The idea of apostolicity in Byzantium and the legend of the Apostle Andrew

Francis Dvornik



Growth of the Idea of Apostolicity during the Acacian Schism


Acacius and Pope Simplicius — Gelasius' claims derived from Petrine tradition — Eastern and western reaction to Gelasius' claims — Increasing concern with apostolicity in the East — Libellus Hormisdae — Apostolic character of the Roman see in imperial and patriarchal letters — Currency of the idea of apostolicity in the East and its possible consequences for Constantinople.



It is not impossible that the restraint practiced by Leo I and Anatolius during their common campaign against the convocation of a new council might have led to a compromise acceptable to both sides had the alliance between Rome and Constantinople endured. Unfortunately, the period of peaceful collaboration between the two sees was to be of short duration, for soon after Leo's death events proved that the apprehensions of this great Pope over the rise of the see of Constantinople were well-founded.


Acacius of Constantinople (471-489), who eventually became responsible for the break between Rome and the East, nevertheless got off to a good start. When, in 475, Basiliscus revolted against Zeno (474-491), the lawful successor of the Emperor Leo, and undertook to protect monophysitism, Acacius refused to receive Basiliscus' protégé Timothy Aelurus into the church of Hagia Sophia. Furthermore, with his faithful orthodox following, Acacius contributed considerably to the downfall of the usurper (477), and received the congratulations of Pope Simplicius (468-483) on the part he had played in the victory of orthodoxy in the East. [1]



1. Simplicius, Epistolae, PL, 58, Epist. 6, cols. 4 seq; Mansi, 7, col. 995; Collectio Avellana, CSEL, 35, ed. O. Günther, Epist. 57, pp. 129 seq.; Epistolae Romanorum pontificum genuinae, ed. A. Thiel, Epist. 5, p. 186.





Like Anatolius, his predecessor, Acacius, too, had his reasons for siding with the Pope. [2] Timothy, popularly known as “the Cat," was determined to defend the leading position held in the East by Alexandria against the new pretensions of Constantinople formulated in canon twenty-eight.


During the short monophysite reaction, Timothy, on his return to Alexandria, stopped at Ephesus and reinstated Bishop Paul in the episcopal see. Paul had been previously elected by the Ephesians in defiance of the authority of the Patriarch of Constantinople, and had therefore been deposed by Acacius. Thus was Timothy avenged for Acacius' refusal to open the church of Hagia Sophia to him when he passed through the capital. At the same time Timothy convoked a synod at Ephesus which restored the patriarchal dignity to the see of that city, deposed Acacius, and requested the usurper to confirm the synodal decision. [3]


Of course this reversal was of short duration. Reinstated on the throne, Zeno restored the status quo ante, and deposed Paul of Ephesus and other supporters of Timothy, who died in 477. The incident was a reminder to the Bishop of Constantinople that his pretensions were still open to challenge even in the East, and it may have been another reason why Acacius tried to stay on good terms with Rome at the beginning of his tenure of office.


In a letter to Simplicius in which Acacius reported the death of Timothy Aelurus and the election of the orthodox Timothy Salofaciol as Bishop of Alexandria, Acacius even expressed some respect for the Roman primacy: [4]



2. In his letter of January 10, 476, Simplicius requested Acacius to resist all attempts of the heretics to convoke a council. PL, ibid., Epist. 5, col. 41 ; Col. Avel., Epist. 58, p. 130, 3; ed. A Thiel, Epist. 2, p. 179, chap. 3.


3. The Syriac Chronicle of Zachariah of Mitylene, transl. by F. J. Hamilton and E. W. Brooks, bk. 5 (London, 1899), chap. 4, pp. 109-112; Evagrius, The Ecclesiastical History, bk. 3, chap. 6; ed. J. Bidez, L. Parmentier (London, 1898), p. 106; PG, 86, cols. 2608 seq. Cf. B. J. Kidd, A. History of the Church to A.D. 461, 3 (Oxford, 1922), p. 407, and E. Honigmann, “ Juvenal of Jerusalem,” Dumbarton Oaks Papers, 5 (1950), p. 273.


4. PL, ibid., cols. 46 seq.; ed. Thiel, Epist. 8, pp. 192 seq. It is, however, interesting to note that, although the Pope in his letters to Emperor Zeno and to Acacius called the see of Alexandria the see of the Evangelist Mark [PL, ibid., Epist. 4, col. 40C, Epist. 5, col. 41D, Epist. 10; col. 48C; Col. Avel., Epist. 56, p. 128, ii, Epist. 58, p. 131, 4, Epist. 62, p. 140, 2; ed. Thiel, Epist. 2, p. 178, chap. 2, Epist. 3, p. 182, chap. 7, Epist. 10, p. 196), Acacius did not do so in his request.





“As you, according to the Apostle [II Cor. ii : 8], have care of all Churches, you exhort us ceaselessly, although we are watching and foreseeing by our own initiative, and in referring to us, in your desire to find the true status of the Church of Alexandria, you are manifesting your usual zeal for God's interests."


Of course, in the next part of the letter Acacius associated himself with the Pope in the final triumph of the good cause. It should be recalled how Leo the Great used to address the bishops as consorts of his solicitude for the whole Church. Acacius, through his phraseology, might have conveyed the idea, which Leo would have repudiated, that he considered the degree of his own solicitude coequal with that of the Pope, but he couched his letter in terms that permitted Simplicius to interpret them in the sense usually associated with Rome. This Simplicius did, thanking Acacius for his information and zeal. [4a]


Events soon took a dangerous turn however. When, in 479, the opponents of the Chalcedonian Creed killed Stephen, the orthodox Bishop of Antioch, the Emperor Zeno intervened and caused the election of the new Bishop Calendio to take place in Constantinople, where he was consecrated by Acacius himself. The Pope deplored this transgression of the Nicene canons, and admonished the Emperor and Acacius never to repeat it. [5] Official contact between Rome and Antioch was reopened only three years afterward when, in 482, Simplicius received from the hands of an envoy a letter from the new Antiochene Patriarch [6] announcing his enthronement. The Pope was alarmed further by the promotion of Peter Mongus, a repentant monophysite, to the See of Alexandria. [7]


Acacius had by this time ceased to inform the Pope of developments in the East, and it was, therefore, with some surprise that the Pope learned in 482 that the Emperor, in order to influence the monophysites, still numerous in the East and therefore dangerous to the peace of the Empire, had proclaimed the so-called Henoticon,



4a. PL, ibid., Epist. 9, col. 47; Col. Avel., Epist., 61, pp. 138 seq.; ed. Thiel, Epist. 9, p. 195.


5. PL, ibid., Epist. 13, 14, cols. 51, seq.; Col. Avel., Epist. 66, 67, pp. 147-150; ed. Thiel, Epist. 15, 16, pp. 202-206.


6. PL, ibid., Epist. 16, col. 55; Col. Avel., Epist. 69, p. 154; ed. Thiel, Epist. 17, pp. 206 seq.


7. PL, ibid., Epist. 17, 18, cols. 55-59; Col. Avel., Epist. 68, pp. 151 seq., ed. Thiel, Epist. 18, pp. 208 seq.





a profession of faith aimed at establishing a normal status in the Eastern Churches by making some concessions to the monophysites. Acacius and Peter Mongus accepted the new Creed and, when Calendio was replaced by Peter the Fuller, it was also officially accepted in Antioch. This initiated the so-called Acacian schism (484-519). [8]


It was during this schism that Rome employed the idea of apostolicity as one of her main weapons against the patriarchs of Constantinople, although of course even before the outbreak of the schism the idea of apostolicity was appreciated in Rome. Simplicius, for example, used to stress in his letters the apostolic character of the Church of Alexandria, calling it beati Marci evangelistae sedes, [9] and he was also fully conscious of the fact that he was the successor to St. Peter. [10] The gentle Simplicius was, however, not a Leo, and his letters reflect his rather conciliatory character. He contented himself with refusing Acacius' approaches concerning the recognition of canon twenty-eight of Chalcedon, [11] but never adopted the resolute tone of Leo's letters. Actually, full use of this weapon was made only by the foremost protagonist of Roman primacy in this period, Pope Gelasius (492-496), who had administered the Roman Chancery during the time of his predecessor in office, Felix III (483-492), and had influenced the tone of Felix's correspondence with the East.



8. A detailed history of the Acacian schism is given by E. Schwartz in "Publizistische Sammlungen zum Acacianischen Schisma” (Abhandl. der Bayr. Akad. der Wiss., Phil.-hist. Abteilung, N. F., Heft 10 [1934]), pp. 161-262. On pp. 161-170 the author gives a complete schedule with bibliographical references of all official documents issued during the schism. Almost all texts of the Verona and Berlin Collections, edited by him, are published in Migne’s Patrology, in Thiel’s edition, and in the Collectio Avellana. Only the latter editions have been quoted.


9. PL, ibid., Epist. 4, 5, 10, cols. 40, 41, 48, Col. Avel., Epist., 56, 58, 62, pp. 128, 131, 140; ed. Thiel, Epist. 2, 3, 10, pp. 178, chap. 2, 182, chap. 7, 196. See supra, p. 107 footnote 4.


10. PL, ibid., Epist. 4, 7, 14, cols. 40, 45, 52; Col. Avel., Epist. 56, 60, 66, pp. 129, 12, 137, 4, 148, 4; ed. Thiel, Epist. 3, 6, 15, pp. 182, chap. 7, 188, chap. 2, 204, chap. 3.


11. Gelasius’ letter to the bishops of Dardania relates that, at Acacius’ request, Emperor Leo I had approached Simplicius urging him to sanction the contested canon twenty-eight of Chalcedon. The Pope sent Bishop Probus of Canusa to Constantinople with instructions to convey to them his refusal. (PL, 59, col. 72D; Col. Avel., Epist. 95, p. 389, 57; ed. Thiel, p. 407, chap. 10):

Eaque nihilominus etiam sub sanctae memoriae papa Simplicio legatum sedis apostolicae sanctae memoriae Probum Canusinae urbis episcopum Leone principe tunc petente praesente docuisse nullatenus posse temptari neque his prorsus praebuisse consensum.

Cf. the translation of the passage infra, p. 113.





From the beginning Gelasius followed Leo's uncompromising attitude, showing, even greater firmness than had Leo.



