The Fifth Century
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401 By this date, the population of Constantinople may have been 500,000.
401Augustine wrote On the Work of Monks against the notion that monks needed to do no work, and could live on alms.
401 Augustine stated (Letter 61) that, although the Donatists had been baptized, their baptisms did not avail them because they were “beyond the pale of the church.” Instead, the baptism they possessed was “for their destruction.” In like manner, baptism, ordination, asceticism, and faith in the Trinity did not profit the Donatist clergy, but served to condemn them. They were like branches cut off from the root (the Catholic Church), doomed to be cast into the fire unless God should graft them in again. Yet their errors were “dissent from the unity and truth of the Catholic Church,” “not remaining in peace with the people of God, which is spread abroad throughout the world,” and “refusing to recognize the baptism of Christ in those who have received it.”
401 Alaric, now military commander of Illyricum and chieftain of the Visigoths, invaded Italy and surrounded Milan.
401 Innocent I (401-17) became bishop of Rome. He wrote to the African churches that “it has been decreed by a divine, not a human authority, that whatever action is taken in any of the provinces, however distant or remote, it should not be brought to a conclusion before it comes to the knowledge of this see, so that every decision may be affirmed by our authority.” Innocent may have been the son of Anastasius I, his predecessor.
402 The capital in the West was moved from Milan to Ravenna. Ravenna, situated among marshes and canals, was more easily defended. Milan had been the capital in the West since 286.
402 Epiphanios of Salamis traveled to Constantinople to campaign against John Chrysostom, who was sheltering four Origenist monks (three of them being the Tall Brothers; see 375, 399. He became convinced of Chrysostom’s orthodoxy, set sail for Salamis, but died en route.
402 On Easter (April 6), Stilicho defeated the Visigoths under Alaric at Pollentia in northwest Italy. Alaric and most of his soldiers escaped. The Visigoths moved back into Illyricum. Stilicho had withdrawn troops from the Rhine and Britain to defeat Alaric, and it appears he never permitted them to return. Hence the Rhine border defenses were weakened in 406/7 when the Germanic tribes invaded the empire.
403Synod of the Oak. John Chrysostom made a tactical error in alienating the empress Eudoxia by calling her a Jezebel. Theophilus of Alexandria took occasion of the issue over the Tall Brothers to have a council meeting at the palace of the Oak near Chalcedon depose John. The emperor ratified the decision. An earth tremor the following day caused the emperor to recall him. John was reluctant to do so, since canon 4 of the Dedication Council (designed as a weapon against Athanasius) forbade a bishop who had been deposed by a council to resume his office unless a subsequent council cleared him. But the emperor insisted. John, however, soon thereafter compared Eudoxia to Herodias, and Theophilus denounced John as Satan. Chrysostom was finally deposed. However, a large portion of the congregation in Constantinople (and in other cities where John’s supporters were subsequently deposed) would not enter the church and accept John’s successor, Atticus.
404 In the spring, John Chrysostom wrote to the patriarch of Rome, Innocent I, and to Venerius of Milan and Chromatius of Aquilei, detailing the events of the quarrel with Theophilus of Alexandria.
404 On June 20, John Chrysostom left Constantinople, going into exile in Cucusus, southeast of Caesarea in the Cilician Taurus mountains (western Anatolia).404 On 6 October, the empress Eudoxia died after suffering a miscarriage.
403 Alaric’s Visigoths again invaded Italy, attacking Verona. Stilicho chased them off, but failed to win a decisive victory.
405 In a letter to Exsuperius, bishop of Toulouse, Innocent I, patriarch of Rome, listed the canon of scripture. His canon included the ‘Apocrypha.’
405 St. Moses the Ethiopian, at the age of 75, died a martyr for Christ during a barbarian invasion. He had been leader of a band of robbers in the Nile valley before being converted to Christianity through an encounter with St. Isidore.405 By this time, the acts of the Synod of the Oak were available in the west, and they convinced Pope Innocent I that the charges against John Chrysostom were trivial and that the synod had been packed with John’s enemies. The pope assembled a synod of Italian bishops, which refused to admit the charges against John Chrysostom delivered at the Synod of the Oak. The Italians requested the two emperors to convene a council to meet in Thessalonica and settle the questions surrounding John. The western emperor Honorius wrote a letter to his brother Arcadius to request him to arrange such a council. The pope sent a delegation of five western bishops and four eastern bishops who supported John to carry Honorius’s letter to Constantinople.
405 In a letter to Jerome regarding the controversy between Paul and Peter (Galatians 2), Augustine wrote (Letter 82): “I have learned to yield this respect and honor only to the canonical books of Scripture: of these alone do I most firmly believe that the authors were completely free from error. And if in these writings I am perplexed by anything which appears to me opposed to the truth, I do not hesitate to suppose that either the manuscript is faulty, or the translator has not caught the meaning of what was said, or I myself have failed to understand it.”
405-6 A largely Ostrogothic group under Radagaisus crossed the Danube and ravaged the Po valley and Tuscany. Stilicho massacred the Visigoths at Fiesole (August 406).
406 The papal delegation carrying Honorius’s letter (see 405) reached Constantinople. They were detained outside the city, and Arcadius refused to meet with them. They were offered a bribe of 3000 gold pieces each to drop John’s case. When they refused, the western bishops were sent home, the eastern bishops into exile.406-7 On December 31, 406, Vandals, Alans and Suevi crossed the frozen Rhine and invaded Gaul. (The emperor Julian had settled a group of Franks in Taxandria, just south of the Rhine estuary. The Salian Franks emerged here after the 406/7 invasion. See 480-81 below. The term ‘Ryperian Franks’ refers to a group that settled near Cologne.)
407 On September 14, John Chrysostom died in Bizeri (modern Turkey), while being transported from Cucusus to Pityus on the eastern coast of the Black Sea.
408 The Vandals invaded Spain.
408 With the death of the emperor Arcadius, Theodosius II (408-50) became emperor in the East. Stilicho, regent in the West, was executed in the same year upon the rumor that he planned to have his own son proclaimed emperor in the East.
408 An imperial decree issued in May of this year forbade Jews from burning crosses during the festival of Purim.
409 The Roman legions departed Britain, leaving the island undefended. At that time, Britain and Gaul were under the control of a usurper named Constantine, rather than the western emperor Honorius.
409 The Vandals, Suebi, and Alans, who had invaded Gaul in 406/7, crossed the Pyrennes into Spain.
410 The Visigoths under Alaric sacked Rome (24 August). They had been settled by Valens (see year 377) in Moesia and Illyria (the Ostrogoths were still beyond the Danube).
