The Second General Council of Constantinople, 553
(Chapter 5 of THE CHURCH IN CRISIS: A History of the General Councils, 325-
1870, by Msgr. Philip Hughes.)
I. THE DELICATE SITUATION
The fifth of the General Councils met at Constantinople, in May, 553--just
one hundred years after the date of St. Leo's final letter to the fathers
of Chalcedon (March 21, 453). To the minds of many contemporaries this
council of 553 was to seem a flat repudiation of Chalcedon, and it was to
be the occasion of numerous schisms in the Latin sees of the church, the
most widespread (non-doctrinal) revolt which the papacy has ever had to
face. It was a council whose strange history was very closely related to
the hundred tense years of controversy that preceded it, controversy partly
theological, partly political, partly nationalistic.
More particularly, this council was the crowning effort of a Catholic
emperor's policy to reconcile the Monophysites; an emperor who came in
after some fifty years of Monophysite domination, and at the end of a
period of thirty-five years when even the pro-Chalcedon party had been out
of communion with Rome; thirty-five years when, in law, there had been no
Catholics at all within this empire of the East. That emperor was Justinian
(527-45), the restorer par excellence, the ruler who set himself to halt
disintegration everywhere, and by no means unsuccessfully who brought back
under imperial control Italy and Africa and even part of Spain, the last
great emperor who can be called Roman. His leading idea, in this stage of
his religious activities, was to make it clear beyond clear to the
Monophysites that the Catholics, faithful to the Council of Chalcedon, were
as orthodox as themselves, that there was no difference, in fact, between
what each party believed. It was the policy of a sincerely religious
Catholic that had nothing in common with the attempts of his predecessors,
through the previous fifty years, to heal the breach through dishonest,
ambiguous formulae which each party could sign with its own meaning in mind
as it did so.
The differences that separated Monophysite from Catholic were undoubtedly
as subtle as they were real. The Church has never used any other form of
expressing the doctrine of the Incarnation than that of St. Leo's Tome. It
has, on the other hand, never condemned the formula of St. Cyril--which, as
he used it, is a wholly Catholic formula; and that he used it in a Catholic
sense is shown by the whole body of his writing on this great truth. Nor
did the Monophysite leaders--the bishops and theologians--understand the
formula in any other sense. None, at Chalcedon, supported the views of
Eutyches, or asserted that Eutyches and St. Cyril were at one in their
belief. And this loyalty to the real St. Cyril characterises the main body
of the party throughout the next hundred years and more after Chalcedon.
Where the party and such of its great leaders as the patriarch of Antioch,
Severus, went wrong, and put themselves outside the communion of the
church, was in their constant assertion that the language of St. Leo's Tome
did not have a Catholic meaning, could not have a Catholic meaning; that it
showed, on the contrary, that he was a Nestorian. And Chalcedon, they
persisted, was a council to be held accursed, for, according to them, it
had reversed the decision of the truly Catholic Ephesian Council of 431
where St. Cyril had triumphed.
If this seems now merely a tale "of old forgotten far-off things"--an
especially pitiful tale of violent disputes between people substantially in
agreement--let it be remembered that in the next eighty years after 553 the
differences had so undermined the stability of a good half of the empire in
the East, as to lose forever to the emperors the loyalty of Egypt and
Syria, and reduce the numbers of the Catholics there to a handful, and the
jurisdictions of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem to all but nought.
These lands were the original strongholds of the Catholic faith, Egypt,
Syria, and the rest, names which whatever they now bring to mind do not
suggest the triumph of the religion of Christ our Lord. Islam, of course,
has for a thousand years and more dominated them. But the break with the
Catholic Church, and its destruction in these lands, goes back earlier
still, to long before Mahomet was born, to the Monophysite reaction
following the Council of Chalcedon. The emperors who, in the two hundred
years after Chalcedon, showed such a passionate anxiety over the various
pacts by which they sought to end the division, and who treated the
opponents of their endeavours with such ferocity, were by no means despots,
half-crazy through their determination that all men should believe as they
believed about these high mysteries. What prompted them was their
realisation that a continuation of the division meant the end of their
empire and, as we should say now, of civilisation.
As to the great council itself, taken as a whole it has never inspired
historians with any excessive affection. Le malentendu de Chalcedoine is,
with many of them, the impression they seem to retain most vividly. The
reason for this is, perhaps, that "The Council of Chalcedon had drawn up a
doctrinal formula: it had not produced a union of minds or of hearts."
It was a council occasioned by a serious and long-standing theological
quarrel about the interpretation of technical keywords. That this initial
misunderstanding survived the council is the tragedy of its history. What
the council needed to have done, it was impossible that it could have done-
-given the passions of the disputants; given, especially, the feelings
engendered on all sides by what had happened at the Latrocinium. Given,
what all knew, the fact of these two quasi-permanent theological factions,
Cyrillian and anti-Cyrillian, and their mutual ferocity, there ought,
ideally, to have been some specific act of the council showing that its
statement of the faith did not conflict with the decisions of Ephesus (431)
nor condemn Cyril's theology of the Incarnation; saying plainly what it was
that the Antioch party found faulty in the Alexandrian's terms and why;
showing how there was yet no conflict between these last and the formula in
which St. Leo had expressed the doctrine. But could such a reasonableness
in these actual bishops of 451 have been expected?
One thing alone seems to have controlled them, the words of him whom,
whether joyfully or reluctantly, they acknowledged to be a peculiarly
privileged authentic witness to the truth. In this acknowledgment by these
passionate, mutually hostile men, there lies whatever is glorious in the
conciliar action of 451. These Greeks, Syrians, Egyptians may not like to
yield their minds to the papal authority as a concrete factor of life; they
may with all possible ingenuity avoid and evade it; and once returned to
their sees they may disregard and flatly disobey; but their homage at
Chalcedon to what is greater in the papacy than any pope is indeed
"L'apogee en Orient, du principatus du Siege Apostolique." And it is
this that has survived in the popular memory as the great glory of the
council--its acceptance, that is to say, of a statement of the true belief
about the Incarnation on the authority of the bishop who, so they believe,
is Peter's successor and heir.
From these simplicities we turn to the jungle of events. The opposition to
the Council of Chalcedon's acceptance of St. Leo's teaching showed itself
as soon as this was known. A Syrian monk, present at the council, made his
way home, to Jerusalem, and began a campaign of violent preaching on the
theme, "Chalcedon has betrayed Cyril." He speedily had the city aflame, and
the empress-dowager heading a plot to bar out the bishop--not yet returned-
-and set another in his place: a successful plot, for the bishop fled
before the insurrection. In town after town in Palestine and Syria the same
thing happened. It took the whole force of an army to get the lawful bishop
of Jerusalem back into his see.
