The Genuine Acts of Peter; Canonical Epistle; Fragments

Author: Peter of Alexandria

(NOTE: The electronic text obtained from The Electronic Bible Society was not completely corrected. EWTN has corrected all mistakes found.)

Transliteration of Greek words: All phonetical except: w = omega; h serves three puposes: 1. = Eta; 2. = rough breathing, when appearing intially before a vowel; 3. = in the aspirated letters theta = th, phi = ph, chi = ch. Accents are given immediately after their corresponding vowels: acute = ' , grave = `, circumflex = ^. The character ' doubles as an apostrophe, when necessary.


Peter of Alexandria: The Genuine Acts of Peter The Canonical Epistle Fragments


[Translated by the Rev. James B. H. Hawkins, M.A.]


Were all the limbs of my body to be turned into tongues, and all the joints of my limbs to utter articulate sounds, it would noways be sufficient to express who, how great and how good, was our most blessed Father Peter, Archbishop of Alexandria. Especially incongruous do I consider it to commit to paper what perils he underwent by tyrants, what conflicts he endured with Gentiles and heretics, lest I should seem to make these the subjects of my panegyric rather than that passion to which he manfully submitted to make safe the people of God. Nevertheless, because the office of the narrator must fail in narrating his inmost conversation and wonderful deeds, and language is noways sufficient for the task, I have considered it convenient to describe only those exploits of his by which he is known to have attained to the pontificate,(2) and after Arius had been cut off from the unity of the Church,(3) to have been crowned with the martyr's laurel. Yet this do I consider to be a glorious end, and a spectacle of a magnificent contest, sufficient for those who do not doubt of a truthful narration, which is unstained by falsehood. In commencing, therefore, our account of the episcopate of this most holy man, let us call to our aid his own language, in order that we may make it co-operate with our own style.

Alexandria is a city of exceeding magnitude, which holds the first place not only among the Egyptians, but the Thebans also and the Libyans, who are at no great distance from Egypt.(4) A cycle of two hundred and eighty-five years from the incarnation of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ had rolled round, when the venerable Theonas, the bishop of this city, by an ethereal flight, mounted upwards to the celestial kingdoms. To him Peter, succeeding at the helm of the Church, was by all the clergy and the whole Christian community appointed bishop, the sixteenth in order from Mark the Evangelist, who was also archbishop of the city. He in truth, like Phosphor rising among the stars, shining forth with the radiance of his sacred virtues, most magnificently governed the citadel of the faith. Inferior to none who bad gone before him in his knowledge of Holy Scripture, he nobly applied himself to the advantage and instruction of the Church; being of singular prudence, and in all things perfect, a true priest and victim of God, he watchfully laboured night and day in every sacerdotal care.

But because virtue is the mark of the zealot, "it is the tops of the mountains that are struck by lightning,"(5) he hence endured multifarious conflicts with rivals. Why need I say more? He lived in persecution almost the whole of his life. Meanwhile he ordained fifty-five bishops. Meletius lastly--in mind and name most black--was made the schismatical bishop of the city of Lycopolis, doing many things against the rule of the canons, and surpassing even the bloody soldiery in cruelty who, at the time of the Lord's Passion, feared to rend His coat; he was so hurried on by giving the rein to his madness, that, rending asunder the Catholic Church not only in the cities of Egypt, but even in its villages, he ordained bishops of his own party, nor cared he aught for Peter, nor for Christ, who was in the person of Peter. To him Arius, who was yet a laic, and not marked with the clerical tonsure,(6) adhered, and was to him and his family most dear; and not without reason: every animal, as says the Scripture, loves its like. But upon this coming to his knowledge, the man of God being affected with grief, said that this persecution was worse than the former. And although he was in hiding, yet, so far as his strength permitted, directing everywhere his exhortations, and preaching up the unity of the Church, he strengthened men to withstand the ignorance and nefarious temerity of Meletius. Whence it came to pass that not a few, being influenced by his salutary admonitions, departed from the Meletian impiety.

Nearly about the same time Arius, armed with a viper's craft, as if deserting the party of Meletius, fled for refuge to Peter, who at the request of the bishops raised him to the honours of the diaconate, being ignorant of his exceeding hypocrisy. For he was even as a snake suffused with deadly poison. Yet neither can the imposition of hands upon this false one be imputed as a crime to this holy man, as the simulated magic arts of Simon is not ascribed to Philip. Meanwhile, the detestable wickedness of the Meletians increased beyond measure; and the blessed Peter, fearing lest the plague of heresy should spread over the whole flock committed to his care, and knowing that there is no fellowship with light and darkness, and no concord betwixt Christ and Belial, by letter separated the Meletians from the communion of the Church. And because an evil disposition cannot long be concealed, upon that instant the wicked Arius, when he saw his aiders and abettors cast down from the dignity of the Church, gave way to sadness and lamentation. This did not escape the notice of this holy man. For when his hypocrisy was laid bare, immediately using the evangelical sword, "If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee,"(1) and cutting off Arius from the body of the Church as a putrid limb, he expelled and banished him from the comreunion of the faithful.

This done, the storm of persecution suddenly abating, peace, although for a short time, smiled. Then this most choice priest of the Lord shone manifestly before the people, and the faithful began to run in crowds to keep the memory of the martyrs, and to assemble in congregations to the praise of Christ. Whom this priest of the divine law quickened with his holy eloquence, and so roused and strengthened that the multitude of believers increased continually in the Church. But the old enemy of salvation of man did not long remain quiet and look on these things with favouring eyes. For on a sudden the storm-cloud of paganism gave forth its hostile thunder, and like a winter shower struck against the serenity of the Church, and chased it away in flight. But that this may be understood more clearly, we must necessarily turn back to the atrocities of Diocletian, that impious one, and rebel against God, and also to Maximian Galerius, who at that time, with his son Maximin, harassed the regions of the East with his tyrannical sway.

For in the time of this man the fire of Christian persecution so raged, that not only in one region of the universe, but even throughout the whole world, both by land and by sea, the storm of impiety gave forth its thunder. The imperial edicts and most cruel decrees running hither and thither, the worshippers of Christ were put to death now openly, and now by clandestine snares; no day, no night, passed off free from the effusion of Christian blood. Nor was the type of slaughter of one kind alone; some were slain with diverse and most bitter tortures; some again, that they might want the humanity of kinsmen, and burial in their own country, were transported to other climes, and by certain new machinations of punishment, and as yet to the age unknown, were driven to the goal of martyrdom. Oh, the horrible wickedness! So great was their impiety that they even upturned from their foundations the sanctuaries of divine worship, and burned the sacred books in the fire. Diocletian of execrable memory having died, Constantinus Major was elected to administer the kingdom, and in the western parts began to hold the reins of government.

In these days information was brought to Maximin about the aforesaid archbishop,(2) that he was a leader and holding chief place among the Christians; and he, inflamed with his accustomed iniquity, on the instant ordered Peter to be apprehended and cast into prison. For which purpose he despatched to Alexandria five tribunes, accompanied with their bands of soldiers, who, coming thither as they had been commanded, suddenly seized the priest of Christ and committed him to the custody of a prison. Wonderful was the devotion of the faithful! When it was known that this holy man was shut up in the dungeon of the prison, an incredibly large number ran together, principally a band of monks and of virgins, and with no material arms, but with rivers of tears and the affection of pious minds. surrounded the prison's circuit.(3) And as good sons towards a good father, nay, rather as the Christian members of a most Christian head. adhered to him with all their bowels of compassion, and were to him as walls, observing that no pagan might get an opportunity of access to him. One indeed was the vow of all, one their voice, and one their compassion and resolve to die rather than see any evil happen to this holy man. Now while the man of God was being kept for a few days in the same stocks, with his body thrust back, the tribunes made a suggestion to the king concerning him, but he, after his ferocious manner, gave his sentence for capitally punishing the most blessed patriarch. And when this got to the ears of the Christians, they all with one mind began to guard the approaches to the prison with groaning and lamentation, and persistently prevented any Gentile from obtaining access to him. And when the tribunes could by no means approach him to put him to death, they held a council, and determined that the soldiers should with drawn swords break in upon the crowd of people, and so draw him forth to behead him; and if any one opposed, he should be put to death.

Arius, in the meanwhile, having as yet been endowed only with the dignity of a Levite,(1) and fearing lest, after the death of so great a father, he should noways be able to get reconciled to the Church, came to those who held the chief place amongst the clergy, and, hypocrite that he was, by his sorrowful entreaties and plausible discourse, endeavoured to persuade the holy archbishop to extend to him his compassion, and to release him from the ban of excommunication. But what is more deceptive than a feigned heart? What more simple than a holy composure? There was no delay; those who had been requested went in to the priest of Christ, and, after the customary oration, prostrating themselves on the ground, and with groans and tears kissing his sacred hands, implored him, saying: "Thee, indeed, most blessed father, for the excellence of thy faith, the Lord hath called to receive the martyr's crown, which we noways doubt does quickly await thee. Therefore do we think it right that, with thy accustomed piety, thou shouldest. pardon Arius. and extend thy indulgence to his lamentations."

Upon hearing this the man of God, moved with indignation, put them aside, and, raising his hands to heaven, exclaimed: "Do ye dare to supplicate me on behalf of Arius? Arius, both here and in the future world, will always remain banished and separate from the glory of the Son of God, Jesus Christ our Lord."(2) He thus protesting, all who were present, being struck with terror, like men dumb, kept silence. Moreover they suspected that he, not without some divine notification,(3) gave forth such a sentence against Arius. But when the merciful father beheld them silent and sad from compunction of heart, he would not persist in austerity, or leave them, as if in contempt, without satisfaction; but taking Achillas and Alexander, who amongst the priests appeared to be the eiders and the most holy, having one of them at ibis right hand, and the other on his left, he separated them a little from the rest, and at the end of his discourse said to them: "Do not, my brethren, take me for a man inhuman and stern; for indeed I too am living under the law of sin; but believe my words. The hidden treachery of Arias surpasses all iniquity and impiety, and not asserting this of mine own self, have I sanctioned his excommunication. For in this night, whilst I was solemnly pouring forth my prayers to God, there stood by me a boy of about twelve years, the brightness of whose face I could not endure, for this whole cell in which we stand was radiant with a great light. He was clothed with a linen tunic(4) divided into two parts, from the neck to the feet, and holding in his two hands the rents of the tunic, he applied them to his breast to cover his nudity. At this vision I was stupefied with astonishment. And when boldness of speech was given to me, I exclaimed: Lord, who hath rent thy tunic? Then said he, Arius hath rent it, and by all means beware of receiving him into communion; behold, to-morrow they will come to entreat you for him. See, therefore, that thou be not persuaded to acquiesce: nay, rather lay thy commands upon Achillas and Alexander the priests, who after thy translation will rule my Church, not by any means to receive him. Thou shall very quickly fulfil the lot of the martyr. Now there was no other cause of this vision. So now I have satisfied you, and I have declared unto you what I was ordered. But what you will do in consequence of this, must be your own care." Thus much concerning Arius.