St. Honoratus founded a
of Lerins (on the Mediterranean coast of France, near
Antibes). The monastery became the training ground for bishops in
southern Gaul. By 434, eight bishoprics in southern Gaul were
ruled by men from Lerins. In Gaul and Spain in this era many
bishops came from the Roman provincial aristocracy. Used to
exercising power, their background suited them to representing the
cities before the Visigoths (see 412), managing charitable activities,
and ransoming serfs. Most bishops in the East, Italy, or North
Africa were from the middle strata of society and chosen from among the
clergy. In Gaul, bishops tended not to rise through the clerical
ranks, but came directly from the aristocracy.
411Pelagius visited Rome on his way to the Holy Land. Pelagius denied that man’s will has any intrinsic bias against doing good. He also denied any inward action on the part of God on the soul. He believed that a man can observe God’s commandments without sinning, if he wills it. Augustine entered into vehement conflict with Pelagianism. Augustine held that, as a result of original sin, we are enslaved to ignorance, concupiscence, and death. We have lost the liberty Adam had to avoid evil and do good. So, to do good, God’s grace must be at work within us - purely external aids will not do. Thus, it is for God to determine who will receive grace, and who will not. Augustine’s doctrine had little influence in the East.
411 The council of Carthage. Catholics and Donatists met with an imperial arbitrator (the imperial tribune Marcellinus). The Catholics were victorious. In 412, the emperor Honorius proscribed Donatism by edict, imposing fines and confiscating property. The Donatist movement lingered into the seventh century.
411 According to a calendar from this year, Christians in the eastern part of Syria observed a feast of All Saints on the Friday of Easter week.
412 Alexander patriarch of Antioch (412-416). He ended the schism over Eustathius (see 362, 393/4). He also won over the Johnites, those who still defended the reputation of St. John Chrystom, deposed patriarch of Constantinople. Alexander did so by including John’s name in the diptychs. By making peace with the Eustathians (whom Rome had long supported) and the Johnites, Alexander pleased the bishop of Rome, who re-established communion with Antioch in 414.412 After sacking Rome (410) the Visigoths moved south, intending to invade Africa and cut Rome off from her supply of grain. A storm destroyed the Goths’ fleet, and Alaric died soon thereafter. The Visigoths (now led by Ataulf) then traveled north and moved into Gaul, arriving early this year.
412 Augustine wrote his treatise “On the Merits and Forgiveness of Sins and On the Baptism of Infants,” a polemic work against the Pelagians. In that work, he argued that each person is guilty of Adam’s sin. Because of original sin, he stated, infants who are not baptized cannot be saved. He mentioned that the Christians of Carthage called baptism “salvation” and the Lord’s Supper, “life.” He added, “Whence, however, was that derived, but from the primitive, and I suppose, and apostolic tradition, by which the Churches of Christ maintain it to be an inherent principle that without baptism and partaking of the Lord it is impossible for any man to attain either to the kingdom of God or to salvation and everlasting life? … neither salvation nor eternal life can be hoped for by any man without baptism and the Lord’s Supper.” The implication is that infant communion was practiced by the African churches of this era. See 395 above.
412Cyril became patriarch of Alexandria. Served through 444. Cyril was Theophilus’ nephew. His Christology (sometimes called “Word-Flesh”) was opposed to that of Theodore of Mopsuestia (Word-Man), fearing Theodore’s Christology (two natures after the incarnation) implied that Christ was just an inspired man. Cyril shared his uncle’s animosity toward John Chrysostom, and considered the proceedings at the Oak (403) to have been legitimate.
The emperor Theodosius
building a new wall west of Constantinople. It was complete in
Innocent I, bishop of Rome, acknowledged
Alexander as bishop of Antioch, thus ending the Meletian schism. (See 362 and multiple entries following.)
415 At about this time St. John Cassian, a Scythian, settled at a monastery in Marseilles, and organized monastic communities of men and women after the Eastern model. In Marseilles, he wrote two works - the Conferences (426), and the Institutes of the Monastic Life (420) - that were to have immense influence on Benedict (see year 529 below) and medieval monasticism in the West. Cassian was looked upon an authority because of his intimate familiarity with monasticism in Egypt. He also wrote a work against Nestorius - On the Incarnation (about the year 430) at the request of bishop Leo I of Rome. Although Cassian did not enter into direct controversy with Augustine (410-430) over the doctrine of arbitrary predestination, he is regarded by some as the leader of those in southern Gaul who considered the doctrine antithetical to exhortations and punishment. Against Augustine, they held that predestination is in the light of God’s foreknowledge, for those who perish do so against God’s will. Man’s will is not dead, only sick. Cassian thus emphasized the need for human effort along with God’s grace.
415 Early in the year the Visigoths moved from southern Gaul to Spain (near Barcelona).
415John of Jerusalem received Pelagius. Jerome and an emissary from Augustine of Hippo denounced Pelagius as heretical at a synod in Jerusalem in July. John devised a compromise formula and, at the metropolitan Council of Diospolis in December, Pelagius was declared free of doctrinal error. Soon thereafter, John tacitly permitted the Pelagians to sack the anti-Pelagian monastery at Bethlehem.
415Hypatia, a Neoplatonist philosopher, was brutally murdered in Alexandria. A mob dragged her from her chariot, stripped her, and carried her to a church where she was murdered by Peter the Reader. Her flesh was stripped from her bones with oyster shells. Christians in Constantinople, at least, were horrified.
415 The bones of St. Stephen were discovered in Palestine in this year.
416-18 The western emperor Honorius employed the Visigoths in Spain to war upon the Vandals, Suebi, and Alans. Apart from a minority who joined the Suebi, the Vandals and Alans were crushed. The Suebi were settled as federates in northwestern Spain. In return, the Visigoths were allowed (418) to settle in Aquitaine.
416 Two African synods met (one in Carthage, one in Mileve). They condemned Pelagius and Coelestius (one of his disciples). Each synod sent a letter to Innocent I of Rome, asking that he support their actions.
417 Pelagius excommunicated by Innocent I, bishop of Rome, on 27 January.
417 Zosimus (417-18), bishop of Rome, “approved an heretical confession, denying original sin.” [From the Patriarchical Encyclical of 1895.] Zosimus at first wrote a letter to the bishops of Africa, requiring them to appear before him within two months to state their charges against Pelagius, or else drop them. Later (in September) he declared Pelagius and Coelestius (one of his followers) to be orthodox, and criticized the Africans for their actions.
417-39 The liturgy in Jerusalem in this period is preserved in the Old Armenian Lectionary.417/418 A council of African bishops, meeting in Carthage, replied to Zosimus of Rome. The council maintained that Pelagius and Coelestius should be condemned until the two unequivocally affirmed the necessity of God’s grace.
418 Zosimus of Rome replied to the Africans, stating that he was still willing to hear their case, but that he had declared Coelestius orthodox after “mature consideration of the matters involved.” 418 On 30 April, an imperial edict was sent from Ravenna. It banished Pelagius, Coelestius, and all who held their opinions, from Rome.
