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Full text of "Nicene and post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, A select library of : A new series translated into English with prolegomena and explanatory notes"

A SELECT LIBRARY 



OF 



NICENE AND POST-NICENE FATHERS 



OF 



THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH. 

Second levies. 

TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH WITH PROLEGOMENA AND EXPEANATORY NOTES. 



VOLl'MES l.-VII. 
UNDER THE EDITORIAL SUPERVISION OF 

PHILIP SCHAFF, D.D., LL.D., AND HENRY WACE.D.D. 

Professor of Church History in the Principal of King's College, 

Union Theological Seminary, Neiv York. London. 

IN CONNECTION WITH A NUMBER OF PA TRISTIC SCHOLARS OF EUROPE 

AND AMERICA. 



VOLUME XII. 

LEO THE GREAT. 
GREGORY THE GREAT, 



NEW YORK: 

THE CHRISTIAN LITERATURE COMPANY. 

OXFORD AND LONDON; 

PARKER & COMPANY. 

1895. 



Copyright, 1895, 
By THE CHRISTIAN LITERATURE COMPANY. 

fcR. 

&* * J 1 6 \ U 



,,,.. 



THE 

LETTERS AND SERMONS 



OF 



LEO THE GREAT 

BISHOP OF ROME, 
TRANSLATED, WITH INTRODUCTION, NOTES, AND INDICES, 

BY THE 

REV. CHARLES LETT FELTOE, M. A., 

LATE FELLOW OF CLARE COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE. 



VOL. XII. 



PREFATORY NOTE. 



Except for such valuable help — chiefly however in the way of comment and explana- 
tion — as Canon Bright's volume (S. Leo on the Incarnation) has supplied, both the selection 
and the translation of the Letters and Sermons of Leo Magnus are practically original. It is 
even more difficult to feel satisfied oneself, than to satisfy others either with a selection from 
a great man's works or with a translation of them. The powers of Leo as a preacher both 
of doctrine and of practice are very remarkable, and in my anxiety to keep within the limits 
imposed by the publishers, I have erred in presenting too few rather than too many of the 
Sermons to the English reader. Only those that are generally held genuine arc represented, 
though several of the doubtful ones are fine sermons, and those translated are in most cases 
no better than those omitted. Even when the same thought is repeated again and again 
(as is often the case), it is almost always clothed in such different language, and surrounded 
with so many other thoughts of value, that every sermon has an almost equal claim to be 
selected. 

With regard to the Letters, the series connected with the Eutychian controversy — the 
chief occupation of Leo's episcopate — is given nearly complete, whereas only specimens of 
his mode of dealing with other matters have been selected for presentation. With one or two 
exceptions, however, I feel more confident about the Letters than about the Sermons that the 
omitted are less important than the included. I wish I could make even a similar boast about 
the merits of the translation. 

The text rendered is for the most part that of the Ballerinii as given by Migne 
(Patrologie, Vol. LIV.), though a more critical edition is much to be desired. 

CHARLES LETT FELTOE. 
Fornham All Saints', 
Eastertide, 1894. 



b 2 



CONTENTS OF LEO THE GREAT. 

SELECT LETTERS AND SERMONS. 



TACK 

Prefatory Note in 

Introduction. § i. Life of Leo v 

§ 2. Manuscripts xiii 

§§ 3 and 4. Editions and Translations xiv 

§5. Authorities and Materials il>. 

Letters 1— 1 14 

Sermons 115 -205 

Index of Biblical Quotations and References 207 

General Index 210 



INTRODUCTION. 



Life. 

The details of Leo's early life are extremely scanty and uncertain. Is is probable that he 
was born between 390 and 400 a.d. There is a tradition that his father was a Tuscan named 
Quintian, and that Volaterrae r , a town in the north of Etruria, was his birthplace. Of his 
youth we know nothing : his writings contain no allusions to that or to any other part of his 
personal history. One may reasonably infer from the essentially Roman character of his literary 
style, from the absence of quotations out of pagan literature, and from his self-confessed 
gnorance of Greek, that his education was, though thorough after its kind, limited to Chris- 
tian and Latin culture. A reference to the pages of any secular history of the Roman empire 
will give the reader an idea of the scenes amidst which, and no doubt by the aid of which, 
Leo the boy was formed and moulded into Leo Magnus, the first great Latin-speaking pope 
and bishop of Rome, the first great Italian theologian, " the final defender of the truth of our 
Lord's Person against both its assailants 2 " (i.e. Nestorius and Eutyches), whom it pleased 
God in His providence to raise up in the Western (and not as oftenest hitherto in the Eastern) 
portion of His Church. Politically, intellectually, and theologically the period in which this 
great character grew up, lived and worked, was one of transition : the Roman Empire, learn- 
ing and thought, paganism were each alike at the last gasp, and neither in Church nor State 
was there any other at all of Leo's calibre. This consideration will account for the wonderful 
influence, partly for good and partly for bad, which his master-mind and will was permitted 
to exercise on the after-ages of Christendom. 

During his early manhood the Pelagian controversy was raging, and it is thought that the 
acolyte named Leo, whom Augustine mentions in his letters on this subject as employed by 
pope Zosimus to carry communications between Rome and the African church, is the future 
pope. Under Celestine, who was pope from 422 to 432, he was archdeacon of Rome, and 
lie seems already to have made a name for himself: for Cassian, the Gallican writer whom he 
had urged to write a work on the Incarnation, in yielding to his suggestion, calls him "the 
ornament of the Roman church and of the Divine ministry," and S. Cyril (in 431, the date of 
the Council of Ephesus) appeals to Leo (as Leo has himself recorded in Letter CXIX., 
chap. 4) to procure the pope's support in stopping the ambitious designs of Juvenal, bishop of 
Jerusalem. Under the next pope, Sixtus (432—440), we hear of him in Prosper's Chronicon 
(under the year 439) again in connexion with Pelagianism 3 : he seems to have stirred up the 
vigilance of the pope against the crafty designs of one Julius of Eclanum, who, having been 
deprived of his bishopric for holding thai heresy, was attempting to be restored without full 
proof of orthodoxy. 



1 The objection that Prosper and Leo himself both speak of more than Rome or any other Italian city can claim the honour 



Rome as his f atria does not seem of sufficient weight to over- 
throw a tradition, which it is somewhat hard to account for 
the existence of. To a native of central Italy under the Em- 
pire, who had spent all his public life in Rome, the Eternal 
city was equally patria, whether it was his actual birthplace or 
not. At the same time there is no evidence that Volaterrse any 



with certainty. 

2 Wilberforce on Doctrine of the Holy Eucharist., p. 246, 
quoted by Bright. 

3 The chief error of Pelagius (= Morgan), who is commonly 
thought to have been of British origin, was, as is well-known, the 
denial of original or bir;h-sin: see Article ix. 



vi INTRODUCTION. 



Next year (440) was a momentous one in the life of Leo, and in the history of the papacy. 
Leo was away on one of those political missions, which bear out our estimate of him as 
perhaps the most conspicuous and popular figure of his times ♦. The powerful general Aetius 
Placidia, the queen-regent's chief adviser and aide-de-camp, was quarrelling (a not unusual 
occurrence at this stage of the empire) with Albinus, a rival general in Gaul. Leo was sent 
to bring about a reconciliation, and apparently with success. In his absence Sixtus died, and 
it is not surprising that without any hesitation clergy and people should have elected Leo 
into his place. A deputation was sent after him to hasten his return, and after an interval 
of forty days he arrived. The whole church received him with acclamation, and on Sept. 29 
he was ordained both priest and 47th bishop of Rome. His brief sermon on the occasion is 
the earliest in the collection, and will be found translated on p. 115 of our selection. His 
earliest extant letter belongs likewise to the first year of his episcopate, which we have also 
included in our selection : it is addressed to the bishop of Aquileia in reproof of his and his 
fellow- bishops' remissness in dealing with Pelagianism in that province. Thus early did he 
give proof of his conception of his office, as investing him with an authority which extended 
over the whole of Christendom as the successor of S. Peter. Still clearer proofs were soon 
forthcoming. Not to speak of a letter in a similarly dictatorial strain to the bishops of the 
home provinces of Campania, Picenum, and Etruria, which belongs to the year 443, we find 
him in 444 interfering, though more guardedly, with the province of Illyricum, which was then 
debatable ground between the East and West ; in 445 dictating church regulations to S. Cyril's 
new successor at Alexandria, Dioscorus, his future adversary ; and in 446 and 447 asserting 
his authority on various pretexts, now in Africa, now in Spain, now in Sicily ; while in 444 also 
occurred his famous and not very creditable encounter with Hilary, bishop of Aries in Gaul. 
The incidents in this quarrel are briefly these : Hilary in a provincial synod had deposed 
a bishop, Celidonius, for technical irregularities in accordance with the Gallican canons. 
Celidonius appealed to Rome. Thereupon Hilary set out in the depth of winter on foot to 
Rome, but, after an ineffectual statement of his case and some rough treatment from Leo, 
returned to Gaul. Leo gave orders that Celidonius was to be restored, and Hilary deprived 
of all his metropolitical rights in the province of Vienne. How far the sentence was carried 
out is not clear. In a later letter he desires that the bishop of Vienne should be regarded as 
metropolitan, and yet he seems to recognize Hilary's successor, Ravennius, as still metropolitan 
in Letter XL., while in 450 the bishops of the one district addressed a formal petition for the 
restoration of Aries to its old rank, and the bishops of the other a counter-petition in favour 
of Vienne ; whereupon Leo effected a temporary modus vivendi by dividing the jurisdiction 
between the two sees. 

Returning to the year 444, besides consulting S. Cyril and Paschasinus, bishop of Lily- 
baeum, on the right day for keeping Easter that year (a moot point which recurred in 
other years) we find Leo still taking active measures against heresy, this time that of the 
Manichaeans s. The followers of this sect had since 439 greatly increased at Rome, owing to 
the number of refugees who came over from Carthage after its capture by Genseric and his 
Vandal hosts (see Sermon XVI. 5). They were an universally abhorred body, and deservedly 
so, if all we iead about them be really true. In 444, therefore, it was determined, if possible, 
to stamp them out. By Leo's order a strict search was instituted throughout the city, and the 
large number of those who were discovered, were brought up for trial before a combined 
bench of civil and ecclesiastical judges. The most heinous crimes were revealed. Those 

4 This is seen still more clearly when we remember how its rise in the far East) was the existence of two independent and 



completely he held the Western, if not always the Eastern, 
Emperors in his power, and made them support and carry out his 
wishes. 

5 The essential p'.nnt in the Manicharan heresy (which took 



conflicting principles: good, whose kingdom was light and the 
spiritual world, and evil, whose kingdom was over the elements 

of matter. 



LIFE. 



vu 



who refused to recant were banished for life and suffered various other penalties by the 
emperor Valentinian's decree, while Leo used all his influence to obtain similar treatment for 
them in other parts of Christendom. Three years later the spread of Priscillianism, a heresy 
which in some points was akin to Manichaeism among other heresies, and a long account of 
which will be found in Letter XV., was the occasion to which we have referred as giving 
a pretext for his interference in the affairs of the Spanish church. 

We now reach the famous Eutychian controversy, on which Leo's chief claim to our thanks 
and praise rests : for to his action in it the Church owes the final and complete definition 
of the cardinal doctrine of the Incarnation. The heresy of Eutyches, as was the case with so 
many other heresies, sprang from the reaction against a counter heresy. Most of the contro- 
versies which have again and again imperilled the cause of Christianity, have been due to 
human frailty, which has been unable to keep the proportion of the Faith. Over-statement on 
the one side leads to over-statement on the other, and thus the golden mean is lost sight of. 
Eutyches, an archimandrite (or head of a monastery) at Constantinople, had distinguished 
himself for zeal during the years 428 to 431 in combating the heresy of Nestorius, who had 
denied the perfect union of the Godhead and the Manhood in the one Person, Christ Jesus. 
He had objected to the Virgin being called Theotokos (God-bearing), and said that Christoiokos 
(Christ-bearing) would be more correct. This position, as involving two persons as well as 
two natures in our Lord, was condemned by the 3rd General Council, which met at Ephesus 
in 431, S. Cyril being its chief opponent. But Eutyches in his eagerness to proclaim the 
Unity of the Person of Christ fell into the opposite extreme, and asserted that though the two 
natures of Christ were originally distinct, yet after the union they became but one nature, the 
human being changed into the Divine. Eutyches appears to have been a highly virtuous 
person, but possessed of a dull, narrow mind, unfit for the subtleties of theological discussion, 
and therefore unable to grasp the conception of two Natures in one Person : and nothing 
worse than stupidity and obstinacy is brought against him by his stern but clear-headed 
opponent Leo. 

The person, however, who first brought the poor recluse's heretical statements prominently 
into notice was much more reckless and intemperate in his language. This was Eusebius, 
bishop of Dorylseum, who took the opportunity of a local synod held in Constantinople under 
the presidency of the gentle Flavian, in November, 448, for other business, to petition against 
his former friend and ally as a blasphemer and a madman. The synod, after expostulating 
with the accuser for his violence, at last reluctantly consented to summon Eutyches to an 
account. The summons was at least twice repeated and disobeyed under the pretext first 
that he might not leave the monastery, then that he was ill. At last Eutyches yielded, and 
appeared accompanied by a crowd of monks and soldiers and by Florentius, a patrician for 
whom the weak Emperor (Theodosius II.) had been influenced by the eunuch Chrysaphius, 
Eutyches' godson, to demand a seat at the council. After a long conversation, in which 
Eutyches tried to evade a definite statement, he was at last forced to confess that our Lord was 
of two natures before the union, but that after the union there was but one nature (see Letter 
XXVIII. (Tome), chap vi.). As he persisted in maintaining this position, he was condemned 
and thrust out of the priesthood and Church-communiou. During the reading of the condem- 
nation and the breaking up of the conclave, Eutyches is alleged to have told Florentius that he 
appealed to the bishops of Rome, Alexandria, and Jerusalem. Flavian, as president of the 
council, thought it his duty to acquaint the bishops of Rome and other Sees of the first rank 
with what had taken place. For some unknown reason his letter to Leo was delayed, and the 
appeal of Eutyches and a letter from the Emperor was the first information that he received. 
As might be expected from Leo's conception of his office, he was much incensed at this 
apparent neglect, and wrote to the Emperor explaining his ignorance 01 the facts, and to 



viii INTRODUCTION. 



Flavian, complaining of being kept in ignorance, and prima facie of Eutyches' treatment. 
Meanwhile the delayed epistle arrived from Flavian, and the account given was enough to 
satisfy Leo, who thereupon (May, 449) replied briefly expressing his approval and promising 
a fuller treatment of the question. This promise was fulfilled next month in the shape of the 
world-famous "Tome," which forms Letter XXVIII. in the Leonine collection. The proper 
significance of this document is well expressed by Mr. Gore 6 : it is, he says, " still more 
remarkable for its contents than for the circumstances which produced it," though " in itself 
it is a sign of the times : for here we have a Latin bishop, ignorant of Greek, defining the 
faith for Greek-speaking bishops, in view of certain false opinions of Oriental origin." With- 
out reviewing in detail the further correspondence that Leo carried on with the various civil 
and ecclesiastical authorities at Constantinople (among them being the influential and ortho- 
dox Pulcheria the Emperor's sister), we pass on to the events connected with the second 
council of Ephesus. Through the influence of Chrysaphius, as we have already seen, the 
Emperor was all along on the side of Eutyches, and it was apparently at his instigation and 
in spite of Leo's guarded dissuasion that the council was now convened and met in August, 
449. The bishop of Rome excused himself from personal attendance on the score of pressing 
business at home, and sent three legates with instructions to represent his views, viz. Julius, bishop 
of Puteoli, Renatus, a presbyter, and Hilary, a deacon, together with Dulcitius, a notary 7. 
They started about the middle of June, and the Synod opened on the 8th of August, in 
the church of the B.V.M. By the Emperor's order Dioscorus, patriarch of Alexandria, was pre- 
sident, Leo's chief representative sat next him, and Flavian was placed only 5th, the bishop of 
Antioch and Jerusalem being set above him: 130 bishops in all were admitted, those who 
had condemned Eutyches being excluded. Owing partly to the presence of the soldiery and 
a number of turbulent monks under the Syrian archimandrite Barsubas, the proceedings 
soon became riotous and disorderly. The " Tome " was not read at all, though that was 
the purpose of its composition. Eutyches was admitted to make his defence, which was 
received as completely satisfactory. The acts of the Synod of Constantinople on being read 
excited great indignation. Amid tremendous uproar Eutyches was formally restored to 
communion and his former position, and the president pronounced deposition upon Flavian 
and Eusebius. Flavian appealed, and Hilary 8 , after uttering a monosyllabic protest, " con- 
tradicitur" managed to make good his escape and carry the lamentable tidings to his 
anxiously-expectant chief at Rome. The other bishops all more or less reluctantly sub- 
scribed the restoration of Eutyches and the deposition of Flavian and Eusebius. The 
end of Flavian is variously recorded, but the most accurate version appears to be that 
amid many blows and rough usage he was cast into prison, then driven into exile, and that 
within a few days he died of the bodily and mental injuries he had received at Epypa, 
a village in Lydia. These calamitous proceedings Leo afterwards stigmatized as Lairociiiium 
(brigandage), and the council is generally known as the Robber council of Ephesus. 

At the time when the disastrous news arrived at Rome, Leo was presiding over a council 
which he had convened ; in violent indignation he immediately dispatched letters right and 
left in his own and his colleagues' name. There is a letter to Flavian, of whose death of 
course he was not yet aware ; there are others to the archimandrites and the whole church of 
Constantinople, to Julian, bishop of Cos, and to Anastasius, bishop of Thessalonica. He 
used all his influence to prevail on the Emperor to summon a fresh council, this time in Italy, 



6 Leo the Great, p. 53 (S.P.C.K.): this writer should also | must be carefully distinguished from Julian of Cos, who was 



be consulted (pp. 53 to 70), on the merits and importance 01' the 
Eutychian controversy generally. 

7 Of these Renatus is said to have died at Delos on the way, 
and Hilary is the future pope of that name. Julius of Puteoli 



also a confidant of Leo's. 

8 What happened to Julius and Dulcitius is not known, though 
Leo does not express any disapproval of their action. 



LIFE. ix 

writing to him himself, and getting Pulcheria on the spot, and Valentinian, his mother Placidia 
and his wife Eudoxia, by letters from Rome, to assist his cause. As yet, however, the very 
stars in their courses seemed to fight against him, and the outlook grew yet darker. In the 
spring of 450 Dioscorus' predominance in the East had become so great that ten bishops 
were found to join with him in actually excommunicating the bishop of Rome. At the 
Court, though Pulcheria remained true to the Faith, Chrysaphius still seems to have swayed 
the Emperor, and to have obtained from him the edict which was issued confirming the acts 
of the Ephesine council. The fact, too, that Flavian's successor, Anatolius, had in the past 
been associated with Dioscorus caused him not unnatural anxiety, and this feeling turned to 
one of actual offence on receiving a letter from Anatolius, in which he simply announces his 
consecration without asking his consent. Thereupon Leo demanded of the Emperor that 
Anatolius should make some public proof and profession of his orthodoxy on the lines of the 
Tome and other catholic statements, and in the month of July sent legates to support this 
demand. 

At this moment the horizon suddenly brightened. Before the arrival of the legates, 
Theodosius was killed by a fall from his horse, and to the triumph of the orthodox cause, his 
sister, Pulcheria (the first Roman Empress), succeeded him. The whole aspect of things was 
soon changed. Chrysaphius was almost at once executed, and shortly afterwards Pulcheria 
married and shared the Eastern empire with Marcian, who was for bravery, wisdom and 
orthodoxy an altogether suitable partner of her throne. 

Leo's petition for a new Synod was now granted, but the place of meeting was to be in the 
East, not in the West, as more convenient for the Emperor. In the interval S. Flavian's body 
was brought by reverent hands to Constantinople and buried in the church of the Apostles, 
and a still more hopeful sign of the times — Anatolius and many other bishops signed the 
Tome. Hitherto Leo had asked that both councils (that which had condemned and that 
which had acquitted Euryches of heresy) should be treated as null and void, and that the 
matter should be discussed de novo. Now, however, he shows a significant change of front : 
the Faith, he maintains, is decided : nothing needs now to be done but to reject the heretics 
and to use proper caution in re-admitting the penitents : there is no occasion for a general 
council. And consequently he sends bishop Lucentius and Basil a presbyter as legates 
to assist Anatolius in this matter of rejection and re-admission. But, as the Emperor adhered 
to his determination, Leo was obliged to give way, and though still declining to attend in 
person, sent bishop Paschasinus of Sicily and Boniface a presbyter with written instructions 
to act with the former two as his representatives ; Julian of Cos, who from his knowledge 
of Greek and Eastern affairs was a most useful addition, was also asked to be of the number. 
Nicaea in Bithynia had been fixed upon as the rendezvous, and there on Sept. 1, 451, 520 
bishops assembled 9. The Emperor, however, was too busy and too anxious over his 
military operations against Attila and the Huns to meet them there, and therefore invites 
them to Chalcedon, which being on the Bosporus was much nearer to Constantinople. 
There accordingly on Oct. 8, in the church of S. Euphemia the Martyr, the council was 
at last opened. The Emperor himself was still absent, but he was well represented by 
a goodly number of state officials. In accordance with Leo's request, Paschasinus, with his 
brother legates, presided : next sat Anatolius, Dioscorus, Maximus of Antioch and Juvenal 
of Jerusalem, with a copy of the Gospels in the midst. Leo's representatives began by 
trying to have Dioscorus ejected : they only succeeded in getting him deposed from his seat 
of honour and placed in the middle of the room together with Eusebius of Dorylaeum, his 
accuser, and Theodoret of Cyrus, the eminent theologian, who was suspected of Nestorian- 

9 no others voted by proxy in absence through their metropolitans (Gore). 



X 



INTRODUCTION. 



izing language. The remainder of the first day was spent in reading the acts of the Ephesine 
council, which in the midst of much uproar were provisionally condemned. 

At the second session (Oct. 10), the Tome was read by the Imperial secretary, Veronician, 
and enthusiastically received: "Peter has spoken by Leo," they said. But objections being 
raised by the bishops of Palestine and Illyria that the twofold Nature was over-stated, its 
final acceptance was postponed for a few days, that a committee which was nominated might 
reason with the dissentients. 

At the third Session (Oct. 13), Dioscorus, who refused to appear, was accused by 
Eusebius and by general consent condemned, being deprived of his rank and office as bishop, 
and the Emperor having confirmed the sentence, he was banished to Gangra in Paphlagonia, 
and there three years later (in 454) died. His successor at Alexandria was the orthodox 
Proterius, who was however never recognized by a large portion of the Egyptian Church : 
even in the Synod of Chalcedon many of the Egyptian bishops refused to sign the " Tome " 
at the fourth session, on the plea that the custom of their church forbade them to act without 
the consent of the archbishop, who was not yet appointed, and the still surviving " Jacobite " 
schism originated with the deposition of Dioscorus. 

The fourth session was held on the 17th, and the misgivings of the Palestinian and 
Illyrian bishops having been quieted in the interval, the Tome was adopted. 

In the fifth session (Oct. 24), a difficulty arose over a definition of the Faith which had 
been composed, but did not satisfy the Roman legates with regard to Eutychianism. However 
a committee, which was appointed, took it in hand again, and the result of their labours was 
accepted as fully guarding against the errors both of Nestorius and Eutyches. The remain- 
ing sessions were occupied with less important matters, and with drawing up the canons 
of the Council, of which one— the 28th — was designed to settle the precedence of the 
patriarch of Constantinople ("New Rome " as it was called), and to give him a place second 
to the bishop of old Rome. Against this audacious innovation the Roman legates in vain 
protested ; the bitter pill, enwrapped in much sugar, was conveyed to Leo in the synodal letter, 
and produced the most lamentable results. 

The last meeting of the Council on Nov. 1 was graced by the attendance in full state of 
Marcian and Pulcheria. The Emperor delivered an address, and at its conclusion he and the 
Empress were vociferously applauded, Marcian being styled the " second Constantine." 

To return to Leo, we have letters from Marcian, Anatolius, and Julian, all trying to carry 
off the difficulty of the 2 8rii Canon under the triumph of the Roman views in other respects. 
But Leo refused to be conciliated. The canon, he maintains, is in direct violation of the 
decrees of Nicsea (in which statement he makes an unpardonable x confusion between the 
Nicene canons and those of Sardica, which were often appended to them). With Anatolius 
he was especially displeased, considering that his doubtful precedents ought to have made 
him extremely careful not to offend. He therefore ceased all communication with him, 
eagerly seizing at pretexts of complaint against him, and appointing Julian his apocrisiarius 
or resident representative and correspondent. All this time Marcian continued pleading and 
Leo inflexible, until Anatolius at last yielded, and the matter for the time is satisfactorily 
settled, though it must not be imagined that the disputed canon was ever annulled. 

Eutychianism still lingered on and caused disturbances in various parts of the East, 
especially among the monks. In Palestine, Juvenal, the bishop of Jerusalem, was deposed, 
and the Empress Eudocia, Theodosius II. 's widow, who was living in retirement in that city, 
was suspected of favouring the rioters. Leo therefore wrote letters to her and to others, 



1 Unpardonable in any case from one in his position, but es- 
pecially so, if he was really connected with the church of Rome, 
as we have suggested, under Zosimus, in whose time the confusion, 



already existing then, was completely cleared up: see Gore's 
Life, pp. 113 and 114. The Canon itself p. ofessed only to confnm 
one already passed in 381. 



LIFE. xi 

in which he re states the doctrine of the Incarnation, endeavouring to clear up any miscon- 
ceptions which the inaccuracy of the Greek version of the Tome may possibly have caused. 
Eventually he was able to congratulate the Emperor on the restoration of peace and order in 
that quarter of their empire. 

Similar riots were reported in Cappadocia, where the monks were led by one of their 
number named George, in Constantinople itself, where the ringleaders were Carosus and 
Dorotheus, and in Egypt. 

