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Church or Sect ?

The Athanasian Creed

The Holy Communion Service in the Book
of Common Prayer

Caesarius Bishop of Aries







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Honorary Canon of Rochester

Cambridge :
at the University Press

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C. F. CLAY, Manager

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Berlin: A. ASHER AND CO.


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THIS History of tlie Levins has followed upon my earlier
work on the life of Caesarius, an eminent son of Lerins.
Some account, however imperfect, of the leaders of Christian
thought in the fifth and sixth centuries, who owed their training
to the monastery of S. Honorat, seemed to fill a gap in English
theological literature. Nor can it be devoid of interest to place
this study in its historical setting, and trace out the early and
later history of the island where these great men of the past
lived and moved. French historical and theological literature
does not fail in the possession of numerous monographs on this
attractive subject, and among those which I have consulted
and used, I am specially indebted to the works of M. Henri
Moris, and of M. l'Abbe Alliez. On a defect in his work, I
have later expressed my opinion. I desire to record my most
grateful thanks to my friend the Rev. James S. Hill, B.D.,
Rector of Stowey, who has afforded me most valuable help,
and taken unstinted pains. I am indebted to him for many
useful suggestions, and he also undertook to see the volume
through the press during my serious illness, correct the proofs
and compile the index. Nor can I forget to mention the
kindness of my Cambridge Tutor, Canon Foakes-Jackson, D.D.,
Fellow and Dean of Jesus College, who most kindly read the
manuscript, and gave me valuable criticism thereon. The
dedication of this book is a sincere, if imperfect, expression of
my affection and respect for my Bishop.



June 191 3



























Introduction ....

The Mainland of the Lerins

The Islands of the Lerins

The Golden Age .

The Great Theologian, Vincent

The Apostle of Ireland .

John Cassian, the Great Organiser, Systematiser and Writer

The Founder of Lerins. S. Honoratus, Archbishop of Aries

A Nursery of Bishops

Caesarius, Bishop and Saint .

Hilary, Archbishop of Aries .

Faustus, the Bishop of the "Via Media'

Lupus, the Prince of Prelates


Some Minor Prelates. Valerian. Maximus
ofMoustiers. Veranus. Salonius. Apoll

James, Bishop
inarius. Siffred

The Master of Bishops. Salvianus

Worldly Prosperity. The 8th to the 15th Centuries

The Day of Decay ....

Some Later Writers of Lerins

From Secularisation to the Present Day

Appendix. Ancient Buildings, Treasures, I
Monuments . . . .












nscriptions and









The Monastery and Chateau Fort


Mont Chevalier, with its ancient Tower overlooking

Modern Cannes .... To face page 25

The Cell of "The Man with the Iron Mask"
The Well and Palm of S. Honoratus .
The Lapidary Museum ....

The Chapel of S. Honoratus .

The Chapel of S. Saviour

The Chapel of the Holy Trinity .

The Chapel of S. Cyprian and S. Justina

The Cloister ......

The Exterior of the Chateau Fort .

The Interior of the Chateau Fort (Ground Floor)

The Interior of the Chateau Fort .

The Chest in Grasse Cathedral (side view)

The Chest in Grasse Cathedral (end view)




It is perhaps surprising that a historical account of the home
of Vincent of Lerins has never, so far as we are aware, been
presented in a monograph to English readers. It is of course a
part of the history of monasticism, as the rise of monasticism is
a part of the history of religious development. But Lerins has
its own special interest. The theme that we have in hand does
not require more than some brief remarks by way of introduction.
The reader will however be helped towards its more perfect
understanding if we commence by giving a short review of the
outward history in which the establishment of the monastic
institution at Lerins finds its setting. The student of early and
mediaeval history will scarcely require even this, but there will
we hope be readers of this book who will at least be glad to be
reminded of the main parts of that history, treated at length in
the graphic and eloquent pages of Gibbon 1 , and in the vivid
narrative of Professor Dill 2 . And though the history of monas-
ticism has elsewhere been ably treated, a short essay or resume
may likewise prove acceptable, while those who desire more
than can be said in these pages may be referred to works where
an attractive theme is treated with a power to which we make
no pretensions 3 .