May 1, another council
Carthage (consisting of more than 200 bishops) condemned
though it did not thoroughly endorse Augustine’s doctrine (see above,
411). It held that (a) death was not a necessity attached to
nature, but a penalty due to Adam’s sin; (b) original sin inherited
Adam is present in every man and even newly born children need baptism
to be cleansed from this taint of sin; and (c) grace is absolutely
for “Without me you can do nothing.”
Canon 1: “That whosoever says that Adam, the first man, was created mortal, so that whether he had sinned or not, he would have died in body -- that is, he would have gone forth of the body, not because his sin merited this, but by natural necessity, let him be anathema.”
Canon 2: “Likewise it seemed good that whosoever denies that infants newly from their mother’s wombs should be baptized, or says that baptism is for remission of sins, but that they [infants] derive from Adam no original sin, which needs to be removed by the layer of regeneration, from whence the conclusion follows, that in them the form of baptism for the remission of sins, is to be understood as false and not true, let him be anathema.
“For no otherwise can be understood what the Apostle says, ‘By one man sin is come into the world, and death through sin, and so death passed upon all men in that all have sinned’ (Romans 5.12), than the Catholic Church everywhere diffused has always understood it. For on account of this rule of faith (regulam fidei) even infants, who could have committed as yet no sin themselves, therefore are truly baptized for the remission of sins, in order that what in them is the result of generation may be cleansed by regeneration.”
Canon 3: “Likewise it seemed good, that whoever should say that the grace of God, by which a man is justified through Jesus Christ our Lord, avails only for the remission of past sins, and not for assistance against committing sins in the future, let him be anathema.”
Canon 4: “Also, whoever shall say that the same grace of God through Jesus Christ our Lord helps us only in not sinning by revealing to us and opening to our understanding the commandments, so that we may know what to seek, what we ought to avoid, and also that we should love to do so, but that through it [grace] we are not helped so that we are able to do what we know we should do, let him be anathema. For when the Apostle says: ‘Wisdom puffeth up, but charity edifieth’ (1 Corinthians 8.1) it were truly infamous were we to believe that we have the grace of Christ for that which puffeth us up, but have it not for that which edifieth, since in each case it is the gift of God, both to know what we ought to do, and to love to do it; so that wisdom cannot puff us up while charity is edifying us. For as of God it is written, ‘Who teacheth man knowledge’ (Psalm 94.10), so also it is written, ‘Love is of God’ (1 John 4.7). ”
Canon 5: “It seemed good that whosoever should say that the grace of justification was given to us only that we might be able more readily by grace to perform what we were ordered to do through our free will; as if though grace was not given, although not easily, yet nevertheless we could even without grace fulfil the divine commandments, let him be anathema. For the Lord spake concerning the fruits of the commandments, when he said: ‘Without me ye can do nothing’ (John 15.5), and not ‘Without me ye could do it but with difficulty.’ ”
Canon 6: “It also seemed good that as St. John the Apostle says, ‘If we shall say that we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us’ (1 John 1.8), whosoever thinks that this should be so understood as to mean that out of humility, we ought to say that we have sin, and not because it is really so, let him be anathema. For the Apostle goes on to add, ‘But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all iniquity’ (1 John 1.9), where it is sufficiently clear that this is said not only of humility but also truly. For the Apostle might have said, ‘If we shall say we have no sins we shall extoll ourselves, and humility shall have no place in us’; but when he says, ‘we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us’ he sufficiently intimates that he who affirmed that he had no sin would speak not that which is true but that which is false.”
Canons 7 and 8 are similar in thrust to Canon 6. These canons oppose those who deny that the words “Forgive us our trespasses” in the Lord’s Prayer apply to them, and those who believe the words are said only out of humility.
These canons were adopted in the East at the Council in Trullo (692).
418 To avoid banishment in accordance with the imperial decree of 30 April, or else because he became convinced of their errors from reading Pelagius’s commentary on Romans, Zosimus condemned and excommunicated Pelagius and Coelestius and concurred with the African synod’s conclusions regarding death, original sin, and the necessity of grace.
418 Upset by the bishop of Constantinople’s attempt to interfere in Illyria, the bishop of Rome, Boniface I (418-22), wrote that the Roman church stood to “the churches of the world as the head to its members.” He admitted that all bishops hold “one and the same episcopal office” but advised that all should “recognize those to whom for the sake of ecclesiastical discipline they ought to be subject.”
418 (416?) The western emperor Honorius allowed the Gothic Tervingi, who had begun to refer to themselves as Visigoths by this time, under their king, Wallia, to settle as allies and dependents of the empire in western Gaul (Aquitane). From there they spread across the Pyrenees into Spain, ostensibly to re-establish Roman authority there. The Vandals fled to Mauretania (see 429 below).
418 By about this year, Cyril of Alexandria had complied with the condition originally laid down by Pope Innocent I, that to re-establish communion with Rome John Chrysostom be mentioned in the diptychs.
May, a synod met at
Carthage to establish
a code of canon law for the church in North Africa. St. Augustine
of Hippo was in attendance. Pope Aurelius, bishop of Carthage,
As the proceedings began, a certain Faustinus, legate of the Roman
asked that the council acknowledge the right of deposed bishops to
to Rome. Faustinus claimed that this right had been granted by
council of Nicaea. Pope Aurelius sent to Constantinople
copies of the acts of the council of Nicaea, and found no such
Subsequently, he wrote a letter to Pope Celestine of Rome (“our
most honorable brother”) explaining that the African church was not
obliged to allow disputed cases to be referred to Rome. In
warned Celestine against hearing such cases - “how shall we be
to rely on a sentence passed beyond the sea, since it will not be
to send thither the necessary witnesses” - and against receiving
who had been excommunicated in Africa into communion in Rome.
Canons 25 and 70 instructed bishops, priests, and deacons to abstain from their wives.
Canon 28 instructed the lower clergy (priests, deacons, etc.) dissatisfied with the judgments of their bishops to appeal to neighboring bishops, to primates, or to universal councils in turn. It then added the following: “But whoso should think good to carry an appeal across the water shall be received to communion by no one within the boundaries of Africa.”
The African code established by this synod was adopted in the East at the Council in Trullo (692). It includes the canons against Pelagius and Coelestius adopted in May 418.
420 Death of Jerome, in Bethlehem. Though he was initially buried near the Grotto of the Nativity, his remains were later transferred to the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome.
420 In about this year, a Christian priest in Persia destroyed a Zoroastrian fire temple. Because of this and other, perhaps less violent, acts of proselytism, Yezdegerd allowed the Christians to be persecuted. Some fled into the Roman Empire. The Persians demanded their extradition; the Romans refused, and war ensued. In 422, after a Roman victory, a treaty was signed to ensure peace for 100 years and put a stop to the persecution of Christians.
421 Julian (380-455), bishop of Eclanum, banished from Italy. He had refused to agree to Zosimus’ condemnation of Pelagianism, demanding that an ecumenical council consider the question. Julian was condemned by the council of Ephesus in 431.