Egypt received the news of Chalcedon's deposition of Dioscoros--and its new
chief bishop, Proterius--no less badly. Troops had to be used to get him
safely through the streets of Alexandria. The vast mobs then turned on the
soldiery, and when these took refuge in the great temple of Serapis, burned
it down and the troops with it. The government reprisals were, of course,
terrible--but efficient, and it was amid a military occupation that
Proterius ruled. Until 457; when the emperor Marcian died, and without
awaiting the news of his successor's policy the Alexandrians rose again.
The bishop was murdered, and his naked, mutilated corpse dragged through
the streets in triumph. In his place a leading Monophysite, Timothy, was
The new emperor, Leo I, was so impressed by all this that his first thought
was to call a council that should repudiate Chalcedon. Those bishops he
consulted gave no support to his plan, and advised that Timothy should be
banished. The strong arm once more operated, and as long as Leo reigned,
another sixteen years, the surface calm was unbroken. It was after Leo's
death (474) that the real trouble began, not the mere matter of rioting
mobs and fanatical clerics, but of the state proposing its own official
solution of the great dilemma, to which every bishop had to set his
signature. It was a usurper, Basiliscus, hoping thus (it may be) to make
his throne safe, who inaugurated the new policy: the policy that reached
the heights of its mischievous possibilities eighty years later, when the
General Council we are now about to deal with (the fifth) was summoned, for
no other purpose than to accredit an imperial reconciliation scheme.
Basiliscus sent to all the bishops of the empire an encyclical letter,
setting forth what that faith is which "is the basis and foundation of
mankind's happiness." It is, he states, the faith of Nicaea, of the council
of 381, and of the Council of Ephesus that condemned Nestorius. But "we
decree that all the bishops of the world shall anathematize, and give to
the flames, the Tome of Leo, and all that was done at Chalcedon in the
matter of defining the faith." Every bishop was ordered to set his
signature to the letter, as testimony of submission. It was an eventful
twenty months in which Basiliscus reigned. Throughout Egypt, Palestine,
and Syria, especially, the bishops signed by hundreds. Then the lawful
emperor, Zeno, managed to regain the throne.
Zeno was a crude type, from the mountains of Isauria, the first Asiatic to
rule at Constantinople, a soldier, and notoriously one of the great
blackguards of his day. Religious affairs he handed over to the bishop of
Constantinople, Acacius, almost the only bishop who had stood firm against
the Encyclical. This Acacius had done, apparently, from policy--Zeno might
soon be back; and Acacius had a Monophysite past. He was the real author,
it seems, of the next attempt to settle the problem by imperial edict.
The problem had not, in fact, diminished as the years went by, and it was a
practical problem; for example, every time a new bishop was appointed in
Egypt or Syria the chances were that there would be a miniature civil war
for some days or weeks or for longer still. Zeno had closed his eyes to the
fact that Timothy had returned to Alexandria during the usurpation, and
after Timothy's death he recognised a second leading Monophysite as
bishop. The new edict, called the Henoticon, was, in form, Zeno's
letter to this personage, Peter Mongos (i.e., the hoarse). It was to have
the most disastrous consequences. Once already, a bare twenty years after
Chalcedon, the all but entire episcopate of the empire had repudiated the
council at the bidding of the state. Now, six years later, it was to repeat
the performance and, in doing so, to fall foul of the Apostolic See.
The Henoticon of 482 was more subtly contrived than the short-lived edict
of Basiliscus. It spoke of the traditional faith in which alone all
Christians are baptised, and upon which the preservation of the state
depends, and proceeded to say that this faith was that of the councils of
Nicaea, of Constantinople (381), and Ephesus. It anathematized, by name,
Nestorius and Eutyches also, and it accepted the twelve anathemas which St.
Cyril had drawn up against Nestorius. Then came a summary of the doctrine
of the Incarnation to which no Catholic could object, and, in the closing
words, a casual back-kick at Chalcedon which ruined all: "Whoever believes,
or has believed, otherwise, now or at any time, whether at the council of
Chalcedon or at any other council, him we anathematize." The implication of
this is clear enough. But the rest was orthodox, and so Catholic bishops
signed it freely. The last clause dispenses from any need to reverence
Chalcedon those who thought the council accursed, and so gave the
Monophysite all the freedom he desired. There was no mention of Leo's Tome,
nor of his terminology, "two natures."
The mass of the bishops rallied to the new formula, those who were
Monophysites having trouble with their own extremists. The pope--Felix III-
-excommunicated Acacius for accepting the Henoticon, and deposed him from
his see, and with him excommunicated all who remained in communion with him
(484). Acacius in return struck off the pope's name from the diptychs of
the church of Constantinople. For the first time, there was now open
schism, separating the whole Catholic East from the Roman See. It was to
continue for thirty-five years.
Acacius died five years after his condemnation, still bishop and still
unsubmissive. His successors made as full profession of faith in Chalcedon
as could be desired. But they would not retract their signatures from the
Henoticon, nor recognise the excommunication of Acacius. A new emperor came
to the throne in 491, an elderly official, Anastasius. He was himself a
Monophysite. Once he had completed his careful reorganisation of the state
he, too, turned to solve the great problem, and called in leading
Monophysites as his advisors--two very notable personages, Philoxene bishop
of Mabboug and the monk Severus whom, in 512, the emperor made
patriarch of Antioch.
It was during this period of the reign of Anastasius that the first signs
were given of what was to be the storm centre--the whole business indeed--
of the General Council of 553. This was a Monophysite crusade against three
bishops--writers all of them--now long since dead, who had once been
friends and associates of Nestorius: the bishop of Mopsuestia, Theodore;
the bishop of Cyrrhus, Theodoret; the bishop of Edessa, Ibas. These three
personages and their writings, a trinity of subjects for controversy
henceforward inseparable, the three topics, items kephalaia in Greek;
capitula in Latin), headings; the Three Chapters, of the English-speaking
It was Philoxene who, around 506-7, began this campaign against them,
denouncing them as heretics, Nestorians, at Antioch, the metropolis with
which all three were associated. Five years later, in the same city, he
again raised the question of their orthodoxy, in his endeavour to bring
about the deposition of his superior, the bishop, Flavian--a strong anti-
Monophysite. Monophysites traditionally detested Theodoret and Ibas as
leading critics, in their own day, of St. Cyril's theology of the
Incarnation. Catholics, on the other hand, stood by them as victims of the
Alexandria-managed Latrocinium, who later were restored and pronounced
wholly orthodox at Chalcedon. From now on, with both Catholics and
Monophysites, to be against or for their condemnation was a sure way of
proclaiming oneself for or against the Council of Chalcedon. "The Three
Chapters" was, for the next hundred years, to be a watchword and a battle
cry through all the churches from Spain to Arabia.
