"I announce to you the beginning of my pontificate, and consider it a token of the divine favour that I bear the same as your own august name. This is an assurance that, like as your own name is pre-eminent among all the nations in the world, so by my humble ministry the See of St. Peter, as always, may hold the Principate assigned to it by the Lord God in the whole Church. We therefore discharge a delegated office in the name of Christ." After beseeching the emperor that the name of Acacius should be effaced, in which he is carrying out the judgment of his predecessor, Pope Felix, he mentions the full instructions given to his legates, in order that the emperor might plainly see how, in that matter, the sentence of the Apostolic See had not proceeded from pride, but rather had been extorted by zeal for God as the result of certain crimes. "This we declare to you, in virtue of our apostolic office, through special love for your empire, that, as is fitting, and the Holy Spirit orders, obedience be yielded to our warning, that every blessing may follow your government. Let not your piety despise my frequent suggestion, having before your eyes the words of our Lord, 'He who hears you, hears Me: and he who despises you, despises Me: and he who despises Me, despises Him who sent Me'. In which the Apostle agrees with our Saviour, saying, 'He who despises these things, despises not man but God, who has given us His Holy Spirit'. Your breast is the sanctuary of public happiness, that through your excellency, whom God has ordered to rule on earth as His Vicar, not the resistance of hard pride be offered to the evangelic and apostolic commands, but an obedience which carries safety with it."
The Pope, then, standing alone in the world, and locally the subject of Theodorick the Goth, makes the position of the Roman emperor in the world, and the Pope in the Church, parallel to each other. Both are divine legations. The Pope, speaking on divine things, claims obedience as uttering the will of the Holy Spirit, which Pope Anastasius asserts, just as Pope Clement I., five hundred years before, had asserted it, in the first pastoral letter which we possess. He, living on sufferance in Rome, asserts it to the despotic ruler of an immense empire, throned at Constantinople, in reference to a bishop of Constantinople, whose name he requires the emperor to erase from the sacred records of the Church as a condition of communion with the Apostolic See.
This letter was directed to the East, the other belongs to the West, and records an event which was to affect the whole temporal order of things in that vast mass of territories already occupied by the northern tribes. On Christmas day of the year 496, that is, one month after the accession of Pope Anastasius, the haughty Sicambrian bent his head to receive the holy oil from St. Remigius, to worship that which he had burnt, and to burn that which he had worshipped. Clovis, chief of the Franks, and a number of his warriors with him, were baptised in the name of the most holy Trinity, never having been subject to the Arian heresy. Upon that event, the Holy See no longer stood alone, and the ring of Arian heresy surrounding it was broken for ever. The words of the Pope are these:
"Glorious son, we rejoice that your beginning in the Christian faith coincides with ours in the pontificate. For the See of Peter, on such an occasion, cannot but rejoice when it beholds the fulness of the nations come together to it with rapid pace, and time after time the net be filled, which the same Fisherman of men and blessed Doorkeeper of the heavenly Jerusalem was bidden to cast into the deep. This we have wished to signify to your serenity by the priest Eumerius, that, when you hear of the joy of the father in your good works, you may fulfil our rejoicing, and be our crown, and mother Church may exult at the proficiency of so great a king, whom she has just borne to God. Therefore, O glorious and illustrious son, rejoice your mother, and be to her as a pillar of iron. For the charity of many waxes cold, and by the craftiness of evil men our bark is tossed in furious waves, and lashed by their foaming waters. But we hope in hope against hope, and praise the Lord, who has delivered thee from the power of darkness, and made provision for the Church in so great a prince, who may be her defender, and put on the helmet of salvation against all the efforts of the infected. Go on, therefore, beloved and glorious son, that Almighty God may follow with heavenly protection your serenity and your realm, and command His angels to guard you in all your ways and to give you victory over your enemies round about you."
Towards the end of the sixth century, the Gallic bishop, St. Gregory of Tours, notes how wonderfully prosperity followed the kingdom which became Catholic, and contrasts it with the rapid decline and perishing away of the Arian kingdoms. And, indeed, this letter of the Pope may be termed a divine charter, commemorating the birthday of the great nation, which led the way, through all the nations of the West, for their restoration to the Catholic faith, and the expulsion of the Arian poison. No one has recorded, and no one knows, the details of that conversion, by which the Church, in the course of the sixth century, recovered the terrible disasters which she had suffered in the fifth; a conversion by which the sturdy sons of the North, from heretics, became faithful children, and by which she added the Teuton race, in all its new-born vigour and devotion, to those sons of the South, whose conversion Constantine crowned with his own. St. Gregory of Tours calls Clovis the new Constantine, and in very deed his conversion was the herald of a second triumph to the Church of God, which equals, some may think surpasses even, the grandeur of the first.
It was fitting that the See of Peter should sound the note, which was its prelude, by the mouth of Anastasius, as the pastoral staff of St. Gregory was extended over its conclusion.
Scarcely less remarkable than the words of Pope Anastasius were those addressed to the new convert by a bishop, the temporal subject of the Burgundian prince, Gundobald, an Arian, that is, by St. Avitus of Vienna, grandson of the emperor of that name. Before the baptismal waters were dry on the forehead of the Frankish king, he wrote to him in these words:
"The followers of all sorts of schisms, different in their opinions, various in their multitude, sought, by pretending to the Christian name, to blunt the keenness of your choice. But, while we entrust our several conditions to eternity, and reserve for the future examination what each conceives to be right in his own case, a bright flash of the truth has descended on the present. For a divine provision has supplied a judge for our own time. In making choice for yourself, you have given a decision for all. Your faith is our victory. In this case most men, in their search for the true religion, when they consult priests, or are moved by the suggestion of companions, are wont to allege the custom of their family, and the rite which has descended to them from their fathers. Thus making a show of modesty, which is injurious to salvation, they keep a useless reverence for parents in maintaining unbelief, but confess themselves ignorant what to choose. Away with the excuse of such hurtful modesty, after the miracle of such a deed as yours. Content only with the nobility of your ancient race, you have resolved that all which could crown with glory such a rank should spring from your personal merit. If they did great things, you willed to do greater. Your answer to that nobility of your ancestors was to show your temporal kingdom; you set before your posterity a kingdom in heaven. Let Greece exult in having a prince of our law; not that it any longer deserves to enjoy alone so great a gift, since the rest of the world has its own lustre. For now in the western parts shines in a new king a sunbeam which is not new. The birthday of our Redeemer fitly marked its bright rising. You were regenerated to salvation from the water on the same day on which the world received for its redemption the birth of the Lord of heaven. Let the Lord's birthday be yours also: you were born to Christ when Christ was born to the world. Then you consecrated your soul to God, your life to those around you, your fame to those coming after you.
"What shall I say of that most glorious solemnity of your regeneration? I was not able to be present in body: I did not fail to share in your joy. For the divine goodness added to these regions the pleasure that the message of your sublime humility reached us before your baptism. Thus that sacred night found us in security about you. Together we contemplated that scene, when the assembled prelates, in the eagerness of their holy service, steeped the royal limbs in the waters of life; when the head, before which nations tremble, bowed itself to the servants of God; when the helmet of sacred unction clothed the flowing locks which had grown under the helmet of war; when, putting aside the breastplate for a time, spotless limbs shone in the white robe. O most highly favoured of kings, that consecrated robe will add strength hereafter to your arms, and sanctity will confirm what good fortune has hitherto bestowed. Did I think that anything could escape your knowledge or observation, I would add to my praises a word of exhortation. Can I preach to one now complete in faith, that faith which he recognised before his completion? Or humility to one who has long shown us devotion, which now his profession claims as a debt? Or mercy to one whom a captive people, just set free by you, proclaims by its rejoicing to the world, and by its tears to God. In one thing I should wish an advance. This is, since through you God will make your nation all His own, that you would, from the good treasure of your heart, provide the seeds of faith to the nations beyond you, lying still in their natural ignorance, uncorrupted by the germs of false doctrine. Have no shame, no reluctance, to take the side of God, who has so exalted your side, even by embassies directed to that purpose.... You are, as it were, the common sun, in whose rays all delight; the nearest the most, but somewhat also those further off.... Your happiness touches us also; when you fight, we conquer."
It is easy to look back on the course of a thousand years, and see how marvellously these words, uttered by St. Avitus at the moment Clovis was baptised, were fulfilled in his people. "Your happiness touches us also; when you fight, we conquer." So spoke a Catholic bishop at the side, and from the court, of an Arian king, and thus he expressed the work of the Catholic bishops throughout Gaul in the sixth century then beginning. An apostate from the Catholic faith has said of them that they built up France as bees build a hive; but he omitted to say that they were able and willing to do this because they had a queen-bee at Rome, who, scattered as they were in various transitory kingdoms under heretical sovereigns, gave unity to all their efforts, and planted in their hearts the assurance of one undying kingdom. We shall have presently to quote other words of St. Avitus, speaking, as he says, in the name of all his brethren to the senators of Rome: "If the Pope of the city is called into question, not one bishop, but the episcopate, will seem to be shaken". But that, which he here foresaw, explains in truth a process, of which we do not possess a detailed history, but which resulted, by the time of St. Gregory, in the triumph of the Catholic faith over that most fearful heresy which had contaminated the whole Teuton race of conquerors at the time of their conquest. The glory of this triumph is divided between St. Peter's See and the Catholic bishops in the several countries, working each in union with it. So was formed the hive, not only of France, but of Christ; the hive which nurtured all the nations of the future Europe.
When Faustus, the ambassador sent by Theodorick to Anastasius to obtain for him the royal title, returned to Rome in 498, he found Pope Anastasius dead. The deacon Symmachus was chosen for his successor, and his pontificate lasted more than fifteen years. But Faustus had hoped to gain the approval of Pope Anastasius to the Henotikon set up by the emperor Zeno at the instance of Acacius, and forced by the emperor Anastasius on his eastern bishops, and specially on three successive bishops of Constantinople -- Fravita, Euphemius, and Macedonius -- who took the place of the second, when he had been expelled by the emperor. Faustus, who was chief of the senate, with a view to gain to the emperor's side the Pope to be elected in succession to Anastasius, brought from the East the old Byzantine hand; that is to say, he bore gifts for those who could be corrupted, threats for those who could be frightened, and deceit for all. So freighted he managed to bring about a schism in the papal election, and the candidate whom he favoured, Laurentius, was set up by a smaller but powerful party against the election of Symmachus. Thus disunion was introduced among the Roman clergy, which brought about, during the five succeeding years, many councils at Rome, and embarrassed the action of the Pope more than the Arian government of Theodorick. The difficulty of the times was such that, instead of holding a synod of bishops at Rome to determine which election was valid, the two candidates, Symmachus and Laurentius, went to Ravenna, and submitted that point to the decision of the king Theodorick, Arian as he was. That decision was that he who was first ordained, or who had the majority for him, should be recognised as Pope; Symmachus fulfilled both conditions, and his election was acknowledged.