422 The Vandals and Alans who had gained refuge from the Visigoths among the Suebi moved south into Andalusia.
423Theodoret (bishop 423-49, 51-58) (393?-458?, author of the Religious History) became bishop of Cyrrhus, near Antioch. Like Theodore of Mopsuestia, Theodoret followed the historo-critical school of biblical interpretation. His Christology was of the Word-man type, but he agreed that Christ is properly called Theotokos, and he denied that his doctrine divided “the Son into two Sons.” According to some historians, there is likely a connection between the interpretive methods of the schools of Antioch and Alexandria and their respective Christologies. Alexandrians tended to read the gospels as allegories, and so interpret statements regarding Jesus’ suffering, temptation, etc., in a spiritual sense. The Antiochians, reading literally, emphasized Jesus as human, as well as divine.
423 Celestine (423-32), bishop of Rome, laid it down as a principle that “No bishop is to be appointed against the will of the people.” On the church’s canons, he wrote, “The rules rule us; we do not stand over the rules: Let us be subject to the canons.” Celestine also introduced the Introit psalm with antiphon into the mass.
427 Augustine’s City of God published. In chapter 26 of book 21 he speculated that sinful Christians may pass through a cleansing fire on Judgment Day. He refused to contradict the thought that such a cleansing could occur “in the interval of time between the death of the body and that last day of judgment” (as is said to occur in purgatory). In the same passage, Augustine identified this fire with tribulation, and refused to oppose the view that the death of the body is itself part of the cleansing tribulation. He also implied that persecutions in this life meet the description given in 1 Corinthians 3.12-15 of a purifying fire.
427 The Persians went to war against the Ephthalites or White Huns, a Turanian people who had conquered the land between the Caspian Sea and the Indus River. The Persians were distracted by numerous wars against the Ephthalites until 557, thus reducing their threat to the Roman Empire.
428Nestorius (Nestorius), a monk of Antioch, became patriarch of Constantinople. Nestorius was a follower of Theodore of Mopsuestia, and raised the ire of Cyril of Alexandria by criticizing the use of Theotokos. Nestorius was concerned to maintain that the incarnation cannot have involved the divine Word in any change or suffering. Therefore, he could not agree with Cyril’s hypostatic union (see 553 for the triumph of this doctrine), under which the Word would suffer. Also, he thought that man’s redemption required that the second Adam had to be a real man, not a creature dominated by or fused with the divine. Christ must have had a genuine human life of growth, temptation and suffering.
According to some, Nestorius was misunderstood to teach that Christ was two persons, one human and one divine. In actuality, they say, he taught a prosopic union. In Greek, prosopon refers to the self-manifestation of an individual by means of other things - a painter includes his brush within his own prosopon. Nestorius taught that the Logos used manhood for his self-manifestation. Manhood was included in his prosopon.
Early in his episcopate, Nestorius alienated many potential supporters in Constantinople: monks and many of the city’s aristocrats. Military leaders disliked Nestorius’ closing of the last Arian chapel in Constantinople, since many German auxiliaries were Arian.
428 On 26 September, St. John Chrysostom was solemnly commemorated in the liturgy at Constantinople.429 The Vandals invaded Northern Africa.
429 Celestine, bishop of Rome, sent Saints Germanus of Auxerre and Lupus of Troyes to Britain, to combat Pelagianism.
430 Under the influence of Cyril of Alexandria, Celestine, patriarch of Rome, commissioned John Cassian to write a letter to Nestorius, demanding recantation. (Nestorius had unadvisedly entertained some Pelagians recently, which didn’t help his image in the West.) Cyril also wrote to Nestorius, sending him his Twelve Anathemas, which he had not coordinated with Rome, and which Nestorius believed exposed Cyril as an Apollinarian. Nestorius confidently awaited the council of Ephesus.
Cyril’s twelve anathemas (stated positively): (1) Mary is Theotokos; (2) the Word is united hypostatically to the flesh; (3) no separation of hypostases after the union or any attempt to link them merely by association based on dignity, honor or power - they are in a natural union; (4) statements about Christ should not be distinguished as though some referred to the Word and others to the man; (5) the description “God-inspired man” is repudiated; (6) the divine Word is not Christ’s God or Lord, because He is simultaneously God and man; (7) Jesus was not moved by the Word or clothed in His glory, because there is no distinction between Him and the Word; (8) “the man assumed” does not deserve to be worshipped along with the Word (as Nestorius liked to put it) because there is no separation; (9) the Spirit was not an alien power enabling Jesus to work miracles, because the Spirit was his very own; (10) our high priest is not a man distinct from the Word, but the very Word himself; (11) the Lord’s flesh is the very flesh of the Word, possessing thereby quickening power; and (12) the Word suffered, was crucified, and died in His flesh.
Theodoret of Cyrrhus composed twelve anti-anathemas and accused Cyril of Apollinarianism.
~430 Death of Neilos the Ascetic. An abbot of a monastery near Ankyra, Neilos is the first writer to make a plain reference to the Jesus Prayer. He was also author of the Ascetic Discources later published in the Philokalia.
431Third Ecumenical Council, was held at Ephesus. Called by the emperor Theodosius II. Held in the first church building known to have been dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. Led by Cyril, patriarch of Alexandria (412-444), an extreme Antiochene (Word-Man) Christology, taught by Nestorius, patriarch of Constantinople, was condemned. Nestorius was understood to teach that the man Jesus is an independent person beside the divine Logos and that therefore Mary may not therefore properly be called theotokos (God bearer). Nestorius was excommunicated. Pelagianism was condemned. Cyprus was granted ecclesiastical independence, and Jerusalem was made a patriarchate (both at Antioch’s expense). The council also resolved that no additions should be made to the Nicene creed:
“Let no one be permitted to bring forward, or write or compose a different faith besides that defined by the Holy Fathers who assembled with the Holy Spirit in the city of Nicaea. And whoever dares compose a different faith, or present, or offer [one] to those wishing to turn to the knowledge of the truth ... let such, if they be bishops or belong to the clergy, be alien bishops from the episcopate, and clerics from the clergy -- and if they be laymen, let them be given over to anathema.”
The action at Ephesus was not harmonious. John, patriarch of Antioch, held a simultaneous rival synod. Theodosius II decided to have both John and Cyril arrested, and he ordered the bishops in Ephesus to depart. They refused, and when the news that Cyril had been arrested resulted in a riot in Constantinople. In the end, Theodosius II ruled in favor of Cyril. Cyril was not completely victorious, however, as his Twelve Anathemas were not approved.
Nestorius went into exile and died in 451. His doctrine lived on, however. The church in Persia adopted it to obtain the protection of their rulers -- after all, their religion was now in conflict with the faith of the their Roman enemies.
At the urging of Valerian and Amphilochius, the bishops of Iconium and Side, the council also condemned the Messalians (which, it said, had been condemned at Constantinople in the time of Sisinnius). In addition, the council anathematized “the filthy book of this heresy, which is called the ‘Asceticon.’ ” (See 390.)