Severus ruled Antioch for a brief six years. In 518 his emperor died, and
the general to whom the throne now came, Justin, was a convinced Catholic,
a Latin, whose first thought was peace with the Apostolic See. Once again
Roman legates appeared in the capital and, as the condition sine qua non of
restoration to communion, the emperor and the bishop--and all the bishops
of the empire-- signed the formulary drawn up by the pope, Hormisdas.
No discussion of the terms was allowed, the pope was as firm as St. Leo at
Chalcedon. The signatories admitted that the first rule of salvation was to
keep the rule of belief, with regard to which the promise of Christ to St.
Peter had been marvellously fruitful since, "in the Apostolic See the
Catholic faith has ever been kept spotless." They therefore, desiring and
hoping never to be separated from this faith, anathematize all heresies,
and, by name, "Nestorius, once bishop of Constantinople and condemned by
Celestine pope of Rome and Cyril bishop of Alexandria." Likewise they
anathematize Eutyches and Dioscoros, "condemned by the holy council of
Chalcedon which we follow and embrace," a council which, "following the
council of Nicaea, taught the apostolic faith." The bishops declare their
detestation of the "murderous Timothy the Cat" and his successor Peter; and
they also condemn with these "Acacius, the bishop of Constantinople whom
the Apostolic See condemned," and all who had remained in communion with
Acacius. Returning to Chalcedon, the signatories accept the Tome of Leo,
because "in all things we follow the Apostolic See and preach as it has
decided." Here, "in this See," is to be found "the whole, true, perfect
strength of the religion of Christ." And, for the future, they promise
never to recite in the sacred mysteries the names of those who "have been
cut off from the communion of the Catholic Church, that is of those who are
not one in thought with the Apostolic See." "If I attempt to vary from
this my profession, I acknowledge I should make myself the accomplice of
those whom I have condemned."
This root and branch condemnation of Acacius and the hundreds of his
episcopal accomplices, all now deceased, was a stiff draught to swallow.
But if the bishops were serious in their statements about the unique
privilege of the Apostolic See as the standard of belief, what choice had
they but to drink it down?
But it was a long generation since, in these lands, the pope's name had,
publicly, been allowed to matter. At Thessalonica there were riots when the
commissioners arrived to reconcile the bishop, riots which he organised. In
Thrace generally the changeover went through fairly peaceably, and in Asia
Minor too. But in Syria there was violent opposition in many places. The
recusant bishops were ejected and, as of old, troops were needed to secure
the installation of their successors. Egypt the emperor let alone.
And in Syria, in some places where the anti-Monophysites came into their
own again, the Three Chapters made an ominous reappearance. At Cyrrhus
there were feasts in honour of Theodoret, and at Mopsuestia in honour of
Theodore and his master Diodore of Tarsus--and, also, of "St.
Nestorius." Pro-Chalcedon enthusiasm of this sort augured ill for the
new emperor's hopes of a real peace. Was it now that the first seeds were
sown in the mind of his nephew Justinian, soon to succeed to the throne, of
a deep aversion for these Syrian heroes as symbols of strife, and bound to
provoke it everlastingly?
In April 527, at the age of forty-five Justinian began his reign--or, to
speak according to the realities, what began was the joint reign of
Justinian and his accomplished and really capable wife Theodora. And
Theodora was a Monophysite. While, for the greater misery of the years to
come, her husband was, among many other things, a talented amateur
theologian, who studied under the best masters of the day. Justinian
regarded himself as personally responsible to God for the well-being of his
empire, and in nothing more awfully responsible than for the maintenance of
the Church. Hence the constant support his laws gave to bishops in their
disciplinary tasks, the care to provide good bishops and a determined,
never ceasing war on the enemies of the Church--the pagans, the Jews, the
heretics. But the austere emperor did not, ever, think of the Monophysites
as heretics. These were, to him, victims of a profound misunderstanding,
and it was one of his most rooted convictions that he had a mission to
reconcile them to the Church.
II. THE QUESTION OF THE THREE CHAPTERS, 527-44
The reign began, then, with overtures to the Monophysites. The exiles were
recalled, preachers of the party were heard once again in the churches, and
the empress set up a monastery of five hundred of their monks in one of the
imperial palaces. In 533 Justinian called a conference of Catholic and
Monophysite bishops and theologians to discuss the vital questions. He
himself presided. And at this conference the question of the Three Chapters
came up. According to one account the Monophysites accepted the Catholic
explanation of their relation to Chalcedon and Ephesus. But another story
relates that the conference broke down on this very point.
This same year also witnessed the emperor's first attempts to make official
declarations about Christian doctrine; an edict, for example, which settled
the orthodoxy of the latest attempt to state Catholic belief in language
usually held by the other side. This was the statement, "It was one of the
Trinity who, in the flesh, suffered for us"--a mode of speech no Nestorian
heretic could possibly use, and therefore useful on Catholic lips as
convincing evidence that the pro-Chalcedon party were not Nestorians. The
statement however grieved the most Chalcedonian of all the Catholics of the
capital, the monks called Akoimetoi, and thereupon Justinian appealed
to the pope, John II. Back came an assurance (March 534) that the formula
was wholly orthodox, and also, among other testimonies in its favour, the
pope cited the anathemas of St. Cyril-the first time in a hundred years
of controversy that a Roman document had quoted them. If Leo, through John,
was now quoting Cyril, what became of the Monophysite case against
Chalcedon? But, of course, men (even ecclesiastical men) are not purely
rational animals. And there was always the empress, whom no one has claimed
as a theologian.
On February 8, 535, the patriarch of Alexandria died, and on June 8, the
patriarch of Constantinople. Between these deaths came that of Pope John
II, May 8. Through Theodora's activity both the new patriarchs were
Monophysites--after street fighting in Alexandria, where the rival
candidate was also a Monophysite, of the straiter sort. And now the emperor
thought the moment opportune to invite to Constantinople the arch-
Monophysite of the day, Severus, whom he had been, in part, responsible for
depriving of the see of Antioch, sixteen years before, and who, in all
these years, had been a proscribed exile. The ex-patriarch was now lodged
in the emperor's palace, and no doubt Justinian fully enjoyed his unique
opportunity of talking over these questions with the monk who, to all
seeming, must be counted one of the really great theologians. One effect of
the presence of Severus in the capital was to confirm the new patriarch--
Anthimos was his name--in a resolute anti-Chalcedon spirit.
Such was the position when political events in Italy--the threat to the
Gothic king of Justinian's army, now master of Sicily--brought to
Constantinople the unlikeliest person of all, the new pope, Agapitus I. He
arrived on February 2, 536, and was given a stupendous reception by the
imperial court. At the thought of the other guest lodged with the emperor,
the Catholics recalled the story of St. Peter and Simon Magus.