Symmachus, in the first year of his pontificate, 499, addressed to the Roman emperor, in his Grecian capital, a renowned letter, termed "his defence" against imperial calumnies. This letter alone would be sufficient to exhibit the whole position of the Pope in regard to the eastern emperor at the close of the fifth century. Space allows me to quote only a part of it.
The emperor of Constantinople was very wroth at the frustration of his plan to get influence over the Pope by the appointment of Laurentius, and reproached Pope Symmachus with moving the Roman senate against him. The Pope replied:
"If, O emperor, I had to speak before outside kings, ignorant altogether of God, in defence of the Catholic faith, I would, even with the threat of death before me, dwell upon its truth and its accord with reason. Woe to me if I did not preach the gospel. It is better to incur loss of the present life than to be punished with eternal damnation. But if you are the Roman emperor, you are bound kindly to receive the embassies of even barbarian peoples. If you are a Christian prince, you are bound to hear patiently the voice of the apostolic prelate, whatever his personal desert. I must confess that I cannot pass over, either on your account or on my own, the point whether you issue with a religious mind against me the insults which you utter in presence of the divine judgment. Not on my own account, when I remember the Lord's promise, 'When they persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you, for justice' sake, rejoice'. Not on your account, because I wish not a result to my own glory, which would weigh heavily upon you. And being trained in the doctrine of the Lord and the Apostles, I am anxious to meet your maledictions with blessing, your insults with honour, your hatred with charity. But I would beg you to reflect whether He who says, 'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,' will not exact the more from you for my forbearance.... I wish, then, that the insults, which you think proper to bestow on my person, while they are glorious to me, may not press upon you. To my Lord it was said by some: 'Thou hast a devil; a man that is a glutton, born of fornication'. Am I to grieve over such things? Divine and human laws present the condition to him who utters them: 'In the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall stand'. O emperor, what will you do in the divine judgment? Because you are emperor, do you think there is no judgment of God? I pass over that it becomes not an emperor to be an accuser. Again, both by divine and human laws, no one can be at once accuser and judge. Will you plead before another judge? Will you stand by him as accuser? You say I am a Manichean. Am I an Eutychean, or do I defend Eutycheans, whose madness is the chief support to the Manichean error? Rome is my witness, and our records bear testimony, whether I have in any way deviated from the Catholic faith, which, coming out of paganism, I received in the See of the Apostle St. Peter.... Is it because I will offer no acceptance to Eutycheans? Such reproaches do not wound me, but they are a plain proof that you wished to prevent my advancement, which St. Peter by his intervention has imposed. Or, because you are emperor, do you struggle against the power of Peter? And you, who accept the Alexandrian Peter, do you strive to tread under foot St. Peter the Apostle in the person of his successor, whoever he may be? Should I be well elected if I favoured the Eutycheans? if I held communion with the party of Acacius? Your motive in putting forward such things is obvious. Now, let us compare the rank of the emperor with that of the pontiff. Between them the difference is as great as the charge of human and divine things. You, emperor, receive baptism from the pontiff, accept sacraments, request prayers, hope for blessing, beg for penitence. In a word, you administer things human, he dispenses to you things divine. If, then, I do not put his rank superior, it is at least equal. And do not think that in mundane pomp you are before him, for 'the weakness of God is stronger than men'. Consider, then, what becomes you. But when you assume the accuser's part, by divine and human law you stand on the same level with me; in which, if I lose the highest rank, as you desire, if I be convicted by your accusation, you will equally lose your rank if you fail to convict me. Let the world judge between us, in the sight of God and His angels; let us be a spectacle for every age, in which either the priest shall exhibit a good life, or the emperor a religious modesty. For the human race is ruled in chief by these two offices, so that in neither of them should there be anything to offend God, especially because each of these ranks would appear to be perpetual, and the human race has a common interest in both.
"Allow me, emperor, to say, Remember that you are a man in order to use a power granted you by God. For though these things pass first under the judgment of man, they must go on to the divine examination. You may say, It is written, 'Let every soul be subject to higher powers'. We accept human powers in their proper place until they set up their wills against God. But if all power be from God, more then that which is given to things divine. Acknowledge God in us and we will acknowledge God in thee. But if you do not acknowledge God, you cannot use a privilege derived from Him whose rights you despise. You say that conspiring with the senate I have excommunicated you. In that I have my part; but I am following fearlessly what my predecessors have done reasonably. You say the Roman senate has ill-treated you. If we treat you ill in persuading you to quit heretics, do you treat us well who would throw us into their communion? What, you say, is the conduct of Acacius to me? Nothing if you leave him. If you do not leave him it touches you. Let us both leave the dead. This is what we beg, that you have nothing to do with what Acacius did. Making your own what Acacius did, you accuse us of objections. We avoid what Acacius did; do you avoid it also. Then we shall both be clear of him. Thus relinquishing his actions you may be joined with our cause, and be associated with our communion without Acacius. It has always been the custom of Catholic princes to be the first to address the apostolic prelates upon their accession, and they have sought, as good sons, with the due affection of piety, that chief confession and faith to which you know that the care of the whole Church has been committed by the voice of the Saviour Himself. But since public circumstances may have caused you to omit this, I have not delayed to address you first, lest I should be thought to consider more my own private honour than solicitude for the whole flock of the Lord.
"You say that we have divulged your compelling by force those who had long kept themselves apart from the contagion of heresy to yield to its detestable communion. In this, O chief of human powers, I, as successor, however unmerited, in the Apostolic See, cease not to remind you that whatever may be your material power in the world, you are but a man. Review all those who, from the beginning of the Christian belief, have attempted with various purpose to persecute or afflict the Catholic faith. See how those who used such violence have failed, and the orthodox truth prevailed through the very means by which it was thought to be overthrown. And as it grew under its oppressors, so it is found to have crushed them. I wonder if even human sense, especially in one who claims to be called Christian, fails to see that among these oppressors must be counted those who assault Christian confession and communion with various superstitions. What matters it whether it be a heathen or a so-called Christian who attempts to infringe the genuine tradition of the apostolic rule? Who is so blind that in countries where every heresy has free licence to exhibit its opinions he should deem the liberty of Catholic communion alone should be subverted by those who think themselves religious?"
"All Catholic princes," the Pope repeats, "either at their own accession, or on knowing the accession of a new prelate to the Apostolic See, immediately addressed their letters to it, to show that they were in union with it. Those who have not done so declare themselves aliens from it. Your own writings would justify us in so considering you if we did not from your assault and hostility avoid you, whether as enemy or judge ... but the accomplice of error must persecute him who is its enemy."
Let this letter from beginning to end be considered as written by a Pope just after his election, the validity of which had been disputed by another candidate whom the emperor had favoured -- by a Pope living actually under the unlimited power of an Arian sovereign, who was in possession of Italy, and who ruled in right of a conqueror, though he used his power generally with moderation and equity; further, that it was addressed to one who had become the sole Roman emperor, the over-lord of the king, who had just besought of him the royal title; that it required him to cast aside his patronage of Eutychean heretics; to rescind from the public records of the Church the name of that bishop who had composed the document called the Henotikon, the very document which the emperor was compelling his eastern bishops to accept and promulgate as the confession of the Christian faith. And let the frankness with which the Pope appeals to the universally admitted authority of St. Peter's See be at the same time considered, with the official statement that the emperors were wont immediately to acknowledge the accession of a Pope and attest their communion with him.
What was the answer which the eastern emperor made to this letter? He did not answer by denying anything which the Pope claimed as belonging to his see, but by rekindling the internal schism which had been laid to sleep by the recognition of Pope Symmachus. Before sending this letter, the Pope had held a council of seventy-two bishops in St. Peter's on March 1, 499, which made important regulations to prevent cabal and disturbance at papal elections such as had just taken place. This council had been subscribed by Laurentius himself, and the Pope in compassion had given him the bishopric of Nocera. Now the emperor Anastasius, reproved for his misdeeds and misbelief by Pope Symmachus in the letter above quoted, caused his agents, the patrician Faustus and the senator Probinus, to bring grievous accusations against Symmachus and to set up once more Laurentius as anti-pope. In their passionate enmity they did not scruple to bring their charge against Pope Symmachus before the heretical king Theodorick. The result of this attempt was that Rome, during several years at least, from 502 to 506, was filled with confusion and the most embittered party contentions. Theodorick was induced to send a bishop as visitor of the Roman Church, and again to summon a council of bishops from the various provinces of Italy to consider the charges brought against the Pope. During the year 501 four such councils were held in Rome, of which it may be sufficient to quote the last, the Synodus Palmaris. Its acts say that they were by command of king Theodorick to pass judgment on certain charges made against Pope Symmachus. That the bishops of the Ligurian, Aemilian, and Venetian provinces, visiting the king at Ravenna on their way, told him that the Pope himself ought to summon the council, "knowing that in the first place the merit or principate of the Apostle Peter, and then the authority of venerable councils following out the commandment of the Lord, had delivered to his see a singular power in the churches, and no instance could be produced in which the bishop of that see in a similar case had been subjected to the judgment of his inferiors". To which king Theodorick replied that the Pope himself had by letter signified his wish to convene the council. Then the Synodus Palmaris, passing over a narration of what had taken place in the preceding councils, came to this conclusion: "Calling God to witness, we decree that Pope Symmachus, bishop of the Apostolic See, who has been charged with such and such offences, is, as regards all human judgment, clear and free (because for the reasons above alleged all has been left to the divine judgment); that in all the churches belonging to his see he should give the divine mysteries to the Christian people, inasmuch as we recognise that for the above-named causes he cannot be bound by the charges of those who attack him. Wherefore, in virtue of the royal command, which gives us this power, we restore all that belongs to ecclesiastical right within the sacred city of Rome, or without it, and reserving the whole cause to the judgment of God, we exhort all to receive from him the holy communion. If anyone, which we do not suppose, either does not accept this, or thinks that it can be reconsidered, he will render an account of his contempt to the divine judgment. Concerning his clergy, who, contrary to rule, left their bishop and made a schism, we decree that upon their making satisfaction to their bishop, they may be pardoned and be glad to be restored to their offices. But if any of the clergy, after this our order, presume to celebrate mass in any holy place in the Roman Church without leave of Pope Symmachus, let him be punished as schismatic."
This was signed by seventy-six bishops, of whom Laurentius of Milan and Peter of Ravenna stood at the head; and the two metropolitans accompany their subscription with the words, "in which we have committed the whole cause to the judgment of God".