431 A certain Palladius was sent by Celestine, bishop of Rome, to Christians in Ireland.
431 The Vandals under Genseric took Hippo, the year after Blessed Augustine’s death.
431 The metropolitan of Hierapolis, Alexander, restored the church in Risafe that had been built over St. Sergios’s grave (see 303 above). Shortly afterward, Risafe was made a bishopric. Justinian later changed the name of Risafe to Sergiopolis. Risafe became the destination of pilgrimages. Sergios and Bacchus were considered protectors of the Roman army. Many Eastern churches were dedicated to them.
432Christmas celebrated in Alexandria on 25 December for the first time about this year. Paul of Emessa preached in Cyril’s presence.
432 Sixtus III (432-40) became patriarch of Rome. He wrote to the patriarch of Antioch regarding Nestorius: “Therefore, because, as the Apostle says, the faith is one, - evidently the faith which has obtained hitherto, - let us believe the things that are to be said, and say the things that are to be held. ...Let no license be allowed to novelty, because it is not fit that any addition should be made to antiquity. Let not the clear faith and belief of our forefathers be fouled with any muddy admixture.”
432St. Patrick began his mission to Ireland.
433 Cyril of Alexander and John of Antioch were reconciled. The instrument of reconciliation, the Symbol of Union, employed largely Antiochene terminology, but Cyril assented to it as containing, beneath this terminology, what he really fought for in his Christology:
“We confess, therefore, our Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, perfect God and perfect man composed of a rational soul and body, begotten before the ages from His Father in respect of His divinity, but likewise in these last days for us and our salvation from the Virgin Mary in respect of His manhood, consubstantial with the Father in respect of His divinity and at the same time consubstantial with us in respect of His manhood. For a union of two natures has been accomplished. Hence we confess one Christ, one Son, one Lord. In virtue of this conception of a union without confusion we confess the holy Virgin as Theotokos because the divine Word became flesh and was made man and from the very conception united to Himself the temple taken from her. As for the evangelical and apostolic statements about the Lord, we recognize theologians employ some indifferently in view of the unity of the person but distinguish others in view of the duality of natures, applying the God-befitting ones to Christ’s divinity and the humble ones to His humanity.”
Cyril’s more militant followers were not pleased.
434 Proclus, patriarch of Constantinople (434-46). St. John of Damascus states that, while Proclus was patriarch, a calamity threatened the city. A boy was taken up from the people and taught by angels to say the Trisagion hymn: “Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us.” When he returned to earth and told what he had learned, the people sang the hymn and the calamity was averted.
434St. Vincent of Lerins wrote his Commonitory as a guide for distinguishing the Catholic faith from heresy. Although he was a Westerner, he made no mention of the papacy as the center for faith. He refers to the bishop of Rome as the “Head,” but doesn’t employ this headship in his theory. From the Commonitory:
“But here some one perhaps will ask, Since the canon of Scripture is complete, and sufficient of itself for everything, and more than sufficient, what need is there to join with it the authority of the Church’s interpretation? For this reason, - because, owing to the depth of Holy Scripture, all do not accept it in one and the same sense, but one understands its words in one way, another in another; so that it seems to be capable of as many interpretations as there are interpreters. For Novatian expounds it one way, Sabellius another, Donatus another, Arius, Eunomius, Macedonius, another, Photinus, Apollinaris, Priscillian, another, Iovinian, Pelagius, Celestius, another, lastly, Nestorius another. Therefore, it is very necessary, on account of so great intricacies of such various error, that the rule for the right understanding of the prophets and apostles should be framed in accordance with the standard of Ecclesiastical and Catholic interpretation.
“Moreover, in the Catholic Church itself, all possible care must be taken, that we hold that faith which has been believed everywhere, always, by all. For that is truly and in the strictest sense ‘Catholic,’ which, as the name itself and the reason of the thing declare, comprehends all universally. This rule we shall observe if we follow universality, antiquity, consent. We shall follow universality if we confess that one faith to be true, which the whole Church throughout the world confesses; antiquity, if we in no wise depart from those interpretations which it is manifest were notoriously held by our holy ancestors and fathers; consent, in like manner, if in antiquity itself we adhere to the consentient definitions and determinations of all, or at the least of almost all priests and doctors.”
In another section, St. Vincent took up the question of the development of doctrine: “But the Church of Christ, the careful and watchful guardian of the doctrines deposited in her charge, never changes anything in them, never diminishes, never adds, does not cut off what is necessary, does not add what is superfluous, does not lose her own, does not appropriate what is another’s, but while dealing faithfully and judiciously with ancient doctrine, keeps this one object carefully in view, - if there be anything which antiquity has left shapeless and rudimentary, to fashion and polish it, if anything already reduced to shape and developed, to consolidate and strengthen it, if any already ratified and defined to keep and guard it. Finally, what other object have Councils ever aimed at in their decrees, than to provide that what was before believed in simplicity should in future be believed intelligently, that what was before preached coldly should in future be preached earnestly, that what was before practiced negligently should thenceforward be practiced with double solicitude? This, I say, is what the Catholic Church, roused by the novelties of heretics, has accomplished by the decrees of her Councils, - this, and nothing else, - she has thenceforward consigned to posterity in writing what she had received from those of olden times only by tradition, comprising a great amount of matter in a few words, and often, for the better understanding, designating an old article of the faith by the characteristic of a new name.”
435 The church in Armenia was compiling in its own language a collection of patristic writings. The question of whether the works of Theodore of Mopsuestia should be included in the collection caused strife in the church in Syria. Acacius of Melitene and Rabulla of Edessa were firm in opposing Theodore of Mopsuestia’s inclusion, though Rabulla’s successor, Ibas, was equally stalwart in his support of Theodore. The Armenians carried the question to Proclus, patriarch of Constantinople. Proclus’ Tome to the Armenians contained a digest of objectionable Christological passages, gathered from Theodore of Mopsuestia, though the Tome avoided mentioning Theodore by name. The Tome argued in favor of theopaschite language in reference to Christ: Though Christ did not suffer in his divinity, he did do so according to the flesh.
certain Romanus retired
Jura mountains in eastern Gaul, intending to live as a hermit.
many others followed him and formed several monastic communities.
Among them was Eugendus, famous for exorcisms.
The laws of the Roman Empire since the time of Constantine were
collected in chronological order into a single codex, called the Theodotian Code after the
emperor Theodosius II (408-450).
438 On January 27, St. John Chrysostom’s body was returned to Constantinople. The emperor Theodosius II, son of Arkadius and Eudoxia, who had deposed John, received the reliquary and bowed low before it, praying that John forgive his parents.