The foundation of the monastery of Lerins probably dates
from A.D. 410 at the commencement of a period of special
historical interest. In the opening years of the 5th century
barbarian hordes began to pour over the province of Gaul in a

1 Decline a?id fall of the Roman Empire.

2 Roman Society in the last century of the Western Empire.

3 See Bibliography.

C. M. I


great desolating stream. The remarkable series of alien im-
migrations which has been called the " Volkerwanderung," was
altering the face of the Roman Empire ; startling social
movements characterised this period ; immense changes were
working themselves out through the whole of the 5th and 6th
centuries, during which the monastery was at the height of its
fame, and again in the 7th and 8th, when its brilliant prosperity
showed signs of decline.

This history, however briefly put, of the external and internal
condition of the world at least serves to explain the motives
which impelled men to withdraw to quiet houses of religious
life, and enables us to understand why an Empire seemingly so
strong and so advanced in civilisation as that of Rome, could
be overcome by barbarous invaders, and fall before their assaults,
making social life hard and all but intolerable to the "quiet in the
land." It was like a huge and splendid oak tree, immense in
girth and grand to look upon, but in reality rotten to the core.
Economical abuses were enormous ; fraud and greed were
everywhere triumphant ; firm administration was almost un-
known. The old heathen systems of religion were falling into
decay and even much of the current Christianity was enervated
and corrupt. This partly answers the question which men were
then asking, why is the Empire, now that it is Christian, going
to pieces? There was indeed a belief widely current among
the pagans of this disastrous period that all the heaped up
calamities of the time were a consequence of, and a punishment
for, the rejection of the gods of their forefathers.

The great S. Augustine sought to refute this delusion when
he wrote of another city " not made with hands," the spiritual
city of the Church of Christ 1 , and this famous work was "a
theology of history, a comprehensive attempt to justify the ways
of God to man," and as the writer reviews the old world
of Graeco- Roman paganism, he exposes its weakness and denies
that the decay of the Empire was due to the progress of
Christianity. He called his treatise "the city of God." At such
a crisis, " civitas " meant more than a city. In his great
conception, S. Augustine portrayed an Empire of God, that

1 De Civitate Dei.


had no distinctions of race and religion, of civilisation or
barbarism, but which shared the inspiration of faith and law
and life that was common to all alike.

Orosius also, a presbyter of Tarragona wrote his seven books
of history 1 , in which he showed that there is a Providence in
human affairs, but he seems to infer that the state of the world
was not unsatisfactory and therefore in his optimistic view there
was no enigma to be solved. This attitude of his was probably
due to the slight but transitory improvement under Honorius
in 417 A.D. It was Salvian who with a truer perception faced
and solved the enigma. His book made a profound impression,
and to this day it is a valuable source of information as to the
inner life of the dying Empire. We shall refer to this work in
a subsequent chapter.


We do not purpose attempting to trace, in any detail, the
successive incursions of Teutons and Slavs, of Goths and Huns,
of Vandals, Lombards and Franks 2 . The interest of all this
history gathers round certain great names ; as of Alaric and
Stilicho, Genseric, Attila and Theodoric. Alaric was the first
barbarian to win a kingdom. The Visigoths and Ostrogoths,
who were merged in one Gothic Empire in the 4th century
under Ermaneric, were pressed by the Huns and checked by
Theodosius. The Goths, who might have proved a valuable
assistance to the Empire, if the sons of Theodosius had been
firm and energetic, raised their independent standard, boldly
avowed their hostile intentions and spread their hordes from the
shores of Dalmatia to the walls of Constantinople. They made
Alaric their leader, and his first blows were struck at the
Eastern Empire. He made a secret treaty with the ministers
of Constantinople, and gained the control of arsenal and taxes,
as well as a strong strategic position. He next turned his
thoughts westward, for the fame and wealth of Italy tempted
him. He thought he heard a voice calling, " Alaric, brook no

1 Historiarum Libri VII, " de Cladibus et Miseriis Mundi."

2 Italy and her invaders, 8 vols. Thomas Hodgkin, D.C.L., Clarendon Press.
The Dynasty of Theodosius, by the same author, and The beginning of the Middle
Ages, by Dean Church.