When this document reached Gaul, the bishops there, being unable to hold a council through the division of the country under different princes, commissioned St. Avitus, bishop of Vienne, to write in his name and their own, and we have from him the following letter addressed to Faustus and Symmachus, senators of Rome:
"It would have been desirable that we should, in person, visit the city which the whole world venerates, for the consideration of duties which affect us both as men and as Christians. But as the state of things has long made that impossible, we could wish at least to have had the security that your great body should learn from a report of the assembled bishops of Gaul the entreaties called forth by a common cause. But since the separation of our country into different governments deprives us also of that our desire, I must first entreat that your most illustrious Order may not take offence at what I write as coming from one person. For, urged not only by letters, but charges from all my Gallic brethren, I have undertaken to be the organ of communicating to you what we all ask of you. Whilst we were all in a state of great anxiety and fear in the cause of the Roman Church, feeling that our own state was imperilled when our head was attacked, inasmuch as a single incrimination would have struck us all down without the odium which attaches to the oppression of a multitude, if it had overturned the condition of our chief, a copy of the episcopal decree was brought to us in our anxiety from Italy, which the bishops of Italy, assembled at Rome, had issued in the case of Pope Symmachus. This constitution is made respectable by the assent of a large and reverend council: yet our mind is, that the holy Pope Symmachus, if accused to the world, had a claim rather to the support than to the judgment of his brethren the bishops. For as our Ruler in heaven bids us be subject to earthly powers, foretelling that we shall stand before kings and princes in every accusation, so is it difficult to understand with what reason, or by what law, the superior is to be judged by his inferiors. The Apostle's command is well known, that an accusation against an elder should not be received. How, then, is it lawful to incriminate the Principate of the whole Church? The venerable council itself providing against this in its laudable constitution, has reserved to the divine judgment a cause which, I may be permitted to say, it had somewhat rashly taken up; mentioning, however, that the charges objected to the Pope had in no respect been proved, either to itself or to king Theodorick. In face of all which, I, myself a Roman senator, and a Christian bishop, adjure you (so may the God you worship grant prosperity to your times, and your own dignity maintain the honour of the Roman name to the universe in this collapsing world), that the state of the Church be not less in your eyes than that of the commonwealth; that the power which God has given to you may be also for our good; and that you have not less love in your Church for the See of Peter, than in your city for the crown of the world. If, in your wisdom, you consider the matter to its bottom, you will see that not only the cause carried on at Rome is concerned. In the case of other bishops, if there be any lapse, it may be restored; but if the Pope of Rome is endangered, not one bishop but the episcopate itself will seem to be shaken. You well know how we are steering the bark of faith amid storms of heresies, whose winds roar around us. If with us you fear such dangers, you must needs protect your pilot by sharing his labour. If the sailors turn against their captain, how will they escape? The shepherd of the Lord's sheepcot will give an account of his pastorship; it is not for the flock to alarm its own pastor, but for the judge. Restore, then, to us if it be not already restored, concord in our chief."
Even after this synod at Rome, the opponents of Symmachus did not cease their attempts. Clergy and senators sent in a new memorial to the king Theodorick, in favour of the anti-pope Laurentius, who returned to Rome in 502; and it was four years, during which several councils were held, before the schism was finally composed. Theodorick then commanded that all the churches in Rome should be given up to Pope Symmachus, and he alone be recognised as its bishop.
Against the attacks made upon the fourth synod, which had dismissed the consideration of the charges against the Pope as beyond its competence, Ennodius, at that time a deacon, afterwards bishop of Pavia, wrote a long defence. This writing was read at the sixth synod at Rome, held in 503, approved, and inserted in the synodal acts. We may, therefore, quote one passage from it, as the doctrine which it was the result of all this schism to establish. "God has willed the causes of other men to be terminated by men; He has reserved the bishop of that one see without question to His own judgment. It was His will that the successors of the Apostle St. Peter should owe their innocence to heaven alone, and show a spotless conscience to that most absolute scrutiny. Do not suppose that those souls whom God has reserved to His own examination have no fear of their judges. The guilty has with Him no one to suggest excuse, when the witness of the deeds is the same as the Judge. If you say, Such will be the condition of all souls in that trial; I shall reply, To one only was it said, Thou art Peter, &c. And further, that the dignity of that see has been made venerable to the whole world by the voice of holy pontiffs, when all the faithful in every part are made subject to it, and it is marked out as the head of the whole body."
From the whole of this history we deduce the fact, that the enmity of the eastern emperor was able by bribing a party at Rome to stir up a schism against the lawful Pope, which had for its result to call forth the witness of the Italian and the Gallic bishops respecting the singular prerogatives of the Holy See. They spoke in the person of Ennodius and Avitus. We have, in consequence, recorded for us in black and white the axiom which had been acted upon from the beginning, "the First See is judged by no one".
Let us see on the contrary what the same emperor was not only willing but able to do in the city which had succeeded to Rome as the capital of the empire, in which Anastasius reigned alone.
In the year 496, Anastasius had found himself able, as we have seen, to depose, by help of the resident council, Euphemius of Constantinople. As his successor was chosen Macedonius, sister's son of the former bishop, Gennadius, and like him of gentle spirit, "a holy man, the champion of the orthodox". However much the opinion was then spread in the East that a successor might rightfully be appointed to a bishop forcibly expelled from his see, if otherwise the Church would be deprived of its pastor -- an opinion which Pope Gelasius very decidedly censured -- Macedonius II. felt very keenly the unlawfulness of his appointment. When the deposed Euphemius asked of him a safe conduct for his journey into banishment, and Macedonius received authority to grant it, he went into the baptistry to give it, but caused his archdeacon first to remove his omophorion, and appeared in the garb of a simple priest to give his predecessor a sum of money collected for him. He was much praised for this. Yet Macedonius had to subscribe the Henotikon. Hence he experienced a strong opposition from the monks, who, in their resolute maintenance of the Council of Chalcedon, declined communion with him; so the nuns also. Macedonius sought to gain them by holding a council in 497 or 498, which condemned the Eutycheans and expressed assent to the Council of Chalcedon.
Macedonius was by no means inclined to give up the lately won privileges of his see as to the ordination of the Exarch of Cappadocian Caesarea, but he would willingly have restored peace with Rome, and have accepted the invitation from Rome to celebrate with special splendour the feast day of St. Peter and St. Paul. The emperor would not let him send a synodical letter to Rome.
Macedonius could not be induced by threat or promise of the emperor to give up to him the paper in which at his coronation by Euphemius he had promised to maintain the Council of Chalcedon. The emperor, after concluding peace with the Persians, more and more favoured the Eutycheans, and seemed resolved either to bend or to break Macedonius. The people were so embittered against Anastasius that he did not venture to appear without his life-guards even at a religious solemnity, and this became from that time a rule which marks the sinking moral influence of the emperors. The suspicion of the people against Anastasius was increased because his mother was a Manichean, his uncle, Clearchus, devoted to the Arians, and he kept in his palace Manichean pictures by a Syropersian artist. The Monophysite party had at the time two very skilful leaders, the monk Severus from Pisidia and the Persian Xenaias. Xenaias had been made bishop of Hierapolis by Peter the Fuller, was in fierce conflict with Flavian, patriarch of Antioch, and raised almost all Syria against him. He carried the flame of discord even to Constantinople. There a certain fanatic, Ascholius, tried to murder Macedonius, who pardoned him and bestowed on him a monthly pension. Presently large troops of monks came under Severus to Constantinople, bent upon ruining Macedonius. The state of parties became still more threatening. Macedonius showed still greater energy; he declared that he would only hold communion with the patriarch of Alexandria and the party of Severus if they would recognise the Council of Chalcedon as mother and teacher. But Anastasius, bribed by the Alexandrian patriarch John II. with two thousand pounds of gold, required that he should anathematise this council. To this Macedonius answered that this could not be done except in an ecumenical council presided over by the bishop of Rome. The emperor in his wrath violated the right of sanctuary in the Catholic churches and bestowed it on heretical churches. The Eutycheans supplied with money broke out against the Catholics. They had sung their addition to the Trisagion on a Sunday in the Church of St. Michael within the palace. They tried to do it the next Sunday in the cathedral, upon which a fierce tumult broke out, and they were mishandled and driven out by the people. Now the party of Severus, favoured by the emperor and many officials, broke out into loud abuse of Macedonius. Thereupon the faithful part of his flock rose for their bishop, and the streets rung with the cry, "It is the time of martyrdom; let no man forsake his father". Anastasius was declared a Manichean and unfit to rule. The emperor was frightened; he shut the doors of his palace and prepared for flight. He had sworn never again to admit the patriarch to his presence, but in his perplexity sent for him. On his way Macedonius was received with loud acclaim, "Our father is with us," in which the life-guards joined. He boldly reproved the emperor as enemy of the Church; but the emperor's hypocritical excuses pacified the patriarch. When the danger was passed by Anastasius pursued fresh intrigues. He required Macedonius to subscribe a formula in which the Council of Chalcedon was passed over. Macedonius would seem to have been deceived, but afterwards insisted publicly before the monks on his adherence to its decrees. Then Anastasius tried again to depose him. All possible calumnies were spread against him -- immorality, Nestorianism, falsification of the Bible; all failed. Then the emperor demanded the delivering up of the original acts of Chalcedon, which the patriarch steadily refused. Macedonius had sealed them up and placed them on the altar under God's protection; but the emperor had them taken away by the eunuch Kalapodius, economus of the cathedral, and then burnt. After this he imprisoned and banished a number of the patriarch's friends and relations; then he had the patriarch seized in the night, deported from the capital to Chalcedon, and thence to Euchaites in Paphlagonia, to which place he had also banished Euphemius. Macedonius lived some years after his exile. He died at Gangra about 516, and was immediately counted among the saints of the eastern Church.
It cost Anastasius fifteen years to depose Macedonius, that is, from 496 to 511, and this was the way he accomplished it. Thus he succeeded in overthrowing two bishops of his capital -- Euphemius and Macedonius -- neither of whom lived or died in communion with Rome, because, though virtuous and orthodox in the main, they would not surrender the memory of Acacius. They had, moreover, one grievous blot on their conduct as bishops. They submitted themselves to subscribe an imperial statement of doctrine and to permit its imposition on others. This was a use of despotism in the eastern Church introduced by the insurgent Basiliscus, carried out first by Zeno and then by Anastasius, tending to the ruin both of doctrine and discipline. During the whole reign of Anastasius the patriarchal sees of Alexandria and Antioch, which had built up the eastern Church in the first three centuries, which Rome acknowledged as truly patriarchal under Pope Gelasius in 496, and the new sees which claimed to be patriarchal, Constantinople and Jerusalem, were in a state of the greatest confusion, a prey to heresy, party spirit, violence of every kind. Anastasius was able to disturb Pope Symmachus during the first half of his pontificate by fostering a schism among his clergy, with the result that he brought out the recognition of the Pope's privilege not to be judged by his inferiors. But he was enabled to depose two bishops of the imperial see, his own patriarchs, blameless in their personal life, orthodox in their doctrine, longing for reunion with Rome, yet stained by their fatal surrender of their spiritual independence, subscription to the emperor's imposition of doctrine. They were not acknowledged by St. Peter's See, and they fell before the emperor.