The pope had come on a political errand, to plead for the Gothic king. But
he had first to settle the problem of his own relations with Anthimos--whom
he must meet at every turn, at the court no doubt, and above all at the
sacred liturgies. It was a weak point in the patriarch's position that he
had previously been bishop of Trebizond, in an age when translations were
most stringently forbidden. The pope opened with this objection, and when
the emperor overruled it, he asked whether Anthimos admitted the two
natures in the incarnate Son. Anthimos saw the game was up. His only reply
was to cast off his patriarchal robes and disappear. He was an extremely
pious ascetic, still the monk through and through, happy to be back in his
cell, and his "cell" the empress provided for him--in the upper stories of
the vast palace; and he occupied it peacefully for the next twelve years or
so, when he died.
At a lower level, the election of his successor went forward, whom the
pope, assured this was truly a Catholic, consecrated on March 13.
The Catholics, heartened by this great demonstration of power, petitioned
that all this world of important Monophysites should now disappear. The
pope was already negotiating this with the emperor when, April 22, he
suddenly died. But the council he had asked for was held, and all the
excommunications and expulsions of the leading Monophysites were renewed
and carried out. It was the beginning of a general purge throughout the
empire, and the beginning of a new chapter in Justinian's religious policy,
of a change that lasted for seven years or so.
The defeated empress turned to explore the chances offered by the vacancy
of the papal see. From Rome the late pope had brought with him an elderly
official of the Curia, Vigilius, who once already had all but been pope--
had been appointed pope, in fact, five years before by the reigning pope,
Boniface II; a strange innovation which public opinion caused the innovator
to renounce very speedily. It is Vigilius--who, very soon, will really be
pope--who is the pope of the fifth General Council. Here is the leading
actor in the incredible, stormy scenes of the year 553.
At this moment Vigilius is the confidant of the empress, and she is
promising him the papacy, on condition that once elected he will ... what?
The stories, and the guesses, of the details of this intrigue are as
difficult to summarize as they are to reconcile one with another. But in
some way Theodora thought she had bought Vigilius, and he ultimately became
pope through her influence--this seems certain.
His present task was to go with all speed to Rome. When he arrived,
however, it was to find the election over. The new pope, Silverius, had
been chosen, June 1 (or 8).
In Italy the armies of Justinian slowly made their way north from the toe
of the peninsula. They were besieging Naples while Silverius was being
elected pope, and next it was the turn of Rome. On December 10, 536, the
ancient capital was once more really in the power of the Roman emperor,
after eighty years' subjection to "Barbarians." But the Goths rid
themselves of their incompetent king, and the imperialists soon found
themselves, in turn, defending Rome. And it was now that Vigilius acted,
Theodora's other instrument being the great commander of the armies,
Belisarius. What it was that Silverius, supposedly, refused to do for the
empress, though warned of the retribution this would bring, we know not.
The pope was summoned to the palace of Belisarius, accused of intrigues to
deliver the city to the Goths, declared to be deposed, stripped of his
insignia and, clad in a monk's dress, hurried off to Greece. A few days
later, March 29, 537, Vigilius was elected in place of the man who, it was
announced, had abdicated in order to become a monk.
Silverius found a protector in his exile, the bishop of Patara, who
made a most indignant protest to Justinian. Whereupon Silverius was taken
back to Italy and an enquiry there ordered--despite the protestations of
the empress, and the endeavours of yet another cleric of the Roman Curia, a
friend of Vigilius, the deacon Pelagius. His, too, will be a curiously
ambiguous role in the events of 553; and, succeeding Vigilius as pope, he
will have to face the storm which his predecessor's tergiversations had
raised. Meanwhile the enquiry went against Silverius--thanks to the
machinations of the new pope; and, despite the commands of Justinian that
he should be allowed to live, as a bishop, in some other city than Rome,
Silverius was hurried off to the tiny island of Palmaria, and there
perished miserably, of starvation, some months later.
Pelagius acted in Constantinople as the pope's permanent legate at the
court, apocrisiarius was the title. He was an extremely able personage, an
experienced diplomatist, and well skilled in theology. In the next few
years he was, perhaps, Justinian's chief advisor in the difficult business
of keeping the peace in these eastern churches.
But he had a rival, an eastern monk, Theodore Askidas, whom the empress had
procured in 536 to be bishop of one of the greatest sees in the church,
Caesarea in Cappadocia, once the see of St. Basil. Theodore belonged to
Palestine, really. What had brought him to the court was an appeal arising
out of clamour caused among the monks by a revival of interest in the often
condemned theories of Origen, belief in the transmigration of souls for
example, and the final return of all things to the Creator. Askidas had
been a leading Origenist, and from the court, which continued to be his
residence, he lent his new prestige, secretly, to his erstwhile associates.
Next when, in 540 or so, matters wholly unconnected with this dispute took
Pelagius to the Holy Land, as commissioner for the pope, the Roman legate
could not be indifferent to these new noisy troubles that were the scandal
of the day in Jerusalem and elsewhere. He returned to Constantinople the
natural ally of the anti-Origenists, and induced the emperor (in 543) to
put forth as an edict what was, in fact, a tract on the errors of Origen.
All bishops were required to sign their adherence to this, and it was sent
to Rome for the approval of the pope. There was no resistance anywhere
among the bishops--were any but a handful of them, at any time, adepts of
Among the adepts, in 543, was Askidas of course, but he signed. And to be
revenged on Pelagius he revived the idea of a condemnation of the Three
Chapters, the three reputations whose rehabilitation in 451 had been for so
long a striking witness in the East to the Roman primacy. It was Rome
again, in Pelagius, that had brought down Origen. To bring down Rome's
prestige in the East, through the condemnation of the Three Chapters, would
be an appropriate riposte. Does this sound too childishly fanciful? It was
apparently thus that the mind of Askidas worked. And he won Justinian round
to the plan--most probably because, of all moves to reconcile the
Monophysites, this public condemnation of leading "Antiocheans" seemed the
one most likely to succeed. And the move was heavily backed by a more
powerful counsellor than Askidas, the empress. Also Pelagius had, by this
time, been recalled to Rome, and the deacon Stephen sent in his place. The
new edict appeared in 544.