But before we narrate the final victory of the orthodox cause throughout Christendom 
against the Eutychians, there are two events in the political world, belonging one to the year 
452 and the other to 455, to which reference must be made, as showing the remarkable 
prestige which Leo's character had gained for him among all classes of society. When he 
was made pope we found him absent in Gaul mediating between rival generals. We now find 
him employed on still harder missions. Leo himself makes none but the slightest indirect 
allusion to either of these later incidents, but this silence is only characteristic of the man, in 
whom there is no trace of vain-boasting, and who consistently sank the personality of himself 
as well as of others in the principles and causes which absorbed him. There seems no reason, 
however, to doubt the substantial truth of what Prosper and others have related. In 452 
Attila and the Huns, notwithstanding the defeat they had sustained from Aetius at Chalons, 
continued their devastating inroad into Italy. The whole city of Rome was paralysed with 
terror, and at last sent Leo with the Consular Avienus and the Prefect Tregetius to intercede with 
them. The meeting took place on lake Benacus, and Leo's arguments, aided, it is thought, 
by rumours of threatened invasion at home, persuaded Attila to retire beyond the Danube, on 
condition of receiving Honoria with a rich dowry as his wife. This was the last time that 
Attila troubled the Romans : for he died the next year. 

Less than three years after this successful encounter with the barbarian, in 455 Leo's 
powerful services were again brought into requisition by the State. That year the licentious 
Valentinian was murdered at the instigation of an enraged husband, Maximus, who sub- 
sequently compelled the widow, Eudoxia, to marry him. Eudoxia, however, discovering the 
part Maximus had taken in Valentinian's death, invited the Vandals under Genseric to invade 
Italy. Maximus himself was put to death before the invaders reached Rome : but, when they 
did arrive the panic-stricken citizens again threw themselves into the hands of Leo, who at 
the head of the clergy went forth to meet the foe outside the city. Once more his inter- 
cessions in some measure prevailed, but not sufficiently to prevent the city being pillaged 
fourteen days. 

W T e now return to more purely religious matters. In 457 Marcian died (his wife having 
pre-deceased him four years), and was succeeded by a Thracian, named Leo 2 . Fresh outbreaks 
immediately took place both at Constantinople and at Alexandria : at the former place they 
were soon stopped, but at Alexandria they were more serious and prolonged. The dis- 
affected monks set up one of their number, Timothy ^Elurus (or the Cat) in opposition to 
Proterius, who was soon after foully murdered in the baptistery, to which he had fled. This 
flagrant outrage at once aroused the bishop of Rome to fresh energy in every direction : by 
his promptitude the new Emperor was stirred to action, among the other means employed 
being a re-statement of the Faith in a long epistle with a catena of patristic authority, some- 
times called " the Second Tome." yElurus was deposed and banished, and another Timothy, 
surnamed Solophaciolus, of well-approved orthodoxy, elected into his place. This satisfactory 
consummation was effected in 460, while a no less orthodox successor, named Gennadius, 
had been found two years before, when Anatolius died, for the See of Constantinople. Thus 



Styled " Magnus," like his great namesake, though with infinitely less good reason. 



Xll 



INTRODUCTION. 



Leo's joy was full at last, as his latest letters testify. Late in the year 461 he died, after 
a rule of twenty-one years, during which he had won at least one great victory for the 
Faith, and had given the See of Rome a prestige, which may be said to have lasted even to 

the present day. 

His body was buried in the church of S. Peter's, since which time it has been thrice moved 
to different positions, once towards the end of the 7th century by Pope Sergius, again in 
1607, after the re-building of the church in its present form, and lastly in 1715. As "saint" 
and "confessor" from the earliest times, as "doctor of the church" since 1754, he is com- 
memorated in the East on Feb. 18, in the West on April 11. 

" It will not be wholly out of place," says Mr. Gore 3, " to mention that tradition looks 
" back to Leo as the benefactor of many of the Roman churches : he is said to have 
" restored their silver ornaments after the ravages of the Vandals, and to have repaired the 
"basilicas of S. Peter and S. Paul, placing a mosaic in the latter, which represented the 
" adoration of the four and twenty elders : we are told also that he built a church of S. Cor- 
" nelius, established some monks at S. Peter's, instituted guardians for the tombs of the 
" Apostles, and erected a fountain before S. Paul's, where the people might wash before 
" entering the church." 

The only writings of Leo which are usually accepted as authentic are his numerous Sermons 
and Letters. Certain anti-Pelagian treatises and a long tract upon Humility in the form 
of a letter to Demetrias, a virgin, have been ascribed to him ; but the most important work 
of all the doubtful ones is a " Sacramentary," which is one of the earliest extant of the 
Roman church, and is sometimes held to be Leo's composition or compilation. Many of the 
collects and prayers which it contains bear a remarkable resemblance to his teaching, and may 
well have come from his pen : there is indeed good reason for the opinion that the Collect 
proper, which is a distinct feature of the Western Church, owes its origin to Leo. 

As a theologian Leo is thoroughly Western in type, being not speculative but dogmatic : 
no one was better suited in God's Providence to give the final completeness to the Church's 
Doctrine of the Incarnation than this clear-sighted, unimaginative, and persistent bishop of 
Rome. His theological position on the cardinal doctrines of the Faith is identical with 
that of the Athanasian symbol, to the language of which his own language often bears a close 
resemblance. With his theory of the Pope as universal Ruler of the Church in virtue of his 
being the successor of S. Peter, the vast majority of English-speaking people will have but 
little sympathy.- and yet it can but be admired from an objective standpoint as a bold, grand, 
and almost original 4 conception. And there are no doubt many smaller points of detail 
in his writings connected more with discipline than with doctrine, which will now be 
reckoned if not as actually objectionable, at least as arising from forgotten needs or 
belonging to a byegone system: among these may be instanced his objection to slaves 
as clergy and to the celebration of the Eucharist more than once in one day except on 
festivals, where the church is too small to hold all the worshippers at once : his advocacy 
of the innovation of private instead of public confession for ordinary penitents, and on the 
other hand his insisting on the old rule that baptism should be administered only twice 
a year (at Easter and at Whitsuntide) : and again the somewhat undue prominence that 
he gives to fasting and almsgiving as being on a level with prayer for Lenten or Ember 
exercises, and to the intercessions of the saints — particularly of the patron saints of Rome, 
SS. Peter, Paul, and Lawrence. And yet at the same time there is very much more to 

3 Life, p. 165. 

4 Milman attributes the real initiation of the Papal theory to the imperious Innocent I., who held the See of Rome at the 
beginning of the fifth century (402 — 417). 



MANUSCRIPTS. xiii 



he thankful for as instructive than to ohject to as obsolete or dangerous. For on the 
negative side we have no trace after all of the later direct invocation of the Saints, nor of 
the modern cultus of the B. V. M. and of relics, while among the many positive good points 
' in his teaching must be reckoned his most proper theory of a bishop as not only the channel 
of divine grace in virtue of ordination (sacerdos) but also the overseer of the flock (episcopus), 
in virtue of the people's choice and approval, which is essential to his office ; his strong con- 
demnation of the practice of usury in laity as well as clergy ; his high appreciation of 
corporate even more than individual action among the faithful ; the thoroughly practical view 
he always puts before us of the Christian life; and above all the "singularly Christian" 
character of all his sermons, in which Christ is the Alpha and Omega of all his thoughts and of 
all his exhortations. These are some of the benefits which Leo has conferred upon the Church, 
and which have rightfully earned for him the title " Great." 

Manuscripts. 

I. At the Vatican, (a) Of the Sermons, (i) Codd. 3S35 and 6 are two volumes in 
Roman Character of a Lectionary of about the 8th century ; the second volume contains the 
"Tome" (which in the 8th and 9th centuries used to be read in the Church offices before 
Christmas) : (2) 3828, a parchment (10th century), also a lectionary : (3) 1195, a parchment folio 
(nth century), a lectionary containing inter alia some of Leo's homilies : (4) 1267, 8 and 9 of 
the same character (nth century) : (5) 1270 contains the Sermon de Festo Petri cathedra (now 
xiv. in Migne's Appendix), from which Cacciari restored Quesnel's imperfect edition of it to 
its present state: (6) 1271 and 2 are also lectionaries : (7) 4222 in Lombardic characters 
(9th century), a lectionary: (8) 5451 in Roman characters (12th century), a lectionary: 
1^9) 6450 parchment (12th century) : a lectionary containing the sermon de Festo Petri cathedra 
in the form found and printed by Quesnel ; (10) 6451 similar: it contains sermons de Quadra- 
gesima and others : (11) 6454 similar. 

(/3) Of the Letters .- these are mostly rather later (i.e. about 12th or 13th century): but 
(1) 1322 is of an older date, and contains besides the epistles, all the acts of the Council of 
Chalcedon : (2) 5759 is earlier than the 9th century; it used to belong to the monastery of 
S. Columban at Bobbio, and contains 31 letters : (3) 5845 is very ancient, and according to 
Cacciari, Lombardic : it contains 24 letters. 

(y) Letters and Sermons together: of these there are nine collections in the Vatican, of 
which 548 and 9 contain the sermon de Absalom which is condemned by Cacciari. The 
Regio- Vatican us codex 139 is a fine collection of Leo's works (12th century). 

II. At other places: (1) The codex Urbinas 65 is thought to be a copy of the Regio- 
Vaticanus 139 made in the 14th century. 

(2) Codex Grimanicus s is a MS. on which Quesnel lays great stress : Quesnel assigns it to 
the ninth century; it contains 107 letters, of which 28 had never been printed before 
Quesnel. 

(3) The Thuanei ; (a) 129 contains 123 letters: (/3) 780 contains the Tome: (y) 729 
contains the spurious de vocatione gentium and some epistles. 

(4) The Corbeienses are old. 

(5) The Taurinensis 29 D. iv. is a fine 13th-century MS. containing 52 letters. 

(6) The Florentinus codex belongs to the 13th century also. 

(7) Ratisbonensis 113 dd. aa., in the monastery of S. Emeramus, contains 72 letters: 
it is said to date from about 750 a.d. 

(8) The two Bergonenses are of 12th century, and contain 12 sermons. 

S Grimanus, from whom this Codex is named, was Cardinal of S. Mark, &c, in the 16th century. 



XIV 



INTRODUCTION. 



(9) Two Chigiani also of 12th century contain 4 sermons. 

(10) The Padilironenses contain 9 sermons and the Tome. 

(11) There are three Patavini, of which two contain the Tome. 

(12) Vallicellani: these are a number of nth or 12th-century codices. 
There are also the Veneti, the Vercellenses, the Veronenses, &'c. 

N.B. The foregoing account is taken from Schonemann's Notitia Historico-Literaria (1794), 
and the translator has no means of knowing whether it is still correct (1890). 

Editions. 
t. The earliest important edition is .P. Quesnel's (preire de Poratoire), Paris, 1675, Lyons, 
1700, of which Migne's Diet, de Bibliogr. catholique says, 'on reproche aux editions du P. Quesnei 
un grand nombre de falsifications, par lesquelles le P. Quesnei se proposait notamment d'affaiblir 
Pautorite pontificate 6 . . . . V edition que Pon doit aujourd'hui preferer, est (naturally enough!) 
celle qui a cte publi'ee par M. Vabb'e Migne sous le iitre d' 

2. CEuvres ires completes de Saint Leon le Grand publi'ees d'ap/es Ped ; tion des freres 
Ballerinii et celle de Paschase Qt/esncl enrichees de prefaces, divertissements et de co/nmentaires, 
suivies des exercices de Cacciari sur toutes les eeuvres du saint docteur. Paris 1846. 

3. P. Cacciari (a carmelite) brought out editions at Rome, 1 75 1 and 1753-5, the latter 
with dissertations. 

4. The edition of the brothers P. and H. Ballerinii (Jesuists), Venice, 1753-7, was a re- 
cension of Quesnel's second edition with copious dissertations and notes. 

5. // Hurler, S. J., has published selections of Sermons and Letters in vols, xiv., xxv. and 
xxvi. of his SS. PP. opuscula selecta, 187 1-4. 

Translations, 
t Brighfs Leo on the Incarnation, London, 1862 (2nd edn. enlarged, 1SS6, in which the 
Tome is translated), consists of xviii. sermons translated and the Tome in Latin, with many 
valuable notes. 

2. Reithmayr's Bibliothek (1869) contains a German translation. 

3. Dr. Nealc's History of the Alexandrian Patriarchate embodies a translation of the Tome. 

4. Dr. Heurtley published a version of the Tome in 1886. 

Authorities and Materials. 

The chief ancient and mediaeval authorities for the life and times of Leo the Great are 
such works as Prospers, and Ldatius' Chronicles, Lornandes de rebus Geticis, Anastasius Bibl'o- 
thecarius Historia de vitis Romanorum Pontificum (9th cent.), the Historia Miscella (10th 
cent), &c. 

Among lives may be mentioned the following :— (1) La vie et religion de deux bons papes Leon 
premier et Gregoire premier par Pierre du Moulin (the younger: a protestant theologian), 
Sedan, 1650. 121110. (2) Quesnel's valuable Dissertatio de vita et rebus gestis S. Leonis 
Magni, originally included in his edition of Leo and re-printed by Migne in Vol. ii. of his edition 
with the Ballerinii's annotations and critical remarks, Paris, 1675, Lyons, 1700. (3) Histoire 
du Pontificat de Saint Leon le Grand par Monsr. L. Maimbourg La Have, 1687. (4) The 
Bollandists 1 Life by Canisius {Acta Sanctorum), April, vol. ii. pp. 14-22. (5) Alphonsi 
Ciaconii Vitai Pontificum {Tom 1, pp. 303-314),^//^, 1677, 4 to. (6) Le Nain de Tillemont, 
Memoires pour servir a V histoire Ecclesiastique (vol. xv. pp. 414 — 832,885- g-'d.) Paris 1711. (~) 



6 That is to say, it upheld the Gallican opinions ; and so 
it was condemned and put on the Index in i632. But being 
too valuable a work to be altogether suppressed, Benedict XIV. 



enjoined the issue of (4), which rebutted and rectified Quesnel's 
false deductions in its notes and excursuses. 






AUTHORITIES AND MATERIALS. xv 

Breve Descrizione della vita di S. Leone Primo di Gabrielle Bertazzolo : Mantova, 1727. 
(8) Memoire istoriche di Sa. Leone Papa da Teofilo Pacifico : Brescia, 1791, Svo. (9) Du Pin, 
L. E., History of Ecc. writers (Eng Edn. vol. 1, pp. 464 — 480), Dublin, 1722. (10) C. Oudinus, 
de Scriptoribus Ecclesice (vol. 1, pp. 127 1-5), Leipzig, 1722. (n) Wilhelm Amadeus Arendt 
{Roman Catholic), Leo der Grosse und seine Zeit, Mainz, 1835, Svo. (12) Eduard Perthel, 
Papst Leo's L. Leben und Lehren, Jena, 1843, 8vo. (a counterblast to No. 11, and no less 
exaggerated and prejudiced in statement). (13) A. de Saint-Chron, Histoire du pontificat 
de Saint LJon le Grand, Paris, 1846. (14) F. Bohringer, die Kirche Xti und ihre Zeugen 
(vol. 1 part 4, pp. 170 — 309), Zurich, 1845. (15) Charles Gore's Life of Leo the Great 
(S.P.C.K.) ; also bis article in Smith's Diet, of Christian Biogr. (16) Tbe article in 
Herzog's Real-Encyklopadie of which a condensed English edition was edited by Dr. Philip 
Schaff at New York in 1883. Other more general accounts of his times will be found in 
(1) i'abbe Fleury, Histoire du Xtianisme (vol. ii. pp. 384 — 480), Paris, 1836. (2) Bright's 
History of the Church from 313 — 451 (chaps, xiv., xv.), Oxford and London, i860. 
(3) Milman's Latin Christianity (Book ii. chap. 4), London, 1864. (4) R. J. Rohrbacher's 
Histoire Universette de VEglise catholique (15th edn., vol. 4, pp. 461 — 575), Paris, 1868. 
A short account of Leo's writings is given in Alzog's Grundriss der Patrologie, § 78, pp. 368 — 
375 : a most exhaustive one in Ceillier's Histoire generate des Auteurs sacres (new edition) 
(vol. x., pp. 169 — 276), 1858 — 1869. Bahr's Geschichte der Rbmischer Literatur- Supplement 
Band. LL. Abtheilung (pp. 354 — 362), im Abendland, vol. 1, p. 448, may also be consulted; 
and Ebert's Allgemeine Geschichte der Literatur des Mittelalters. 



LETTERS. 



LETTER T. 

To the Bishop of Aquileia. 

I. Through the negligence of the authorities the 
Pelagian heresy has been spreading in his 
province. 

From the account of our holy brother 
and fellow-bishop Septimus which is contained 
in the subjoined letter 1 , we have understood 
that certain priests and deacons and clergy 
of various orders 2 in your province who have 
been drawn in by the Pelagian or Caslestian 
heresy, have attained to catholic communion 
without any recantation of their peculiar error 
being required of them ; and that, whilst the 
shepherds set to watch were fast asleep, wolves 
clothed in sheep-skins but without laying 
aside their bestial minds have entered into 
the Lord's sheep-fold : and that they make 
a practice of what is not allowed even to 
non-offenders by the injunctions of our canons 
and decrees 3 : to wit that they should leave 
the churches in which they received or re- 
gained their office and carry their uncertainty 
in all directions, loving to continue wandering 
and never to remain on the foundations of 
the Apostles. For without being sifted by any 
test or bound by any previous confession of 
faith, they make a great point of their right 
to the privilege of going to one house after 
another under cover of their being in com- 
munion with the Church, and corrupting the 
hearts of many through men's ignorance * of 
their false name. And yet I am sure they 
could not do this, if the rulers of the churches 
had exercised their rightful diligence in the 
matter of receiving such, and had not allowed 
any of them to wander from place to place. 

1 It is to be supposed that the letter of Septimus, bp. of Altinum, 
was sent with this letter. See Lett. XVIII. n. 3. 

2 Viz. members of the "minor orders " as they are now called, 
subdeacons, exorcists, &c. 

3 It had been the rule at least since the council of Nicaea (325) 
that the clergy should stay in the church (or diocese as we should 
call it) of their ordination, cf. Canons of Nicaea xxi. de his qui 
■b-cclesias deserunt et ad alias transeunt, and xxii. de non sus- 
upieudis alterius Ecclesia; clericis. And we often find Leo in- 
sisting on the observance of the rule. 

* Inscientiam : the general reading being tcientiam, the sense 
of which is not clear. 



II. He orders a provincial synod to be convened 
to receive the recantation of the heretics in 
express terms. 

Accordingly, lest this should be attempted 
any further, and lest this pernicious habit, 
which owes its introduction to certain persons' 
negligence, should result in the overthrow of 
many souls, by this our authoritative injunction 
we charge you, brother, to give diligence that 
a synod of the clergy 5 of your province be 
convened, and all, whether priests or deacons 
or clerics of any rank who have been re-ad- 
mitted from their alliance with the Pelagians 
and the Caelestians into catholic communion 
with such precipitation that they were not first 
constrained to recant their error, be now at 
least forced to a true correction, which can 
advantage themselves and hurt no one, since 
their deceitfulness has in part been disclosed. 
Let them by their public confession condemn 
the authors of this presumptuous 6 error and 
renounce all that the universal Church has 
repudiated in their doctrine : and let them 
announce by full and open statements, signed 
by their own hand, that they embrace and 
entirely approve of all the synodal decrees 
which the authority of the Apostolic See has 
ratified to the rooting out of this heresy. Let 
nothing obscure, nothing ambiguous be found 
in their words. For we know that their cun- 
ning is such that. they reckon that the meaning 
of any particular clause of their execrable doc- 
trine can be defended if they only keep it 
distinct from the main body of their damnable 
views?. 



5 Sacerdotum : I am in doubt as to what this term here in- 
cludes, but think it probable that all ranks 01 the clergy were 
to be summoned. The words sacerdos and antistes in early eccle- 
siasiical Latin very often mean the bishop (cpiscoptis) specifically 
rather than the presbvter {sacerdos secundi ordinis), because it 
was the bishop who offered the "'sacrifice of piaise and thanks- 
giving" (i.e. the Euchaiist), and the presbyter only in hisdefault; 
but the term saceruos does certainly often include the presbyters 
and also the deacons {sacerdo/es tertii ordinis) when in connexion 
with the priests and bishops, and it seems likely that the whole 
body of the clergy of the province would be summoned tc the 
synod: see Bright's note no: also Bingham, Antiq., Bk. II., 
chap, xix., §§ 14, 15. 

6 Superbi (proud): the epithet is well chosen and not a 
random one : lor pride and presumption are at the root of the 
Pelagian views as birth-sin and baptismal giace: perfectionism 
is little in accordance with Christian humility. 

7 For the same sentiment cf. Prosper, de i/igratis. v. 188. 



VOL. XII. 



B 



LETTERS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



III. The Pelagian view of God's grace is un- 
scriptural. 
And when they pretend to disapprove of 
and give up all their definitions to facilitate 
evasion through their complete art of decep- 
tion, unless their meaning is detected, they 
make exception of the dogma that the grace 
of God is given according to the merits of 
the recipient. And yet surely, unless it is 
given freely, it is not a gift 8 , but a price and 
compensation for merits : for the blessed 
Apostle says, " by grace ye have been saved 
through faith, and that not of yourselves but 
it is the gift of God ; not of works lest any 
should perchance be exalted. For we are 
His workmanship created in Christ Jesus in 
good works, which God prepared that we 
should walk in them 9." Thus every bestowal 
of good works is of God's preparing : because 
a man is justified by grace rather than by his 
own excellence : for grace is to every one the 
source of righteousness, the source of good 
and the fountain of merit. But these heretics 
say it is anticipated by men's natural goodness 
for this reason, that that nature which (in 
their view) is before grace conspicuous for 
good desires of its own, may not seem marred 
by any stain of original sin, and that what 
the Truth says may be falsified : " For the 
Son of Man came to seek and to save that 
which was lost 1 ." 

IV. Prompt measures are essential. 

You must take heed, therefore, beloved, 
and with great diligence make provision that 
offences which have long been removed be 
not set up again through such men and that 
no seed of the same evil spring up in your 
province from a doctrine which has once been 
uprooted : for not only will it take root and 
grow, but also will taint the future generations 
of the Church with its poisonous exhalations. 
Those who wish to appear corrected must 
purge themselves of all suspicion : and by 
obeying us, prove themselves ours. And if 
any of them decline to satisfy our wholesome 
injunctions, be he cleric or layman, he must 
be driven from the society of the Church lest 
he deal treacherously by others' safety as well 
as forfeit his own soul. 

V. The canons must be enforced against clerics 
ivho wander from one church to another. 

We admonish you also to restore to full 



8 The reader need hardly be reminded that in the New Testa- 
ment " grace " (Lat. gratia, Gk. xapis) signifies " a free gift." 

9 Eph. ii. 8-io. 

1 S. Luke ix. 10. Between this and the next chapter some of 
the MSS. and the earlier editions insert a passage from Augustine's 
Enchiridion, which thus formed chapter iv. 



working that part of the discipline of the 
Church whereby the holy Fathers and we 
have often in former times decreed that nei- 
ther in the grade of the priesthood nor in the 
order of the diaconate nor in the lower ranks 
of the clergy, is any one at liberty to migrate 
from church to church : to the end that each 
one may persevere where he was ordained 
without being enticed by ambition, or led 
astray by greed, or corrupted by men's evil 
beliefs : and thus that if any one, seeking 
his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ 2 , 
neglect to return to his own peoples and 
church, he may be reckoned out of the pale 
both in respect of promotion and of the bond 
of communion. But do not doubt, beloved, 
that we must be somewhat sorely moved if, 
as we think not, our decrees for the mainten- 
ance of the canons and the integrity of the 
faith be neglected : because the short-comings 
of the lower orders * are to be laid at the door 
of none so much as of those slothful and 
remiss rulers who often foster much pestilence 
by shrinking from the application of a stringent 
remedy. 

LETTER II. 

To Septimus, Bishop of Altinum. 

(Caution must be observed in receiving 
Pelagians back, and clergy must stay in the 
church of their ordination.) 

LETTER III. 

Fpom Paschasinus, Bishop of Lilyb.eum. 

(About the keeping of Easter in 444 ; re- 
commending the Alexandrine calculation.) 

LETTER IV. 
To the Bishops 'appointed in Campania, 

PlCENUM, E'l'RURIA, AND ALL THE 

Provinces. 
Leo, bishop of the city of Rome, to all the 
bishops appointed in Campania, Picenum, 
Etruria, and all the provinces, greeting in the 
Lord. 

I. Introduction. 

As the peaceful settlement of the churches 
causes us satisfaction, so are we saddened 
with no slight sorrow whenever we learn that 1 
anything has been taken for granted or done 
contrary to the ordinances of the canons and: 
the discipline of the Church : and if we do not 
repress such things with the vigilance we 
ought, we cannot excuse ourselves to Him 



2 A reminiscence of Phil. ii. 21. 

3 Vlebem : this being the regular term for the " laity " in earlj 
Christian Latin. 4 Sc. of the clergy. 



LETTER IV. 



3 



who intended us to be watchmen 5, for per- 
mitting the pure body of the Church, which 
we ought to keep clean from every stain, to be 
defiled by contact with wicked schemers, since 
the framework of the members loses its harmony 
by such dissimulation. 

II. Slaves and serfs (coloni) are not to be 

ordained. 

