M. J Rhodes.

The visible unity of the Catholic Church maintained against opposite theories (Volume 1) online

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conchisive, we are in possession of still more impor-
tant evidence.

About two years prior to the second general
council, an important synod w^as assembled at An-
tioch. Its acts, which were afterwards deposited
in the archives of the Roman Church, afford a
more formal proof than even the above-mentioned
letter, of the fact that the communion of St. ]\Ieletius
was at that time fully acknowledged by the Eoman
See ; and, as it would appear, his position as Bishop
of Antioch, also.

St. Gregory of Nyssa states that he was present
at this synod, and that it assembled nine months or
a little more after the death of St. Basil the Great ;
consequently about the month of September, a.d.
379. The second general council at which Meletius
presided at Constantinople, and during which lie
died, took place in the year 381.

In the aforesaid synod of Antioch, A.D. 379, St.
Meletius and the bishops assembled under him sub-
scribed to a synodical letter or exposition of foith
(of which fragments are still extant), which had been
drawn up in a Roman synod held under Pope St.
Damasus during the preceding year. This docu-
ment is distinct both in its date and its subject from
another synodical epistle which is sometimes prefixed


of the

visible communion


St. Meletius

with the

Roman See.

Council of Antioch,

A.D. 379.


Vit.v S. Miicriua?.


to the

epistle of


Roman synod.

epp. xc. xcn.


to it ; but which is actually the copy of one ad-
dressed to the bishops of Illyiicum, by a former
Eomaii synod held under St. Damasus, a.d. 372, and
sent to Illj^ricum by the hands of Sabinus, a deacon
of Milan. Sabinus afterwards proceeded as legate
to the East with a copy of the epistle, addressed
from Damasus and others assembled in Eome, ' to
the Catholic bishops throughout the East.' A reply
s. Basil. Cfesar. was immediately returned to Eome, expressing entire
assent on the part of St. Meletius and other Eastern
bishops. In the collections of councils these two
documents are not unfrequently placed together,
under a date considerably earher than that of the
later one, which should properly be given as belong-
ing to the Antiochian synod of the year 379, by
which it was accepted in the East. At the same
time it is by no means impossible that the former
epistle also, may have been formally signed in con-
junction with the latter, by the bishops of the same
synod of Antioch, a.d. 379, in fuller confirmation of
the assent which they had previously expressed to it.^
It will suffice for the present purpose to recite the
paragraph appended by the synod of Antioch, a.d.

^ Both of these synodical letters, that is to say, the first of
them, which was brought to the East by Sabinus in the year
372, and immediately assented to by St. Meletius, St. Basil, and
others ; and the other, which Avas transmitted to the East from
the Roman synod under St. Damasus, a.d. 378, and subscribed
by St. Meletius and the bishops assembled under him at Antioch,
in the year 379 ; with full explanation and jiarticulars prefixed
to each, may be found nniongst the Epistolas Romanorum Ponti-
ficum of Dom. Constant, Paris, 1721, coll. 477-500.


379, to the exposition of faith of the Eomaii synod,
held A.D. 378 ; with the signatures of Meletius and
the other bishops, and the notification that tliey were
deposited in the Eoman archives. The following is
a literal translation : —

' Here ends this epistle or exposition of tlie Eoman Constant,
synod held under Damasus the Pope, and transmitted cd. sol!, n/a!*' '
to tlie East, in which all the Eastern Church, a synod
having been convened at Antioch, beheving with
one accordant faith, and all so consenting to the
same faith above set forth, confirm this eacli with
his subscription.'

Then follow the signatures : —

' I, Meletius, Bishop of Antioch, consent to all
things above written, so believing and thinking ; and
if any one holds opinions contrary to these doctrines,
let him be anathema.'

St. Eusebius, Bishop of Samosata, Pelagius of Lao-
dicaea, Zeno of Tyre, Eulogius of Edessa, Bematius
of Mallo, and Diodorus of Tarsus, subscribe after
him to the same effect, and it is added : —

' In like manner also CXLVI other Eastern bisliops
subscribed, whose subscription in the original is now
preserved in the archives of the Eoman Chuich.

' Here ends the Eoman and Antioch ian synod.'

This proves beyond doubt that the communion of
Meletius was then recognised by Eomc ; and it is to
be observed that the signature of Meletius tlius
formally accepted, bears the title of Bishop of
Antioch r — Episcopus Antiochenus.


