The Church Of Italy Under The Os
The schism between New and Old Rome lasted from 484 to 517, but attempts
were made on both sides to end the deplorable situation. The two
successors of Acacius were willing to resume communion with Rome and
restore the name of the bishop of Rome to the diptychs, but refused to
take the names of their predecessors from the same, as required by the
latter. Gelasius (492-496), Anastasius II (496-498), and Symmachus
(498-514) held firmly but unavailingly to the Roman contention that,
before any communion was possible, the name of Acacius must be struck from
the diptychs--in the case of the dead an act as condemnatory as
excommunication in the case of the living. Meanwhile the Roman see boldly
asserted the independence of the Church, and protested against the action
of the Emperor in setting aside the decree of Chalcedon as usurpation and
tyranny. This is most clearly set forth by Gelasius, in his epistle to the
Emperor Anastasius. The schism finally came to an end in 519, in
accordance with the ecclesiastical policy of Justinian, and at that time
the Formula of Hormisdas (514-523) was accepted by the heads of the
Eastern Church by an act constituting a complete surrender of the claims
of the Orientals.
While the schism was still existing and Rome was treating with the East
upon an independent footing, the situation in Italy was far less
brilliant. The Arian king, the Ostrogoth Theodoric (489, 493-526) ruled
Italy, and the attitude of the Roman see was far less authoritative toward
the local ruler. It was, however, a period of great importance for the
future of the Church; Boethius, Cassiodorus, Dionysius Exiguus, and
Benedict of Nursia (v. infra, §§ 104, 105) all belong to this period and
the decree of Gelasius, De Recipiendis Libris, was of permanent
influence upon the theological science of the West.
Additional source material: Cassiodorus, Varia, Eng. trans.
(condensed), by T. Hodgkin (The Letters of Cassiodorus), London,
(a) Gelasius, Ep. ad Imp. Anastasium. (MSL, 59:42.)
A definition of the relation between the secular and religious
The date of this epistle is 494. The period is not dealt with at
any length in English works on ecclesiastical history; see,
however. T. Greenwood, Cathedra Petri, II, pp. 41-84, the
chapter entitled "Papal Prerogative under Popes Gelasius and
After Gelasius has alluded to the circumstances in which he is
writing and excused his not writing, he mentions his natural
devotion to the Roman Emperor--being himself by birth a Roman
citizen--his desire as a Christian to share with him the right
faith, and as vicar of the Apostolic See his constant anxiety to
maintain the true faith; he then proceeds:
I beseech your piety not to regard as arrogance duty in divine affairs.
Far be it from a Roman prince, I pray, to regard as injury truth that has
been intimated to him. For, indeed, there are, O Emperor Augustus, two by
whom principally this world is ruled: the sacred authority of the pontiffs
and the royal power. Of these the importance of the priests is so much the
greater, as even for kings of men they will have to give an account in the
divine judgment. Know, indeed, most clement son, that although you
worthily rule over the human race, yet as a man of devotion in divine
matters you submit your neck to the prelates, and also from them you await
the matters of your salvation, and in making use of the celestial
sacraments and in administering those things you know that you ought, as
is right, to be subjected to the order of religion rather than preside
over it; know likewise that in regard to these things you are dependent
upon their judgment and you should not bend them to your will. For if, so
far as it pertains to the order of public discipline, the priests of
religion, knowing that the imperial power has been bestowed upon you by
divine providence, obey your laws, lest in affairs of exclusively mundane
determination they might seem to resist, with how much more gladness, I
ask, does it become you to obey them who have been assigned to the duty of
performing the divine mysteries. Just as there is no light risk for the
pontiffs to be silent about those things which belong to the service of
the divinity, so there is no small peril (which God forbid) to those who,
when they ought to obey, refuse to do so. And if it is right that the
hearts of the faithful be submitted to all priests generally who treat
rightly divine things, how much more is obedience to be shown to the
prelate of that see which the highest divinity wished to be pre-eminent
over all priests and which the devotion of the whole Church continually
(b) Gelasius, Epist. de Recipiendis et non Recipiendis Libris. Mansi,
VIII, 153 ff.
