved brother Theodoret, the bishop.
I. He congratulates Theodoret on their joint victory, and expresses his
approval of an hottest inquiry which leads to good results.
On the return of our brothers and fellow-priests, whom the See of the
blessed Peter sent to the holy council, we ascertained, beloved, the
victory you and we together had won by assistance from on high over the
blasphemy of Nestorius, as well as over the madness of Eutyches. Wherefore
we make our boast in the LORD, singing with the prophet: "our help is in
the name of the LORD, who hath made heaven and earth(8):" who has suffered
us to sustain no harm in the person of our brethren, but has corroborated
by the irrevocable assent of the whole brotherhood what He had already laid
down through our ministry: to show that, what had been first formulated by
the foremost See of Christendom, and then received by the judgment of the
whole Christian world, had truly proceeded from Himself: that in this, too,
the members may be at one with the Head. And herein our cause for rejoicing
grows greater when we see that the more fiercely the foe assailed Christ's
servants, the more did he afflict himself. For lest the assent of other
Sees to that which the LORD of all has appointed to take precedence of the
rest might seem mere complaisance, or lest any other evil suspicion might
creep in, some were found to dispute our decisions before they were finally
accepted(9). And while some, instigated by the author of the disagreement,
rush forward into a warfare of contradictions, a greater good results
through his fall under the guiding hand of the Author of all goodness. For
the gifts of GOD's grace are sweeter to us when they are gained with mighty
efforts: and uninterrupted peace is wont to seem a lesser good than one
that is restored by labours. Moreover, the Truth itself shines more
brightly, and is more bravely maintained when what the Faith had already
taught is afterwards confirmed by further inquiry. And still further, the
good name of the priestly office gains much in lustre where the authority
of the highest is preserved without it being thought that the liberty of
the lower ranks has been at all infringed. And the result of a discussion
contributes to the greater glory of GOD when the debaters exert themselves
with confidence in overcoming the gainsayers: that what of itself is shown
wrong may not seem to be passed over in prejudicial silence.
II. Christ's victory has won back many to the Faith.
Exult therefore, beloved brother, yes, exult triumphantly in the only-
begotten Son of GOD. Through us He has conquered for Himself the reality of
Whose flesh was denied. Through us and for us He has conquered, in whose
cause we have conquered. This happy day ranks next to the LORD'S Advent for
the world. The robber is laid low, and there is restored to our age the
mystery of the Divine Incarnation which the enemy of mankind was obscuring
with his chicaneries, because the facts would not let him actually destroy
it. Nay, the immortal mystery had perished from the hearts of unbelievers,
because so great salvation is of no avail to unbelievers, as the Very Truth
said to His disciples: "he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved;
but he that believeth not shall be condemned(1)." The rays of the Sun of
Righteousness which were obscured throughout the East by the clouds of
Nestorius and Eutyches, have shone out brightly from the West, where it has
reached its zenith in the Apostles and teachers of the Church. And yet not
even in the East is it to be believed that it was ever eclipsed where noble
confessors(2) have been found among your ranks: so that, when the old enemy
was trying afresh, through the impenitent heart of a modern Pharaoh(3), to
blot out the seed of faithful Abraham and the sons of promise, he grew
weary, through GOD's mercy, and could harm no one save himself. And in
regard to him the Almighty has worked this wonder also, in that He has not
overwhelmed with the founder of the tyranny those who were associated with
him in the slaughter of the people of Israel, but has gathered them into
His own people; and as the Source of all mercy knew to be worthy of Himself
and possible for Himself alone, He has made them conquerors with us who
were conquered by us. For whilst the spirit of falsehood is the only true
enemy of the human race, it is undoubted that all whom the Truth has won
over to His side share in His triumph over that enemy. Assuredly it now is
clear how divinely authorized are these words of our Redeemer, which are so
applicable to the enemies of the Faith that one may not doubt they were
said of them: "You," He says, "are of your father the devil, and the lusts
of your father it is your will to fulfil. He was a murderer from the
beginning and stood not in the truth, because the truth is not in him. When
he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar and the father
III. Dioscorus, who in his madness has attacked even the bishop of Rome,
has shown himself the instrument of Satan.
It is not to be wondered, then, that they who have accepted a delusion
as to our nature in the true GOD agree with their father on these points
also, maintaining that what was seen, heard, and in fact, by the witness of
the gospel, touched and handled in the only Son of GOD, belonged not to
that to which it was proved to belong(5), but to an essence co-eternal and
consubstantial with the Father: as if the nature of the Godhead could have
been pierced on the Cross, as if the Unchangeable could grow from infancy
to manhood, or the eternal Wisdom could progress in wisdom, or GOD, who is
a Spirit, could thereafter be filled with the Spirit. In this, too, their
sheer madness betrayed its origin, because, as far as it could, it
attempted to injure everybody. For he, who afflicted you with his
persecutions, led others wrong by driving them to consent to his
wickedness. Yea, even us too, although he had wounded us in each one of the
brethren (for they are our members), even us he did not exempt from special
vexation in attempting to inflict an injury upon his Head with strange and
unheard of and incredible effrontery(6). But would that he had recovered
his senses even after all these enormities, and had not saddened us by his
death and eternal damnation. There was no measure of wickedness that he did
not reach: it was not enough for him that, sparing neither living nor dead,
and forswearing truth and allying himself with falsehood, he imbrued his
hands, that had been already long polluted, in the blood of a guiltless,
catholic priest(7). And since it is written: "he that hateth his brother is
a murderer(8):" he has actually carried out what he was said already to
have done in hate, as if he had never heard of this nor of that which the
LORD says, "learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall
find rest unto your souls: for My yoke is easy and My burden is light(9)."
A worthy preacher of the devil's errors has been found in this Egyptian
plunderer, who, like the cruellest tyrant the Church has had, forced his
villainous blasphemies on the reverend brethren through the violence of
riotous mobs and the blood-stained hands of soldiers. And when our
Redeemer's voice assures us that the author of murder and of lying is one
and the same, He has carried out both equally: as if these things were
written not to be avoided but to be perpetrated: and thus does he apply to
the completion of his destruction the salutary warnings of the Son of GOD,
and turns a deaf ear to what the same LORD has said, "I speak that which I
have seen with My Father; and ye do that which ye have seen with your
IV. Those who undertake to speak authoritatively an doctrine, must preserve
the balance between the extremes.
Accordingly while he strove to cut short Flavian of blessed memory's
life in the present world, he has deprived himself of the light of true
life. While he tried to drive you out of your churches, he has cut off
himself from fellowship with Christians. While he drags and drives many
into agreement with error, he has stabbed his own soul with many a wound, a
solitary convicted offender beyond all, and through all and for all, for he
was the cause of all men's being accused. But, although, brother, you who
are nurtured on solid food, have little need of such reminders yet that we
may fulfil what belongs to our position according to that utterance of the
Apostle who says, "Besides these things that are without, that which
presseth on me daily, anxiety for all the churches. Who is weakened and I
am not weak? Who is made to stumble and I burn not(2)?" we believe this
admonition ought to be given especially on the present occasion, that
whenever by the ministration of the Divine grace we either overwhelm or
cleanse those who are without, in the pool of doctrine, we go not away in
aught from those rules of Faith which the Godhead of the Holy Ghost brought
forward at the Council of Choicedon, and weigh our words with every caution
so as to avoid the two extremes of new false doctrine(3): not any longer
(GOD forbid it) as if debating what is doubtful, but with full authority
laying clown conclusions already arrived at; for in the letter which we
issued from the Apostolic See, and which has been ratified by the assent of
the entire holy Synod, we know that so many divinely authorised witnesses
are brought together, that no one can entertain any further doubt, except
one who prefers to enwrap himself in the clouds of error, and the
proceedings of the Synod whether those in which we read the formulating of
the definition of Faith, or those in which the aforesaid letter of the
Apostolic See was zealously supported by you, brother, and especially the
address of the whole Council to our most religious Princes, are
corroborated by the testimonies of so many fathers in the past that they
must persuade any one, however unwise and stubborn his heart, so long as he
be not already joined with the devil in damnation for his wickedness.
V. Theodoret's orthodoxy has been happily and thoroughly vindicated.
Wherefore this, too, it is our duty to provide against the Church's
enemies, that, as far as in us lies, we leave them no occasion for
slandering us, nor yet, in acting against the Nestorians or Eutychians,
ever seem to have retreated before the other side, but that we shun and
condemn both the enemies of Christ in equal measure, so that whenever the
interests of the hearers in any way require it, we may with all promptitude
and clearness strike down them and their doctrines with the anathema that
they deserve, lest if we seem to do this doubtfully or tardily, we be
thought to act against our will(4). And although the facts themselves are
sufficient to remind your wisdom of this, yet now actual experience has
brought the lesson home. But blessed be our GOD, whose invincible Truth has
shown you free from all taint of heresy in the judgment of the Apostolic
See(5). To whom you will repay due thanks for all these labours, if you
keep yourself such a defender of the universal Church as we have proved and
do still prove you. For that GOD has dispelled all calumnious fallacies, we
attribute to the blessed Peter's wondrous care of us all, for after
sanctioning the judgment of his See in defining the Faith, he allowed no
sinister imputation to rest on any of you, who have laboured with us for
the catholic Faith: because the Holy Spirit adjudged that no one could fail
to come out conqueror of those whose Faith had now conquered.
VI. He asks Theodoret for his continued cooperation, and refers him to a
letter which he has written to the bishop of Antioch.
It remains that we exhort you to continue your co-operation with the
Apostolic See, because we have learnt that some remnants of the Eutychian
and Nestorian error still linger amongst you. For the victory which Christ
our LORD has vouchsafed to His Church, although it increases our
confidence, does not yet entirely destroy our anxiety, nor is it granted us
to sleep but to work on more calmly. Hence it is we wish to be assisted in
this too by your watchful care, that you hasten to inform the Apostolic See
by your periodic reports what progress the LORD's teaching makes in those
regions; to the end that we may assist the priests of that district in
whatever way experience suggests.
On those matters which were mooted in the often-quoted council, in
unlawful opposition to the venerable canons of Nicaea, we have written to
our brother and fellow-bishop. the occupant of the See of Antioch(6),
adding that too which you had given us verbal information about by your
delegates with reference to the unscrupulousness of certain monks, and
laying down strict injunctions that no one, be he monk(7) or layman, that
boasts himself of some knowledge, should presume to preach except the
LORD'S priests. That letter, however, we wish to reach all men's knowledge
for the benefit of the universal Church through our aforesaid brother and
fellow-bishop Maximus; and for that reason we have not thought fit to add a
copy of it to this; because we have no doubt of the due carrying out of our
injunctions to our aforesaid brother and fellow-bishop. (In another hand.)
GOD keep thee safe, beloved brother. Dated 11 June in the consulship of the
illustrious Opilio (453).
LETTERS CXXI. AND CXXII: THE FORMER TO MARCIAN AUGUSTUS, AND THE OTHER TO
JULIAN THE BISHOP.
Asking him for further inquiries and information about the proper date
for Easter in 455; cf. Letter LXXXVIII. chap. 4, above.
LETTER CXXIII: TO EUDOCIA AUGUSTA(8), ABOUT THE MONKS OF PALESTINE(9).
Leo, the bishop, to Eudocia Augusta.
I. A request that she should use her influence with the monks of Palestine
in reducing them to order.
I do not doubt that your piety is aware how great is my devotion to the
catholic Faith, and with what care I am bound, GOD helping me, to guard
against the Gospel of truth being withstood at any time by ignorant or
disloyal men. And, therefore, after expressing to you my dutiful greetings
which your clemency is ever bound to receive at my hands, I entreat the
LORD to gladden me with the news of your safety, and to bring aid evermore
and more by your means to the maintenance of that article of the Faith over
which the minds of certain monks within the province of Palestine have been
much disturbed; so that to the best of your pious zeal all confidence in
such heretical perversity may be destroyed. For what but sheer destruction
was to be feared by men who were not moved either by the principles of
GOD's mysteries(1), or by the authority of the Scriptures, or by the
evidence of the sacred places themselves(2). May it advantage then the
Churches, as by GOD'S favour it does advantage them, and may it advantage
the human race itself which the Word of GOD adopted at the Incarnation,
that you have conceived the wish to take up your abode in that country(3)
where the proofs of His wondrous acts and the signs of His sufferings speak
to you of our Loan Jesus Christ as not only true GOD but also true Man.