Men are admitted commonly to the Sacred 
Order who are not qualified by any dignity of 
birth or character : even some who have failed 
to obtain their liberty from their masters are 
raised to the rank of the priesthood 6 , as if 
sorry slaves were fit for that honour; and it is 
believed that a man can be approved of God 
who has not yet been able to approve himself 
to his master. And so the cause for complaint 
is twofold in this matter, because both the 
sacred ministry is polluted by such poor 
partners in it, and the rights of masters are 
infringed so far as unlawful possession is 
rashly taken of them 7. From these men, 
therefore, beloved brethren, let all the priests 
of your province keep aloof; and not only 
from them, but from others also, we wish you 
to keep, who are under the bond of origin 
or other condition of service 8 : unless per- 
chance the request or consent be intimated of 
those who claim some authority over them. 
For he who is to be enrolled on the divine 
service ought to be exempt from others, that 
he be not drawn away from the Lord's camp 
in which his name is entered, by any other 
bonds of duty. 

III. A man who has married twice or a widoiv 

is not eligible as a priest. 

Again, when each man's respectability of 
birth and conduct has been established, what 
sort of person should be associated with the min- 



5 Cf Ezek. iii. 17. 

6 Sacerdotii. <ee note 5 on Letter 1. 

7 Though no doubt S. Leo's language is here harsh and offen- 
sive to modern ears, it is not, I think, substantially out of agree- 
ment with S. Paul's own teaching (cf. Philemon ; 1 Cor. vii. 21 ; 
Ephes. vi. 5 ; Col. iii. 22 ; Tit. ii. 9), and certainly not with the 
spirit of the age. The 73rd Apost. Canon forbids any slave to be 
ordained without his master's consent, and without previously 
obtaining his freedom. However, in the times of S. Jerome, 
S. Basil and S. Greg. Nazianzen, we find cases of slaves being or- 
dained. However much we in the latter half of the nineteenth cen- 
tury regret to hear a great father of the Church speak in this way, 
we must not forget that in the first half of this seL-saine century the 
very same opiniun would have been held on the subject in many 
parts of the civilized world. 

8 Qui originaii (al. origint) aut alicuz condicioni obligati 
sunt. The class of people here alluded to were the coloni (serfs) : 
such of them as were so by birth were called originarii : and 
there were other classes of them also (alicui condicioni obligati). 
The essential difference between all coloni and the ordinary servi 
was that the latter's service was personal, the former were servi 
terra:, adscripli gla>li&. Thus there is a strong resemblance 
between them and the villeins (villanf) of medieval and modern 
Europe. For the order concerning them here given, cf. 2nd 
Council of Orleans (538), which ordains " ut nullus seivilibus 
colonariisque condicionibus obligatus iuxta statuta sedis Apos- 
tolicce ad honores ecclesiasticos admiitatur nisi prius aut testa- 
mento aut per tabulas legitime constiterit absolution. 



istry of the Sacred Altar we have learnt both 
from the teaching of the Apostle and the Divine 
precepts and the regulations of the canons, from 
which we find very many of the brethren have 
turned aside and quite gone out of the way. For 
it is well known that the husbands of widows 
have attained to the priesthood : certain, too, 
who have had several wives, and have led 
a life given up to all licentiousness, have had 
all facilities put in their way, and been ad- 
mitted to the Sacred Order, contrary to that 
utterance of the blessed Apostle, in which he 
proclaims and says to such. " the husband ot 
one wife 9," and contrary to that precept of the 
ancient law which says by way of caution : 
" Let the priest take a virgin to wife, not a 
widow, not a divorced woman I ." All such 
persons, therefore, who have been admitted 
we order to be put out of their offices in the 
church and from the title of priest by the 
authority of the Apostolic See : for they will 
have no claim 2 to that for which they were 
not eligible, on account of the obstacle in 
question : and we specially claim for ourselves 
the duty of settling this, that if any of these 
irregularities have been committed, they may 
be corrected and may not be allowed to occur 
again, and that no excuse may arise from 
ignorance : although it has never been allowed 
a priest to be ignorant of what has been laid 
down by the rules of the canons. These 
writings, therefore, we have addressed to your 
provinces by the hand of Innocent, Legitimus 
and Segetius, our brothers and fellow-bishops : 
that the evil shoots which are known to have 
sprung up may be torn out by the roots, and 
no tares may spoil the Lord's harvest. For 
thus all that is genuine will bear much fruit, if 
that which has been wont to kill the growing 
crop be carefully cleared away. 

IV. Usurious practices forbidden for clergy and 
for laity 3. 

This point, too, we have thought must not 
be passed over, that certain possessed with the 
love of base gain lay out their money at in- 



9 i Tim. iii. 2, unius uxoris virum with the Vulgate, cf. 
Letter xii. 3 

1 Lev. xxi. 13, 14, cf. a letter of Innocent I. to Victricius, 
bishop of Rothomagus (Rouen), chap, v., uc mulierem {viduam) 
ciericus non ducat uxorem : quia scriptum est : sacerdos virginem 
uxorem accipiat non viduam non eiectam," and for the former 
quotation, cf. ibid. chap. vii. ne is qui secundum duxerit uxorem, 
clericusfiat : quia scriptum est unius uxoris virion. The 18th 
Apostolic Canon gives a similar order. All these rules would seem 
to refer to marriage before., not after, ordination. The latter was 
against the spirit of the early Church. 

2 The older editions here add pro arbitrio (by dispensation), 
which Quesnel considers a gloss added later when dispensation 
was sometimes granted to digamous clerks. 

3 The practice of usury and trading generally is otten forbidden 
in the Canons, &c, for the clergy, but its prohibition for the laity 
is much more unusual : cf., however, Canon V. of the Council of 
Carthage (419), quod (sc.fenus accipere) in laicis, reprehenditur 
id mill to magis debet et in clericis prwdamnari. Scripture 



B 2 



LETTERS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



terest, and wish to enrich themselves as 
usurers. For we are grieved that this is prac- 
tised not only by those who belong to the 
clergy, but also by laymen who desire to be 
called Christians. And we decree that those 
who have been convicted be punished sharply, 
that all occasion of sinning be removed. 

V. A cleric may not make money in another's 

name any more than in his own. 

The following warning, also, we have thought 
fit to give, that no cleric should attempt to 
make money in another's name any more than 
in his own : for it is unbecoming to shield 
one's crime under another man's gains *. Nay, 
we ought to look at and aim at only that usury 
whereby what we bestow in mercy here we 
may recover from the Lord, who will restore 
a thousand fold what will last for ever. 

VI. Any bishop who refuses consent to these 

rules must be deposed. 

This admonition of ours, therefore, pro- 
claims that if any of our brethren endeavour 
to contravene these rules and dare to do what 
is forbidden by them, he may know that lie is 
liable to deposition from his office, and that 
he will not be a sharer in our communion who 
refuses to be a sharer of our discipline. But 
lest there be anything which may possibly be 
thought to be omitted by us, we bid you, 
beloved, to keep all the decretal rules of 
Innocent of blessed memory 5, and also of all 
our predecessors, which have been promul- 
gated about the orders of the Church and the 
discipline of the canons, and to keep them in 
such wise that if any have transgressed them 
he may know at once that all indulgence is 
denied him. 

Dated ioth of October, in the consulship of 
the illustrious Maximus (a second time) and 
Paterius (a.d. 443). 

LETTER V. 

To the Metropolitan Bishops of 

Illvricum. 

(Appointing Anastasius of Thessalonica his 
Vicar in the province, and expressing his 
wishes about its government, for which see 
Letter VI.) 



certainly is against the clergy participating in lucrative employ- 
ments, though it was not easy always to prevent them : it had 
become, for instance a common practice in S. Cyprian's dav in 
the North Afncan Church (cf. de laps. 6). But the secular laws 
certainly countenanced it in the laity (as Aug. Ep. 154 acknow- 
ledges). Leo the Emperor is said by Grotius to have been the 
first who ex ,st, mans omnefenus Christiano interdictum. le^e id 
tpsum commtaii sanxit' (Quesriel). " 

4 Crimen suum commodis alienis impendere. I am not sure 
that this can mean what I siy. 

5 This was S. Innocent I., who was Pope from 402 to 417. On 
of his decretal letters was quoted from in note 1 to chap iii , 
this Letter. ^ 



LETTER VI. 
To Anastasius, Bishop of Thessalonica. 
Leo to his beloved brother Anastasius. 

I. He is pleased to have been consulted by the 
bishops 6 of Illyricum on important questions. 

The brotherly love of our colleagues makes 
us read with grateful mind the letters of all 
priests 7 j for in them we embrace one another 
in the spirit as if we were face to face, and by 
the intercourse of such epistles we are asso- 
ciated in mutual converse 8 . But in this 
present letter the affection displayed seems to 
us greater than usual : for it informs us of the 
state of the churches 9, and urges us to a 
vigilant exercise of care by a consideration of 
our office, so that being placed, as it were, on 
a watch-tower, according to the will of the 
Lord, we should both lend our approval to 
things when they run in accordance with our 
wishes, and correct, by applying the remedies 
of compulsion, what we observe gone wrong 
through any aggression : hoping that abundant 
fruit will be the result of our sowing the seed, 
if we do not allow those things to increase 
which have begun to spring up to the spoiling 
of the harvest. 

II. Following the examples of his predecessors 
he nominates Anastasius Metropolitan of 
Illyricum. 

Now therefore, dear brother, that your re- 
quest has been made known to us through 
our son Nicolaus the priest, that you, too, like 
your predecessors, might receive from us in 
our turn authority over Illvricum for the 
observance of the rules, we give our consent 
and earnestly exhort that no concealment and 
no negligence may be allowed in the manage- 
ment of the churches situated throughout Illy- 
ricum, which we commit to you in our stead, 
following the precedent of Sirieius of blessed 
remembrance, who then, for the first time, 
acting on a fixed method, entrusted them to 
your last predecessor but one \ Anysius of holy 
memory, who had at the time well deserved of 
the Apostolic See, and was approved by after 
events : that he might render assistance to 
the churches situated in that province whom 
he wished kept up to discipline. Noble pre- 
cedents must be followed with eagerness that 



6 The letter to the college of bishops was written the same 
day, and forms No. s in the Leonine series (in Migne;. 

7 Sacerdoium here obviously = episcoporum, see Letter I. 
note 5. 

8 quibus sermone epistolis mutuo commcant bus sociamur : 
notice the interlaced order of the words in the sentence which is 
not, I think, without design as quaintly expressing his meaning. 

9 Sc. in your province. 

x S ricius was Bishop of Rome 384-398. Damasus, 366-384, is 
said by Innocent I. to have been the first to do this, but not like 
Sirieius, " acting on a fixed method," certa quadam ratione. 



LETTER VI. 



we may show ourselves in all things like those 
whose privileges we wish to enjoy. We wish 
you to imitate your last predecessor 2 but one as 
well as of your immediate predecessor who is 
known equally with the former to have both 
deserved and employed this privilege : so that 
we may rejoice in the progress of the churches 
which we commit to you in our stead. For as 
the conduct of matters progresses creditably 
when committed to one who acts well and 
carries out skilfully the duties of the priestly 
position, so it is found to be only a burden to 
him who, when power is entrusted to him, 
uses not the moderation that is due. 

III. Ordinees must be carefully selected with 
especial reference to the Canons of the Church. 

And so, dear brother, hold with vigilance 
the helm entrusted to you, and direct your 
mind's gaze around on all which you see put 
in your charge, guarding what will conduce to 
your reward and resisting those who strive to 
upset the discipline of the canons. The sanc- 
tion of God's law must be respected, and the 
decrees of the canons should be more es- 
pecially kept. Throughout the provinces com- 
mitted to thee let such priests be consecrated 
to the Lord as are commended only by their 
deserving life and position among the clergy. 
Permit no licence to personal favour, nor to can- 
vassing, nor to purchased votes. Let the cases 
of those who are to be ordained be investigated 
carefully and let them be trained in the dis- 
cipline of the Church through a considerable 
period of their life. But if all the require- 
ments of the holy Fathers are found in them, 
and if they have observed all that we read the 
blessed Apostle Paul to have enjoined on such, 
viz., that he be the husband of one wife, and 
that she was a virgin when he married her, as 
the authority of God's law requires, [then 
ordain them 3j. And this we are extremely 
anxious should be observed, so as to do away 
with all place for excuses, lest any one should 
believe himself able to attain to the priesthood 
who has taken a wife before he obtained the 
grace of Christ, and on her decease joined 
himself to another after baptism. Seeing that 
the former wife cannot be ignored, nor the 
previous marriage put out of the reckoning, 
and that he is as much the father of the chil- 
dren whom he begat by that wife before bap- 
tism as he is of those whom he is known to 
have begotten by the second after baptism. 
For as sins and things which are known to be 



* Pratdecessoris tut. Anysius is said to have lived on into the 
time of Innocent. Anastasins' immediate predecessor, selected by 
Innocent (decessoris tui in the next line), was named Rufus. 

3 These words are not found in the MSS. apparently, but are 
necessary to the sense. For the requirement cf. Letter IV. 
chapter iii. 



unlawful are washed away in the font of bap> 
tism, so what are allowed or lawful are not done 
away. 

IV. The Metropolitans must not ordain hastily 

nor without consulting their Primate. 

Let none be ordained a priest * throughout 
these churches inconsiderately; for by this 
means ripe judgments will be formed about 
those to be elected, if your scrutiny, brother, 
is dreaded. But let any bishop who, contrary 
to our command, is ordained by his metro- 
politan without your knowledge, know that he 
has no assured position with us, and that those 
who have taken on themselves so to do must 
render an account of their presumption's. But 
as to each metropolitan is committed such 
power that he has the right of ordaining in his 
province, so we wish those metropolitans to be 
ordained, but not without ripe and well-con- 
sidered judgment. For although it is seemly 
that all who are consecrated priests should be 
approved and well-pleasing to God, yet we 
wish those to have peculiar excellence whom 
we know are going to preside over the fellow- 
priests who are assigned to them. And we 
admonish you, beloved, to see to this the more 
diligently and carefully, that you may be proved 
to keep that precept of the Apostles which 
runs, " lay hands suddenly on no man 6 ." 

V. Points which cannot be settled at the provincial 

synod are to be referred to Pome. 

Any of the brethren who has been sum- 
moned to a synod should attend and not deny 
himself to the holy congregation : for there 
especially he should know that what will con- 
duce to the good discipline of the Church must 
be settled. For all faults will be better avoided 
if more frequent conferences lake place be- 
tween the priests of the Lord, and intimate 
association is the greatest help alike to im- 
provement and to brotherly love. There, if 
any questions arise, under the Lord's guidance 
they will be able to be determined, so that no 
bad feeling remains, and only a firmer love 
exists among the brethren. But if any more 
important question spring up, such as cannot 
be settled there under your presidency, brother, 
send your report and consult us, so that we 
may write back under the revelation of the 
Lord, of whose mercy it is that we can do 
ought, because He has breathed favourably upon 
us i : that by our decision we may vindicate 



4 Here the word is antis/es, and no doubt it signifies " bishop," 
as the next sentence clearly shows. 

5 The organization of the province then included(i)the bishops 
under (2) metropolitans of districts, under (3) one supi erne primate 
of the province, who was in his turn responsible to the Bishop of 
Rome. 6 1 Tim. v. 22. 

7 The word is as/iraverii (the notion o; which is to favour), 
not \x\spiraverit (to inspire), as we might have expected. 



LETTERS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



our right of cognizance in accordance with old- 
established tradition and the respect that is 
due to the Apostolic See : for as we wish you 
to exercise your authority in our stead, so we 
reserve to ourselves points which cannot be 
decided on the spot and persons who have 
made appeal to us. 

VI. Priests and deacons may not be ordained on 
weekdays any more than bishops. 

You shall take order that this letter reach 
the knowledge of all the brethren, so that no 
one hereafter find an opportunity to excuse 
himself through ignorance in observing these 
things which we command. We have directed 
our letter of admonition 8 to the metropolitans 
themselves also of the several provinces, that 
they may know that they must obey the Apos- 
tolic injunctions, and that they obey us in 
beginning to obey you, brother, our delegate 
according to what we have written. We hear, 
indeed, and we cannot pass it over in silence, 
that only bishops are ordained by certain 
brethren on Sundays only ; but presbyters and 
deacons, whose consecration should be equally 
solemn 9, receive the dignity of the priestly 
office indiscriminately on any day, which is 
a reprehensible practice contrary to the canons 
and tradition of the Fathers ', since the custom 
ought by all means to be kept by those who 
have received it with respect to all the sacred or- 
ders : so that after a proper lapse of time he who 
is to be ordained a priest or deacon 2 may be 
advanced through all the ranks of the clerical 
office, and thus a man may have time to learn 
that of which he himself also is one day to be 
a teacher. Dated the 12th of January, in the 
consulship of Theodosius (18th time, and Al- 
binus (444). 

LETTER VII. 

To the Bishops throughout Italy. 

Leo to all the bishops set over the provinces 
of Italy greeting. 

I. Many Manichceans have been discovered in 

Rome. 

We call you to a share in our anxiety, that 
with the diligence of shepherds you may take 
more careful heed to your flocks entrusted to 
you that no craft of the devil's be permitted : 
lest that plague, which by the revealing mercy 

8 Viz., Letter V. 

9 Circa qtws par consecratio fieri debet. I take this as a valu- 
able statement in the mouth of Leo, who so seldom refers speci- 
fically to the lower orders ot the ministry. 

1 There seems to be no canon on the point before Leo's time : 
but he alludes to the tradition again in Letter IX. chap, i and 
CXI. chap. 2 (q.v.). 

2 Qui sacerdos (? secundi ordinis here) vel levita (= diaconus) 
ordinandus est. 



of the Lord is driven off from our flocks through 
our care, should spread among your churches 
before you are forewarned, and are still ig- 
norant of what is happening, and should find 
means of stealthily burrowing into your midst, 
and thus what we are checking in the City 
should take hidden root among you and grow 
up. Our search has discovered in the City 
a great many followers and teachers of the 
Manichsean impiety, our watchfulness has pro- 
claimed them, and our authority and censure 
has checked them : those whom we could re- 
form we have corrected and driven to condemn 
Manichaeus with his preachings and teachings 
by public confession in church, and by the 
subscription of their own hand, and thus we 
have lifted those who have acknowledged their 
fault from the pit of their iniquity by granting 
them room for repentance 3. A good many, 
however, who had so deeply involved them- 
selves that no remedy could assist them, have 
been subjected to the laws in accordance with 
the constitutions of our Christian princes, and 
lest they should pollute the holy flock by their 
contagion, have been banished into perpetual 
exile by public judges. And all the profane 
and disgraceful things which are found as well 
in their writings as in their secret traditions, 
we have disclosed and clearly proved to the 
eyes of the Christian laity * that the people 
might know what to shrink from or avoid : so 
that he that was called their bishop was him- 
self tried by us, and betrayed the criminal 
views which he held in his mystic religion, as 
the record of our proceedings can show you. 
For this, too, we have sent you for instruction : 
and after reading them you will be in a posi- 
tion to understand all the discoveries we have 
made. 

II. The bishops of Italy must not allow those 
Manichceans who have quitted the city to escape 
or lie concealed. 

And because we know that a good many 
of those who are involved here in too close an 
accusation for them to clear themselves have 
escaped, we have sent this letter to you, 
beloved, by our acolyth : that your holiness, 
dear brothers, may be informed of this, and 
see fit to act with diligence and caution, lest 
the men of the Manichsean error be able to 
find opportunity of hurting your people and of 
teaching their impious doctrines. For we can- 
not otherwise rule those entrusted to us unless 

3 Panitentiam concedendo, i.e. we have not finally excommuni- 
cated them, but, dealing leniently, we have given them opportunity 
of reinstating themselves in the peace of the Church, by going 
through a due course of penance \satiafactio) • It is important to 
explain this clearly to those who, in the present day, are ignorant 
of the strict discipline of the early Church, and are liable to forget 
that penance was then a valuable means to repentance. 

4 Plebei. 



LETTER IX. 



we pursue with the zeal of faith in the Lord 
those who are destroyers and destroyed : and 
with what seventy we can bring to bear, cut 
them off from intercourse with sound minds, 
lest this pestilence spread much wider. Where- 
fore I exhort you, beloved, I beseech and warn 
you to use such watchful diligence as you ought 
and can employ in tracking them out, lest they 
find opportunity of concealment anywhere. 
For as he will have a due recompense of 
reward from God, who carries out what con- 
duces to the health of the people committed 
to him ; so before the Lord's judgment-seat 
no one will be able to excuse himself from 
a charge of carelessness who has not been wil- 
ling to guard his people against the propagators 
of an impious misbelief. Dated 30 January, 
in the consulship of the illustrious Theodosius 
Augustus (18th time) and Albinus (444). 

LETTER VIII. 
The Ordinance of Valentinian III. 

CONCERNING THE MaNICHjEANS. 

(The Manichseans are to be turned out of the 
army and the City, and to lose all their 
rights as citizens.) 

LETTER IX. 

To Dioscorus, Bishop of Alexandria. 

Leo, the bishop, to Dioscorus, bishop of 
Alexandria, greeting. 

I. The churches of Rome and Alexandria 
should be at one in everything. 

How much of the divine love we feel for 
you, beloved, you will be able to estimate 
from this, that we are anxious to establish 
your beginnings on a surer basis, lest any- 
thing should seem lacking to the perfection 
of your love, since your meritorious acts of 
spiritual grace, as we have proved, are already 
in your favour. Fatherly and brotherly con- 
ference, therefore, ought to be most grateful to 
you, holy brother, and received by you in the 
same spirit as you know it is offered by us. 
For you and we ought to be at one in thought 
and act, so that as we reads, in us also there 
may be proved to be one heart and one mind. 
For since the most blessed Peter received the 
headship of the Apostles from the Lord, and 
the church of Rome still abides by His insti- 
tutions, it is wicked to believe that His holy 
disciple Mark, who was the first to govern the 
church of Alexandria 6 , formed his decrees on 
a different line of tradition : seeing that with- 



5 Sc. in Vets iv. 32. 

6 S. Mark, the evangelist and disciple of S. Peter, is the radi- 
ional founder of the church of Alexandria. 



out doubt both disciple and master drew but 
one Spirit from the same fount of grace, and 
the ordained could not hand on aught else than 
what he had received from his ordainer. We 
do not therefore allow it that we should differ 
in anything, since we confess ourselves to be of 
one body and faith, nor that the institutions 
of the teacher should seem different to those 
of the taught. 

II. Fixed days should be observed for ordaining 
priests and deacons. 

That therefore which we know to have been 
very carefully observed by our fathers, we wish 
kept by you also, viz. that the ordination of 
priests or deacons should not be performed at 
random on any day : but after Saturday, the 
commencement of that night which precedes 
the dawn of the first day of the week should 
be chosen on which the sacred benediction 
should be bestowed on those who are to be 
consecrated, ordainer and ordained alike fast- 
ing. This observance will not be violated, if 
actually on the morning of the Lord's day it 
be celebrated without breaking the Saturday 
fast : for the beginning of the preceding night 
forms part of that period, and undoubtedly 
belongs to the day of resurrection as is clearly 
laid down with regard to the feast of Easter?. 
For besides the weight of custom which we 
know rests upon the Apostles' teaching, Holy 
Writ also makes this clear, because when 
the Apostles sent Paul and Barnabas at 
the bidding of the Holy Ghost to preach 
the gospel to the nations, they laid hands 
on them fasting and praying : that we may 
know with what devoutness both giver and 
receiver must be on their guard lest so 
blessed a sacrament should seem to be care- 
lessly performed. And therefore you will 
piously and laudably follow Apostolic prece- 
dents if you yourself also maintain this form 
of ordaining priests throughout the churches 
over which the Lord has called you to preside : 
viz. that those who are to be consecrated 
should never receive the blessing except on 
the day of the Lord's resurrection, which is 
commonly held to begin on the evening of 
Saturday, and which has been so often hal- 
lowed in the mysterious dispensations of God 
that all the more notable institutions of the 
Lord were accomplished on that high day. 
On it the world took its beginning. On it 
through the resurrection of Christ death re- 
ceived its destruction, and life its commence- 
ment. On it the apostles take from the 
Lord's hands the trumpet of the gospel 



7 That is to say, the weekly resurrection festival (Sunday) 
begins with the vespers of the preceding evening : this is notably 
the case in the yearly festival of Easter at least in Western use. 



8 



LETTERS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



which is to be preached to all nations, and 
receive the sacrament of regeneration 8 which 
they are to bear to the whole world. On it, 
as blessed John the Evangelist bears witness 
when all the disciples were gathered together 
in one place, and when, the doors being shut, 
the Lord entered to them, He breathed on 
them and said: "Receive the Holy Ghost: 
whose sins ye have remitted they are remitted 
to them : and whose ye have retained, they 
shall be retained?." On it lastly the Holy 
Spirit that had been promised to the Apostles 
by the Lord came : and so we know it to 
have been suggested and handed down by a 
kind of heavenly rule, that on that day we 
ought to celebrate the mysteries of the blessing 
of priests on which all these gracious gifts 
were conferred. 

III. The repetition of the Holy Eucharist on 
the great festivals is not undesirable. 

Again, that our usage may coincide at all 
points, we wish this thing also to be observed, 
viz. that when any of the greater festivals has 
brought together a larger congregation than 
usual, and too great a crowd of the faithful 
has assembled for one church 1 to hold them 
all at once, there should be no hesitation 
about repeating the oblation of the sacrifice : 
lest, if those only are admitted to this service 
who come first, those who flock in afterwards, 
should seem to be rejected: for it is fully in 
accordance with piety and reason, that as 
often as a fresh congregation has filled the 
church where service is going on, the sacri- 
fice should be offered as a matter of course. 
Whereas a certain portion of the people must 
be deprived of their worship, if the custom 
of only one celebration 2 be kept, and only 
those who come early in the day can offer the 
sacrifice 3 . We admonish you, therefore, be- 
loved, earnestly and affectionately that your 
carefulness also should not neglect what has 
become a part of our own usage on the pattern 
of our fathers' tradition, so that in all things 
we may agree together in our beliefs and in 
our performances. Consequently, we have 



8 Sacr amentum regenerationis : the reference in the first part 
of the sentence seems to be S. Mark xvi. 15, and here in the latter 
part to S. Matt, xxviii. 19, and both these records seem to refer to 
the same manifestation. S. Matihew says it was to " the eleven 
disciples" in Galilee, in "the mountain where Jesus had appointed 
them," that He gave the command, if indeed vv. 16-23 of the 
xxviiith chapter form one cuntinjous narrative. The author of 
S. Mark xvi. 9-20 says it was to the eleven "as they sat at meat." 
Is it pos^ble that Leo took ai/aK-et/ucVois to mean as they were 
partaking of the Holy Eucharist 1 if not, what countenance is 
there tor nis assertion of its being on the rir=t day of the week ? 