He continued: "Ye know too, beloved, and ye know well, what has been the manner of my conversation amongst you, and what conflicts I have endured from the idolatrous Gentiles, who, being ignorant of the Lord and Saviour, do not cease in their madness to spread abroad the fame of a multitude of gods who are no gods. Ye know likewise how, in avoiding the rage of my persecutors, I wandered an exile from place to place. For long time I lay in hiding in Mesopotamia, and also in Syria amongst the Phoenicians; in either Palestine also I had for a long time to wander: and from thence, if I may so say, in another clement, that is, in the islands, I tarried no short time. Yet in the midst of all, these calamities I did not cease day and night writing to the Lord's flock committed to my; poor care, and confirming them in the unity of Christ. For an anxious solicitude for them constantly kept urging my heart, and suffered me not to rest; then only did I think it to be more tolerable to me when I committed them to the Power above.

"Likewise also, on account of those fortunate prelates, Phileus, I mean, Hesychius and Theodorus, who of divine grace have received a worthy vocation, what great tribulation agitated my mind. For these, as ye know, for the faith of Christ were with the rest of the confessors wasted with diverse torments. And because in such a conflict they were not only of the clergy but of the laity also the standard-bearers and preceptors, I on this account greatly feared lest they should be found wanting under their long affliction, and lest their defection, which is terrible to speak of, should be to many an occasion of stumbling and of denying the faith, for there were more than six hundred and sixty confined along with them within the precincts of a dungeon. Hence, although oppressed with great labour and toil, I ceased not to write to them with reference to all those predicted passages,(1) exhorting them to earn the martyr's palm with the power of divine inspiration. But when I heard of their magnificent perseverance, and the glorious end of the passion of them all, falling on the ground I adored the majesty of Christ, who had thought tit to count them amongst the throng of the martyrs.

"Why should I speak to you about Meletius of Lycopolis? What persecutions, what treachery, he directed against me, I doubt not but that ye well know. Oh, the horrible wickedness! he feared not to rend asunder the holy Church, which the Son of God redeemed with His precious blood, and to deliver which from the tyranny of the devil He hesitated not to lay down His life. This Church, as I have begin to say, the wicked Meletius rending asunder, ceased not to imprison in dungeons, and to afflict holy bishops even, who have a little before us by martyrdom penetrated to the heavens. Beware therefore of his insidious devices. For I, as ye see, go bound by divine charity, preferring above all things the will of God. I know, indeed, that under their breath the tribunes whisper of my death with eager haste; but I will not from this circumstance open any communication with them, nor will I count my life more precious than myself. Nay, rather, I am prepared to finish the course which my Lord Jesus Christ hath deigned to promise to me, and faithfully render up to Him the ministry which from Him I have received. Pray for me, my brothers; you will not see me longer living in this life with you. Wherefore I testify before God and your brotherhood, that before all of you have I preserved a clean conscience. For I have not shunned to declare unto you the injunctions of the Lord, and I have refused not to make known to you the things which will hereafter be necessary.

"Wherefore take heed unto yourselves, and the whole flock over which the Holy, Ghost has appointed you as overseers in succession--thee Achillas in the first place, and next to thee Alexander. Behold with living voice I protest to you, that after my death men will arise in the Church speaking perverse things,(2) and will again divide it, like Meletius, drawing away the people after their readiness. So I have told you before. But I pray you, mine own bowels, be watchful; for ye must undergo many tribulations. For we are no better than our fathers. Are ye ignorant what things my father endured from the Gentiles, he who brought me up, the most holy bishop Theonas, whose pontifical(3) chair I have under taken to fill? Would that I had his manners also! Why too should speak of the great Dionysius his predecessor. who wandering from place to place sustained many calamities from the frantic Sabellius? Nor will I omit to mention you, ye most holy fathers and high priests of the divine law, Heraclius and Demetrius, for whom Origen, that framer of a perverse dogma, laid many temptations, who cast upon the Church a detestable schism, which to this day is throwing it into confusion. But the grace of God which then protected them, will, I believe, protect you also. But why do I delay you longer, my very clear brethren, with the outpouring of my prolix discourse. It remains, that with the last words of the Apostle(4) who thus prayed I address you: 'And now I commend you to God and the word of His grace, which is powerful to direct both you and His flock.'" When he had finished, failing on his knees, he prayed with them. And his speech ended, Achillas and Alexander kissing his hands and feet and bursting into tears sobbed bitterly, specially grieving at those words of his which they heard when he said that they should henceforth see him in this life no more. Then this most gentle teacher going to the rest of the clergy, who, as I have said, had come in to him to speak in behalf of Arius, spake to them his last consoling words, and such as were necessary; then pouring forth his prayers to God, and bidding them adieu, he dismissed them all in peace.[1]

These things having thus ended, it was everywhere published far and wide that Arius had not been cut off from the Catholic unity without a divine interposition. But that coatriver of deceit, and disseminator of all wickedness, ceased not to keep hidden his viper's poison in the labyrinth of his bosom, hoping that he should be reconciled by Achillas and Alexander. This is that Arius the heresiarch, the divider of the consubstantial and indivisible Trinity. This is he who with rash and wicked mouth, was not afraid to blaspheme the Lord and Saviour, beyond all other heretics; the Lord, I say, and Saviour, who out of pity for our human wanderings, and being sorely grieved that the world should perish in deadly destruction and condemnation, deigned for us all to suffer in the flesh. For it is not to be believed that the Godhead which is impassible was subject to the passion. But because the theologians and fathers have taken care in better style to remove from Catholic ears the blasphemies of this nature, and another task is ours, let us return to our subject.

This most sagacious pontiff[2] then, perceiving the cruel device of the tribunes, who, in order to bring about his death, were willing to put to the sword the whole Christian multitude that was present, was unwilling that they should together with him taste the bitterness of death, but as a faithful servant imitating his Lord and Saviour, whose acts were even as his words, "The good Shepherd giveth His life for the sheep,"[3] prompted by his piety, called to him an elder of those who there waited on his words, and said to him: "Go to the tribunes who seek to kill me, and say to them, Cease ye from all your anxiety, lo! I am ready and willing of mine own accord to give myself to them" Bid them come this night to the rereward of the house of this prison, and in the spot in which they shall hear a signal given on the wall from within, there let them make an excavation, and take me and do with me as they have been commanded. The eider, obeying the commands of this most holy man,--for so great a father could not be contradicted,--departed to the tribunes, and made the intimation to them as he had been commanded. They, when they had received it, were exceedingly rejoiced, and taking with them some stonemasons, came about the dawn of the day without their soldiers to the place which had been pointed out to them. The man of God had passed the whole night as a vigil, without sleep, in prayer and watchfulness. But when he heard their approach, whilst all who were with him were rapt in slumber, with a slow and gentle step he descended to the interior part of the prison, and according to the agreement made, made a sound on the wall; and those outside hearing this, forcing an aperture, received this athlete of Christ armed on all sides with no brazen breastplate, but with the virtue of the cross of the Lord, and fully prepared to carry out the Lord's words who said, "Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."[4] Wonderful was the occurrence! Such a heavy whirlwind of wind and rain prevailed during that night, that no one of those who kept the door of the prison court hear the sound of the excavation. This martyr most constant too, kept urging on his murderers, saying, Do what ye are about to do, before those are aware who are guarding me.

But they took him up and brought him to the place called Bucolia, where the holy St. Mark underwent martyrdom for Christ. Astonishing is the virtue of the saints! As they carried him along, and beheld his great constancy and strength of mind when in peril of death, on a sudden a fear and trembling came upon them to such a degree, that none of them could look stedfastly into his face. Moreover, the blessed martyr entreated them to allow him to go to the tomb of St. Mark, for be desired to commend himself to his patronage.[5] But they from confusion, looking down on the ground, said, "Do as yon wish, but make haste." Therefore approaching the burial- place of the evangelist, he embraced it, and speaking to him as if he were yet alive in the flesh, and able to hear him, he prayed after this manner: "O father most honourable, thou evangelist of the only-begotten Saviour, thou witness of His passion, thee did Christ choose, who is the Deliverer of us all, to be the first pontiff and pillar of this See; to thee did He commit the task of proclaiming the faith throughout the whole of Egypt and its boundaries. Thou, I say, hast watchfully fulfilled that ministry of our human salvation which was intrusted to thee; as the reward of this labour thou hast doubtless obtained the martyr's palm. Hence, not without justice, art thou counted worthy to be saluted evangelist and bishop. Thy successor was Anianus, and the rest in descending series down to the most blessed Theonas, who disciplined my infancy, and deigned to educate my heart. To whom I, a sinner and unworthy, have been beyond my deservings appointed as successor by an hereditary descent. And, what is best of all, lo! the largeness of the divine bounty has granted me to become a martyr of His precious cross and joyful resurrection, giving to my devotion the sweet and pleasant odour of His passion, that I should be made meet to pour out unto Him the offering of my blood. And because the time of making this offering is now instant, pray for me that, the divine power assisting me, I may be meet to reach the goal of this agony with a stout heart and ready faith. I commend also to thy glorious patronage the flock of Christ's worshippers which was committed to my pastoral care; to thee, I say, I with prayers commend it, who are approved as the author and guardian of all preceding and subsequent occupiers of this pontifical chair, and who, holding its first honours, art the successor not of man, but of the God-man, Christ Jesus." Saying these words,[1] he went back to a little distance from the sacred tomb, and, raising his hands to heaven, prayed with a loud voice, saying: "O thou Only-begotten, Jesus Christ, Word of the Eternal Father, hear me invoking Thy clemency. Speak peace, I beseech Thee, to the tempest that shakes Thy Church, and with the effusion of my blood, who am Thy servant, make an end to the persecution of Thy people." Then a certain virgin dedicated to God, who had her cell adjoining to the tomb of the evangelist, as she was spending the night in prayer, heard a voice from heaven, saying: "Peter was the first of the apostles, Peter is the last of the martyred bishops of Alexandria."

Having ended his prayer, he kissed the tomb of the blessed evangelist, and of the other pontiffs who were buried there, and went forth to the tribunes. But they seeing his face as it had been the face of an angel, being terror-stricken, feared to speak to him of his instant agony. Nevertheless, because God does not desert those who trust in Him, He willed not to leave His martyr without consolation in the moment of so great a trial. For lo! an old man and an aged virgin, coming from the smaller towns, were hastening to the city, one of whom was carrying Four skins for sale, and the other two sheets of linen. The blessed prelate, when he perceived them, recognised a divine dispensation with reference to himself. He inquired of them on the instant, "Are ye Christians?" And they replied, "Yes." Then said he, "Whither are ye going?" And they replied, "To the market in the city to sell these things that we are carrying." Then the most merciful father answered, "My faithful children, God has marked you out, persevere with me." And they immediately recognising him, said, "Sire, let it be as thou hast commanded." Then turning to the tribunes, he said, "Come, do what ye are about to do, and fulfil the king's command; for the day is now on the point of breaking."[2] But they, suffering violence as it were on account of the wicked decree of the prince, brought him to a spot opposite to the sanctuary of the evangelist, into a valley near the tombs. Then said the holy man, "Spread out, thou aged man, the skins which thou carriest, and thou too, O aged woman, the linen sheets."[3] And when they had been spread out, this most constant martyr, mounting upon them, extended both his hands to heaven, and bending his knees on the ground, and fixing his mind upon heaven, returned his thanks to the Almighty Judge[4] of the contest, and fortifying himself with the sign of the cross, said, Amen. Then loosening his omophorion[5] from his neck, he stretched it forth, saying, "What is commanded you, do speedily."