In the last years of this emperor, the churches of the eastern empire were involved in the greatest disorders and sufferings. He had thrown aside altogether the mask of Catholic: he filled the patriarchal sees with the fiercest heretics. Flavian was driven from Antioch, Elias from Jerusalem. Timotheus, a man of bad character, had been put by him into the see of Constantinople. In this extremity of misery and confusion, the eastern Church addressed Pope Symmachus in 512.
"We venture to address you, not for the loss of one sheep or one drachma, but for the salvation of three parts of the world, redeemed not by corruptible silver or gold, but by the precious blood of the Lamb of God, as the blessed prince of the glorious Apostles taught, whose chair the Good Shepherd, Christ, has entrusted to your beatitude. Therefore, as an affectionate father for his children, seeing with spiritual eyes how we are perishing in the prevarication of our father Acacius, delay not, sleep not, but hasten to deliver us, since not in binding only but in loosing those long bound the power has been given to thee; for you know the mind of Christ who are daily taught by your sacred teacher Peter to feed Christ's sheep entrusted to you through the whole habitable world, collected not by force, but by choice, and with the great doctor Paul cry to us your subjects 'not because we exercise dominion over your faith, but we are helpers in your joy'. 'Hasten then to help that east from which the Saviour sent to you the two great lights of day, Peter and Paul, to illuminate the whole world.'" They call upon him as the true physician; they disclose to him the ulcerous sores with which the whole body of the eastern Church is covered; and they finish by directing to him a confession of faith, rejecting the two opposite heresies of Nestorius and Eutyches. They remind him of the holy Pope Leo, now among the saints, and conjure him to save them now in their souls as Leo saved bodies from Attila.
But yet it was not given to Pope Symmachus to put an end to this confusion. He sat during fifteen years and eight months, dying on the 9th July, 514. The schism raised by the Greek emperor was at an end; and seven days after his decease the deacon Hormisdas was elected with the full consent of all. In the meantime the state of the East had gone on from bad to worse. Anastasius, by writing and by oath, had pledged himself at his coronation to maintain the Catholic faith and the Council of Chalcedon. Instead he had persecuted Catholics, banished their bishops, by his falsehood and tyranny sown discord everywhere. At last one of his own generals, Vitalian, rose against him. After a long silence he once more betook himself to the Pope. In January, 518, he wrote to the new Pope, Hormisdas, "that the opinion spread abroad of his goodness led him to apply to his fatherly affection to ask of him the offices which our God and Saviour taught the holy Apostles by mouth, and especially St. Peter, whom He made the strength of His Church". He asked, therefore, "his apostolate by holding a council to become a mediator by whom unity might be restored to the churches," and proposed that a general council should be held at Heraclea, the old metropolis of Thrace.
Hormisdas, after maturely considering the whole state of things, sent a legation of five persons to the emperor at Constantinople -- the bishops Ennodius of Pavia, Fortunatus of Catania, the priest Venantius, the deacon Vitalis, and the notary Hilarius -- with the most detailed instructions how to act. The intent was to test the emperor's sincerity -- a foresight which after events completely justified. This instruction is said to be the earliest of the kind which has come down to us. Since nothing can so vividly represent the position of the Holy See as the words used by it on a great occasion at the very moment when it took place, I give a translation of it. In reading this it should be remembered that these are the words of a Pope living in captivity under an Arian and barbaric sovereign, who had taken possession of Italy about twenty years before, and had sought for and accepted the royal title from this very emperor. Further, that with the exception of the Frankish kingdom, in which Clovis had died four years before, all the West was in possession of Arian rulers, who were also of barbaric descent. The Pope speaks in the naked power of his "apostolate". The commission which he gave to his legates was this:
"When, by God's help and the prayers of the Apostles, you come into the country of the Greeks, if bishops choose to meet you receive them with all due respect. If they propose a night-lodging for you do not refuse, that laymen may not suppose you will hold no union with them. But if they invite you to eat with them, courteously excuse yourselves, saying, Pray that we may first be joined at the Mystical Table, and then this will be more agreeable to us. Do not, however receive provision or things of that kind, except carriage, if need be, but excuse yourselves, saying that you have everything, and that you hope that they will give you their hearts, in which abide all gifts, charity and unity, which make up the joy of religion.
"So, when you reach Constantinople, go wherever the emperor appoints; and before you see him, let no one approach you, save such as are sent by him. But when you have seen the emperor, if any orthodox persons of our own communion, or with a zeal for unity, desire to see you, admit them with all caution. Perhaps you may learn from them the state of things.
"When you have an audience of the emperor, present your letters with these words: 'Your Father greets you, daily intreating God, and commending your kingdom to the intercession of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, that God who has given you such a desire that you should send a mission in the cause of the Church and consult his holiness, may bring your wish to full completion'.
"Should the emperor wish, before he receives your papers, to learn the scope of your mission, use these words: 'Be pleased to receive our papers'. If he answer, 'What do they contain?' reply, 'They contain greeting to your piety, and thanks to God for learning your anxiety for the Church's unity. Read and you will see this.' And enter absolutely into nothing before the letters have been received and read. When they have been received and read, add: 'He has also written to your servant Vitalian, who wrote that he had received permission from your piety to send a deputation of his own to the holy Pope, your Father. But as it was just to direct these first to your majesty, he has done so; that by your command and order, if God please, we may bear to him the letters which we have brought.'
"If the emperor ask for our letters to Vitalian, answer thus: 'The holy Pope, your Father, has not so enjoined on us; and without his command we can do nothing. But that you may know the straightforwardness of the letters, that they have nothing but entreaties to your piety, to give your mind to the unity of the Church, assign to us some one in whose presence these letters may be read to Vitalian.' But if the emperor require to read them himself, you will answer that you have already intimated not such to be the command of the holy Pope. If he say, 'They may have also other charges,' reply, 'Our conscience forbids. That is not our custom. We come in God's cause. Should we sin against Him? The holy Pope's mission is straightforward; his request and his prayers known to all: that the constitutions of the fathers may not be broken; that heretics be removed from the churches. Beyond that our mission contains nothing.'
"If he say, 'For this purpose I have invited the Pope to a council, that if there be any doubt, it may be removed,' answer, 'We thank God, and your piety, that you are so minded, that all may receive what was ordered by the fathers. For then may there be a true and holy unity among the churches of Christ, if, by God's help, you choose to preserve what your predecessors Marcian and Leo maintained.' If he say, 'What mean you by that?' answer, 'That the Council of Chalcedon, and the letters of Pope St. Leo, written against the heretics Nestorius, and Eutyches, and Dioscorus, may be entirely kept'. If he say, 'We received and we hold the Council of Chalcedon, and the letters of Pope Leo,' do you then return thanks, kiss his breast, and say, 'Now we know that God is gracious to you, when you hasten to do this, for that is the Catholic faith which the Apostles preached, without which no one can be orthodox. All bishops must hold to this and preach it.'
"If he say, 'The bishops are orthodox; they do not depart from the constitutions of the fathers,' answer, 'If the constitutions of the fathers are kept, and what was decreed in the Council of Chalcedon is in no respect broken, how is there such discord in the churches of your land? Why do not the bishops of the East agree?' If he say, 'The bishops were quiet; there was no disunion among them. The holy Pope's predecessor stirred up their minds with his letters, and made this confusion;' answer, 'The letters of Symmachus, of holy memory, are in our hands. If, besides, what your piety says, that is, "I follow the Council of Chalcedon, I receive the letters of Pope Leo," they contain nothing except the exhortation to maintain this, how is it true that confusion has been produced by them? But if that is contained in the letters which both your Father hopes and your piety agrees to, what has he done? What is there in him blameworthy?' add your prayers and tears, entreat him, 'Let your imperial majesty consider God; put before your eyes his future judgment. The holy fathers who made these rules followed the faith of the blessed Apostle, on which the Church of Christ is built.'
"If the emperor say, 'I receive the Council of Chalcedon, and I embrace the letters of Pope Leo, enter then into communion with me,' answer, 'In what order is that to take place? We do not avoid your piety, so declaring, since we know that you fear God, and rejoice that you are pleased to keep the constitutions of the fathers. We therefore confidently entreat you that the Church may return through you to unity. Let all the bishops learn your will, and that you keep the Council of Chalcedon, and the letters of Pope Leo, and the apostolical constitutions.' If he say, 'In what order is that to take place?' recur again, humbly, to entreaties, saying, 'Your Father has written to all the bishops. Join, herewith, your mandates to the effect that you maintain what the Apostolic See proclaims, and then let the orthodox not be separated from the unity of the Apostolic See, and the opponents will be made known. After that, your Father is even prepared, if need be, to be present himself, and, preserving the constitutions of the fathers, to deny nothing which is expedient for the Church's integrity.'
"If the emperor say, 'Well, in the meantime accept the bishop of my city,' again beseech humbly, 'Imperial majesty, we have come with God's help in the hope of support on your part to make peace and restore tranquillity in your city. There is question here about two persons. The matter runs its proper course. First, let all the bishops be so ordered as to form one Catholic communion; next, the cause of those persons, or of any others who may be at a distance from their churches, can be specially considered.' If the emperor say, 'You are speaking of Macedonius; I see your subtlety. He is a heretic; he cannot possibly be recalled,' answer, 'Imperial majesty, we name no one personally; we speak rather in favour of your mind and opinion, that inquiry may be made, and, if he is heretical, a juridical sentence passed, that he may not be said to be unjustly deposed, being reputed orthodox'.
"If the emperor should say, 'The bishop of this city consents to the Council of Chalcedon and the letters of Pope Leo,' answer, 'If he do so it will help him the more when his cause is examined; and since you have allowed your servant Vitalian to treat with the Pope, if he hoped for a good result on these matters, so let it be'. If the emperor say, 'Should my city remain without a bishop, is it your desire that where I am there should be no bishop?' reply, 'We said before there was a question about two persons in this city. As to the canons, we have already suggested that to break the canons is to sin against religion. There are many remedies by which your piety may not remain without communion, and the full judicial form may be preserved.' If he say, 'What are those forms?' reply, 'Not newly invented by us. The question as to other bishops may be suspended, and meanwhile a person who agrees with the confession of your piety and with the constitutions of the Apostolic See until the issue of the trial may hold the place of the bishop of Constantinople, if by God's help the bishops are willing to be in accordance with the Apostolic See. You have in the records of the Church the terms of the profession which they have to make.'