Gelasius' ideas are evident in Felix's correspondence, [12] and his influence certainly stiffened Felix's attitude toward Acacius' successors Flavita (Phrabitas; end of 488 to March 489) and Euphemius (489-496). These two had tried to enter into communion with Rome while refusing to condemn the memory of Acacius or to break with Peter the Fuller of Alexandria. In one letter to Emperor Zeno the Pope twice [13] quotes the classical passage (Matt. 16:18), to stress the supreme position of the Roman see in the Church, and in all four letters to the Emperor the apostolic character of the Roman see is duly stressed. [14] Also, in the letters to Peter the Fuller, Acacius, Fravita, and Thalassius, the Roman see is most intimately connected with St. Peter. [15]



12. For details see H. Koch, “Gelasius im kirchenpolitischen Dienste seiner Vorgänger, der Päpste Simplicius and Felix III," in Sitzungsber. d. Bayr. Akad. dev Wiss., Phil.-hist. Kl., Heft 6 (Munich, 1935).


13. PL, 58, Epist. 5, col. 917D:

Per nostram parvitatem dignare suscipere venerabilem ac divinam beatissimi Petri confessionem, apostolorum scilicet principis cui et regni claves a Salvatore traditae sunt.

Cf. col. 918D. Also, ibid., Epist. 12, col. 969C; ed. Thiel, Epist. 15, p. 270, chap. 1, Epist. 1, p. 223, chap. 2.



PL, ibid., Epist. 2, cols. 899C: beati apostoli sedes,

D: Apostoli Petri veneranda confessio materna instat vocibus, et suorum praecipue filiorum compellare non desinens confidentiam tuae pietatis, exclamat: Christiane princeps, cur me a curriculo caritatis, quo Ecclesia universalis astringitur, permittis incidi ? (ed. Thiel, Epist. 1, pp. 223-224, chap. 2),


Epist. 5, cols. 918D, 920D, 922A, Epist. 9., cols. 934C, D: beati Petri directa legatio,

col. 935A: In vestro relinquo deliberationis arbitrio utrum beati apostoli Petri an Alexandrini Petri, cuiquam sit eligenda communio (ed. Thiel, Epist., 8, p. 248, 2).

PL, ibid., Epist. 12, cols. 969B: dum ad beati Petri apostoli sedem suae refert dignitatis exordium,

969C, quotation Matt. 16: 18, 19, 969D: apostolicae sedis communio,

970B, C: beati Petri qualiscunque vicarius, non auctoritate velut apostolicae potestatis extorqueo, sed tamquam sollicitus pater...,

971C: cuicunque personae paterna fides, et beati Petri communio debet praeferri (ed. Thiel, Epist. 15, pp. 270, chap. i, 271, chap. 2, 272, chap. 3, 273, chap. 5).



Epist. 4, ad Fullonem, PL, ibid.,

cols. 913B: vertex. . . omnium apostol.,

915A: nostri gloriosi praecessoris Petri, qui claves regni a Salvatore nostra recepit.


Epist. 6, ad Acacium, PL, ibid.,

cols. 923B: in laesionem beati Petri apostoli a cuius sede profecti fuerant...,

D : apostolica auctorite (ed. Thiel, Epist., 6, pp. 245, 246).


Epist. 13, ad Flavitam, PL, ibid.,

cols. 972A: ad apostolicam sedem regulariter destinatur, per quam largiente Christo omnium solidatur dignitas sacerdotum,

B: apostolorum summus, petra fidei,

C: beati Petri communionem fideli corde suscipere,

D: beati Petri consortio Alexandrini Petri societas praefertur,

973B: absolvi autem Petrus nulla ratione potuit sine apostolicae sedis assensu... beati Petri fides (ed. Thiel, Epist. 14, pp. 267, chaps, i, 2, 286, chap. 3).


PL, ibid., Epist. 14, ad Thalasium, cols. 975A: beati Petri fides, beati Petri exemplum, B: beati Petri veritas (ed. Thiel, Epist. 16, p. 274).


Libellus, PL, ibid., col. 978C: apud beatissimum Petrum apostolum diluere obedienter procuret... apostolicum non debet judicium... abjicere (ed. Thiel, Epist. 4, p. 241, chap. 2).





All of this gives the reader the impression that the intention of the Pope and his secretary was to emphasize that only one see was really apostolic—the see of St. Peter—and that the teaching defended by this see was the true faith of St. Peter; to be accepted, therefore, by every Christian. In view of this, it is interesting to note that Felix III continued to follow the tradition established by Leo and Simplicius, and called the see of Alexandria, the see of St. Mark, who was Peter's disciple. [16]


In his own letters Gelasius emphasized the Petrine tradition even more strongly. Not only is the classical argument for the primacy (Matt. 16:18) [17] frequently used, but the identification of the Roman with the apostolic see recurs so often in Gelasius' writing that it seems pointless to quote the details. In all his correspondence with the East Gelasius seldom referred to his see without calling it apostolic. He carefully avoided, too, calling any other see apostolic, but contented himself with designating Alexandria as the second see and Antioch as the third. [18]


Gelasius also repudiated, and again in strong terms, the twentyeighth canon of Chalcedon, [19] and in his letter to the bishops of Dardania (495) flatly rejected the thesis that Constantinople had the right to special privileges because it was the Imperial City.




PL, ibid., Epist. 2, ad Zenonem, col. 899C: ne sedes beati evangelistae Marci a doctrina, magistri sui vel communione permitteres separari (ed. Thiel, Epist. i, p. 223, chap. 2).


PL, ibid., Epist. 2, ad Zenonem, col. 904B: sedem beati Marci evangelistae ad communionem beatissimi Petri, de vitae eorum meritis devotione reducite, (ed. Thiel, Epist. 1, p. 232, chap. 13).


PL, ibid., Epist. 6, ad Aeacium, col. 922C: beati Marci sedes (ed. Thiel, Epist. 6, p. 244).


17. Gelasii Papae I Epistolae at decreta, PL, 59, Epist. 1, ad Euphemium, cols. 14B, 19B; Epist. 4, ad Faustum Mag., cols. 27C, 30B; Epist. 14, sive Tractatus, col. 89B. Cf. also Epist. 8 ad Anastasium imper. col. 43D: quia mundo radix est apostoli gloriosa confessio, (ed. A. Thiel, Epist. 3, p. 313, Epist. 10, p. 342, Tract. 2,p. 529, Epist. 12, pp. 352, 353, chaps. 3, 6). Cf. also his letter to the bishops of Dardania (Epist. 13) quoted infra p. 113, and Epist. ii, ad episc. Dardaniae (col. 59C; ed. Thiel, Epist. 18, p. 385).


18. See infra, pp. 112, 116.


19. Gelasii tomus de anathematis vinculo, PL, ibid., cols. 102, 103; ed. Thiel., p. 558:

alia autem, quae per incompetentem praesumptionem illic (at the Council of Chalcedon) prolata sunt vel potius ventilata, quae sedes apostolica gerenda nullatenus delegavit, quae mox a vicariis sedis apostolicae contradicta manifestum est, quae sedes apostolica, etiam petente Marciano principe, nullatenus approbavit, quae praesul Ecclesiae Constantinopolitanae tunc Anatolius, nec se praesumpsisse professus est, et in apostolicae sedis antistitis non negavit posita potestate ; quae ideo. . . sedes apostolica non recepit, quia quae privilegiis universalis ecclesiae contraria probantur, nulla ratione sustinet.

Similar passage in col. 107B; ed. Thiel, Tract. 4, p. 565, chap. 9.





This is the most outspoken passage in the letter: [20]


“It is ridiculous that they wish to give a prerogative to Acacius on the ground that he is Bishop of the Imperial City. Is it not true that the Emperor resided at various times in Ravenna, Milan, Sirmium, and Trèves ? And have the priests of those cities usurped for themselves anything besides the honors which were devolved to them in ancient times ? .... If there is any question of the dignity due to cities, the dignity of the second and third sees [Alexandria and Antioch] is greater than that of the city [Constantinople] which not only is not numbered among [major] sees, but is not even enumerated among cities with metropolitan rights. But when you say 'Imperial City,' [remember that] there is a difference between the power of secular kingship and the distribution of ecclesiastical dignities. . ."


These are forceful words, and it is surprising that Gelasius did not recognize the metropolitan dignity of Constantinople. As a matter of fact, in two other passages in the same letter he declared that Constantinople's metropolitan was the bishop of Heraclea. When defending Rome's refusal to recognize the orthodoxy of Peter the Fuller of Alexandria, who was accepted by Acacius of Constantinople, Gelasius writes: [21]


“Was it proper for the apostolic see to prefer the judgment of a bishop of Heraclea's district [paroeciae Heraclensis ecclesiae], I mean the Pontiff of Constantinople, or of some other bishops who were to be convoked with him, or because of him, when the Bishop of Constantinople refused to appear before the apostolic see which is the first see ? This Bishop, even if he were adorned with the prerogative of a metropolitan, or even if he had a place among the [major] sees, had no right to ignore the decision of the first see before whose judgment he was called when the Bishop of the second see had appealed [to it] in accordance with the canons."



20. PL. ibid., Epist. 13, cols. 71, 72; Col. Avel., Epist. 95, pp. 387 seq.; ed. Thiel, Epist. 26, pp. 405 seq., chap. 10.


21. PL, ibid., col. 65C; Col. Avel., ibid., p. 376, 21; ed. Thiel, ibid., p. 398, chap. 4.





A little further on, the Pope repeated with great emphasis: [22]


“It is thus sufficiently clear that Acacius had no authority to annul the decision of the apostolic see without any knowledge of it [by the latter]. Thus let them say: 'By what synod did he presume to do so ? Even this he had no right to do without the [co-operation of] the apostolic see. The Bishop of what see ? Of what metropolitan city [is he] the Pontiff? Is it not true that [he is the Bishop] of the district of the Church of Heraclea?"


