Leo the Great: letters 1071
(Complaining of Anatolius’ silence).
(Commending his faith and exhorting him to steadfastness).
(Announcing their election as Emperors1 (a.d. 450), and asking his prayers that (per celebrandam synodum, te auctore), peace may be restored to the Church).
1 Valentinian III. Had been nominally Emperor of the West since 425, but his mother’s (Galla Placidia) death this year compelled him to rule as well as have the name of ruler: almost simultaneously in the East the death of Theodisius II. Brought to the front his sister Pulcheria and her soldier husband Marcion).
(Commending his steadfastness in the Faith).
(Condemning the Latrocinium and maintaining that Eutyches equally with Nestorius promotes the cause of Antichrist).
(Proposing that he should either attend a Synod at Constantinople or help in arranging some other more convenient place of meeting).
(In which she expresses her assurance that Anatolius is orthodox, and begs him to assist her husband in arranging for the Synod, and announces that Flavian’s body has been buried in the Basilica of the Apostles at Constantinople and the exiled bishops restored).
(Briefly thanking him).
Leo, bishop of the city of Rome to Pulcheria Augusta.
I. He Rejoices at Pulcheria’s Zeal Both Against Nestorius and Eutyches.
That which we have always anticipated concerning your Grace’s holy purposes, we have now proved fully true, viz. that, however varied may be the attacks of wicked men upon the Christian Faith, yet when you are present and prepared by the Lord for its defence, it cannot be disturbed. For God will not forsake either the mystery of His mercy or the deserts of your labours, whereby you long ago repelled the crafty foe of our holy religion from the very vitals of the Church: when the impiety of Nestorius failed to maintain his heresy because it did not escape you the handmaid and pupil of the Truth, how much poison was instilled into simple folk by the coloured falsehoods of that glib fellow. And the sequel to that mighty struggle was that through your vigilance the things which the devil contrived by means of Eutyches, did not escape detection, and they who had chosen to themselves one side in the twofold heresy, were overthrown by the one and undivided power of the catholic Faith. This then is your second victory over the destruction of Eutyches’ error: and, if he had had any soundness of mind, that error having been once and long ago routed and put to confusion in the person of his instigators, he would easily have been able to avoid the attempt to rekindle into life the smouldering ashes, and thus only share the lot of those, whose example he had followed, most glorious Augusta. We desire, therefore, to leap for joy and to pay due vows for your clemency’s prosperity to God, who has already bestowed on you a double palm and crown through all the parts of the world, in which the Lord’s Gospel is proclaimed.
II. He Thanks Her for Her Aid to the Catholic Cause, and Explains His Wishes About the Restoration of the Lapsed Bishops.
Your clemency must know, therefore, that the whole church of Rome is highly grateful for all your faithful deeds, whether that you have with pious zeal helped our representatives throughout and brought back the catholic priests, who had been expelled from their churches by an unjust sentence, or that you have procured the restoration with due honour of the remains of that innocent and holy priest, Flavian, of holy memory, to the church, which he ruled so well. In all which things assuredly your glory is increased manifold, so long as you venerate the saints according to their deserts, and are anxious that the thorns and weeds should be removed from the Lord’s field. But we learn as well from the account of our deputies as from that of my brother and fellow-bishop, Anatolius, whom you graciously recommend to me, that certain bishops crave reconciliation for those who seem to have given their consent to matters of heresy, and desire catholic communion for them: to whose request we grant effect on condition that the boon of peace should not be vouch-soled them till, our deputies acting in concert with the aforesaid bishop, they are corrected, and with their own hand condemn their evil doings; because our Christian religion requires boil that true justice should constrain the obstinate, and love not reject the penitent.
III. He Commends Certain Bishops and Churches to Her Care.
And because we know how much pious care your Grace deigns to bestow on catholic priests, we have ordered that you should be informed that my brother and fellow-bishop, Eusebius, is living with us, and sharing our communion, whose church we commend to you; for he that is improperly asserted to have been elected in his place, is said to be ravaging it. And this too we ask of you, Grace, which we doubt not you will do of your own free will, to extend the favour which is due as well to my brother and fellow-bishop, Julian, as to the clergy of Constantinople, who clung to the holy Flavian with faithful loyalty. On all things we have instructed your Grace by our deputies as to what ought to be done or arranged. Dated April 13, in the consulship of the illustrious Adelfius (451).