9 S. John xx. 22, 23. 

* Basilica, q.v. in Smith's Diet. 0/ Christian Antiquities. 

2 Missce. 
_ 3 It can hardly escape notice that the people here are distinctly 
said " to offer the sacrifice " in the person of their representative 
and mouthpiece, the priest. And this is the language and intention 
of all Liturgies (ancient and modern) of the Church. 



given this letter to our son Possidonius, a 
presbyter, on his return, that he may bear 
it to you, brother ; he has so often taken part 
in our ceremonials and ordinations, and has 
been sent to us so many times that he knows 
quite well what Apostolic authority we possess 
in all things. Dated 21 June (? 445). 

LETTER X. 

To the Bishops of the Province of Vienne. 

In the matter of Hilary, Bishop 

of Arles 4 . 

To the beloved brothers, the whole body 

of bishops of the province of Vienne, Leo, 

bishop of Rome. 

I. The solidarity of the Church built upon the 
rock of S. Peter must be everywhere main- 
tained. 

Our Lord Jesus Christ, Saviour of mankind, 
instituted the observance of the Divine re- 
ligion which He wished by the grace of God 
to shed its brightness upon all nations and 
all peoples in such a way that the Truth, 
which before was confined to the announce- 
ments of the Law and the Prophets, might 
through the Apostles' trumpet blast go out for 
the salvation of all mens, as it is written : 
" Their sound has gone out into every land, 
and their words into the ends of the world 6 ." 
But this mysterious function? die Lord wished 
to be indeed the concern of all the apostles, 
but in such a way that He has placed the 
principal charge on the blessed Peter, chief 
of all the Apostles 8 : and from him as from the 
Head wishes His gifts to flow to all the body : 
so that any one who dares to secede from 
Peter's solid rock may understand that he 
has no part or lot in the divine mystery. For 
He wished him who had been received into 
partnership in His undivided unity to be 
named what He Himself was, when He said : 
"Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will 
build My Church.9 : " that the building of the 
eternal temple by the wondrous gift of God's 
grace might rest on Peter's solid rock : 
strengthening His Church so surely that 
neither could human rashness assail it nor 
the gates of hell prevail against it. But this 
most holy firmness of the rock, reared, as we 
have said, by the building hand of God, a 
man must wish to destroy in over-weaning 



4 Cf. Introduction, p. vi. 

5 Per Apostolicam iubam in salu'em -universitatis (Ok. T-qs 
oiKounefT);) exiret, cf. Letter IX. chap. ii. apostoli a Domino 
prcedicandi omnibus gentibus evangelii tubatn sumunt. 

6 Ps. xix. 4. 

7 Huius muneris sacramentum, his mind is running forward 
to his favourite sacramentum, that of Peter as the rock-man of 
the Church. 

8 Cf. Letter XXVIII. chap. v. a princifiali /etra(B. Petrus), 
soliditatem et virtutis traxit et nominis, etc. : also Cyprian 
de unit. eccl. chap. iv. 9 S. Matt. xvi. 18. 



LETTER X. 



wickedness when he tries to break down its 
power, by favouring his own desires, and not 
following what he received from men of old : 
for he believes himself subject to no law, and 
held in check by no rules of God's ordinances, 
and breaks away, in his eagerness for novelty, 
from your use and ours, by adopting illegal 
practices, and letting what he ought to keep 
fall into abeyance. 

II. Hilary is disturbing the peace of the Church 
by his insubordination. 

But with the approval, as we believe, of 
God, and retaining towards you the fulness of 
our love which the Apostolic See always, as you 
remember, expends upon you, holy brethren, 
we are striving to correct these things by 
mature counsel, and to share with you the task 
of setting your churches in order, not by inno- 
vations but by restoration of the old ; that we 
may persevere in the accustomed state which 
our fathers handed down to us, and please our 
God through the ministry of a good work by 
removing the scandals of disturbances. And 
so we would have you recollect, brethren, as 
we do, that the Apostolic See, such is the 
reverence in which it is held, has times out of 
number been referred to and consulted by the 
priests of your province as well as others, and 
in the various matters of appeal, as the old 
usage demanded, it has reversed or confirmed 
decisions : and in this way " the unity of the 
spirit in the bond of peace 1 " has been kept, 
and by the interchange of letters, our honourable 
proceedings have promoted a lasting affection : 
for "seeking not our own but the things of 
Christ 2 ," we have been careful not to do 
despite to the dignity which God has given 
both to the churches and their priests. But 
this path which with our fathers has been 
always so well kept to and wisely maintained, 
Hilary has quitted, and is likely to disturb the 
position and agreement of the priests by his 
novel arrogance : desiring to subject you to 
his power in such a way as not to suffer him- 
self to be subject to the blessed Apostle Peter, 
claiming for himself the ordinations of all the 
churches throughout the provinces of Gaul, and 
transferring to himself the dignity which is due 
to metropolitan priests ; he diminishes even the 
reverence that is paid to the blessed Peter him- 
self with his proud words : for not only was the 
power of loosing and binding given to Peter 
before the others, but also to Peter more 
especially was entrusted the care of feeding 
the sheep 3. Yet any one who holds that the 



headship must be denied to Peter, cannot 
really diminish his dignity : but is puffed up 
with the breath of his pride, and plunges him- 
self into the lowest depth. 

III. Celidonius has been restored to his bishopric, 
the charges against him having been, found 
false. 

Accordingly the written record of our pro- 
ceedings shows what action we have taken in 
the matter of Celidonius 4, the bishop, and 
what Hilary said in the presence and hearing 
of the aforesaid bishop. For when Hilary had 
no reasonable answer to give in the council of 
the holy priests, " the secrets of his heart 5 " 
gave vent to utterances such as no layman 
could make and no priest listen to. We were 
grieved, I acknowledge, brothers, and en- 
deavoured to appease the tumult of his mind 
by patient treatment. For we did not wish to 
exasperate those wounds which he was inflict- 
ing on his soul by his insolent retorts, and 
strove rather to pacify him whom we had taken 
up as a brother, although it was he who was 
entangling himself by his replies, than to cause 
him pain by our remarks. Celidonius, the 
bishop, was therefore acquitted, for he had 
proved himself wrongfully deposed from the 
priesthood, by the clear replies of his witnesses 
made in his own presence : so that Hilary, who 
remained with us, had no opposition to offer. 
The judgment, therefore, was rescinded, which 
was brought forward and read to the effect 
that, as the husband of a widow 6 , he could 
not hold the priesthood. Now this rule we, 
maintainingthe legalconstitutions?, have wished 
scrupulously adhered to, not only in respect of 
priests but also of clergy of the lower ranks : 
that those who have contracted such a marriage, 
or those who are proved not to be the hus- 
bands of only one wife contrary to the apostle's 
discipline, should not be suffered to enter the 
sacred service 8 . But though we decree that 
those, whom their own acts condemn, must 
either not be admitted at all, or, if they have, 
must be removed, so those who are falsely so 
accused we are bound to clear after examina- 
tion held, and not allow to lose their office. 
For the sentence pronounced would have 
remained against him, if the truth of the 
charge had been proved. And so Celidonius, 
our fellow-bishop, was restored to his church 
and to that dignity which he ought not to have 



1 Eph. iv. 3. 2 Phil. ii. 21. 

3 Cut cum pro- (Quesnel conj. pro) ceeteris solvendi et ligandi 
tradita. sit poWstas, pascendarum tamen oviutn cura specialties 
mandata est. Cf. S. John xxi. 15 — 17. 



4 Celidonius was probably either bishop of Vienne or of 
Vesonf.s(Besancon): see Perihel, p. 25. 

5 Quesnel well refer* this phrase to 1 Cor. xiv. 25. 

6 Cf. Letter IV. chap. iii. 

7 Scrvantes legalia constitute^ these are taken to be not so 
much the canons of the Church as the provisions of the Mosaic 
Law, e.g. Lev. xxi. 14 ; Ezek. xliv. 22. 

8 Militiam (lit. military service). 



IO 



LETTERS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



lost, as the course of our proceedings, and the 
sentence which was pronounced by us after 
holding the inquiry testifies. 

IV. Hilary's treatment of Projeclus does not 
redound to his credit. 

When this business was so concluded, the 
complaint of our brother and fellow-bishop, Pro- 
jectus 9, next came before us: who addressed 
us in a tearful and piteous letter, about the 
ordaining of a bishop over his head. A letter 
was also brought to us from his own fellow- 
citizens, corroborated by a great many indi- 
vidual signatures, and full of the most unplea- 
sant complaints against Hilary : to the effect 
that Projectus, their bishop, was not allowed to 
be ill, but his priesthood had been transferred to 
another without their knowledge, and the heir 
brought into possession by Hilary, the intruder, 
as if to fill up a vacancy, though the possessor 
was still alive x . We should like to hear what 
you, brothers, think on the point : although 
we ought not to entertain any doubt about 
your feelings, when you picture to yourselves 
a brother lying on a sick-bed and tortured, not 
so much by his bodily weakness as by pains of 
another kind. What hope in life is left a man 
who is visited with despair about his priesthood, 
whilst another is set up in his place? Hilary 
gives a clear proof of his gentle heart when he 
believed that the tardiness of a brother's death 
is but a hindrance to his own ambitious designs. 
For, as far as in him lay, he quenched the light 
for him ; he robbed him of life by setting up 
another in his room, and thus causing him 
such pain as to hinder his recovery. And 
supposing that his brother's passage from this 
world was brief, but after the common course 
of men, what does Hilary seek for himself in 
another's province, and why does he claim that 
which none of his predecessors before Patroclus 
possessed ? whereas that very position which 
seemed to have been temporarily granted to 
Patroclus by the Apostolic See was afterwards 
withdrawn by a wiser decision 2 . At least the 
wishes of the citizens should have been waited 
for, and the testimony of the people 3 : the 
opinion of those held in honour should have 



9 Projectus was perhaps a bishop of the province of Gallia 
Narbonensis I. : Perthel, p. 27. 

1 Quod Projecto episcopo suo ergrotare liberum non fuisset. 
eiusque sacerdotium in alium prwter suam notitiam esse trans- 
latum, et tamquam in vacuam possessionem ab Hi/arioperrasore 
hceredein viventis inductum. The construction is changed from 
quod . . . . fuisset, to the ordinary accus. and infin. 

_ 2 Patroclus had been Bishop of Aries circ. 416, and the then 
Bishop ol Rome, Zosirnus. had granted him metropolitan ric;hN 
over the provinces of S.E. Gaul, which did not gain the acceptance 
of the other chiei bishops in the district, and Boniface 1. (Ep 12), 
'." i 2 "~ seems to have withdrawn the rights granted by Zosirnus 
(Schaff, 1, p. 297). 

3 Ctvium : jsopulorum. The former are apparently called 
lower down fidelium, and the latter guiforis sunt. 



been asked, and the choice of the clergy — 
things which those who know the rules of the 
fathers are wont to observe in the ordination 
of priests : that the rule of the Apostle's 
authority might in all things be kept, which 
enjoins that one who is to be the priest of 
a church should be fortified, not only by the 
attestation of the faithful but also by the 
testimony of "those who are without 4 ," and 
that no occasion for offence be left, when, in 
peace and in GoD-pleasing harmony with the 
full approval of all, one who will be a teacher 
of peace is ordained. 

V. Hilary's action was very reprehensible through- 
out, and we have restoi'ed Projectus. 

But Hilary came upon them unawares and 
departed no less suddenly, accomplishing many 
journeys with great speed, as we have ascer- 
tained, and traversing distant provinces with 
such haste that he seems to have coveted 
a reputation for the swiftness of a courier 
rather than for the sobriety of a priest s. For 
these are the words of the citizens in the letter 
that has been addressed to us : — " He departed 
before we knew he had come." This is not to 
return but to flee, not to exercise a shepherd's 
wholesome care, but to employ the violence of 
a thief and a robber, as saith the Lord : " he 
that entereth not by the door into the sheep- 
fold 6 , but climbeth up some otner way, is 
a thief and a robber." Hilary, therefore, 
was anxious not so much to consecrate a 
bishop as to kill him who was sick, and to 
mislead the man whom he set over his head 
by wrongful ordination. We, however, have 
done what, as God is our Judge, we believe 
you will approve : after holding counsel with 
all the brethren we have decreed that the 
wrongfully ordained man should be deposed 
and the Bishop Projectus abide in his priest- 
hood : with the further provision that when 
any of our brethren in whatsoever province 
shall decease, he who has been agreed upon 
to be metropolitan of that province shall claim 
for himself the ordination of his successor. 

These two matters, as we see, have been 
settled, though there are many other points in 
them which seem to have violated the prin- 
ciples of the Church, and ought to be visited 
with just censure and judgment. But we can- 
not linger on them any further, for we are 
called off to other matters on which we must 
carefully confer with you, holy brethren. 



4 1 Tim. iii. 17. 

5 Gloriam de scurrili velocitate fiotius quam de sacerdotali 
moderatione captasse. 

6 In cortem avium : the low Latin word {cars) is in the Vulgatt 
changed to ovile. 



LETTER X. 



IT 



VI. Hilary 's practice of using armed violence 
must be suppressed. 

A band of soldiers, as we have learnt, 
follows the priest through the provinces and 
helps him who relies upon their armed support 
in turbulently invading churches, which have 
lost their own priests. Before this court? are 
dragged for ordination men who are quite un- 
known to the cities over which they are to be 
set. For as one who is well known and 
approved is sought out in peace, so must 
one who is unknown, when brought forward, be 
established by violence. I beg and entreat 
and beseech you in God's name prevent such 
things, brethren, and remove all occasion for 
discord from your provinces. At all events 
we acquit ourselves before God in beseeching 
you not to allow this to proceed further. In 
peace and quietness should they be asked 
for who are to be priests. The consent of the 
clergy, the testimony of those held in honour, 
the approval of the orders and the laity should 
be required 8 . He who is to govern all, should 
be chosen by all 9. As we said before, each 
metropolitan should keep in his own hands the 
ordinations that occur in his own province, 
acting in concert with those who precede the 
rest in seniority of priesthood, a privilege re- 
stored to him through us. No man should 
claim for himself another's rights. Each 
should keep within his own limits and bound- 
aries, and should understand that he cannot 
pass on to another a privilege that belongs to 
himself. But if any one neglecting the Apostle's 
prohibitions and paying too much heed to 
personal favour, wishes to give up his pre- 
cedence, thinking he can pass his rights on to 
another, not he to whom he has yielded, but 
he who ranks before the rest of the priests 
within the province in episcopal seniority, 
should claim to himself the power of ordaining. 
The ordination should be performed not at 
random but on the proper day : and it should 
be known that any one who has not been 
ordained on the evening of Saturday, which 
precedes the dawn of the first day of the 
week *, or actually on the Lord's day cannot 
be sure of his status. For our forefathers judged 
the day of the Lord's resurrection 2 as alone 
worthy of the honour of being the occasion 
on which those who are to be made priests are 
given to God. 



7 Ante hoc officium. 

8 Cf. Cypr. Ep. lv. cap. vii., factus est Cornelius episcofus de 
Deiet Christiei'is iudicio, de clericorum pa>ne omnium testimonio, 
de f>lebis, qua tunc adfuit, suffragio et sacerdotum antiquorum 
et bonorum virorum collegio. 

9 Quesnel appositely quotes Pliny (Paneg. Traiani) impera- 
turus omnibus cligi debet ex omnibus. 

1 Quod hicescit in prima sabbati ; the phrase is repeated from 
LetterlX.. chap, ii., to which refer for the whole passage. 
a Viz., Sunday. 



VII. Hilaiy is deposed not only from his 
usurped jurisdiction, but also from what of 
right belongs to him, and is restricted to his 
own single bishopric. 

Let each province be. content with its own 
councils, ana let not Hilary dare to summon 
synodal meetings besides, and by his inter- 
ference disturb the judgments of the Lord's 
priests. And let him know that he is not 
only deposed from another's rights, but also 
deprived of his power over the province of 
Vienne which he had wrongfully assumed. 
For it is but fair, brethren, that the ordi- 
nances of antiquity should be restored, see- 
ing that he who claimed for himself the ordi- 
nations of a province for which he was not 
responsible, has been shown in a similar way 
in the present case also to have acted so that, 
as he has on more than one occasion brought 
on himself sentence of condemnation by his 
rash and insolent words, he may now be kept 
by our command in accordance with the cle- 
mency of the Apostolic See 3 to the priest- 
hood of his own city alone. He is not to 
be present then at any ordination : he is not 
to ordain because, conscious of his deserts, 
when he was required to answer for his action, 
he trusted to make good his escape by disgrace- 
ful flight, and has put himself out of Apostolic 
communion, of which he did not deserve to 
be a partaker * : and we believe this was by 
God's providence, who brought him to our 
court, though we did not expect him, and 
caused him to retire by stealth in the midst 
of holding the inquiry, that he should not be 
a partner in our communion s. 

VIII. Excommunication should be inplicted only 
on those who are guilty of some great crime, 
and even then not hastily. 

No Christian should lightly be denied com- 
munion 6 , nor should that be done at the will 
of an angry priest which the judge's mind 
ought to a certain extent unwillingly and 
regretfully to carry out for the- punishment of 
a great crime. For we have ascertained that 
some have been cut off from the grace of com- 
munion for trivial deeds and words, and that 
the soul for which Christ's blood was shed 
has been exposed to the devil's attacks and 
wounded, disarmed, so to say, and stript of all 



3 Pro apostolicee sedis pietate, or " as loyalty to the Apostolic 
See demands." 

4 This does not mean that Hilary is excommunicated, but that 
he is to have no share in episcopal privileges, as a successor of the 
apostles. 

5 These words of course refer to Hilary's journey on foot to- 
Rome, and his subsequent escape from something very much like 
prison : see Introduction, p. vi. : for his degradation, cf. Letter 
XII.. chap, ix., where a similar punishment is enacted. 

6 Here, no doubt, excommunication pure and simple is meant 
Cf. note 4, supr. 



12 



LETTERS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



defence by the infliction of so savage a punish- 
ment as to fall an easy prey to him. Of 
course if ever a case has arisen of such a kind 
as in due proportion to the nature of the 
crime committed to deprive a man of com- 
munion, he only who is involved in the accusa- 
tion must be subjected to punishment : and he 
who is not shown to be a partner in its com- 
mission ought not to share in the penalty. 
But what wonder that one who is wont to exult 
over the condemnation of priests, should show 
himself in the same light towards laymen. 

IX. Leontius is appointed in Hilary's room. 

Wherefore, because our desire seems very 
different to this (for we are anxious that the 
settled state of all the Churches and the har- 
mony of the priests should be maintained,) 
exhorting you to unity in the bond of love, 
we both entreat, and consistently with our 
affection admonish you, in the interests of 
your peace and dignity, to keep what has been 
decreed by us at the inspiration of God and 
the most blessed Apostle Peter, after sifting and 
testing all the matters at issue, being assured 
that what we are known to have decided in 
this way is not so much to our own advantage 
as to yours. For we are not keeping in our own 
hands the ordinations of your provinces, as 
perhaps Hilary, with his usual untruthfulness, 
may suggest in order to mislead your minds, 
holy brethren : but in our anxiety we are claim- 
ing for you that no further innovations should 
be allowed, and that for the future no oppor- 
tunity should be given for the usurper to 
infringe your privileges. For we acknowledge 
that it can only redound to our credit, if the 
diligence of the Apostolic See be kept un- 
impaired among you, and -if in our mainten- 
ance of Apostolic discipline we do not allow 
what belongs to your position to fall to the 
ground through unscrupulous aggressions. 
And since seniority is always to be respec- 
ted, we wish Leontius ?, our brother and 
fellow-bishop, a priest well approved among 
you, to be promoted to this dignity, if it please 
you that without his consent no further council 
be summoned by you, holy brethren, and that 
he may be honoured by you all as his age and 
good fame demands, the metropolitans being 
secured in their own dignity and rights. For 
it is but fair, and no injury seems to accrue to 
any of the brethren, if those who come first 
in seniority of the priesthood should, as their 
age deserves, have deference paid to them by 



• 7 Leontius seems to have had little but his age to recommend 
him for this promotion : the name of his bishopric is unknown : 
and the weakness of the appointment may, I think, be gathered 
from Leo's insisting so strongly on the principle of seniority both 
here and in chap. vi. above. 



the rest of the priests in their own provinces. 
God keep you safe, beloved brethren. 

LETTER XI. 

An Ordinance of Valentinianus III. 
(Confirming Leo's sentence upon Hilary.) 

LETTER XII. 

Leo, bishop of the city of Rome, to all the 
bishops of Mauritania Caesariensis in Africa 
greeting in the Lord. 

I. The disorderly appointments of bishops which 
have been made in the province are repre- 
hensible. 

Inasmuch as the frequent accounts of 
those who visited us made mention of certain 
unlawful practices among you with regard to 
the ordination of priests, the demands of re- 
ligion required that we should strive to arrive 
at the exact state of the case in accordance 
with that solicitude which by the Divine 
command we bestow on the whole Church : 
and so we delegated the charge of this to our 
brother and fellow-priest, Potentius. who was 
setting out from us : and who, according to 
what we wrote and addressed to you by him, 
was to make inquiry as to the tacts about 
the bishops whose election was said to be 
faulty, and to report everything faithfully to 
us. Wherefore, because the same Potentius 
has most fully disclosed all to our knowledge, 
and has by his truthful account made clear to 
us, under what and what manner of governors 
some of Christ's congregations are placed in 
certain parts of the province of (Mauritania) 
Csesariensis, we have found it necessary to 
open out the grief wherewith our hearts are 
vexed for the dangers of the Lord's flocks, by 
sending this letter also to you beloved : for 
we are surprised that either the over-bearing 
conduct of intriguers or the rioting of the 
people had so much weight with you in a 
time of disorder, that the chief pastorate and 
governance of the Church was handed over 
to the unwoithiest persons, and such as were 
farthest removed from the priestly standard. 
This is not to consult but harm the peoples' 
interests : and not to enforce discipline but 
to increase differences. For the integrity of 
the rulers is the safeguard of those who are 
under them : and where there is complete obe- 
dience, there the form of doctrine is sound. 
But an appointment which has either been 
made by sedition or seized by intrigue, even 
though it offend not in morals or in practice, 
is nevertheless pernicious from the mere ex- 
ample of its beginning : and it is hard for 



LETTER XII. 



13 



things to be carried to a good issue which 
were started with a bad beginning. 

II. In no case ought bishops to be ordained 

hastily. 

But if in every grade of the Church great 
forethought and knowledge lias to be em- 
ployed, lest there be any thing disorderly 
or out of place 8 in the house of the Lord: 
how much more carefully must we strive to 
prevent mistakes in the election of him who is 
set over all the grades ? For the peace and 
order of the Lord's whole household will 
be shaken, if what is required in the body be 
not found in the head. Where is that precept 
of the blessed Apostle Paul uttered through 
the Spirit of God, whereby in the person of 
Timothy the whole number ofChrist'spriestsare 
instructed, and to each one of us is said: "Lay 
hands hastily on no one, and do not share in 
other men's sins9?" What is to lay on hands 
hastily but to confer the priestly dignity on 
unproved men before the proper age 1 , before 
there has been time to test them, before they 
have deserved it by their obedience, before 
they have been tried by discipline? And 
what is to share in other men's sins but for the 
ordainer to become such as is he who ought 
not to have been ordained by him ? For just 
as a man stores up for himself the fruit of his 
good work, if he maintains a right judgment 
in choosing a priest : so one who receives an 
unworthy priest into the number of his col- 
leagues, inflicts grievous loss upon himself. 
We must not then pass over in the case of 
any one that which is laid down in the general 
ordinances : nor is that advancement to be 
reckoned lawful which has been made contrary 
to the precepts of God's law. 

III. The At>ostolic precept about the marriage 
of the clergy based upon the marriage of 
Christ with the Church of ivhich it is a 

figure. 

For as the Apostle says that among other 
rules for election he shall be ordained bishop 
who is known to have been or to be "the 
husband of one wife," this command was 
always held so sacred that the same condition 
was understood as necessary to be observed 



8 Nihil sit inordinatum ni/tilgue preefiosterum : the two 
words are well chosen (as usual), and bearing a distinct meaning : 
the former expressing "disorder" in the sense of want of the divine 
commission, the latter, "disorder" in the sense of choosing the 
younger over the old, the inferior over the superior, He. ; the same 
two epithets occur in Lett. XIX., chap. i. 

9 1 Tim v. 22. 

1 Ante atatem maturitatis. The Council of Carthage 
(A.D.397), c. 4, fixed the downward limit for deacons at 25, and 
for priests at 30 : and we may presume that that was the general 
rule in Leo's time, for we find the same ages ordained afterwards 
in the Novella of Justinian (535-565) and elsewhere. 



even in the wife 2 of the priest-elect: lest 
she should happen to have been married to 
another man before she entered into wedlock 
with him, even though he himself had had no 
other wife. Who then would dare to allow 
this injury to be perpetiated upon so great 
a sacrament 3, seeing that this great and vener- 
able mystery is not without the support of the 
statutes of God's law as well, whereby it is 
clearly laid down that a priest is to marry 
a virgin, and that she who is to be the wife 
of a priest* is not to know another husband? 
For even then in the priests was prefigured 
the Spiritual marriage of Christ and His 
Church : so that since " the man is the head 
of the woman s," the spouse of the Word may 
learn to know no other man but Christ, 
who did rightly choose her only, loves her 
only, and takes none but her into His alliance. 
If then even in the Old Testament this kind 
of marriage among priests is adhered to, how 
much more ought we who are placed under 
the grace of the Gospel to conform to the 
Apostle's precepts : so that though a man be 
found endowed with good character, and fur- 
nished with holy works, he may nevertheless 
in no wise ascend either to the grade of 
deacon, or the dignity of the presbytery, or 
to the highest rank of the bishopric, if it has 
been spread abroad either that he himself 
is not the husband of one wife, or that his 
wife is not the wife of one husband. 