II. They are to be told that the catholic Faith rejects both the Eutychian
and the Nestorian extremes. He wishes to be informed how far she succeeds.
If then the aforesaid revere and love the name of "catholic," and wish
to be numbered among the members of the LORD'S body, let them reject the
crooked errors which in their rashness they have committed, and let them
show penitence(4) for their wicked blasphemies and deeds of bloodshed(5).
For the salvation of their souls let them yield to the synodal decrees
which have been confirmed in the city of Choicedon. And because nothing but
true faith and quiet humility attains to the understanding of the mystery
of man's salvation, let them believe what they read in the Gospel, what
they confess in the Creed, and not mix themselves up with unsound
doctrines. For as the catholic Faith condemns Nestorius, who dared to
maintain two persons in our one LORD Jesus Christ, so does it also condemn
Eutyches and Dioscorus(6) who deny that the true human flesh was assumed in
the Virgin Mother's womb by the only-begotten Word of GOD.
If your exhortations have any success in convincing these persons,
which will win for you eternal glory, I beseech your clemency to inform me
of it by letter; that I may have the joy of knowing that you have reaped
the fruit of your good work, and that they through the LORD'S mercy have
not perished. Dated the 15th of June, in the consulship of the illustrious
LETTER CXXIV: TO THE MONKS OF PALESTINE.
Leo, the bishop, to the whole body of monks settled throughout
I. They have possibly been misled by a wrong translation of his letter on
the Incarnation to Flavian.
The anxious care, which I owe to the whole Church and to all its sons,
has ascertained from many sources that some offence has been given to your
minds, beloved, through my interpreters(7), who being either ignorant, as
it appears, or malicious, have made you take some of my statements in a
different sense to what I meant, not being capable of turning the Latin
into Greek with proper accuracy, although in the explanation of subtle and
difficult matters, one who undertakes to discuss them can scarcely satisfy
himself even in his own tongue. And yet this has so far been of advantage
to me, that by your disapproving of what the catholic Faith rejects, we
know you are greater friends to the true than to the false: and that you
quite properly refuse to believe what I myself also abhor, in accordance
with ancient doctrine(8). For although my letter addressed to bishop
Flavian, of holy memory, is of itself sufficiently explicit, and stands in
no need either of correction or explanation, yet other of my writings
harmonize with that letter, and in them my position will be found similarly
set forth. For necessity was laid upon me to argue against the heretics who
have thrown many of Christ's peoples into confusion, both before our most
merciful princes and the holy synodal Council, and the church of
Constantinople, and thus I have laid down what we ought to think and feel
on the Incarnation of the Word according to the teaching of the Gospel and
Apostles, and in nothing have I departed from the creed of the holy
Fathers: because the Faith is one, true, unique, catholic, and to it
nothing can be added, nothing taken away: though Nestorius first, and now
Eutyches, have endeavoured to assail it from an opposite standpoint, but
with similar disloyalty, and have tried to impose on the Church of GOD two
contradictory heresies, which has led to their both being deservedly
condemned by the disciples of the Truth; because the false view which they
both held in different ways was exceedingly mad and sacrilegious.
II. Eutyches, who confounds the persons, is as much to be rejected as
Nestorius, who separates them(9).
Nestorius, therefore, must be anathematized for believing the Blessed
Virgin Mary to be mother of His manhood only, whereby he made the person of
His flesh one thing, and that of His Godhead another, and did not recognize
the one Christ in the Word of GOD and in the flesh, but spoke of the Son of
GOD as separate and distinct from the son of man: although, without losing
that unchangeable essence which belongs to Him together with the Father and
the Holy Spirit from all eternity and without respect of time, the "Word
became flesh" within the Virgin's womb in such wise that by that one
conception and one parturition she was at the same time, in virtue of the
union of the two substances, both handmaid and mother of the LORD. This
Elizabeth also knew, as Luke the evangelist declares, when she said:
"Whence is this to me that the mother of my LORD should come to me(1)?" But
Eutyches also must be stricken with the same anathema, who, becoming
entangled in the treacherous errors of the old heretics, has chosen the
third dogma of Apollinaris(2): so that he denies the reality of his human
flesh and Soul, and maintains the whole of our LORD Jesus Christ to be of
one nature, as if the Godhead of the Word had turned itself into flesh and
soul: and as if to be conceived and born, to be nursed and grow, to be
crucified and die, to be buried and rise again, and to ascend into heaven
and to sit on the Father's right hand, from whence He shall come to judge
the living and the dead--as if all those things belonged to that essence
only which admits of none of them without the reality of the flesh: seeing
that the nature of the Only-begotten is the nature of the Father, the
nature of the Holy Spirit, and that the undivided unity and consubstantial
equality of the eternal Trinity is at once impassible and unchangeable. But
if(3) this heretic withdraws from the perverse views of Apollinaris, lest
he be proved to hold that the Godhead is passible(4) and mortal: and yet
dares to pronounce the nature of the Incarnate Word that is of the Word
made Flesh one, he undoubtedly crosses over into the mad view of
Manichaeus(5) and Marcion(6), and believes that the man Jesus Christ, the
mediator between GOD and men, did all things in an unreal way, and had not
a human body, but that a phantom-like apparition presented itself to the
III. The acknowledgment of our nature in Christ is necessary to orthodoxy.
As these iniquitous lies were once rejected by the catholic Faith, and
such men's blasphemies condemned by the unanimous votes of the blessed
Fathers throughout the world, whoever these are that are so blinded and
strange to the light of truth as to deny the presence of human, that is
our, nature in the Word of GOD from the time of the Incarnation, they must
show on what ground they claim the name of Christian, and in what way they
harmonize with the true Gospel, if the child-bearing of the blessed Virgin
produced either the flesh without the Godhead or the Godhead without the
flesh. For as it cannot be denied that "the Word became flesh and dwelt in
us(7)," so it cannot be denied that "GOD was in CHRIST, reconciling the
world to Himself(8)." But what reconciliation can there be, whereby GOD
might be propitiated for the human race, unless the mediator between GOD
and man took up the cause of all? And in what way could He properly fulfil
His mediation, unless He who in the form of GOD was equal to the Father,
were a sharer of our nature also in the form of a slave: so that the one
new Man might effect a renewal of the old: and the bond of death fastened
on us by one man's wrong-doing(9) might be loosened by the death of the one
Man who alone owed nothing to death. For the pouring out of the blood of
the righteous on behalf of the unrighteous was so powerful in its
effect(1), so rich a ransom that, if the whole body of us prisoners only
believed in their Redeemer, not one would be held in the tyrant's bonds:
since as the Apostle says, "where sin abounded, grace also did much more
abound(2)." And since we, who were born under the imputation(3) of sin,
have received the power of a new birth unto righteousness, the gift of
liberty has become stronger than the debt of slavery.
IV. They only benefit by the blood of Christ who truly share in His death
What hope then do they, who deny the reality of the human person in our
Saviour's body, leave for themselves in the efficacy of this mystery? Let
them say by what sacrifice they have been reconciled, by what blood-
shedding brought back. Who is He "who gave Himself for us an offering and a
victim to GOD for a sweet smell(4):" or what sacrifice was ever more
hallowed than that which the true High priest placed upon the altar of the
cross by the immolation of His own flesh? For although in the sight of the
LORD the death of many of His saints has been precious(5), yet no
innocent's death was the propitiation of the world. The righteous have
received, not given, crowns: and from the endurance of the faithful have
arisen examples of patience, not the gift of justification. For their
deaths affected themselves alone, and no one has paid off another's debt by
his own death(6): one alone among the sons of men, our Load Jesus Christ,
stands out as One in whom all are crucified, all dead, all buried, all
raised again. Of them He Himself said "when I am lifted from the earth, I
will draw all (things) unto Me(7)." True faith also, that justifies the
transgressors and makes them just, is drawn to Him who shared their human
natures and wins salvation in Him, in whom alone man finds himself not
guilty; and thus is free to glory in the power of Him who in the
humiliation of our flesh engaged in conflict with the haughty foe, and
shared His victory with those in whose body He had triumphed.
V. The actions of Christ's two natures must be kept distinct.
Although therefore in our one LORD Jesus Christ, the true Son of GOD
and man, the person of the Word and of the flesh is one, and both beings
have their actions in common(8): yet we must understand the character of
the acts themselves, and by the contemplation of sincere faith distinguish
those to which the humility of His weakness is brought from those to which
His sublime power is inclined: what it is that the flesh without the Word
or the Word without the flesh does not do. For instance, without the power
of the Word the Virgin would not have conceived nor brought forth: and
without the reality of the flesh His infancy would not have laid wrapt in
swaddling clothes. Without the power of the Word the Magi would not have
adored the Child that a new star had pointed out to them: and without the
reality of the flesh that Child would not have been ordered to be carried
away into Egypt and withdrawn from Herod's persecution. Without the power
of the Word the Father's voice uttered from the sky would not have said,
"This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased(9):" and without the
reality of the flesh John would not have been able to point to Him and say:
"Behold the Lamb of GOD, behold Him that beareth away the sins of the
world(1)." Without the power of the Word there would have been no restoring
of the sick to health, no raising of the dead to life: and without the
reality of the flesh He would not have hungered and needed food, nor grown
weary and needed rest. Lastly, without the power of the Word, the LORD
would not have professed Himself equal to the Father, and without the
reality of the flesh He would not also have said that the Father was
greater than He: for the catholic Faith upholds and defends both positions,
believing the only Son of GOD to be both Man and the Word according to the
distinctive properties of His divine and human substance.
VI. There is no confusion of the two natures in Christ(2).
Although therefore from that beginning whereby in the Virgin's womb
"the Word became flesh," no sort of division ever arose between the Divine
and the human substance, and through all the growth and changes of His
body, the actions were of one Person the whole time, yet we do not by any
mixing of them up confound those very acts which were done inseparably: and
from the character of the acts we perceive what belonged to either form.
For neither do His Divine acts affect(3) His human, nor His human acts His
Divine, since both concur in this way and to this very end that in their
operation His twofold qualities be not absorbed the one by the other, nor
His individuality doubled. Therefore let those Christian phantom-mongers(4)
tell us, what nature of the Saviour's it was that was fastened to the wood
of the Cross, that lay in the tomb, and that on the third day rose in the
flesh when the stone was rolled away from the grave: or what kind of body
Jesus presented to His disciples' eyes entering when the doors were shut
upon them: seeing that to drive away the beholders' disbelief, He required
them to inspect with their eyes and to handle with their hands the still
open prints of the nails and the flesh wound of His pierced side. But if in
spite of the truth being so clear, their persistence in heresy will not
abandon their position in the darkness, let them show whence they promise
themselves the hope of eternal life, which no one can attain to, save
through the mediator between GOD and man, the man Jesus Christ. For "there
is not another name given to men under heaven, in which they must be
saved(5)." Neither is there any ransoming of men from captivity, save in
His blood, "who gave Himself a ransom for all(6):" who, as the blessed
apostle proclaims, "when He was in the form of GOD, thought it not robbery
that He was equal with GOD; but emptied Himself, receiving the form of a
slaves Icing made in the likeness of men, and being found in fashion as a
man He humbled Himself, being made obedient even unto death, the death of
the cross. For which reason GOD also exalted Him, and gave Him a name which
is above every name: that in the name of Jesus every knee may bow of things
in heaven, of things on the earth, and of things under the earth, and that
every tongue may confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of GOD
VII. It was as being "in form of a slave," not as Son of God that He was
Although therefore the LORD Jesus Christ is one, and the true Godhead
and true Manhood in Him forms absolutely one and the same person, and the
entirety of this union cannot be separated by any division, yet the
exaltation wherewith "GOD exalted Him," and "gave Him a name which excels
every name," we understand to belong to that form which needed to be
enriched by this increase of glory(9). Of course "in the form of GOD" the
Son was equal to the Father, and between the Father and the Only-begotten
there was no distinction in point of essence, no diversity in point of
majesty: nor through the mystery(1) of the Incarnation had the Word been
deprived of anything which should be restored Him by the Father's gift. But
"the form of a slave" by which the impassible Godhead fulfilled a pledge of
mighty loving-kindness(2), is human weakness which was lifted up into the
glory of the divine power, the Godhead and the manhood being right from the
Virgin's conception so completely united that without the manhood the
divine acts, and without the Godhead the human acts were not performed. For
which reason as the LORD of majesty is said to have been crucified, so He
who from eternity is equal with GOD is said to have been exalted. Nor does
it matter by which substance Christ is spoken of, since the unity of His
person inseparably remaining He is at once both wholly Son of man according
to the flesh and wholly Son of GOD according to His Godhead, which is one
with the Father. Whatever therefore Christ received in time, He received in
virtue of His manhood, on which are conferred whatsoever it had not. For
according to the power of the Word, "all things that the Father hath" the
Son also hath indiscriminately, and what "in the form of a slave" He
received from the Father, He also Himself gave in the form of the Father.