Leo, the bishop, to Anatolius, the bishop.
I. He Rejoices at Anatolius Having Proved Himself Orthodox.
We rejoice in the Lord and glory in the gift of His Grace, Who has shown you a follower of Gospel-teaching as we have found from your letter, beloved, and our brothers’ account whom we sent to Constantinople: for now through the approved faith of the priest, we are justifying in presuming that the whole church committed to him will have no wrinkle nor spot of error, as says the Apostle, “for I have espoused you to one husband to present you a pure virgin to Christ1 .” For that virgin is the Church, the spouse of one husband Christ, who suffers herself to be corrupted by no error, so that through the whole world we have one entire and pure communion in which we now welcome you as a fellow, beloved, and give our approval to the order of proceedings which we have received, ratified, as was proper, with the necessary signatures. In order, therefore, that your spirit in turn, beloved, might be strengthened by words of ours, we sent back after the Easter festival with our letters, our sons, Casterius, the Presbyter, and Patricius and Asclepias, the Deacons, who brought your writings to us, informing you, as we said above, that we rejoice at the peace of the church of Constantinople, on which we have ever spent such care that we wish it to be polluted by no heretical deceit.
II. The Penitents Among the Backsliding Bishops are to Be Received Back into Full Communion Upon Some Plan to Be Settled by Anatolius and Leo’s Delegates.
But concerning the brethren whom we learn from your letters, and from our delegates’ ac count, to be desirous of communion with us, on the ground of their sorrow that they did not remain constant against violence and intimidation, but gave their assent to another’s crime when terror had so bewildered them, that with hasty acquiescence they ministered to the condemnation of the catholic and guiltless bishop (Flavian), and to the acceptance of the detestable heresy (of Eutyches), we approve of that which was determined upon in the presence and with the co operation of our delegates, viz., that they should be content meanwhile with the communion of their own churches, but we wish our delegates whom we have sent to consult with you, and come to some arrangement whereby those who condemn their ill-doings with full assurances of penitence, and choose rather to accuse than to defend themselves, may be gladdened by being at peace and in communion with us; on condition that what has been received against the catholic Faith is first condemned with complete anathema. For otherwise in the Church of God, which is Christ’s Body, there are neither valid priesthoods nor true sacrifices, unless in the reality of our nature the true High Priest makes atonement for us, and the true Blood of the spotless Lamb makes us clean. For although He be set on the Father’s right hand, yet in the same flesh which He took from the Virgin, he carries on the mystery of propitiation, as says the Apostle, “Christ Jesus Who died, yea, Who also rose, Who is on the right hand of God, Who also maketh intercession for us2 .” For our kindness cannot be blamed in any case where we receive those who give assurance of penitence, and at whose deception we were grieved. The boon of communion with us, therefore, must neither harshly be withheld nor rashly granted, because as it is fully consistent with our religion to treat the oppressed with a Christlike charity, so it is fair to lay the full blame upon the authors of the disturbance.
III. The Names of Dioscorus, Juvenal, and Eustathius are Not to Be Read Aloud at the Holy Altar.
Concerning the reading out of the names of Dioscorus, Juvenal, and Eustathius3 at the holy altar, it beseems you, beloved, to observe that which our friends who were there present said ought to be done, and which is consistent with the honourable memory of S. Flavian, and will not turn the minds of the laity away from you. For it is very wrong and unbecoming that those who have harassed innocent catholics with their attacks, should be mingled indiscriminately with the names of the saints, seeing that by not forsaking their condemned heresy, they condemn themselves by their perversity: such men should either be chastised for their unfaithfulness; or strive hard after forgiveness.