The trouble began when, as with the edict against Origen, this condemnation
was sent for signature to the patriarchs and the pope. The legate Stephen
immediately refused to sign and, impressed by this, the patriarch of
Constantinople hesitated. When, finally, he signed, the legate broke off
relations with him. At Antioch, also, the patriarch at first refused but
then yielded to threats. It was the same story at Jerusalem and at
Alexandria. Though all signed they did so against their judgment and, even
so, only conditionally. The officials who brought the edict explained that,
by the emperor's orders, the pope was going to be consulted. At
Constantinople the patriarch, as he signed, reserved his right to withdraw
his signature should the pope refuse to sign. None of these bishops was
willing to seem to reverse Chalcedon and St. Leo. In view of the coming
debacle in the eastern episcopate this initial attitude is of high
Meanwhile it was Vigilius who was cast for the spectacular part. All these
signatures were provisional. They would not have any value until Vigilius
Vigilius it seems, was not a popular figure in Rome. The stories current
about him might be guessed even if, in all their improbability, they had
not come down to us. Some of them cast doubts on his faith. He was said to
be leagued with the Monophysite chiefs, for example. But Vigilius by no
means gave in to the request that he sign the emperor's edict. It was the
expressed belief of Pelagius, now in Rome as his chief advisor, that the
aim of those who had inspired the condemnation was simply to destroy the
dogmatic effect of Chalcedon.
The pope's delays provoked the emperor to a singular act of violence. As
Vigilius was celebrating the feast of St. Cecilia, November 22, 545, in the
church that is her shrine, he was kidnapped, hurried the few yards down to
the Tiber and a waiting ship, thence to Ostia and the open sea, and so to
Sicily. As the ship made its way down the river the crowds who lined the
banks called out, some of them, insulting remarks, and others were
encouragingly indignant; and others shouted, "Don't condemn the Three
Chapters." What none realised, of course, was that what they were
witnessing was the beginning of a ten years' captivity. Vigilius never saw
The pope remained in Sicily until the end of the year 546. Then new orders
came, and he was once more embarked, his destination Constantinople, where
he arrived January 25, 547.
Once again, as in 535, there was a pompous ceremonial, and vast external
deference, under cover of which there began a theological siege of the
pope. He steadfastly refused to lend his authority to a dogmatic
pronouncement put out by the state, and he broke off relations with the
patriarch who refused to withdraw his support. Then, after months of
harassing discussions to prove that the Three could be condemned and
Chalcedon not involved, Vigilius pledged himself, in a secret writing given
personally to Justinian and to Theodora, to condemn the Three Chapters,
June 29, 547. It was his first defeat, and almost the only one in the six
years of continuous warfare that now began.
Nine months after this promise, the pope sent his judgment to the emperor;
it is known as the Iudicatum (April 11, 548). The text has only survived in
fragments, quoted in the ensuing controversies, but it was a condemnation
so written as to make clear that it in no way involved Chalcedon. It suited
the emperor, seemingly, and all the professional clerics who surrounded
him. But the whole of the West, all the Latins, spontaneously rose in
rebellion as the news reached them. That the Latins were fairly solid
against the plan to condemn the Three, Vigilius had already learned during
his stay in Sicily. Scarcely any Latin bishop had signed the emperor's
edict. But the Iudicatum, the pope had expected--had taken for granted?--
would win them round. This first revolt of the Latins against Rome was a
fearful surprise, and it did not die down for nearly fifty years. And so
from Illyricum, Dalmatia, Italy, and Gaul came news of councils and
protestations, but nowhere more violent news than from Africa, where a
council at Carthage excommunicated the pope. And at Constantinople his own
curial staff, so to call it, boycotted him.
The letters that came in, the controversial exchanges, showed that many of
the indignant prelates in these distant lands did not really know what the
famous dispute was about--they were in no condition to take sides, far too
ill-informed to see that it was possible to condemn certain things in the
three Syrian bishops and yet cast not a shadow of blame on the great
council of 451. And the idea developed, at Constantinople, of a General
Council where the whole thing could be made clear, and a universal
condemnation be achieved more readily than by sending officers all round
the Roman world, to each individual bishop. So the emperor consented that
the pope withdraw the Iudicatum, the council plan was accepted by both, and
both agreed to keep silent on the whole question until the council met. And
Justinian wrung from the pope a most solemn oath that he would really
condemn the Three Chapters and do nothing that would work against their
condemnation; all this in August 550.
The preparations for the council now began, on the part of the emperor. One
important item was to see that only well-trusted bishops should be sent
from such places as Africa. From this desire to be certain before the
council met how the verdict would go came the idea of another imperial
edict making the theological problem clear. All would be thus instructed by
the time the council met, and at the council could accept the edict or, as
the emperor entitled it, the Confession or Declaration of Faith.
To this plan the pope, immediately, gave a firm refusal, and spoke of
excommunicating all who set their signature to the Declaration. Then, as
the air grew sultry with threats he took sanctuary in the neighbouring
church of St. Peter. On August 14 the emperor ordered his arrest, and the
church became a battleground, soldiers fighting their way through the mob
that fought to protect the pope, who clung to the altar while soldiers took
him by the feet. Vigilius was an old man, by this time, but tall, well
built, and forceful. He resisted manfully, and finally, as the columns of
the altar fell in under the strain of the conflict the crowd began to
prevail, and the soldiers fled.
The pope returned to his home in the palace of Placidia which, now filled
with spies, became a close prison. After some months, in the week before
Christmas, he made his escape, clambering over the roofs of neighbouring
buildings, and so to the shore where a waiting boat conveyed him to
Chalcedon, and in the very church where the council had sat, just one
hundred years before, he found a refuge (December 551).
In the basilica at Chalcedon the pope remained for the next eight months--
to the fury of Justinian, as well aware as any ruler of the prodigious
"loss of face" all this entailed, and of serious possibilities that any day
the mob might rise against him with "religion" as its war cry. The emperor
It was now six years since Justinian had kidnapped the pope, and how much
nearer was he to his goal?
The pope busied himself with an encyclical letter in which he related the
full story of Justinian's outrages and deceptions. To the deputation of
high officials who came across the Bosporus from the emperor, Vigilius,
ignoring the new wonderful promises, made only one request, the restoration
to the church of the freedom of action it had once enjoyed; and he bade
them beg Justinian to avoid the company of the excommunicated. This brought
threats of new violence from the tyrant, and the pope replied with a copy
of his encyclical. The letter, February 5, 552, ended with a profession of
faith, as explicit as a pope's should be. It declared his fidelity to
Chalcedon and made no mention of the Three Chapters.
The emperor now arrested all those who had joined the pope at Chalcedon.
Some of the Italian bishops he put to the torture; Pelagius (the pope's
chief intelligence officer, as ever) he threw into prison. Vigilius
retorted with strength, by publishing the deposition of Theodore Askidas
from his see, and an excommunication of all who had signed the emperor's
Declaration of Faith, the patriarch of Constantinople notably. And he
contrived to have these sentences posted in various places of the capital.
It was a bold act that, once more, rallied the city to his side. Justinian
bade his bishops make their submission, and in the basilica at Chalcedon
they did so, very fully if something less than sincerely. And the pope
returned to Constantinople (August 552).