I — 2


delay, thou shalt penetrate to the city 1 ." He entered Italy in
A.D. 400, and ten years later Rome was captured and sacked.
The City of the Seven Hills had never in 800 years been entered
by a foreign foe. It was called the " Eternal City " and was
thought inviolable.


The name of Stilicho stands out prominently among the
defenders of the decaying Empire. To his care Theodosius
had intrusted his son Honorius who ruled the Western Empire.
Stilicho, loyal to his trust, would have gone to the assistance
of Constantinople at the time of Alaric's invasion, but received
a mysterious message, " Let Stilicho withdraw the legions of
Honorius within the limits of his master's Empire." In the
advance on Italy, Stilicho was once more at hand to guard
his trust, and at the battle of Pollentia compelled the invader
to retire for a time ; but the loyal soldier's influence began to
wane. He lost the confidence of his troops and forfeited the
trust reposed in him by his king. His friends would have
made him their king, but he hesitated, and his hesitation cost
him his life. While he sat pensive and sleepless, a Gothic
warrior entered his camp at midnight to assassinate him.
Stilicho managed to escape, but a warrant for his execution
was obtained, and he was called in his last moments a traitor
and a parricide, and was put to death in A.D. 408.

A ttila.

The conclusion of the first half of the 5th century witnessed
the warlike prowess of Attila, king of the Huns, whose life was
crowded with curious and romantic incidents. He entered Gaul
in A.D. 451. Half a million men, "obedient to his nod," moved
westward carrying devastation and destruction everywhere.
The allied forces of the Empire and the Goths met this enemy
of European civilisation and of Christianity at Chalons in
A.D. 451. In a conflict fierce and obstinate, in which the number
of slain was enormous, Attila could boast no victory, for it was

1 Rumpe omnes Alarice, moras. Hoc impiger anno

Alpibus Italiae ruptis, penetrabis ad Urbem.

Claudian, de bello Getico, 545-6.


a drawn battle. This and the death of Attila freed Western
Europe from the barbarism of the Huns. The power of his
kingdom was broken up, for only a man of genius in war and
skilful in administration could sustain it.

The Vandals under Genseric.

The blow that might have fallen through Attila was only
temporarily delayed ; it fell four years later in A.D. 455. The
Vandals, who were the most savage of the Teutonic invaders,
had been allies of the Empire for more than 200 years. They
ravaged Spain and Northern Africa under "the terrible Genseric"
whose name ranks with those of Alaric and Attila as agents in
the destruction of the Empire. He was a man of inordinate
ambition, and, as is commonly the case with those of this
character, was troubled by no scruples in seeking to justify this
passion. In A.D. 455 he arrived at the city gate, where he was
met by Leo and his clergy. To them he promised protection,
but the promise was not kept. The city was pillaged, and the
sceptre of the great world conquering power was broken, and
the spell of Empire departed.


The Ostrogoths were vassals of the Huns and had fought on
the side of Attila at Chalons. After his death they recovered
their independence under the leadership of Theodoric who was
destined to make a name in history and romance, and is, more
by way of distinction than from his possession of supreme
genius, called " the Great." In A.D. 488 he led his people forth,
and fought his way to the confines of Italy. He consolidated
his conquests and devoted a reign of 33 years to the duties
of civil government. While he adhered to his Arian creed, he
strove to show equal justice to all, and never attempted to
enforce his own religious views upon his subjects, for as he
wisely said, " We cannot impose religion by command, since no
one can be made to believe against his will 1 ." He was king
of the Goths and of the West, and was the first to establish a

1 Religionem imperare non possumus, quia nemo cogitur ut credat invitus
Cassiodorus, Variae, 2, 27 {Patrol. 69).


state in which Goths and Italians were united in amity, though
unlike in manners and customs, in religion and language, and
his successful administration is sufficient testimony to his
vigour and wisdom.

The Wars of Justinian.