"But if petitions be presented to you against other Catholic bishops, especially against those who shamelessly anathematise the Council of Chalcedon, and do not receive the letters of Pope St. Leo, take those petitions, but reserve the cause to the judgment of the Apostolic See, that you may give them a hope of being heard, and yet reserve the authority due to us. If, however, the emperor promise to do everything if we will grant our presence, urge in every way that his mandate first be sent to the bishops through the provinces, which one of you shall accompany, so that all may know that he keeps the Council of Chalcedon and the letters of Pope St. Leo. Then write to us that we prepare to come.
"It is, moreover, the custom to present all bishops to the emperor through the bishop of Constantinople. If their skilful management so devise in recognising your legation that you see the emperor in the company of Timotheus, who appears now to govern the church of Constantinople, if you learn before your presentation that this is so contrived, say, 'The Father of your piety has so commanded and enjoined us that we should see your majesty without any bishop'. So remain until this custom be altered.
"If an absolute refusal be given, or if it is so contrived that before you have an audience you are suddenly put with Timotheus, say, 'Let your piety grant us a private audience to set forth the causes for which we have been sent'. If he say, 'Speak before him,' answer, 'We do no offence, but our legation also contains his person, and he cannot be present at our communications'. And on no account enter into anything in his presence; but when he has gone out produce the text of your mission."
The exact conditions which the legates carried to the emperor were these: "The Council of Chalcedon and the letters of Pope St. Leo to be kept. The emperor, in token of his agreement, to send an imperial letter to all the bishops signifying that he so believes and will so maintain. The bishops also to express their agreement in Church in presence of the Christian people that they embrace the holy faith of Chalcedon and the letters of Pope St. Leo, which he wrote against the heretics, Nestorius, Eutyches, and Dioscorus, also against their followers, Timotheus Ailouros, Peter, or those similarly guilty, likewise anathematising Acacius, formerly bishop of Constantinople, and also Peter of Antioch, with their associates. Writing thus with their own hand in presence of chosen men of repute, they will follow the formulary which we have issued by our notary.
"Those who have been banished in the Church's cause are to be recalled for the hearing of the Apostolic See, that a trial and true examination may be held. Their cause to be reserved entire.
"If any holding communion with the sacred Apostolic See, preaching and following the Catholic faith, have been driven away, or kept in banishment, these, it is just, to be first of all recalled.
"Moreover, the injunction we have laid upon the legates, that if memorials be presented to them against bishops who have persecuted Catholics, their judgment be reserved to the Apostolic See, that in their case the constitutions of the fathers be maintained, by which all may be edified."
Anastasius tried again the old arts. He made a bid of everything to gain the legates. He seemed ready to accept everything save the demand regarding Acacius, which he was bound to reject on account of the Byzantine people. Both to the legates on their return to Rome, and to two officers of his court whom he sent to Rome, he gave honourable letters for the Pope, whom he invited to be present at the projected council, and endeavoured to satisfy fully by an orthodox profession of faith wherein he expressly recognised the Council of Chalcedon. One only point, he said, whatever might be his personal feeling, he could not concede, that regarding Acacius, since otherwise the living would be driven out of the Church for the dead, and great disturbances and blood-shedding would be inevitable. He left it to the Pope's consideration. He also wrote to the Roman senate to use its influence for the restoration of peace to the Church, as well with the Pope as with king Theodorick, "to whom," said the emperor, "the power and charge of governing you have been committed". It may be added that Theodorick favoured, as far as he could, the restoration of peace.
Pope Hormisdas, in his answer, praised the zeal made show of by the emperor, and wished that his deeds would correspond to his words. He could not contain his astonishment that the promised embassy was so long in coming, and that the emperor instead of sending bishops to him, sent two laymen of his court, in whom he soon recognised Monophysites, who tried to gain him in their favour. In a letter to St. Avitus and the bishops of his province, he discloses the judgment which he had formed. "As to the Greeks, they speak peace with their mouth, but carry it not in their hearts; their words are just, not their actions; they pretend to wish what their deeds deny; what they professed, they neglect; and pursue the conduct which they condemned." Still he resolved to send a new embassy to Constantinople in 517, at the head of which he put the bishops Ennodius and Peregrinus. He gave them letters to the emperor, the patriarch Timotheus, the clergy and people of Constantinople.
Anastasius had endeavoured to delay the whole thing, and to deceive the orthodox until he found himself strong again, and was no longer in danger from Vitalian. To bribe the people, he gave the church of Constantinople seventy pounds' weight of gold for masses for the dead. With regard to the treatment of Acacius, he had the majority on his side, who were not easily brought to condemn him. Here, also, he had a pretext to break off impending agreements. When his wife Ariadne died, he showed himself still less inclined to peace. She had been devoted to Macedonius, and often interceded for the orthodox. As soon as he thought himself quite secure, he not only altered his behaviour and language to the Roman See, but, in the words of the Greek historian, about 200 bishops who had come to Heraclea from various parts had to separate without doing anything, "having been deluded by the lawless emperor and Timotheus, bishop of Constantinople". The Pope's legates he tried to corrupt; when that did not succeed, he dismissed them in disgrace, and sent the Pope an insolent letter, in which he said he desisted from any requests to him, as reason forbade to throw away prayers on those who would listen to nothing, and while he might submit to injuries, he would not endure commands. Thereupon broke out a great persecution against Catholics, which the Archimandrites of the second Syria report to Hormisdas.
In a supplication signed by more than two hundred, they address him: "Most blessed Father, we beseech you, arise; have compassion on the mangled body, for you are the head of all. Come to save us. Imitate our Lord, who came from heaven on earth to seek out the strayed sheep. Remember Peter, prince of the Apostles, whose See you adorn, and Paul, the vessel of election, for they went about enlightening the earth. The flock goes out to meet you, the true shepherd and teacher, to whom the care of all the sheep is committed, as the Lord says, 'My sheep hear My voice'. Most holy, despise us not, who are daily wounded by wild beasts." All that the Roman See had gained was that the orthodox bishops and many conspicuous easterns attached themselves to it, and the formulary binding them to obedience to the decisions of the Roman See found very many subscribers. The empire was in the greatest confusion when Anastasius died suddenly in the year 518, hated by the majority of his people, as perjured, heretical, and rapacious. Just before him died the heretical patriarchs, John II. of Alexandria and Timotheus of Constantinople.
Then suddenly, as in the third century the Illyrian emperors saved the dissolving empire, another peasant, who in long and honourable service had risen to the rank of general, and was respected by all men as a virtuous man and a good Catholic, was called to take up that eastern crown of Constantine, which Zeno and Anastasius had soiled with the iniquities and perfidies of forty years.
At Bederiana, on the borders of Thrace and Illyria, there had lived three young men, Zimarchus, Ditybiotus, and Justin. Under pressure of misfortune they deserted the plough, and sought a livelihood elsewhere. They started on foot, their clothes packed on their backs, no money in their purses, with a loaf in their knapsacks. They came to Byzantium and enlisted. Twenty years of age and well grown, they attracted the notice of the emperor Leo I.: he enrolled them among his life-guards. Justin served as captain in the Isaurian war. For some unknown fault he was condemned to death by his general, and the next day was to be executed. The general, says Procopius, was changed by a vision which he saw that night. Under Anastasius, Justin rose to the rank of senator, patrician, and commander of the imperial guard. On the death of Anastasius, the eunuch Amantius, who was lord chamberlain, and had been up to that time all powerful, sent for Justin, and gave him great sums of money to get the voice of the soldiers and the people, for a creature of his own, named Theocritus, in whose name he intended to rule. Justin distributed the money in his own name, and on the 9th July was proclaimed emperor by army and people. He was sixty-eight years old, and, if Procopius may be believed, could not even write his own name, at least in Latin. But he was of long experience, and admirable in the management of affairs. His wife was named Lupicina, of barbarian birth. Justin, in the first year of his service, had bought her as a slave, and married her. When he became emperor he crowned her as empress, and with the applause of the people gave her the name of Euphemia. He had a nephew born at Tauresium, a village of Dardania, near Bederiana. He was called Uprauda in his own land; his father was Istock, his mother Vigleniza. The Romans changed these Teuton names to Justinian, Sabbatius, and Vigilantia. Uprauda, the Upright, was the future emperor Justinian.
The accession of Justin was received with universal joy; and the new emperor at once sent a high officer, Gratus, count of the sacred consistory, to announce it to Pope Hormisdas, with a letter in which he said that "John, who had succeeded as bishop of Constantinople, and the other bishops assembled there from various regions, having written to your Holiness for the unity of the churches, have earnestly besought us also to address our imperial letters to your Beatitude. We entreat you, then, to assist the desires of these most reverend prelates, and by your prayers to render favourable the divine majesty to us and the commonwealth, the government of which has been entrusted to us by God."
The count Justinian also wrote to Pope Hormisdas that "the divine mercy, regarding the sorrows of the human race, had at length brought about this time of desire. Thus I am free to write to your apostolate, our Lord, the emperor, desiring to restore the churches to unity. A great part has been already done. It only requires to obtain the consent of your Beatitude respecting the name of Acacius. For this reason his majesty has sent to you my most particular friend Gratus, a man of the highest rank, that you might condescend to come to Constantinople for the restoration of concord, or at least hasten to send bishops hither, for the whole world in our parts is impatient for the restoration of unity."
The result was that Pope Hormisdas held a council at Rome in 518, at which all that had been done by his predecessors, the Popes Simplicius, Felix, Gelasius, and Symmachus, was carefully reviewed, and all present decreed that the eastern Church should be received into communion with the Apostolic See, if they condemned the schismatic Acacius, entirely effacing his name, and also expunged from the diptychs Euphemius and Macedonius, as involved in the same guilt of schism. And a pontifical legation was then named to carry out the desire of the council, and they bore with them an instruction, from which they might not depart by a hair's-breadth.
The Pope wrote letters to the emperor, to the empress, to the count Justinian, especially to the bishop of Constantinople, recommending his legates, and exhorting the bishop to complete the work which was begun by condemning Acacius and his followers; also to the archdeacon Theodosius and the clergy of Constantinople. He points out especially that he wants nothing new, or unusual, or improper, for Christian antiquity had ever avoided those who had associated with persons condemned; whoever teaches what Rome teaches, must also condemn what Rome condemns; whoever honours what the Pope honours, must likewise detest what he detests. A perfect peace admits of no division. The worship of one and the same God can only hold its truth in the unity of confession which embodies the belief.