Meanwhile the hands of the tribunes were paralyzed, and looking upon one another in turn, each urged his fellow to the deed, but they were all held fast with astonishment and fear. At length they agreed that out of their common stock a reward for the execution should be appointed, and that the man who should venture to perpetrate the murder should enjoy the reward. There was no delay, each of them brought forth five solidi.[6] But, as says the heathen poet,--

"Quid non mortalia pectora cogis, Auri sacra lames?"[1]

one of them, after the manner of the traitor Judas, emboldened by the desire of money, drew his sword and beheaded the pontiff, on the 25th day of November, after he had held the pontificate twelve years--three of which were before the persecution, but the nine remaining were passed by him under persecutions of diverse kinds. The blood-money being instantly claimed by the executioner, these wicked purchasers, or rather destroyers, of man's life quickly returned, for they feared the multitude of the people, since, as I have said, they were without their military escort. But the body of the blessed martyr, as the fathers affirm who went first to the place of execution, remained erect, as if instant in prayer, until many people, coming together, discovered it standing[2] in the same posture; so that what was his constant practice whilst living, to this his inanimate body testified. They found also the aged man and woman watching with grief and lamentation the most precious relic of the Church. So, honouring him with a triumphal funeral, they covered his body with the linen sheets; but the sacred blood which had been poured forth, they collected reverently in a wallet.

In the meanwhile an innumerable multitude of either sex, flocking together from the populous city, with groans and ejaculations asked each other in turn, being ignorant, in what manner this had happened. In truth, from the least to the greatest, a very great grief was prevalent amongst all. For when the chief men of the city beheld the laudable importunity of the multitude, who were busied in dividing his sacred spoils to keep them as relics, they wrapped him up the tighter in the skins and linen sheets. For the most holy minister of God was always clothed in sacerdotal vestments of a white colour[3]--that is, with the tunic, the kolobion, and the omophorion. Then there arose among them no small contention; for some were for carrying the most sacred limbs to the church which he had himself built, and where he now rests. but others were endeavouring to carry him to the sanctuary of the evangelist, where he attained the goal of martyrdom; and since neither party would yield to the other, they began to turn their religious observance into a wrangling and a right.[4] In the meanwhile a spirited body of senators of those who are en gaged in the public transport service, seeing what had happened, for they were near the sea, prepared a boat, and suddenly seizing upon the sacred relics, they placed them in it, and scaling the Pharos from behind, by a quarter which has the name of Leucado, they came to the church of the most blessed mother of God, and Ever-Virgin Mary, which, as we began to say, he had constructed in the western quarter, in a suburb, for a cemetery of the martyrs. Thereupon the throng of the people, as if the heavenly treasure had been snatched from them, some by straight roads, and others by a more devious route, followed with hasty steps And when they at length arrived there, there was no longer any altercation where he was to be placed, but by a common and unimpeachable counsel they agreed first to place him in his episcopal chair, and then to bury him.

And this, most prudent reader, I would not have you regard as a wild fancy and superstition, since, if you learn the cause of this novelty, you will admire and approve of the zeal and deed of the populace. For this blessed priest, when he celebrated the sacrament of the divine mysteries, did not, as is the ecclesiastical custom, sit upon his pontifical throne, but upon its footstool underneath, which, when the people beheld, they disliked, and complainingly exclaimed, "Thou oughtest, O father, to sit upon thy chair;" and when they repeated this frequently, the minister of the Lord rising, calmed their complaints with tranquil voice, and again took his seat upon the same stool. So all this seemed to be done by him from motives of humility. But upon a certain great festival it happened that he was offering the sacrifice of the mass,[5] and wished to do this same thing. Thereupon, not only the people. but the clergy also, exclaimed with one voice, "'Fake thy seat upon thy chair, bishop." But he, as if conscious of a mystery, reigned not to bear this; and giving the signal for silence,--for no one dared pertinaciously to withstand him,--he made them all quiet, and yet, nevertheless, sat down on the footstool of the chair; and the solemnities of the mass[6] having been celebrated as usual, each one of the faithful returned to his own home.

But the man of God sending for the clergy. with tranquil and serene mind, charged them with rashness, saying, "How is it that ye blush not for having joined the cry of the laity, and reproaching me? Howbeit. since your reproach flows not from the muddy torrent of arrogance. but from the pure fountain of love, I will unfold to you the secret of this mystery. Very often when I wish to draw near to that seat, I see a virtue as it were sitting upon it, exceeding radiant with the brightness of its light. Then, being in suspense between joy and fear, I acknowledge that I am altogether unworthy to sit upon such a seat, and if I did not hesitate to cause an occasion of offence to the people, without doubt I should not even venture to sit upon the stool itself. Thus it is, my beloved sons, that I seem to you, in this, to ,transgress the pontifical rule.[1] Nevertheless, many times when I see it vacant, as ye yourselves are witnesses, I refuse not to sit upon the chair after the accustomed manner. Wherefore do ye, now that ye are acquainted with my secret, and being well assured that, if I shall be indulged, I will sit upon the chair, for I hold not in slight esteem the dignity of my order, cease any further from joining in the exclamations of the populace." This explanation the most holy father whilst he was yet alive, was compelled to give to the clergy. The faithful of Christ, therefore, remembering all this with pious devotion, brought his sacred body, and caused it to sit upon the episcopal throne. As much joy and exultation arose then to heaven from the people, as if they were attending him alive and in the body. Then embalming him with sweet spices, they wrapped him in silken coverings; what each one of them could be the first to bring, this he accounted to himself as greatest gain. Then carrying palms, the tokens of victory,. with flaming tapers, with sounding hymns, and with fragrant incense, celebrating the triumph of his heavenly victory, they laid down the sacred relics, and buried them in the cemetery which had been long ago constructed by him, where too from henceforth, and even to this day, miraculous virtues cease not to show themselves. Pious vows, forsooth, are received with a propitious hearing; the health of the impotent is restored; the expulsion of unclean spirits testifies to the martyr's merits. These gifts, O Lord Jesus, are Thine, whose wont it is thus magnificently to honour Thy martyrs after death: Thou who with the Father and the Holy Consubstantial Spirit livest and reignest for evermore. Amen. After this, how that wolf and framer of treachery, that is Arius, covered with a sheep's skin, entered into the Lord's fold to worry and torment it, or in what manner he was enabled to attain to the dignity of the priesthood, let us employ ourselves in relating in brief,[2] And this not to annoy those who ventured to recall to the threshing-floor of the Lord those tares of apostacy and contagion that had been winnowed out of the Church by a heavenly fan i for these are without doubt reckoned eminent for sanctity, but thinking it a light thing to believe so holy a a man, they transgressed the injunctions of the divine command. What then? Do we reprehend them? By no means, For as long as this corruptible body weighs s down, and this earthly habitation depresses the sense of our infirmity, many are easily deceived in their imaginations, and think that which is unjust to be just, that to be holy which is impure. The Gibeonites who, by the divine threatenings, were to be utterly destroyed, having one thing in their wishes and another in their voice and mien, were able quickly to deceive Joshua,[3] that just distributor of the land of promise. David[4] also, full of prophetic inspiration, when he had heard the words of the deceitful youth, although it was by the inscrutable and just judgment of God, yet acted very differently from what the true nature of the case required. What also can be more sublime than the apostles, who have not removed themselves from our infirmity? For one of them writes, "In many things we offend all;"[5] and another, "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us."[6] But when we repent of these, so much the more readily do we obtain pardon, when we have sinned not willingly, but through ignorance or frailty. And certainly offences of this sort come not of prevarication, but of the indulgence of compassion. But I leave to others to write an apology for this; let us pursue what is in hand. After that magnificent defender of the faith, Peter, worthy of his name, had by the triumph of martyrdom, etc.






BUT since the fourth passover of the persecution has arrived, it is sufficient, in the case of those who have been apprehended and thrown into prison, and who have sustained torments not to be borne,[3] and stripes intolerable, and many other dreadful afflictions, and afterwards have been betrayed by the frailty of the flesh, even though they were not at the first received On account of their grievous fall that followed yet because they contended sorely and resisted long; for they did not come to this of their own will, but were betrayed by the frailty of the flesh for they show in their bodies the marks of Jesus,[4] and some are now, for the third year, bewailing their fault: it is sufficient, I say, that from the time of their submissive approach, other forty days should be enjoined upon them, to keep them in remembrance of these things; those forty days during which, though our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ had fasted, He was yet, after He had been baptized, tempted of the devil. And when they shall have, during these days, exercised themselves much, and constantly fasted, then let them watch in prayer, meditating upon what was spoken by the Lord to him who tempted Him to fall down and worship him: "Get thee behind me, Satan; for it is written, Thou shall worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve."[5]

BALSAMON. The present canons treat of those who have in the persecution denied the faith, and are doing penance. And the first canon ordains, that upon those who after many torments have sacrificed to the gods, not being able by reason of frailty to persevere, and who have passed three years in penitence, other forty days should be enjoined, and that then they should be admitted into the Church. Observe these present canons which lay down various and useful rules in favour of those who have denied their God, and seek for repentance, anti concerning those who have of their own accord sought martyrdom, and have lapsed, and then have again confessed the faith, and other things of the like nature. Consult also, for you will profitably do so, many canons Of the Council of Ancyra.

ZONARAS. Amongst those who in these turbulent times denied the faith, the holy Peter makes a distinction, and says, that upon those who had been brought before the tyrant, and thrown into prison, and who had endured very grievous torments, and intolerable scourgings, and such as could be cured by no care or medicine (for a'kos signifies medical care, and anh'keston is the same as immedicabile), and other dreadful afflictions, and afterwards yielding, sacrificed to the gods, being betrayed as it were by the weakness of the flesh, which could not hold out under the pain unto the end, that for them the time past should suffice for punishment; since, indeed, says he, the fourth passover has now past since they made this very grievous fall. And although perhaps at first, when they approached in penitence, they, were not received, yet because they did not of their own free-will proceed to sacrifice to the gods, and resisted long, and hear about with them the marks of Jesus, that is to say, the scars of the wounds which, in behalf of Christ, they have endured, and the third year has now elapsed since they first bewailed their fall, he decrees that, as an additional punishment, other forty days from the time that they came asking to be admitted to communion should be enjoined on them in the place of any further severity; during which they should exercise a still greater degree of penance, and should fast more earnestly, that is, with more attentive care, keeping guard over themselves, being watchful in prayer, meditating upon, that is, turning over perpetually in their minds, and saying in words, the text quoted by the Lord against the tempter, "Get thee behind me, Satan; for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shall thou serve."