439 The Vandals captured Carthage.
440 Leo I (440-461) became patriarch of Rome. Exhorted his congregation to observe the Ember fasts, and discouraged them from mixing Christianity with Sun worship. Rebuked his flock for paying reverence to the Sun god on the steps of St. Peter’s before entering the basilica. He unearthed an infiltration of Manichees into the congregation. In a letter to the emperor, he stated that “by the Holy Spirit’s inspiration the emperor needs no human instruction and is incapable of doctrinal error.”
On the other hand, Leo was the first bishop of Rome to claim the “plenitude of power” over the church, which was to play such a large role in the development of the papal monarchy over the Medieval church.
Leo’s sermons made the first mention of the observance of Ember Days. Their observance was widespread in the West by the eighth century. The Ember days are a time of prayer and fasting, occurring on the Wednesday, Friday and Saturday after the first Sunday in Lent, after Whitsunday (Pentecost), after September 14, and after December 13. The name “Ember” comes from a German word, quatember, which is a corruption of the Latin quatuor tempora, or four seasons.
444After Cyril died on 27 June, Dioscorus (444-451) became patriarch of Alexandria. Dioscorus was one of the extremist party that regretted Cyril’s compromise of 433. He schemed with the court eunuch Chrysaphius (influential with the emperor Theodosius II) to impose Cyril’s Twelve Anathemas as the standard of orthodoxy. Chrysaphius’ godfather Eutyches challenged the orthodoxy of those who say there are two natures after the union. When Flavian, patriarch of Constantinople, condemned Eutyches as an Apollinarian, Dioscorus accused Flavian of requiring a test for orthodoxy in addition to the Nicene Creed, which the council of Ephesus had declared incapable of being supplemented. To resolve these issues, Theodosius II called a council to meet in Ephesus in 449.
Eutyches taught that, after the incarnation, Christ had only one nature and was not therefore of the same substance as other men, since it had been deified and subsumed into the divine nature. This was the meaning of the Cyrillian formula “one nature after the union” for Eutyches.
445 Valentinian III (425-54), emperor in the West, stated that “whatsoever the authority of the apostolic see has sanctioned, or shall sanction, shall be law for all.” This apparently is quoted from Valentinian’s Novel 17, which gave the bishop of Rome authority over the provincial churches.
447 A synod of the Armenian church met at Shahapivan. It decreed punishments for those who fell into the Messalian heresy (see 390 and 431).
448 Eusebius, bishop of Dorylaeum (Asia Minor), proclaimed Eutyches’ Christology heretical. He was (later that year) deposed and excommunicated by a synod run by patriarch Flavian in Constantinople.
448-84 Sometime between these dates, the monastery of the Sleepless Monks was founded by Abbot Marcellus at Eirenaion, in the middle Bosporus, opposite Sosthenion. Their monastery contained a famous library, built mainly for polemic purposes. The Sleepless Monks emerged as strong supporters of the council of Chalcedon (451).
449 “Robber council” held at Ephesus. Leo, patriarch of Rome, was invited to the council, but sent his Tome instead, which was not read. The council was run by Dioscorus of Alexandria. Flavian was deposed, and one of Dioscorus’ presbyters was made bishop of Constantinople. The “two natures after the union” doctrine was condemned. The Symbol of Union was set aside as going beyond the decisions of Ephesus in 431. The major “dyophysite” leaders were deposed. Theodosius II was determined the council’s decisions would stand, in spite of opposition from Rome. Theodoret of Cyrrhus was declared a heretic and sent into exile.
450 About this year, the Angles, Saxons and Jutes invaded England.
The Parthenon in Athens was converted to a church in about this year.
450 Near this date, Codex Alexandrinus (A) was written. It contains all the canonical and Deuterocanonical books of the Roman Catholic Old Testament, plus 3 & 4 Maccabees and Psalm 151. Affixed to the New Testament are I and II Clement. The text type appears mixed, with some portions termed “neutral” (Alexandrian) and others “Syrian” (Byzantine). This version of the Septuagint appears to have been corrected by the Hebrew. Codex Alexandrinus was the first of the ancient uncial codices to become known, being sent from Constantinople to Britain in 1627.
documents from this
Codex Bezae (D): Greek/Latin Gospels + Acts (D contains many readings
in both Irenaeus and Clement of Alexandria);
450 The Eastern emperor Theodosius II fell from his horse and died. He was succeeded by Marcian (451-7), a soldier, who married Pulcheria, Theodosius’ sister. Both Marcian and Pulcheria sympathized with the two natures doctrine. Chrysaphius was killed, and Eutyches exiled.
450 The Armenians in Persian territory asked for assistance from the Roman Empire against their Persian overlords. Yezdegerd II, since his accession in 438, had attempted to convert the Christian Armenians to Zoroastrianism. The emperor Marcian, distracted by the Huns, was unwilling to go to war for the Armenians. The war between the Armenians and the Persians continued until Yezdegerd’s death in 453, when his successor, Firuz, granted them complete toleration.
Near this year Auxentios
his post as a senior administrator under the emperor Theodosius and
an influential monastery in Bythinia.
Some estimate that the population of
Rome declined from about 500,000
in this year to roughly 50,000 in 550. See 552 for a similar
451Fourth Ecumenical Council, held at Chalcedon, in the church of St. Euphemia the martyr. The legates from Rome presided. More than 600 bishops attended. Dioscorus was deposed, though not on doctrinal grounds. The dyophysite leaders were restored, but Nestorius himself was condemned as a heretic. (Theodoret of Cyrrhus was restored, on the condition that he repudiate his anti-anathemas against Cyril.) Leo’s Tome was received and pronounced to be orthodox. The council also accepted two of Cyril’s letters, but not his Twelve Anathemas. There was reluctance in the East to add a new creed, but one was drafted at Leo’s representatives’ insistence.
The creed of the Council of Chalcedon:
“In agreement, therefore, with the holy fathers, we all unanimously teach that we should confess that our Lord Jesus Christ is one and the same Son, the same perfect in Godhead and the same perfect in manhood, truly God and truly man, the same of a rational soul and body, consubstantial with the Father in Godhead, and the same consubstantial with us in manhood, like us in all things except sin; begotten from the Father from before the ages as regards his Godhead, and in the last days, the same, because of us and because of our salvation, begotten from the Virgin Mary, the Theotokos, as regards his manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only-begotten, made known in two natures without confusion, without change, without division, without separation, the difference of the natures being by no means removed because of the union, but the property of each nature being preserved and coalescing into one prosopon and one hypostasis - not parted, or divided into two prosopa, but one and the same Son, only-begotten, divine Word, the Lord Jesus Christ, as the prophets of old and Jesus Christ Himself have taught us about him and the creed of our fathers has handed down.”
The prosopon is the thing’s external aspect or form as an individual, while hypostasis is concrete subsistence or existence as an individual. The phrase “without confusion” was used by Nestorius, who was concerned to protect Christ’s divine nature being viewed as suffering, growing or changing.