The papal legates were received honourably on their journey, and found the bishops in general disposed to sign the formulary issued by the Pope. In March, 519, they came to Constantinople, where they found the greatest readiness. The patriarch John took the formulary, and gave it the form of a letter, which seemed to him more honourable than a formulary such as those who had fallen would sign. He prefixed to the document which the Pope required to be subscribed the following preface:
"Brother most dear in Christ, when I received the letters of your Holiness, by the noble count Gratus, and now by the bishops Germanus and John, the deacons Felix and Dioscorus, the priest Blandus, I rejoiced at the spiritual charity of your Holiness, in bringing back the unity of God's most sacred churches, according to the ancient tradition of the fathers, and in hastening to reject those who tear to pieces Christ's reasonable flock. Be then assured that, as I have written to you, I am in all things one with you in the truth. All those rejected by you as heretics I also reject for the love of peace. For I accept as one the most holy churches of God, yours of elder, and this of new Rome; yours the See of the Apostle Peter, and this of the imperial city, I define to be one. I assent to all the acts of the four holy councils -- that is, of Nicaea, Constantinople, Ephesus, and Chalcedon -- done for the confirmation of the faith and the state of the Church, and suffer nothing of their good judgments to be shaken; but I know that those who have endeavoured to disturb a single iota of their decrees have fallen from the holy, universal, and apostolical Church; and using plainly your own right words, I declare by this present writing," &c.
This is the preface given to his letter by the patriarch John; he then adds the formulary issued by the Pope from his council in Rome as the terms of restored communion between the East and West.
"The first condition of salvation is to maintain the rule of a right faith, and to deviate no whit from the tradition of the fathers; because the decree of our Lord Jesus Christ cannot be passed over, in which He says, 'Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church '. These words are proved by their effect in deed, because the Catholic religion is ever kept inviolate in the Apostolic See. Desiring, therefore, not to fall from this faith, and following in all thing the constitutions of the fathers, we anathematise all heresies, but especially the heretic Nestorius, formerly bishop of Constantinople, condemned in the Council of Ephesus by Coelestine, Pope of Rome, and the venerable Cyril, bishop of Alexandria; and together with him we anathematise Eutyches and Dioscorus, bishop of Alexandria, condemned in the holy Council of Chalcedon, which we follow and embrace with veneration, which followed the holy Nicene Council, and set forth the apostolic faith. To these we join Timotheus the parricide, surnamed Ailouros, and anathematise him, condemning in like manner Peter of Alexandria, his disciple and follower in all things; so also we anathematise Acacius, formerly bishop of Constantinople, who became their accomplice and follower, and those who persevere in communion and participation with them; for whoever embraces the communion of condemned persons shares their judgment. In like manner we condemn and anathematise Peter of Antioch, with all his followers. Hence we approve and embrace all the letters of St. Leo, Pope of Rome, which he wrote in the right faith. Therefore, as aforesaid, following in all things the Apostolic See, we preach all which it has decreed; and therefore I trust to be with you in that one communion which the Apostolic See proclaims, in which the solidity of the Christian religion rests entire and perfect, promising that these who in future are severed from the communion of the Catholic Church, that is, who do not in all things agree with the Apostolic See, shall not have their names recited in the sacred mysteries. But if I attempt in aught to vary from this my profession, I declare that by my own condemnation I partake with those whom I have condemned. I have subscribed with my own hand to this profession, and directed it in writing to thee, Hormisdas, my holy and most blessed brother, and Pope of Great Rome, by the above-named venerable bishops, Germanus and John, the deacons Felix and Dioscorus, the priest Blandus."
The names of Acacius, Fravita, Euphemius, and Timotheus, four bishops of Constantinople, also of the emperors Zeno and Anastasius, who reigned from 474 to 518 (if we include a few months of Basiliscus), were erased from the diptychs in the presence of the legates. After that, at the instance of the emperor, the other bishops, the abbots, and the senate had signed the formulary, a solemn service was celebrated, to the great joy of the people, in the Cathedral on Easter eve, the 24th March, to mark the act of reconciliation, and not the least disturbance took place. The official narration of the five legates to Pope Hormisdas records the enthusiasm with which they were received at Constantinople. "From the palace we went to the church with the vast crowd. No one can believe the exultation of the people, nor doubt that the Divine Hand was there, bestowing such unity on the world. We signify to you that in our presence the name of the anathematised prevaricator, Acacius, was struck out of the diptychs, as likewise that of the other bishops who followed him in communion. So also the names of Anastasius and Zeno. By your prayers peace was restored to the minds of Christians: there is one soul, one joy, in the whole Church; only the enemy of the human race, crushed by the power of your prayer, is in mourning."
The emperor Justin wrote to Pope Hormisdas:
"Most religious Father, know that what we have so long earnestly sought to effect is done. John, the bishop of New Rome, together with his clergy, agrees with you. The formulary which you ordered, which is in agreement with the council of the most holy Fathers, has been subscribed by him. In accordance with that formulary, the mention at the divine mysteries of the prevaricator Acacius, formerly bishop of this city, has been forbidden for the future, as well as of the other bishops who either first came against the apostolic constitutions, or became successors of their error, and remained unrepentant to death. And since all our realm is to be admonished to imitate the example of the imperial city, we have directed everywhere our princely commands, so great is our desire to restore the peace of the Catholic faith to our commonwealth, to gain for my subjects the divine protection. For those whom the same realm contains, the same worship enlightens, what greater blessing can they have than to venerate with one mind laws of no human origin, but proceeding from the Divine Spirit? Let your Holiness pray that the divine gift of unity, so long laboured for by us, may be perpetually preserved."
Thus history tells us that, in the year 484, Acacius, bishop of Constantinople, being condemned by Pope Felix, answered by striking the name of Pope Felix out of the diptychs, and that, in the year 519, the name of Acacius was erased from the diptychs in his own church; that his own successor not only gave up his memory, but, together with 2500 bishops, signed a formulary which attributes to the Roman See the words of our Lord to St. Peter, which declares "that the Catholic religion is ever kept inviolate in the Apostolic See," "in which the solidity of the Christian religion rests entire and perfect," and which lays down the rule that whoever does not live and die in the communion of the Roman See has no claim to commemoration in the Church.
Let us now shortly review the facts which have passed under our notice since St. Leo returned from his interview with the pirate Genseric in the year 455.
In that fatal year the Theodosian house became extinct in the West so far as government was concerned. Valentinian's miserable widow, daughter of the eastern, wife of the western, emperor, during a short two months the prey of her husband's murderer, became with her daughters the captive of the Vandal freebooter, and saw the elder compelled to marry his son Hunnerich, the future persecutor of the Church. Twenty years succeed in which emperors are enthroned and pass like shadows, until the Herule general Odoacer, commanding for the time the Teuton mercenaries, deposes the last imperial phantom, Romulus Augustulus, and rules Rome and Italy with the title of Patricius. The western emperor is suppressed.
In 457, the Theodosian house becomes extinct in the East by the death of the emperor Marcian, before whom the heiress of the empire, St. Pulcheria, granddaughter of the great Thedosius, had died in 453. He was succeeded by Leo, a soldier of fortune, but an orthodox emperor, who supported St. Leo. The emperor Leo reigned until 474, and after a few months, in which his child grandson, Leo II., nominally reigned, the eastern crown was taken by Zeno and held till 491, with the exception of twenty months in which Basiliscus, a successful insurgent, was in possession. As Zeno had reigned in virtue of being husband of the princess Ariadne, daughter of Leo I., so Anastasius, in 491, in the words of the Greek chronicle, "succeeded to his wife and the empire," and he reigned twenty-seven years, to 518.
During this whole period, from the death of the emperor Leo I. in 474 to that of the emperor Anastasius in 518, the political state of the East and West was most perilous to the Church. In the East, the three sovereigns, Zeno, Basiliscus, and Anastasius, were unsound in their belief, treacherous in their action, scandalous in their life. The Popes addressed with honour, as the vice-gerents of divine power, men whom, as to their personal character, they must have loathed. Their government, moreover, was disastrous to their subjects -- a tissue of insurrections, barbaric invasion, and devastation; at home, civil corruption of every kind.
In the West, Teuton conquerors had taken possession of the Roman empire. The Herule Odoacer had been put to death in 493 by the Ostrogoth Theodorick, who, like Odoacer before him, reigned with cognisance and approbation of the eastern emperor for thirty-three years. Both Odoacer and Theodorick were Arians; so also Genseric and his son Hunnerich, who ruled the former Roman provinces in Africa; so the Visigoths in southern France and Spain; so the Burgundians at Lyons. One conquering race only, that of the Franks, was not Arian, but pagan, until the conversion of Clovis, in 496, gave to the West one sovereign, Catholic and friendly to the Pope. We have seen in what terms Pope Anastasius welcomed his baptism. The population in the old Roman provinces which remained faithful to the Catholic religion was a portion of the old proprietors, such as had not been dispossessed by the successive confiscations and redistributions of land under the victorious northern invaders, and the poor, whether dwelling in cities or cultivating the soil. And these looked up everywhere to their several bishops for support and encouragement under every sort of trial. All men were sorted under two divisions in the vast regions for which Stilicho had fought and conquered in vain: the one division was Arian and Teuton, the other Catholic and Roman. And as the several Catholic people looked to their bishops, so all these bishops looked to the Pope; and St. Avitus expressed every bishop's strongest conviction when he said, writing in the name of them all, "In the case of other bishops, if there be any lapse it may be restored; but if the Pope of Rome is endangered, not one bishop, but the episcopate itself will seem to be shaken".
When the western emperor was suppressed the Pope became locally subject for about fourteen years to the Arian Odoacer, and then for a full generation to the Arian Theodorick. The latter soon found, by a calculation of interest, that the only way to rule Italy and the adjoining territories which his conquering arms had attached to Italy was by maintaining civil justice and equality among all his subjects. He took two of the noblest Romans, Boethius and Cassiodorus, for his friends and counsellors, and in the letters of the latter, from about the year 500 to the end of Theodorick's reign, we possess most valuable information as to the way in which Theodorick governed. Odoacer would seem likewise, during the years of his government until he was shut up in Ravenna, to have followed a like policy. But that the position of the Pope under Odoacer and Theodorick was one of great difficulty and delicacy no one can doubt. Gelasius speaks of his having had to resist Odoacer "by God's help, when he enjoined things not to be done". And in 526 Pope John I. paid with his life, in the dungeon of Ravenna, the penalty for not having satisfied the Arian exactions of Theodorick in the eastern embassy imposed upon him.