III. THE GENERAL COUNCIL OF 553
And now the summonses to the General Council were sent out. It was to meet
not, as Vigilius had desired, in Italy or Sicily, but at Constantinople,
and while the bishops assembled, indeed when most of them had already
arrived, the conflict with the emperor took up again.
As the months had gone by and almost no bishops from the Latin sees were
arriving, the pope's anxieties grew. He was willing to condemn the Three
Chapters, but in his own way--the way of the Iudicatum--in a way that would
not lose the Latin west to the unity of the church. And so, while his Latin
advisors were strong that he should refuse utterly to have any part in the
council, the pope wavered, now of their opinion, now hoping against hope,
through the council to keep the East and not lose the West. At last he
announced that the council should go its own way. He would not be present,
nor be represented, but would let the council know his decision. Justinian
replied that his decision would be ignored. And with affairs in this state
the council, 145 bishops in all, held its first meeting, May 5, 553.
Almost all these bishops were Greeks. There were none from Gaul or Spain.
The dozen or so Italians who had been with the pope these last eight years
were there, but no bishops from the Latin provinces of Dalmatia and
Illyricum. The only bishops from Africa--six--were a chosen few already
engaged to follow the emperor's lead.
The council lasted four weeks (May 5-June 2). There were eight sessions. On
the first day the emperor sent a long message about the historic role of
the emperor as defender of the faith, noting how the decisions of the great
councils had been enrolled among the laws of the state. His criticised
Declaration of Faith had been simply an imperial consultation of the
bishops of the empire, its purpose to root out what remained of the heresy
of Nestorius. Hence his questions about the Three Chapters. The bishops had
unanimously condemned these, but since there were yet some who defended
them, he had thought it good that the bishops should be given the chance to
express their views as a council. As to "the most religious pope of Old
Rome," he too had been consulted, and had condemned the Three Chapters. His
definitive judgment, he had told the emperor, would shortly be forthcoming.
The council voted that the pope be asked to preside, and on May 6 an
imposing deputation waited on him with the invitation, the three patriarchs
of Constantinople, Antioch, and Jerusalem leading. The pope pleaded his
present sickness--he was now a chronic sufferer from stone--as a reason for
not deciding. The deputation came a second time, on May 7, with one of
Justinian's chief officers of state in attendance. Vigilius now boldly said
he would not appear at the council until more Italian bishops had been
brought over. The next day the report of this was made to the council--its
second session. The third session was taken up with the council's formal
declaration of its orthodoxy--it held to the faith of the previous "four
holy councils" of the Fathers.
The next three sessions, May 12, 17, 19, dealt with the case against the
Three Chapters, the reading out loud of the writings held against the three
bishops, in full or in extracts. There were seventy-one passages from
Theodore of Mopsuestia, for example, and also the creed he had drawn up,
which already had been condemned at Ephesus in 431. About the letter from
Ibas, bishop of Edessa, to the Persian bishop Maris, there were differences
of opinion. The point was raised that at Chalcedon this particular document
had been definitely declared to be orthodox. It was Askidas who steered the
majority around this formidable obstacle, and the day ended with the
Meanwhile, May 14, the pope had made his own judgment about the Three
Chapters. It had been sent to the emperor, who had refused to receive it.
What he thought of the judgment his action twelve days later, at the
seventh session of the council, was to show. In the interval the text of
the document, known to us as The Constitutum of Pope Vigilius about the
Three Chapters, was no doubt known all over the town. It is a very
lengthy piece, a good hundred pages such as this, and "one of the finest
works, as literature, that have survived from the fifth century." Upon
the emperor's careful arrangements by which the council was to be all and
the pope a nullity, it fell like an unexpected bomb. We shall see the
unheard of violence it drove Justinian to enact. Meanwhile, here is the
The message falls into three sections. In the first he gives the profession
of faith made to him by Theodore Askidas and by the patriarch of
Constantinople, Mennas, at Chalcedon in 552, and also the profession lately
made by Mennas' successor, Eutychius, January 6, 553. There follows a
resume of what has happened down to the council's first meeting. The main
part of the Constitutum is the pope's examination of the three accused
bishops--for that was, in fact, their status at this moment.
As to Theodore of Mopsuestia, the pope had before him the list of seventy-
one extracts from his writings that was to be put before the council, a
list supplied by the emperor. He accepted that twelve of these were
certainly heretical and added a thirteenth--against all these he placed the
mark anathema. But, pointing out that Theodore's case had never been before
the councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon, and that it is not the Church's
custom to condemn the dead, the pope, while condemning the errors in the
writings, refused to cast a stigma on their author. And he forbade that
others should stigmatise him.
As to Theodoret, the pope refused to condemn him too. He had been received
as orthodox at Chalcedon, and as a test he had there been asked to
anathematize Nestorius, and had solemnly done so before the whole assembly.
As to the insulting language about St. Cyril with which he was charged, in
part he had denied that he was the author of these words, and St. Cyril had
never raised this against him. This had satisfied St. Cyril and the
council, why should men now be demanding more than they? Wherefore the pope
strictly forbade anyone to condemn now any work or writing of Theodoret's,
or any writing as though it were his. At the same time, he solemnly
condemned all propositions contrary to the faith whether found in
Theodoret's writings or in any other author. To strengthen this, the pope
quoted four Nestorian theses, and to each fixed the note anathema.
As to Ibas of Edessa, the Constitutum recalls, first of all, that at
Chalcedon the papal legates said, "The letter of Ibas having been read we
have decided that he is orthodox," that the then patriarch of
Constantinople agreed that he was clear of heresy, and the patriarch of
Antioch too. Other bishops there had spoken in a like sense. None, at
Chalcedon, rose to denounce him as a heretic. Not that the bishops had
approved of the insults he had lavished on St. Cyril, but when Ibas
accepted to be in communion with Cyril, recognised solemnly, that is to
say, that Cyril's teaching was the orthodox faith, he, as it were, recalled
and withdrew these insults [e.g., that St. Cyril was an Apollinarian
heretic]. With the warning
to the council of 553, that to go back on the judgment of Chalcedon was
dangerous, the pope came to his conclusion: the verdict that Ibas was
orthodox should stand, and stand so far as the letter to Maris was
concerned, a verdict, Vigilius said, based in part on this letter exactly
and rightly interpreted.
Wherefore, summing up his decision, the pope forbade any cleric to make any
change whatever in what Chalcedon had decided, and--no matter what the rank
of the cleric--to write or teach anything against what this Constitutum
laid down, or, in the face of this decisive sentence, ever again to raise
the question of the Three Chapters. The document was signed by the pope,
and countersigned by the sixteen bishops with him and six clerics of his
household, one of them Pelagius. It was probably he who was the actual
author of the piece.