This decretal is evidently made of matter of different dates, as
has been shown by Hefele, § 217, and probably contains matter
which may be later than Gelasius. In the first section of the
decretal is a list of the canonical books of the Bible, as in the
Vulgate; the decretal then sets forth the claims of the Roman see
(§ 2), the books to be received (§ 3), and the books which the
Roman Church rejects (§ 4). In respect to several there are
various comments added, but these have in several cases been
omitted for the sake of brevity, where they are of less
importance. Portions of the decretal in Denziger, nn. 162-164; the
full text of the decretal may be found in Mansi VIII, 153 ff.
Preuschen, Analecta, vol. II, pp. 52 ff.; Mirbt, n. 168.
II. Although the one dwelling of the universal Catholic Church spread
through the world is of Christ, the holy Roman Church, however, has been
placed before the other churches by no synodical decrees, but has obtained
the primacy by the evangelic voice of our Lord and Saviour, saying, "Thou
art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church," etc.(202) To it was
given the fellowship of the most blessed Apostle Paul, that chosen vessel
who not at a different time, as heretics prate, but at one time and on one
and the same day by a glorious death, was crowned together with Peter in
agony in the city of Rome under the Emperor Nero. And they equally
consecrated the said holy Roman Church to Christ and placed it over all
the others in the whole world by their presence and venerable triumph.
III. Therefore the first see of Peter the Apostle is the Roman Church, not
having any spot or wrinkle or any such thing. The second see was
consecrated at Alexandria in the name of the blessed Peter by Mark, his
disciple and the evangelist. He himself, having been directed by the
Apostle Peter to Egypt, preached the word of truth and consummated a
glorious martyrdom. But as the third see of the same most blessed Apostle
Peter is held the see of Antioch, since he held that before he came to
Rome, and there the name of the new people, the name of Christians, arose.
IV. 1. And although no other foundation can be laid than that which has
been laid, which is Christ Jesus, yet after the writings of the Old and
New Testaments,(203) which we receive regularly, the same holy Roman
Church does not prohibit these following writings to be received for the
purposes of edification:
2. The holy synod of Nicaea, according to the three hundred and eighteen
Fathers, under the Emperor Constantine.
3. The holy synod of Ephesus, in which Nestorius was condemned with the
consent of the most blessed Pope [papa] Celestine, held under Cyril, the
prelate of the see of Alexandria, and Acadius, a bishop sent from Italy.
4. The holy synod of Chalcedon, which was held under the Emperor Marcian
and Anatolius, bishop of Constantinople, and in which Nestorius, Eutyches,
and Dioscurus were condemned.
V. 1. Likewise the works of the blessed Caecilius Cyprianus, martyr, and
bishop of Carthage; 2. of Gregory the bishop of Nazianzus; 3. of
Basil, bishop of Cappadocia; 4. of Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria; 5.
of John [Chrysostom], bishop of Constantinople; 6. of Theophilus,
bishop of Alexandria; 7. of Cyril, bishop of Alexandria; 8. of Hilary,
bishop of Poitiers; 9. of Ambrose, bishop of Milan; 10. of Augustine,
bishop of Hippo; 11. of Jerome, the presbyter; 12. of Prosper; 13.
likewise the Epistle of the blessed Pope Leo to Flavian, bishop of
Constantinople, against Eutyches and other heretics; and if any one
dispute even so much as an iota of the text of the epistle, and will not
reverently receive it in all points, let him be anathema.
14. Likewise the works and treatises of the orthodox Fathers are to be
read, who in no respect have deviated from the union with the holy Roman
Church, nor have separated from its faith and teaching; but, by the grace
of God, have shared in communion with it even to the last days of their
15. Likewise the decretal epistles which the most blessed Popes at
different times have given from the city of Rome, in reply to
consultations of various fathers, are to be reverently received.
16. Likewise the acts of the holy martyrs. But, according to an ancient
custom and singular caution, they are not to be read in the holy Roman
Church, because the names of those who wrote them are not known.
17. Likewise the lives of the fathers Paul, Antony, Hilarion, and all
hermits which the most blessed Jerome has described, we receive in honor.
18. Likewise the acts of the blessed Sylvester, prelate of the Apostolic
See, although the name of the writer is unknown; however, we know that it
is read by many Catholics in the city of Rome, and on account of its
ancient use many churches have copied it.
19. Likewise the writing concerning the discovery of the cross and another
concerning the discovery of the head of the blessed John the Baptist.