Within ten years all Italy was regained for the Roman
Empire by Justinian ruling from the East, the events of whose
life were various and important, though it is as a legislator and
codifier of the law that his name is best known to-day. He was
unweariedly active and inordinately vain ; his costly extravagance
made an enormous demand upon the people, who groaned
beneath the heavy burden of taxation, and his wars weakened
rather than strengthened the Empire. Though Italy was
regained, it was an impoverished and depopulated country which
brought but a small addition of power to the Empire. His
reign was also disturbed by a constant succession of border
inroads, and the fair prospect was overcast with clouds which
presaged the gathering storm that burst upon Italy in the days
that followed his death in A.D. 565. Her sufferings, in the midst
of turmoil, and revolution, her crimes and factions were at this
time greater than those she endured at any other period of her

The Lombard Invasion.

During the reign of his successor, Justin II, Italy was invaded
by the Lombards, the Italianised name of a Teutonic tribe,
called by Roman writers the Langobardi, and described by
Tacitus as a race " few in number who held their own against
numerous and powerful neighbours by their bravery and love
of war." With Alboin their king to lead them, and accompanied
by a mixed multitude of barbarians, they descended in A.D. 568
upon this unhappy country, now exhausted by the efforts to
conquer the Goths, and meeting with little opposition, they
established a kingdom at Pavia which lasted for more than
200 years.


The Throne of S. Peter.

This outline picture of unrest and disquiet is not without its
brighter side, for these eventful centuries of change and decay
cover a period of the rise of one throne which showed no sign
of decadence, but increased in power and brilliance as others
tottered to their fall ; it was the throne of S. Peter. S. Augustine's
Empire of God was no visionary's dream, but an accomplished
triumph, for in all the wanderings of the nations, in the rise and
fall of tyrant kingdoms, in dissensions and disorganisation, in
the overthrow of civilised institutions and in the spread of heresies,
there remains " at every step in the tangled history of these times
the wonderful life which the Roman name and the Roman power
still kept when it was attacked on every side from without and
torn in pieces in every quarter from within 1 ," and the unity of
the Empire was supported by the unity of the Church. " One
Church stood beside one Empire," says Archdeacon Hutton,
" and became year by year even more certain, more perfect,
as well as more strong. In the West the papal power rose as
the imperial decayed, and before long came near to replacing
it 2 ." The growth of this influence marks the earlier half of
the 5th century. The bishops of Rome were consulted and
courted by the various parties engaged in the factions and
disputes of the East, while the bishops of Eastern sees, the
prey of mutual jealousies and rivalries, looked to Rome the
representative of the Western Churches with its seat in the most
ancient and impressive city of the world. The dignity of the
Roman see was greatly enhanced and increased by other circum-
stances, among which the confusion of the civil power was not
the least potent. As the wealth of the see increased, the natural
influence of riches was felt, and the bishops were able to keep in
touch with the ecclesiastical affairs of distant provinces.

The noble character and remarkable genius of the men who
filled the papal chair would suffice to make the era memorable.
"Upon the mind of Innocent I," says Milman, "seems first
distinctly to have dawned the vast conception of Rome's

1 See Freeman, Western Europe in the fifth century.

2 W. H. Hutton, The Church and the barbarians, p. 4, Rivington, 1906.


universal ecclesiastical supremacy." He lost none of the many-
opportunities of maintaining and extending the authority of
the Roman see in all disputes, and of repudiating any concep-
tion which narrowed the influence of his office. His successor
Zosimus was called upon to intervene in the dispute as to the
relative jurisdiction of the sees of Aries and Vienne, and he
decided in favour of Aries as it had been founded by Trophimus
" sent into Gaul by S. Peter 1 ." Zosimus is further remembered
in connection with the Pelagian controversy, in which he made
an important step towards increasing the authority of his see.
His circular letter is the earliest instance of a document from
Rome being proposed for general adoption as a standard of
orthodoxy. Celestine went beyond all precedents in the ex-
tension of the power of his see, when he assumed the right
to depose Nestorius, Bishop of Constantinople. His pretensions
were not in this case allowed, for the bishop was deposed not
by the mandate from Rome, but by bishops in council. Celestine
advanced his claims in another direction at Ephesus where his
representatives asserted that Rome's supreme judicature rested
upon a prerogative exercised by S. Peter through his successors 2 ,
and it must in scrupulous fairness be allowed that though the
great Churches of the East as patriarchal sees cannot be said to
have accepted the decisions of the Roman see as final, it is still
a fact that " the impartial Apostolic See of Rome " generally dis-
covered the true solutions to the questions raised in the Eastern
Churches, and which divided them. Hence the power grew.