I mention these things very summarily, having already given them with more or less detail, but I must needs recur to them because, in weighing the transactions which the schism of Acacius brought about, it is essential to bear in mind throughout the embarrassed and subject political situation in which all the Popes concerned with that schism found themselves.
Within seven years after the western emperor had been suppressed, and the overlordship of the East been acknowledged by the Roman senate as well as the Teuton conqueror, what happened?
A bishop of Constantinople, as able and popular as he was unscrupulous, had established a mental domination over the eastern emperor Zeno. He reigned in the utmost sacerdotal pomp at Constantinople; he beheld Old Rome sunk legally to the mere rank of a municipal city, and the See of St. Peter in it subject to an Arian of barbaric blood. He thought the time was come for the bishop of the imperial city to emancipate himself from the control of the Lateran Patriarcheium. Having gained great renown by his defence of the Council of Chalcedon against the usurper Basiliscus, having denounced at Rome the misdeeds and the heresy of the Eutychean who was elected by that party at Alexandria, and having so been high in the trust of Pope Simplicius, he turned against both Pope and Council. He set up two heretics as patriarchs -- Peter the Stammerer, the very man he had denounced, at Alexandria, and Peter the Fuller at Antioch. He composed a doctrinal statement, called the "Form of Union," which, by the emperor's edict, was imposed on the eastern bishops. It was a scarcely-veiled Eutychean document. He called to his aid all the jealousy which Nova Roma felt for her elder sister, all the pride which she felt for the exaltation of her own bishop. If he succeeded in maintaining his own nominees in the two original patriarchates of the East, he succeeded at the same time in subjecting them to his own see. He crowned that series of encroachments which had advanced step by step since the 150 bishops of the purely eastern council held at Constantinople just a hundred years before set the exaltation of the imperial city on a false foundation. In fact, if this his enterprise succeeded, he obtained the realisation of the 28th canon, which Anatolius attempted to pass at Chalcedon, and which Pope Leo had overthrown. But most of all, both in the government of the Church and in the supreme magisterium, the determination of the Church's true doctrine, he deposed the successor of St. Peter, and but one single step remained, to which all his conduct implied the intention to proceed. For the logical basis of that conduct was the assertion that, as the bishop of Rome had been supreme when, and because, Rome was the capital of the empire, so when Constantinople had succeeded Rome as capital, her bishop also succeeded to the spiritual rights of the Primacy.
We may sum up the attempt of Acacius in a single word: the denial that the Pope had succeeded to the universal Pastorship of St. Peter.
This, then, was the point at issue, and when the western emperor was suppressed, and the overlordship of the eastern emperor acknowledged, the Pope was deprived of all temporal support, and left to meet the attack of Acacius in the naked power of his apostolate. From the year 483, when the deeds of Acacius led to his excommunication, followed by the schism, to its termination in 519, the Popes, being subjects of Arian sovereigns, who were likewise of barbaric descent, braved the whole civil power of the eastern emperors, as well as the whole ecclesiastical influence of the bishops of Constantinople. Not only were Zeno and Anastasius unorthodox, but likewise they were bent on increasing the influence of that bishop whom they nominated and controlled. The sovereigns of the East had been able, even by a simple practice of Byzantine etiquette, to put their own bishop in a position of determining influence over the whole eastern episcopate. For we learn from the instruction of Pope Hormisdas to his legates that it was the custom for every bishop to be presented to the emperor by the bishop of Constantinople. The Pope most strictly enjoins his legates not to submit to this. The effect of such a rule upon the eastern bishops who frequented the court of an absolute sovereign exhibits another cause of that perpetual growth which accrues to the bishop of the imperial city.
Every human power, every conjunction of circumstances, seemed to be against the Popes in this struggle. While the East was thus in hostile hands, under emperors who were either secretly or avowedly heretical, the West was under Arian domination. Italy was ruled from 493 to 526 by a man of great ability. Few rulers have surpassed Theodorick either in success as a warrior or in political skill. He had, further, enlaced the contemporary rulers in the various countries of the West in ties of relationship with himself. He had married Andefleda, sister of Clovis; he gave Theudigotha, one of his own daughters by a concubine, to Alaric of Toulouse, king of the Visigoths, and another, Ostrogotha, to Sigismund, king of the Burgundians, at Lyons. Even before he had conquered Odoacer, in 493, he was in strict alliance with the king of the Vandals in Africa, to whom he gave his sister Amalafrieda to wife, and her daughter Amalaberga to the king of the Thuringians. He solicited the royal title in 496 by an embassy to Anastasius, and the result of that embassy was that the chief man in it, Faustus, patrician and senator, when he returned to Rome, contrived to raise a schism in the clergy itself against Pope Symmachus. This schism was the greatest difficulty which the Pope in all this period encountered. Theodorick in political talent and warlike genius reminds historians of Charlemagne: but instead of having that monarch's faith, he was an Arian. His equal treatment of Arian and Catholic was a carefully thought-out policy; nor did he scruple at the very end of his career to sacrifice even the very life of the Pope to his political schemes. He favoured the senate of Rome in its corporate capacity; he favoured individual senators, but always as instruments of his own absolute rule, the key to which was to unite the use of the Roman mind in administration with the Gothic arm in action. When the end of the schism came, he had married his only child Amalasunta, the heiress of his kingdom, to Eutharic, who in the first year of the emperor Justin was consul of Rome with that prince, and nominated by him.
On what, then, did the Pope rely? On one thing only -- that in the inmost conscience of the Church, in East and West, he was recognised as St. Peter's successor; that upon everyone who sat in the Apostolic See had descended the mighty inheritance, the charge which no man could execute except he were empowered by divine command and sustained by divine support. For as it required God to utter the words, "Upon this rock I will build My Church"; "If thou lovest Me, feed My sheep"; "Confirm thy brethren "; so it no less required God to enable any man to fulfil that charge. But how when it comes to a succession of men? How many families can show a continuous succession of three temporal rulers equally great? Can any family show four such? Can anyone calculate the power which maintains such a succession through centuries?
Here, after four full centuries, in that one belief the seven next successors of St. Leo -- Hilarus, Simplicius, Felix, Gelasius, Anastasius, Symmachus, and Hormisdas -- stood as one man. Their counsels did not vary. Their resolve was one. Their course was straight. In Leo's time the earth reeled beneath the tread of Attila, the city groaned beneath Genseric's hoof. And now three heretics -- despots, and ignoble despots, if ever such there were -- filled the sole imperial throne. Arians, closely connected by family ties and identical interests, divided the West among them. The seven Popes sat on at the Lateran in the palace which Constantine had given them, and said Mass in the church which he had built for them. Three of his degenerate successors tried every art against them and failed. During twenty years of this time, from 476 to 496, no ruler small or great acknowledged the Catholic faith. The East was Eutychean, the West Arian. At length St. Remigius baptised the Frankish chief as first-born of the Teuton race in the Catholic faith of the Holy Trinity, and the Pope at Rome gave utterance as a father to his joy. The end was that the schism was terminated on the part of the bishop, the heir of the seat and the ambition of Acacius, by the prince, by his nobles, among them the legislator who was to be Justinian, and by 2500 bishops throughout the East, acknowledging in distinct terms that one unique authority on which the Popes had rested throughout the contest. They declared solemnly, in celebrating the holiest mystery of the Christian faith, that the word of the Lord cannot be passed over, saying, "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church". They added that the course of five hundred years had exemplified the fact "that the solidity of the Christian religion rests entire and perfect in the Apostolic See". The rebellion of Acacius in 483 drew forth this confession from his successor, John II., in 519.
The seven successors of St. Leo stood as one man. No variation in their language or their conduct can be found. Not so the seven successors of Anatolius at Constantinople. That bishop, who had seen himself foiled by the vigour and sagacity of St. Leo at the Council of Chalcedon, lived afterwards on good terms with him, and died in 458, in his lifetime. He was succeeded by Gennadius, who, during the thirteen years of his episcopate, was faithful both to the creed which St. Leo had preserved and to the dignity of the Apostolic See. He was followed by Acacius, who occupied the see from 471 to 489. There was some quality in Acacius which gained the favour of princes. He had charmed at once the old emperor Leo I.; but Zeno, whose influence first made him bishop, afterwards followed all his teaching. He had also gained a renown for orthodoxy by refusing the attempt of Basiliscus to make the imperial will a rule of Church doctrine. It was when his stronger mind had mastered Zeno that he began the desperate attempt against the doctrine and discipline of the Apostolic See which has been our chief subject. But when he died in 489, his successor Fravita at once renounced the position which he had taken up by asking the recognition of Pope Felix and restoring his name in the diptychs. It is true that in his conduct he was double-dealing, and, while he sought for the Pope's recognition, parleyed with the heretical patriarch of Alexandria. But he died in three months, and was succeeded by Euphemius, who likewise repudiated the act of Acacius, and earnestly sought reconciliation with the Pope, while he was unwilling to fulfil the condition of it -- that he should erase the name of Acacius from the diptychs. The six years' episcopate of Euphemius was one long contest with the treachery and persecution of the emperor Anastasius, who at last, by help of the resident council, was able to depose him. He placed Macedonius in his stead, who again sought to be reconciled with the Pope, but only would not pay the price of renouncing the person, as he fully renounced the conduct, of Acacius. During fifteen years, from 496 to 511, as Euphemius had resisted the covert heresy of Anastasius, so did Macedonius, and, like him, he fell at last before the enmity of the emperor. Upon the deposition of Macedonius, the emperor obtained the election of Timotheus, who during seven years was his docile instrument. When he died in 518, the bishop John was elected, whose great desire was the restoration of unity, with the maintenance of the faith of Chalcedon. By side of the seven Popes succeeding St. Leo put the seven bishops of the emperor's city. We find two -- the first and the last -- Gennadius and John, blameless. The second, Acacius, author of all the evil in a schism of thirty-five years. The third, the fourth, and the fifth shrink from the deed of Acacius; and two of them are deposed by the emperor, while his people respect and cherish their memory. The sixth is a mere tool of the emperor.
Four eastern emperors occupy the sixty years from Marcian to Justin. Three of them are of the very worst which even Byzantium can show. Their reply to the appeal of the Pope to "the Christian prince and Roman emperor" was to betray the faith and sacrifice Rome to Arian occupation.