But in the case of those who, after that they were thrown into prison, and in the dungeon, as in a place besieged, endured afflictions and nauseous odours, bill afterwards, without the conflict of torments, were led captive, being broken in spirit by poverty of strength, and a certain blindness of the understanding, a year in addition to the foregoing time will suffice; for they gave themselves up to be afflicted for the name of Christ, even though in their dungeon they enjoyed much consolation from their brethren; which, indeed, they shall return many fold, desiring to be set free from that most bitter captivity of the devil, especially remembering Him who said: "The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He hath anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor; He hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised; to preach the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of recompense unto our God."[1]

BALSAMON. This canon enacts that those who have only been evil entreated in prison, and who without torment have lapsed, should be punished after the three years with an additional year. For though they obtained consolation, certain of the faithful ministering to them the necessaries of life, yet they ought to obtain pardon, as being those who have suffered severely for the faith.

ZONARAS. In the second order, he places those who have only been thrown into prison, and evil entreated in the dungeon, and yet, though harassed by no torments, have offended; upon whom, besides the time past, the three years, namely, of which we have spoken, he proposes to inflict the penalty of an additional year, since they also, says he, have for Christ's name endured hardness, even though it may be that they obtained some consolation from the brethren whilst in prison. For it is probable that the faithful, who were not in custody, ministered to those in bonds the necessaries of life, and brought to them some alleviation of their lot. Which things, indeed, they shall return many fold; for those consolations which they enjoyed in prison they shall vex themselves with penance, and afflict themselves in diverse ways, if they wish to be set free from the captivity of the devil, having become his captives and slaves by their denial of Christ. He subjoins the word of the prophet, taken from Isaiah, which he says that they ought to keep in remembrance.


But as for those who have suffered none of these things, and have shown no fruit of faith., but of their own accord have gone over to wickedness, being betrayed by fear and cowardice, and now come to repentance, it is necessary and convenient to propose the parable of the unfruitful fig-tree, as the Lord says: "A certain man had a fig-tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig-tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering, said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it. And if it bear fruit, well; and if not, then alter mat thou shall cut it down." Keeping this before their eyes, and showing forth fruit worthy of repentance, after so long an interval of time, they will be profiled.

BALSAMON. Those who from fear only and timidity deserted the faith, and then had an eye towards repentance, the canon punishes with three years' exclusion, according to the parable of the fig-tree in the Gospels. For the Lord said, Three years I come to it seeking fruit, and find none; but the vine-dresser replies, Lord, let it alone this year also.

ZONARAS. But those, he says, who having suffered no hardness, have deserted from fear only and timidity, in that they of their own accord have approached to wickedness; and then looked towards repentance, their case the parable of the fig-tree in the Gospels will exactly suit. Let them keep this before their eyes, and show forth for an equal period labours worthy of penitence, and they shall be profited; that is, after the fourth year. For the Lord said, Three years I come to it seeking fruit, and find none; and the vine-dresser answered, Lord, let it alone this year also.


To those who are altogether reprobate, and unrepentant, who possess the Ethiopian's unchanging skin,[2] and the leopard's spots, it shall be said, as it was spoken to another fig-tree, "Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever; and it presently withered away."[3] For in them is fulfilled what was spoken by the Preacher: "That which is crooked cannot be made straight; and that which is wanting cannot be numbered."[4] For unless that which is crooked shall first he made straight, it is impossible for it to be adorned; and unless that which is wanting shall first be made up, it cannot be numbered. Hence also, in the end, will happen unto them what is spoken by Esaias the prophet: "They shall look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against Me; for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh."[5] Since as by the same also has been predicted, "But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked."[6]

BALSAMON. What has been previously said of the lapsed, has been said of the repentant. But against those who are unrepentant, he brings forward the cursing of another fig-tree, to which the Lord said, because of its unprofitableness, "No fruit grow on thee hence-forward for ever."

ZONARAS. What has been previously said of the lapsed, has been said of the repentant. Against those whom, from desperation or depraved opinion, are impenitent, and carry about with them perpetually the inherent and indelible blackness of sin, as of an Ethiopian's skin, or the leopard's spots, he brings forward the cursing of another fig-tree. To which the Lord said for its barrenness, "Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And he says that in them must be fulfilled that word of the Preacher: "That which is crooked cannot be made straight; and that which is wanting cannot be numbered." Then having explained these things, he subjoins the words of Isaiah.


But upon those who have used dissimulation like David, who reigned himself to be mad(1) to avoid death, being not mad in reality; and those who have not nakedly written down their denial of the faith, but being in much tribulation, as boys endowed with sagacity and prudence amongst foolish children, have mocked the snares of their enemies, either passing by the altars, or giving a writing, or sending heathen to do sacrifice instead of themselves, even though some of them who have confessed have, as I have heard, pardoned individuals of them, since with the greatest caution they have avoided to touch the fire with their own hands, and to offer incense to the impure demons; yet inasmuch as they escaped the notice of their persecutors by doing this, let a penalty of six months' penance be imposed upon them. For thus will they be the rather profited, meditating upon the prophet's words, and saying, "Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called the Messenger of My mighty counsel."(2) Who, as ye know, when another infant in the sixth month(3) of his conception had preached before His coming repentance for the remission of sins, was himself also conceived to preach repentance. Moreover, we hear both also preaching, in the first place, not only repentance, but the kingdom of heaven, which, as we have learned, is within us;(4) for the word which we believe is near us, in our mouth, and in our heart; which they, being put in remembrance of, will learn to confess with their mouths that Jesus is the Christ; believing in their heart that God hath raised him from the dead, and being as those who hear, that "with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."(5)

BALSAMON. But if any have pretended to approach the altars, or to write their denial of the faith, and have not done this nakedly and openly, but by reigned arts have illuded those who offered them violence, as David did, who, when he was flying from Saul, and was amongst strangers, feigned himself to be mad, and thus escaped death. So they mocked the snares of their enemies, as children endowed with wisdom and prudence mock foolish children; for they deceived the impious heathen, in that they seemed to sacrifice, although they did not sacrifice, or perhaps they suborned heathens and infidels to take their place, and by these means they thought that they offered sacrifice; for them, he says, a period of six months will suffice for penance. For although they did not sacrifice, yet because they promised to sacrifice, or sent others to do so in their place, they are thought to stand in need of repentance, even though some of those who have given their testimony for the faith have pardoned individuals of them. He compares them to children, as not having manfully withstood the idolaters, but to prudent children, because by artifice they avoided doing sacrifice.

ZONARAS. But if any have pretended to approach the altars, or to write their denial of the faith, but have not nakedly written down their abnegation, that is, not manifestly, not openly; but by a sort of trick have cheated those who offered them violence; as David, who while lie was flying from Saul, and bad come amongst strange people, reigned himself to be mad, and in this way avoided death. They mocked indeed, he children, endowed with wisdom and sagacity, and those says, the insidious devices of their enemies; as prudent who skilfully take counsel, deceive foolish children. Now be compares those to prudent children by whom the impious heathen were deceived, and those who though they did not sacrifice, yet seemed to sacrifice, prudent indeed, as having thus far avoided sacrificing; but children, in that they did not show forth a mature and manly spirit, and did not nobly resist the worshippers of idols, but covenanted to sacrifice, even though they suborned some in their places, heathens, forsooth, and infidels, and when these sacrificed, they were considered to have sacrificed. For men of this sort, he says, a period of six months will suffice for penance. For although they did not sacrifice, yet because they covenanted to sacrifice, or suborned others to do so, and thus themselves appeared to have sacrificed, they were judged to stand in need of repentance; even though some confessors might have pardoned individuals of them; for some of those who witnessed to the faith and suffered for it, pardoned those who by an artifice, as has been said, escaped offering sacrifice, and admitted them to communion with the faithful, because they studiously avoided offering sacrifice to demons. And on account of the fixing of this term of six months, he calls to remembrance the annunciation made by Gabriel, in the sixth month of the conception of the Forerunner, in which the Lord was conceived. Then he subjoins the words of the apostle.


In the case of those who have sent Christian slaves to offer sacrifice for them, the slaves indeed as being in their master's hands, and in a manner themselves also in the custody of their masters, and being threatened by them, and from their fear having come to this pass and having lapsed, shall during the year show forth the works of penitence, learning for the future, as the slaves of Christ, to do the will of Christ and to fear Him, listening to this especially, that "whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free."(6)

BALSAMON. The slaves who under the commands and threatenings of their masters offered sacrifice, this father punishes with a year's exclusion; yet he pardons them as having acted under the orders of a master, and does not inflict a heavy punishment upon them. But yet since they are much more the servants of Christ, even as they ought to fear Him more, he imposes on them a moderate punishment; for, as says the great Paul, "whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free."

ZONARAS. Some have sent their own Christian servants, even against their will, to offer sacrifice in their stead. These servants, therefore, although not of their own free-will, but being compelled by their masters, they offered sacrifice, this father ordains shall pass a year in penance, and enjoins them to remember that, being of the number of the faithful, they are the servants of Christ, and that Him they ought rather to fear; for "whatsoever any man doeth," says the great apostle, "the same shall he receive, whether he be bond or free."


But the freemen shall be tried by penance for three years, both for their dissimulation, and for having compelled their fellow-servants to offer sacrifice, inasmuch as they have not obeyed the apostle, who would have the masters do the same things unto the servant, forbearing threatening;(1) knowing, says he, that our and their Master is in heaven; and that there is no respect of persons with Him.(2) Now, if we all have one Master, with whom is no respect of persons, since Christ is all and in all, in barbarian, Scythian, bond or free,(3) they ought to consider what they have done, wishing to preserve their own lives. They have drawn their fellow-servants to idolatry who would have been able to escape, had they given to them that which is just and equal, as again says the apostle.

BALSAMON. But upon the freemen, or the masters of the servant compelled to sacrifice, he enjoins a punishment of three years, both because they pretended to sacrifice, and seemed to assent to it; and also because they compelled their fellow-servants to offer sacrifice, and did not obey the apostle, who ordered them to forbear threatening their servants, inasmuch as they themselves, the masters, are the servants of God, and fellow- servants with their own domestics And then they have made haste to preserve their own lives, and have driven their fellow-servants to idolatry who might have escaped.