It is clear from these statements that Gelasius refused not only to count Constantinople among the greater sees, but even to recognize its metropolitan status. As has been seen from his Tomus, Gelasius interpreted Marcian's and Anatolius' letters to Leo very literally. He is even more outspoken in his letter to the bishops of Dardania: [23]


“If the bishops of Constantinople flatter themselves because their city is the residence of the emperor, and think therefore that their persons are more important, let them listen to Marcian, the Princeps of that city. When, having interceded for the promotion of the priest of that city, he was not able to obtain anything that was contrary to the canons, he extended to Pope Leo of holy memory the highest praise, because he [the Pope] had not allowed the rules of the canons to be violated in any manner. Let them listen to Anatolius, the Pontiff of that same city, or better, to the clergy of Constantinople, confessing that they were trying to obtain the same thing, and affirming that all [this] was within the power of the apostolic bishop. And [let them listen to] the same blessed Pope Leo, head of the apostolic see, through whose authority the Synod of Chalcedon was confirmed, ... to rescind by a competent refutation that which had again been attempted in a new way at that assembly, [and which] would be well outside the canons of Nicaea. Nonetheless, [they can hear] Probus, Bishop of the City of Canusa of holy memory, legate of the apostolic see under Pope Simplicius of blessed memory, teaching the same thing in the presence of the Princeps Leo, who asked then that it should not be attempted in any way,



22. PL, ibid., col. 66D; Col. Avel., ibid., p. 378; ed. Thiel, ibid., p. 400, chap. 5: ... cujus sedis episcopus? Cujus metropolitanae civitatis antistes? Nonne paroeciae Heracliensis ecclesiae ?


23. PL, ibid., col. 72A,D; Col. Avel., ibid., pp. 388 seq. ; ed. Thiel, ibid., p. 406, chap. 10.





and refused resolutely to give his consent to it in any way, and therefore, let them not look at the status of any city, but let them [rather] properly observe the way of ecclesiastical order confirmed by the tradition of the Fathers. [24]


Gelasius went even further. He established a sub-division of the three main sees in the Church, and declared that the incumbents of the major sees could be judged only by the bishop of the first - the apostolic see. Moreover, he was the first Pope to claim openly primacy of jurisdiction over the whole Church. He developed his teaching in three documents in particular : in his instructions to his legate, the Magister Faustus, in his letter to the Emperor Anastasius, and in the above-mentioned long letter to the bishops of Dardania. All three documents deal with the affairs of the Eastern Church.


In his instructions to Faustus Gelasius gave first a very broad interpretation of the canons of Sardica (343) which established the right of appeal from the judgment of metropolitans to that of the bishop of Rome:


"These are the canons which decreed that appeals from the whole Church should be directed to this see. They have, however, by no means sanctioned an appeal [elsewhere] from [its judgment]; in this way they have ordained that it should sit in judgment over the whole Church, but that it should itself be judged by no-one, and never [have they ordered] that its judgment should be judged. They have stated that its decision should not be annulled, but rather ordered that its decrees should be followed.” [25]


The Bishop of Constantinople, the instructions continue, was assigned the role of executor of the Pope's decisions, and Acacius had acted in this role, according to the Pope, when he broke with Timothy of Alexandria and Peter of Antioch, who, with others, had been condemned, sola sedis apostolicae auctoritate.



24. Gelasius expresses similar ideas in his instruction to Faustus (PL., ibid., col. 29A) : Et Constantinopolitanae civitatis episcopus, quae utique per canones inter sedes nullum nomen accepit...) ed. Thiel, Epist. 10, p. 345, chap. 6.


25. PL, ibid., col. 28B; ed. Thiel, ibid., p. 344, chap. 5:

Ipsi sunt canones, qui appellationes totius ecclesiae ad hujus sedis examen voluere deferri ab ipsa vero nusquam prorsus appellari debere sanxerunt; ac per hoc illam de tota Ecclesia judicare, ipsam ad nullius commeare judicium, nec de ejus unquam praeceperunt judicio judicari, sententiamque illius constituerunt non oportere dissolvi, cujus potius decreta sequenda mandarunt.

Cf. also ibid., col. 30B; ed. Thiel, ibid., p. 347, chap. 9:

Si quantum ad religionem pertinet, non nisi apostolicae sedi juxta canones debetur summa judicii totius) si quantum ad saeculi potestatem, illa a pontificibus, et praecipere a beati Petri vicario, debet cognoscere, quae divina sunt, non ipsa eadem judicare.





This was a rather daring statement, and Gelasius obviously realized it, for in the succeeding passage he tried to minimize the roles of the synods and of the Emperor in the incidents mentioned.


In his famous letter to Emperor Anastasius, Gelasius, after defining his doctrine on the two powers governing the world - auctoritas sacra pontificum et regalia potestas [26] - continued: [27]


“If it is fitting that, in general, the faithful should subordinate their hearts to all priests who are correctly administering things divine, how much more should one endeavor to be in accord with the holder of the see, whom not only the divine will wished to be superior to all priests, but whom [also] the common piety of the Church following [the divine will] has continually celebrated [as such]. As your piety can clearly realize, never can anyone elevate himself through any human counsel whatever to that privilege or confession of him [Peter] whom the voice of Christ had placed above all, and whom the venerable Church has always confessed and reverently regarded as its primate. What has been established by divine decree can be attacked by human presumption; it cannot, however, be defeated by any power.”


Further on, when defending the condemnation of Acacius by Rome, Gelasius exclaimed: [28]


“By a succession of canons of the Fathers and by a multiple tradition the authority of the apostolic see is established, since through all the Christian centuries it has been placed at the head of the Church.”


These declarations are particularly important because they are contained in an official letter addressed to the Emperor, and the Byzantines could thus clearly see to what extent claims resulting from the Petrine tradition might be advanced.



26. Cf. F. Dvornik, “Pope Gelasius and Emperor Anastasius I,” Byzantinische Zeitschrift, 44 (1951), pp. 111-116. A. Michel (“Der Kampf um das politische oder petrinische Prinzip der Kirchenführung," in Das Konzil von Chalkedon, 2, ed. A. Grillmeier, H. Bacht [Würzburg, 1953], pp. 557-562) misunderstood the main core of the author's thesis. It is the author's intention to deal with this subject more thoroughly in his book on the Origins of Christian Political Philosophy, now in preparation. Cf. also P. Charanis, Church and State in the Later Roman Empire. The Religious Policy of Anastasius the First (Madison, Wis., 1939).


27. PL, ibid., cols. 42C,D, 43A; ed. Thiel, Epist, 12, pp. 551 seq. chaps. 2, 3.


28. PL, ibid., col. 45C; ed. Thiel, ibid., p. 356, chap. 9:

Apostolicae vero sedis auctoritas quod cunctis saeculis Christianis Ecclesiae praelata sit universae, et canonum serie paternorum et multiplici traditione firmatur.





Gelasius was even more outspoken in his long letter to the bishops of Dardania who were especially susceptible to propaganda reaching Illyricum from Constantinople. In order to point out to them the minor position of the see of Constantinople in Church organization, Gelasius repeatedly spoke of the first, second, and third sees - Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch - stressing at the same time that the second and third sees could be judged only by the first. [29]


In the letter or treatise addressed to the Eastern Bishops by Felix III, Gelasius, its true author, had already questioned the competence of Acacius to receive Peter Mongus into the Church, even if the latter had repented of his error of faith, for the only competent authority in this case was the Bishop of Alexandria who himself could not have so acted without reporting the matter to the Roman See. [30]


This subordination of Alexandria and Antioch to Rome was proclaimed with particular forcefulness by Gelasius in his second treatise against Acacius, composed between the years 492 and 496. When speaking of the reception into the Church of Peter Mongus, Gelasius emphatically declared : [30a]



29. PL, ibid., col. 64A; Col. Avel., p. 373; ed. Thiel, ibid., p. 396, chap. 3:

Joannes secundae sedis antistes .. ad primae sedis audientiam cohortatus est, vel venire debere vel mittere. Licet enim synodus iteranda non esset, tamen congrueret, ut cuiuslibet civitatis episcopus primae sedis iudicium non vitaret, ad quod convenerat secundae sedis antistes, qui nisi a prima sede non posset audiri.


PL, ibid., col. 65B; Col. Avel., p. 375, ed. Thiel, ibid., p. 397,chap. 4:

Cur . . . Iohannem, quem suis litteris impetebat, qualemcumque secundae sedis episcopum, in primae sedis beati Petri apostoli iudicio confutare despexit.

Cf. also cols. 66B., 67B, 69C,D; Coi. Avel., pp. 377, 379, 384; ed. Thiel, ibid., pp. 399, chap. 4, 400, chap. 5, 403, chap. 7.


30. PL, 58, col. 949B; ed. Thiel, ibid., pp. 21 seq., Epist. 1, pp. 291 seq., chap. 9:

Siquidem Ecclesiae regula vetusque traditio nota sit omnibus: ab episcopo enim provinciae suae, id est secundae sedis antistite, eum vel discuti vel recipi convenisset. Qui tamen Alexandrinus antistes, . . . non prius hoc faceret, quam ad sedem apostolicam retulisset.Docent hoc catholici gestaTimothei, aliorumque exempla multorum, qui acceptis libellis hereticorum, . . . non prius receptionem eorum communionemque confirmant, quam ad hanc sedem satisfacientium gesta dirigerent, atque hinc poscerent, sicut factum est, debere firmari.


Cf. also the very severe passage concerning the same incident in Gelasius’ letter to the Eastern bishops (PL, 59, col. 93BU; ed. Thiel, Epist. 27, p. 426, chap. 4.


30a. PL, ibid., Epist. 14, sive Tractatus, col. 89A,B; ed. Thiel, tract. 2, p. 528, chap. 8.





"But it will never be taught, never be shown, never be proved in any way that his cleansing (purgatio), which has not been performed according to competent rules, was legitimate. Because no-one would have been able either to expel or to demote the head of the second see without the consent of the first, neither should he [have done so]. Unless it were that the state of things was already so disturbed and confused, and that the first, second, and third sees were no longer respected and acknowledged according to the ancient statutes of the Fathers, and that after their head has been removed, as we see, all the members were in conflict with each other. For on what grounds should [honor] be paid (deferendum) to other sees if the traditional reverence (reverentia) is not paid to the first see, that of Blessed Peter, through which the dignity of all bishops is constantly being fortified and confirmed, and whose rank of honor (honor) is expressed through the invincible and unique judgment of the 318 Fathers?"


