Page images


On the pre

on the ground of his communion with Peter: which, however, as being uncanonical,' Acacius did not admit, as the same Zacharias writes, on its presentation by certain members of the monastery of the Acoemets, as they are called. Such is the account given by Zacharias; but he appears to me to have been altogether ignorant of the real transactions, and to have reported merely an imperfect hearsay. I now proceed to give a precise account of the proceedings. sentation of libels to Felix by John against Acacius, on the score of irregular communion with Peter, and other uncanonical proceedings, the bishops Vitalis and Misenus are sent by Felix to the emperor Zeno, with a requisition that the authority of the synod at Chalcedon should be maintained, that Peter should be ejected as a heretic, and that Acacius should be sent to Felix to answer for himself to the charges brought against him by John, of whom we have made frequent mention.

' In the condemnation and deposition of Acacius, the Greeks found fault chiefly with two things. First, because he had not been condemned and deposed in a synod; but Pope Felix alone had prefixed his own name before the sentence of deposition. The other thing was, because Acacius, having been neither convicted nor examined according to the ecclesiastical canons, had received sentence of condemnation. To the former objection those of the Church of Rome returned this answer: that there was no need of a new synod for the condemning of Acacius. For all followers and communicators (that is, those that held communion) with heretics, who had heretofore been condemned by a special sentence, are to be understood as condemned together with the same heretics. But whereas the Greeks complained that Pope Felix had prefixed his own name only before that sentence; Felix, in the above-mentioned letter, answers this objection thus : “Whence being at this present convened before the blessed apostle Peter on account of the Antiochian church, we have again hastened to show your love the usage which has always obtained amongst us. As often as the lords the prelates are convened within Italy on account of ecclesiastical causes, especially of the faith, an usage is retained, that the successor of the prelates of the apostolic see, in the name or person of all the prelates of all Italy, agreeable to the care of all the churches appertaining to them, should ordain all things.” Pope Julius had said the same long before Felix, in his letter to the Orientals, which Athanasius records in his Apologetic. But now, as to the second objection of the Easterns, concerning Acacius's being condemned without any examination ; that is sufficiently answered by Pope Gelasius in his epistle to the Orientals, where he says, that “ Acacius has detected his own crime in his letters, and having already confessed voluntarily, ought not now to be heard.” Vales.

CHAP. XIX.-INTERFERENCE OF CYRIL THE MONK. BEFORE, however, they reached the imperial city, Cyril, the superior of the Acoemets,' writes to Felix, blaming his tardiness, when so grievous offences were being committed against the right faith ; and Felix writes to Misenus and his associates, that they should take no measures until they had conferred with Cyril, and learnt from him what was best to be done.


FURTHER commonitories were also addressed to them by Felix ; as also letters to Zeno, concerning both the synod at Chalcedon, and the persecution which Huneric was carrying on in Africa. He also wrote an epistle to Acacius. Zeno wrote in answer, that the concern with which John had filled him, was groundless ; because, having sworn that he would in no way endeavour to insinuate himself into the see of Alexandria, and having subsequently violated these terms and disregarded his oath, he had been guilty of the extreme of sacrilege : that Peter had not been appointed without being tested, but had with his own hand subscribed his reception of the faith of the three hundred and eighteen holy fathers who met at Nicæa, which the holy synod at Chalcedon also followed. Part of the epistle is in these precise words : “ You ought to be assured that our piety, and the before-mentioned most holy Peter, and all the most holy churches, receive and revere the most holy synod at Chalcedon, which agreed with the faith of the Nicene synod.”

In the transactions are also contained epistles from the before-mentioned Cyril, and other archimandrites of the imperial city, and from bishops and clergy of the Egyptian province, addressed to Felix against Peter, as being a heretic, and against those who communicated with him. The mem-, bers of the monastery of the Acoemetæ who came to Felix,

1 There were two monasteries at Constantinople which were termed the monasteries of the Acæmeti, that, namely, of Bassianus, and that of Dius, so named from their respective founders. But they had the appellation of Acæmeti, or Acæmitæ, given them, because they celebrated the Divine praises night and day, succeeding one another by turns; insomuch that the community never slept. So in the Western church a continual praising of God is said to have been kept up in some monasteries. Vales.

further averred against Misenus and his party, that before their arrival at Byzantium, the name of Peter had been read secretly in the sacred diptychs, and since that time without any concealment, and that they had in this way communicated with him. The epistle also of the Egyptians affirmed the same things respecting Peter; and that John, being orthodox, had been rightfully ordained: that Peter was ordained by two bishops only, maintainers of similar errors with himself : that since the flight of John every species of severity had been inflicted on the orthodox : that all these circumstances had been made known to Acacius by persons who had visited the imperial city ; and that they were convinced that he was in all things acting in union with Peter.