He is in Himself at once both rich and poor; rich, because "in the
beginning was the Word, and the Word was with GOD, and GOD was the Word.
This was in the beginning with GOD. All things were made through Him, and
without Him was made nothing:" and poor because "the Word became flesh and
dwelt in us(3)." But what is that emptying of Himself, or that poverty
except the receiving of the form of a slave by which the majesty of the
Word was veiled, and the scheme for man's redemption carried out? For as
the original chains of our captivity could not be loosed, unless a man of
our race and of our nature appeared who was not under the prejudice of the
old debt, and who with his untainted blood might blot out the bond of
death(4), as it had from the beginning been divinely fore-ordained, so it
came to pass in the fulness of the appointed time that the promise which
had been proclaimed in many ways might reach its long expected fulfilment,
and that thus, what had been frequently announced by one testimony after
another, might have all doubtfulness removed.
VIII. A protest against their faithlessness and inconsistency in this
And so, as all these heresies have been destroyed, which through the
holy devotion of the presiding Fathers have been cut off from the body of
the catholic unity, and which deserved to be exiles from Christ, because
they have made the Incarnation of the Word, which is the one salvation of
those who believe aright, a stone of offence and a stumbling-block to
themselves, I am surprised that you, beloved, have any difficulty in
discerning the light of the Truth. And since it has been made clear by
numerous explanations that the Christian Faith was right in condemning both
Nestorius and Eutyches with Dioscorus, and that a man cannot be called a
Christian who gives his assent to the blasphemous opinion of either the one
or the other, I am grieved that you are, as I hear, doing despite to the
teaching of the Gospel and the Apostles by stirring up the various bodies
of citizens with seditions, by disturbing the churches, and by inflicting
not only insults, but even death, upon priests and bishops, so that you
lose sight of your resolves and profession s through your fury and cruelty.
Where is your rule of meekness and quietness? where is the long-suffering
of patience? where the tranquillity of peace? where the firm foundation of
love and courage of endurance? what evil persuasion has carried you off,
what persecution has separated you from the gospel of Christ? or what
strange craftiness of the Deceiver has shown itself that, forgetting the
prophets and apostles, forgetting the health-giving creed and confession
which you pronounced before many witnesses when you received the sacrament
of baptism you should give yourselves up to the the Devil's deceits? what
effect would "the Claws(6)" and other cruel tortures have had on you if the
empty comments of heretics have had so much weight in taking the purity of
your faith by storm? you think you are acting for the Faith and yet you go
against the Faith. You arm yourselves in the name of the Church and yet
fight against the Church. Is this what you have learnt from prophets,
evangelists, and apostles? to deny the true flesh of Christ, to subject the
,very essence of the Word to suffering and death, to make our nature
different from His who repaired it, and to reckon all that the cross
uplifted, that the spear pierced, that the stone on the tomb received and
gave back, to be only the work: of Divine power, and not also of human
humility? It is in reference to this humility that the Apostle says, "For I
do not blush for the Gospel(7)," inasmuch as he knew what a slur was cast
upon Christians by their enemies. And, therefore, the LORD also made
proclamation, saying: "he that shall confess Me before men him will I also
confess before My Father(8)." For these will not be worthy of the Son and
the Father's acknowledgment in whom the flesh of Christ awakens no respect:
and they will prove themselves to have gained no virtue from the sign of
the cross(9) who blush to avow with their lips what they have consented to
bear upon their brows.
IX. An exhortation to accept the catholic view of the Incarnation.
Give up, my sons, give up these suggestions of the devil. GOD's Truth
nothing can impair, but the Truth does not save us except in our flesh.
For, as the prophet says, "truth is sprung out of the earth(1)," and the
Virgin Mary conceived the Word in such wise that she ministered flesh of
her substance to be united to Him without the addition of a second person,
and without the disappearance of her nature: seeing that He who was in the
form of GOD took the form of a slave in such wise that Christ is one and
the same in both forms: GOD bending Himself to the-weak things of man, and
man rising up to the high things of the Godhead, as the Apostle says,
"whose are the fathers, and from whom, according to the flesh is Christ,
who is above all things GOD blessed for ever. Amen(2)."
LETTER CXXV: TO JULIAN, THE BISHOP, BY COUNT RODANUS.
(Asking him to write quickly, and not keep him in suspense.)
LETTER CXXVI: TO MARCIAN AUGUSTUS.
(Congratulating him on the restoration of peace in Palestine.)
LETTER CXXVII: TO JULIAN, BISHOP OF COS.
(About (1) affairs in Palestine, (2) a letter from Proterius, (3) the
date of Easter, (4) his reply to the Synod of Chalcedon, (5) the deposition
LETTER CXXVII: TO MARCIAN AUGUSTUS.
(Professing readiness to be reconciled to Anatolius if he will abide by
the canons and not infringe the prerogatives of others.)
LETTER CXXIX: TO PROTERIUS, BISHOP OF ALEXANDRIA.
Leo to Proterius, bishop of Alexandria.
I. He commends his persistent loyalty to the Faith.
Your letter, beloved, which our brother and fellow-bishop Nestorius
duly brought us, has caused me great joy. For it was seemly that such an
epistle should be sent by the head of the church of Alexandria to the
Apostolic See, as showed that the Egyptians had from the first learnt from
the teaching of the most blessed Apostle Peter through his blessed disciple
Mark(3), that which it is agreed the Romans have believed, that beside the
LORD Jesus Christ "there is no other name given to men under heaven, in
which they must be saved(4)." But because "all men have not faith(5)" and
the crafty Tempter never delights so much in wounding the hearts of men as
when he can poison their unwary minds with errors that are opposed to
Gospel Truth, we must strive by the mighty teaching of the Holy Ghost to
prevent Christian knowledge from being perverted by the devil's falsehoods.
And against this danger it behoves the rulers of the churches especially to
guard and to avert from the minds of simple folk lies which are coloured by
a certain show of truth(6). "For narrow and steep is the way which leads to
life(7)." And they seek to entrap men not so much by watching their actions
as by nice distinctions of meaning, corrupting the force of sentences by
some very slight addition or alteration, whereby sometimes a statement,
which made for salvation, by a subtle change is turned to destruction. But
since the Apostle says, "there must be heresies, that they which are
approved may be made manifest among you(8)," it tends to tile progress of
the whole Church, that, whenever wickedness reveals itself in setting forth
wrong opinions, the things which are harmful be not concealed, and that
what will inevitably end in ruin may not injure the innocence of others.
Wherefore they must put down. their blind wanderings and downfalls to
themselves, who with rash obstinacy prefer to glory: in their shame than to
accept the offered remedy. You do right, brother, to be displeased at their
stubbornness, and we commend. you for holding fast that teaching which has;
come down to us from the blessed Apostles and the holy Fathers.
II. Let him fortify the faithful by the public reading aloud of quotations
from the Fathers bearing on the question and of the Tome.
For there is no new preaching in the letter which I wrote in reply to
Flavian of holy memory, when be consulted me about the Incarnation of our
LORD Jesus Christ; for in nothing did I depart from that rule of Faith
which was outspokenly maintained by your ancestors and ours. And if
Dioscorus had been willing to follow and imitate them, he would have abided
in the Body of Christ, having in the works of Athanasius(9) of blessed
memory the materials for instruction, and in the discourses of
Theophilus(9) and Cyril(9) of holy remembrance the means rather of praise-
worthily opposing the already condemned dogma than of choosing to consort
with Eutyches in his blasphemy. This therefore, beloved brother, I advise
in my anxiety for our common Faith that, because the enemies of Christ's
cross lie in watch for all our words and syllables, we give them not the
slightest occasion for falsely asserting that we agree with the Nestorian
doctrine. And you must so diligently exhort the laity and clergy and all
the brotherhood to advance in the Faith as to show that you teach nothing
new but instil into all men's breasts those things, which the Fathers of
revered memory have with harmony of statement taught, and with which in all
things our epistle agrees. And this must be shown not only by your words
but also by the actually reading aloud of previous statements, that GOD's
people may know that what the Fathers received from their predecessors and
handed on to their descendants, is still instilled into them in the present
day. And to this end, when the statements of the aforesaid priests have
first been read, then lastly let my writings also be recited, that the ears
of the faithful may attest that we preach nothing else than what we
received from our forefathers. And because their understandings are but
little practised in discerning these things, let them at least learn from
the letters of the Fathers, how ancient this evil is, which is now
condemned by us in Nestorius as well as in Eutyches, who have both been
ashamed to preach the gospel of Christ according to the LORD'S own
III. The ancient precedents are to be maintained throughout.
Accordingly, both in the rule of Faith and in the observance of
discipline, let the standard of antiquity be maintained throughout, and do
thou, beloved, display the firmness of a prudent ruler, that the church of
Alexandria may get the benefit of my earnest resistance to the unprincipled
ambition of certain people in maintaining its ancient privileges, and of my
determination that all metropolitans should retain their dignity
undiminished, as you will ascertain from the tenor of my letters, which I
have addressed, whether to the holy Synod or to the most Christian Emperor,
or to the Bishop of Constantinople; for you will perceive that I have made
it my special care to allow no deviation from the rule of Faith in the
LORD-churches, nor any diminution of their privileges through any
individual's unscrupulousness. And as this is so, hold fast, brother, to
the custom of your predecessors, and keep due authority over your
comprovincial bishops, who by ancient constitution are subject to the See
of Alexandria; so that they resist not ecclesiastical usage, and refuse not
to meet together under your presidency, either at fixed times or when any
reasonable cause demands it: and that if anything has to be discussed in a
general meeting which will be to the benefit of the Church, when the
brethren have thus met together, they may unanimously come to some
resolution thereupon. For there is nothing which ought to recall them from
this obedience, seeing that both for faith and conduct we have such good
knowledge of you, brother, that we will not allow you to lose any of your
predecessor's authority, nor to be slighted with impunity. Dated March
10th, in the consulship of the illustrious Aetius and Studius (454).
LETTER CXXX: TO MARCIAN AUGUSTUS.
(Praising the orthodoxy of Proterius, advocating the public recital by
him of passages bearing on the present controversy from the writings of
Athanasius and others, and also of the Tome itself in a new Greek
LETTER CXXXI: TO JULIAN, BISHOP OF COS.
(Telling him he has received Proterius' letter, and asking for (1) a
new Greek translation of the Tome; (2) a report on the Easter difficulty of
the next year (455)).
LETTER CXXXII: FROM ANATOLIUS, BISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE, TO LEO.
(In which he complains of the intermission in their correspondence,
maintains his allegiance to Rome, announces the restitution of Aetius,
deprecates the charge of personal ambition, and remits the proceedings of
Chalcedon for his approval.)
LETTER CXXXIII: FROM PROTERIUS, BISHOP OF ALEXANDRIA, TO LEO.
(Upon the Easter difficulty of 455.)
LETTER CXXXIV: TO MARCIAN AUGUSTUS.
(Suggesting that Eutyches should be banished to a still remoter place,
where he cannot do so much harm by his false teaching.)
LETTER CXXXV: TO ANATOLIUS. (In answer to CXXXII.)
LETTER CXXXVI: TO MARCIAN AUGUSTUS.