Gelasius then quoted the classical argument for the Roman primacy (Matt. 16: 18.), adding to it the two passages from Luke's and John's Gospels (Luke 22:32; John 21:15-17). The whole passage is one of the most outspoken pleas for the Roman primacy written by Gelasius.


In his letter to the bishops of Dardania, the Pope defined the extent of the primatial powers. First he claimed the right to execute the decisions of the general councils. Basing his claim on the tradition of the Fathers, he declared: [31]


“Let no true Christian ignore the fact that the constitution of any synod which has been approved by the consent of the whole Church can be executed by no other see than the first, which confirms any synod by its authority and watches over it through continuous supervision, especially because of its principate, which Blessed Peter the Apostle obtained through the word of the Lord and which it has always retained and continues to retain ...."


But, he continued, this was only one of the apostolic privileges; the apostolic see had the power to absolve any person from any sentence pronounced by any prelate: [32]



31. PL, ibid., col. 63B,C; Col. Avel., Epist. 95, p. 372; ed. Thiel, Epist. 26, p. 395, chap. 3.


32. PL, ibid., col. 66C; Col. Avel., p. 378; ed. Thiel, ibid., p. 399, chap. 5.





“The entire Church over the entire world knows that the chair of the Blessed Peter has the right to loose what has been bound by the sentences of any bishop whatsoever, as the see of Peter is entitled to jurisdiction over any Church, while no one is entitled to pass judgment on its decision, for the canons have permitted that appeals should be directed to it from all the world, but no-one is permitted to appeal its decision."


This power extended also to the decisions of synods and was not bound by them: [33]


"The apostolic see has often had the liberty [facultas), without a synod preceding it, to loose those whom a synod had unjustly condemned, and also, if necessary, to condemn others without the convocation of a synod."


The Pope then quoted some instances when, according to his interpretation, though not with strict historical truth, the Roman see had exercised this power:


"an Eastern synod had rejected Athanasius of blessed memory; but the apostolic see took him up, denying confirmation of the condemnation by the Greeks, and acquitted him: in the same way a synod of catholic bishops had condemned, too, John [Chrysostom] of Constantinople; him also the apostolic see released merely by refusing to confirm the sentence. In the same way the apostolic see released Flavian of blessed memory, who was similarly condemned by an assembly of bishops, merely through not agreeing to his condemnation. Furthermore the apostolic see condemned by its authority Dioscorus, the Bishop of the second see, who had been admitted there ; it dissolved the godless synod by refusing its concurrence, and for the sake of truth ordered, on its own authority, that the Synod of Chalcedon should be held."



It would be interesting to know what impression Gelasius' uncompromising attitude made on the Eastern Church in general, and particularly in Constantinople. Unfortunately, authentic documents emanating directly from the East in answer to the Pope's defense of his uncompromising position are missing, but Gelasius' writings give at least a few indications of how this attitude was received by Eastern bishops.


The first treatise, in which Gelasius dealt with some objections sent by the Easterners to Felix III gives an insight into the thinking of the Eastern clergy.



33. PL, ibid., col. 67B,C; Col. Avel. p. 379; ed. Thiel, ibid., p. 400, chap. 5.





Their position, insofar as it can be determined, implies that the idea that the universality of the Church should be represented by and merged with the universality of the Empire still predominated in the East, but they declared that such an uncompromising attitude on the part of the Pope, endangered the whole Church, [34] and that it was in the interest of the Empire to show a more compromising spirit even in matters which concerned the Creed. [35]


The Pope's definitions of the extent of his primacy must have frequently bewildered the Easterners; one special instance being his letter to the Emperor Anastasius. In this Gelasius complained that the Easterners termed him “proud and arrogant." [36] This, however, did not mean that they rejected outright his claims to the primacy, because, in his first treatise, Gelasius quoted the Easterners as saying that the Pope “is diminishing his own privileges because of his stubborness." [37]


Moreover, they apparently found the Roman see's condemnation of bishops, without announcement to the Easterners and without synodal procedure, very strange and contrary to tradition. The Pope's answers to those accusations show particular irritation. [38]



34. PL, 58, col. 961A; ed. Thiel, Epist. 1, p. 305, chap. 32: Sed obstinatione vestra, inquis, in periculum causam totius Ecclesiae adducitis.


35. PL, ibid., col. 958C; ed. Thiel, ibid., p. 303, chap. 29: Sed nunc, inquis, utilitatis interest reipublicae. Sed sacerdos allegare debuit, utilitatis interesse potius publicae, ut divina communio et fides integra servaretur. . . .


36. Commonitorium ad Faustum, PL, 59, Epist. 4, col. 30A; ed. Thiel, Epist. 10, p. 346, chap. 9: isti sedem beati Petri apostoli blasphemare praesumunt. . . et nos insuper superbos esse pronuntiant. Epist. ad. Anastasium, ibid., col. 40C,D ; ed. Thiel, p. 358, chap. 12: Sed adhuc apostolicam sedem . . . superbam vocare arrogantemque contendunt ... si nos superbi sumus ... si nos elatis sumus. . .


37. PL, 58, col. 961 A; ed. Thiel, Epist. i, p. 305, chap. 33: Sed apostolicae sedis dignitatem ista obstinatione minuitis..., col. 965C; ed. Thiel, p. 310, chap. 4: sed privilegia, inquis, vestra hac obstinatione. minuitis. Igitur ne minus juris habeamus, efficiamur haeretici, et ne amittamus ecclesiasticae privilegia potestatis, amittamus ipsam religionem ....


38. Commonitorium ad Faustum, PL., 59, Epist. 4, cols. 2yC,D, 28B; ed. Thiel, Epist. 10, pp. 342, chap. 3, 343, chaps. 4, 5:

Ostendant, qui nobis canones nituntur apponere, quibus hoc canonibus, quibus regulis qua lectione, quove documento . . . sive factum est unquam, vel faciendum esse mandatur.... Euphemium vero miror, si ignorantia,m suam ipse non perspicit, qui dicit Aeacium ab uno non potuisse damnari. Itane non perspicit, secundum formam synodi Chalcedonensis, Aeacium fuisse damnatum?... Nobis opponunt canones, dum nesciunt quid loquantur.

Epist. ad episcopos orientales, PL, ibid., Epist. 15, cols. 94C,D.,95A, 97A, C; ed. Thiel, Epist. 27, pp. 429, chaps. 6, 7, 432, chap. 9, 433, chap. 10:

An de uno dolet Aeacio, quod speciali synodo non fuerit confutatus, cum proprium crimen suis litteris ipse detexerit .... Certe quod sedes apostolica decreverat, Orientalibus episcopis non innotuisse factatur.. .. Hic vobis synodus numquam venit in menteam, et certe de personis, ut dictum est, nulla veteri lege constrictis.... Dicitis, synodum in unius hominis persona· debuisse tractari, quam in damnandis tantis pontificibus catholicis non quaesistis....





Such accusations and the Pope's brisk and sometimes biting replies naturally failed to ease the tension between East and West. In some of Gelasius' letters an air of superiority toward "the Greeks" can be detected. He was puzzled by the attitude of the Greeks, who could not comprehend the logic of his deductions, and enjoyed their own combinationi with the Creed as defined by the Council of Chalcedon. [39] Here, perhaps for the first time, a papal document comments on Greek unreliability in matters of faith. Gelasius launched the accusation against the Greeks by saying that heretics were "at home" with them, [40] an accusation which developed later into a general condemnation of Greeks as heretics and schismatics by the entire West.


Thus there is no doubt that during the papacy of Gelasius the relationship between East and West deteriorated considerably. The Pope could rightly boast that he was defending the Creed defined by Leo the Great, and confirmed by the Council of Chalcedon. The Easterners, though in the majority, were in the wrong; but, although they made a few attempts at reconciliation, Gelasius made little, if any, effort to meet them halfway. He could not, of course, compromise the Creed, and for this he deserves the gratitude of all orthodox Christians, but there are ways and means of saying and doing the right thing in the right way, and in this respect Gelasius was not adept. Under similar circumstances St. Leo the Great had also shown admirable firmness, but, at the same time, he devised a way of handling the Greeks that was effective without being excessively offensive to their sensibilities.



39. Epist. XV ad episc. orientales, PL, ibid., cols. 98D, 99A; ed Thiel, ibid., pp. 434, chap. ii, 435, chap. 12:

Sed haec apud Graecos facilis et inculpabilis putatur esse permixtio, apud quos nulla est veri falsique discretio ; et cum omnibus reprobis volunt esse communes, in nulla monstrantur probitate constare.

This is of course a gross exaggeration explainable only by the “heat of the struggle."


40. Epist. III ad episcopos Dardaniae, PL, ibid., col. 23B; ed. Thiel, Epist. 7, p. 335, chap. 2: Apud Graecos, quibus multas haereses abundare non dubium est.





Of course, since the reign of Leo the Great, events had occurred which inevitably increased the tension between East and West. The Acacian schism was a serious affair. Gelasius' firmness, however, certainly impressed the Westerners, and the prestige of the Roman see undoubtedly grew in the West because of the Pope's uncompromising attitude. This is very clearly illustrated by the acclamations of the enthusiastic Western prelates who gathered in Rome in 495 to receive back into the Church the legate Misenus. The latter, when sent by Felix III to Constantinople, communicated with Acacius, and was accordingly anathematized by the Pope. The prelates not only invoked St. Peter to intercede for Gelasius, but acclaimed the Pope as vicar of Christ. [41]


Dionysius Exiguus, the author of the famous Collection of Papal Decrees, transmitted to posterity the sentiments of admiration and gratitude felt for their master by Gelasius' disciples. In the introduction to his Collection, dedicated to Cardinal Julian, his benefactor and Gelasius' disciple, Dionysius inserted a long eulogy on Gelasius, exalting his humility, his labors for the Church, his charity and chastity, and calling him “a shepherd and an imitator of the supreme good Shepherd—a chosen head of the apostolic see who obeyed and taught the precepts of God." [42]


In spite of the bitterness that Gelasius' firmness and sharp criticism may have left in their hearts, the Easterners were impressed by the Pope's emphasis on the apostolic character of his see, and by the deductions he made from the fact that he was the successor of St. Peter. A perusal of the correspondence addressed to Gelasius and to his successors from the Eastern part of the Empire during the last stage of the Acacian schism shows clearly that the apostolicity of the Roman see was stressed more and more by the Easterners.