ZONARAS. But upon the freemen, that is, the masters of the servants who were compelled to sacrifice, he enjoins a penalty of three years, both because they pretended to sacrifice, and altogether appeared to succumb; and also because they compelled their fellow-servants to offer sacrifice, and did not obey the apostle's injunction to forbear threatening their servants; since they also, the masters, are the servants of God, and the fellow-servants of their own domestics. And they indeed made haste to preserve their own lives, and drove their fellow-servants, who might have escaped, to idolatry.


But to those who have been delivered up, and have fallen, who also of their own accord have approached the contest, confessing themselves to be Christians, and have been tormented and thrown into prison, it is right with joy and exultation of heart to add strength, and to communicate to them in all things, both in prayer, and in partaking of the body and blood of Christ, and in hortatory discourse; in order that contending the more constantly, they may be counted worthy of "the prize of their high calling."(4) For "seven times," he says, "a just man falleth, and riseth up again,"(5) which, indeed, if all that have lapsed had done, they would have shown forth a most perfect penitence, and one which penetrates the whole heart.

BALSAMON. Some had had information laid against them before the tyrant, and had been delivered up, or themselves had of their own accord given themselves up, and then being overcome by their torments, had failed in their testimony. Afterwards repenting, and acknowledging what was right and good, they confessed themselves to he Christians, so that they were cast into prison, and afflicted with torments. These this holy man thinks it right to receive with joy of heart, and to confirm in the orthodox faith, and to communicate with, both in prayers and in partaking of the sacraments, and to exhort with cheering words, that they may be more constant in the contest, and counted worthy of the heavenly kingdom. And that it might not be thought that they ought not to be received, because they hart lapsed, he brings forward the testimony of Scripture to the effect that "seven times," that is, often, "the just man falleth, and riseth up again." And, says he, if all who have failed in their confession had done this, namely, taken up their struggle again, and before the tyrant confessed themselves to be Christians, they would have shown forth a most perfect penitence. The subject, therefore, comprehended in this canon differs from that contained in the first canon, for there indeed those who by reason of their torment had lapsed, were not converted so as to confess the faith before the tyrants; but here those who by reason of their torment have lapsed, with a worthy penitence, confess the Lord before the tyrants, wherefore they are reckoned not to have fallen.

ZONARAS. But, says he, if any have had information laid against them before the tyrants, and have been delivered up, or have of themselves given themselves up, and being overcome by the violence of their torments have failed in their testimony, not being able to endure the distresses and afflictions with which in the dungeon they were afflicted; and afterwards taking up the contest anew, have confessed themselves to be Christians, so that they have been again cast into prison and afflicted with torments: such men this holy martyr judges it reasonable that they should be joyfully received; and that they should be strengthened, that is, have strength, spirit, and confidence added to them, in order that they may confess the faith, and that they should be communi-cared with in all things, both in prayer, and in partaking of the sacraments, and that they should be exhorted with loving words, to rouse themselves to give testimony to the faith, that they may be more constant in the contest, and counted worthy of the heavenly kingdom. And that it might not he thought by any that they ought not to be received from the fact that they had lapsed, and sacrificed to the idols, he brings forth this testimony from Holy Scripture: "Seven times," that is, often, "the just man falleth, and riseth up again." And, says be, if all who have failed in their confession had done this, that is, after their fall, taken up the contest afresh, and confessed themselves to be Christians before the tyrants, they would have given proof of a most perfect repentance.


With those also who, as it were from sleep, themselves leap forth upon a contest which is travailing long and likely to be protracted, and draw upon themselves the temptations as it were of a sea-fight, and the inundations of many waves, or rather are for the brethren kindling the coals of the sinners, with them also we must communicate, inasmuch as they come to this in the name of Christ, even though they take no heed unto His words, when He teaches us "to pray that we enter not into temptation;"(1) and again in His prayer, He says to His Father, "and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil."(2) And perhaps also they know not that the Master of the House and our Great Teacher often retired from those who would lay snares for Him, and that sometimes He walked not openly because of them; and even when the time of His passion drew on, He delivered not up Himself, but waited until they came to Him with "swords and staves." He said to them therefore, "Are ye come out, as against a thief with swords and staves, for to take Me?"(3) And they "delivered Him," He says, "to Pilate."(4) As it was with Him it happens to those who walk keeping Him before them as an example, recollecting His divine words, in which, confirming us, He speaks of persecution: "Take heed unto yourselves, for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues."(5) Now, He says, they will deliver you up, and not, ye shall deliver up yourselves; and "ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for My sake,"(6) but not, ye shall bring yourselves, for He would have us pass from place to place as long as there are those who persecute us for His name's sake; even as again we hear Him saying, "But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another."(7) For He would not have us go over to the ministers and satellites of the devil, that we might not be the cause to them of a manifold death, inasmuch as thus we should be compelling them both to be harsher, and to carry out their deadly works, but He would have us to wait, and to take heed to ourselves, to watch and to pray, lest we enter into temptation.(1) Thus first Stephen, pressing on His footsteps, suffered martyrdom, being apprehended in Jerusalem by the transgressors, and being brought before the council, he was stoned, and glorified for the name of Christ, praying with the words, "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge."(8) Thus James, in the second place, being of Herod apprehended, was beheaded with the sword. Thus Peter, the first of the apostles, having been often apprehended, and thrown into prison, and treated with igominy, was last of all crucified at Rome. Likewise also, the renowned Paul having been oftentimes delivered up and brought in peril of death, having endured many evils, and making his boast in his numerous persecutions and afflictions, in the same city was also himself beheaded; who, in the things in which he gloried, in these also ended his life; and at Damascus he was let down by night in a basket by the wall, and escaped the hands(9) of him who sought to take him. For what they set before themselves, first and foremost, was to do the work of an evangelist, and to teach the Word of God, in which, confirming the brethren, that they might continue in the faith, they said this also, "that we must out of much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God."(10) For they sought not what was profitable for them, but that which was profitable for the many, that they might be saved, and that they might be enabled to say unto them many things conducing to this, that they might act suitably to the Word of God, "unless," as says the apostle, "the time should fail me in speaking."(11)

BALSAMON. Those who have but just arisen from sleep, and especially if they were weighed down with a heavy and profound sleep, have no constant reason, hut one perturbed and unsteady. To such as these this blessed martyr likens those who, not in due order, but rashly and inconsiderately, thrust themselves upon the contest, which is as it were in travail, and delayed and protracted, inasmuch as it has not vet burst forth openly, but meditates and delays, hesitating in truth to bring forth the combatants, who bring temptation upon themselves, or draw it towards them. Now these especially are, for the rest of the faithful, kindling the coals of the sinners, that is to say, the punishment of the tyrants. But although he reprehends those who act so, yet he enjoins the faithful nevertheless to communicate with them, because on account of Christ they have undergone the contest, even though they have ignored His teaching, for He teaches them to pray that they may not be tempted; and He did not deliver up Himself, but was delivered up; and we are not to go over to the tormentors, that we may not be the cause of bringing upon them the guilt of many murders, as those do who incite them to inflict punishment upon the godly. The canon brings forward different examples from Holy Scripture.

ZONARAS. Those who have recently arisen from sleep, especially if they were oppressed with a heavy sleep, have no steady reason, but one inconstant and perturbed. To men of this sort this holy martyr likens those who rush upon the contest, that is, those who, not in due course, but rashly and inconsiderately, intrude themselves upon it. It is, as it were, in travail, and delayed and protracted, inasmuch as it has not yet burst forth openly, but meditates and delays, and hesitates to bring forth the combatants, who bring temptation upon themselves, that is, draw it towards themselves, or rather, for the rest of the faithful, kindle the coals of the sinners, the torments, namely, which are by the tyrants inflicted. But although he finds fault with those who act in this way, he nevertheless decrees that the faithful must communicate with them, because in the name of Christ they come forward to this, trusting, that is, in Christ, or in His name demanding this trial for themselves, even though, perhaps, they are not obeying His precepts; for He taught them to pray that they might not be tempted; and they are ignoring the fact too that the Lord retired from those who were laying snares for Him, and was wont sometimes to walk not openly; neither did He give up Himself to His passion, but was given up by others; and He commanded His disciples, when their enemies persecuted them, to fly from city to city, and not of their own accord to give themselves up to the tormentors, lest they should be the cause of bringing the guilt of much blood upon their heads, irritating them as it were to inflict punishment upon godly men. And he brings forward the example of the apostles, of Stephen, of James, and the chiefs of the order, Peter and Paul.


Whence it is not right either that those of the clergy who have deserted of their own accord, and have lapsed, and taken up the contest afresh, should remain any longer in their sacred office, inasmuch as they have left destitute the flock of the Lord, and brought blame upon themselves, which thing did not one of the apostles. For when the blessed apostle Paul had undergone many persecutions, and had shown forth the prizes of many contests, though he knew that it was far better to "depart, and to be with Christ," yet he brings this forward, and says, "Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you."(1) For considering not his own advantage but the advantage of many, that they might be saved, he judged it more necessary than his own rest to remain with the brethren, and to have a care for them; who also would have him that teacheth to be "in doctrine"(2) an example to the faithful. Whence it follows that those who, contending in prison, have fallen from their ministry, and have again taken up the struggle, are plainly wanting in perception. For how else is it that they seek for that which they have left, when in this present time they can be useful to the brethren? For as long as they remained firm and stable, of that which they had done contrary to reason, of this indulgence was accorded them. But when they lapsed, as having carried themselves with ostentation,(3) and brought reproach upon themselves, they can no longer discharge their sacred ministry; and, therefore, let them the rather take heed to pass their life in humility, ceasing from vainglory. For communion is sufficient for them, which is granted them with diligence and care for two causes; both that they should not seem to be afflicted with sorrow, and hence by violence seize on their departure from this world; and also lest any of the lapsed should have a pretext for being remiss by occasion of the punishment. And these indeed will reap more shame and ignominy than all others, even as he who laid the foundation and was not able to finish it; for "all that pass by," He says, "will begin to mock him, saying, "This man laid the foundation, and was not able to finish it."