IV. Premature promotions are to be avoided. 
But when the Apostle warns and says : 
"and let these also first be proved, and so 
let them minister 6 ," what else do we think 
must be understood but that in these pro- 
motions we should consider not only the 
chastity of their marriages, but also the deserts 
of their labours, lest the pastoral office be 
entrusted to men who are either fresh from 
baptism, or suddenly diverted from worldly 
pursuits ? for through all the ranks of the 
Christian army in the matter of promotions 
it ought to be considered whether a man 
can manage a greater charge. Rightly did 
the venerable opinions of the blessed Fathers 
in speaking of the election of priests reckon 
those men fit for the administration of sacred 
things who had been slowly advanced through 
the various grades of office, and had given 
such good proof of themselves therein that 
in each one of them the character of their 
practices bore witness to their lives?. For 



8 Cf. Letter IV., chap, ii., and elsewhere. 

3 No one will by this time be surprised to find Leo calling 
Sacred Orders either a sacramentnm, as htre, or a mysteritun, as 
in the next sentence : the two terms are indeed in his usage almost 
equivalents. 4 Lev. xxi. 13. 

5 Eph. v. 23. 6 1 Tim. iii. 10. 

7 The shorter edition of this letter, which is extant, gives this 



14 



LETTERS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



if it is improper to attain to the world's dig- 
nities without the help of time and without the 
merit of having toiled, and if the seeking of 
office is branded unless it be supported by proofs 
of uprightness, how diligently and how carefully 
ought the dispensing of divine duties and 
heavenly dignities to be carried out, lest 
in aught the apostolic and canonical decrees 
be violated, and the ruling of the Lord's 
Church be committed to men who being ig- 
norant of the lawful constitutions and devoid 
of all humility wish not to rise from the lowest 
grade, but to begin with the highest : for it is 
extremely unfair and preposterous that the 
inexpert should be preferred to the expert, 
the young to the old, the raw recruits to 
those who have seen much service. In a 
great house, indeed, as the Apostle explains 8 , 
there must needs be divers vessels, some of 
gold and of silver, and some of wood and of 
earth : but their purpose varies with the qua- 
lity of their material, and the use of the 
precious and of the cheap kinds is not the 
same. For everything will be in disorder if 
the earthen ware be preferred to the golden, 
or the wooden to the silver. And as the 
wooden or earthen vessels are a figure of 
those men who are hitherto conspicuous for 
no virtues ; so in the golden or siiver vessels 
they no doubt are represented who, having 
passed through the fire of long experience, 
and through the furnace of protracted toil, 
have deserved to be tried gold and pure 
silver. And if such men get no reward for 
their devotion, all the discipline of the Church 
is loosened, all order is disturbed, while men 
who have undergone no service obtain un- 
deserved preferment by the wrongful choice 
of the electing body. 

V. He distinguishes behveen lay?nen who have 
been raised to the bishoprics and digamous 
clerks, forgiving the for7ner and not the latter. 

Since then either the eager wishes of the 
people or the intrigues of the ambitious have 
had so much weight among you that we 
understand not only laymen, but even hus- 
bands of second wives or widows have been 
promoted to the pastoral office, are there not 
the clearest reasons for requiring that the 
churches in which such things have been 



sentence in a very different form: the qualifications are much 
more exactly defined, e.g., bishops are to have spent their lives in 
orders a puerilibus exordiis usque ad provectiores annos. I think 
Quesnel is right in considering this a later version and alteration 
the better to inculcate the usage of the Ch in ch . For although no 
doubt persons were often mere boys [Readers (lectores) for 
instance: see Bright's note 46 1 when they entered minor orders 
yet the fact that one was an adult layman before taking orders 
could not ipso facto have precluded a man from becoming bishop 
however desirable the rule and general principle might be : in fact 
Cyprmn at l»ast is evidence to the contrary. 
8 Sc. 2 Tim. ii. 20. 



done should be cleansed by a severer judg- 
ment than usual, and that not only the rulers 
themselves, but also those who ordained them 
should receive condign punishment ? But 
there stand on our one hand the gentleness 
of mercy, on our other the strictness of justice. 
And because " all the paths of the Lord are 
loving-kindness and truth 9," we are forced ac- 
cording to our loyalty to the Apostolic See so 
to moderate our opinion as to weigh men's 
misdeeds in the balance (for of course they 
are not all of one measure), and to reckon 
some as to a certain extent 1 pardonable, 
but others as altogether to be repressed. For 
they who have either entered into second 
marriages or joined themselves in wedlock 
with widows are not allowed to hold the 
priesthood, either by the apostolic or legal 
authority : and much more is this the case 
with him who, as it was reported to us, is the 
husband of two wives at once, or him who 
being divorced by his wife is said to have 
married another, that is, supposing these 
charges are in your judgment proved. But 
the rest, whose preferment only so far incurs 
blame that they have been chosen to the 
episcopal function from among the laity, and 
are not culpable in the matter of their wives, 
we allow to retain the priesthood upon which 
they have entered, without prejudice to the 
statutes of the Apostolic See, and without 
breaking the rules of the blessed Fathers, 
whose wholesome ordinance it is that no 
layman, whatever amount of support he may 
receive, shall ascend to the first, second, or third 
rank in the Church until he reach that position 
by the legitimate steps 2 . For what we now 
suffer to be to a certain extent 3 venial, cannot 
hereafter pass unpunished, if any one per- 
petrates what we altogether forbid : because 
the forgiveness of a sin does not grant a 
licence to do wrong, nor will it be right to 
repeat an offence with impunity which has 
partly* been condoned. 

VI. Doiiatus, a converted Novation, and 
Maximus, an ex-Donatist, are retaitied in 
their episcopal office. 

Donatus of Salacia, who, as we learn, has 
been converted from the Novatians s with his 
people, we wish to preside over the Lord's 
flock, on condition that he remembers he must 
send a certificate of his faith to us, in which 



9 Ps. xxv. 10. « Utcumque. 

2 Per legitima augmenfa, cf. n. 7 above. This passage makes 
it clear what is there required is not the puerilia exordia of the 
shorter edition of this letter, but the multum tempus of this longer 
edition. 3 Utcumque again. 

4 Aliqua ratione. 

5 In the case of these two noted African schisms it is hardly 
necessary to do more than refer the reader to Smith's or any other 
standard dictionary 



LETTER XII. 



15 



lie not only condemns the error of the Nova- 
tion dogma, but also unreservedly confesses 
the catholic truth. Maximus, also, although 
he was culpably ordained when a layman, yet 
if he is now no longer a Uonatist, and 
has abjured the spirit of schismatic de- 
pravity, we do not depose from his episcopal 
dignity, which he has obtained irregularly, on 
condition that he declare himself a catholic 
by drawing up a certificate for us. 

VII. The case of Aggarus and Tyberianus (or- 
dained with tumult) is referred to the bishops. 

But concerning Aggarus and Tyberianus, 
whose ca<=e is different from the others who 
were ordained from among the laity, in this 
that their ordination is reported to have been 
accompanied by fierce riots and savage dis- 
turbances, we have entrusted the whole matter 
to your judgment, tUat relying upon your 
investigation of the case, we may know what 
to decide about them. 

VIII. Maidens who have suffered violence are 
not to compare themselves with others. 

Those handmaids of God who have lost 
their chastity by the violence of barbarians, 
will be more praiseworthy in their humility 
and shame-fastness, if they do not venture 
to compare themselves to undefiled virgins. 
For although every sin springs from the de- 
sire, and the will may have remained uncon- 
quered and unpolluted by the fall of the flesh, 
still this will be less to their detriment, if they 
grieve over losing even in the body what they 
did not lose in spirit. 

IX. These injunctions to be carried out without 

conten tiousness. 

And so now that you see yourselves, be- 
loved, fully instructed through David, our 
brother and fellow-bishop, who is approved to 
us both by his personal character and his 
priestly worth, on [nearly] 6 all the points 
which our brother Potentius' account con- 
tained, it remains, brothers, that you receive 
our healthful exhortations harmoniously, and 
that doing nothing in rivalry, but acting 
unanimously with entire devotion and zeal, 
you obey the constitution of God and His 
Apostles, and in nothing suffer the well-con- 
sidered decrees of the canons to be violated. 
For what we from the consideration of certain 
reasons have now relaxed must henceforward 
be guarded by the ancient rules, lest, what we 
have on this occasion with merciful lenity con- 
ceded, we may hereafter have to visit with 



6 Fere here added probably to account for the long tail of 
extraneous or repeated matter tacked on to the letter. 



condign punishment 7, acting with special and 
direct vigour against those who in ordaining 
bishops have neglected the statutes of the 
holy fathers, and have consecrated men whom 
they ought to have rejected. Wherefore if any 
bishops have consecrated such, an one priest 
as ought not to be, even though in some 
measure they have escaped any loss of their 
personal dignity, yet they shall have no further 
right of ordination, nor shall ever be present 
at that sacrament which, neglecting the judg- 
ment of God, they have improperly conferred. 

X. The appointment of bishops over too small 
places is inexpedient and must be discontinued. 

That of course which pertains to the priestly 
dignity we wish to be observed in common 
with all the statutes of the canons, viz., that 
bishops be not consecrated in any place nor 
in any hamlet 8 , nor where they have not 
been consecrated before ; for where the flocks 
are small and the congregations small, the 
care of the presbyters may suffice, whereas 
the episcopal authority ought to preside only 
over larger flocks and more crowded cities, 
lest contrary to the divinely-inspired decrees 
of the holy Fathers the priestly office be as- 
signed over villages and rural estates 9 or 
obscure and thinly-populated townships, and 
the position of honour, to which only the more 
important charges should be given, be held 
cheap from the very number of those that hold 
it. And this bishop Restitutus has reported to 
have been done in his own diocese, and he 
has with good reason requested that when the 
bishops of those places where they ought not 
to have been ordained die in the natural 
course, the places themselves should revert to 
the jurisdiction of the same prelate to whom 
they formerly belonged and were attached. 
It is indeed useless for the priestly dignity to 
be diminished by the superfluous multiplica- 
tions of the office through the inconsiderate 
complaisance of the ordainer. 

XL Virgins violated against their will are to 
be treated as somewhat different to the others, 
but not to be denied Communion. 

Now concerning those who, having made a 
holy vow of virginity [as we said above, 
chap, viii.], have suffered the violence of bar- 
barians, and have lost their spotless purity not 
in spirit but in body, we consider such mode- 



7 Here the shorter edition of the letter breaks off, and there 
are certainly difficulties in considering that the long coda of repe- 
titions and fresh matter here attached formed part of the original 
draft of the letter. Is it possible that two letters (the one later 
than the other) have been welded into one? 

8 Castellis. Cf. Liv. xxi. chaps. 33, 34, where the word is used 
of the Alpine villages. In the Vulgate it represents the Gk. 
Kwfti} (eg. S. Mark vi. 6 : S. Luke v. 17.) 

9 Possess ionibus. 



i6 



LETTERS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



ration ought to be observed that they should 
be neither degraded to the rank of widows 1 
nor yet reckoned in the number of holy and 
undefiled virgins : yet, if they persevere in the 
virgin life, and in heart and mind guard the 
reality of chastity, participation in the sacra- 
ments is not to be denied them, because it is 
unfair that they should be accused or branded 
for what their wishes did not surrender, but 
was stolen by the violence of foes. 

XII. The case of Lupic'mus is in part dealt 
with and in part referred to them. 

The case also of bishop Lupicinus 2 we 
order to be heard there, but at his urgent and 
frequent entreaties we have restored him to 
communion for this reason, that, as he had 
appealed to our judgment, we saw that while 
the matter was pending he had been unde- 
servedly suspended from communion. More- 
over there is this also in addition, that it was 
clearly rash to ordain one over his head 
who ought not to have been ordained until 
Lupicinus, having been placed before you or 
convicted, or having at least confessed, had 
opportunity to submit to a just sentence, so 
that, according to the requirements of eccle- 
siastical discipline, he who was consecrated 
might receive his vacant place. 

XIII. All disputes to be dealt 7vith on the spot 
first and then referred to the Apostolic See. 

But whenever other cases arise which con- 
cern the state of the Church and the harmony 
of priests, we wish them to be first sifted by 
yourselves in the fear of the Lord, and a full 
account of all matters settled or needing settle- 
ment sent to us, that those things which have 
been properly and reasonably decided, ac- 
cording to the usage of the Church, may 
receive our corroborative sanction also. 
Dated 10th August. 

LETTER XIII. 

To the Metropolitan Blshops in the 
Provinces of Illyricum. 



Leo congratulates them on accepting the 
authority of Anastasius over them (given in 
Lett IV.). V 



1 Cyprian (de /tab. Vi? 



irg.) speaks of women who have lost their 
v.rg,n,ty by then- own fault as vidua: antequam nuptl, and 
S Jerome, usmg the same expression (Lett, to Eustochius on the 
p reservation of V.rg.mty), implies that they very often dressed 
like widows {plerasque vidua* antequam nuptas in/ePicemcon- 
"**Umm tnentita tantu,n veste pritegere) : fhis will account for 

l?j£S£Z^%gr unhappy women are not *& 

Projects taLett v Up JfL n _ U ! seem ? somewhat similar to that of 
experts. 



LETTER XIV. 

To Anastasius, Bishop of Thessalonica. 

Leo, bishop of the City of Rome, to Anastasius^ 
bishop of Thessalonica. 

I. Prefatory. 

If with true reasoning you perceived all 
that has been committed to you, brother, 
by the blessed apostle Peter's authority, and 
what has also been entrusted to you by our 
favour, and would weigh it fairly, we should 
be able greatly to rejoice at your zealous dis- 
charge of the responsibility imposed on you 3. 

II. Anastasius is taxed zvith exceeding the limits 
of his vicariate, especially in his violent and 
unworthy treatment of At ticus. 

Seeing that, as my predecessors acted to- 
wards yours, so too I, following their example, 
have delegated my authority to you*, beloved : 
so that you, imitating our gentleness, might 
assist us in the care which we owe primarily 
to all the churches by Divine institution, and 
might to a certain extent make up for our 
personal presence in visiting those provinces 
which are far off from us : for it would be 
easy for you by regular and well-timed inspec- 
tion to tell what and in what cases you could 
either, by your own influence, settle or reserve 
for our judgment. For as it was free for you 
to suspend the more important matters and 
the harder issues while you awaited our opinion, 
there was no reason nor necessity for you to 
go out of your way to decide what was beyond 
your powers. For you have numerous written 
warnings of ours in which we have often in- 
structed you to be temperate in all your 
actions : that with loving exhortations you 
might provoke the churches of Christ com- 
mitted to you to healthy obedience. Because, 
although as a rule there exist among careless 
or slothful brethren things which demand 
a strong hand in rectifying them ; yet the 
correction ought to be so applied as ever to 
keep love inviolate. Wherefore also it is that 
the blessed Apostle Paul, in instructing Timothy 
upon the ruling of the Church, says : " an elder 
rebuke not, but intreat him as a father : the 
young men as brethren : old women as 
mothers : young women as sisters in all 
purity s." And if this moderation is due 
by the Apostle's precept to all and any of 
the lower members, how much more is it to 
be paid without offence to our brethren and 



3 De iniuncta tibi sollicitudinis devotione (an obscure exDres- 
>n). F 



. s-i m ifaV,y referred to local I of toZ^SfiS&figZ, «^ "" aPP ° intn,en ' 
I S i Tim. v. i, a. 



LETTER XIV. 



17 



fellow-bishops ? in order that although things | motion to expose an innocent prelate : so 



sometimes happen which have to be repri 
manded in the persons of priests, yet kind- 
ness may have more effect on those who are 
to be corrected than severity : exhortation than 
perturbation : love than power. But they who 
" seek their own, not the things which are 
Jesus Christ's 6 ," easily depart from this law, 
and finding pleasure rather in domineering 
over their subjects than in consulting their 
interests, are swoln with the pride of their 
position, and thus what was provided to secure 
harmony ministers to mischief. That we are 
obliged to speak thus causes us no small 
grief. For I feel myself in a certain measure 
drawn into blame, on discovering you to have 
so immoderately departed from the rules 
handed down to you. If you were careless 
of your own reputation, you ought at least 
to have spared my good name : lest what 
only your own mind prompted should seem 
done with our approval. Do but read, brother, 
our pages with tare, and peruse all the letters 
sent by holders of the Apostolic See to your 
predecessors, and you will find injunctions 
either from me or from my predecessors on 
that in which we learn you have presumed. 

For there has come to us our brother 
Atticus, the metropolitan ? bishop of Old 
Epirus, with the bishops of his province, and 
with tearful pleading has complained of the 
undeserved contumely he has suffered, in the 
presence of your own deacons who, by giving 
no contradiction to these woeful complaints, 
showed that what was impressed upon us did 
not want for truth. We read also in your 
letter, which those same deacons of yours 
brought, that brother Atticus had come to 
Thessalonica, and that he had also sealed his 
agreement in a written profession, so that we 
could not but understand concerning him that 
it was of his own will and free devotion that 
he had come, and that he had composed the 
statement of his promise of obedience, although 
in the very mention of this statement a sign of 
injury was betrayed. For it was not necessary 
that he should be bound in writing, who was 
already proving his obedience by the very duti- 
fulness of his voluntary coming. Wherefore 
these words in your letter bore witness to the 
*>ewailings of the aforesaid, and through his 
outsnoken account that which had been passed 
over in silence is laid bare, namely that the 
Prefecture of Illyricum had been approached, 
and the most exalted functionary among the 
potentates of the world 8 had been set in 



6 Phil. ii. 21. 

' Some for metrofoli'anns here rend Nicofolitanus, Bishop of 
NieopoUs, the metropolitan see of old Epirus. Quesnel. 

8 The language is, I think, intentionally exaggerated and high- 
flown : fiarturiunt montes nascetur ridiculus mus. 

VOL. XII. 



that a company was sent to carry out the 
aweful deed who were to enlist all the public 
servants in giving effect to their orders, and 
from the church's holy sanctuary charged with 
no crime, or at best a false one, was dragged 
a priest, to whom no truce was granted in con- 
sideration of his grievous ill-health or the cruel 
winter weather: but he was forced to take 
a journey full of hardships and dangers through 
the patbless snows. And this was a task of 
such toil and peril that some of those who 
accompanied the bishop are said to have suc- 
cumbed 9. 

I am quite dumb-founded, beloved brother, 
yea and I am also sore grieved that you 
brought yourself to be so savagely and vio- 
lently moved against one about whom you 
had laid no further information than that when 
summoned to appear he put off and excused 
himself on the grounds of illness; especially 
when, even if he deserved any such treatment, 
you should have waited till I had replied to 
your consulting letter. But, as I perceive, you 
thought too well of my habits, and most truly 
foresaw how fair-minded * an answer I was 
likely to make to preserve harmony among 
priests : and therefore you made haste to carry 
out your movements without concealment, lest 
when you had received the letter of our for- 
bearance dictating another course, you should 
have no licence to do that which is done. Or 
perhaps some crime had reached your ears, 
and metropolitan 2 bishop that you are, the 
weight of some new charge pressed you hard ? 
But that this is not consistent with the fact, 
you yourself make certain by laying nothing 
against him. Yet even if he had committed 
some grave and intolerable misdemeanour, 
you should have waited for our opinion : so 
as to arrive at no decision by yourself until 
you knew our pleasure. For we made you 
our deputy, beloved, on the understanding 
that you were engaged to share our respon- 
sibility, not to take plenary powers on yourself. 
Wherefore as what you bestow a pious care on 
delights us much, so your wrongful acts grieve 
us sorely. And after experience in many cases 
we must show greater foresight, and use more 
diligent precaution : to the end that through 
the spirit of love and peace all matter of offence 
may be removed from the Lord's churches, 



9 Anastasius seems to have arraigned Atticus before the civil 
court of the Prefect of Illyricum : he sent his apparitors, who 
violently dragged him out of the church, and brought him in mid- 
winter across country to be tried. 

1 The word is civilia, in which Brissonius thinks he sees an 
allusion either to the opposition between civil law and frcetor s 
law (to which Anastasius had appealed), or else to the technical 
meaning of the word in jurisprudence as equivalent to ' legitimate ' 
or ' fair.' The latter is more likely. 

2 Quesnel here accepts Nicopolitanum instead of mttropoli* 
tanum (see n. 7 above), but with little reason. 



18 



LETTERS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



which we have commended to you : the pre- 
eminence of your bishopric being retained in 
the provinces, but all your usurping excesses 
being shorn off. 

III. The rights of the metropolitans under the 
vicariate of Anastasins are to be observed. 

Therefore according to the canons of the 
holy Fathers, which are framed by the spirit of 
God and hallowed by the whole world's re- 
verence, we decree that the metropolitan 
bishops of each province over which your 
care, brother, extends by our delegacy, shall 
keep untouched the rights of their position 
which have been handed down to them from 
olden times : but on condition that they do 
not depart from the existing regulations by 
any carelessness or arrogance. 

IV. The negative qualifications of a bishop 

determined. 
In cities whose governors 3 have died let 
this form be observed in filling up their place : 
he. who is to be ordained, even though his 
good life be not attested, shall be not a lay- 
man, not a neophyte, nor yet the husband of 
a second wife, or one who, though he has or 
has had but one, married a widow. For the 
choosing of priests is of such surpassing im- 
portance that things which in other members 
of the Church are not blame-worthy, are yet 
held unlawful in them. 

V. Continence is required even in sub deacons. 
For although they who are not within the 
ranks of the clergy are free to take pleasure in 
the companionship of wedlock and the pro- 
creation of children, yet for the exhibiting of 
the purity of complete continence, even sub- 
deacons are not allowed carnal marriage : that 
" both those that have, may be as though they 
had not *," an d those who have not, may 
remain single. But if in this order, which is 
the fourth from the Head 5 , this is worthy to 
be observed, how much more is it to be kept 
in the first, or second, or third, lest any one 
be reckoned fit for either the deacon's duties 
or the presbyter's honourable position, or the 
bishop's pre-eminence, who is discovered not 
yet to have bridled his uxorious desires. 

VI. The election of a bishop must proceed by 
the wishes of the clergy and people. 

When therefore the choice of the chief priest 



3 Red ores. 

*' Cor. vii. 20. A re r erence to this passage will show that 
S: Paul does not limit himself to the clergv in what he says: for 
an interesting note on the text (written, of course, from the Roman 
standpoint), the reader is referred to Hurter's edition in loc, who 
adduces some valuable illustrations from Epiphanius, Jerome, &c. 

5 Quartus a Capite, i.e. from Jesus Christ, the ilead of the 
Church, or perhaps from the Bishop of Rome, His soi-disant 
representative on earth (cf. chap, xii., below). 



is taken in hand, let him be preferred before 
all whom the unanimous consent of clergy and 
people demands, but if the votes chance to be 
divided between two persons, the judgment of 
the metropolitan should prefer him who is sup- 
ported by the preponderance of votes and 
merits : only let no one be ordained against 
the express wishes of the place : lest a city 
should either despise or hate a bishop whom 
they did not choose, and lamentably fall away 
from religion because they have not been 
allowed to have whom they wished. 

VII. Metropolitans are to refer to their Vicar : 
the mode of electing metropolitans is laid 
down. 

However the metropolitan bishop should 
refer to you, brother, about the person to 
be consecrated bishop, and about the consent 
of the clergy and people : and he should 
acquaint you with the wishes of the province : 
that the due celebration of the ordination may 
be strengthened by your authority also. But 
to right selections it will be your duty to cause 
no delay or hindrance, lest the Lokd's flocks 
should remain too long with their shepherd's 
care. 

Moreover when a metropolitan is defunct 
and another has to be elected in to his place, 
the bishops of the province must meet together 
in the metropolitical city : that after the wishes 
of all the clerics and all the citizens have been 
sifted, the best man may be chosen from the 
presbyters of that same church or from the 
deacons, and you are to be informed of his 
name by the priests of the province, who will 
carry out the wishes of his supporters on ascer- 
taining that you agree with their choice 6 . For 
whilst we desire proper elections to be ham- 
pered by no delays, we yet allow nothing to 
be done presumptuously without your know- 
ledge. 

VIII. Bishops are to hold provincial councils 

twice a year. 

Concerning councils of bishops we give no 
other instructions than those laid down for 
the Church's health by the holy Fathers 7 : to 
wit that two meetings should be held a year, 
in which judgment should be passed upon all 
the complaints which are wont to arise be- 
tween the various ranks of the Church. But 
if perchance among the rulers themselves a 



6 This method of electing the metropolitan will at once strike 
the reader : the electors apparently are (i) the bishops ot the pro- 
vince (who are not eligible for the office!; (2) the clergy 01 the 
diocese (who alone are eligible) ; and (3) the laity of the diocese. 

1 )nly if one remembers how limited each diocese was in extent, 
can one realize the working of the method. 

7 The Council of Niccea (325) lixed two councils a year, one 
ante quadragesimam Paschce (i.e. before Eastertide), the othei 
ci>ca tempus autnmni. 



LETTER XIV. 



IQ 



cause arise (which God forbid) concerning 
one of the greater sins, such as cannot be 
decided by a provincial trial, the metropolitan 
shall take care to inform you, brother, con- 
cerning the nature of the whole matter, and 
if, after both parties have come before you, 
the thing be not set at rest even by your 
judgment, whatever it be, let it be transferred 
to our jurisdiction. 

IX. Translation from one see to a?iother is to 

be prohibited. 