41. PL. ibid., col. 190C; ed. Thiel, Epist. 30, p. 447; Col. Avel. Epist. 103, p. 487 :

Omnes episcopi et pvesbyteri sur gentes in synodo acclamaverunt: “Exaudi, Christe, Gelasio vita!" dictum quindecies. “Domine Petre, tu illum serva!” Dictum duodecies. “Cujus sedem et annos!" Dictum septies. “Vicarium Christi te videmus!" Dictum undecies. “Apostolum Petrum te videmus!" Dictum sexies. “Cujus sedem et annos!” Dictum septies trigesies.


42. Dionysii Exiqui Collectio decretorum pontificum Romanorum, PL, 67, cols. 231 seq. Cf. Thiel, pp. 286, 287. See Caspar, Geschichte, 2, pp. 79 seq. Caspar ends his history of Gelasius very fittingly with this quotation of Dionysius’ eulogy.





The letters of Eastern prelates to Gelasius are not preserved, and it is impossible to reconstruct from his replies the titles they bestowed on him. Only a letter of the bishops of Dardania to Gelasius in 494 is extant. In this the prelates of that part of Illyricum assured the Pope of their fidelity to the faith of Chalcedon and to the apostolic see. The letter [43] is addressed Domino, sancto, apostolico et beatissimo patri patrum Gelasio papae urbis Romae, and is written with great respect and in a very devout spirit. The bishops declared that they would always obey the admonitions and follow the directives given to them by the ‘'apostolic see," and asked “his apostolate” to send a legate from his “angelic see” with further instructions.


It was natural that the bishops of the Latin part of Illyricum, which belonged to the patriarchate of Rome, would hold the popes in high esteem, and willingly recognize all claims based on the apostolic and Petrine origin of their see. But, in view of the intensive propaganda to which the bishops of Illyricum were subjected by the followers of Acacius—which as we have seen, had deeply impressed the vicars of the popes, the metropolitans of Thessalonica—the declaration of the bishops of Dardania carries some weight.


However, even the prelates of the three Eastern patriarchates were impressed by the claims formulated so boldly in Gelasius' letters, and by the uncompromising attitude of the Roman papacy. This is best illustrated in the letter addressed by the orthodox Eastern prelates to Gelasius' second successor, Pope Symmachus (498-514). It is a very moving plea for help addressed by Eastern Christendom to the head of the Church, the Bishop of Rome. The orthodox bishops, who were deprived of their sees because of their refusal to follow Acacius and his allies in Alexandria and Antioch, first recalled Christ's parables of the lost sheep and the pieces of silver



43. PL, 59, cols. 21 seq., Col. Avel., Epist. 80, pp. 233-225; ed. Thiel, Epist. ii, pp. 348 seq:

. . . patrum in omnibus custodientes praecepta et inviolabilia sacrosanctorum canonum instituta sectantes apostolicae et singulari illi sedi vestrae communi fide et devotione parere contendimus .... Apostolatus vester dignetur admittere.... Unum ex angelica sede vestra ... ad nos usque praecipite destinare, ut sub ejus praesentia, quae fides orthodoxa et vestrae iussiomis sinceritas postulat, ordinentur ....





(Luke 15:4 seq.), and then appealed to the Pope in a most passionate way: [44]


“We recalled this, o most holy one, daring to plead neither for one lost sheep, nor for the loss of one drachma, but for the salvation, dear to us, of both the Eastern parts and of most of the three divisions of the habitable world, which were redeemed from the sinful state transmitted by the parents, not with perishable silver or gold, but with the precious blood of the Lamb of God. So teaches the blessed prince of the most glorious apostles [I Pet. 1:18], whose chair Christ, the best shepherd, had entrusted to you, who came to seek and to free what was lost, and who gave his soul for the redemption of many. In imitating him, most holy and most blessed one, hasten to help us, as the blessed Paul, your teacher, once hastened to help the Macedonians [Acts 16] . . . . You are taught daily by your holy teacher, Peter, to tend the sheep of Christ entrusted to you over the whole habitable world, which were gathered, not by force, but by their own will; you who, with the most learned Paul, cry to us who are subject to you, saying, 'We are not dominating you in faith, but collaborating in joy’ [II, Cor. i : 24] . . . . But all of us, both the orthodox who are in communion and [also] those who are abstaining from communion, wait upon both God and you for the light of visitation and reception (assumptio). Thus, hasten to help the East, whence the Saviour of the Universe sent two great lights, Peter and Paul, to illuminate the whole world."


This is one of the most straightforward acknowledgments by Eastern prelates of Roman primacy in the Church, and it is somewhat surprising that Symmachus should have paid almost no attention to so moving and sincere a plea. The letter of October 8, 512, [45] regarded by some as the Pope's answer to the plea of the orthodox Easterners, was in reality addressed to the prelates of Illyricum. At the end of the missive they were warned that if they paid no heed to papal admonition, they would find themselves in the same unfortunate situation as the Church of Constantinople. This attitude was resented by the Easterners who felt that Rome,



44. Symmachus, Epistolae et Decreta, PL, 62, cols. 56 seq.; ed. Thiel, Epist. 12, pp. 709 seq.


45. PL, ibid., Epist. 7, cols. 61-63; ed. Thiel, Epist. 13, pp. 717-722. Cf. Caspar, op. cit., p. 123.





while boasting of its own orthodoxy, was not doing enough to help others to attain it ; or so at least their use, in their plea, of Paul's epistle [II Cor. i:24] seems to indicate, and Symmachus' silence could easily have given them the impression that their resentment was not groundless.


Further evidence of respect and recognition of the apostolic character of the Roman see is to be found in other documents that reached Pope Hormisda (514-523) from the East during the last phase of the Acacian schism, for the liquidation of which the Pope had labored from the beginning of his reign. In a letter dated January 12, 515, Dorotheus, the Metropolitan of Thessalonica,, hailed Hormisda as a true peace maker and "champion of the true faith, who never errs," who—as from a tower—calls to unity the separated members of the Church "which Christ our God has entrusted to you." Dorotheus wrote:


"I write to you and address the blessed person of your holiness, showing that I am one in joy with the blessed see of the most holy Apostle Peter, which is governed by such a hand...." [45a]


He also professed that he learned to respect the Roman see from the tradition of the Holy Fathers, and expressed the wish that


"through the humanity of our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, and through the intercession of the Apostle Peter, most blessed above all, and Paul, the most wise above all, due honor may in justice be given and reserved to their see and to your beatitude, in order that in your time the apostolic see may obtain with due honor something like a second principate, so that all discord may be banned from the Church." He expressed at the end of his letter the hope that "all that which is due to the venerable see of Peter, who is blessed above all, shall be given to it when the Church shall again be united in peace."


The above declaration assumes even greater importance when the ambiguous attitude of Dorotheus and his predecessor Andrew [46] in the Acacian controversy is taken into consideration.


Even the Emperor Anastasius seems in one instance to have moved in this direction, for, together with Dorotheus' letter,



45a. Hormisda, Epistolae et Decreta, PL, 63, cols. 371 seq.; Col. Avel., Epist. 105, pp. 495 seq.; ed. Thiel, Epist. 3, pp. 742 seq.


46. On their attitude, see Caspar, op. cit., pp. 55, 84 seq., 131 seq., 165 seq.





the Pope received an epistle sent by the Emperor to "the most holy and pious Archbishop and Patriarch Hormisda, [47] in which Anastasius expressed his relief on learning that the Roman see was then occupied by someone noted for his mild and conciliatory character. It was, in fact, this realization that had induced the Emperor to resume correspondence with the Roman see, and "to request what God and our Saviour had taught the holy apostles through His divine exhortation, and especially the blessed Peter, in whom he founded the strength of His Church.” Anastasius first mentioned new religious troubles in the province of Scythia, bordering on Illyricum, whither discontent with the Emperor’s religious policy, exploited by Vitalian for his own political advancement, had spread from Illyricum. Then he announced his intention of having these questions decided in a council, and asked "his apostolate” to play the role of intermediary (mediatorem se apostolatus vester faciat).


However, the papal legates, sent to Constantinople in the hope that they would find the Emperor well-disposed to change his religious policy, discovered otherwise, and returned to Rome with another imperial letter [48] which made clear that Anastasius was persevering in his original attitude, and which declared that the Henoticon was in accord with the decisions of Chalcedon. But, withal, Anastasius sought to conclude in a more conciliatory tone, and closed his letter calling the Pope apostolatus vester, thus recognizing the apostolic and Petrine character of the Roman see.


The papal legates were given a document to be signed by bishops renouncing the schism. It was the famous Libellus Hormisdae containing a clear definition of Roman primacy in matters of faith. The following excerpt is most relevant to our inquiry: [49]


"The first [condition of] salvation is to preserve the rule of the true faith, and not to deviate in any way from the constitutions of the Fathers.



47. PL, ibid., cols. 369 seq.; Col. Avel., Epist. 107, pp. 499 seq.; ed. Thiel, Epist. 2, p. 742.


48. PL, ibid., cols. 381 seq.; Col. Avel., Epist. 125, pp. 537-540; ed. Thiel, Epist. 10, pp. 761-764.


49. PL, ibid., col. 393; Col. Avel., Epist. 116b, pp. 520 seq.; ed. Thiel, Epist. 7, pp. 754 seq. On the text and editions of the Libellus, see Caspar, op. cit., pp. 764 seq. Cf. also W. Haacke, “Die Glaubensformel des Papstes Hormisdas im Acacianischen Schisma," Analecta Gregoriana, 20 (Rome, 1939), pp. 106-150.





And because the declaration of Our Lord Jesus Christ cannot be omitted, saying 'Thou art Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church,' these words have been proved true by events, for in the apostolic see the Catholic religion has always been kept immaculate. Therefore, desiring not to be separated in any way from this hope and faith, and following in everything the constitutions of the Fathers, we anathematize all heresies..."


After enumerating all heretics, from Nestorius to Acacius, whom the bishops were asked to condemn, the Libellus continues:


"Thus, as we have said, in following in all things the apostolic see and in professing all its constitutions, I hope that I will deserve to remain in the same communion with you which is professed by the apostolic see, in which persists the total and true strength of the Christian religion. Promising also not to recite in the liturgy the names of men who have been separated from communion with the Catholic Church, which means who do not agree with the apostolic see..."