(Simultaneously with CXXXV., on the subject of his reconciliation with
LETTER CXXXVII: TO THE SAME, AND ON THE SAME DAY,
(On the subject of Easter, acknowledging the trouble Proterius has
taken, -- to which is joined a request that the accounts of the aeconomi
(1) should be audited by priests, not lay persons.)
LETTER CXXXVIII: TO THE BISHOPS OF GAUL AND SPAIN. (On Easter.)
LETTER CXXXIX: To JUVENAL, BISHOP OF JERUSALEM.
Leo, bishop of the city of Rome, to Juvenal, bishop of Jerusalem.
I. He rejoices over Juvenal's return to orthodoxy, though chiding him far
having gone astray.
When I received your letter, beloved, which our sons Andrew the
presbyter and Peter the deacon brought me, I rejoiced indeed that you had
been allowed to return to the seat of your bishopric; but when all the
reasons came to my remembrance, which brought you into such excessive
troubles, I grieved to think you had been yourself the source of your
adversities by failing in persistency of opposition to the heretics: for
men can but think you were not bold enough to refute those with whom when
in error you professed yourself satisfied. For the condemnation of Flavian
of blessed memory, and the acceptance of the most unholy Eutyches, what was
it but the denial of our LORD Jesus Christ according to the flesh? which He
Himself of His great mercy caused to be overthrown, when by the authority
of the holy Council of Chalcedon He brought to nought that accursed
judgment of the Synod of Ephesus without debarring any of the attainted
from being healed by correction. And therefore, because in the tithe of
long-suffering, you have chosen return to wisdom rather than persistency in
folly, I rejoice that you have so sought the heavenly remedies as at last
to have become a defender of the Faith which is assailed by heretics. For,
though no priest ought to be ignorant of that which he preaches (2), yet
any Christian living at Jerusalem is more inexcusable than all the
ignorant, seeing that he is taught to understand the power of the Gospel,
not only by the written word but by the witness of the places themselves,
and what elsewhere may not be disbelieved, cannot there remain unseen. Why
is the understanding in difficulty, where the eyes are its instructors? And
why are things read or heard doubtful, where all the mysteries of man's
salvation obtrude themselves upon the sight and touch? As if to each
individual doubter the LORD still used His human voice and said, why are
"ye disturbed and why do thoughts arise into your hearts? see My hands and
My feet that it is I myself. Handle Me and see because (or that) a spirit
hath not bones and flesh, as ye see Me have (3)."
II. Let him be strengthened in his faith by the holy associations of life
place where he lives.
Make use, therefore, beloved brother, of these incontrovertible proofs
of the catholic Faith and support the preaching of the Evangelists by the
testimony of the holy places in which you live. In your country is
Bethlehem, in which the Light of Salvation sprang from the womb of the
Virgin of the house of David (4), whom wrapped in swaddling clothes the
manger of the crowded inn received. In your country was the Saviour's
infancy announced by angels, adored by magi, sought by Herod through the
death of many infants. In your country was it that His boyhood grew, His
youth ripened, and His true man's nature reached to perfect manhood by the
increase of the body, not without food for hunger, not without sleep for
rest, not without tears of pity, not without fear and dread: for He is one
and the same Person, who in the form of GOD wrought great miracles of
power, and in the form of a slave underwent the cruelty of the passion.
This the very cross unceasingly says to you: this the stone of the
sepulchre cries out, under which the LORD in human condition lay, and from
which by Divine power He rose. And when you approach the mount of Olivet,
to venerate the place of the Ascension, does not the angel's voice ring in
your ears, which says to those who were dumb-founded at the LORD'S
uplifting, "ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing into heaven? this Jesus,
Who was taken up from you into heaven, shall so come, as ye saw Him going
into heaven (5)."
III. The facts of the Gospel attest the Incarnation.
The true birth of Christ, therefore, is confirmed by the true cross;
since He is Himself born in our flesh, Who is crucified in our flesh,
which, as no sin entered into it., could not have been mortal, unless it
had been that of our race. But in order that He might restore life to all,
He undertook the cause of all and rendered void the force of the old bond,
by paying it for all, because He alone of us all did not owe it: that, as
by one man's guilt all had become sinners, so by one man's innocence all
might become innocent, righteousness being bestowed upon men by Him Who had
undertaken man's nature. For in no way is He outside our true bodily
nature, of Whom the Evangelist in beginning his story says, "the book of
the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham (6),''
with which the blessed Apostle Paul's teaching agrees, when he says "whose
are the fathers and of whom is Christ according to the flesh, Who is above
all GOD blessed for ever (7)," and so to Timothy "remember," he says, "that
Jesus Christ has risen from the dead, of the seed of David (8)."
IV. Those who are still in error must be thoroughly instructed in the
But how many are the authorities, both in the New and Old Testaments,
by which this truth is declared, as befits the antiquity of your See, you
clearly understand, seeing that the belief of the Fathers and my letter
written to Flavian, of holy memory, of which you yourself made mention,
confirmed, as they have been, by the universal synod, are sufficient for
you. And therefore it behoves you, beloved, to take heed that no one raise
a murmur against the unspeakable mystery of our Redemption and Hope. But if
there are any who are still in the darkness of ignorance or the discord of
perversity, let them be instructed by the authority of those whose doctrine
in GOD'S Church was apostolical and clear, that they may recognize that on
the Incarnation of GOD's Word we believe what they did, and may not by
their obstinacy place themselves outside the Body of Christ, in which we
died and rose with Him: because neither loyalty to the Faith nor the plan
of the mystery admits that either the Godhead should be possible in its own
essence. or the reality be falsified in His taking on Him of our flesh.
Dated 4th September, in the consulship of the illustrious Aetius and
LETTER CXL: TO JULIAN, BISHOP OF COS.
(Now that Dioscorus is dead, the peace of the Church will be more
LETTER CXLI: TO THE SAME.
(On several minor points of detail)
LETTER CXLII: TO MARCIAN AUGUSTUS.
(Inter alia thanking him for the trouble he has taken about the Easter
LETTER CXLIII: TO ANATOLIUS, BISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE.
(Briefly asking him to extirpate all remains of heresy.)
LETTER CXLIV: TO JULIAN, BISHOP OF COS. (Speaking of run, ours which have
reached him of disturbances at Alexandria, and begging of him to be on the
LETTER CXLV: TO LEO AUGUSTUS (9).
(Asking him to help the church of Alexandria in appointing a good
bishop in place of the murdered Proterius (1).)
LETTER CXLVI: TO ANATOLIUS, BISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE.
(Begging him to take precautions lest the change of Emperor should be
made the occasion for fresh outbreaks of heresy.)
LETTER CXLVII: TO JULIAN, BISHOP OF COS, AND AETIUS, THE PRESBYTER.
(Charging him to uphold the acts of Chalcedon, and to help in choosing
a good successor to Proterius.)
LETTER CXLVIII: TO LEO AUGUSTUS.
(Thanking him for assurances made that he would guard the interests of
LETTER CXLIX: TO BASIL, BISHOP OF ANTIOCH.
(Asking him to give no countenance to the demand for a new Synod.)
LETTER CL: TO EUXITHEUS, BISHOP OF THESSALONICA (AND OTHERS).
(To the same effect.)
LETTER CLI: TO ANATOLIUS, BISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE.
(He is to keep the church of Constantinople free from all heresy.)
LETTER CLII: To JULIAN, BISHOP OF COS.
(Charging him to see that the preceding letters reach their
LETTER CLIII: To AETIUS, PRESBYTER ,OF CONSTANTINOPLE.
(Asking him to assist in the distribution of these letters.)
LETTER CLIV: TO THE EGYPTIAN BISHOPS. (See Letter CLVIII.)
LETTER CLV: TO ANATOLIUS, BISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE.
(In which he incites him to watchfulness, and complains that certain of
the clergy in Constantinople are in collusion with the adversary.)
LETTER CLVI. TO LEO AUGUSTUS.
Leo, the bishop, to Leo Augustus.
1. There is no need to open the question of doctrine again now.
Your clemency's letter, which was full of vigorous faith and of the
light of truth, I have respectfully received, which I wish I could obey,
even in the matter of my personal attendance, which your Majesty thinks
necessary; for then I should gain the greater advantage from the sight of
your splendour. But I believe you will approve of my view when reason has
shown it preferable. For since with holy and spiritual zeal you
consistently maintain the Church's peace, and nothing is more conducive to
the defence of the Faith than to adhere to those things which have been
incontrovertibly defined under tile unceasing guidance of the Holy Spirit,
we shall seem (2) to be doing our best to upset the decrees, and at the
bidding of a heretic's petition to overthrow the authorities which the
universal Church has adopted, and thus to remove all limits from the
conflicts of Churches, and giving full rein to rebellion, to extend rather
than appease contentions. And hence because after the disgraceful scenes at
the synod of Ephesus, whereat through the wickedness of Dioscorus the
catholic Faith was rejected, and Eutyches' heresy accepted, nothing more
useful could be devised for the preservation of the Christian Faith than
that the holy Synod of Chalcedon should rescind his wicked acts, and that
such care should be bestowed thereat on heavenly doctrine, that nothing
should linger in any one's mind in disagreement with the utterances of
either the Prophets or the Apostles, such moderation of course being
observed that only the persistent rebels should be east off from the unity
of the Church, and no one who was penitent should be denied pardon, what
more in accordance with men's expectations or with religion will your
Majesty be able to decree, than that no one henceforth be permitted to
attack what has been determined by decrees which are Divine rather than
human, lest they be truly worthy but to lose GOD's gift, who have dared to
doubt concerning His Truth?
II. The proposal to reconsider the question proceeds from antichrist or the
Since, therefore, the universal Church has become a rock (petra)
through the building up of that original Rock (3), and the first of the
Apostles, the most blessed Peter, heard the voice of the LORD saying, "Thou
art Peter, and upon this rock (petra) I will build My Church (4)," who is
there who dare assail such impregnable strength, unless he be either
antichrist or the devil, who, abiding unconverted in his wickedness, is
anxious to sow lies by the vessels of wrath which are suited to his
treachery, whilst under the false name of diligence he pretends to be in
search of the Truth. And his unrestrained madness and blind wickedness has
deservedly brought contempt and disrepute on himself, so that while he
rages against the holy church of Alexandria with diabolical purpose, men
may learn the character of those who desire to reconsider the Synod of
Chalcedon. For it cannot possibly have been that an opinion was there
expressed contrary to the holy Synod of Nicaea, as the heretics falsely
maintain, who pretend that they hold the faith of the Nicene Council, in
which our holy and venerable fathers, being assembled against Arius,
affirmed not that the LORD's Flesh, but that the Son's Godhead was
homoousion with the Father, whereas in the Council of Chalcedon against the
blasphemy of Eutyches, it was defined that the LORD Jesus Christ took the
reality of our body from the substance of the Virgin-mother.
III. All the bishops of Christendom agree with him in this.
Therefore in addressing our most Christian Emperor, who is worthy to be
classed among the champions of Christ, I use the freedom of the catholic
Faith and fearlessly exhort you to throw in your lot with Apostles and
Prophets; firmly to despise and reject those who have deprived themselves
of their Christian name, and not to let blasphemous parricides, who, it is
agreed, wish to annul the Faith, discuss that Faith under treacherous
pretexts. For since the LORD has enriched your clemency with such insight
into His mystery, you ought unhesitatingly to consider that the kingly
power has been conferred on you not for the governance of the world alone
but more especially for the guardianship of the Church: that by quelling
wicked attempts you may both defend that which has been rightly decreed,
and restore true peace where there has been disturbance, that is to say by
deposing usurpers (5) of the rights of others and reinstating the ancient
Faith in the See of Alexandria, that by your reforms GOD's wrath may be
appeased, and so He take not vengeance for their doings on a people
hitherto religious, but forgive them. Set before the eyes of your heart,
venerable Emperor, the fact that all the LORD'S priests which are in all
the world, are beseeching you on behalf of that Faith, wherein is
Redemption for the whole world. In which those maintainers of the Apostolic
Faith more particularly appeal to you who have presided over the Church of
Alexandria, entreating your Majesty not to allow heretics who have
rightfully been condemned for their perversity, to continue in their
usurpation (6); for, whether you look at the wickedness of their error or
consider the deed which their madness has perpetrated, not only are they
unable to be admitted to the dignity of the priesthood, but they even
deserve to be cut off from the name of Christian. For -- and I entreat your
Majesty's forgiveness for saying so -- they to some extent dim your own
splendour, most glorious Emperor, when such treacherous parricides dare to
ask for that which even the guiltless could not lawfully obtain.