The emperor showed his hand at the next, seventh, session of the council,
May 26. His representative, the quaestor of the imperial palace, appeared
with the dossier of all the pope's iniquities, and to the council he read
out document after document. There were letters of Vigilius going back four
years, when he defended his earlier judgment against the Three Chapters,
the so-called Iudicatum, and there were the two written promises given to
Justinian and Theodora that he would condemn the Three Chapters; and there
was the signed statement made on oath, August 15, 550, to the same effect,
the pope pledging that he would not act against the emperor's wishes, and
would do nothing to defend the incriminated three. Vigilius, then, was a
perjured liar, and his name should be struck off the diptychs. Not, the
emperor craftily argued, that any wickedness of a particular pope could
blemish the Apostolic See. This was not a breach with Rome, but only with
Vigilius. For seven years he had condemned the Three Chapters, and now he
had repudiated obligations of the most solemn kind. In defending the Three
Chapters he shares in the wickedness of Nestorius, and has put himself out
of the Church.
The council listened, and it did as the emperor intended, declaring the
pope's name should be put out of the sacred liturgy; but not decreeing a
sentence of excommunication, and using Justinian's distinction between the
sedes and sedens--the chair of Peter and the one now sitting in it. "The
council, sitting so far despite the pope, was now in session against him.
It was in full schism." One week later to the day the council held its
final session. The task before it was to put in form its condemnation of
Theodore of Mopsuestia and his writings, of Theodoret's writings against
St. Cyril, and of the letter of Ibas of Edessa. The decree took the form,
first, of a resume of the council's proceedings, and then, fourteen
statements calling down a curse on whoever did not accept the council's
judgment regarding various heresies and their authors, and supporters.
These fourteen sentences reflect, very clearly, the mind of a disciple of
Leontius--they are evidently the work of an author very concerned to show
that the decisions of Ephesus and Chalcedon are not contradictory. In the
first, the doctrine of the Trinity is set out, in the second the two births
(in eternity and in time) of the Divine Word. The third declares the
identity of the Word and Jesus Christ, one person, God and man at the same
time; it was the one same person who both wrought the miracles and suffered
death. In these last two sentences the student will recognise echoes of the
theological conflict of the previous hundred and fifty years, the flames of
which, of course, were still flickering brightly in 553.
Theodore of Mopsuestia makes a first appearance in sentence 4 of the
series, described as a maniac for his particular theory of the manner of
union between the divine and human in the Incarnate Word, and condemned
along with the Nestorians, Apollinarians, and the followers of Eutyches. He
is again the subject of a condemnation in sentence 5, and Nestorius with
him, for saying that the union is but a moral union that unites two
persons. Supporters of these theories now calumniate the Council of
Chalcedon when they interpret its decree of the unity of person to mean
just this, and this travesty is met by another condemnation. This sentence
5, in part, is repeating the sentence of Ephesus on the Nestorians, and 6
also repeats the same council when it condemns those who say that the ever-
virgin Mary is not truly Theotokos, but only the mother of a human being.
And once again the later heretics are condemned who falsely say that this
heresy was allowed by Chalcedon--this, the heresy "invented by the
detestable Theodore." Sentence 7 condemns those who, when they distinguish
the two natures, do so in such a way as to convey that these are two
persons--again the repetition of the old condemnation of Nestorius.
With the eighth sentence the council comes to grips with the Monophysites,
for it quotes verbatim the much controverted formula of St. Cyril, and
determines the, Catholic, sense in which he used it, a sense that fits with
Ephesus as well as with Chalcedon. This formula, it is now said, should not
be understood to mean that the unity by which Christ is one being is the
effect of a fusion between the divine and the human natures; the two
natures remain two natures in the union, and the union is a union in a
single person. Those who thus fuse the natures are as erroneous as those
who speak of them as separate beings. Both are condemned by this sentence
8. It is the turn of the Nestorians again in 9--their practical direction
is condemned, that Christ should be worshipped with a double worship
simultaneously directed, first to the divine in Him, and then to the human.
To balance this the single adoration of Christ in the sense of Eutyches--
i.e., as though before the adorer there were present God alone and this
being, neither man nor God, who cannot be adored--is also condemned. The
doctrinal decision of Pope John II, twenty years ago now, is repeated in
sentence 10; it is correct to say, "One of the Trinity suffered in the
flesh for us." The eleventh sentence strings together a list of heresiarchs
from Origen to Eutyches, and with all others condemned already "by the four
holy synods" condemns them and their supporters anew. We then come to
the explicit condemnation of the Three Chapters, sentences 12,13, 14.
"If anyone defends the wicked Theodore of Mopsuestia," so the twelfth
sentence is framed, "who said ... and also ... and what is worse still ...
If therefore anyone defends the aforesaid wicked Theodore and his wicked
writings ... and does not anathematize him and his wicked writings ... let
him be anathema." The errors of his teaching--unmistakable Nestorianism--as
set out run to a good page of print.
The judgment on Theodoret is somewhat different. Nowhere is he himself
anathematized, or the good Catholic ordered to anathematize him. It is "the
writings of Theodoret, against the true belief, against the council of
Ephesus, and against St. Cyril and his twelve chapters" that are the
target; and "all that he wrote on behalf of the wicked Theodore and
Nestorius and of others who smacked of the same [ideas] as these two
aforesaid--writings defending them and their wickedness and, to this end,
stigmatising as wicked men those ecclesiastical teachers who professed" the
true doctrine about the oneness of God the Word. All, therefore, who do not
anathematize these writings and those who savour of the like ideas, "and
especially all those who have written against the true faith, or against
St. Cyril and his twelve chapters, and who remained to the end in this
wickedness," let them be anathema.
The condemnation, in the case of the third of these bishops, is even more
circumscribed. "If anyone defend the letter which Ibas is said to have
written to the Persian heretic Maris ..." The letter is said to deny that
God the Word took flesh of the ever-virgin Mary and was born of her, so
that God the Word was one thing, the man the other. It says also that St.
Cyril, who set out the true Christian belief, was a heretic of the sect of
the wicked Apollinaris, and it blames the first (sic!) council of Ephesus
because it condemned Nestorius without a hearing. The letter also is said
to stigmatise St. Cyril's twelve chapters against Nestorius as "impious and
contrary to the true belief," and to defend Theodore and Nestorius and all
their wicked doctrines and writings. So then, all who defend this wicked
letter, and do not anathematize it and those who defend it, who say it is
right, or part of it, those who defend either the letter or the wickedness
it contains in the name of the Council of Chalcedon) and persist to the end
in this, let them be anathema.