Although the Libellus appeared unacceptable to many in the East, it must be admitted that Hormisda manifested some restraint in its composition. Almost certainly Gelasius or Symmachus would have expressed themselves in far more resolute and less restrained terms, making the acceptance of the Libellus by the Easterners even more difficult.


Some declarations made by the Easterners went far toward accepting Roman claims and must also be recalled. Anastasius' religious policy found many opponents, as has already been noted, and this was cleverly exploited by the ambitious Goth Vitalian, to whom Anastasius had to yield, at least for a time, by appointing him magister militum and commandant of Thracian troops. [50] The long-protracted schism created some weariness among many Easterners, and inclined them toward a final reconciliation with Rome.


All of this explains why the Libellus, though undoubtedly read with mixed feelings by many, did not encounter wholesale disapproval in the East. The bishops of Illyricum were the first to sign it. John, Bishop-elect of Nicopolis, expressed his consent in a letter [51]



50. Cf. for details L. Duchesne, L’Eglise au VIe siècle (Paris, 1925), pp. 37 seq.


51. PL, ibid., cols. 387 seq.; Col. Avel., Epist. 117, pp. 522-523; ed. Thiel, Epist. 15, pp. 770-772.





sent at the beginning of October 516 to “My Lord the most holy and most blessed Father of Fathers, colleague in the ministry, and Prince of Bishops Hormisda." In this he asked the Pope “to take care of all Churches and of that of Nicopolis according to the habit of your apostolic see (iuxta consuetudinem apostolicae sedis vestrae),” and to send back the bearer of the letter Rufinus “with spiritual and apostolic instructions."


The bishops of Epirus, who met in a local synod for John's election, followed the example of their new metropolitan. Their letter [52] gave the Pope the same title as John's and they assured him that they persisted in communion with “the apostolic see" as did John's predecessor Alcison, who died in Constantinople where he had met the Roman legates. Asking for confirmation of the election of John as his successor, they declared that he had always followed the Pope's “apostolic admonitions."


Previously the Pope had announced to Bishop Caesarius of Arles [53] the defection of many Illyrian bishops from Dorotheas of Thessalonica because the latter was afraid to break off his relations with Timothy of Constantinople, who had been appointed by Anastasius and who replaced the orthodox Macedonius. [54] Now the Pope was pleased to let Avitus, Bishop of Vienne, know of this new success. [55]


Hormisda obtained even greater satisfaction soon afterward from Syria Secunda. The monks who were particularly numerous in that province remained faithful to Chalcedon, and opposed the religious policy of the new Patriarch of Antioch, Severus. When they had organized a mass pilgrimage to the tomb of St. Symeon the Stylite, in protest against Severus, the latter let them be attacked by his adherents. A massacre followed, and three hundred and fifty monks were killed.



52. PL, cols. 389 seq.; Col. Avel., Epist. 119, pp. 526-528; ed. Thiel, Epist. 16, pp. 772-774.


53. PL, ibid., Epist. 30, cols. 431 seq.; ed. Thiel, Epist. 9, pp. 758-761.


54. See for details, E. Müller. “Fragments inédits de Théodore le Lecteur et de Jean d’Egée,” Revue archéologique N.S., 26 (1873), pp. 396-400. Theodore says that forty bishops from Illyricum and Greece had broken off relations with Dorotheus. Cf. also Theophanes, Chronographia, ad. an. 6008, ed. Bonn, p. 250; de Boor, p. 162.


55. PL, ibid., Epist. 10, cols. 394 seq.; Col. Avel., Epist. 137, pp. 560-564; ed. Thiel, Epist. 22, pp. 783-786.





The survivors appealed to Hormisda for help, [56] and the form of address employed in their letter to him clearly shows how greatly the prestige of the Roman see had risen in the eyes of orthodox Easterners, and how readily they accepted the Pope’s claims based on the apostolic and Petrine character of his see. The monks addressed Hormisda as "the most holy and most blessed Patriarch of the universe, holding the see of the Prince of the Apostles, Peter,” and continued: "Thus, because Christ, our God, had instituted a head of the shepherds and a physician and a surgeon of souls, it is fitting that we expose to your holy person the suffering which had befallen us.” After relating how Severus, Patriarch of Antioch, and Peter, Bishop of Apamia, the heads of the heretics, were vilifying the decrees of Chalcedon, and persecuting the orthodox, the monks exclaimed :


"We beseech you thus, O most blessed one, entreating and supplicating you: arise with fervor and zeal and take just pity on the torn body - because you are the head of all - and vindicate the despised faith, the trampled canons, the Fathers covered with blasphemies, and such a Synod threatened with anathema (anathemate impetitam). To you is given the power and the authority to bind and to loose .... arise, o holy Father, come to our salvation. Be the imitator of Christ the Lord who came from Heaven on earth in order to look for the erring sheep, the one Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, whose chair you are adorning, and Paul who is the vessel of election, who during their travels have illuminated the whole world.”


One could hardly look for a more touching appeal for help, and a more frank recognition of Rome’s claims to primacy from an Easterner. Hormisda was moved, and, unlike Symmachus who had left a similar appeal unanswered, he promptly dispatched a long letter [57] consoling the persecuted monks and encouraging them to continue their fight for the orthodox faith.



56. PL, ibid., cols. 410 seq. ; Col. Avel., Epist. 139, pp. 565-571; ed. Thiel, Epist. 39, pp. 814-819: Sanctissimo et beatissimo universi orbis terrae patriarchae Hormisdae continenti sedem principis apostolorum Petri deprecatio....


57. PL, ibid., Epist. 23, cols. 415-422; Col. Avel., Epist. 140, pp. 572-585; ed. Thiel, Epist. 40, pp. 820-830. Cf. E. Caspar, op. cit., 2, pp. 148 seq. The Pope wrote while the impression of a bitter letter he had received from the Emperor Anastasius was still in his mind (PL, ibid., cols. 409 seq. ; Col. Avel., Epist. 138, pp. 564 seq. ; ed. Thiel, Epist. 38, pp. 813 seq). It is the author’s intention to treat the political ideas contained in the imperial and papal correspondence of this period in his book The Origins of Christian Political Philosophy, now in preparation.





The death of Anastasius, who was succeeded by Justin I (518-527), opened the way to a final reconciliation between East and West. This reconciliation became even easier when Justinian, during the reign of his uncle, took the direction of political and religious affairs into his own hands. The correspondence of Rome with the East, especially with Constantinople, was very lively during the negotiations leading to a final reconciliation, and many letters written by Easterners contain expressions of particular interest for this study.


The Emperor Justin I was very brief in his first two letters announcing his election and the intention of his Patriarch John II to make peace with the Pope. [58] He was more eloquent in the letter of April 22, 519, [59] notifying the Pope that the Libellus had been signed by John of Constantinople. There he addressed the Pope as "the most blessed Archbishop and Patriarch." When speaking of Acacius and his followers he said that they "were either the first who acted in opposition to the apostolic constitutions, or became successors in error." By these words the Emperor could have meant the papal constitutions, from Felix III onward.


In two others letters (dated 520) Justin called the Roman see the "apostolic see," [60] and on two other occasions he addressed the Pope as apostolatus vester. [61] The latter title is used more often by Justin's nephew, Justinian, who also called the Roman see "apostoic." [62]



58. PL, ibid., cols. 426 seq.; Col. Avel., Epist. 141, 143, pp. 586 seq.; ed. Thiel, Epist. 41, 42, pp. 830 seq.: Justinus Augustus Hormisdae papae.


59. PL, ibid., cols. 450 seq.; Col. Avel., Epist. 160, pp. 610-612; ed. Thiel, Epist. 66, pp. 861 seq. On Justin’s religious policy see A. A. Vasiliev, Justin the First, Dumbarton Oaks Studies, 1 (Cambridge, Mass., 1950), pp. 132—221.


60. PL, ibid., col. 486D; Col. Avel., Epist. 192, p. 649, 3; ed. Thiel, Epist. 116, p. 918. PL, ibid., col. 486A; Col. Avel., Epist. 193, p. 651, 2; ed. Thiel, Epist. 114, p. 915, i.


61. PL, ibid., col. 499B; Col. Avel., Epist. 199, p. 658, 1; ed. Thiel, Epist. 126 p. 938. PL, ibid., col. 522D; Col. Avel., Epist. 241, p. 740; ed. Thiel, Epist. 145, p. 983.


62. PL, ibid., col. 430D; Col. Avel., Epist. 147, p. 592; ed. Thiel, Epist. 44, p. 833; PL, ibid., col. 475B,C; Col. Avel., Epist. 187, p. 644, 2, 3; ed. Thiel, Epist. 78, p. 875, chap. 1; PL, ibid., cols. 496ÔA, 497A; Col. Avel., Epist. 196, pp. 655, 2, 656, 7; ed. Thiel, Epist. 120, p. 921, chaps. 1, 4; PL, ibid., cols. 507D, 508A,B; Col. Avel., Epist. 200, pp. 659, 660, 4; ed. Thiel, Epist. 127, p. 939 (apostolico patri, apostolatus vester, apostolica sedes); PL, col. 509A; Col. Avel., Epist. 235, pp. 715, 1, 716, 5; ed. Thiel, Epist. 132, pp. 954, 955; PL, ibid., col. 510A; Col. Avel., Epist. 243, p. 743; ed. Thiel, Epist. 135, p. 957.





In his letter of August 31, 520, Justinian spoke of the "primacy of the apostolic see," [63] and in that of September 9, 520, he stressed the Pope's succession to St. Peter. [64]


In their correspondence with the Patriarch of Rome, the Patriarchs of Constantinople*—John II and Epiphanias—followed established protocol even more consistently than either Justin or Justinian. Their letters bear, with insignificant deviations, the conventional form of address : Domino meo et fer omnia Dei amatori sanctissimo fratri et comministro Hormisdae..., but acknowledge the apostolic character of the Roman see. The new Patriarch John II (518-520), when announcing to Hormisda the change in religious policy that had taken place in Constantinople, asks him to "write in an apostolic style," and to accept the answer in a brotherly way for the love of God. At the end of this same letter he requested the Pope to send legates to Constantinople who "would be worthy of your apostolic see." [65]


Although ready at this time for reunion with Rome, the Patriarch John found it rather difficult to sign the Libellas, as requested by the Pope. One of the Pope's legates, the Deacon Dioscorus, reported to Hormisda [66] that, after some discussion, the Patriarch consented to sign, but asked whether he could take the liberty of adding a few words of introduction.