20. Rufinus, a most religious man, has published many books on
ecclesiastical affairs and has also translated several writings. But
because the venerable Jerome has criticised him in various points for his
freedom in judgment, we are of the same opinion as we know Jerome is, and
not only concerning Rufinus but all others whom, out of zeal toward God
and devotion to the faith, Jerome has condemned.
21. Likewise several works of Origen which the blessed Jerome does not
reject we receive as to be read; the remaining works along with their
author we declare are to be rejected.
22. Likewise the chronicles of Eusebius of Caesarea and the books of his
Ecclesiastical History, although in the first book of his narrative he
has been a little warm and afterward he wrote one book in praise and
defence of Origen, the schismatic, yet on account of the mention of
several things, which pertain to instruction, we say that they are to that
extent not to be rejected.
23. Likewise we approve Orosius; 24. the works of Sedulius; 25. the
works of Juvencus.
VI. Other works which have been written by heretics or schismatics the
Catholic and Apostolic Roman Church in no respect receives, and these,
although they are not received and are to be avoided by Catholics, we
believe ought to be added below.
There follow a list of thirty-five apocryphal gospels, acts, and
similar documents. The epistle continues:
36. The book which is called The Canons of the Apostles; 37. the book
called Physiologus, written by heretics and ascribed to Ambrose; 38. the
history of Eusebius Pamphilius; 39. the works of Tertullian; 40. of
Lactantius or Firminianus; 41. of Africanus; 42. Postumianus and
Gallus; 43. of Montanus, Priscilla, and Maximilla; 44. all the works
of Faustus the Manichaean; 45. the works of Commodus; 46. the works of
another Clement of Alexandria; 47. the works of Thascius Cyprianus; 48. of
Arnobius; 49. of Tichonius; 50. of Cassianus a presbyter of Gaul; 51.
Victorinus of Pettau; 52. of Frumentius the blind; 53. of Faustus of Reiz;
54. the Epistle of Jesus to Abgar; 55. Passion of St. Cyricus and Julitta;
56. Passion of St. Georgius; 57. the writings which are called the "Curse
of Solomon"; 58. all phylacteries which have been written not with the
names of angels, as they pretend, but rather of demons; 59. these works
and all similar to them which Simon Magus [a list of heretics down to]
Peter [Fullo] and another Peter [Mongus], of whom one defiled Alexandria
and the other Antioch, Acacius of Constantinople with his adherents, as
also all heretics or disciples of heretics or schismatics have taught or
written, whose names we do not remember are not only repudiated by the
entire Roman Catholic Church, but we declare are bound forever with an
indissoluble anathema together with their authors and followers of their
(c) Hormisdas, Formula. Mansi, VIII, 407. Cf. Denziger, nn. 171 f.
The formula which Hormisdas of Rome (514-523) proposed in 515, and
which was accepted Easter 519 by the patriarch John II of
Constantinople and many other Orientals, and which ended the
schism between Rome and Constantinople occasioned by Acacius. As
soon as this formula was accepted the leading Monophysites fled to
The beginning of salvation is to preserve the rule of a correct faith and
to deviate in no respect from the constitutions of the fathers. And
because the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ cannot be allowed to fail,
who said, "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church,"
etc. [Matt. 16:18], these things which were said are proved by the effects
of things, because in the Apostolic See religion has always been preserved
without spot or blemish. Desiring in no respect to be separated from this
hope and faith, and following the constitutions of the Fathers, we
anathematize all heretics, and especially the heretic Nestorius, who was
once bishop of the city of Constantinople, and condemned in the Council of
Ephesus by Pope Celestine and by the holy Cyril, prelate of the city of
Alexandria. Likewise we anathematize Eutyches and Dioscurus of Alexandria,
condemned in the holy synod of Chalcedon which we follow and embrace;
adding to these Timotheus the parricide, known as AElurus, and also his
disciple and follower Peter [Mongus], also Acacius, who remained in the
society of their communion; because he mixed himself with their communion
he deserves the same sentence of condemnation as they; no less condemning
Peter [Fullo] of Antioch with his followers and the followers of all those
above named. We receive and approve, therefore, all the universal Epistles
of Pope Leo which he wrote concerning the Christian religion. And
therefore, as we have said, following in all things the Apostolic See and
approving all of its constitutions, I trust that I may be deemed worthy to
be in the communion with you, in which as the Apostolic See declares there
is, complete and true, the totality of the Christian religion.
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