But when we turn from the bishops and emperors of the eastern capital to the seats of the ancient patriarchs, to the Alexandria of Athanasius and Cyril, to the Antioch of Ignatius, Chrysostom, and Eustathius, no words can express the division, the scandals, the excesses, which the Eutychean spirit, striving to overthrow the Council of Chalcedon, showed during those sixty years. With this spirit Acacius played to stir up the eastern jealousy against the Apostolic See of the West, and he found a most willing coadjutor in the eastern emperor, the more so because that See was no longer locally situated in his domain. The chance of Acacius lay throughout in the pride of that monarch who was become the sole inheritor of the Roman name, as Pope Felix reminded him, and who would fain see Nova Roma the centre of ecclesiastical rule, as it was become the head of the diminished empire. Anastasius, after Zeno, was still more swayed by these motives than his predecessor.
But here we touch the completeness of the success which followed the trust placed in their apostolate by the seven immediate successors of St. Leo. In proportion as Rome became in the temporal order a mere municipal city, the sacerdotal authority of its bishop came out into clearer light. Three times in the fifth century Rome was mercilessly sacked -- in 410, in 455, in 472. Its senators were carried into slavery, its population diminished. The finishing stroke of its ignominy may be said to be the deposition, by a barbarian condottiere, of the poor boy whose name, repeating in connection the founder of the city with the founder of the empire, seemed to mock the mortal throes of the great mother. But this lessening of the secular city, so far from lessening the authority of the spiritual power, reveals to all men, believers or unbelievers, that the pontificate, whose seat is locally in the city, has a life not derived from the city. Rome's temporal fall exhibits in full the intangible spiritual character of the pontificate. If St. Peter had to any seemed to rule because he was seated on the pedestal of the Caesarean empire, when that empire fell the Apostle alone remained to whom Christ gave the charge, whom He invested with the "great mantle". The bishop of the city in which an Arian Ostrogoth ruled supreme as to temporal things was acknowledged by the head of the empire, from whom the Ostrogoth derived his title, as the person in whom our Lord's word -- the creative word which founds an empire as it makes a world -- was accomplished, had been during five hundred years accomplished, would be for ever accomplished.
The malice of Acacius largely led to this result. His attack was the prelude to the sifting of the Pope's prerogative during thirty-five years: its sifting by a rival at Constantinople, by the eastern bishops, by the eastern emperor, who had now also become the sole Roman emperor; and the sifting was followed by a full acknowledgment. Nothing but this hostile conduct would have afforded so indubitable a proof of the thing impugned. While the ancient patriarchates which had formed the substructure of the triple dais on which the Apostolic See rested were falling into irretrievable confusion, while the new State-made patriarch at Constantinople was trying to nominate and, if he could, to consecrate his elders and superiors at Alexandria and Antioch, who descended from Peter, the essential prerogative of the Apostolic See itself came forth into full light. The bishops at Alexandria, Antioch, Constantinople, Jerusalem, and every other city in the world would be great or small in influence according to the greatness or smallness of their city. If the city fell altogether, the see would fall. Its life was tied to the city. But it was not so with that pontificate on which the Church was built. There and there only the living power was given by Christ to a man: not local, nor limited, nor transitory. This was the great truth which the Acacian schism helped to establish in the minds of men, and which was proclaimed in that Nova Roma where Acacius had refused the judgment of Pope Felix, and had tried to put himself on an equality. As a result, in the terms of union which have been above recited, the action of Acacius has had the honour to condemn the rebellion of Photius three hundred years before it arose, and every other rebellion which has imitated that of Photius.
Nor must it be forgotten that it was the constancy of the Popes in these sixty years which alone prevented the prevailing of Eutychean doctrine in the East. Blent with that doctrine was the attempt of three emperors to substitute themselves as judges of doctrine for the Apostolic See and the bishops in union with it. At the moment when John Talaia was expelled from Alexandria, the Monophysite heresy, espoused by Acacius and imposed by Zeno, would have triumphed, save for the Popes Simplicius and Felix. And it would have triumphed while the instrument of its triumph, the Henotikon, would have inflicted a deadly blow upon the government of the Church by taking away the independence of her teaching office. This struggle continued during the reign of Zeno; and Anastasius, as soon as he became emperor, used all the absolute power which he possessed to enforce the reception of the same document. Even Euphemius and Macedonius were obliged to sign it, and the sacrifice which they made in suffering deposition does not deliver their character of bishops from the stain of this weakness. We see in this period the first stadium traversed by the Greek Church in that descending course which, in another century, brought it to the ruin wrought by Mahomet.
On the other hand, the seven Popes kept the position of St. Leo -- rather, they more than kept it, because, under outward circumstances so greatly altered for the worse, they both maintained his doctrine and justified his conduct. They insisted through the darkest times, under pressure of the greatest calamities, deprived of all temporal aid, that the person of Acacius should be solemnly removed from recognition as a bishop by the Church. They insisted, and it was done. The act of Acacius, if allowed to pass, would have carried into actual life the assertion of the canon which St. Leo had rejected: that the privileges of the Roman See were derived from the grant of the Fathers to Rome because it was the capital. The expunging of his name from the diptychs, with the solemn asseveration that the rank of the Holy See was derived from the gift of Christ, and that the Church's solidity as a fabric consisted in it, and equally the maintenance of the Catholic religion, established the contradictory of that 28th canon, and enforced for ever the subordination of the see which Acacius sought to exalt. At the same time it pointed out the distinction between the See of Peter and all other sees: the distinction that in the case of every other bishop the spiritual life of the bishop, as a ruler, is local and attached to his see. But the See of Peter is the generator of the episcopate, because of Peter ever living in his successor.
It may also be remarked that it is this overflowing life of Peter which invests titular bishops with the names of dead sees. Thus they sit as members of a General Council, verifying to the letter St. Cyprian's adage, that the episcopate is one, of which a part is held by each without division of the whole.
The submission of Constantinople in its bishop, its clergy, its emperor, its nobles, attested by the subscription of 2500 bishops throughout the East, is an event to which there can hardly be found a parallel. The submission was made to Pope Hormisdas when he was himself, as his predecessors for forty-three years had been, subject to an Arian ruler. If there be in all history an act which can be called in a special sense an act of the undivided Church, it is this. It was made more than three hundred years before the schism of Photius. If the confession contained in this submission does not exhibit the mind of the Church, what form of words, what consent of will, can ever be shown to convey it? If those who subscribed this confession subscribed a falsehood, why pretend any longer to attribute authority to the Church? But it must be added, if their confession was the truth, why not obey it?
It is to be noted that this period of sixty years is full of events which caused the greatest suffering to the Popes, were unceasingly deplored by them, and resisted to the utmost of their power. The temporal condition of themselves, of the bishops, of their people in Italy, Africa, France, Spain, Illyricum, Britain, was most sad. The most vehement of persecutions desolated Africa. Again, there was the suppression of the western emperor, with the consequent subjection of the Apostolic See to the temporal government of the most hateful of heresies: the Oriental despotism of Zeno and Anastasius, continued for forty-four years, mixed with another heresy, and tending to destroy both faith and independence in the bishops subject to it. The Popes, as Romans, felt with the keenest sympathy the political degradation of Rome. Can any appeal be more touching than that which they made, and made in vain, to the "Christian king and Roman prince"? Out of all these things, whose natural consequences tended to extinguish their principate, came forth the most magnificent attestation to it which is to be found in the first five hundred years of the Christian religion.
 Epist. i.; Labbe, v.406.
 Mansi, viii.193.
 Epistola Aviti episcopi Viennensis ad Clodoveum regem Francorum. -- Mansi, viii.175.
 See for this narrative the German Roehrbacher, viii.486; Civilta, 1855, art.9, pp.152-3; Hefele, ii.607; Photius, i.136.
 Photius, i.137. Der Einfluss des roemischen Stuhles war doch mehr durch die Erneuerung des laurentianischen Schisma als durch die Macht der arianischen Ostgothen auf laengere Zeit gelaehmt.
 Ep. vi.; Mansi, viii.213-217.
 Qualiscunque praesulis apostolici debes vocem patienter audire.
 I.e., Manicheans placed the seat of evil in matter, and Eutycheans denied the materiality of the Lord's body. The Pope alludes to the Emperor's Eutychean doctrine.
 Catholici principes quidem semper apostolicos praesules institutos suis literis praevenerunt, et illam confessionem fidemque praecipuam, tanquam boni filii, quaesierunt debitae pietatis affectu, cui noscis ipsius Domini Salvatoris ore curam totius Ecclesiae delegatam.
 Ubi te, rerum humanarum princeps, qualiscunque Sedis Apostolicae vicarius contestari mea voce non desino.
 Ad eam sua protinus scripta miserunt ut se docerent ejus esse consortes. -- Mansi, viii.217.
 See Hefele, ii.607 and 209.
 "Intuitu misericordiae," says Anastasius.
 Hefele, ii.216.
 Mansi, viii.247-252; Hefele, ii.623-5.
 Acts of the Synodus Palmaris. -- Mansi, viii.247-251.
 Hefele, ii.624.
 Mansi, viii.293-5. Ep. xxxi. Migne, vol. lix, 248.
 Hefele, ii.625-30; Roehrbacher, viii.463.
 Mansi, viii.284, The libellus apologeticus, pp.274-290.
 Replicabo, uni dictum, Tu es Petrus, &c., et rursus sanctorum voce pontificum dignitatem ejus sedis factam toto orbe venerabilem, dum illi quicquid fidelium est ubique submittitur, dum totius corporis caput esse designatur. -- Mansi, viii.284.
 The narrative from Photius, i.134.
 Ephrem, v.9759.
 Ecclesia orientalis ad Symmachum episcopum Romanum. -- Mansi, viii.221-6.
 In qua fortitudinem Ecclesiae suae constituit. Epistola Anastasii ad Hormesdam pontificem. -- Mansi, viii.384.
 Mansi, viii.389-393.
 Photius, i.143-5, translated.
 Ep. x. ad Avitum Viennensem. Mansi, viii.410.
 Theophanes, p.248.
 Mansi, viii.425.
 German Roehrbacher, viii.532, book 43, 81, mostly followed.
 Mansi, viii.435.
 Mansi, viii.438.
 Mansi, viii.441. Indiculus quem acceperunt legati Apostolicae Sedis. It much resembles the former one, given to the legates sent to Anastasius.
 Photius, i.148.
 Mansi, viii.451.
 In qua est integra Christianae religionis et perfecta soliditas.
 Suggestio Germani et Joannis episcoporum, Felicis et Dioscori diaconorum, et Blandi presbyteri. -- Mansi, viii.453.
 Sacra imperatoris Justini ad Hormisdam. -- Mansi, viii.456.
 Photius, i.149, who refers to the Deacon Rusticus, Disputatio contra Acephalos.
 Mansi, viii.60.
 Il granto manto, Dante.
 Quia in sede Apostolia inviolabilis semper Catholica custoditur religio.
 Hergenroether, K.G., i.333.
 See Photius, i.149.