63. PL, ibid., col. 508; Col. Avel., Epist. 200, p. 660, 4; ed. Thiel, Epist. 127 p. 939:

Aeternitatis igitur supernae tremendique judicii non immemor sanctitas vestra, quae sibi commissa sunt, efficaciae tradi deproperet, ut intellegant cuncti recte vos apostolicae sedis esse primatum sortitos.


64. PL. ibid., col. 509A; Col. Avel., Epist. 235, p. 716, 5; ed. Thiel, Epist. 132, p. 955:

Ostendat ergo tuus apostolatus, [quod merito] Petro successit apostolo, quoniam dominus a vobis utpote summis pastoribus exacturus est universorum salutem, qui poterunt esse salvi firmata concordia.


65. PL, ibid., col. 429; Col. Avel., Epist. 146, pp. 591, 1, 592, 5; ed. Thiel, Epist. 43, pp. 832, chap. 1, 833, chap. 2:

scribere igitur apostolice et rescripta suscipere fraterne Dei amore dignemini. . . rogamus vos pacificos viros destinare et vestrae dignos apostolicae sedis.

See also his letter of April, 519, PL, ïbid.y col. 450B; Col. Avel., Epist. 161, p. 613, 7; ed. Thiel, Epist. 67, p. 864, chap. 3.


66. PL, ibid., col. 447C, D: Col. Avel., Epist. 167, p. 620, 10, 11 ; ed. Thiel, Epist. 65, p. 860, chap. 4.





His request was granted, and in his short preface John stressed the union of the two Churches as follows: [67] Sanctissimas enim dei ecclesias, id est superioris vestrae et novellae istius Romae unam esse accipio ; illam sedem apostoli Petri et istius augustae civitatis unam esse definio.


Although it is evident from this that the Patriarch attempted to hide the fact that he had to sign a document dictated by the Pope ; although he tried to give the impression that he was not obliged to do so, since, in his own words, he would have made identical professions; and although he endeavored here to put both sees on the same level, it should be pointed out that in fact he attributed the apostolic character not to his own see, but to Rome alone.


In the same preface John, continuing his declaration stressed that he was accepting the decisions of the Four Oecumenical Councils. This statement might have been a deliberate manoeuver. The oecumenicity of the Council of Constantinople (381) had not then been explicitly recognized by the Roman see, and this recognition might have been a tacit condition to Constantinople's readiness to agree to a concession demanded by Rome.


John had already mentioned the Four Oecumenical Councils in his first letter. [68] The Pope, in his reply, contented himself with mentioning the councils in general, but singled out the Council of Chalcedon as a guide, which John had promised to follow, [69] and John's emphasis on the Four Councils in the second patriarchal letter must have been intentional. Although in his letter of thanks to John [70] Hormisda avoided any allusion to the Four Councils, the oecumenicity of the Council of Constantinople was tacitly recognized by Rome.



67. PL, ibid., col. 444A; Col. Avel., Epist. 159, p. 608, 2; ed. Thiel, Epist. 61, p. 852, chap. I.


68. PL, ibid., col. 429; Col. Avel., Epist. 146, p. 591, 2; ed. Thiel, Epist. 43, p. 832, chap. I :

Ego enim iniquisibili ratione doctrinam sanctorum apostolorum secundum traditionem sanctorum patrum tenens similiter honorem consubstantiali et per omnia sanctae Trinitati offero, sicut in Nicaea 318 coetus promulgavit et in Constantinopoli 130 conventus firmavit et in Ephesina [200] concursio firmavit et in Chalcedone conventus catholicus signavit.


69. PL, ibid., Epist. 29, col. 430A; Col.Avel., Epist. 145, p. 589, 3; ed. Thiel, Epist. 47, p. 836, chap. 2 : dilectionis tuae confessionem gratanter accepimus, per quam sanctae synodi comprobantur, inter quas Chalcedonem....


70. PL, ibid., Epist. 45, cols. 455 seq.: Col. Avel., Epist. 169, pp. 624-626, ed. Thiel, Epist. 80, pp. 879-881.





Justinian, writing on June 29, 519, spoke of the Four Councils as a matter of course. [71] This was the practice in the East, as Hormisda had already learned from the letter of the Bishop of Nicopolis, who also spoke of the Four Councils as the source of the true faith. [72]


John's successor, too, the Patriarch Epiphanius (520-536), in his letter to Hormisda announcing his enthronement, enumerated the Four Councils which had defined the true faith. After writing of his election, Epiphanius said: [73]


“Therefore I thought it necessary to include in my letter this first announcement in order to show how I am disposed toward your apostolic see. It is my greatest desire to be united with you and to embrace the divine doctrines which have been entrusted to your holy see by the blessed and holy disciples and God's apostles, especially by Peter the head of the apostles, and to esteem nothing more than them."


Epiphanius further promised to preach the true faith to his Churches, and to keep them always united with himself and with the Pope, “since they should always be united and inviolate, and belong to the one body of the common apostolic see and always preserve it as such." [74] Here again the translation is ambiguous, and it is not clear whether, by the “apostolic Church" he meant the whole Church or the Roman Church. The see of Rome was, however, designated as apostolic in the next passage, although at the beginning of the letter the see of Constantinople was called only sedes ... sanctae ecclesiae catholicae regiae urbis.


In September 520 Epiphanius addressed another letter to the Pope in which he recommended moderation in the Pope's conditions for reconciliation,



71. PL, ibid., col. 475C; Col. Avel., Epist. 187, p. 644, 2; ed. Thiel, Epist. 78, p. 875, chap. i.


72. PL, ibid., col. 381C,D; Col. Avel., Epist. 117, p. 523, 5, 6; ed. Thiel, Epist. 15, p. 771, chap. 2.


73. PL, ibid., cols. 494 seq. : Col. Avel., Epist. 195, pp. 652-654; ed. Thiel, Epist. 121, pp. 923-925. The letter is evidently a translation from the Greek original. The translation is occasionally rather clumsy, as in the following passage: Est mihi oratio magnopere, beatissime, unire me vobis et divina amplecti dogmata, quae ex beatis et sanctis discipulis et apostolis Dei, praecipue summi Petri apostolorum, sedi sanctae vestrae sunt tradita....


74. Vobis enim manifestum feci, et sub me ecclesiis haec praedico, festinans per omnia eas mihique et vestrae beatitudini vinculo caritatis adunari, quas omnino oportet unitas esse et inviolabiles et corpus unum communis apostolicae ecclesiae eundemque perpetuo custodire .... Quos vestra apostolica sedes condemnans in sacris diptychis recitare non iussit....





thus supporting the Emperor's request that the elimination of Aeacius' name from the dyptica should suffice. In this he mentions again the Four Councils and, including Constantinople among the major sees, he speaks of the unity of the "two patriarchal sees." At the end, however, in his description of the gifts he sent to the Pope, he calls the Roman see apostolic. [75]


The imperial embassy, which brought imperial and patriarchal letters to Hormisda, gave him also a written report of the synod of Constantinople that had elected Epiphanius to the patriarchal dignity. [76] The Pope, in these communications, is addressed as "Father of Fathers, Archbishop and Patriarch." It is interesting to read in the report a clear allusion to the main argument used in Rome for the primacy (Matt. 16:18) though interepreted in the Byzantine way, namely, that the rock on which the Church is built is the "true incorrupt faith" professed by Peter : [76a]


"After the death of the late Archbishop and Patriarch of the City of Constantinople, John of holy memory, God, who had founded this holy Church on the rock of true incorruptible faith, and decreed that the gates of hell should not prevail against it, gave us a holy shepherd and Patriarch - Epiphanius."


At the end of the report the bishops recommended themselves to the fatherly love of "his apostolate - the Pope," and mentioned the legates of the "apostolic see." The apostolic character of the Roman see was acknowledged, too, in letters sent to Hormisda by Pompey, [77] a relative of the Emperor Anastasius, by Pompey's wife Anastasia [78] and by his relative Juliana Anicia, [79]



75. PL, ibid., cols. 498B, 499A; Col. Avel., Epist. 233, pp. 708, 6, 710, 11 ; ed. Thiel, Epist. 949, chap. 2, 950, chap. 4:

Nam dum una utraque sit ecclesia, procul dubio et bona, quae per vigilantiam eveniunt, communis exinde laudis gloria utrisque patriardialibus sedibus rimatur, ut ... Christus ... magnificetur.


76. PL, ibid., cols. 483 seq. ; Col. Avel., Epist. 234, pp. 710, 711, 5, 712, 8, 713, ed. Thiel, Epist. 131, pp. 951, chap. 2, 952, chaps. 2, 3.


76a. Cf. F. Dvornik, The Photian Schism, History and Legend (Cambridge, 1948), p. 165, footnote 4, on this interpretation in the East and in the West in the ninth century.


77. PL, ibid., col. 451; Col. Avel., Epist. 163, p. 614; ed. Thiel, Epist. 69, p. 864 : apostolico patri.


78. PL, ibid., cols. 451 seq.; Col. Avel., Epist. 165, p. 616; ed. Thiel, Epist. 70, p. 86 5: Patri patrum archiepiscopo universali ecclesiae ... apostolatus vester, ... apostolico honore suscipiende pater....


79. PL, ibid., col. 451; Col. Avel., Epist. 164, p. 615; ed. Thiel, Epist. 71, p. 866: principalis sedis apostolicae; PL, ibid., col. 488; Col. Avel., Epist. 198, pp. 657 seq.; ed. Thiel, Epist. 119, p. 920: apostolicae sedis probatissimo pontifici.... Venerabilis pater, quod de nostrae fidei integritate curam geris, vicariis gloriosi Petri apostoli ista conveniunt, cui dominus pascendarum ovium iniunxit officium... tuus apostolatus....





by the Empress Euphemia, [80] by the nobleman Celer, [81] and by Bishops Theodorius of Lignidum, [82] Andrew of Praevalis, [83] and Dorotheus of Thessalonica. [84]



From all of this evidence it is reasonable to conclude that the long negotiations between East and West, conducted during the Acacian schism, had contributed considerably to the popularization of the idea of apostolicity in the East. The apostolic and Petrine character of the Roman see was generally recognized by the Eastern Church, and the signing of the Libellus by the Patriarch of Constantinople and the Eastern bishops sealed the victory not only of orthodoxy, but also of the idea of apostolicity.