IV. One or Two Instructions About Individuals.
But our brother and fellow-bishop, Julian, and the clergy who adhered to Flavian of holy memory, rendering him faithful service, we wish to adhere to you also beloved, that they may know him who we are sure lives by the merits of his faith with our God to be present with them in you. We wish you to know this too, beloved, that our brother and fellow-bishop Eusebius4 , who for the Faith’s sake endured many dangers and toils, is at present staying with us and continuing in our communion; whose church we would that your care should protect, that nothing may be destroyed in his absence, and no one may venture to injure him in anything until he come to you bearing a letter from us. And that our or rather all Christian people’s affection for you may be stirred up in greater measure, we wish this that we have written to you, beloved, to come to all men’s knowledge, that they who serve our God may give thanks for the consummation of the peace of the Apostolic See with you. But on other matters and persons you will be more fully instructed, beloved, by the letter you will have received through our delegates. Dated 13 April, in the consulship of the illustrious Adelfius (451).
2 Rm 8,34,
3 Juvenal (Bishop of Jerusalem). and Eustathius (Bishop Or Berytus), had been two of the principal abettors of Dioscorus in the Latrocinium. The “reading out of their names at the altar” alludes to the practice in the early Church of keeping registers (called "diptychs’ ) of the members (alive and dead) of the Church from which one or two of the more prominent names (clerical and lay) were read out at the celebration of the Holy mysteries: cf. The modern "Bidding prayer, &
4 This is the Bishop of Doryloeum in Phrygia, Eutyches former friend, but more recently his relentless accuser of heresy.
(Warning him to be circumspect in receiving the lapsed).
I. After Congratulating the Emperor on His Noble Conduct, He Deprecates Random Inquiries into the Tenets of the Faith.
Although I have replied1 already to your Grace by the hand of the Constantinopolitan clergy, yet on receiving your clemency’s mercy through the illustrious prefect of the city, my son Tatian, I found still greater cause for congratulation, because I have learnt your strong eagerness for the Church’s peace. And this holy desire as in fairness it deserves, secures for your empire the same happy condition as you seek for religion. For when the Spirit of God establishes harmony among Christian princes, a twofold confidence is produced throughout the world, because the progress of love and faith makes the power of their arms in both directions unconquerable, so that God being propitiated by one confession, the falseness of heretics and the enmity of barbarians are simultaneously overthrown, most glorious Emperor. The hope, therefore, of heavenly aid being increased through the Emperor’s friendship, I venture with the greater confidence to appeal to your Grace on behalf of the mystery of man’s salvation, not to allow any one in vain and presumptuous craftiness to inquire what must be held, as if it were uncertain. And although we may not in a single word dissent from the teaching of the Gospels and Apostles, nor entertain any opinion on the Divine Scriptures different to what the blessed Apostles and our Fathers learnt and taught, now in these latter days unlearned and blasphemous inquiries are set on foot, which of old the Holy Spirit crushed by the disciples of the Truth, so soon as the devil aroused them in hearts which were suited to his purpose.
II. The Points to Be Settled are Only Which of the Lapsed Shall Be Restored, and on What Terms.
But it is most inopportune that through the foolishness of a few we should be brought once more into hazardous opinions, and to the warfare of carnal disputes, as if the wrangle was to be revived, and we had to settle whether Eutyches held blasphemous views, and whether Dioscorus gave wrong judgment, who in condemning Flavian of holy memory struck his own death-blow, and involved the simpler folk in the same destruction. And now that many, as we have ascertained, have betoken themselves to the means of amendment, and entreat forgiveness for their weak hastiness, we have to determine not the character of the Faith, but whose prayers we shall receive, and on what terms. And hence that most religious anxiety which you deign to feel for the proclamation of a Synod, shall have fully and timely put before it all that I judge pertinent to the needs of the case, by means of the deputies who will with all speed, if God permit, reach your Grace. Dated the 23rd of April in the consulship of the illustrious Adelfius (451).
1 i.e. Lett. LXXVIII. of the series).
(Congratulating him on his benefits to the Church, and deprecating a Synod as inopportune).
(Announcing the despatch of his legates to deal with the lapsed, and asking that Eutyches should be superseded in his monastery by a catholic, and dismissed from Constantinople).
Leo, the bishop, to the bishop Anatolius.