BALSAMON. The father having spoken of those who of their own accord went over to the contest of martyrdom, now also speaks of those of the clergy who are in such a case, and he says, that if any clergyman hath of his own accord sought the contest, and then, not being able to bear the tortures, has fallen, but returning to himself, has recanted his error, and before the tyrants confessed himself a Christian, such a one shall no longer discharge his sacred ministry, because he hath deserted the Lord's flock, and because, having of his own accord sought the contest, through not being able to endure the torment, he hath brought reproach upon himself. For to neglect the teaching of the people, and to prefer their own advantage, this did not the apostles. For the mighty Paul, after that he had endured many torments, though he perceived that it was far better to leave this life, yet chose rather to live and to be tormented for the salvation and instruction of the people. They are therefore altogether devoid of perception who seek the sacred ministry from which they have fallen of their own accord. For how is it that they seek for that which they have left, when they are able in this season of persecution, that is, to be useful to their brethren? If indeed they had not fallen, of that which they had done contrary to reason, their spontaneous flight for instance, or their slackness in teaching and confirming the brethren, of these things indulgence would be extended to them. But if from their own arrogance and conceit they have lapsed,--for of such a nature is it rashly to venture to expose themselves to torture, and not to be able to endure it, and thus a triumph has been gained over them,--they cannot any longer execute their sacred office. Wherefore let them the rather take heed that they perfect their confession by humility, ceasing from the vainglory of seeking for the sacred ministry; for communion with the faithful is sufficient for them, which is granted for two reasons, with diligent caution, and just judgment. For if we say that we will not hold them to be communicants, we shall both afflict them with grief, giving our sentence as it were that they should depart this life with violence; and we shall cause others also, who may have lapsed, and wish to return to what is right, to be negligent and remiss in this respect, having as a pretext, that they will not be admitted to communicate with the faithful, even though after their fall they should confess the faith, who, if they are not converted, will undergo more shame and ignominy than others, even as he who laid the foundation, and did not finish the building. For such a one do those resemble, who, for Christ's sake indeed, have offered themselves to be tormented, and having laid as it were a good foundation, have not been able to perfect that which is good by reason of their fall. Observe, then, that not even confession for Christ's sake restores him who has once lapsed and thus become an alien from his clerical office.

ZONARAS. The father having spoken of those who have of their own accord exposed themselves to the contest of martyrdom, now begins to discourse about those of the clergy who have done the same thing; and says that if any clergyman has of his own accord given himself up, and then, not being able to endure the violence of the torment, has fallen, and again recollecting himself has roused himself afresh to the contest, and has confessed himself a Christian before the tyrants, a man of this sort is not any longer to be admitted to the sacred ministry. And the reason of this he subjoins; because he has forsaken the Lord's flock, and because having of his own accord offered himself to the enemy, and not having with constancy endured his torments, he has brought reproach upon himself. But that they should despise the instruction of the people, and prefer their own advantage, this did not the apostles. For the mighty Paul, though he had endured many torments, and felt that it was better for him to leave this life, preferred to live and to be tormented for the salvation and instruction of the people. Wherefore he demonstrates those to be altogether devoid of perception who ask for the sacred ministry from which they have voluntarily fallen. For how is it, says he, that they ask for that which they have left, when in a season of this sort, of raging persecution forsooth, they can be of great assistance to the brethren? As long as they were free from the charge of having lapsed, they would have obtained pardon for their action that was rashly undertaken, that, namely, of voluntarily offering themselves to the adversary, or their negligence in instructing the brethren. But since they have fallen, inasmuch as they have acted ostentatiously, they are not to be permitted any longer to discharge their sacred functions. If, says he, that they had not fallen they would have obtained pardon for their action which was devoid of reason; calling that action devoid of reason, not only because they gave themselves up to the enemy, but rather because they deserted the Lord's flock, and did not remain to guard it, and to confirm the brethren who were harassed in this time of persecution. But if they have fallen, from the fact that they have carried themselves vauntingly, and he here calls pride and arrogance perperei'a, because it is from arrogance that they have put confidence in themselves, and have put an end to the contest, and have brought reproach upon themselves; that is, by reason of their fall, they have contracted a blemish and stain, it is not lawful for them any longer to be occupied in the sacred ministry. Wherefore let them study, says he, to perfect their confession by humility, ceasing forsooth from all vainglory. For in that they seek to be enrolled in the sacred ministry, this proceeds from ambition and self-seeking. For communion is sufficient for them, that the faithful should communicate with them, and pray with them, and that they should participate in the sacred mysteries. And this should be granted with diligent caution and care, both lest they should seem to be afflicted with grief, seizing on a dissolution of this life, lest, that is, as he says, being overcome with grief, they should depart and get free from the body, that is, go out from it, from the violence of the torment and afflictions which they undergo in the prison; and that none should have the pretext of their punishment for carrying themselves dissolutely and cowardly in the contest of confession, and thus fall away. Who will the rather be put to shame, according to the saying in the Gospel, "Who could not finish after that he had laid the foundation."(1)

Moreover, let those apply their minds to what is in this place brought forward by this great father and holy martyr, who say that it is lawful for bishops to give up their Sees, and to retain the dignity of the priesthood. For if to the clergy who voluntarily offered themselves to the contest of confession, and who, when tormented, failed in constancy and yielded, and afterwards returned to the contest, if to them indulgence is scarcely granted, because they deferred to execute their ministerial duties; nor, in the opinion of this divine father, is any thing else objected to them but that they deserted the brethren, when in adverse and turbulent times they might have been useful in confirming them in the faith, and that after that they had been counted worthy to bear testimony to the faith, and carried about in their flesh shall that chief priest and the marks of Christ; how pastor, who ought to lay down his life for the sheep, when he has deserted the flock that was committed unto him, and repudiated its care and administration, and as far as in him lies given it over to the wolf, be thought worthy to retain the dignity of the sacred ministry, and not rather be judged worthy of the severest punish-meats for deserting the people entrusted to his care? Nay, but he will demand a reward for this thing, or rather he will himself supply it to himself: refusing that which brings labour to them, namely, the office of teaching and of correcting vice; but embracing that which gains for them honour and glory, making it their own, keeping hold of it with their teeth as it were, and not letting it go in the least. For if in the case of the clergy it be called an action contrary to reason to desert the people, and to go away from them to the contest in the cause of piety; how much more contrary to reason shall it be judged for a bishop to desert his people, not in order that he may contend in a contest, but that he may deliver himself up to ease and indolence, and lay aside and escape entirely from his cares for the salvation of souls? The sixteenth canon also of the Seventh OEcumenical Council(2) gravely accuses those of folly who decree that the dignity of the sacred ministry can be retained by a bishop who has repudiated his bishopric. For if according to the sentence of the aforesaid canon, a bishop who has been absent from his See more than six months, unless some one of the causes there enumerated shall have intervened, has both fallen from the episcopate and the highest dignity of the priesthood, and is deprived of both; how shall he who has repudiated the episcopate, and refuses any longer to feed the flock entrusted to him, and despises the care of it through his desire of an easy life, be held to be of the number of bishops? For if he who has committed the lesser fault, of leaving for more than six months the people placed under him destitute of the care and administration of a pastor, incurs the privation of the episcopate and of his sacred dignity; he who offends in a way greater and much more grievous, namely, in deserting altogether the multitude which the grace of the Holy Spirit has committed to him to be cared for and guarded, shall deservedly be punished with greater severity, and will pay the heavier penalty of losing, as far as he is concerned, the flock of which he was appointed shepherd by the great and chief Shepherd and High Priest. But those who decree the dignity of the priesthood to him as a reward and honorarium for declining his office, in my opinion make both themselves and him obnoxious to the judgment of God.


For those who first, when the persecution waxed warm, leaped forth, standing around the judgment-seat, and beholding the holy martyrs who were hastening to the "prize of their high calling,"(3) then, fired with a holy zeal, gave themselves up to this, using much boldness, and especially when they saw those who were drawn aside and lapsed, on their account they were roused mightily within, and, as it were by some inward voice, impelled to war down and subdue the adversary who was exulting; for this they earnestly contended, that he might not seem "to be wise in his own conceit,"(4) on account of those things in which by reason of his subtlety they appeared to be inferior to him, even though it escaped his observation that he was overcome by those who with constancy endured the torments of the lash and scourge, and the sharp edge of the sword, the burning in the fire, and the immersion in the water. To those also who entreat that the prayers and supplications of faith should be made either in behalf of those who have been punished by imprisonment, and have been delivered up by hunger and thirst, or for those who out of prison have by the judges been tortured with whippings and scourgings, and afterwards have been overcome by the infirmity of the flesh, it is right to give our consent. For to sympathize with the sorrow and affliction of those who sorrow and mourn for those who in the contest have been overcome by the great strength of the evil- contriving devil, whether it be for parents, or brethren, or children, hurts no one. For we know that on account of the faith of others some have obtained the goodness of God, both in the remission of sins, and in the health of their bodies, and in the resurrection of the dead. Therefore, being mindful of the many labours and distresses which for the name of Christ they have sustained, since they have themselves also repented, and have bewailed that which was done by them through their being betrayed by the languor and mortification of the body; and since, besides this, they testify that in their life they have as it were been aliens from their city, let us pray together with them and entreat for their reconciliation, together with other things that are befitting, through Hint who is "our Advocate with the Father, and makes propitiation for our sins." "And if any man sin," says he, "we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and He is the propitiation for our sins."(1)

BALSAMON. The saint having said before that those who of their own accord entered upon the contest and lapsed, and did not repent nor recant their error, would be covered with more shame, as being like men who did not go on with the building beyond the foundation, that is, did not perfect that which is good, now brings forward a confirmation of this and other matters, saying, Those who taking their stand in the fervour and vehemence of the persecution, seeing the holy martyrs, and with what divine zeal they contended to receive the celestial crown, gave themselves up to martyrdom with much boldness, and especially when they saw some drawn aside, that is, led astray and deluded by the devil, and lapsing or denying godliness; wherefore being inwardly inflamed, and with hearts enkindled, as hearing that they by this means should war down and subdue the proud adversary the devil, were eager to undergo martyrdom lest the the devil should boast and seem "to be wise in his own conceit," as having by his subtlety and malice overcome those who of their own accord sought martyrdom: even though it escaped him that he was rather overcome by those combatants who bravely withstood the torments. Therefore to the faithful who pary for those who are enduring punishment, and afflicted by it is right to assent or to concur in this, which is also decreed; and it can by no means be hurtful to sympathize in their sorrow and affliction with the parents or other relatives in behalf of those who have given their testimony and undergone martyrdom, but have lapsed by the arts and snares of the devil. For we know that many have obtained the goodness and compassion of God by the prayers of others. Therefore we will pray for them that remission of their sins be granted them by God; and with the others who have lapsed, and have afterwards recanted their error, and confessed godliness, we will communicate, being mindful of those contests which before their fall they sustained for God's sake, and also of their subsequent worthy repentance, and that they testify that on account of their sin they have been as it were aliens from their city; and we will not only communicate with them, but pray also for their reconciliation, together with other things that are convenient, either with the good works which ought to be done by them-- fasting, for instance, almsgiving, and penance; by which things He who is our Advocate makes the Father propitious towards us. Then he makes use of a passage of Holy Scripture, and this is taken from the first catholic epistle of the holy apostle and evangelist John.