On the other hand, however, the Petrine idea, as conceived by Leo the Great and accepted by Gelasius and Symmachus, did not achieve the same success; Alexandria remained a monophysite stronghold, despite some orthodox growth in Egypt, and Antioch, too, was for the greater part lost to orthodoxy.


The situation would have been different if orthodoxy had been as firmly restored in the two major sees of the East as it was in Constantinople. Actually there were indications that Alexandria would have sided with Rome against Constantinople in the struggle over the recognition of the so-called canon twenty-eight of Chalcedon. The attitude of Timothy Aelurus on this point has been reported. Another document indicates that similar sentiments existed in Alexandria in 497. This is the document that the legates of the see of Alexandria handed, in Constantinople,



80. PL, ibid., col. 487; Col. Avel., Epist. 194, p. 652; ed. Thiel, Epist. 117, p. 919: apostolicae sedis auctoritas....


81. PL, ibid., col. 487; Col. Avel., Epist. 197, p. 657; ed. Thiel, Epist. 118, p. 919: apostolico patri ... ad apostolatum vestrum. ...


82. PL, ibid., col. 452; Col. Avel., Epist. 166, p. 617; ed. Thiel, Epist. 62, p. 854 : adorando apostolico patri ... ad vestrum pium et sanctum apostolatum.. vestro offerens apostolatui....


83 PL, ibid., col 443 ; Col. Avel., Epist. 215, pp. 673 seq. ; ed Thiel, Epist. 63, pp. 855 seq: beatissimo et apostolica sede intima veneratione praeferendo atque angelicis meritis coaequando patri patrum. . . servi sedis apostolicae....


84. PL, ibid., col. 5ooA,B; Col. Avel., Epist. 208, p. 668, 4, 5; ed Thiel, Epist. 128, p. 940. On the ambiguous attitude of Dorotheus and the difficulties which the Roman legate encountered in Thessalonica see Caspar, op. cit., pp. 165 seq.





to the papal legates who had been sent by Pope Anastasius II to negotiate with the Emperor Anastasius for the termination of the schism, and it contains an interesting declaration which stresses the intimate ties between Alexandria and Rome. The letter began as follows : [85]


"The venerable holy Churches of the cities of Rome and Alexandria have always preserved concord, not only in the true and immaculate faith from the time the word of salvation was preached in them, but also in divine ministry. That is to say in both of them the foundation of faith was laid by the same man - we mean the blessed Apostle Peter, whose imitator in everything was the holy Evangelist Mark - so that, whenever it happened that in times of uncertainty some councils of bishops were due to be held, the most holy [man] who presided over the Church of Rome used to delegate the most reverend archbishop of the city of Alexandria to take his place."


Here is another allusion to the tie between Rome and Alexandria through St. Peter. [86] Moreover, the Roman see was mentioned throughout with great reverence, and often called apostolic. [87] Roman primacy was at least alluded to at the end of the document when the legates asked that the Pope [88] "may regard also our peoples as his, and may address to them his directives."


In spite of these favorable dispositions, Rome could make no alliance with Alexandria because the Egyptians persevered in their heretical beliefs. [88a]. The profession of faith added to this document was nothing more than that contained in the Henoticon.



85. Mansi, 8, col. 194; Col. Avel., Epist. 102, pp. 468-473; ed. Thiel, Epist. 5, pp. 628-633.


86. Col. Avel., ibid., p. 469, 6; ed. Thiel, ibid., p. 629, chap. 3: Verumtamen eius volentes satisfacere sanctitati nos eam fidem tenere, quam princeps apostolorum Petrus eiusque discipulus Marcus beatissimi traditerunt. . . .


87. Col. Avel., ibid., pp. 469, 3, 471, 10, 472, 13, 473, 14; ed. Thiel, ibid., pp. 629, chap. 2, 631, chap. 6, 633, chaps. 7, 8.


88. Col. Avel., ibid., p. 473, 16; ed. Thiel, ibid., p. 633, chap. 9:

Confidimus autem in Domino nostro Jesu Christo, quod huic fdei eius beatitudo consentiens juxta ilia, quae in responsione sunt posita, veluti proprios etiam nostros populos arbitretur, et pro eorum regimine sollicitudinem gerat. . . .

Cf. Caspar, op. cit., pp. 86 seq.


88a. The learned defender of monophysitismin this century, John Philoponus of Alexandria, writing against the Council of Chalcedon, gives vent to his very radical opposition to the principle of apostolicity on which Rome was basing its primacy. The work is lost, but Michael the Syrian has preserved in his Chronicle some long extracts from it, in Syriac translation. In commenting on the instruction given to the legate Paschasinus by Pope Leon I, Philoponus says, with great emphasis (Chronique de Michel le Syrien, translated by J. B. Chabot, 2, bk. 8 [Paris, 1901], chap. 13, pp. 101 seq.) :


“Paschasinus [représentant] de Léon dit: ‘Nous avons ordre de l’archevêque Léon, que Dioscorus ne siège pas dans l’assemblée, mais qu’il soit chassé, Quel canon ecclésiastique, quelle loi impériale a donné à l’évêque de Rome une puissance qu’il puisse faire ce qu’il veut, promulguer légitimement un décret en dehors du synode, agir illégalement, et alors même que personne n’est d’accord avec lui, faire ce qui lui plaît ? Cela est le propre des seuls tyrans.—S’ils mettent en avant l’autorité apostolique de Pierre, et s’ils croient que le clefs du ciel leur ont été données : qu’ils considèrent les autres villes qui sont ornées de l’auréole apostolique. Je passe sous silence la nôtre qui dirige le siège de l’évangéliste Marcus; mais celle des Ephésiens, instituée par l’apôtre Jean, est dirigée par un autre, par celui de Constantinople, parce que le siège de l’empire fut transféré là.—Quoi donc! Si lévêque de Rome est convaincu de penser mal, à cause de ce trône apostolique, on changera la foi de tout le monde ? Pourquoi ceux d’Antioche la grande ne revendiquent-ils pas pour eux la préséance : premièrement parce que Pierre, sur qui les Romains appuient leur grande prétention, y a tout d’abord exercé l’autorité; ensuite parce que là le nom honorable de chrétiens obtint droit de cité? Pourquoi pas celui de Jérusalem? Parce que lui seul eut l’autorité dans la ville impériale, il obtint la préséance sur tous les autres, par un certain usage, à cause de la grandeur de la ville et de l’autorité impériale. Mais aucun canon ecclésiastique n’a institué, aucune loi impériale n’a établi l’évêque de Rome autocrate de tout le monde.”


This is, of course, the voice of a heretic, and it is difficult to say to what extent Philoponus was able to influence the orthodox who defended Leo’s condemnation of monophysism. Photius, in his Bibliotheca (PG, 103, col. 97), devotes a very short remark to Philoponus’ work, with which he was apparently not favorably impressed.





The negotiations for peace were held with the see of Constantinople which was recognized, de facto, by Rome as a major see in spite of all that had happened under Leo the Great, Gelasius, and Symmachus. It could not have been otherwise, for even papal opposition could not have stopped the march of history.


In the letter of the Patriarch John II one passage seems to indicate that Constantinople had also attempted to obtain, surreptitiously, a recognition de jure of canon three of 381, and of canon twenty-eight of Chalcedon. In his preface to the Libellus, which he signed, John II inserted the words: [89] Omnibus adis a sanctis istis quattuor synodis, id est Nicaeae, Constantinopoli est Ephesi et Chalcedone, de confirmatione fidei et statu ecclessae adsentio....


This passage seems to indicate that John II had also in mind the changes in Church administration, made at the Councils of Constantinople and Chalcedon, in favor of the see of the Imperial City.



89. PL, ibid., col. 44A: Col. Avel., Epist. 159, p. 608, 2; ed Thiel, Epist. 61, pp. 852 seq., chap. 1.





It would, however, be an exaggeration to think that the acceptance of those canons by Rome was conditional on the final reconciliation, and that Rome had thereby tacitly agreed to it. [90] It has already been pointed out that canon twenty-eight did not appear until much later in the collection of Byzantine canon law, [91] and nothing in Hormisda’s answer to John’s letter indicates that the Pope was aware of having made such a concession. [92]


In fact, however, the see of Rome was obliged to treat the see of Constantinople as a major see. John II's attempts [93] to put both sees on the same level have been noted above, and it would have been quite understandable if some of the clergy of Constantinople had gone even further and had attempted to claim an apostolic character for the see of Byzantium also.


In Justinian’s letter sent on June 29, 519 to Hormisda a slight involuntary indication is found as to how this claim could have been made. Therein, for the first time, a faint reflection of the apostolic glory is allowed to fall upon Constantinople. Hormisda is invited by Justinian [94] to grant his request for the complete pacification of the Church, and thereby to honor the relies of the apostles and their church in the residential city.



90. As did Caspar, op. cit., p. 158. J. Haller (Das Papsttum, Idee und Wirklichkeit, i [Urach and Stuttgart, 1950], p. 536) is justified in critisizing Caspar for this exaggeration.


91. See supra p. 102.


92. PL, ibid., Epist. 45, cols. 455 seq.; Col. Avel., Epist., 169, pp. 624-627; ed. Thiel, Epist. 80, pp. 879-881.


93. See supra, p. 131.


94. PL, ibid., col. 475D; Col. Avel., Epist. 187, p. 645, 5; ed. Thiel, Epist. 78, p. 877, chap. 2 :

Praesumentes autem de beatitudinis vestrae benivolentia paternam dilectionem nimium petimus, quatenus reliquiis sanctorum apostolorum tarn nos quam basilicam eorum hic in domo nostra sub nomine praedictorum venerabiliune constructam illustrare et illuminare large dignemini....

In three passages of the same letter Justinian recognized the apostolic character of the Roman see.


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