Perhaps because the creed is so Antiochene (it does not use Cyril’s phrase “natural union” for instance, though one would think “one hypostasis” does the same job), a large portion of the Eastern church began to drift away as “Monophysites.” The modern Alexandrian (Coptic) church considers this a misnomer, and prefer something like “miaphysites,” believing in one composite nature after the union. They hold that Chalcedon was unneeded from a theological perspective and was largely a power play by the emperor and the bishop of Rome.
The bishop of Rome’s representatives stated they had no instructions regarding the privileges of Constantinople, and so absented themselves from discussions on that point. While they were absent, the council reasserted Constantinople’s rights as a patriarchate, with equal privileges to Rome, second in standing to Rome, because Constantinople is the new Rome. The patriarch of Constantinople was to ordain the metropolitan bishops of the dioceses of Pontus, Asia, and Thrace, and bishops from those dioceses among the barbarians. The metropolitans, with his provincial bishops, were to ordain new provincial bishops (Canon 28).
The council also approved the arrangement arrived at by Antioch and Jerusalem, whereby Antioch retained jurisdiction over “the two Phoenicias and Arabia” and Jerusalem over “the three Palestines.” (See map.)
451 Theodoric I, commanding a combined Visigothic, Burgundian and Roman force, repulsed Attila at the battle of Chalons.
452 Mamertus, bishop of Vienne in France, instituted the Rogation Days after storms, pestilence, and barbarians laid waste to his diocese and city. The Rogation Days were Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday before Holy Thursday (Ascension Day), which is the 40th day after Easter. Rogation means ‘asking,’ and it is a time for asking God’s blessings on the crops, for a plentiful harvest.
453 Attila died.
the church of Gaul was independent of Rome. The Western
Valentinian III told Aetius, the provincial governor, “if any bishop
to trial before the bishop of Rome shall neglect to come,” he was to
454 The see at Alexandria was occupied by the Monophysite Timothy Aelurus (454-477).
The Vandals under
(Gaiseric) sacked Rome.
Leo I prevented wholesale destruction and massacre. Afterwards,
Leo ordered silver ornaments in St. Peter’s cathedral melted
down to make chalices for the city’s churches.
An army of Visigoths sacked Braga (northern Portugal).
457 Marcian, Eastern Roman emperor, died. Proterius, Dioscorus’s dyophysite successor at Alexandria, was torn to pieces by a violent mob. Leo I wrote to the new Eastern emperor (Leo I, 457-74) in favor of Chalcedon and his Tome, adding that “through the Spirit of God dwelling in you, you are sufficiently instructed, nor can any error delude your faith” (Letter CLXII). Nevertheless, Pope Leo felt it necessary to send representatives to insure that the emperor understood that those who rejected the decrees of Chalcedon were not Catholics.
Roman emperor Leo I appears
been the first emperor to accept his crown from the hands of the
of Constantinople. Succeeding emperors also received the
in this way. Thus the Roman coronation, previously a secular
took on a religious character.
The Paschal tables of Victor of
Aquitaine were published. These were widely used in the
West, only replaced in Rome by the tables of Dionsios (Dionysius)
Exiguus in Rome in about 630. Victor’s tables, based on the
19-year Metonic cycle used in Alexandria, replaced the 84-year cycle
introduced by Augustalis in the early third century. But Victor
did not fully understand the Alexandrian calculations, which caused him
to list eastern and western dates for the first six years of the
cycle. Victor’s dates for the Pascha also sometimes fell on the
vernal equinox (which should never occur). Victor had undertaken
his efforts at the behest of Leo I, bishop of Rome. Pope Leo was
disturbed by the fact that, in 444 and 455, Alexandrian and Roman
methods for computing the Pascha resulted in different answers.
Though Leo had deferred to Alexandria, he hoped to avoid disagreement
in the future.
Gennadius had refuted Cyril’s anathemas. After Chalcedon, he
the council’s terminology in an Antiochene fashion, avoiding the terms Theotokos
and using prosopon instead of hypostasis for the union of
459 Death of St. Symeon Stylites. For 30 years he lived on top of a column at the monastery in Telanissos in Syria, on the main road from Antioch to the Euphrates.
In this decade, Perpetuus, bishop of Tours, built a basilica over the
tomb of St. Martin of Tours (see 371). The inscription read,
“Here lies Martin the bishop, of holy memory, whose soul is in the hand
of God; but he is fully here, present and made plain by miracles of
~465 During the second half of the fifth century, the Roman calendar was adopted in Constantinople. The beginning of the liturgical year was moved from 23 September to 1 September.
465 A major fire that swept through Constantinople in this year had been predicted to the emperor by both Elisabeth of Thrace, abbess of the convent of St. George, and Daniel the Stylite (d. 493). Elisabeth was a noted healer and exorcist.
465Severus born (d. 538). He became the Monophysite bishop of Antioch. Some have ascribed to him the works of the pseudo-Dionysius. See year 519 below.
466 Death of Theodoret, bishop of Cyrus. As was common in the period between the council of Chalcedon and Justinian’s reign among Chalcedonians, Theodoret failed to identify the subject of Christ’s suffering with the Word because that would imply, as he thought, that the divine nature suffered. Antiochene interpretations of Chalcedon such as Theodoret’s and that of Patriarch Gennadius of Constantinople, reinforced the suspicion among supporters of Cyril’s Christology - and the fact that Nestorius himself had approved of Leo’s Tome - that Chalcedon had been a defeat.
467 Hilary (461-67), bishop of Rome, died. He had set up a body of seven ecclesiastical singers whose job it was to oversee the music for all services at which Hilary presided. This group was known as the Schola Cantorum.
468 The Vandals conquered Sicily.
476 The end of the Western Roman Empire. Flavius Odoacer, a Rugian, chose to be simply the Eastern emperor’s lieutenant in the West.
476 Peter the Fuller, Monophysite bishop of Antioch, is said to have first introduced the recitation of the creed into the liturgy during his tenure (476-488). ). He may have intended to thus slight the confession of the Council of Chalcedon. The first mention of the use of the creed as part of the mass in the West is in a canon of the Council of Toledo in 589.
Peter is also known for the heretical addition to the Trisagion prayer, “Who was crucified for us.” According to St. John of Damascus, the addition effectively added a fourth person to the Trinity.
478 The tomb of St. Barnabas was discovered at Salamis in Cyprus. According to tradition, Barnabas had been stoned to death. The feast of St. Barnabas (June 11) commemorates the discovery of his tomb.
479 War between the Ostrogoths and the Roman empire. The Goths were generally successful. War ended in 483.
481 Clovis became king of the Salian Franks. He later converted to Orthodox Christianity under the influence of his wife, Clotilde, a Burgundian princess, and Remigius, bishop of Rheims. See 508.