I. Anatolius with Leo’s Delegates is to Settle the Question of the Receiving Back of Those Who Had Temporarily Gone Astray After Eutyches.
Although I hope, beloved, you are devoted to every good work, yet that your activity may be rendered the more effective, it was needful and fitting to despatch my brothers Lucentius the bishop and Basil the presbyter, as we1 promised, to ally themselves with you, beloved, that nothing may be done either indecisively or lazily in matters, which concern the welfare of the universal Church; for as long as you are on the spot, to whom we have entrusted the carrying out of our will, all things can be conducted with such moderation that the claims of neither kindness nor justice may be neglected, but without the accepting of persons, the Divine judgment may be considered in everything. But that this may be properly observed and guarded, the integrity of the catholic Faith must first of all be preserved, and, because in all cases “narrow” and steep “is the way that leadeth unto life2 ,” there must be no deviation from its track, either to the right hand or to the left. And because the evangelical and Apostolic Faith has to combat all errors, on the one side casting down Nestorius, on the other crushing Eutyches and his accomplices, remember the need of observing this rule, that all those who in that synod3 , which cannot, and does not deserve to have the name of Synod, and in which Dioscorus displayed his bad feeling, and Juvenal4 his ignorance, grieve as we learn from your account, beloved, that they were conquered by fear, and being overcome with terror, were able to be forced to assent to that iniquitous judgment, and who now desire to obtain catholic communion, are to receive the peace of the brethren after due assurance of repentance, on condition that in no doubtful terms they anathematize, execrate and condemn Eutyches and his dogma and his adherents.
II. The Case of the More Serious Offenders Must Be Reserved for the Present.
But concerning those who have sinned more gravely in this matter, and claimed for themselves a higher place in the same unhappy synod, in order to irritate the simple minds of their lowlier brethren by their pernicious arrogance, if they return to their right mind, and ceasing to defend their action, turn themselves to the condemnation of their particular error, if these men give such assurance of penitence as shall seem indisputable, let their case be reserved for the maturer deliberations of the Apostolic See, that when all things have been sifted and weighed, the right conclusion may be arrived at about their real actions. And in the Church over which the Lord has willed you to rule, let none such as we have already written5 have their names read at the altar until the course of events shows what ought to be determined concerning them.
III. Anatolius is Requested to Co-Operate Loyally with Leo’s Delegates.
But concerning the address6 presented to us by your clergy, beloved, there is no need to put my sentiments into a letter: it is sufficient to entrust all to my delegates, whose words shall carefully instruct you on every point. And so, dearest brother, do your endeavour with these brethren whom we have chosen as suitable agents in so great a matter faithfully and effectually to carry out what is agreeable to the Church of God: especially as the very nature of the case, and the promise of Divine aid incite you, and our most gracious princes show such holy faith, such religious devotion, that we find in them not only the general sympathy of Christians, but even that of the priesthood. Who assuredly in accordance with that piety, whereby they boast themselves to be servants of God, will receive all your suggestions for the benefit of the catholic Faith in a worthy spirit, so that by their aid also the peace of Christendom can be restored and wicked error destroyed. And if on any points more advice is needed, let word be quickly sent to us, that after investigating the nature of the case, we may carefully prescribe the rightful measures. Dated 9th of June in the consulship of the illustrious Adelfius (451).
1 Viz., in Letter LXXX., chap, iv : see also chap. iii
2 Mt 7,14.
3 Sc. The so called Latrocinium.
4 See n. 8 to Letter LXXX., chap 3,
5 Viz., in Letter LXXX.. chap. iii., where see note.
6 Commonitorium . Nothing further seems known of this.
(Begging him for friendship’s and the Church’s sake to assist his legates in quelling the remnants of heresy).
(Commending to him two presbyters, Basil and John, who being accused of heresy had come to Rome, and quite convinced Leo of their orthodoxy).
Leo, the bishop, to Paschasinus, bishop of Lilybaeum.