IV. The difference between the two petitions which have been presented to
Petitions have been presented to your Majesty (7), copies of which you
subjoined to your letter. But in that which comes in deprecation from the
catholics, a list of signatures is contained: and because their case had
good reason in it, the names of individuals, and even their dignified rank
is confidently disclosed. But in that, which heretical intrusion has not
feared to offer to our orthodox Emperor under the vague sanction of a
motley body, all particular names are withheld for this reason, lest not
only the paucity of members but also their worth might be discovered. For
they think it expedient to conceal their number, though their quality is
indicated, and not improperly they are afraid to proclaim their position,
seeing that they deserve to be condemned. In the one document therefore is
contained the petition of catholics, in the other the fictions of heretics
are set forth. Here the overthrow of the LORD's priests, of the whole
Christian people, and of the monasteries is bemoaned: there is displayed
the continuance of gigantic wrongs, so that what ought never to have been
heard of (8) is allowed to be widely extended.
V. It is a great opportunity for the Emperor to show his faith.
Is it not clear which side you ought to support and which to oppose, if
the Church of Alexandria, which has always been the "house of prayer," is
not now to be "a den of robbers (8a)?" For surely it is manifest that
through the cruellest and maddest savagery all the light of the heavenly
mysteries is extinguished. The offering of the sacrifice is cut off, the
hallowing of the chrism has failed (9), and from the murderous hands of
wicked men all the mysteries have withdrawn themselves. Nor can there be
any manner of doubt what decree ought to be passed on these then, who after
unutterable acts of sacrilege, after shedding the blood of a most highly
reputed priest, and scattering the ashes of his burnt body to be the sport
of the winds of heaven, dare to demand for themselves the rights of a
usurped dignity and to arraign before councils the inviolable Faith of the
Apostolic teaching. Great, therefore, is the opportunity for you to add to
your diadem from the LORD'S hand the crown of faith also, and to triumph
over the Church's foes: for, if it be matter of praise to you to vanquish
the armies of opposing nations, how great will be the glory of freeing from
its mad tyrant the church of Alexandria, the affliction of which is an
injury to all Christians?
VI. He promises more detailed statements an the Faith subsequently, and
begs him to correct certain things in which Anatolius is remiss.
But in order that my correspondence may have the effect on your Majesty
of a mouth to mouth colloquy, I have seen that whatever suggestions I would
make about our common Faith, must be conveyed in subsequent communications
(1). And lest the pages of this epistle reach too great a length, I have
comprised in another letter what is agreeable to the maintenance of the
catholic Faith, in order that, though the published statements of the
Apostolic See were sufficient, yet these additional statements might also
break down the snares of the heretics. For your Majesty's priestly and
Apostolic mind ought to be still further kindled to righteous vengeance by
this pestilential evil, which mars the purity of the church of
Constantinople, in which are found certain clerics, who agree with the
interpretations of the heretics and within the very heart of the Church
assist them by their support (2). In removing whom if my brother Anatolius
is found remiss through too good-natured leniency, vouchsafe to show your
laith by administering this remedy also to the Church, that such men be
driven not only from the ranks of the clergy, but also from dwelling in the
city. I commend to you your Majesty's loyal subjects, bishop Julian and
presbyter Aetius, with a request that you will deign to listen quietly to
their suggestions in defence of the catholic Faith, because they are in
good truth men who may be found helpful to your faith in all things. Dated
the 1st of Dec. in the consulship of the illustrious Constantine and Rufus
LETTER CLVII: TO ANATOLIUS, BISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE.
(Urging him to active measures in certain specified matters.)
LETTER CLVIII (3): TO THE CATHOLIC BISHOPS OF EGYPT SOJOURNING IN
Leo to the catholic Egyptian bishops sojourning in Constantinople.
He encourages them in their sufferings for the Faith, and in their
entreaties for redress to the Emperor.
I have before now been so saddened by tidings of the crimes committed
in Alexandria, and my spirit has been so wounded by the atrocity of the
deed itself, that I know not what tears to show and what lamentation to
utter over it, and am fain to use the prophet's language, "who will give
waters to my head and a fountain of tears to my eyes (4)?" Yet anticipating
your complaint, beloved, I have entreated our most clement and Christian
Emperor for a remedy of these great evils, and by our sons and assistants
Gerontius and Olympius have at a different time demanded that he should
make haste to purge of a heresy already condemned the church of that city,
in which so many Catholic teachers have flourished, and not allow murderous
spirits whom no reverence for place or time s could deter from shedding
their ruler's blood, to gain anything from his clemency, more particularly
when they desire to reconsider the council of Chalcedon to the overthrow of
the Faith. Accordingly the same reason, beloved, which drove you from your
own Sees, ought to console you for your sufferings; for it, is certain that
afflicted souls, that suffer adversity for His name, are in no wise
deprived of the LORD'S protection. Bear it therefore bravely, and mindful
of that country which is yours, rejoice over your present sojourn in a
strange land. Abstain from grieving over your exile and indulge not in
sorrow for your present weariness, ye who know that the Apostle glories
even in his many perils on behalf of the LORD's Faith. You have One who
knows your conflicts and has prepared the rewards of recompense. Let no one
shrink from this labour, whose guerdon is to reign and 6 live for ever. Let
the feet of all who fight be fixed in the halls of Jerusalem; for in the
hope of that retribution they will have no cause to fear the camp nor the
onsets of the enemy. Victory is never hard nor triumph difficult over the
remnants of an abject foe who has been routed by the whole world alike,
especially over those whose ringleaders you see already prostrate. With
unceasing prayers, therefore (even as I also have not failed to do),
entreat the favour of the most Christian Emperor, who in GOD's mercy is
ready to hear: that in accordance with the letter I have sent (7), he may
strengthen the cause of the common Faith with that devotion of mind, which
we are well assured he possesses, and in his piety may remove all the
harmful charges which the madness of heretics has invented, and arrange for
your return, beloved, and so may cause each several province and all the
churches with their priests to rejoice in the unshaken peace of Christ.
Dated the 1st of Dec. in the consulship of Constantine and Rufus (457).
LETTER CLIX: TO NICAETAS, BISHOP OF AQUILEIA.
(Leo, the bishop, to Nicaetas, bishop of Aquileia, greeting.)
My son Adeodatus, deacon of our See, on returning to us has delivered
your request, beloved, to receive from us the authority of the Apostolic
See upon matters which seem indeed to be hard to decide, but which we must
make provision for with a view to the necessities of the times that the
wounds which have been inflicted by the attacks of the enemy may be healed
chiefly by the agency of religion.
II. About the women who married again when their husbands were taken
As then you say that through the disasters of war and through the
grievous inroads of the enemy families have in certain cases been so broken
up that the husbands have been carried off into captivity and their wives
remain forsaken, and these latter thinking their own husbands either dead
or never likely to be freed from their masters, have contracted another
marriage under stress of loneliness, and as, now that the state of things
has improved through the Lord's help, some of those who were thought to
have perished have returned, you seem, dear brother, naturally to be in
doubt what ought to be settled by us about women thus joined to other
husbands. But because we know it is written that "a woman is joined to a
man by God(8)," and again, we are aware of the precept that "what God hath
joined, man may not put asunder(9)," we are bound to hold that the compact
of the lawful marriage must be renewed, and after the removal of the evils
inflicted by the enemy, what each lawfully had must be restored to him; and
we must take every pains that each should recover what is his own.
III. Whether he is blameable who has taken the prisoner's wife?
But notwithstanding let him not be held blameable and treated as the
invader of another's right, who took the place of the husband, who was
thought no longer alive. For thus many things which belonged to those led
into captivity happened to pass into the possession of others, and yet it
is altogether fair that on their return their property should be restored.
And if this is duly observed in the case of slaves or of lands, or even of
houses and personal goods, how much more ought it to be done in the
restoration of wives, that what has been disturbed by the necessitities of
war may be restored by the remedy of peace?
IV. The wife must be restored to her first husband.
And, therefore, if husbands who have returned after a long captivity
still feel such affection for their wives as to desire them to return to
partnership(1), that, which necessity brought about, must be passed over
and judged blameless and the demands of fidelity satisfied.
V. Women must be excommunicated who refuse to return.
And if any women are so possessed by love of their later husbands as to
prefer to remain with them than to return to their lawful partners, they
are deservedly to be branded: so that they be even deprived of the Church's
communion; for in a pardonable matter they have chosen to taint themselves
with crime, showing that they have sought their own pleasure in their
incontinence, when a rightful restitution could have obtained their
forgiveness. Let them return then to their former state and make voluntary
reparation, nor let that which a condition of necessity extorted from them
be by any means turned into disgrace through evil desires; because, as
those women who refuse to return to their husbands are to be held unholy,
so they who return to an affection entered on with God's sanction are
deservedly to be praised.
VI. About captives, who were compelled to eat of sacrificial food.
Concerning those Christians who are asserted to have been polluted with
sacrificial food, while among those by whom they were taken prisoners, we
have thought it right to make this reply to your enquiry, dear brother,
that they be purged by a satisfactory penitence which is to be measured not
so much by the duration of the process as by the intensity of the feeling.
And whether their compliance was wrung from them by terror or hunger, there
need be no hesitation at acquitting them, since the food was taken from
fear or want, not from superstitious reverence.
VII. About those who in fear or by mistake were re-baptized
But as to those about whom you thought. beloved, we ought likewise to
be consulted who were either forced by fear or led by mistake to repeat
their baptism, and now understand that they acted contrary to the
ordinances of the catholic Faith, such moderation must be observed towards
them that they be received into full communion with us, but not without the
healing of penitence and the imposition of the bishop's hands, the length
of the penance (with due regard to moderation) being left to your judgment,
as you shall perceive the minds of the penitents to be disposed: in which
you must not forget to consider old age, illness, and other risks. For if a
man be in so dangerous a case that his life is despaired of, while he is
still under penance, he should receive the gracious aid of communion by the
priest's tender care.
VIII. About baptism by heretics.
For they who have received baptism from heretics, not having been
previously baptized, are to be confirmed by imposition of hands with only
the invocation of the Holy Ghost, because they have received the bare form
of baptism without the power of sanctification(2). And this regulation, as
you know; we require to be kept in all the churches, that the font once
entered may not be defiled by repetition, as the Lord says, "One Lord, one
faith, one baptism." And that washing may not be polluted by repetition,
but, as we have said, only the sanctification of the Holy Ghost invoked,
that what no one can receive from heretics may be obtained from catholic
priests. This letter of ours, which we have sent in reply to the inquiries
of the brotherhood you shall bring to the knowledge of all your brethren
and fellow-bishops of the province, that our authority, now that it is
given, may avail for the general observance. Dated 21st March, in the
consulship of Majorian Augustus (458).
LETTER CLX (See Letter CLVIII.)
LETTER CLXI: To The Presbyters, Deacons and Clergy of the Church of
(Exhorting them to remain stedfast in the Faith as fixed at Chalcedon,
and to have no dealings with Atticus and Andrew unless they recant.)
LETTER CLXII: To Leo Augustus.