482Acacius, patriarch of Constantinople, (471-89) wrote a formula called the Henoticon, hoping it would end the Monophysite schism. It approved Cyril’s Twelve Anathemas, condemned both Nestorius and Eutyches (see 444), did not mention the number of natures (whether one or two), denounced “those who make either a division or a confusion or introduce a phantasm,” and condemned “any heresy whether advanced at Chalcedon or elsewhere.” It was promulgated on the authority of the emperor (Zeno the Isaurian, 474-91) alone without a council of bishops, but was signed by the patriarchs of Alexandria and Antioch. The churches of the East were again in harmony.
484Schism over the Henoticon (484-520). Simplicius, patriarch of Rome, excommunicated Acacius and the Roman emperor Zeno at a synod in Rome. Zeno was more concerned with keeping Egypt and Syria loyal, and Simplicius could rely on the support of the Gothic king Theodoric (an Arian) in Italy (see 488). The schism over the Henoticon was ended in 520.
485 Death of Proclus (410-485), the last great pagan Neo-Platonic philosopher, and head of Plato’s Academy in Athens.
supported by Peter the Fuller, patriarch of Antioch (see 476), became
of Hierapolis (Mabbug). Philoxenus opposed the council of
He wrote, “There is no nature without person, just as there is no
without nature.” To allow Him two natures was, for Philoxenus,
to asserting the existence of two persons in Christ.
Death of St. Diadochos, bishop of Photiki (in Epiros, Greece).
Photiki had been born around 400, and supported the Chalcedonian
Christological position. His
On Spititual Knowledge and Discrimination: One Hundred Texts was
later incorporated into the Philokalia (see 1782). He frequently
directs his line of thought against the Messalians (see 390). In
one passage, Diadochos speaks of the soul’s treatment after
death. “If we are afraid then, we will not be able freely to pass
by the rulers of the nether world. ... But the soul which
rejoices in the love of God, at the hour of its departure, is lifted
with the angels of peace above the hosts of darkness.” Those who
feel fear at the moment of death will be tried by the fire of judgement
and will receive just treatment according to their works.
Diadochos’s picture of the afterlife is similar to the seventh century
visions of Fursa (see 630) and Barontus (see 679), which have been used
as evidence that a novel view of death emerged in the West at that
time. It also resembles St. Anthony’s visions (see 356).
488 To protect his back as he put down a revolt in Syria, Zeno sold out Odoacer and turned Italy over to the Ostrogoth Theodoric. (The Ostrogoths were descended from the Greuthingi.) The patriarch of Rome was relatively free of the Roman emperor until 536.
patriarch of Rome. He broke with custom in that he did not
inform the emperor Anastasius of
his election to the papacy. In a letter
to the emperor, he wrote, “And if the hearts of the faithful ought to
submitted to priests in general … how much more ought assent to be
given to him
who presides over that See which the most high God himself desired to
pre-eminent over all priests, and which the pious judgement of the
has honored ever since?” Gelasius also
claimed that “the see
Peter has the right to loose what has been bound by the decisions of
He put an end to an “abuse” in the churches of Calabria where communion was being given in only one kind.
Gelasius continued the battle against the Henoticon. In order to keep the emperor out of church affairs, Gelasius enunciated a political theory in which the church had auctoritas (legislative) authority, while the authority of the secular rulers was potestas (executive power). In Roman law auctoritas was superior to potestas, so Gelasius implied that the church was superior to the state. In fact, he stated that the imperial potestas was derived from the papal auctoritas. Gelasius’ theory was a driving force behind church-state relations until the Aristotelian rediscovery in the twelfth century.
The Decretum Gelansianum, as the name implies, is often associated with Gelasius. But some manuscripts ascribe it to Damasus (366-84), and others to Hormisdas (514-23). Many modern scholars believe it to have been composed by a cleric living in the south of Gaul early in the sixth century. The Decretum contains a list of books approved to be read in the Church, along with a list of apocryphal works. Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, and the first two books of Maccabees are included in the list of approved works.
Gelasius also introduced a litany of intercession, the Deprecatio, into the beginning of the mass. He also introduced the Kyrie eleison, which had long been a response in litanies, into the mass as a processional preface. Gregory the Great later eliminated the Deprecatio litany itself on non-festal days, leaving only the responses - Kyrie eleison – reducing them to nine in number, and changing the center three to Christe eleison.
494 Gelasius changed the pagan festival of the Lupercalia into the feast of the Purification.
495 Macedonius (495-511) patriarch of Constantinople. During his time, Constantinople was largely isolated - in opposition to the Monophysite emperor Anastasios (491-518) and the Monophysites of Egypt and Syria, and disdained by Rome because Acacius was still commemorated in the liturgy in spite of Simplicius’ excommunication of him in 484. In alliance with the Acoematae (non-sleeping monks) Macedonius opposed the Monophysites’ interpolation of “who was crucified for us” into the Trisagion (see 476 above). [According to Fr. John Meyendorff, the interpolation does not constitute a problem if the Trisagion is viewed as a hymn to the incarnate Word. The Chalcedonian opposition to theopaschite formulae made it easy for the Monophysites to paint them as Nestorians. In fact, John II, bishop of Rome, called the Acoematea “Nestorians” in his correspondence with the emperor Justinian in 533-34.]
Macedonius condemned Philoxenus of Mabbug (see 485) as a heretic. Anastasios, however, supported Philoxenus in his effort to replace Chalcedonian bishops with Monophysites.496 A decree from Gelasius, bishop of Rome, in this year included a list of recommended and banned books. This is an early step toward the Index of Forbidden Books (see 1559). The works of Faustus of Rhegium were on the list. Faustus had been champion of the semi-Pelagian monks of Southern Gaul, associated with John Cassian (see 410).
498 Symmachus and Laurentius (Lawrence) fought each other for the office of bishop of Rome. To limit the bloodshed in Rome, the two candidates allowed Theodoric, the Arian king of the Ostrogoths who ruled from Ravenna, to decide. Theodoric chose Symmachus, the candidate supported by the clergy. Symmachus also happened to be disposed against Theodoric’s enemy, the Roman emperor in Constantinople, and against the Henoticon. Laurentius was supported by the laity and wished to end the breach over the Henoticon (see 484). Laurentius withdrew his claim in 506. Meanwhile, he served as bishop of Nuceria.
Pope Symmachus (498-514) introduced
the Gloria into the liturgy in Rome. See 301+
Its use was limited to liturgies celebrated by bishops on Sundays and
feast days of martyrs. Priests were eventually allowed to include
it in celebrations of the mass: in the twelfth century, this
was extended to Sundays other than Easter.
The population of Constantinople
in this year has been estimated at 500,000.
The population of Rome may
have fallen to 100,000 by this
date (see 450, 552).
about this year, the stirrup was
invented, probably in the grasslands north of the Black or Caspian
Seas. It was introduced into Western Europe by way of contacts
between the Lombards and the Avars between the Danube and Friuli Rivers
in the 700s.
about this time, due to the
the jurisdiction of the bishop of Rome was effectively confined to
and southern Italy.