In Leo I Rome had a bishop of transcendent genius who
made claims far in excess of his predecessors in the see. He was
an astute politician as well as a learned theologian. He based
his pretensions on unbroken apostolic tradition, and in urging
that Alexandria should follow the Roman model he alleged that
it would be impious to suppose that S. Mark the disciple would
have varied the rules laid down by S. Peter the master 3 . Leo
exercised sway also over Spain and Sicily, and when Hilary,
Archbishop of Aries, at a synod held in A.D. 444 deposed Celi-
donius, and the latter appealed to Rome, Leo welcomed the

1 Zosimus, Epp. 3-5, Patrol. 20.

2 Labbe, III, 625. ' Ep. 9.


opportunity of extending his powers in Gaul. He restored
Celidonius, deprived Hilary of the power to hold synods, and
influenced the Emperor Valentinian to promulgate a law in
which he declared that the Bishop of Rome was the rightful
ruler of the whole Church, and that any bishop who neglected
a citation to appear at the tribunal of the Bishop of Rome would
be compelled to appear by the civil governor of his province.
Further developments of the papal power were made by Felix
towards the close of the 5th century, when he announced the
deposition of Acacius to the clergy and people of Constanti-
nople, and declared that all who sided with the patriarch would
be cut off from the Communion of Rome.

The most eminent representative of the 6th century is the
great Gregory, who was born in Rome A.D. 540. His homilies
describe the depressed state of the Church, which reached its
lowest depths at the end of the 6th century. He compared the
Church to " an old and violently shattered ship, admitting the
waters on all sides, its timbers rotten, shaken by daily storms,
and fast becoming a mere wreck 1 ." Once more it is a time of
civil and ecclesiastical decay in which war, disease, and famine
devastated the land. Churches were destroyed ; the clergy
deficient in number as in morality ; the princes and nobles
sunk in depravity. In these circumstances Gregory showed a
marvellous grasp of affairs, keen insight, business instinct, and
remarkable tenacity of purpose. Nothing was too minute or
unimportant for his close attention. His tolerance was marked
by the protection of the Jews in the exercise of their religion,
and by his disapproval of coercion. His influence and labours
in the conversion of the heathen are too well known to need
more than a passing but none the less grateful reference here.
To our own island home he despatched Augustine, the provost
of his own monastery, with attendant monks, who landed in
the island of Thanet in A.D. 597. The rest of the story is too
familiar to need recapitulation. His strength of character, his
impressive genius, his masterly policy gave him the foremost
place among the bishops of Rome, and his greatness is thrown

1 Ep. 1, 4 .


into all the stronger relief by the comparative insignificance of
his successors of the next hundred years.

This survey of the secular history of the time and the
religious position has not been made without purpose. We
are of course not here concerned primarily with the secular
life of the centuries during which the monastery of Lerins was
a flourishing religious institution, but it is undeniable that the
religious life of every age is influenced in its character and form
by the secular history of the period, by its prosperity or ad-
versity. It is only by knowledge of the secular history of these
centuries that we can form any idea of the world that had
to be conquered, and from which many fled. But we must not
suppose that monastic institutions, even in their inception, were
mere places of refuge, chosen for selfish peace and quiet ; rather
were they centres of influence, throwing light upon the sur-
rounding darkness. The light may not have penetrated far ;
still it did penetrate. Recluses were not cowards who could
not fight against the wickedness of the world. They entered
courageously into conflict with it, and were eager to instruct, to
purify, and to conquer. In their chosen retirement they sought

Online LibraryArthur Cooper Cooper-MarsdinThe history of the islands of the Lerins, the monastery, saints and theologians of S. Honorat → online text (page 1 of 32)