By the hand of Philoxenus agens in rebus(2a) . Leo the Bishop to Leo
I. The decrees of Chalcedon and Nicaea are identical and final.
With much joy my mind exults in the Lord, and great is my cause for
thankfulness, now that I perceive your clemency's most excellent faith to
be in all things enlarged by the gifts of heavenly grace, and I experience
by increased diligence the devotion of a priestly mind in you. For in your
Majesty's communications! it is beyond doubt revealed what the Holy Spirit
is working through you for the good of the whole Church, and how greatly it
is to be desired by the prayers of all the faithful that your empire may be
everywhere extended with glory, seeing that besides your care for things
temporal you so perseveringly exercise a religious foresight in the service
of what is divine and eternal: to wit that the catholic Faith, which alone
gives life to and alone in hallows mankind, may abide in the one
confession, and the dissensions which spring from the variety of earthly
opinions may be driven away, most glorious Emperor, from that solid Rock,
on which the city of God is built. And these gifts of God will at last be
granted us from Him, if we be not found ungrateful for what has been
vouchsafed, and as though what we have gained were naught, we seek not
rather the very opposite. For to seek what has been discovered, to
reconsider what has been completed, and to demolish what has been defined,
what else is it but to return no thanks for things gained and to indulge
the unholy longings of deadly lust on the food of the forbidden tree? And
hence by deigning to show a more careful regard for the peace of the
universal Church, you manifestly recognize what is the design of the
heretics' mighty intrigues that a more careful discussion should take place
between the disciples of Eutyches and Dioscorus and the emissary of the
Apostolic See, as if nothing had already been defined, and that what with
the glad approval of the catholic priests of the whole world was determined
at the holy Synod of Chalcedon should be rendered invalid to the detriment
also of the most sacred Council of Nicaea. For what in our own days at
Chalcedon was determined concerning our Lord Jesus Christ's Incarnation,
was also so defined at Nicaea by that mystic number of Fathers 3, lest the
confession of catholics should believe that God's Only-begotten Son was in
aught unequal to the Father, or that when He was made Son of man He had not
the true nature of our flesh and soul.
II. The wicked designs of heretics must be stedfastly resisted.
Therefore we must abhor and persistently avoid what heretical deceit is
striving to obtain, nor must what has been well and fully defined be
brought again under discussion, lest we ourselves should seem at the will
of condemned men to have doubts concerning things which it is clear agree
throughout with the authority of Prophets, Evangelists, and Apostles. And
hence, if there are any who disagree with these heaven-inspired decisions,
let them be left to their own opinions and depart from the unity of the
Church with that perverse sect which they have chosen. For it can in no
wise be that men who dare to speak against divine mysteries are associated
in any communion with us. Let them pride themselves on the emptiness of
their talk and boast of the cleverness of their arguments against the
Faith: we are pleased to obey the Apostle's precepts, where he says, "See
that no one deceive you with philosophy and vain seductions of men(4)." For
according to the same Apostle, "if I build up those things which I
destroyed, I prove myself a transgressors(5)," and subject myself to those
conditions of punishment which not only the authority of Prince Marcian of
blessed memory, but I myself also by my consent have accepted. Because as
you have justly and truthfully maintained perfection admits of no increase
nor fulness of addition. And hence, since I know you, venerable Prince,
imbued as you are with the purest light of truth, waver in no part of the
Faith, but with just and perfect judgment distinguish right from wrong, and
separate what is to be embraced from what is to be rejected, I beseech you
not to think that my humility is to be blamed 'for want of confidence,
since my cautiousness is not only in the interests of the universal Church
but also for the furtherance of your own glory, that under your reign the
unscrupulousness of heretics may not seem to be advanced and the security
of catholics disturbed.
IlI. He promises to send envoys not to discuss with the Eutychians, but to
explain the Faith to the Emperor.
Although, therefore, I am very confident of the piety of your heart in
all things, and perceive that through the Spirit of Gov dwelling in you,
you are sufficiently instructed, nor can any error delude your faith, yet I
will endeavour to follow your bidding so far as to send certain of my
brothers to represent my person before you, and to set forth what the
Apostolic rule of Faith is, although, as I have said, it is well known to
you, in all things making it clear and certain that they are not in any way
to be reckoned among catholics, who do not accept the definitions of the
venerable Synod of Nicaea or the ordinances of the holy Council of
Chalcedon, inasmuch as it is evident the holy decrees of both proceed from
the Evangelical and Apostolical source, and whatever is not of Christ's
watering is like a snake-poisoned draught(6). Your Majesty should
understand beforehand, most venerable Emperor, that those whom I undertake
to send will come from the Apostolic See, not to fight with the enemies of
the Faith nor to strive against any, because of matters already settled as
it has pleased God both at Nicaea and at Chalcedon we dare not enter upon
any discussion, as if what so great an authority has fixed by the Holy
Spirit were doubtful or weak.
IV. The heretics must be formed to give up their usurpations and left to
the judgment of God.
But we do not refuse the assistance of our ministry for the instruction
of our little ones, who after being fed with milk desire to be satisfied
with more solid food: and as we do not scorn the simple folk, so we will
have no dealings with rebel heretics, remembering the Lord's command, who
says, "Give not that which is holy to the dogs, nor cast your pearls before
swine(7)." Surely it is altogether unworthy and unjust to admit to freedom
of discussion men whom the Holy Spirit describes in the words of the
prophet, "the sons of the stranger have lied unto rues(8)." For even though
they resist not the Gospel, yet they have shown themselves to be of those
of whom it is written "they profess that they know God but by their deeds
they deny Him(9)," while the blood of just Abel(1) still cries against
wicked Cain(1), who being rebuked by the Lord did not set quietly about his
repentance but burst forth into murder. Whose punishment we wish to be
reserved for the Lord's judgment in such a way that, unprincipled plunderer
and blood-thirsty murderer as he is, he may be thrown back upon himself and
relinquish what is ours. We pray you also not to suffer the lamentable
captivity of the holy church of Alexandria to be any further prolonged,
which by the help of your faith and Justice ought to be restored to its
liberty, that through all the cities of Egypt the dignity of the Fathers
and their priestly rights may be restored. Dated 21st of March in the
consulship of Leo and Majorian Augusti (458).
LETTER CLXIII: TO Anatolius, Bishop of Constantinople.
By Patritius the deacon.
(Glorying over the harshness of his former letter, to which Anatolius
had objected, but persisting that he is not satisfied with the explanation
Atticus had furnished of his orthodoxy.)
LETTER CLXIV(2): TO LEO AUGUSTUS.
Leo, the bishop, to Leo Augustus.
I. He sends envoys but de deprecates any fresh discussion of the Faith.
Rejoicing that it has been proved to me by many clear proofs with what
earnestness you consult the interests of the universal Church, I have not
delayed to obey your Majesty's commands on the first opportunity, by
despatching Domitian and Geminian my brothers and fellow-bishops, who in
furtherance of my earnest prayers, shall entreat you for the peaceful
acceptance of the gospel-teaching and obtain the liberty of the Faith in
which through the instruction of the Holy Spirit you yourself are so
conspicuously eminent, now that the enemies of Christ are driven far away,
who even if they had wished to conceal their madness, could not lie hid,
because the holy simplicity of the Lord's flock is very different from the
pretences of beasts who hide themselves in sheeps' clothing, nor can they
creep in by hypocrisy now that their exceeding madness has revealed them.
Recognize, therefore, august and venerable Emperor, how that you are called
by Divine providence to the guardianship of the whole world, and understand
what aid you owe to your Mother, the Church, who makes especial boast of
you. Disputes that are ended must not be allowed to rise with renewed
vigour against the triumphs of the Almighty's right hand, especially when
this can in no wise be allowed to heretics, whose attempts have long ago
been condemned and the labours of the faithful have a just claim to this
result, that all the fulness of the Church shall remain secure in the
completeness of her unity, and that nothing whatever of what has been well
laid down shall be reconsidered, because, after constitutions have been
legitimately framed under Divine guidance, to wish still to wrangle is the
sign not of a peace-making but of a rebellious spirit, as says the Apostle,
"for to strive with words is profitable for nothing, but for the subverting
of them that hear'."
II. In matters of Faith human rhetoric is out of place.
For if it be always free for human fancies to assert themselves in
dispute, there never will be wanting men who will dare to oppose the Truth,
and to put their trust in the glib utterances of this world's wisdom,
whereas the Christian Faith and wisdom knows from the teaching of our Lord
Jesus Christ Himself how strictly it ought to shun this most harmful
vanity. For when Christ was about to summon all nations to the illumination
of the Faith, He chose those who were to devote themselves to the preaching
of the Gospel not from among philosophers or orators, but took humble
fishermen as the instruments by which He would reveal Himself, lest the
heavenly teaching, which was of itself full of mighty power, should. seem
to need the aid of words. And hence the Apostle protests and says, "For
Christ sent me not to baptize but to preach the Gospel, not in wisdom of
words lest the cross of Christ should be made void; for the word of the
cross is to them indeed that perish foolishness, but to those which are
being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the
wisdom of the wise and the prudence of the prudent will I reject. Where is
the wise? where is the scribe? where is the inquirer of this age? has not
God made foolish the wisdom of this world(3)?" For rhetorical arguments and
clever debates of man's device make their chief boast in this, that in
doubtful matters which are obscured by the variety of opinions they can
induce their hearers to accept that view which each has chosen for his own
genius and eloquence to bring forward; and thus it happens that what is
maintained with the greatest eloquence is reckoned the truest. But Christ's
Gospel needs not this art; for in it the true teaching stands revealed by
its own light: nor is there any seeking for that which shall please the
ear, when to know Who is the Teacher is sufficient for true faith.
III. Eutyches' dogma is condemned by the testimony of Scripture and cannot
further be entertained.
But nothing severs those who are deceived by their own inventions, from
the light of the Gospel so much as their not thinking that the Lord's
Incarnation appertains in a true sense to man's, that is, our, nature: as
if it were unworthy of God's glory that the majesty of the impossible Word
should have taken the reality of human flesh, whereas men's salvation could
not otherwise have been restored had not He Who is in the form of God
deigned also to take the form of a slave. And hence since the holy Synod of
Chalcedon, which was attended by all the provinces of the Roman world and
obtained universal acceptance for its decisions, and is in complete harmony
therein with the most sacred council of Nicaea, has cut off all the wicked
followers of the Eutychian dogma from the body of the catholic communion,
how shall any of the lapsed regain the peace of the church, without purging
himself by a full course of penitence? For what licence can be granted them
for discussing, when they have deserved to be condemned by a just and holy
judgment, so that they might most truly fall under that sentence of the
blessed Apostle, wherewith at the very outset of the infant Church he
overthrew the enemies of Christ's cross, saying: "every spirit which
confesses Jesus Christ to have come in the flesh is of God, and every
spirit which dissolves Jesus is not of God, but this is antichrist 4." And
this pre-existent teaching of the Holy Ghost we must faithfully and
stedfastly make use of, lest, by admitting the discussions of such men the
authority of the divinely inspired decrees be diminished, when in all parts
of your kingdom and in all borders of the earth that Faith which was
confirmed at Chalcedon is being established on the surest basis of peace,
nor is any one worthy of the name of Christian who cuts himself off from
communion with us. Of whom the Apostle says, "a man that is heretical after
a first and a second admonition, avoid, knowing that such a one is perverse
and condemned by his own judgment(4a)."
IV. If the Divine mercy is to be exercised, the heretics must cease
entirely from the error of their ways.
What therefore the unholy parricide has perpetrated by seizing on the
holy Church and cruelly murdering its very ruler, cannot be expiated by
man's forgiveness, unless He Who alone can rightly punish such things, and
alone can of His unspeakable mercy remit them, be propitiated. But though
we are not anxious for vengeance, we cannot in any way be allied with the
devil's servants. Yet if we learn they are quitting the ranks of heresy,
repenting, them of their error and turning from the weapons of discord to
the lamentations of sorrow, we also can intercede for them, lest they
perish for ever, thus following the example of the Lord's loving-kindness,
who, when nailed to the wood of the cross prayed for His persecutors,
"Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do s." And that
Christian love may do this profitably for its enemies, wicked heretics must
cease to harass God's ever religious and ever devout Church; they must not
dare to disturb the souls of the simple by their falsehoods, to the end
that, where in all former times the purest faith has flourished, the
teaching of the Gospel and of the Apostles may now also have free course;
because we also imitating, so far as we can, the Divine mercy desire no one
to be punished by justice, but all to be released by mercy.
V. Let him restore the refugee clergy and laity and utterly reject those
who persist in heresy.