If any bishop, despising the insignificance 
of his city, shall intrigue for the government 
of a more populous place, and transfer himself 
by whatever means to a larger flock, he shall 
first be driven from the chair he has usurped, 
and also shall be deprived of his own : so 
shall he preside neither over those whom in 
his greed he coveted, nor over those whom in 
his arrogance he spurned. Therefore let each 
be content with his own bounds, and not seek 
to be raised above the limits of his present 
post. 

X. Bishops are not to entice or receive the 

clergy of another diocese. 

A cleric from another diocese let no (bishop) 
accept or invite against the wishes of his own 
bishop : but only when giver and receiver 
agree together thereupon by friendly compact. 
For a man is guilty of a serious injury who 
ventures either to entice or withhold from a 
brother's church that which is of great use or 
high value. And so,. if such a thing happen 
within the province, the metropolitan shall 
force the deserting cleric to return to his 
church : but if he has withdrawn himself still 
further off, he shall be recalled by your au- 
thoritative command : so that no occasion be 
left for either desire oi gain or intrigue. 

XI. When the Vicar shall require a meeting of 
bishops, two from each province will be suffi- 
cient. 

In summoning bishops to your presence, we 
wish you to show great forbearance : lest under 
a show of much diligence you seem to exult 
in your brethren's injuries. Wherefore if any 
greater case arise for which it is reasonable 
and necessary to convene a meeting of brethren, 
it may suffice, brother, that two bishops should 
attend from each province, whom the metro- 
politans shall think proper to be sent, on the 
understanding that those who answer the 
summons be not detained longer than fifteen 
days from the time fixed. 



XII. In case of difference of opinion behveen 
the Vicar and the bishops, the bishop of 
Rome must be consulted. The subordination 
of authorities i?i the Church expounded. 
But if in that which you believed necessary 
to be discussed and settled with the brethren, 
their opinion differs from your own wishes, let 
all be referred to us, with the minutes of your 
proceedings attested, that all ambiguities may 
be removed, and what is pleasing to God de- 
cided. For to this end we direct all our 
desires and pains, that what conduces to our 
harmonious unity and to the protection of 
discipline may be marred by no dissension 
and neglected by no slothfulness. Therefore, 
dearly beloved brother, you and those our 
brethren who are offended at your extravagant 
conduct (though the matter of complaint is 
not the same with all), we exhort and warn 
not to disturb by any wrangling what has been 
rightfully ordained and wisely settled. Let 
none " seek what is his own, but what is an- 
other's," as the Apostle says : " Let each one of 
you please his neighbour for his good unto edify- 
ing 8 ." For the cementing of our unity cannot 
be firm unless we be bound by the bond of love 
into an inseparable solidity : because " as in 
one body we have many members, but all the 
members have not the same office ; so we 
being many are one body in Christ, and all of 
us members one of another 9." The con- 
nexion of the whole body makes all alike 
healthy, all alike beautiful : and this connexion 
requires the unanimity indeed of the whole 
body, but it especially demands harmony 
among the priests. And though they have a 
common dignity, yet they have not uniform 
rank ; inasmuch as even among the blessed 
Apostles, notwithstanding the similarity of their 
honourable estate, there was a certain dis- 
tinction of power, and while the election of 
them all was equal, yet it was given to one 1 
to take the lead of the rest. From which 
model has arisen a distinction between bishops 
also, and by an important ordinance it has been 
provided 2 that every one should not claim 
everything for himself: but that there should 
be in each province one whose opinion should 
have the priority among the brethren : and 
again that certain whose appointment is in the 
greater cities should undertake a fuller respon- 
sibility, through whom the care of the universal 
Church should converge towards Peter's one 
seat, and nothing anywhere should be sepa- 
rated from its Head. Let not him then who 
knows he has been set over certain others 



8 Phil. ii. 4, and Rom. xv. 2. 

9 1 Cor. xii. 12, &c. : the quotation is loose, cf. Rom. xii. 5. 
1 Viz., S. Peter. 

* Magna ordinatione frovisum est. 



C 2 



20 



LETTERS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



take it ill that some one has been set over 
him, but let him himself render the obedience 
which he demands of them : and as he does 
not Avish to bear a heavy load of baggage, 
so let him not dare to place on another's 
shoulders a weight that is insupportable. For 
we are disciples of the humble and gentle 
Master who says : " Learn of Me, for I am 
gentle and humble of heart, and ye shall find 
rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and 
My burden lights." And how shall we ex- 
perience this, unless this too comes to our 
remembrance which the same Lord says : " He 
that is greater among you, shall be your ser- 
vant. But he that exalteth himself, shall be 
humbled : and he that humbleth himself, shall 
be exalted V 

LETTER XV; 

To Turribius, Bishop of Asturia ', upon 

THE ERRORS OF THE PRISCILLIANISTS. 

Leo, bishop, to Turribius, bishop, greeting. 
I. lnt7'oduciory. 

Your laudable zeal for the truth of the 
catholic Faith, and the painstaking devotion 
you expend in the exercise of your pastoral 
office upon the Lord's flock is proved by 
your letter, brother, which your deacon has 
handed to us, in which you have taken care to 
bring to our knowledge the nature of the 
disease which has burst forth in your district 
from the remnants of an ancient plague. For 
the language of your letter, and your detailed 
statement, and the text of your pamphlet 6 , 
explains clearly that the filthy puddle of the 
Priscillianists again teems with life amongst 
you 7 . For there is no dirt which has not 
flowed into this dogma from the notions of all 
sorts of heretics : since they have scraped 
together the motley dregs from the mire of 
earthly opinions and made for themselves a 
mixture 8 which they alone may swallow whole, 
though others have tasted little portions of it. 

In fact, if all the heresies which have arisen 
before the time of Priscillian were to be 
studied carefully, hardly any mistake will be 
discovered with which this impiety has not 
been infected : for not satisfied with accepting 



3 S. Matt. xi. 29, 30. 4 Ibid, xxiii., 11. 12. 

5 This Turribius was a man of learning and zeal, Bishop of 
Asturia (Astorga) in Spain (province of Gallicia): canonized by 
the Roman Church and commemorated on April 16 (HurterJ. 
The date of the letter is given as 21 Jul., 447. 

6 Hurter extinguishes these three documents thus : (1) e/>istola, 
the private letter of Turribius to Leo ; (2) commonitorium, the 
detailed statement (under 16 lipids) of the Priscillianist errors ; 
and (3) lihellus, Turrihius' refutation of each head. This heresy 
was of Spanish 01 igin, having been broached by Priscillian about 
380. Their views will be seen in the sequel. 

7 Prisciltianistarum fcetidissimam apud vos recaluisse sen- 
tinam. 8 Multiplicem sibifceculentiam miscuerunt . 



the falsehoods of those who have departed 
from the Gospel under the name of Christ, it 
has plunged itself also in the shades of hea- 
thendom, so as to rest their religious faith and 
their moral conduct upon the power of 
demons and the influences of the stars through 
the blasphemous secrets of the magic arts and 
the empty lies of astrologers. But if this may 
be believed, and taught, no reward will be due 
for virtues, no punishment for faults, and all 
the injunctions not only of human laws but 
also of the Divine constitutions will be broken 
down : because there will be no criterion of 
good or bad actions possible, if a fatal ne- 
cessity drives the impulses of the mind to 
either side, and all that men do is through 
the agency not of men but of stars. To this 
madness belongs that monstrous division of 
the whole human body among the twelve 
signs of the zodiac, so that each part is ruled 
by a different power : and the creature, whom 
God made in His own image, is as much 
under the domination of the stars as his limbs 
are connected one with the other. Rightly 
then our fathers, in whose times this abomin- 
able heresy sprung up, promptly pursued it 
throughout the world, that the blasphemous 
error might everywhere be driven from the 
Church : for even the leaders of the world so 
abhorred this profane folly that they laid low 
its originator, with most of his disciples, by 
the sword of the public laws. For they saw 
that all desire for honourable conduct was 
removed, all marriage-ties undone, and the 
Divine and the human law simultaneously 
undermined, if it were allowed for men of this 
kind to live anywhere under such a creed. 
And this rigourous treatment was for long a 
help to the Church's law of gentleness which, 
although it relies upon the priestly judgment, 
and shuns blood-stained vengeance, yet is 
assisted by the stern decrees of Christian 
princes at times when men, who dread 
bodily punishment, have recourse to merely 
spiritual correction. But since many pro- 
vinces have been taken up with the invasions 
of the enemy 9, the carrying out of the laws 
also has been suspended by these stormy 
wars. And since intercourse came to be diffi- 
cult among God's priests and meetings rare, 
secret treachery was free to act through the 
general disorder, and was roused to the up- 
setting of many minds by those very ills which 
ought to have counteracted it, But which of 
the peoples and how many of them are free 
from the contagion of this plague in a district 
where, as you point out, dear brother, the 



9 He alludes to the invasion of Spain by the German tribe* 
(Perthel, p. 38). 



LETTER XV. 



21 



minds even of certain priests have sickened 
of this deadly disease : and they who were 
believed the necessary quellers of falsehood 
and champions of the Truth are the very ones 
through whom the Gospel of God is enthralled 
to the teaching of Priscillian : so that the 
fidelity of the holy volumes being distorted to 
profane meanings, under the names of pro- 
phets and apostles, is proclaimed not that 
which the Holy Spirit has taught, but what 
the devil's servant has inserted. Therefore as 
you, beloved, with all the faithful diligence in 
your power, have dealt under 16 heads with 
these already condemned opinions r , we also 
subject them once more to a strict examina- 
tion ; lest any of these blasphemies should be 
thought either bearable or doubtful. 

II. (1) The Priscillianists 1 denial of the Trinity 

refuted. 

And so under the first head is shown what 
unholy views they hold about the Divine 
Trinity : they affirm that the person of the 
Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost is one 
and the same, as if the same God were named 
now Father, now Son, and now Holy Ghost : 
and as if He who begat were not one, He who 
was begotten, another, and He who proceeded 
from both, yet another ; but an undivided unity 
must be understood, spoken of under three 
names, indeed, but not consisting of three 
persons. This species of blasphemy they bor- 
rowed from Sabellius, whose followers were 
rightly called Patripassians also : because if 
the Son is identical with the Father, the Son's 
cross is the Father's passion {patris-passio) : 
and the Father took on Himself all that the 
Son took in the form of a slave, and in obe- 
dience to the Father. Which without doubt 
is contrary to the catholic faith, which acknow- 
ledges the Trinity of the Godhead to be of one 
essence (Snoovaiov) in such a way that it be- 
lieves the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost 
indivisible without confusion, eternal without 
time, equal without difference : because it is 
not the same person but the same essence 
which fills the Unity in Trinity 

III. (2) Their fancy about virtue* proceeding 

from God reputed. 

Under the second head is displayed their 
foolish and empty fancy about the issue of 
certain virtues from God which he began to 
possess, and which were posterior to God 
Himself in His own essence. In this again 



1 See above, n. 6. Quesnel draws attention to the fact that 
Leo's refutation of the Pri-cillianist heresy, which here follows, 
was adopted (almost) word for word by the first council of Bracara 
(Br.iga, in Portugal), held in 563, as a sufficient exposition of 
their own position. 



they support the Arians' mistake, who say that 
the Father is prior to the Son, because there 
was a time when He was without the Son : 
and became the Father then when He begat 
the Son. But as the catholic Church abhors 
them, so also does it abhor these who think 
that what is of the same essence was ever 
wanting to God. For it is as wicked to speak 
of Him as progressing as it is to call Him 
changeable. For increase implies change as 
much as does decrease. 

IV. (3) Their account of the epithet " Only be- 

gotten " refuted. 

Again the third head is concerned with these 
same folk's impious assertion that the Son of 
God is called "only-begotten" for this reason 
that He alone was born of a virgin. To be 
sure they would not have dared to say this, 
had they not drunk the poison of Paul of 
Samosata and Photinus : who said that our 
Lord Jesus Christ did not exist till He was 
born of the virgin Mary. But if they wish 
something else to be understood by their tenet, 
and do not date Christ's beginning from His 
mother's womb, they must necessarily assert 
that there is not one Son of God, but others 
also were begotten of the most High Father, 
of whom this one is born of a woman, and there- 
fore called only-begotten, because no other of 
God's sons underwent this condition of being 
born. Therefore, whithersoever they betake 
themselves, they fall into an abyss of great 
impiety, if they either maintain that Christ the 
Lord took His beginning from His mother, 
or do not believe Him to be the only-begotten 
of God the Father : since He who was God 
was born of a mother, and no one was born of 
the Father except the Word. 

V. (4) Their fasting on the Nativity and Sunday 

disapproved of. 

The fourth head deals with the fact that the 
Birth-day of Christ, which the catholic Church 
thinks highly of as the occasion of His taking 
on Him true man, because " the Word became 
flesh and dwelt in us 2 ," is not truly honoured by 
these men, though they make a show of honour- 
ing it, for they fast on that day, as they do 
also on the Lord's day, which is the day of 
Christ's resurrection. No doubt they do this, 
because they do not believe that Christ the 
Lord was born in true man's nature, but 
maintain that by a sort of illusion there was an 
appearance of what was not a reality, follow- 
ing the views of Cerdo and Marcion, and being 
in complete agreement with their kinsfolk, the 



S. John i. 14. 



22 



LETTERS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



Manichaeans, For as our examination has 
disclosed and brought home to them, they 3 
drag out in mournful fasting the Lord's day 
wtncn tor us is hallowed by the resurrection of 
our Saviour : devoting this abstinence, as the 
explanation goes, to the worship of the sun : 
so that they are throughout out of harmony 
with the unity of our faith, and the day which 
by us is spent in gladness is past in self-afflic- 
tion by them. Whence it is fitting that these 
enemies of Christ's cross and resurrection 
should accept an opinion (like this) which 
tallies with the doctrine they have selected. 

VI. (5) Their view that the soul is part of the 
Divine being refuted. 

The fifth head refers to their assertion that 
man's soul is part of the Divine being 4, and 
that the nature of our human state does not 
differ from its Creator's nature. This impious 
view has its source in the opinions of certain 
philosophers, and the Manichaeans and the 
catholic Faith condemns it : knowing that 
nothing that is made is so sublime and so 
supreme as that its nature should be itself 
God. For that which is part of Himself is 
Himself, and none other than the Son and 
Holy Spirit. And besides this one consub- 
stantial, eternal, and unchangeable Godhead 
of the most high Trinity there is nothing in all 
creation which, in its origin, is not created out 
of nothing. Besides anything that surpasses 
its fellow- creatures is not ipso facto God, nor, 
if a thing is great and wonderful, is it identical 
with Him " who alone doeth great wonders s." 
No man is truth, wisdom, justice ; but many 
are partakers of truth, wisdom, and justice. 
But God alone is exempt from any partici- 
pating : and anything which is in any degree 
worthily predicated of Him is not an attribute, 
but His very essence. For in the Unchange- 
able there is nothing added, there is nothing 
lost : because " to be 6 " is ever His peculiar 
property, and that is eternity. Whence abiding 
in Himself He renews all things ?, and re- 
ceives nothing which He did not Himself give. 
Accordingly they are over-proud and stone- 
blind who, when they say the soul is part of 
the Divine Being, do not understand that they 
merely assert that God is changeable, and 



3 V'z. the Manichaeans. 

4 This Pantheistic view was not, of course, a new one, nor 
pseudo-Chri-tian in its origin, as Leo himself shows. Cf. Virg. 
Georg. IV. 219 — 227, and Aen. vi. 724 — 727. 

The philosophi q aidant to which he makes reference are the 
Pythagoi e.in N and following them with modifications the Platoiiists 
and the Stoics. 

5 Ps. exxxvi. 4. 

6 The reader need hardly be reminded of the recorded revela- 
tion of the great " I am " (Jehovah) to Moses (Ex. iii.). 

7 Cf. Rev. xxi. 5. 



Himself suffers anything that may be inflicted 
upon His nature. 

VII. (6) Their vieiv that the devil was never 
good, and is therefore not Gob's creation, re- 
futed. 

The sixth notice points out that they say the 
devil never was good, and that his nature is 
not God's handiwork, but he came forth out 
of chaos and darkness : because I suppose he 
has no instigator, but is himself the source and 
substance of all evil : whereas the true Faith, 
which is the catholic, acknowledges that the 
substance of all creatures spiritual or corporeal 
is good, and that evil has no positive exist- 
ence 8 ; because God, who is the Maker of the 
Universe, made nothing that was not good. 
Whence the devil also would be good, if he 
had remained as he was made. But because 
he made a bad use of his natural excellence, 
and "stood not in the truth 9," he did not pass 
into the opposite substance, but revolted from 
the highest good to which he owed adherence : 
just as they themselves who make such asser- 
tions run headlong from truth into false- 
hood, and accuse nature of their own spon- 
taneous delinquencies, and are condemned for 
their voluntary perversity : though of course 
this evil is in them, but is itself not a substance 
but a penalty inflicted on substance. 

VIII. (7) Their rejection of marriage con- 

demned. 

In the seventh place follows their condemna- 
tion of marriages and their horror of begetting 
children : in which, as in almost all points, 
they agree with the Manichaeans' impiety. But 
it is for this reason, as their own practices 
prove, that they detest the marriage tie, be- 
cause there is no liberty for lewdness where the 
chastity of wedlock and of offspring is pre- 
served. 

IX. (8) Their disbelief in the resurrection of the 
body has been already condemned by the 
Church. 

Their eighth point is that the formation x of 
men's bodies is the device of the devil, and 
that the seed of conception is shaped by 
the aid of demons in the wombs of women : 
and that for this reason the resurrection of the 
flesh is not to be believed because the stuff of 
which the body is made is not consistent with 



8 i.e. that evil is not anything positive, but only the negation 
or absence of good which is positive, just as black is not itself 
a colour, but only the absence of colour, whereas white is the 
presence (in due proportion) of all the colours of the spectrum. 

9 S. John viii. 24. 

1 Flasmationem, a. vile hybrid, being the Greek irXdcrfio. with 
a Latin ending (-atio) ; for which apparently the Low Latin of the 
Vulgate is responsible. Cf. Ps. cxix. 73, " et plasmaverunt inc " 
(quoted below, chap. x.). 



LETTER XV. 



23 



the dignity of the soul. This falsehood is 
without doubt the devil's work, and such mon- 
strous opinions are the devices of demons who 
do not mould men in women's bellies, but 
concoct such errors in heretics' hearts. This 
unclean poison which flows especially from the 
fount of the Manichcean wickedness has been 
already 2 arraigned and condemned by the 
catholic Faith. 

X. (9) Their notion that " the children of 
promise " are conceived by the Holy Ghost 
is utterly unscriptural and uncatholic. 

The ninth notice declares that they say the 
sons of promise are born indeed of women, 
but conceived by the Holy Spirit : lest that 
offspring which is born of carnal seed should 
seem to share in God's estate. This is re- 
pugnant and contrary to the catholic Faith, 
which acknowledges every man to be formed 
by the Maker of the Universe in the substance 
of his body and soul, and to receive the breath 
of life within his mother's womb : though that 
taint of sin and liability to die remains which 
passed from the first parent into his descend- 
ants ; until the sacrament of Regeneration 
comes to succour him, whereby through the 
Holy Spirit we are re-born the sons of promise, 
not in the fleshly womb, but in the power 
of baptism. Whence David also, who cer- 
tainly was a son of promise, says to God : 
" Thy hands have made me and fashioned 
me 3 ." And to Jeremiah says the Lord, 
" Before I formed thee in the womb I knew 
thee, and in thy mother's belly I sanctified 
thee ♦." 

XI. (10) Their theory that souls have a previous 

existence before entering man refuted. 

Under the tenth head they are reported as 
asserting that the souls which are placed in 
men's bodies have previously been without 
body and have sinned in their heavenly habi- 
tation, and for this reason having fallen from 
their high estate to a lower one alight upon 
ruling spirits s of divers qualities, and after 
passing through a succession of powers of the 
air and stars, some fiercer, some milder, are 
enclosed in bodies of different sorts and con- 
ditions, so that whatever variety and inequality 
is meted out to us in this life, seems the result 
of previous causes. This blasphemous fable 
they have woven for themselves out of many 
persons' errors 6 : but all of them the catholic 



3 Olim. Perhaps Leo refers to his own action mentioned in 
Lett. vii. 1. 3 Ps. cxix. 73. 4 Jer. i. 5. 

5 In diverse? qna!itatis prinefpes incidisse, cf. Rom. viii. 38 ; 
Eph. iii. 10; Col. ii. 10, &c. 

6 The Pythagorean doctrine of fieTe|Ui/mxa)<ris (transmigration 
of souls) which was in a modified form accepted by Plato (JPhadr. 



Faith cuts off from union with its body, per. 
sistently and truthfully proclaiming that men's 
souls did not exist until they were breathed 
into their bodies, and that they were not there 
implanted by any other than God, who is the 
creator both of the souls and of the bodies. 
And because through the transgression of 
the first man the whole stock of the human 
race was tainted, no one can be set free from 
the state of the old Adam save through Christ's 
sacrament of baptism, in which there are no 
distinctions between the re-born, as says the 
Apostle: "For as many of you as were bap- 
tized in Christ did put on Christ : there is 
neither Jew nor Greek : there is neither bond 
nor free : there is neither male nor female : 
for ye are all one in Christ Jesus 7." What then 
have the course of the stars to do with it, or 
the devices of destiny? what the changing 
state of mundane things and their restless di- 
versity ? Behold how the grace of God makes 
all these unequals equal, who, whatever their 
labours in this life, if they abide faithful, can- 
not be wretched, for they can say with the 
Apostle in every trial : " who shall separate us 
from the love of Christ ? shall tribulation, or 
distress, or persecution, or famine, or naked- 
ness, or peril, or sword ? As it is written, 
' For thy sake we are killed all the day long, 
we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.' 
(Ps. xliv. 22.) But in all these things we over- 
come through Him that loved us 8 ." And there- 
fore the Church, which is the body of Christ, 
has no fear about the inequalities of the world, 
because she has no desire for temporal goods : 
nor does she dread being overwhelmed by the 
empty threats of destiny, for she knows she is 
strengthened by patience in tribulations. 

XII. (n) Their astrological notions condemned. 

Their eleventh blasphemy is that in which 
they suppose that both the souls and bodies 
of men are under the influence of fatal 
stars : this folly compels them to become 
entangled in all the errors of the heathen, 
and to strive to attract stars that are as 
they think favourable to them, and to soften 
those that are against them. But for those 
who follow such pursuits there is no place 
in the catholic Church ; a man who gives 
himself up to such convictions separates 
himself from the body of Christ altogether. 



et alibi), would seem to have been the original source of this view 
of the soul's origin. It would naturally be palatable doctrine to 
the Gnostics and other philosophizing sects. In Lett. XXXV., 
chap, iii., it is attributed to Origen. For a modern exposition 
the reader cannot do better than refer to Wordsworth's ode on the 
intimations of Immortality in childhood. 7 Gal. iii. 27, 28. 

8 Rom. viii. 35—37- 



24 



LETTERS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



XITT. (12) Their belief that certain poivers rule 
the soul and the stars the body, is unscriptural 
and preposterous. 

The twelfth of these points is this, that they 
map out the parts of the soul under certain 
powers, and the limbs of the body under 
others : and they suggest the characters of 
the inner powers that rule the soul by giving 
them the names of the patriarchs, and on the 
contrary they attribute the signs of the stars 
to those under which they put the body. And 
in all these things they entangle themselves 
in an inextricable maze, not listening to the 
Apostle when he says. " See that no one 
deceive you through philosophy and vain 
deceit after the tradition of men, after the 
rudiments of the world, and not after Christ ; 
for in Him dwells all the fulness of the Godhead 
bodily, and in Him ye are made full, who is 
the head of every principality and power 9." 
And again : " let no man beguile you by 
a voluntary humility and worshipping of 
angels, treading on things which he hath 
not seen, vainly puffed up by the senses of 
his flesh, not holding fast the Head from 
whom all the body, being supplied and knit 
together through the joints and bands, in- 
creased! with the increase of God i ." What 
then is the use of admitting into the heart 
what the law has not taught, prophecy has 
not sung, the truth of the Gospel has not pro- 
claimed, the Apostles' teaching has not handed 
down? But these things are suited to the 
minds of those of whom the Apostle speaks, 
" For the time will come when they will not 
endure sound doctrine, but having itching 
ears, will heap to themselves teachers after 
their own lusts: and will turn away indeed 
their hearing from the truth, and turn aside 
unto fables 2 ." And so we can have no- 
thing in common with men who dare to teach 
or believe such things, and strive by any 
means in their power to persuade men that 
the substance of flesh is foreign to the hope 
of resurrection, and so break down the whole 
mystery of Christ's incarnation : because it 
was wrong for Christ to take upon Him com- 
plete manhood if it was wrong for Him to 
emancipate complete manhood. 

XIV. (13) Their fanciful division of the Scrip- 
tures rejected. 

In the thirteenth place comes their assertion 
that the whole body of the canonical Scriptures 
is to be accepted, under the names of the pa- 
triarchs 3; because those twelve virtues which 



9 Col. ii. 8-10. 1 Ibid. 18, 19. 2 2 Tim. iv. 3, 4. 

3 Leo's commentary on this obscure fancy of the Priscilliani'sts 
is disappointing, as it is merely a repetition or continuation ol his 
remarks on the 12th head. They seem to have divided the scrip- 
tures in some mystic fashion into portions corresponding to the 



work the reformation of the inner man are 
pointed out in their names, and without this 
knowledge no soul can effect its reformation, 
and return to that substance from which it 
came forth. But this wicked delusion the 
Christian wisdom holds in disdain, for it 
knows that the nature of the true Godhead 
is inviolable and immutable : but the soul, 
whether living in the body or separated from 
the body, is subject to many passions : whereas, 
of course, if it were part of the divine essence, 
no adversity could happen to it. And there- 
fore there is no comparison between them : 
One is the Creator, the other is the creature. 
For He is always the same, and suffers no 
change : but the soul is changeable, even if 
not changed, because its power of not chang- 
ing is a gift, and not a property. 