ZONARAS. The meaning of the present canon is as follows:--Those, he says, who set in the fervour of the persecution, that is, in its greatest height and most vehement heat, beheld the martyrdoms of the saints, and how eagerly they hastened to receive the celestial crown, fired with a holy emulation, gave themselves up to martyrdom, leaping as it were into the contest with much boldness, in imitation of the saints who suffered, and offered themselves readily for the confirming of the faith by their testimony; and on that account especially, because they behold many who were drawn aside, that is, led astray, denying their faith. Whereupon they being inflamed, that is, tired in heart, endeavoured to subdue the adversary that was hostile to them, that he might not, as a victor, exult over the godly. Although it escaped him that he was rather conquered by them, many even unto death showing forth constancy for the faith. They hastened, therefore, says he, to do this, but overcome by the violence of their torments, by reason of the infirmity of the flesh, being some of them evil entreated in prison, and others punished by decree of the judges, and not being able to endure their punishment. It is meet, therefore, to sympathize with those who mourn for their sakes. Now they mourn, says he, some the lapse of parents, others of brethren, and others of children. To mourn, therefore, with those who bewail the lapsed, hurts no one; neither to join in prayer and grief with those who pray for themselves, together with other things that are reasonable, namely, that they who have lapsed may show forth other things that are consistent with penitence; such as are fasting and tears and other humiliations, and observe the punishment inflicted on them, and, if their means allow, bestow money upon the poor; by which means He who is the Advocate in our behalf will render the Father propitious to us. Then he brings forward a passage from Holy Scripture, which is taken from the first epistle of the holy apostle and evangelist John.


Against those who have given money that they might be entirely undisturbed by evil,(2) an accusation cannot be brought. For they have sustained the loss and sacrifice of their goods that they might not hurt or destroy their soul, which others for the sake of filthy lucre have not done; and yet the Lord says, "What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"(1) and again, "Ye cannot serve God and mammon."(2) In these things, then, they have shown themselves the servants of God, inasmuch as they have hated, trodden under foot, and despised money, and have thus fulfilled what is written: "The ransom of a man's life are his riches."(3) For we read also in the Acts of the Apostles that those who in the stead of Paul and Silas were dragged before the magistrates at Thessalonica, were dismissed with a heavy fine. For after that they had been very burdensome to them for his name, and had troubled the people and the rulers of the city, "having taken security," he says, "of Jason, and of the others, they let them go. And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea."(4)

BALSAMON. After that the saint had finished his discourse concerning those who of their own accord had offered themselves to martyrdom, he said that those were not to be reprehended who by a sum of money paid down freed themselves from the affliction of persecution. For they preferred to make a sacrifice of their money rather than of their souls. Then he confirms this, and brings forward different Scripture examples from the Acts of the Apostles concerning the blessed apostle Paul and others.

ZONARAS. But those, he says, are not to be reprehended who have paid money down, and thus escaped, and maintained their piety, nor for this thing may any one bring an accusation against them. For they have preferred to lose their money rather than their souls, and have shown that they wish to serve God and not mammon; that is, riches. And he brings forward the words of Scripture, and the example, as in the Acts of the Apostles, of the blessed apostle Paul and others. Now, when it is said that they have been undisturbed by all evil? it is to be so taken, either that they have been left undisturbed, so far as the denial of the faith is concerned, which overcomes all evil,(5) or he means the afflictions of persecutions.


Hence neither is it lawful to accuse those who have left all, and have retired for the safety of their life, as if Others had been held back by them. For at Ephesus also they seized Gaius and Aristarchus instead of Paul, and rustled to the theatre, these being Paul's companions in travel(7) and he wishing himself to enter in unto the people, since it was by reason of his having persuaded them, and drawing away a great multitude to the worship of the true God, that the tumult arose. "The disciples suffered him not," he says. "Nay, moreover, certain of the chief of Asia, who were his friends, sent unto him, desiring him that he would not adventure himself into the theatre." But if any persist in contending with them, let them apply their minds with sincerity to him who says, "Escape for thy life; look not behind thee."(8) Let them recall to their minds also how Peter, the chief of the apostles, "was thrown into prison, and delivered to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him;"(9) of whom, when he had escaped by night, and had been preserved out of the hand of the Jews by the commandment of the angel of the Lord, it is said, "As soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers, what was become of Peter. And when Herod had sought for him, and found him not, he examined the keepers, and commanded that they should be put to death,"(10) on account of whom no blame is attributed to Peter; for it was in their power, when they saw what was done, to escape, just as also all the infants in Bethlehem,(11) and all the coast thereof, might have escaped, if their parents had known what was going to happen. These were put to death by the murderer Herod, in order to secure the death of one Infant whom he sought, which Infant itself also escaped at the commandment of the angel of the Lord, who now began quickly to spoil, and to hasten the prey, according to the name whereby he was called: as it is written, "Call his name Maher- shalal-hash-baz: for before the child shall have knowledge to cry, My father and my mother, the riches of Damascus anti the spoil of Samaria shall be taken away before the king of Assyria."(12) The Magi then as now having been despoiled and divided for a prey, humbly, and in the guise of suppliants, adore the Child, opening their treasurers, and offering unto Him gifts most opportune and magnificent--gold, and frankincense, and myrrh--as to a king, to God, and to man; whence they were no longer willing to return to the Assyrian king, being forbidden to do so by Providence. For "being warned of God in a dream," he says, "that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way."(13) Hence the bloodthirsty "Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth," he says, "and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coast thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time that he had diligently inquired of the wise men."(14) Together with whom, having sought to kill another infant that had been previously born, and not being able to find him, he slew the child's father Zacharias between the temple and the altar, the child having escaped with his mother Elisabeth.(15) Whence these men that have withdrawn themselves are not at all to be blamed.

BALSAMON. But if any, says he, have left their good and gone away, lest they should be detailed and brought into peril, as being those perhaps who might not be able to persist in their confession to the end, on account of the cruelty of their tormentors, they shall not be found fault with, even though others have been detained on their account. And he brings forward as all instance on this score Gaius and Aristarchus, who were detained instead of Paul; the soldiers who kept Peter; the infants who were massacred by Herod on account of Christ; and Zacharias, the father of the revered and blessed forerunner.

ZONARAS. But if any, says he, have left their possessions, and have gone away, lest being detained they should be endangered, and because, perhaps, they would not be able to persist in their confession unto the cud on account of the cruelty of the tormentors, they are not to be accused, even if others are detailed and published on their account. And, again, he brings forward an example from the Acts of the Apostles, saying that at Ephesus also Gaius and Aristarchus were apprehended in the stead of Paul, and that Paul was not blamed for this; nor was Peter, when he was brought forth out of prison by an angel, and escaped the danger, and the soldiers who guarded him were on his account punished. Then he cites another example from the Gospel, namely, the infants who were put to death by Herod; on account of which, says he, our Lord was not blamed. And when Elisabeth had taken to flight with John, and had preserved him, his father Zacharias was put to death, the child being demanded of him; nor was this imputed as a crime to John.


But if any have endured much violence and the strong pressure of necessity, receiving into their mouths iron and chains, and for their good affection towards the faith have bravely borne the burning of their hands that against their will had been put to the profane sacrifice, as from their prison the thrice-blessed martyrs have written to me respecting those in Libya, and others their fellow-ministers; such, on the testimony of the rest of their brethren, can be placed in the ministry amongst the confessors, as those who have been mortified by many torments, and were no longer able either to speak, or to give utterance, or to move, so as to resist those who vainly offered them violence. For they did not assent to their impiety; as I have again heard from their fellow-ministers, they will be reckoned amongst the confessors, as also he who hath after the example of Timothy ordered his life, obeying him who says, "Follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses."(1)

BALSAMON. Those who by the violence of the tyrant seemed to eat meat that had been offered to idols, or to drink wine from the Greek libations,- -for it happened sometimes that they were thrown upon the ground, and hooks or pieces of iron put into their mouths to keep them open, and then the tyrants poured wine down their throats, or threw into them pieces of meat; or putting hot coals into their hands, together with incense, they compelled them to sacrifice,--if they were clergymen, the canon decrees that they should each in his own degree be ranked amongst the confessors; but if laymen. that they should be reckoned as martyrs, because they did not these things of their own free-will, nor did they at all assent to the action. As also amongst the confessors are to be reckoned those who from the extremity of the tortures lost their strength of body, and were not able to resist those who poured into their mouths the wine of the libations. And next in order he speaks of those who give the testimony of a good conscience, and enumerates them amongst the confessors.

ZONARAS. Those who chastised the blessed martyrs, after many torments, in the case of some violently poured into their mouths the wine of the libations, or even crammed into their mouths some of the meat that had been offered to idols, anti putting incense into their hands, they dragged them to the altars, and then violently seizing on their hands, they either sprinkled the incense upon the altar or placed hot coals together with the incense into their hands, that, not being able to bear the pain of the burning, they might drop the incense together with the coals upon the altar; for they were constrained by them. Men of this sort, he affirms, can remain enrolled in the sacred ministry, or rather be placed in the rank of confessors. For they did not by their own choice either taste the libations, or place the incense upon the altar, but being compelled by violence, their reason not consenting to the action; as also those who from the extremity of the suffering lost their bodily vigour, so as neither to be able to speak or move, nor to resist those who were violently pouring into their months the wine of libations, these also are to be placed amongst the cofessors. And next in order he discourses of those who give the testimony of a good conscience, and places them also in the number of confessors.


No one shall find fault with us for observing the fourth day of the week, and the preparation,(2) on which it is reasonably enjoined us to fast according to the tradition.(3) On the fourth day, indeed, because on it the Jews took counsel for the betrayal of the Lord; and on the sixth, because on it He himself suffered for us. But the Lord's day we celebrate as a day of joy, because on it He rose again, on which day we have received it for a custom not even to bow the knee.

BALSAMON. Conformably to the sixty-fourth Apostolical canon, which decrees that we are not to fast on the Sabbath, with one exception, the great Sabbath; and to the sixty-ninth canon, which severely punishes those who do not fast in the Holy Lent, and on every fourth day of the week and day of preparation. Thus also does the present canon decree.

ZONARAS. Always, says he, are the fourth and sixth days of every week to be kept as fasts; nor will any one find fault with us for fasting on them; and the reasons he subjoins. But on the Lord's day we ought not to fast, for it is a day of joy for the resurrection of the Lord, and on it, says he, we have received that we ought not even to bow the knee. This word, therefore, is to be carefully observed," we have received," and "it is enjoined upon us according to the tradition." For from hence it is evident that long-established custom was taken for law.(1) Moreover, the great Basil annexes also the causes for which it was forbidden to bend the knee on the Lord's day, and from the Passover to Pentecost. Read also the sixty-sixth and sixty-ninth Apostolical canons.(2)



Peter, to the brethren beloved and established in the faith of God, peace in the Lord. Since I have found out that Meletius acts in no way for the common good,--for neither is he contented with the letter of the most holy bishops and martyrs,--but, invading my parish,(2) hath assumed so much to himself as to endeavour to separate from my authority the priests,(3) and those who had been entrusted with visiting the needy;(4) and, giving proof of his desire for pre-eminence, has ordained in the prison several unto himself; now, take ye heed to this, and hold no communion with him, until I meet him in company with some wise and discreet men, and see what the designs are which he has thought upon. Fare ye well.