I entreat your clemency, listen to the suggestions of my brethren
already mentioned, whom, as I some time ago have said in a former
letters(5a), I have sent not to wrangle with the condemned, but merely to
intercede with you for the stability of the catholic Faith. And in
accordance with your faith in and regard for the Divine Majesty this
especially you should grant, that completely setting aside the contentions
of heretics you should deign to bestow a merciful attention on those who
have fallen upon such evil days, and, after restoring the liberty of the
church of Alexandria to its pristine state, should set up there a bishop
who, upholding the decrees of the Synod of Chalcedon and agreeing with the
ordinances of the Gospel, shall be able to restore peace among that greatly
disturbed people. Those bishops and clergy also whom the unholy parricide
has driven out of their churches, should be recalled at your Majesty's
command, all others also, whom a like maliciousness has banished from their
dwellings, being restored to their former estate, to the end that we may
have due cause fully and perfectly to rejoice in the grace of GOD and your
faith without any further noise of strife. For it any one is so forgetful
of the Christian hope and his own salvation as to venture by any dispute to
assail the Evangelical and Apostolical decrease of the holy Synod of
Chalcedon, thus overthrowing the most sacred Council of Nicaea also, him
with all heretics who have held blasphemous and abominable views on the
Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ we condemn by a like anathema and
equal curse, so that, without refusing the remedy of repentance to those
who make full and legitimate atonement, the sentence of the Synod, which is
based on truth, may rest upon those who still resist. Dated 17th of August,
in the consulship of Leo and Majorian Augusti (458). LETTER CLXV: To Leo
[This letter, which is sometimes called the Second Tome, contains the
detailed statement of the catholic doctrine of the Incarnation, which Leo
had promised the Emperor in Letter CLVI. It consists of(9) chapters, but,
as chaps. iii. to viii. and parts of ii. and ix. are almost identical in
language with Letter CXXIV. already given in full, I have not thought it
necessary to reproduce the letter here. At the end a long series of
quotations from Hilary, Ambrose and other Fathers bearing upon the doctrine
are also added, but these also are dispensed with in accordance with our
general practice, as we are now presenting Leo and no one else to the
LETTER CLXVI: To Neo, Bishop of Ravenna.
Leo, the bishop, to Neo, bishop of Ravenna, greeting.
I. Those, who being taken captives in infancy cannot remember or bring
witnesses of their baptism, must not be denied this sacrament.
We have indeed frequently, God's Spirit instructing us, steadied the
brethren's hearts, when they were tottering on the slippery places of
doubtful questions, by formulating an answer either out of the teaching of
the Holy Scriptures or from the rules of the Fathers: but lately in Synod a
new and hitherto unheard-of subject of debate ha@ arisen. For at the
instance of certain brethren we have discovered that some of the prisoners
of war, on their free return to their own homes, such to wit as went into
captivity at an age when they could have no sure knowledge of anything,
crave the healing waters of baptism, but in the ignorance of infancy cannot
remember whether they have received the mystery and rites of baptism, and
that therefore in this uncertainty of defective recollection their souls
are brought into jeopardy, so long as under a show of caution they are
denied a grace, which is withheld, because it is thought to have been
bestowed. And so, since certain brethren in a not unjustifiable fear have
hesitated to perform the rites of the Lord's mystery, at a synodal meeting,
as we have said, we have received a formal request for advice on this
matter, and in carefully discussing it, we have desired to weigh each
members opinion, and to handle it in so cautious a manner as to arrive with
certainty at the truth by making use of the knowledge of many. Consequently
the same things, which have come into our mind by the Divine inspiration,
have received the assent and confirmation of a large number of the
brethren. And so we are bound before all things to take heed test, while we
hold fast to a certain show of caution, we incur a loss of souls who are to
be regenerated. For who is so given over to suspicions as to decide that to
be true which without any evidence he suspects by mere guesswork? And so
wherever the man himself who is anxious for the new birth does not
recollect his baptism, and no one can Bear witness about him being unaware
of his consecration to God, there is no possibility for sin to creep In,
seeing that, so far as their knowledge goes, neither the bestower or
receiver of the consecration is guilty. We know indeed that an unpardonable
offence is committed, whenever in accordance with the institutions of
heretics which the holy Fathers have condemned, any one is forced twice to
enter the font, which is but once available for those who are to be reborn,
in opposition to the Apostle's teaching(5b), which speaks to us of One
Godhead in Trinity, one confession in Faith, one sacrament in Baptism. But
in this nothing similar is to be apprehended, since, what is not known to
have been done at all, cannot come under the charge of repetition. And so,
whenever such a case occurs, first sift it by careful investigation, and
spend a considerable time, unless his last end is near, in inquiring
whether there be absolutely no one who by his testimony can assist the
other's ignorance. And when it is established that the man who requires the
sacrament of baptism is prevented by a mere baseless suspicion, let him
come boldly to obtain the grace, of which he is conscious of no trace in
himself. Nor need we fear thus to open the door of salvation which has not
been shown to have been entered before.
II. Baptism by heretics must not be invalidated by second baptism.
But if it is established that a man has been baptized by heretics, on
him the mystery of regeneration must in no wise be repeated, but only that
conferred which was wanting before, so that he may obtain the power of the
Holy Ghost by the laying on of the Bishop's hands(6). This decision,
beloved brother, we wish to be brought to the knowledge of you all
generally, to the end that God's mercy may not be refused to those who
desire to be saved through undue timidity. Dated the 24th of Oct., in the
consulship of Ms Majorian Augustus (458).
To Rusticus, Bishop of Gallia Narbonensis, with the Replied His Questions
on Various Points.
Leo, the bishop, to Rusticus, bishop of Gallia Narbonensis.
1. He exhorts him to act with moderation towards two bishops who have
offended him. Your letter, brother. which Hermes your archdeacon(8)
brought, I have gladly received; the number of different matters it
contains makes it indeed lengthy, but not so tedious to me on a patient
perusal that any point should be passed over, amid the cares that press
upon me from all sides. And hence having grasped the gist of your
allegation and reviewed what took place at the inquiry of the bishops and
leading men(9), we gather that Sabinian and Leo, presbyters, lacked
confidence in your(1) action, and that they have no longer any just cause
for complaint, seeing that of their own accord they withdrew from the
discussion that had been begun. What form or what measure of justice you
ought to mete out to them I leave to your own discretion advising you,
however, with the exhortation of love that to the healing of the sick you
ought to apply spiritual medicine, and that remembering the Scripture which
says "be not over just(2)," you should act with mildness towards these who
in zeal for chastity seem to have exceeded the limits of vengeance, lest
the devil, who deceived the adulterers, should triumph over the avengers of
II. He expostulates with him for wishing to give up his office, which would
imply distrust of GOD's promises.
But I am surprised, beloved, that you are so disturbed by opposition in
consequence of offences, from whatever cause arising, as to say you would
rather be relieved of the labours of your bishopric, and live in quietness
and ease than continue in the office committed to you. But since the LORD
says, "blessed is he who shall persevere unto the end(3)," whence shall
come this blessed perseverance, except from the strength of patience? For
as the Apostle proclaims, "All who would live godly in Christ shall suffer
persecution(4)." And it is not only to be reckoned persecution, when sword
or fire or other active means are used against the Christian religion; for
the direst persecution is often inflicted by nonconformity of practice and
persistent disobedience and the barbs of ill-natured tongues: and since all
the members of the Church are always liable to these attacks, and no
portion of the faithful are free from temptation, so that a life neither of
ease nor of labour is devoid of danger, who shall guide the ship amidst the
waves of the sea. if the helmsman quit his post? Who shall guard the sheep
from the treachery of wolves, if the shepherd himself be not on the watch?
Who, in fine, shall resist the thieves and robbers. if love of quietude
draw away the watchman that is set to keep the outlook from the strictness
of his watch? One must abide, therefore, in the office committed to him and
in the task undertaken. Justice must be stedfastly upheld and mercy
lovingly extended. Not men, but their sins must be hated(5). The proud must
be rebuked, the weak must be borne with; and those sins which require
severer chastisement must be dealt with in the spirit not of vindictiveness
but of desire to heal. And if a fiercer storm of tribulation fall upon us,
let us not be terror-stricken as if we had to overcome the disaster in our
own strength, since both our Counsel and our Strength is Christ, and
through Him we can do all things, without Him nothing, Who, to confirm the
preachers of the Gospel and the ministers of the mysteries, says, "Lo, I am
with you all the days even to the consummation of the age(6)." And again He
says, "these things I have spoken unto you that in me ye may have peace. In
this world ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, because I have
overcome the worlds." The promises, which are as plain as they can be, we
ought not to let any causes of offence to weaken, lest we should seem
ungrateful to GOD for making us His chosen vessels, since His assistance is
powerful as His promises are true.
III. Many of the questions raised could be more easily settled in a
personal interview than on paper.
On those points of inquiry, beloved, which your archdeacon has brought
me separately written out, it would be easier to arrive at conclusions on
each point face to face, if you could grant us the advantage of your
presence. For since some questions seem to exceed the limits of ordinary
diligence, I perceive that they are better suited to conversation than to
writing: for as there are certain things which can in no wise be
controverted, so there are many things which require to be modified either
by considerations of age or by the necessities of the case; always provided
that we remember in things which are doubtful or obscure, that must be
followed which is found to be neither contrary to the commands of the
Gospel nor opposed to the decrees of the holy Fathers.
QUESTION I. Concerning a presbyter or deacon who falsely claims to be a
bishop, and those whom they have ordained,
REPLY. No consideration permits men to be reckoned among bishops who
have not been elected by the clergy, demanded by the laity, and consecrated
by the bishops of the province with the assent of the metropolitan(8). And
hence, since the question often arises concerning advancement unduly
obtained, who need doubt that that can in no wise be which is not shown to
have been conferred on them, And if any clerics have been ordained by such
false bishops in those churches which have bishops of their own, and their
ordination took place with the consent and approval of the proper bishops,
it may be held valid on condition that they continue in the same churches.
Otherwise it must be held void, not being connected with any place nor
resting on any authority.
QUESTION II. Concerning a presbyter or deacon, who an his crime being known
asks for public penance, whether it is to be granted hint by laying on of
REPLY. It is contrary to the custom of the Church that they who have
been dedicated to the dignity of the presbyterate or the rank of the
diaconate, should receive the remedy of penitence by laying on of hands for
any crime; which doubtless descends from the Apostles' tradition, according
to what is written," If a priest shall have sinned, who shall pray for
him(9)?" And hence such men when they have lapsed in order to obtain GOD's
mercy must seek private retirement, where their atonement may be profitable
as well as adequate.
QUESTION III. Concerning those who minister at the altar and have wives,
whether they may lawfully cohabit with them?
REPLY. The law of continence is the same for the ministers(1) of the
altar as for bishops and priests, who when they were laymen or readers,
could lawfully marry and have offspring. But when they reached to the said
ranks, what was before lawful ceased to be so. And hence, in order that
their wedlock may become spiritual instead of carnal, it behaves them not
to put away their wives but to "have them as though they had them not(2),"
whereby both the affection of their wives may be retained and the marriage
QUESTION IV. Concerning a presbyter or deacon who has given his unmarried
daughter in marriage to a man who already had a woman joined to him, by
whom he had also had children.
REPLY. Not every woman that is joined to a man is his wife, even as
every son is not his father's heir. But the marriage bond is legitimate
between the freeborn and between equals: this was laid down by the LORD
long before the Roman law had its beginning. And so a wife is different
from a concubine, even as a bondwoman from a freewoman. For which reason
also the Apostle in order to show the difference of these persons quotes
from Genesis, where it is said to Abraham, "Cast out the bondwoman and her
son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with my son Isaac(3)."
And hence, since the marriage tie was from the beginning so constituted as
apart from the joining of the sexes to symbolize the mystic union of Christ
and His Church, it is undoubted that that woman has no part in matrimony,
in whose case it is shown that the mystery of marriage has not taken place.
Accordingly a clergyman of any rank who has given his daughter in marriage
to a man that has a concubine, must not be considered to have given her to
a married man, unless perchance the other woman should appear to have
become free, to have been legitimately dowered and to have been honoured by
QUESTION V. Concerning young women who have married men that have
concubines. REPLY. Those who are joined to husbands by their fathers' will
are tree from blame, if the women whom their husbands had were not in
QUESTION VI. Concerning those who leave the women by whom they have
children and take wives.
REPLY. Seeing that the wife is different from the concubine, to turn a
bondwoman from one's couch and take a wife whose free birth is assured, is
not bigamy but an honourable proceeding.
QUESTION VII. Concerning those who in sickness accept terms of penitence,
and when they have recovered, refuse to keep them.