Continuation The scliism Continued after the death of St. Mele-

the schism. tius. In spitc of the earnest remonstrance of St.

emon , le Q^ggQ^-y JSTazianzcn, the Easterns consecrated Fla-

^"SeldEcthS^^ liis place, though PauUnus was still alive.

Socrat'^'Eeci. Hist. Thcodorct sajs, that they rephed to the objections of

Sozom EcJf'Hi«t P^ulinus, by reminding him that he had refused the

vii. 11, 15, Tiii. 3. proposals of IMclctius. Sozomen says, it was done in

spite of the oath to the contrary, and that many in

consequence left Flavian, and joined the communion

of Pauhnus. He adds that the Pope and the Westerns

were greatly indignant ; that they addressed synodical

letters to Paulinus, but would send none to Flavian.

Eome withheld her communion from the Bishops who

had taken the principal part in his consecration.

Pauhnus died about the year 388, having conse-
crated as his successor the same Evagrius who has
been mentioned in the foregoing pages. He did not
long survive, and no successor was appointed in his
stead. Through the intervention of St. John Chry-
sostom when elevated to the See of Constantinople,
Eome and Egypt became reconciled to Flavian and
his adherents, in the seventeenth year of his episco-
pate. But the Eustathians, tliough no longer sup-
ported by Eome and the West, still kept themselves
apart, notwithstanding the earnest efforts of Flavian
to win tliem over, and they continued to do so
during the whole time of Porphyiy, the successor
of St. Flavian, a.d. 404. About the year 413, Por-
ph}Ty was succeeded in the bishopric of Antioch
by Alexander of honoured memory, who had the


happiness of uniting to liis communion the greater ti.o

portion of the Eustathians. After many exliortations
and persuasions, he assembled his own clergy and
laity, and proceeding to the Church of the Eusta-
thians, took part with them in tlicir psalms. Thus he
drew them into unity, and according to Theodoret,
from the Western gate to the principal church, the EcpI. iiist. v. 3.).
united congregations formed as it were a river of
men, to the sorrow of the Jews, Arians, and Pagans,
who saw the other streams thus flowing into tlie ocean
of the Church. This was about the year 415, but
Tillemont states that a few still kept apart until the
year 482, when the relics of St. Eustathius Avere
brought to Antioch, on which occasion the division
was completely healed.

During his episcopate, St. Flavian had placed on Tiiifmont,

. , ^vluj refers to

the sacred diptychs of the church, the names of boths. Cyr. Aiex. cii. 66.
his rival bishops, Paulinus and Evagrius.

The testimony already produced renders it abun-


the communion


St. MoK-tius

with the
Roman Sc«.


dantly evident that Meletius was in acknowledged Roman Mnrtyroiosy
communion with Eome before the period of the
second general council. But even if this testimony
were wanting; if it had been unrecorded or lost, as
so much else has been lost in the gidf of the fifteen
centuries which have elapsed since that period, there
still remains the fact that tlie name of Meletius stands
enrolled with honour in Rome's golden book of
Saints. He could not have been commemorated in
the Eoman Martyrology if he had not died in tli
VOL. I. z



of t lie

Eoman comnuiiiion. No Eoman cliiircbmaii would
ill sucli case have proposed the insertion of liis
name within her sacred canon, and no Eoman Pontiff
^vould have permitted it, at any period of the
Church's history. Since the so-called Reformation,
the Eoman Martyrology has more tlian once under-
gone careful revision and correction, but the name
of Meletius is found there to this day.

When Pope Gregory XIII. had completed liis
Roman MartjToiogj- Celebrated reformation of the calendar, he applied
Gregory XIII. himsclf, with the assistance of learned historians, to
the correction and republication of the Eoman Mar-
tyrology, as he himself states in the decree prefixed
to it, which is dated January 14, 1584. It is also
preceded by a treatise from Cardinal Baronius, ' re-
specting the Eoman Martyrology,' the tentli chapter
of which is entitled, ' Concerning the false martyrs
of heretics, and their pseudo-martyrologies.' No one
will question that to the mind of Cardinal Baronius,
communion witli tlie Church necessarily implied com-
nuniion with the Eoman See, and separation from the
Eoman See involved separation from the Church. It
is this, therefore, that he intends when, in the above-
mentioned chapter, he appeals to the teaching of the
fathers, that no one can be a martyr who is not in
unity with tlie Church, and quotes to that effect the
words of St. Cyprian : — ' lie cannot be a martyr who
is not in the Churcli ; he cannot arrive at the king-
dom who abandons her who is about to reign.' This
was always the doctrine of the Eoman Church ; and

I,il>. do Unitato


if she would not acknowledge as a martyr one wlio
died in torments for liis relimon outside her visible
pale, she certainly would not honour as a confessor
any bishop, however zealous, who did not die in her
visible communion.