MONK, AND THEIR CONSEQUENT DEPRIVATION, This stir was further increased by Simeon, an Acoemet, who had been despatched to Rome by Cyril. He expressly charged Misenus and Vitalis with holding communion with the heretics, by distinctly uttering the name of Peter in the reading of the sacred diptychs ; and affirmed that many simple persons had, on this ground, been beguiled by the heretics, who said that Peter was admitted to the communion even of the Roman see ; and, further, in reply to various interrogatories, Simeon said that Misenus and his party had declined to have communication with any orthodox person, either in person or by letter, or to sift any of the presumptuous attempts upon the right faith. There was also brought forward Silvanus, a presbyter, who had been in company with Misenus and Vitalis at Constantinople, and he confirmed the statement of the monks. There was read, too, a letter from Acacius' to Simplicius, to the effect that Peter had been long ago deposed, and had become a child of night. On these grounds Misenus and Vitalis were removed from the priesthood and severed from the holy communion, when a unanimous vote was passed by the synod, in the following terms : “ The church of the Romans does not admit Peter, the heretic, who has also

1 This letter of Acacius is extant, set forth in Latin amongst the epistles of Pope Simplicius. The same letter is mentioned in Pope Felix's epistle, which contains Acacius's sentence of deposition.

been long ago condemned by the holy see, excommunicated, and anathematized. To whom, if there were no other objection, this is sufficient, namely, that having been ordained by heretics, he could not have authority over the orthodox. The decree also contains what follows : “ The mere circumstance shows Acacius, bishop of Constantinople, to have incurred very great responsibility, because, writing to Simplicius and having termed Peter a heretic, he has nevertheless made no such declaration to the emperor : which was his duty, if he were loyal to him. He is, however, more partial to the emperor than to the faith.”

Let me now return to the order of events.? There is extant an epistle from Acacius to the Egyptian bishops, the clergy, monks, and the people in general, by which he endeavours to heal the existing schismi on which subject he also wrote to Peter, bishop of Alexandria.


THE COUNCIL OF CHALCEDON. WHILE the schism at Alexandria was thus at its height, Peter, having again anathematized the tome of Leo, the transactions at Chalcedon, and those who refused to admit the writings of Dioscorus and Timotheus, induced some of the bishops and archimandrites to communicate with him, and failing to prevail upon the others, ejected most of them from their monasteries. On account of these proceedings, Nephalius visited the imperial city, and reported them to Zeno ; who, in great vexation, despatches Cosmas, one of his officers, charged to load Peter with menaces, for the enforcement of unity, on the score of his having caused a serious dissension by his harshness. Cosmas returns to the imperial city without accomplishing the object of his mission, having merely restored those who had been ejected, to their monasteries. Subsequently, Arsenius is sent out by the emperor as governor of Egypt and commander of the forces. Arriving at Alexandria in company with Nephalius, he negotiated with a view to

| Evagrius here omits to mention the sentence of deposition pronounced against Acacius. The omission probably arose from a feeling of reverence for the Constantinopolitan see: or else, because he had related that fact already from Zacharias Rhetor. See chap. 18.


unity ; but failing to induce persons to acquiesce in his measures, he sends some of them to the imperial city, where, accordingly, many discussions took place in the presence of Zeno : but with no practical result, because the gether declined agreement with the synod at Chalcedon.

emperor alto


ALEXANDRIA, AND ANTIOCH. At this juncture Acacius departed on the common journey of all men, and is succeeded by Fravitas.? On his addressing synodical letters to Peter of Alexandria, the latter replies with a repetition of the former matters respecting the synod at Chalcedon. On the demise of Fravitas, after an episcopate of only four months, Euphemius was ordained as his successor, and is the recipient of the letters of Peter addressed to Fravitas. On discovering the anathema against the transactions at Chalcedon, his feelings were greatly roused, and he broke off from communion with Peter. Both epistles are extant, namely, from Fravitas to Peter, and from Peter to Fravitas ; but I pass them over on account of their length. When, in consequence, Euphemius and Peter were upon the point of coming to open hostility, and summoning synods against each other, these proceedings were prevented by the death of the latter. He is succeeded by Athanasius, who attempted to unite the dissidents ; but without success, since the parties were ranged under differences of opinion.2 Subsequently, when despatching synodical letters to Palladius, the successor of Peter3 in the bishopric of Antioch, he took a similar course respecting the synod of Chalcedon ; as did also John, his successor in the see of Alexandria. On the

[ocr errors]

1 Theophanes relates that in these letters Fravitas denied that he communicated with Felix, bishop of Rome. He assigns only three months as the period of his continuance in his bishopric.

2 There were at Alexandria two sorts of heretics; namely, the Dioscoritæ and the Esaiani : concerning whom Liberatus speaks in his Breviary. The former wholly condemned and anathematized the Chalcedon synod; but the latter, following Zeno's Henoticon, did not indeed in anywise admit that synod, but yet they did not pronounce an anathema against it. Vales.

3 It is uncertain when Peter, bishop of Antioch, died, and whether he survived his namesake of Alexandria or not.

« PreviousContinue »