REPLY. Such men's neglect is to be blamed but not finally to be
abandoned, in order that they may be incited by frequent exhortations to
carry out faithfully what under stress of need they asked for. For no one
is to be despaired of so long as he remain in this body, because sometimes
what the diffidence of age puts off is accomplished by maturer counsels.
QUESTION VIII. Concerning those who their deathbed promise repentance and
die before receiving communion.
REPLY. Their cause is reserved for the judgment of GOD, in Whose hand
it was that their death was put off until the very time of communion. But
we cannot be in communion with those, when dead, with whom when alive we
were not in communion.
QUESTION IX. Concerning those who under pressure of great pain ask for
penance to be granted them, and when the presbyter has come to give what
they seek, if the pain has abated somewhat, make excuses and refuse to
accept what is offered.
REPLY. This tergiversation cannot proceed from contempt of the remedy
but from fear of falling into worse sin. Hence the penance which is put
off, when it is more earnestly sought must not be denied in order that the
wounded soul may in whatever way attain to the healing of absolution.
QUESTION X. Concerning those who have professed repentance, if they begin
to go to law in the forum.
REPLY. To demand just debts is indeed one thing and to think nothing of
one's own property from the perfection of love is another. But one who
craves pardon for unlawful doings ought to abstain even from many things
that are lawful, as says the Apostle, "all things are lawful for me, but
all things are not expedient(4)." Hence, if the penitent has a matter which
perchance he ought not to neglect, it is better for him to have recourse to
the judgment of the Church than of the forum.
QUESTION XI. Concerning those who during or after penance transact
REPLY. The nature of their gains either excuses or condemns the
trafficker, because there is an honourable and a base kind of profit.
Notwithstanding it is more expedient for the penitent to suffer loss than
to be involved in the risks of trafficking, because it is hard for sin not
to come into transactions between buyer and seller.
QUESTION XII. Concerning those who return to military service after doing
REPLY. It is altogether contrary to the rules of the Church to return
to military service in the world after doing penance, as the Apostle says,
"No soldier in GOD'S service entangles himself in the affairs of the
world(5)." Hence he is not free from the snares of the devil who wishes to
entangle himself in the military service of the world.
QUESTION XIII. Concerning those who after penance take wives or join
themselves to concubines.
REPLY. If a young man under fear of death or the dangers of captivity
has done penance, and afterwards fearing to fall into youthful
incontinence has chosen to marry a wife lest he should be guilty of
fornication, he seems to have comitted a pardonable act, so long as he has
known no woman whatever save his wife. Yet herein we lay down no rule, but
express an opinion as to what is less objectionable. For according to a
true view of the matter nothing better suits him who has done penance than
continued chastity both of mind and body.
QUESTION XIV. Concerning monks who take to military service or to marriage.
REPLY. The monk's vow being undertaken of his own will or wish cannot
be given up without sin. For that which a man has vowed to GOD, he ought
also to pay. Hence he who abandons his profession of a single life and
betakes himself to military service or to marriage, must make atonement and
clear himself publicly, because although such service may be innocent and
the married state honourable, it is transgression to have forsaken the
QUESTION XV. Concerning young women who have worn the religious habit for
some time but have not been dedicated, if they afterwards marry.
REPLY. Young women, who without being forced by their parents' command
but of their own free-will have taken the vow and habit of virginity, if
afterwards they choose wedlock, act wrongly, even though they have not
received dedication: of which they would doubtless not have been defrauded,
if they had abided by their vow.
QUESTION XVI. Concerning those who have been left as infants by Christian
parents, if no proof of thee? baptism can be found whether they ought to be
REPLY. If no proof exist among their kinsfolk and relations, nor among
the clergy or neighbours whereby those, about whom the question is raised,
may be proved to have been baptized, steps must be taken for their
regeneration: lest they evidently perish; for in their case reason does not
allow that what is not shown to have been done should seem to be repeated.
QUESTION XVII. Concerning those who have been captured by the enemy and are
not aware whether they have been baptized but know, they were several times
taken to church by their parents, whether they can or ought to be baptized
when they come back to Roman territory(6)?
REPLY. Those who can remember that they used to go to church with their
parents can remember whether they received what used to be given to their
parents(7). But if this also has escaped their memory, it seems that that
must be bestowed on them which is not known to have been bestowed because
there can be no presumptuous rashness where the most loyal carefulness has
QUESTION XVIII. Concerning those who have come from Africa or Mauretania
and know not in what sect they were baptized, what ought to be done in
REPLY. These persons are not doubtful of their baptism, but profess
ignorance as to the faith of those who baptized them: and hence since they
have received the form of baptism in some way or other, they are not to be
baptized but are to be united to the catholics by imposition of hands,
after the invocation of the Holy Spirit's power, which they could not
receive from heretics.
QUESTION XIX. Concerning those who after being baptized in infancy were
captured by the Gentiles, and lived with them after the manner of the
Gentiles, when they come back to Roman territory as still young men, if
they seek communion, what shall be done?
REPLY. If they have only lived with Gentiles and eaten sacrificial
food, they can be purged by fasting and laying on of hands, in order that
for the future abstaining from things offered to idols, they may be
partakers of Christ's mysteries. But if they have either worshipped idols
or been polluted with manslaughter or fornication, they must not be
admitted to communion, except by public penance.
LETTER CLXVIII: TO ALL THE BISHOPS OF CAMPANIA, SAMNIUM AND PICENUM.
(Rebuking them first for performing baptisms without due preparation or
sufficient cause on ordinary saints'-days (Easter and Whitsuntide being the
only recognized times), and secondly for requiring from penitents that a
list of their offences should be read out publicly, a practice which is in
many ways objectionable.)
LETTER CLXIX: TO LEO AUGUSTUS.
Leo, the bishop, to Leo Augustus.
I. He heartily thanks the Emperor far what he has done, and asks him to
complete the work in any way he can.
If we should seek to reward your Majesty's glorious resolution in
defence of the Faith with all the praise that the greatness of the issue
demands, we should be found unequal to the task of giving thanks and
celebrating the joy of the universal Church with our feeble tongue. But His
worthier recompense awaits your acts and deserts, in whose cause you have
shown so excellent a zeal, and are now triumphing gloriously over the
attainment of the wished-for end. Your clemency must know therefore that
all the churches of GOD join in praising you and rejoicing that the unholy
parricide has been cast off from the neck of the Alexandrine church, and
that GOD's people, on whom the abominable robber has been so great a
burden, restored to the ancient liberty of the Faith, can now be recalled
into the way of salvation by the preaching of faithful priests, when it
sees the whole hotbed of pestilence done away with in the person of the
originator himself. Now therefore, because you have accomplished this by
firm resolution and stedfast will, complete your tale of work for the Faith
by passing such decrees as shall be well-pleasing to GOD in favour of this
city's catholic ruler(8), who is tainted by no trace of the heresy now so
often condemned: lest, perchance, the wound apparently healed but still
lurking beneath. the scar should grow, and the Christian laity; which by
your public action has been freed from the perversity of heretics, should
again fall a prey to deadly poison.
II. Good works as well as integrity of faith is required in a priest.
But you see, venerable Emperor, and clearly understand, that in the
person, whose excommunication is contemplated, it is not only the integrity
of his faith that must be considered; for even, if that could be purged by
any punishments and confessions, and completely restored by any conditions,
yet the wicked and bloody deeds that have been committed can never be done
away by the protestations of plausible words: because in GOD'S pontiff, and
particularly in the priest of so great a church, the sound of the tongue
and the utterance of the lips is not enough, and nothing is of avail, if
GOD makes proclamation with His voice and the mind is convicted of
blasphemy. For of such the Holy Ghost speaks by the Apostle, "having an
appearance of godliness, but denying the power thereof," and again
elsewhere, "they profess that they know GOD, but in deeds they deny
Him(9)." And hence, since in every member of the Church both the integrity
of the true Faith and abundance of good works is looked for, how much more
ought both these things to predominate in the chief pontiff, because the
one without the other cannot be in union with the Body of Christ.
III. Timothy's request far indulgence on the scare of orthodoxy must not be
Nor need we now state all that makes Timothy accursed, since what has
been done through him and on his account, has abundantly and conspicuously
come to the knowledge of the whole world, and whatever has been perpetrated
by an unruly mob against justice, all rests on his head, whose wishes were
served by its mad hands. And hence, even if in his profession of faith he
neglects nothing, and deceives us in nothing, it best consorts with your
glory absolutely to exclude him from this design of his L because in the
bishop of so great a city the universal Church ought to rejoice with holy
exultation, so that the true peace of the LORD may be glorified not only by
the preaching of the Faith, but also by the example of men's conduct. Dated
17th of June, in the consulship of Magnus and Apollonius (460). (By the
hand of Philoxenus agens in rebus(1a).)
LETTER CLXX: TO GENNADIUS, BISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE(2).
(Complaining of Timothy AElurus having been allowed to come to
Constantinople, and saying that there is no hope of his restitution.)
LETTER CLXXI: TO TIMOTHY, BISHOP OF ALEXANDRIA.
Leo, the bishop, to Timothy, catholic bishop of the church of
I. He congratulates him on his election, and bids him win back wanderers to
It is dearly apparent from the brightness of the sentiment quoted by
the Apostle, that "all things work together for good to them that love
GOD(3)," and by the dispensation of GOD's pity, where adversities are
received, there also prosperity is given. This the experience of the
Alexandrine church shows, in which the moderation and long suffering of the
humble has laid up for themselves great store in return for their patience:
because "the LORD is nigh them that are of a contrite heart, and shall save
those that are humble in spirit(4)," our noble Prince's faith being
glorified in all things, through whom "the right-hand of the LORD hath done
great acts(4)," in preventing the abomination of antichrist any longer
occupying the throne of the blessed Fathers; whose blasphemy has hurt no
one more than himself, because although he has induced some to be partners
of his guilt, yet he has inexpiably stained himself with blood. And hence
concerning that which under the direction of Faith your election, brother,
by the clergy, and the laity, and all the faithful, has brought about, I
assure you that the whole of the LORD'S Church rejoices with me, and it is
my strong desire that the Divine pity will in its loving-kindness confirm
this joy with manifold signs of grace, your own devotion ministering
thereto in all things, so that you may sedulously win over, through the
Church's prayers, those also who have hitherto resisted the Truth, to
reconciliation with GOD, and, as a zealous ruler, bring them into union
with the mystic body of the catholic Faith, whose entirety admits of no
division, imitating that true and gentle Shepherd, who laid down His life
for His sheep, and, when one sheep wandered, drove it not back with the
lash, but carried it back to the fold on His own shoulders.
II. Let him be watchful against heresy and send frequent reports to Rome.
Take heed, then, dearly beloved brother, lest any trace of either
Nestorius' or Eutyches' error be found in GOD's people: because "no one can
lay any foundation except that which is laid, which is Christ Jesus(5);"
who would not have reconciled the whole world to GOD the Father, had He not
by the regeneration of Faith adopted us all in the reality of our flesh(6).
Whenever, therefore, opportunities arise which you can use for writing,
brother, even as you necessarily and in accordance with custom have done in
sending a report of your ordination to us by our sons, Daniel the presbyter
and Timothy the deacon, so continue to act at all times and send us, who
will be anxious for them, as frequent accounts as possible of the progress
of peace, in order that by regular intercourse we may feel that "the love
of GOD is shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Ghost, which is given
unto us(7)." Dated the 18th of August, in the consulship of Magnus and
LETTER CLXXII: TO THE PRESBYTERS AND DEACONS OF THE CHURCH OF ALEXANDRIA.
(Inviting them to aid in confirming the peace of the Church, and in
winning those who had given way to heresy.)
LETTER CLXXIII: TO CERTAIN EGYPTIAN BISHOPS.
(Congratulating them on the election of Timothy, and begging them to
assist in maintaining unity and bringing back wanderers to the fold.)
Taken from "The Early Church Fathers and Other Works" originally published
by Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. in English in Edinburgh, Scotland, beginning in
1867. (LNPF II/XII, Schaff and Wace). The digital version is by The
Electronic Bible Society, P.O. Box 701356, Dallas, TX 75370, 214-407-WORD.