Since certainly "grace and truth came by Jesus Christ,"(6) whence also by grace we are saved, according to that word of the apostle, "and that not of yourselves, nor of works, Jest any man should boast;"(7) by the will of God, "the Word was made flesh,"(8) and "was found in fashion as a man."(9) But yet He was not left without His divinity. For neither "though He was rich did He become poor"(10) that He might absolutely be separated from His power and glory, but that He might Himself endure death for us sinners, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, "being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit;" and afterwards other things. Whence the evangelist also asserts the truth when he says, "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us;" then indeed, from the time when the angel had saluted the virgin, saying, "Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee." Now when Gabriel said, "The Lord is with thee," he meant God the Word is with thee. For he shows that He was conceived in the womb, and was to become flesh; as it is written, "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God;"(11) and afterwards other things. Now God the Word, in the absence of a man, by the will of God, who easily effects everything, was made flesh in the womb of the virgin, not requiring the operation of the presence of a man. For more efficacious than a man was the power of God overshadowing the virgin, together with the Holy Ghost also who came upon her.


And He said unto Judas, "Betrayest thou the Son of God with a kiss?"(13) These things and the like, and all the signs which He showed, and His miracles, prove that He is God made man. Both things therefore are demonstrated, that He was God by nature, and that He was man by nature.


Both therefore is proved, that he was God by nature, and was made man by nature.



1. Since the mercy of God is everywhere great, let us bless Him, and also because He has sent unto us the Spirit of truth to guide us into all truth. For for this cause the month

Abib was appointed by the law to be the beginning of months, and was made known unto us as the first among the months of the year; both by the ancient writers who lived before, and by the later who lived after the destruction of Jerusalem, it was shown to possess a most clear and evidently definite period, especially because in some places the reaping is early, and sometimes it is late, so as to be sometimes before the time and sometimes after it, as it happened in the very beginning of the giving of the law, before the Passover, according as it is written, "But the wheat and the rye were not smitten, for they were not grown up."(1) Whence it is rightly prescribed by the law, that from the vernal equinox, in whatsoever week the fourteenth day of the first month shall fall, in it the Passover is to be celebrated, becoming and conformable songs of praise having been first taken up for its celebration. For this first month, says he, "shall be unto you the beginning of months,"(2) when the sun in the summer-time sends forth a far stronger and clearer light, and the days are lengthened and become longer, whilst the nights are contracted and shortened. Moreover, when the new seeds have sprung up, they are thoroughly purged, and borne into the threshing floor; nor only this, but also all the shrubs blossom, and burst forth into flower. Immediately therefore they are discovered to send forth in alternation various and diverse fruits, so that the grape-clusters are found at that time; as says the lawgiver, "Now, it was the time of spring, of the first ripe grapes;"(3) and when he sent the men to spy out the land, they brought, on bearers, a large cluster of grapes, and pomegranates also, and figs. For then, as they say, our eternal God also, the Maker and Creator of all things, framed all things, and said to them, "Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself upon the earth" Then he adds, "And it was so; and God saw that it was good."(4) Moreover, he makes quite clear that the first month amongst the Hebrews was appointed by law, which we know to have been observed by the Jews up to the destruction of Jerusalem, because this has been so handed down by the Hebrew tradition. But after the destruction of the city it was mocked at by some hardening of heart, which we observing, according to the law, with sincerity have received; and in this, according to the Word, when he speaks of the day of our holy festivity, which the election bath attained: but the rest have become hardened,(5) as said the Scripture; and after other things.

2. And He says as follows: "All these things will they do unto you for My name's sake, because they know not Him that sent Me."(6) But if they knew not Him who sent, and Him who was sent, there is no reason to doubt but that they have been ignorant of the Passover as prescribed by the law, so as not merely to err in their choice of the place, but also in reckoning the beginning of the month, which is the first amongst the months of the year, on the fourteenth day of which, being accurately observed, after the equinox, the ancients celebrated the Passover according to the divine command; whereas the men of the present day now celebrate it before the equinox, and that altogether through negligence and error, being ignorant how they celebrated it in its season, as He confesses who in these things was described.

3. Whether therefore the Jews erroneously sometimes celebrate their Passover according to the course of the moon in the month Phamenoth, or according to the intercalary month, every third year in the month Pharmuthi(7) matters not to us. For we have no other object than to keep the remembrance of His Passion, and that at this very time; as those who were eye-witnesses of it have from the beginning handed down, before the Egyptians believed. For neither by observing the course of the moon do they necessarily celebrate it on the sixteenth day of Phamenoth, but once every three years in the month Pharmuthi; for from the beginning, and before the advent of Christ, they seem to have so done. Hence, when the Lord reproves them by the prophet, He says, "They do always err in their heart; and I have sworn in My wrath that they shall not enter into My rest."(8)

4. Wherefore, as thou seest, even in this thou appearest to be lying greatly, not only against men, but also against God. First, indeed, since in this matter the Jews never erred, as consorting with those who were eye- witnesses and ministers, much less from the beginning before the advent of Christ. For God does not say that they did always err in their heart as regards the precept of the law concerning the Passover, as thou hast written, but on account of all their other disobedience, and on account of their evil and unseemly deeds, when, indeed, He perceived them turning to idolatry and to fornication.

5. And after a few things. So that also in this respect, since thou hast slumbered, rouse thyself much, and very much, with the scourge of the Preacher, being mindful especially of that passage where he speaks of "slipping on the pavement, and with the tongue."(9) For, as thou seest again, the charge cast by thee upon their leaders is reflected back; nay, and one may suspect a great subsequent danger, inasmuch as we hear that the stone which a man casts up on high falls back upon his head. Much more reckless is he who, in this respect, ventures to bring a charge against Moses, that might), servant of God, or Joshua, the son of Nun. who succeeded him, or those who in succession rightly followed them and ruled; the judges, I mean, and the kings who appeared, or the prophets whom the Holy Spirit inspired, and those who amongst the high-priests were blameless, and those who, in following the traditions, changed nothing, but agreed as to the observance of the Passover in its season, as also of the rest of their feasts.

6. And after other things. But thou oughtest rather to have pursued a safer and more auspicious course, and not to have mitten rashly and slanderously, that they seem from the beginning, and always, to have been in error about the Passover, which you cannot prove, whatever charge you may wish to bring against those who, at the present time, have erred with a grievous wandering, having fallen away from the commandment of the law concerning the Passover and other things. For the ancients seem to have kept it after the vernal equinox, which you can discover if you read ancient books, and those especially which were written by the learned Hebrews.

7. That therefore up to the period of the Lord's Passion, and at the time of the last destruction of Jerusalem, which happened under Vespasian, the Roman emperor, the people of Israel, rightly observing the fourteenth day of the first lunar month, celebrated on it the Passover of the law, has been briefly demonstrated. Therefore, when the holy prophets, and all, as I have said, who righteously and justly walked in the law of the Lord, together with the entire people, celebrated a typical and shadowy Passover, the Creator and Lord of every visible and invisible creature, the only- begotten Son, and the Word co-eternal with the Father and the Holy Spirit, and of the same substance with them, according to His divine nature, our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, being in the end of the world born according to the flesh of our holy and glorious lady, Mother of God, and Ever-Virgin, and, of a truth, of Mary the Mother of God; and being seen upon earth, and having true and real converse as man with men, who were of the same substance with Him, according to His human nature, Himself also, with the people, in the years before His public ministry and during His public ministry, did celebrate the legal and shadowy Passover, eating the typical lamb. For "I came not to destroy the law, or the prophets, but to fulfil them," the Saviour Himself said in the Gospel.

But after His public ministry He did not eat of the lamb,(1) but Himself suffered as the true Lamb in the Paschal feast, as John, the divine and evangelist, teaches us in the Gospel written by him, where he thus speaks: "Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment-hall, lest they should be defined, but that they might eat the passover."(2) And after a few things more. "When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment-seat, in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha. And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the third hour,"(3) as the correct books render it, and the copy itself that was written by the hand of the evangelist, which, by the divine grace, has been preserved in the most holy church of Ephesus, and is there adored by the faithful. And again the same evangelist says: "The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the Sabbath-day (for that Sabbath-day was an high day), besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away."(4) On that day, therefore, on which the Jews were about to eat the Passover in the evening, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ was crucified, being made the victim to those who were about to partake by faith of the mystery concerning Him, according to what is written by the blessed Paul: "For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us;"(5) and not as some who, carried along by ignorance, confidently affirm that after He had eaten the Passover, He was betrayed; which we neither learn from the holy evangelists, nor has any of the blessed apostles handed it down to us. At the time, therefore, in which our Lord and God Jesus Christ suffered for us, according to the flesh, He did not eat of the legal Passover; but, as I have said, He Himself, as the true Lamb, was sacrificed for us in the feast of the typical Passover, on the day of the preparation, the fourteenth of the first lunar month. The typical Passover, therefore, then ceased, the true Passover being present: "For Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us," as has been before said, and as that chosen vessel, the apostle Paul, teaches.(6)


Now it was the preparation, about the third hour, as the accurate books have it, and the autograph copy itself of the Evangelist John, which up to this day has by divine grace been preserved in the most holy church of Ephesus, and is there adored(2) by the faithful.


The things which pertain to the divinity and humanity of the Second Man from heaven, in what has been written above, according to the blessed apostle, we have explained; and now we have thought it necessary to explain the things which pertain to the first man, who is of earth and earthy, being about, namely, to demonstrate this, that he was created at the same time one and the same, although sometimes he is separately designated as the man external and internal. For if, according to the Word of salvation, He who made what is without, made also that which is within, He certainly, by one operation, and at the same time, made both, on that day, indeed, on which God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness;"(4) whence it is manifest that man was not formed by a conjunction of the body with a certain pre-existent type. For if the earth, at the bidding of the Creator, brought forth the other animals endowed with life, much rather did the dust which God took from the earth receive a vital energy from the will and operation of God.


Wretch that I am! I have not remembered that God observes the mind, and hears the voice of the soul. I turned consciously to sin, saying to myself, God is merciful, and will bear with me; and when I was not instantly smitten, I ceased not, but rather despised His forbearance, and exhausted the long-suffering of God.


And in the Gospel according to Matthew, the Lord said to him who betrayed Him: "Betrayest thou the Son of Man with a kiss?" which Peter the Martyr and Archbishop of Alexandria expounding, says, this and other things like, "All the signs which He showed, and the miracles that He did, testify of Him that He is God incarnate; both things therefore are together proved, that He was God by nature, and was made man by nature."


In the meanwhile the evangelist says with firmness, "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us."(8) From this we learn that the angel, when he saluted the Virgin with the words, "Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee,"(9) intended to signify God the Word is with thee, and also to show that He would arise from her bosom, and would be made flesh, even as it is written, "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God."(10)

Taken from "The Early Church Fathers and Other Works" originally published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. in English in Edinburgh, Scotland beginning in 1867. (ANF 6, Roberts and Donaldson). The digital version is by The Electronic Bible Society, P.O. Box 701356, Dallas, TX 75370, 214-407-WORD.