Now this revision of the Martyrology took place
shortly after the outbreak of a schism and heresy
which prominently denied the necessity of comnnii ii( )i i
with the Eoman See. It was conducted, under the
eye of the Pope himself, by men who were pre-emi-
nent for their historical learning, and who had free
access to the records and stores of information accu-
mulated in the Eoman archives. Moreover, the case
of Meletius and the schism in Antioch was well known,
and could not have been overlooked, particularly in
connection with the newly developed heresy. It is
therefore inconceivable that the memory of Meletius
should have been again put forth at that time,
as requiring public veneration and honour from all
faithfid Catholics, unless it had been made evident
and certain, from the ancient tradition of the
Eoman Church, or from well-estabhshed iacls of
history, that there was no ground whatever for sup-
posing him to have died out of visible and acknow-
ledged communion with the Eoman See.

The above-mentioned edition of the Eoman Mar- tI'<'

Rdman Martyrology

tvrolosv published by the order of Gregory XII I., lurain

J ^J ^ *' revised and anicudwl.

was again revised by the authority of his successors,'
Urban VIII. and Clement X., and ultimately added
to and amended by the learned Toiie Deneihct XI\'.


The Bull On this occasiou, Benedict XIV. issued the Bull,^

Vo^e Benodict x\\. Po-'<tquam intellexiinus^ 'on the new edition of the
Martyrology,' dated July 1, 1748, and addressed to
King Joini V. of Portugal, at wliose instance the work
had been undertaken. It eives reasons for several
additions and changes then made, and examines into
certain cases of difficulty. Amongst these occurs the
question respecting the admission of the renowned
Clement of Alexandria to a place in the Martyrology.
Litterse Apostoiicse His claim, howcver, is rejected, on account of some
Nov. Martyroi. Ed. doubt as to liis entire freedom from error in doc-
trine ; and the Pope refers to the case of the Emperor
Constantine the Great, whose name, he says, was
found in the menology of the Greeks, and who was
undoubtedly venerated as a saint in the Eastern
Clun^ch, but whose commemoration was never trans-
ferred to the Eoman Martyrology, because certain
suspicions existed tluit he liad been inclined towards

These instances show the scrupulous caution always
exercised by the Eoman Cliurch as regards every
name in her strictly guarded Martyrology. Had there
been the slightest groiuul for suspecting Meletius to
luive died out of lier visible communion, it is per-
fectly certain that tlie Roman Church would not
have ranked liim amongst those to whose intercession

' This document, together with tlie others above mentioned,
will be found prefixed to the excellent edition of the Koman
IMartyrology publislied, cum approbatione, by Mens. Dessain, of
Maliiie.«, in the year IH.OO, alrer the Koman edition of the year


in the courts of heaven she es})ecially looks up, and
whose names she year by year recites in daily course,
wherever her world-wide sway extends, as examples
to all her children, and as demanding from them the
religious veneration and the worship due only to the
Saints of God.

St. Meletius is commemorated in the lionian
Martyrology, on February 12, as follows: — 'At
Antioch the festival of St. Meletius, Bishop, who,
having often suffered exile for the Catholic faith, at
length, in Constantinople, passed to the Lord : whose
virtues were celebrated with highest praise by St.
John Chrysostom and Gregoiy of Nyssa.'

Antiochice sancti Meletii Episcopi, qui pro fide
catholica scepe exilium passiis, deinum ComtcDiti-
nopoli migravit ad Doniinum: cujus virtutes sanctus
Joannes Chrysostomus et Gregorius Nyssenus sum-
mis laudibus celebrdnmt.





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Online LibraryM. J RhodesThe visible unity of the Catholic Church maintained against opposite theories (Volume 1) → online text (page 25 of 25)