XV. (14) Their idea that the Scriptures counten- 
ance their subjecting of the body to the starry 
influences denied. 

Under the fourteenth heading their senti- 
ments upon the state of the body are stated, 
viz., that it is, on account of its earthly pro- 
perties, held under the power of stars and con- 
stellations, and that many things are found in 
the holy books which have reference to the 
outer man with this object, that in the Scrip- 
tures themselves a certain opposition may be 
seen at work between the divine and the 
earthly nature : and that that which the powers 
that rule the soul claim for themselves may 
be distinguished from that which the fashioners 
of the body claim. These stories are invented 
that the soul may be maintained to be part 
of the divine substance, and the flesh believed 
to belong to the bad nature : since the world 
itself, with its elements, they hold to be not 
the work of the good God, but the outcome 
of an evil author : and that they might dis- 
guise these sacrilegious lies under a fair cloak, 
they have polluted almost all the divine utter- 
ances with the colouring of their unholy 
notions. 

XVI. (15) Their falsified copies of the Scrip- 
tures, and their apocryphal books prohibited. 

And on this subject your remarks under the 
fifteenth head make a complaint, and express 
a well-deserved abhorrence of their devilish 
presumption, for we too have ascertained this 
from the accounts of trustworthy witnesses, 
and have found many of their copies most 
corrupt, though they are entitled canonical. 
For how could they deceive the simple- 

qualitates interiorum prcesulum in patriarcharum nominibui 
^statutes) of chap, xiii., and to have insisted on knowledge of the 
Scriptures as necesbary to the proper action of those " ruling prin- 
ciples " on the soul. Cf. S. Aug. Letter CCXXXVII., chap, iii 
(Hurtc*.) 



LETTER XV. 



25 



minded unless they sweetened their poisoned 
cups with a little honey, lest what was meant 
to be deadly should be detected by its over- 
nastiness? Therefore care must' be taken, 
and the priestly diligence exercised to the 
uttermost, to prevent falsified copies that are 
out of harmony with the pure Truth being 
used in reading. And the apocryphal scrip- 
tures, which, under the names of Apostles 2 *, 
form a nursery-ground for many falsehoods, are 
not only to be proscribed, but also taken away 
altogether and burnt to ashes in the fire. For 
although there are certain things in them 
which seem to have a show of piety, yet they 
are never free from poison, and through the 
allurements of their stories they have the secret 
effect of first beguiling men with miraculous 
narratives, and then catching them in the noose 
of some error. Wherefore if any bishop has 
either not forbidden the possession of apocry- 
phal writings in men's houses, or under the 
name of being canonical has suffered those 
copies to be read in church which are vitiated 
with the spurious alterations of Priscillian, let 
him know that he is to be accounted heretic, 
since he who does not reclaim others from error 
shows that he himself has gone astray. 

XVII. (16) About the writings of Dictinius*. 

Under the last head a just complaint was 
made that the treatises of Dictinius which he 
wrote in agreement with Priscillian's tenets 
were read by many with veneration : for if 
they think any respect is due to Dictinius' 
memory, they ought to admire his restoration 
rather than his fall. Accordingly it is not 
Dictinius but Priscillian that they read : and 
they approve of what he wrote in error, not 
what he preferred after recantation. But let no 
one venture to do this with impunity, nor let 
any one be reckoned among catholics who 
makes use of writings that have been con- 
demned not by the catholic Church alone, 
but by the author himself as well. Let not 
those who have gone astray be allowed to 
make a fictitious show, and under the veil of 
the Christian name shirk the provisions of the 
imperial decrees. For they attach themselves 
to the catholic Church with all this difference 
of opinion in their heart, with the object of both 
making such converts as they can, and escaping 
the rigour of the law by passing themselves off 
as ours. This is done by Pnscillianists and 



4 Viz., such writings as the Actus of Thomas, Andrew and 
John, and the Mcmoria apostolorum, qui totam destruit legem 
veteris 'lestamenti, according to Turribius' letter to Idacius and 
Ceponius, chap, v., subjoined to this letter in the Leonine series. 

5 Dictinius was a bishop who had turned Priscillianist, and 
afterwards, at the synod of Toledo (400), had returned to the lold of 
the Church (Perthel, p. 41) 



Manichaeans alike ; for there is such a close bond 
of union between the two that they are dis- 
tinct only in name, but in their blasphemies 
are found at one : because although the Mani- 
chaeans reject the Old Testament which the 
others pretend to accept, yet the purpose of 
both tends to the same end, seeing that the 
one side corrupts while receiving what the 
other assails and rejects. 

But in their abominable mysteries, which 
the more unclean they are, are so much the 
more carefully concealed, their crime is but 
one, their filthy-mindedness one, and their 
foul conduct similar. And although we blush 
to speak so plainly, yet we have tracked it 
out with the most painful searches, and 
exposed it by the confession of Manichaeans 
who have been arrested, and thus brought it 
to the public knowledge : lest by any means 
it might seem matter of doubt, although it has 
been disclosed by the mouth of the men them- 
selves, who had performed the crime, in our 
court, which was attended not only by a large 
gathering of priests, but also by men of repute 
and diamitv, and a certain number of the 
senate and the people, even as the missive 
which we have addressed to you, beloved, 
shows to have been done. And there has 
been found out and widely published about 
the immoral practices of the Priscillianists 
just what was also found out about the foul 
wickedness of the Manichaeans. For they who 
are throughout on a level of depravity in their 
ideas, cannot be unlike in their religious 
matters. 

So having run through all that the detailed 
refutation contains, with which the contents 
of the memorial of their views does not dis- 
agree, we have, I think, satisfactorily shown 
what our opinion on the matters which you, 
brother, have referred to us, and how unbear- 
able it is if such blasphemous errors find ac- 
ceptance in the hearts even of some priests, or 
to put it more mildly, are not actively opposed 
by them. With what conscience can they 
maintain the honourable position which has 
been given them, who do not labour for the 
souls entrusted to them ? Beasts rush in, and 
they do not close the fold. Robbers lay wait, 
and they set no watch. Diseases multiply, 
and they seek out no remedies. But when in 
addition they refuse assent to those who act 
more warily, and shrink from anathematizing 
by their written confession blasphemies which 
the whole world has already condemned, what 
do they wish men to understand except that 
they are not of the number of the brethren, 
but on the enemy's side ? 



26 



LETTERS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



XVIII. The body of Christ really rested in the 
tomb, and really rose again. 

Furthermore in the matter which you placed 
last in your confidential letter, I am surprised 
that any intelligent Christian should be in 
difficulty as to whether when Christ descended 
to the realms below, his flesh rested in the 
tomb : for as it truly died and was buried, so 
it was truly raised the third day. For this the 
Lord Himself also had announced, saying to 
the Jews, "destroy this temple, and in three 
days I will raise it up 6 ." Where the evan- 
gelist adds this comment: "but this He spake 
of the temple of His body." The truth of 
which the prophet David also had predicted, 
speaking in the person of the Lord and 
Saviour, and saying : " Moreover my flesh 
also shall rest in hope ; because Thou will not 
leave my soul in Hades, nor give Thy Holy 
One to see corruption ^ " From these words 
surely it is clear that the Lord's flesh being 
buried, both truly rested and did not undergo 
corruption : because it was quickly revived 
by the return of the soul, and rose again. 
Not to believe this is blasphemous enough, and 
is undoubtedly of a piece with the doctrine 
of Manichaeus and Priscillian, who with their 
blasphemous conceptions pretend to confess 
Christ, but only in such a way as to destroy 
the reality of His incarnation, and death, and 
resurrection. 

Therefore let a council of bishops be held 
among you, and let the priests of neighbouring 
provinces meet at a place suitable to all : that, 
on the lines of our reply to your request for 
advice, a full inquiry may be made as to 
whether here are any of the bishops who 
are tainted with the contagion of this heresy : 
for they must without doubt be cut off from 
communion, if they refuse to condemn this 
most unrighteous sect with all its wrongful 
conceptions. For it can nohow be permitted 
that one who has undertaken the duty of 
preaching the Faith should dare to maintain 
opinions contrary to Christ's gospel and the 
creed of the universal Church. What kind of 
disciples will there be in a place where such 
masters teach ? What will the people's religion, 
or the salvation of the laity be, where against 
the interests of human society the holiness of 
chastity is uprooted, the marriage-bond over- 
thrown, the propagation of children forbidden, 
the nature of the flesh condemned, and, in 
opposition to the true worship of the true 
God, the Trinity of the Godhead is denied, 
the individuality of the persons confounded, 
man's soul declared to be the Divine essence, 



6 S. John ii. 19. 



7 Ps. xvi. 10. 



and enclosed in flesh at the Devil's will, the 
Son of God proclaimed only-begotten in right 
of being born of a Virgin, not begotten of the 
Father, and at the same time maintained to 
be neither true offspring of God, nor true 
child of the virgin : so that after a false passion 
and an unreal death, even the resurrection of 
the flesh re-assumed out of the tomb should 
be considered fictitious? But it is vain 
for them to adopt the name of catholic, as 
they do not oppose these blasphemies : they 
must believe them, if they can listen so 
patiently to such words. And so we have 
sent a letter to our brethren and fellow- 
bishops of the provinces of Tarraco, Car- 
thago, Lusitania and Gallicia, enjoining a 
meeting of the general synod. It will be 
yours, beloved, to take order that our author- 
itative instiuctions be conveyed to the bishops 
of the aforesaid provinces. But should any- 
thing, which God forbid, hinder the coming 
together of a general council of Gallicia 8 , at 
least let the priests come together, the as- 
sembling of whom our brothers Idacius and 
Ceponius shall look to, assisted by your own 
strenuous efforts to hasten the applying of 
remedies to these serious wounds by a provin- 
cial synod also. Dated July 21, in the con- 
sulship of the illustrious Calipius and Arda- 
buris (447). 

LETTER XVI. 

To the Bishops of Sicily. 

Leo the bishop to all the bishops through- 
out Sicily greeting in the Lord. 

I. Introductory. 

By God's precepts and the Apostle's ad- 
monitions we are incited to keep a careful 
watch over the state of all the churches : 
and, if anywhere ought is found that needs 
rebuke, to recall men with speedy care either 
from the stupidity of ignorance or from for- 
wardness and presumption. For inasmuch 
as we are warned by the Lord's own com- 
mand whereby the blessed Apostle Peter had 
the thrice repeated mystical injunction pressed 
upon him, that he who loves Christ should 
feed Christ's sheep, we are compelled by 
reverence for that see which, by the abundance 
of the Divine Grace, we hold, to shun the 
danger of sloth as much as possible : lest the 
confession of the chief Apostle whereby he 
testified that he loved God be not tound 
in us : because if he (through us) carelessly 



8 The whole district over which Turribius was Vicar is hera 
called Gallicia, though, as j'.i^t above, we find it included tho 
provinces of Tarraco, Carthago, and Lusitania a well as 
Gallicia. 



LETTER XVI. 



27 



feed the flock so often commended to him he 
is proved not to love the chief Shepherd. 

II. Baptism is to be administered at Easter- 

tide and not on the Epiphany. 

Accordingly when it reached my ears on 
reliable testimony (and I already felt a brother's 
affectionate anxiety about your acts, beloved) 
that in what is one of the chief sacraments 
of the Church you depart from the practice 
of the Apostles' constitutions by administering 
the sacrament of baptism to greater numbers 
on the feast of the Epiphany than at Easter- 
tide, I was surprised that you or your pre- 
decessors could have introduced so unreason- 
able an innovation as to confound the mysteries 
of the two festivals and believe there was 
no difference between the day on which Christ 
was worshipped by the wise men and that on 
which He rose again from the dead. You 
could never have fallen into this fault, if you 
had taken the whole of your observances from 
the source whence you derive your consecration 
to the episcopate; and if the see of the blessed 
Apostle Peter, which is the mother of your 
priestly dignity, were the recognized teacher 
of church-method. We could indeed have en- 
dured your departure from its rules with less 
equanimity, if you had received any previous 
rebuke by way of warning from us. But now 
as we do not despair of correcting you, we 
must show gentleness. And although an 
excuse which affects ignorance is scarce 
tolerable in priests, yet we prefer to moderate 
our needful rebuke and to instruct you plainly 
in the true method of the Church. 

III. One must distinguish one festival from 
another in respect 0/ dignity and occasion. 

The restoration of mankind has indeed ever 
remained immutably fore-ordained in God's 
eternal counsel : but the series of events 
which had to be accomplished in time through 
Jesus Christ our Lord was begun at the 
Incarnation of the Word. Hence there is 
one time when at the angel's announcement 
the blessed Virgin Mary believed she was 
to be with child through the Holy Ghost and 
conceived : another, when without loss of her 
virgin purity the Boy was born and shown 
to the shepherds by the exulting joy of the 
heavenly attendants : another, when the Babe 
was circumcised : another, when the victim 



9 From this letter it might be gathered that it was a universal 
practice of the early Church, based on the precepts of the apostles, 
to restrict Baptism to the leasts of Easter and Whitsuntide, and 
exclude Epiphany. Whereas as a matter of fact the restriction 
was almost exclusively Roman ; all the Eastern Churches and 
a good many of the Western recognizing the Epiphany as a suit- 
able occasion for the rite. Leo is too fond of claiming Apostolic 
authority for his dictates, and none such exists here, as far as we 
know. 



required by the Law is offered for him : 
another, when the three wise men attracted 
by the brightness of the new star 1 arrive at 
Bethlehem from the East and worship the 
Infant with the mystic offering of Gifts. 

And again the days are not the same on 
which by the divinely appointed pasage into 
Egypt He was withdrawn from wicked Herod, 
and on which He was recalled from Egypt 
into Galilee on His pursuer's death. Among 
these varieties of circumstance must be included 
His growth of body : the Lord increases, 
as the evangelist bears witness, with the 
progress of age and grace : at the time of the 
Passover He comes to the temple at Jerusalem 
with His parents, and when He was absent 
from the returning company, He is found 
sitting with the elders and disputing among 
the wondering masters and rendering an ac- 
count of His remaining behind : " why is it," 
He says, "that ye sought Me? did ye not 
know that I must be in that which is My 
Father's 2 ," signifying that He was the Son 
of Him whose temple He was in. Once 
more when in later years He was to be 
declared more openly and sought out the 
baptism of His forerunner John, was there 
any doubt of His being God remaining when 
after the baptism of the Lord Jesus the Holy 
Spirit in form of a dove descended and rested 
upon Him, and the Father's voice was heard 
from the skies, "Thou art My beloved Son: 
in Thee I am well pleased 3?" All these 
things we have alluded to with as much 
brevity as possible for this reason, that you 
may know, beloved, that though all the days 
of Christ's life were hallowed by many m'ghty 
works of His 4, and though in all His actions 
mysterious sacraments 5 shone forth, yet at one 
time intimations of events were given by signs, 
and at one time fulfilment realized : and that 
all the Saviour's works that are recorded are 
not suitable to the time of baptism. For if 
we were to commemorate with indiscriminate 
honour these things also which we know to 
have been done by the Lord after His 
baptism by the blessed John, His whole life- 



* It will be noticed that Leo s order of events, though probably 
correct, is not that of the modern {Calendar, which places the 
Epiphany (Jan. 6) soon after the Circumcision (Jan. i), and not 
after the Purification (Feb. 2) : unless it was some little time after, 
Herod's cruelty was unnecessarily great in including children of 
two years old in his massacre ( S. Matt. ii. 16). 

2 S. Luke ii. 49, in his qua; Patris mci sunt (Vulgate) : this 
version leaves the expression ei> T015 tou rfarpos fJ-ov in its original 
ambiguity, but Leo's commentary immediately following gives his 
decision in favour of '' in My Father's house." 

3 S. Matt. iii. 17. 

4 Innumeris consecratos fuisse virtutibus, where virtutes, 
as often, corresponds to the Gk. Swa^eis. 

5 Sacramentorum mysteria coruscasse : it is instructive to find 
I the two words here conjoined, Leo so often using them apparently 

as equivalents. No one, moreover, after reading_ this sentence, 
can doubt what in early times Western Christians meant by 
sacramentum, see Letter XII. chap. 3, &c. 



28 



LETTERS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



time would have to be observed in a con- 
tinuous succession of festivals, because all His 
acts were full of miracles. But because the 
Spirit of wisdom and knowledge so instructed 
the Apostles and teachers of the whole Church 
as to allow nothing disordered or confused 
to exist in our Christian observances, we must 
discern the relative importance of the various 
solemnities and observe a reasonable distinc- 
tion in all the institutions of our fathers and 
rulers : for we cannot otherwise " be one flock 
and one shepherd 6 ," except as the Apostle 
teaches us, " that we all speak the same thing : 
and that we be perfected in the same mind 
and in the same judgment 7 ." 

IV. 7%.? reason explained why Easter and 
Whitsuntide are the proper seasons Jor 
Baptism. 

Although, therefore, both these things which 
are connected with Christ's humiliation and 
those which are connected with His exaltation 
meet in one and the same Person, and all that 
is in Him of Divine power and human weak- 
ness conduces to the accomplishment of our 
restoration : yet it is appropriate that the 
power of baptism should change the old into 
the new creature on the death-day of the 
Crucified and the Resurrection-day of the 
Dead: that Christ's death and His resurrec- 
tion may operate in the re-born 8 , as the 
blessed Apostle says : " Are ye ignorant that 
all we who were baptized in Christ Jesus, 
were baptized in His death ? We were buried 
with Him through baptism into death ; that 
as Christ rose from the dead through the 
glory of the Father, so we also should walk 
in newness of life. For if we have become 
united with the likeness of His death, we 
shall be also (with the likeness) of His resur- 
rection^" and the rest which the Teacher 
of the Gentiles discusses further in recom- 
mending the sacrament of baptism : that it 
might be seen from the spirit of this doctrine 
that that is the day, and that the time chosen 
for regenerating the sons of men and adopting 
them among the sons of God, on which by 
a mystical symbolism and form x , what is 
done in the limbs coincides with what was 
done in the Head Himself, for in the bap- 
tismal office death ensues through the slaying 
of sin, and threefold immersion imitates the 
lying in the tomb three days, and the raising 
out of the water is like Him that rose again 



6 S. John x. 17. 7 1 Cor. i. 10. 

8 Renascetitibus (pres. part.) here, not renatis (past). 

9 Rom vi. 3-5. Notice the support here given to the marginal 
alternative of the R.V., "united with," instead of "united in" 
(Lat. complantati similitudini, <fcc.). 

1 Per similitudinem et/ormam mysterii. 



from the tomb 2 . The very nature, therefore 
of the act teaches us that that is the recog- 
nized day for the general reception of the 
grace 3, on which the power of the gift and 
the character of the action originated. And 
this is strongly corroborated by the consider- 
ation that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, 
after He rose from the dead, handed on both 
the form and power of baptizing to His dis- 
ciples, in whose persons all the chiefs of the 
churches received their instructions with these 
words, " Go ye and teach all nations, baptizing 
them in the name of the Father and of the 
Son and of the Holy Ghost 1" On which 
of course He might have instructed them 
even before His passion, had He not especially 
wished it to be understood that the grace 
of regeneration began with His resurrection. 
It must be added, indeed, that the solemn 
season of Pentecost, hallowed by the coming 
of the Holy Ghost is also allowed, being, 
as it were, the sequel and completion of the 
Paschal feast. And while other festivals are 
held on other days of the week, this festival 
(of Pentecost) always occurs on that day, 
which is marked by the Lord's resurrection : 
holding out, so to say, the hand of assisting 
grace and inviting those, who have been 
cut off from the Easter feast by disabling 
sickness or length of journey or difficulties 
of sailing, to gain the purpose that they long 
for through the gift of the Holy Spirit. For 
the Only-begotten of God Himself wished no 
difference to be felt between Himself and the 
Holy Spirit in the Faith of believers and in 
the efficacy of His works: because there is 
no diversity in their nature, as He says, 
" I will ask the Father and He shall give you 
another Comforter that He may be with you 
for ever, even the Spirit of Truths;" and 
again : " But the Comforter which is the Holy 
Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name, 
He shall teach you all things and bring to 
your remembrance all that I said unto you 6 ; " 
and again : " When He, the Spirit of Truth, 
is come, He shall guide you into all the 
Truth?." And thus, since Christ is the 
Truth, and the Holy Spirit the Spirit of Truth, 
and the name of "Comforter" appropriate 
to both, the two festivals are not dissimilar, 
where the sacrament is the same 8 . 



* This was a favourite interpretation of the symholism with th« 
fathers. Cf. Serm. LXX., chap. 4, and Bright's n. 97 thereon. 

3 Celebranda generaliter gratice, where generaliter has much 
the same sense as the Eng. "generally" has in the definition of 
a sacrament in the Eng. Ch. Catechism as '* generally necessary 
to salvation." 

4 S. Matt, xxviii. 19. S S. John xiv. 16. 
6 Ibid. 26. 7 Ibid. xvi. 13. 

8 It need hardly be pointed out that these words, " where the 
sacrament is the same," refer to the sacramentum (in its Leonine 
sense), that has just been explained, viz. .that Christus est veriUis 
tt spiritus sanctus est spiritus veritatis. 



LETTER XVI. 



29 



V. S. Peter s example as an authority for 

Whitsuntide baptisms. 
And that we do not contend for this on our 
own conviction but retain it on Apostolic 
authority, we prove by a sufficiently apt ex- 
ample, following the blessed Apostle Peter, 
who, on the very day on which the promised 
coming of the Holy Ghost filled up the number 
of those that believed, dedicated to God in 
the baptismal font three thousand of the 
people who had been converted by his preach- 
ing. The Holy Scripture, which contains the 
Acts of Apostles 9, teaches this in its faithful 
narrative, saying, " Now when they heard this, 
they were pricked in the heart, and said unto 
Peter and to the rest of the Apostles, what 
shall we do, brethren ? But Peter said unto 
them, Repent ye and be baptized every one of 
you in the name of Jesus Christ, unto the 
remission of your sins, and ye shall receive 
the gift of the Holy Ghost. For to you is the 
promise, and to your children and to all that 
are afar off, even as many as the Lord our 
God shall call unto Him. With many other 
words also he testified and exhorted them say- 
ing, Save yourselves from this crooked genera- 
tion. They then that received his word were 
baptized, and there were added in that day 
about three thousand I ." 

VI. In cases of urgency other times are allow- 

able for baptism. 

Wherefore, as it is quite clear that these two 
seasons of which we have been speaking are 
the rightful ones for baptizing the chosen in 
Church, we admonish you, beloved, not to add 
other days to this observance. Because, 
although there are other festivals also to which 
much reverence is due in God's honour, yet 
we must rationally guard this principal and 
greatest sacrament as a deep mystery and not 
part of the ordinary routine 2 : not, however, 
prohibiting the licence to succour those who 
are in danger by administering baptism to 
them at any time. For whilst we put off the 
vows of those who are not pressed by ill health 
and live in peaceful security to those two 
closely connected and cognate festivals, we do 
not at any time refuse this which is the only safe- 
guard of true salvation to any one in peril of 
death, in the crisis of a siege, in the distress 
of persecution, in the terror ot shipwreck. 



_ 9 Leo does not often quote from the Acts, and here he expressly 
includes it in the Canon, and alludes to its authenticity \jideli 
histhriadocef). * Acts ii. 37-41. 

2 Principalis et maximi sacramenti custodienda nobis est 
"tvstica et rationalis exceptio (another reading being exem- 
platio (symbolism), which Quesnel prefers, thinking that the 
words have reference to the appropriateness of this symbolical rite 
of Baptism being performed at Easter-tide). 



VII. Our Lord's baptism by John very different 
to the baptis?n of believers. 
But if any one thinks the feast of the Epi- 
phany, which in proper degree is certainly to 
be held in due honour, claims the privilege of 
baptism because, according to some the Lord 
came to St. John's baptism on the same day, 
let him know that the grace of that baptism 
and the reason of it were quite different, and 
is not on an equal footing with the power by 
which they are re-born of the Holy Ghost, of 
whom it is said, " which were born not of 
blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the 
will of man, but of God 3." For the Lord 
who needed no remission of sin and sought 
not the remedy of being born again, desired 
to be baptized just as He desired to be cir- 
cumcised, and to have a victim offered for His 
purification: that He, who had been "made 
of a woman 3*," a s the Apostle says, might be- 
come also "under the law" which He had come, 
" not to destroy but to fulfil 3i>," and by fulfilling 
to end, as the blessed Apostle proclaims, say- 
ing : " but Christ is the end of the law unto 
righteousness to every one that believethV 
But the sacrament of baptism He founded in 
His own person s, because " in all things having 
the pre-eminence 6 ," He taught that He Him- 
self was the Beginning. And He ratified the 
power of re-birth on that occasion, when from 
His side flowed out the blood of ransom and 
the water of baptism 7. As, therefore, the Old 
Testament was the witness to the new, and 
" the law was given by Moses : but grace 
and truth came through Jesus Christ 8 ;" as 
the divers sacrifices prefigured the one Victim, 
and the slaughter of many lambs was ended by 
the offering up of Him, of whom it is said, 
" Behold the Lamb of God; behold Him that 
taketh away the sin of the world';" so too 
John, not Christ, but Christ's forerunner, not 
the bridegroom, but the friend of the bride- 
groom, was so faithful in seeking, " not His 
own, but the things which are Jesus Christ's 9%" 
as to profess himself unworthy to undo the 
shoes of His feet : seeing that He Himself 
indeed baptized "in water unto repentance," 
but He who with twofold power should both 
restore life and destroy sins, was about to 
"baptize in the Holy Ghost and fire9 b ." As 



3 S. John i. 13. 3* Gal. iv. 4. 3>> S. Matt. v. 17. 

4 Rom. x. 4. 

5 Baptismi sui in se condidit sacramentum : the baptism of 
Christ has very generally been associated with the Epiphany : 
the record of it, for instance, in S. Luke iii. 15 — 23, is the 2nd 
morning lesson for the Festival in the English Church. It is, 
however, not clear who the "some" were whom Leo mentions 
above as putting Christ's baptism on the same day as the Epiphany ; 
perhaps he means the Eastern Church." 