Nowhere is it said that Theodoret or Ibas is a heretic, nor are those who
have defended "the aforesaid wicked Three Chapters" denounced or threatened
as heretics. To this final act of the council, June 2, 553, 164 bishops set
The council over, Justinian ordered that every bishop in the empire should
endorse the condemnations. In the East there were no difficulties about
this, but the Latins everywhere resisted. At Constantinople the pope's
chief counsellors were arrested; some were exiled to the depths of the
Egyptian deserts, Pelagius (the real force behind Vigilius) was once more
thrown into prison. Was the pope, too, imprisoned? It is not certainly
known. But whether in prison (in the technical sense) or not, he was the
emperor's captive still. What it was that, as the months went by, brought
him to change his mind no one knows. But by December 8, 553, the pope had
accepted the council's condemnation of the Three Chapters. And we
possess a second document, dated February 23, 554, in which the pope argues
at great length that the condemnation is justified, and that it in no way
conflicts with Chalcedon. This document, generally known as the second
Constitutum of Vigilius, was possibly meant to persuade the Latin
The pope was now allowed to make his journey homeward--it was all but ten
years since he had been carried off--but when he reached Sicily he fell
ill, and at Syracuse he died, June 7, 555.
Chalcedon was not in conflict with Ephesus. The fourteen "chapters" of the
council just dissolved seem to have established this clearly, with, if
anything, a little more favour for the Alexandrian way of speech than that
of Antioch. But had one alleged conflict been extinguished only for another
to spring from its ashes? Was the council just dissolved at cross purposes
with Chalcedon? The West seems to have thought so, and the action of those
who for years deprecated the condemnation of the Three Chapters had been
compromised by this fear that Chalcedon must, thereby, be compromised
inevitably. And certainly Askidas and his party--the crypto-Monophysites of
the court--hoped that Chalcedon must, thereby, be so compromised. But this
was never any part of the emperor's plan. How could he have intended such a
wholesale surrender? Nor, among the great majority of the eastern bishops--
better equipped to deal with these matters than their Latin brethren--did
the name of Chalcedon suffer. As to the Monophysites, they already, and for
a hundred years, had the worst possible opinion of Chalcedon. Moreover--as
we, with what is called "hindsight," can so easily see--the Monophysites
had by now washed their hands of the Catholic Church, and what its councils
decided would no longer have any interest for them.
The subsidiary questions apart--for example, should councils condemn men
dead long ago, who died in the peace of the Church?--what had the bishops
of 553 done, in their list of reprobations, except condemn yet once again
the Nestorian theology (as Vigilius had condemned it in his own message to
the council) whether this heresy showed--as it certainly did--in the
writings of Theodore, or of Theodoret and Ibas? The last two had, of
course, corrected themselves long before they died. Even their
controversial language about St. Cyril had been, as it were, apologised for
and the amende accepted, in the reconciliation of 433. This did not, of
course, alter the fact that they had, once upon a time, written
erroneously. But the condemnations of 553, in so far as it touched these
writings, was little better than spite. And the spirit that so moved the
bishops in 553 was, obviously, not that of the bishops who at Chalcedon had
welcomed Theodoret and Ibas back to their sees. Other conflict than this,
between the councils of 553 and 451, there was none.
Vigilius and Justinian had had a grave difference about an important
policy. The emperor's tyranny, and the shiftiness of the pope had no doubt
aggravated it--but nowhere had they differed as to what had been defined
about the Incarnation by the councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon, or denied
that what these councils had defined was the divinely given truth of the
1. "... the great Monophysites who claimed that their doctrine was his
[Cyril's] were Monophysite in language, rather than doctrine." Tixeront,
Histoire des Dogmes, 111, 75 (72) (the figures in parentheses refer to the
English translation). It has to be added that there were soon divisions in
the party, and many of these were certainly heretical in their theories
about the Incarnation.
2. Tixeront, Histoire des Dogmes, III, 104 (99).
3. Of the saint's classic formula that "Christ is the unique incarnated
nature of God the Word," the last named theologian can say, "It is true ...
that if one looked only to the words, Cyril is a Monophysite." Ibid., 73 (
70 ) .
4. Batiffol, Le Siege Apostolique (1924), 543.
5. Called, from his elegant figure and dainty carriage, Ailouros, the Cat.
6. Kirch, Enchiridion, prints extracts from this document, 542-46.
7. January 475-September 476.
8. June 482.
9. I.e., Act of Union. Kirch, as before, prints extracts, 546-48.
10. Hierapolis, in Greek; a town from miles east of Cyrrhus, 100 miles from
11. It is printed in Denzinger, nos. 171-72.
12. The formula quotes Matt. 16:18, "Thou art Peter and upon this rock I
will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."
13. Id est non consentientes Sedi Apostolicae.
14. Following this there was a government inquiry, and the bishop was
15. For example, Leontius of Byzantium (485-543), called the first of the
Scholastics, because one of the first to give his books a rigorous
demonstrative pattern; one of the first to use, in the exposition of
theology, Aristotle's logic; he had a deep knowledge of the theologians who
had preceded him, was the principal antagonist of the great Monophysite,
Severus, and it was his life's work to show the perfect harmony of the
definitions of Ephesus and Chalcedon.
16. The Unsleeping, so called because in their church the service of prayer
went on ceaselessly, day and night, the community being divided into relays
for this purpose.
17. Denzinger, nos. 201-2, prints the relevant part of the letter. It is
the twelfth of the propositions of St. Cyril that is quoted.
18. "Naturellement les Monophysites les voyaient tout autrement." Duchesne
L'Eglise au VIme Siecle (1925), p. 95.
19. The town in Lycia (Asia Minor) to which the pope had been taken. The
nearest approximation to its position on a modern map is the coast of Asia
Minor (in modern Turkey) due east of the southern tip of the island of
20. It lies in the Mediterranean, some 7o miles west of Naples. It is now
21. November 11, 537. The church keeps his feast as a martyr-pope, June 20.
22. The date is an approximation. The text of the edict no one knows, it
has long since disappeared, and no writer of the time quotes it in any work
that has survived.
23 The text is in Mansi, IX, cols. 61-106; also in Migne, Patrologia
Latina, vol. 69, cols. 67-114.
24. Tixeront, as cited, III, 143 (137).
25. This resume follows very closely the account in Tixeront, III, 143-45
26. Tixeront, III, 146 (140).
27. There is [but] one incarnate nature of God the Word.
28. Nicaea, Constantinople 381, Ephesus, Chalcedon.
29. The letter to Eutychius, patriarch of Constantinople. It is printed in
Mansi, IX, cols. 414-19, and Migne, P.L., vol. 69, cols. 122-28.
30. "The Constitutum of Pope Vigilius for the Condemnation of the Three
Chapters"; such is its title. The text is in Mansi, IX, cols. 457-88, and
Migne, P.L., vol. 69, 143-78.
31. I do not forget the difficulty that, at Chalcedon, the papal legates
explicitly said the letter of Ibas was orthodox.