I. He Sends a Copy of the Tome and Still Further Explains the Heterodoxy of Eutyches.
Although I doubt not all the sources of scandal are fully known to you, brother, which have arisen in the churches of the East about the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, yet, test anything might have chanced to escape your care, I have despatched for your attentive perusal and study our letter1 , which deals with this matter in the fullest way, which we sent to Flavian of holy memory, and which the universal Church has accepted; in order that, understanding how completely this whole blasphemous error has with God’s aid been destroyed, you yourself also in your love towards God may show the same spirit, and know that they are utterly to be abhorred, who, following the blasphemy and madness of Eutyches, have dared to say there are not two natures, i.e. perfect Godhead and perfect manhood, in our Lord, the only-begotten Son of God, who took upon Himself to restore mankind; and think they can deceive our wariness by saying they believe the one nature of the Word to be Incarnate, whereas the Word of God in the Godhead of the Father, and of Himself, and of the Holy Spirit has indeed one nature; but when He took on Him the reality of our flesh, our nature also was united to His unchangeable substance: for even Incarnation could not be spoken of, unless the Word took on Him the flesh. And this taking on of flesh forms so complete a union, that not only in the blessed Virgin’s child-bearing, but also in her conception, no division must be imagined between the Godhead and the life-endowed flesh2 , since in the unity of person the Godhead and the manhood came together both in the conception and in the childbearing of the Virgin.
II. Eutyches Might Have Been Warned by Tire Fate of Former Heretics.
A like blasphemy, therefore, is to be abhorred in Eutyches, as was once condemned and overthrown by the Fathers in former heretics: and their example ought to have benefited this foolish fellow, in putting him on his guard against that which he could not grasp by his own sense, lest he should render void the peerless mystery of our salvation by denying the reality of human flesh in our Lord Jesus Christ. For, if there is not in Him true and perfect human nature, there is no taking of us upon Him, and the whole of our belief and teaching according to his heresy is emptiness and lying. But because the Truth does not lie and the Godhead is not possible, there abides in God the Word both substances in one Person, and the Church confesses her Saviour in such a way as to acknowledge Him both impossible in Godhead and possible in flesh, as says the Apostle, “although He was crucified through (our) weakness, yet He lives by the power of God3 .”
III. He Sends Quotations from the Fathers, and Announces that the Churches of the East Have Accepted the Tome.
And in order that you may be the fuller instructed in all things, beloved, I have sent you certain quotations from our holy Fathers, that you may clearly gather what they felt and what they preached to the churches about the mystery of the Lord’s Incarnation, which quotations our deputies produced at Constantinople also together with our epistle. And you must understand that the whole church of Constantinople, with all the monasteries and many bishops, have given their assent to it, and by their subscription have anathematized Nestorius and Eutyches with their dogmas. You must also understand that I have recently received the bishop of Constantinople’s letter, which states that the bishop of Antioch has sent instructions to all the bishops throughout his provinces, and gained their assent to my epistle, and their condemnation of Nestorius and Eutyches in like manner.
IV. He Asks Him to Settle the Discrepancy Between the Alexandrine and the Roman Calculation of Easter for 455, by Consulting the Proper Authority.
This also we think necessary to enjoin upon your care that you should diligently inquire in those quarters where you are sure of information concerning that point in the reckoning of Easter, which we have found in the table4 of Theophilus, and which greatly exercises us, and that you should discuss with those who are learned in such calculations, as to the date, when the day of the Lord’s resurrection should be held four years hence. For, whereas the next Easter is to be held by God’s goodness on March 23rd, the year after on April 12th, the year after that on April 4th, Theophilus of holy memory has fixed April 24th to be observed in 455, which we find to be quite contrary to the rule of the Church; but in our Easter cycles5 as you know very well, Easter that year is set down to be kept on April 17th. And therefore, that all our doubts may be removed, we beg you carefully to discuss this point with the best authorities, that for the future we may avoid this kind of mistake. Dated June 24th in the consulship of the illustrious Adelfius (451).
1 Sc. Letter XXVIII. (Tome)).
2 Caro animata.
3 2Co 13,4,
4 His Laterculum Pashale is meant, in which he calculated Easter for 100 years from 375. A similar dispute had ocurred in 444, in which we have S. Cyril’s and Paschasinus’ Letters (II and III. Of series) to Leo, but not Leo’s answers.
