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The Donatist Schism Under Consta

The Donatist schism arose in connection with the Diocletian persecution,
in part over the policy of Mensurius of Carthage regarding the fanatical
desire for martyrdom and the delivery of the sacred books according to the
edict of persecution. Combined with this were the personal ambitions of
the Archdeacon Caecilianus, the offended dignity of the Primas of Numidia,
Bishop Secundus of Tigisi, and the pique of a wealthy female devotee,
Lucilla. It was mixed up with the customs of the North African church,
whereby the Primas of Numidia exercised a leading authority in the conduct
of the election of the bishop of Carthage, and also with the notion
prevalent in the same church, for which also Cyprian contended in the
controversy on the baptism of heretics [see 52], that the validity of a
sacrament depended in some way upon the personal character of the minister
of that sacrament. It was asserted by the partisans of Secundus, who
elected Majorinus bishop of Carthage, that Felix of Aptunga, the
consecrator of Caecilianus, who had been elected by the other party, had
delivered the sacred books to the heathen officials, and was therefore
guilty as a traditor. A schism, accordingly, arose in Carthage which
spread rapidly throughout North Africa. The party of Majorinus soon came
under the lead of Donatus the Great, his successor in the schismatical see
of Carthage. The Donatist schism became of importance almost at once, and
as it was inconsistent with Constantine's religious policy, which called
for Church unity,(97) it presented an immediate difficulty in the
execution of laws granting favors to the Catholic Church.(98) On account
of the interests involved, the schism was of long duration, lasting after
the conquest of North Africa by the Vandals, and even to the Saracen
conquest, though long since of no importance.

Anulinus. Ep. ad Constantinum, in Augustine, Ep. 88. (MSG, 33:303.)

To Constantine Augustus from Anulinus, a man of proconsular rank,
proconsul of Africa.

The welcome and adored celestial writings sent by your Majesty to
Caecilianus, and those who act under him and are called clergy, I have
devoutly taken care to record in the archives of my humility, and have
exhorted those parties that when unity has been made by the consent of
all, since they are seen to be exempt from all other burdens by your
Majesty's clemency, and having preserved the Catholic unity, they should
devote themselves to their duties with the reverence due the sanctity of
the law and to divine things. After a few days, however, there arose some,
to whom a crowd of people joined themselves, who thought that proceedings
should be taken against Caecilianus and presented me a sealed packet
wrapped in leather and a small document without seal, and earnestly
requested that I should transmit them to the sacred and venerable court of
your divinity, which your Majesty's most humble servant has taken care to
do, Caecilianus continuing meanwhile as he was. The acts pertaining to the
case have been subjoined, in order that your Majesty may be able to make a
decision concerning the whole matter. I have sent two documents, one in a
leathern envelope entitled "A Document of the Catholic Church, the Charges
against Caecilianus, Furnished by the Party of Majorinus"; the other
attached without a seal to the same leathern envelope. Given on the 17th
day before the calends of May, in the third consulship of our Lord
Constantine Augustus [April 15, 313].

Next: Constantines Endeavors To Bring

Previous: The Repression Of Heathenism Und

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