5 The latin Easter cycles were calculated for 84 years).
(Appointing Paschasinus the bishop and Boniface a presbyter, and Julian the bishop, his representatives at the Synod, as the Emperor is determined it should be held at once).
(Assenting perforce to the meeting of the Synod, but begging him to see that the Faith be not discussed as doubtful).
(Telling him that he has appointed Paschasinus, Boniface, and Julian, bishop of Cos, to represent him at the Synod).
(Asking him to act as one of his representatives at the Synod)).
Leo, the bishop of the city of Rome, to the holy Synod, assembled at Nicaea1 .
I. He Excuses His Absence from the Synod, and Introduces His Representatives.
I had indeed prayed, dearly beloved, on behalf of my dear colleagues that all the Lord’s priests would persist in united devotion to the catholic Faith, and that no one would be misled by favour or fear of secular powers into departure from the way of Truth; but because many things often occur to produce penitence and God’s mercy transcends the faults of delinquents, and vengeance is postponed in order that reformation may have place, we must make much of our most merciful prince’s piously intentioned Council, in which he has desired your holy brotherhood to assemble for the purpose of destroying the snares of the devil and restoring the peace of the Church, so far respecting the rights and dignity of the most blessed Apostle Peter as to invite us too by letter to vouchsafe our presence at your venerable Synod. That indeed is not permitted either by the needs of the times or by any precedent. Yet in these brethren, that is Paschasinus and Lucentius, bishops, Boniface and Basil, presbyters, who have been deputed by the Apostolic See, let your brotherhood reckon that I am presiding2 at the Synod; for my presence is not withdrawn from you, who am now represented by my vicars, and have this long time been really with you in the proclaiming of the catholic Faith: so that you who cannot help knowing what we believe in accordance with ancient tradition, cannot doubt what we desire.
II. He Entreats Them to Re-State the Faith as Laid Down in the Tome.
Wherefore, brethren most dear, let all attempts at impugning the Divinely-inspired Faith be entirely put down, and the vain unbelief of heretics be laid to rest: and let not that be defended which may not be believed: since in accordance with the authoritative statements of the Gospel, in accordance with the utterances of the prophets, and the teaching of the Apostles, with the greatest fulness and clearness in the letter which we sent to bishop Flavian of happy memory, it has been laid down what is the loyal and pure confession upon the mystery of our Lord Jesus Christ’s Incarnation.
III. The Ejected Bishops Must Be Restored, and the Nestorian Canons Retain Their Force.
But because we know full well that through evil jealousies the state of many churches has been disturbed, and a large number of bishops have been driven from their Sees for not receiving the heresy and conveyed into exile, while others have been put into their places though yet alive, to these wounds first of all must the healing of justice be applied, nor must any one be deprived of his own possession that some one else may enjoy it: for if, as we desire, all forsake their error, no one need lose his present rank, and those who have laboured for the Faith ought to have their rights restored with every privilege. Let the decrees specially directed against Nestorius of the former Synod of Ephesus, at which bishop Cyril of holy memory presided; still retain their force, lest the heresy then condemned flatter itself in aught because Eutyches is visited with condign execration. For the purity of the Faith and doctrine which we proclaim in the same spirit as our holy Fathers, equally condemns and impugns the Nestorian and the Eutychian misbelief with its supporters. Farewell in the Lord, brethren most dear. Dated 26th3 , of June, in the consulship of the illustrious Adelfius (451).
1 In accordance with instructions, the bishops, to the number of 529, first met at Nicoea, in Bithynia, the scene of the famous first General Council: but the Emperor Marcian was afraid to go so far from Constantinople, and so they were summoned to Chalcedon, which was much nearer, on the eastern shore of the Bosporus. There the Council opened on Oct. 8, 451.
2 The right of presiding, which he here virtually claims for his delegates, seems actually to have been accorded to them by the council.
3 The Ball. think the date should be the 27th.
(Commending his legates to him and praying for the full success of the Synod, if it adhere to the Faith once delivered to the saints).
Leo, the bishop to Pulcheria Augusta.
I. He Informs the Empress that He Has Loyally Recognized the Council Ordered by Her, and Sent Representatives with Letters to It.
Your clemency’s religious care which you unceasingly bestow on the catholic Faith, I recognize in everything, and give God thanks at seeing you take such interest in the universal Church, that I can confidently suggest what I think agreeable to justice and kindness, and so what thus far your pious zeal through the mercy of Christ has irreproachably accomplished, may the more speedily be brought to an issue which we shall be thankful for, O most noble Augusta. Your clemency’s command, therefore, that a Synod should be held at Nicaea2 , and your gently expressed refusal of my request that it should be held in Italy, so that all the bishops in our parts might be summoned and assemble, if the state of affairs had permitted them, I have received in a spirit so far removed from scorn as to nominate two of my fellow-bishops and fellow-presbyters respectively to represent me, sending also to the venerable synod an appropriate missive from which the brotherhood therein assembled might learn the standard necessary to be maintained in their decision, lest any rashness should do detriment either to the rules of the Faith, or to the provisions of the canons, or to the remedies required by the spirit of loving kindness.
II. In the Settlement of This Matter that Moderation Must Be Observed Which Was Entirely Absent at Ephesus.
For, as I have very often stated in letters from the beginning of this matter, I have desired that such moderation should be observed in the midst of discordant views and carnal jealousies that, whilst nothing should be allowed to be wrested from or added to the purity of the Faith, yet the remedy of pardon should be granted to those who return to unity and peace. Because the works of the devil are then more effectually destroyed when men’s hearts are recalled to the love of God and their neighbours. But how contrary to my warnings and entreaties were their actions then, it is a long story to explain, nor is the need to put down in the pages of a letter all that was allowed to be perpetrated in that meeting, not of judges but of robbers, at Ephesus; where the chief men of the synod spared neither those brethren who opposed them nor those who assented to them, seeing that for the breaking down of the catholic Faith and the strengthening of execrable heresy, they stripped some of their rightful rank and tainted others with complicity in guilt; and surely their cruelty was worse to those whom by persuasion they divorced from innocence, than to those whom by persecution they made blessed confessors.
III. Those Who Recant Their Error Must Be Treated with Forbearance.
And yet because such men have harmed themselves most by their wrong-doing, and because the greater the wounds, the more careful must be the application of the remedy, I have never in any letter maintained that pardon must be withheld even from them if they came to their right mind. And although we unchangeably abhor their heresy, which is the greatest enemy of Christian religion, yet the men themselves, if they without any doubt amend their ways and clear themselves by full assurances of repentance, we do not judge to be outcasts from the unspeakable mercy of God: but rather we lament with those that lament, “we weep with those that weep3 ,” and obey the requirements of justice in deposing without neglecting the remedies of loving-kindness: and this, as your piety knows, is not a mere word-promise, but is also borne out by our actions, inasmuch as nearly all who had been either misled or forced into assenting to the presiding bishops, by rescinding what they had decreed and by condemning what they had written, have obtained complete acquittal from guilt and the boon of Apostolic peace.
IV. Even the Authors of the Mischief May Find Room Far Forgiveness by Repentance.
If, therefore, your clemency deigns to reflect upon my motives, it will be satisfied that I have acted throughout with the design of bringing about the abolition of the heresy without the loss of one soul; and that in the case of the authors of these cruel disturbances I have modified my practice somewhat in order that their slow minds might be aroused by some feelings of compunction to ask for lenient treatment. For although since their decision, which is no less blasphemous than unjust, they cannot be held in such honour by the catholic brotherhood as they once were, yet they still retain their sees and their rank as bishops, with the prospect either of receiving the peace of the whole Church, after true and necessary signs of repentance or, if (which God forbid) they persist in their heresy, of reaping the reward of their misbelief. Dated 20th of July, in the consulship of the illustrious Adelfius (451).
1 The Magistriani were what would now be called King`s Messengers: another name for them was agentes in rebus. and they were under the direction of the Imperial Magister Officorum.
2 See n. 4 on Letter XCIII., i.
3 Rm 12,15.
Leo the Great: letters 1071