6 1 Col. i. 18. 

7 Cf. Lett. XXVIII. (The Tome), chap, v!., where the same 
explanation of the sacred incident in the Lord's passion is given. 

8 S. John i. 17. Cf. Rev. xix. 20, " for the testimony of Jesus 
is the spirit of prophecy." 9 S. John i. 29. 

9* Phil. ii. ai. 9 b S. Matt. iii. 11 ; S. Luke iii. 16. 



30 



LETTERS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



then, beloved brethren, all these distinct proofs 
come before you, whereby to the removal ot 
all doubt you recognize that in baptizing the 
elect who, according to the Apostolic rule 
have to be purged by exorcisms, sanctified by 
fastings and instructed by frequent sermons, 
two seasons only are to be observed, viz. 
Easter and Whitsuntide : we charge you, 
brother, to make no further departure from 
the Apostolic institutions. Because hereafter 
no one who thinks the Apostolic rules can be 
set at defiance will go unpunished. 

VIII. The Sicilian bishops are to send three of 
their number to each of the half-yearly meet- 
ings of bishops at Rome. 

Wherefore we require this first and foremost 
for the keeping of perfect harmony, that, ac- 
cording to the wholesome rule of the holy 
Fathers that there should be two meetings of 
bishops every year 1 , three of you should 
appear without fail each time, on the 29th of 
September, to join in the council of the 
brethren : for thus, by the aid of God's grace, 
we shall the easier guard against the rise of 
offences and errors in Christ's Church : and 
this council must always meet and deliberate 
in the presence of the blessed Apostle Peter, 
that all his constitutions and canonical decrees 
may remain inviolate with all the Lord's 
priests. 

These matters, upon which we thought it 
necessary to instruct you by the inspiration of 
the Lord, we wish brought to your knowledge 
by our brothers and fellow-bishops, Bacillus 
and Paschasinus. May we learn by their re- 
port that the institutions of the Apostolic See 
are reverently observed by you. Dated 21 
Oct., in the consulship of the illustrious Alipius 
and Ardaburis (447). 

LETTER XVII ». 

To all the bishops of Sicily {forbidding the 
sale of church property except Jor the advantage 
of the church). 

Leo, the pope 2a , to all the bishops of Sicily. 

The occasion of specific complaints claims 
our attention as having " the care of all the 
churches," that we should make a perpetual 

1 Cf. Lett. XIV., chap. 8, where the same rule is laid down. 

8 This letter is suspected by Quesnel as being, if not spurious, 
at least the production of some later Leo than our own : but he 
would seem to have hardly sufficient ground for his conjecture, 
and the document is interesting as showing the existence of 
Church endowments at the time, and alas ! of their mismanage- 
ment. Two centuries before indeed we have Cyprian in Africa 
uttering a. somewhat similar complaint : e.g. de laps, vi., de unit. 
eccl. xxvi., Lett. XV. 3. It does not appear, however, there that 
the clergy actually misappropriated Church funds, only that they 
were greedy and intent on worldly gain. 

2 a Papa. This title, which in later times came throughout 
the West to denote exclusively the Bishop of Rome, was origi- 
nally in the West no less than i't is still in the East, the common 
appellation of all priests and spiritual fathers of the Church. 



decree precluding all bishops from adopting as 
a practice what in two churches of your pro- 
vince has been unscrupulously suggested and 
wrongfully carried out. Upon the clergy of 
the church in Tauromenium deploring the 
destitution they were in from the bishop having 
squandered all its estates by selling, giving 
away, and otherwise disposing of them, the 
clergy of Panormus, who have lately had 
a new bishop, raised a similar complaint about 
the misgovernment of the former bishop in the 
holy synod, at which we were presiding. 
Although, therefore, we have already given 
instructions as to what is for the advantage of 
both Churches, yet lest this vicious example of 
abominable plundering should hereafter be 
taken as a precedent, we wish to make this 
our formal command binding on you, beloved, 
for ever. We decree, therefore, that no bishop 
without exception shall dare to give away, or 
to exchange, or to sell any of the property of 
his church : unless he foresees an advantage 
likely to accrue from so doing, and after con- 
sultation with the whole of the clergy, and 
with their consent, he decides upon what will 
undoubtedly profit that church. For pres- 
byters, or deacons, or clerics of any rank who 
have connived at the church's losses, must 
know that they will be deprived of both rank 
and communion : because it is absolutely fair, 
beloved brethren, that not only the bishop, 
but also the whole of the clergy should advance 
the interests of their church and keep the gifts 
unimpaired of those who have contributed 
their own substance to the churches for the 
salvation of their souls. Dated 20 Oct., in 
the consulship of the illustrious Calepius (447)- 

LETTER XVIII. 

To Januarius, Bishop of Aquileia'. 

Leo, bishop of the city of Rome, to 
Januarius, bishop of Aquileia. 

Those who renounce heresy and schism and 
return to the Church must make their recanta- 
tion very clear: those who are clerics may 
retain their rank but not be promoted. 

On reading your letter, brother, we recog- 
nized the vigour of your faith, which we 
already were aware of, and congratulate you 
on the watchful care you bestow as pastor on 
the keeping of Christ's flock : lest the wolves, 
that enter in under guise of sheep, should tear 
the simple ones to pieces in their bestial fierce- 



3 The Ballerinii's conjecture is at lean very plausible, that this 
Januarius was the successor of that Bishop of Aquileia to whom 
Letter I. was written 5 years previously upon the same subject of 
the Pe'agian error. The text of this letter is almost word (or 
word identical with Letter II., written to Septimus, Bishop of 
Altmum, on the same occasion as Lett. I. 



LETTER XIX. 



3i 



ness, and not only themselves run riot without 
restraint, but also spoil those which are sound. 
And lest the vipery deceit should effect this, 
we have thought it meet to warn you, beloved, 
reminding you that it is at the peril of his 
soul, for any one of them who has fallen away 
from us into a sect of heretics and schis- 
matics 4 , and stained himself to whatever 
extent with the pollution of heretical com- 
munion, to be received into catholic com- 
munion on coming to his senses without 
making legitimate and express satisfaction. 
For it is most wholesome and full of all the 
benefits of spiritual healing that presbyters or 
deacons, or sub-deacons or clerics of any rank, 
who wish to appear reformed, and entreat to 
return once more to the catholic Faith which 
they had long ago lost, should first confess with- 
out ambiguity that their errors and the authors 
of the errors themselves are condemned by 
them, that their base opinions may be utterly 
destroyed, and no hope survive of their recur- 
rence, and that no member may be harmed 
by contact with them, every point having 
been met with its proper recantation. With 
regard to them we also order the observance 
of this regulation of the canons s, that they 
consider it a great indulgence, if they be 
allowed to remain undisturbed in their present 
rank without any hope of further advance- 
ment : but only on consideration of their not 
being defiled with second baptism 6 . No slight 
penalty does he incur from the Lord, who 
judges any such person fit to be advanced to 
Holy Orders. If advancement is granted 
to those who are without blame, only after 
full examination, how much more ought it 
to be refused to those who are under sus- 
picion. Accordingly, beloved brother, in 
whose devotion we rejoice, bestow your care 
on our directions, and take order for the 
circumspect and speedy carrying out of these 
laudable suggestions and wholesome injunc- 
tions, which affect the welfare of the whole 
Church. But do not doubt, beloved, that, 
if what we decree for the observance of the 
canons, and the integrity of the Faith be 
neglected (which we do not anticipate), we 
shall be strongly moved : because the faults 
of the lower orders are to be referred to none 
more than to slothful and careless governors, 



4 Schismaticorum, considering how easily heresy leads to 
schism and schUm to heresy, there is no need with Quesnel to 
consider that Novatians or Donatists are being here attacked. 
The Ballerinii say with justice :—generalis regula hie indicaticr 
omnibus turn liczreticis turn schisntaticis ad ecclesiam redeun- 
tibus com»i7inis. 

5 What canon is here alluded to is uncertain : the Ballerinii 
think perhaps the 8th Nicene canon, extending its application 
from the Cathari or Novatians to all heresies and schism. 

6 Si tamen iterata tinctione non fuerinl maciilati- Cf. Can. 
Afric, 27, neque perniittendum ut rebaptizati ad clericatus 
Q-adum promoveantur. 



who often foster much disease by refusing to 
apply the needful remedy. Dated 30 Dec, 
in the consulship of the illustrious Calepius 
and Ardaburis (447). 

LETTER XIX. 
To Dorus, Bishop of Beneventum. 

Leo, bishop, to Dorus his well-beloved 
brother. 

I. He rebukes Dorus for allowing a junior 
presbyter to be promoted over the heads of 
the seniors, and the first and second in se- 
niority for acquiescing. 

We grieve that the judgment, which we 
hoped to entertain of you, has been frustrated 
by our ascertaining that you have done things 
which by their blame-worthy novelty infringe 
the whole system of Church discipline : al- 
though you know full well with what care we 
wish the provisions of the canons to be kept 
through all the churches of the Lord, and 
the priests of all the peoples to consider it 
their especial duty to prevent the violation 
of the rules of the holy constitutions by any 
extravagances. We are surprised, therefore, 
that you who ought to have been a strict 
observer of the injunctions of the Apostolic 
See have acted so carelessly, or rather so con- 
tumaciously, as to show yourself not a guar- 
dian, but a breaker of the laws handed on 
to you. For from the report of your pres- 
byter, Paul, which is subjoined, we have 
learnt that the order of the presbyterate has 
been thrown into confusion with you by 
strange intrigues and vile collusion ; in such 
a way that one man has been hastily and 
prematurely promoted, and others passed over 
whose advancement was recommended by 
their age, and who were charged with no 
fault. But if the eagerness of an intriguer 
or the ignorant zeal of his supporters de- 
manded that which custom never allowed, 
viz., that a beginner should be preferred to 
veterans, and a mere boy to men of years, it 
was your duty by diligence and teaching to 
check the improper desires of the petitioners 
with all reasonable authority : lest he whom 
you advanced hastily to the priestly rank 
should enter on his office to the detriment 
of those with whom he associated and become 
demoralized by the growth within him, not of 
the virtue of humility, but of the vice of con- 
ceit?. For you were not unaware that the 
Lord had said that " he that humbleth him- 
self shall be exalted : but he that exalteth 

7 Nequevi sacerdotali propere provehebas honors, adiniuriam 
eorum quibus sociibatur, inciperet iniuorque sejieret : the text 
no doubt corrupt, though the grneral sense is clear : the emenoa- 
tion minorque se for miror quis is made almost certain by the 
quotations that follow, especially the second. 



32 



LETTERS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



himself shall be humbled 8 ," and also had said, 
" but ye seek from little to increase, and from 
the greater to be lessV For both actions 
are out of order and out of place 1 : and all 
the fruit of men's labours is lost, all the 
measure of their deserts is rendered void, 
if the gaining of dignity is proportioned to 
the amount of flattery used : so that the eager- 
ness to be eminent belittles not only the 
aspirer himself, but also him that connives at 
him. But if, as is asserted, the first and 
second presbyter were so agreeable to Epi- 
carpius being put over their heads as to de- 
mand his being honoured to their own disgrace, 
that which they wished ought not to have 
been granted them when they were voluntarily 
degrading themselves : because it would have 
been worthier of you to oppose than to yield 
to such a pitiable wish. But their base and 
cowardly submission could not be to the pre- 
judice of others whose consciences were good, 
and who had not done despite to God's grace; 
so that, whatever the transaction was whereby 
they gave up their precedence to another, 
they could not lower the dignity of those 
that came next to them, nor because they 
had placed the last above themselves, could 
he take precedence of the rest. 

II. The presbyters, who gave way, to be de- 
graded with the usurper to the bottom : the 
rest to keep their places. 

The aforesaid presbyters, therefore, who 
have declared themselves unworthy of their 
proper rank, though they even deserved to be 
deprived of their priesthood ; yet, that we 
may show the gentleness of the Apostolic See 
in sparing them, are to be put last of all the 
presbyters of the Church : and that they may 
bear their own sentence, they shall be below 
him also whom they preferred to themselves 
by their own judgment : all the other pres- 
byters remaining in the order which the time 
of his ordination assigns to each. And let 
none except the two aforesaid suffer any loss 
of dignity, but let this disgrace attach to those 
only who chose to put themselves below a 
junior who had only lately been ordained : 
that they may feel that that sentence of the 
gospels applies to themselves when it is said : 
" with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be 
judged : and with what measure ye mete, the 
same shall be measured unto you 2 ." But let 
Paul the presbyter retain his place trom which 



8 S. Luke xiv. n and xviii. 14. 

9 Vos autem quaritis de fusillo crescere et de maiore minores 
esse. This remarkable addiiion to S. Matt. xx. 28 is found in 
Cod. D, in some Syriac and many Latin copies: read Westcott s 
note in Appendix C 3 to Introduction to Study, &*c 

1 lnordinatum,praposterum. Cf. Lett. XIL, chap. 2, n. 8. 

2 S. Matt. vii. 2 ; S. Mark iv. 24 ; S. Luke vi. 36 



with praiseworthy firmness he did not budge : 
and let no further encroachments be made to 
any one's harm : so that you, beloved, who not 
undeservedly get the discredit of the whole 
matter, may with all speed take measures to 
cure it at least by putting these our injunc- 
tions into effect ; lest, if a second time a just 
complaint be lodged with us, we be forced 
into stronger displeasure : for we would rather 
restore discipline by correcting what is done 
wrong, than increase the punishment. Know 
that we have entrusted the carrying out of 
our commands to our brother and fellow- 
bishop Julius, that all things may straight- 
way be established, as we have ordained. 
Dated 8th March, in the consulship of the 
illustrious Postumianus (448). 

LETTER XX. 

TO EUTYCHES, AN ABBOT OF CONSTANTINOPLE. 

Leo, the bishop, to his dearly-beloved son, 
Eutyches, presbyter. 

He thanks him for his information about the 
revival of Nestorianism and commends his zeal. 

You have brought to our knowledge, beloved, 
by your letter that through the activity of 
some 3 the heresy of Nestorius has been again 
reviving. We reply that your solicitude in 
this matter has pleased us, since the remarks 
we have received are an indication of your 
mind. Wherefore do not doubt that the 
Lord, the Founder of the catholic Faith, will 
befriend you in all things. And when we 
have been able to ascertain more fully by 
whose wickedness this happens, we must make 
provision with the help of God for the com- 
plete uprooting of this poisonous growth which 
has long ago been condemned. God keep 
thee safe, my beloved son. Dated 1st June, 
in the consulship of the illustrious Postumianus 
and Zeno (448). 

LETTER XXI. 

From Eutyches to Leo*. 

I. He states his account of the proceedings at the 

Synod. 

God the Word is before all else my witness, 



3 Quesnel is of opinion that Eutyches' letter had accused 
Domnus, Bishop of Antioch, and Thecdoret, Bishop of Cyrus 
(cf. Lett. CXX., chapters iv. and v.), of Nestorianizing, and that 
he thus had gained the approbation of Leo before his own 
unsoundness had been made known. 

4 Contrary to my general plan, I have thought it wiser, in the 
matter of the Eutychian controversy, to include other than Leo s 
own writings, that the reader may fulfil the precept audi alteram 
partem in what was the most important doctrinal discussion of 
Leo's term of office. This Letter (XXI.) bears the stamp of 
genuineness upon it, though the Gk. original is not found. It is 
from a collection of documents bearing on Nestorianism published 
ex MS. Casinensi, first by Christianus Lupus (?), and after- 
wards by Stephanus Baluzius (1630—1718). 



LETTER XXI. 



33 



being confident of my hope and faith in 
Christ the Lord and God of all, and discern- 
ing the proof of my holding the truth in these 
matters : but I call on your holiness, too, to 
bear witness to my heart and to the reason- 
ableness of my opinions and words. But the 
wicked devil has exercised his evil influence 
upon my zeal and determination, whereby his 
power ought to have been destroyed. Where- 
upon he has exerted all his proper power and 
aroused Eusebius, bishop of the town of Dory- 
Iseum, against me, who presented an allega- 
tion 5 to the holy bishop of the church in 
Constantinople, Flavian, and to certain others 
whom he found in the same city assembled on 
various matters of their own : in this he called 
me heretic, not raising any true accusation but 
contriving destruction for me and disturbance 
for the churches of God. 

Their holinesses summoned me to reply to 
his accusation : but though I was delayed by 
a serious illness besides my advanced age, 
I came to clear myself, knowing well that 
a faction had been formed against my safety. 
And, indeed, together with a writ of appeal 6 to 
which my signature was appended, I offered 
them a statement showing my confession upon 
the holy Faith. But when the holy Flavian 
did not receive the document, nor order it to 
be read, yet heard me in reply utter word for 
word that Faith which was put forth at Nicaea 
by the holy Synod, and confirmed at Ephesus, 
I was required to acknowledge two natures, 
and to anathematize those who denied this. 
But I, fearing the decision of the synod, and 
not wishing either to take away or to add one 
word contrary to the Faith put forth by the 
holy Synod of Nicaea, knowing, too, that our 
holy and blessed fathers and bishops Julius, 
Felix, Athanasius, and Gregorius 7 rejected the 
phrase " two natures," and not daring to dis- 
cuss the nature of God the Word, who came 
into flesh in the last days entering the womb 
of the holy virgin Mary unchangeably as he 
willed and knew, becoming man in reality, 
not in fancy, nor yet venturing to anathe- 
matize our aforesaid Fathers, 1 asked them to 



5 See Introduction, p. vii. 

6 Libelli sc. (ap/ellationis ad Leonem) : this is referred to by 
Flavian (Lett. XX VI., chap, iii.) and denied. 

7 Of these four worthies, A thanasius is too well known to need 
further notice: Gregorius is either Greg. Nazianzen, Bishop of 
Constantinople (circ. 380), or Greg, of Nyssa, both great cham- 
pions ot the Church against Arianism {not, as the Ball., Greg 
lhaumaturgus, Bishop of Neo Caesarea, 244-70): Julius was 
a Bishop of Rome (337-52) : an excerpt from one of his letters 
is printed by the Bail, at the end of this letter as the passage on 
which Rutyches based his error, though they suspect it°(not 
unnaturally) as heing an Apollinarian imposition: Felix is pro- 
bably no other than the Arian Bishop o! Rome, Felix II. (35V8) 
whose appointment is characterized by Athanasius as effected 

by antichristian wickedness," but who is yet a canonized saint 
and martyr of the Roman Church (see Schaff's Hist., vol ii 
p. 371 ; in. 635, 6). 

VOL. XII. T 



let your holiness know these things, that you 
might judge what seemed right to you, under- 
taking by all means to follow your ruling. 

II. His explanations were allowed no hearing. 

But without listening to any thing which 
I said, they broke up the Synod and published 
the sentence of my degradation, which they 
were getting ready against me before the in- 
quiry. So much slander were they factiously 
making up against me that even my safety 
would have been endangered had not the help 
of God at the intercession of your holiness 
quickly snatched me from the assault of mili- 
tary force. Then they began to force the 
heads of other monasteries 8 to subscribe to 
my degradation (a thing which was never done 
either towards those who have professed them- 
selves heretics, nor even against Nestorius 
himself), insomuch that when to reassure the 
people I tried to set forth 9 statements of my 
faith, not only did they, who were plotting the 
aforesaid faction against me, prevent them 
being heard, but also seized them that straight- 
way I might be held a heretic before all. 

III. He appeals to Leo for protection. 

I take refuge, therefore, with you the de- 
fender of religion and abhorrer ot such factions, 
bringing in even still nothing strange against 
the faith as it was originally handed down to 
us, but anathematizing Apollinaris, Valentinus, 
Manes, and Nestorius, and those who say that 
the flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour, 
descended from heaven and not from the Holv 
Ghost and from the holy Virgin, along with all 
heresies down to Simon Magus. Yet neverthe- 
less I stand in jeopardy of my life as a heretic. 
I beseech you not to be prejudiced against me 
by their insidious designs about me, but to 
pronounce the sentence which shall seem to 
you right upon the Faith, and in future not to 
allow any slander to be uttered against me by 
this faction, nor let one be expelled and ban- 
ished from the number of the orthodox who 
has spent his seventy years of lite in con- 
tinence and all chastity, so that at the very 
end of life he should suffer shipwreck. I have 
subjoined to this my letter both documents, 
that which was presented by my accuser at the 
Synod, and that which was brought by me but 
not received, as well as the statement ot my 
faith and those things which have been de 
creed upon the two natures by our holy 
Fathers '. 



B Abbots' signatures are found attached to the condemnation 
of Eutyches by the synod of Constantinople. 

9 Cf. Letter XXVI., chap, ii., propositions iniuriarum publice 
ponens et maledictionibus pictias Gk. 7rpo6e/xeTa u/3pems /cat Aoto- 
opias ava.fj.eina.), which is Flavian's account of the matter. 

1 Of these lour documents (i) Eusebius' libcllus is preserved \i 



34 



LETTERS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



Eutyches' Confession of Faith. 

I call upon you before Goo, who gives life 
to all things, and Christ Jesus, who witnessed 
that good confession under Pontius Pilate, 
that you do nothing by favour. For I have 
held the same as my forefathers and from my 
boyhood have been illuminated by the same 
Faith as that which was laid down by the holy 
Synod of 318 most blessed bishops who were 
gathered at Nicsea from the whole world, and 
which was confirmed and ratified afresh for 
sole acceptance by the holy Synod assembled 
at Ephesus : and I have never thought other- 
wise than as the right and only true orthodox 
Faith has enjoined. And I agree to every- 
thing that was laid down about the same Faith 
by the same holy Synod : of which Synod the 
leader and chief was Cyril of blessed memory 
bishop of the Alexandrians, the partner and 
sharer in the preaching and in the Faith of 
those saints and elect of God, Gregory the 
greater, and the other Gregory 2 , Basil, Athan- 
asius, Atticus and Proclus. Him and all of 
them I have held orthodox and faithful, and 
have honoured as saints, and have esteemed my 
masters. But I utter an anathema on Nes- 
torius, Apollinaris, and all heretics down to 
Simon, and those who say that the flesh of our 
Lord Jesus Christ came down from heaven. 
For He who is the Word of God came down 
from heaven without flesh and was made flesh 
in the holy Virgin's womb unchangeably and 
unalterably as He Himself knew and willed. 
And He who was always perfect God before 
the ages, was also made perfect man in the 
end of the days for us and for our salvation. 
This my full profession may your holiness con- 
sider. 

I, Eutyches, presbyter and archimandrite, 
have subscribed to this statement with my 
own hand. 

LETTER XXII 3. 

The first from Flavian, Bp. of Constan- 
tinople to Pope Leo. 

To the most holy and God-loving father and 
fellow-bishop, Leo, Flavian greeting in the 
Lord. 

I. The designs of the devil have led Eutyches 
astray. 

There is nothing which can stay the devil's 



Act 1 Chalcedon ; (2) is not forthcoming ; (3) is appended below ; 
and (4) a fragment of the testimony of Julius, which is given, 
does not seem important enough to be added in this edition, 
especially as its genuineness is denied. 

2 Here we have the two Gregorys mentioned : cf. n. 7, above. 

3 There are two Latin versions of the original Gk. of this letter, 
an older and a later : the later, as being more accurate, is here 
translated, though Canon Bright would seem to be right (n. 139) 



wickedness, that " restless evil, full of deadly 
poison +." Above and below it " goes about," 
seeking " whom it may " strike, dismay, and 
" devour s." Whence to watch, to be sober unto 
prayer, to draw near to God, to eschew foolish 
questionings, to follow the fathers and not to 
go beyond the eternal bounds, this we have 
learnt from Holy Writ. And so I give up the 
excess of grief and abundant tears over the 
capture of one of the clergy who are under me, 
and whom I could not save nor snatch from 
the wolf, although I was ready to lay down 
my life for him. How was he caught, how 
did he leap away, hating the voice of the caller 
and turning aside also from the memory of the 
Fathers and thoroughly detesting their paths. 
And thus I proceed with my account. 

II. The seductions of heretics capture the un- 
wary. 

There are some " in sheep's clothing, but 
inwardly they are ravening wolves 6 :" whom 
we know by their fruit. These men seem 
indeed at first to be of us, but they are not of 
us : " for if they had been of us, they would 
no doubt have continued with us ?." But when 
they have spewed out their impiety, throwing 
out the guile that is in them, and seizing the 
weaker ones, and those who have their senses 
unpractised in the divine utterances, they carry 
them along with themselves to destruction, 
wresting and doing despite to the Fathers' 
doctrines, just as they do the Holy Scriptures 
also to their own destruction : whom we must 
be forewarned of and take heed lest some 
should be misled by their wickedness and 
shaken in their firmness. " For they have 
sharpened their tongues like serpents : adder's 
poison is under their lips 8 ," as the prophet 
has cried out about them. 

III. Eutyches'' heresy stated. 

Such a one, therefore, has now shown him- 
self amongst us, Eutyches, for many years a 
presbyter and archimandrite 9, pretending to 
hold the same belief as ours, and to have the 
right Faith in him : indeed he resists the blas- 
phemy of Nestorius, and feigns a controversy 
with him, but the exposition of the Faith com- 
posed by the 318 holy fathers, and the letter 
that Cyril of holy memory wrote to Nestorius, 
and one by the same author on the same sub- 
ject to the Easterns, these writings, to which 



in saying that we must think of Leo as writing the Tome 
(Lett. XXVIII.) with the older Latin version of Flavian's letter 
before him.' 

4 S. Jam. iii. 8. 5 i S. Pet. v. 8- 

6 S. Matt. vii. 15. 7 1 John ii. 19. 8 Ps. cxl. 3. 

9 Viz., head of a monastery (,Gk. ixdv&pa.) or abbot. 



LETTER XXIII. 



35 



all have given their assent, he has tried to 
upset, and revive the old evil dogmas of the 
blasphemous Valentinus and Apollinaris. He 
has not feared the warning of the True King : 
" Whoso shall cause one of the least of these 
little ones to stumble, it was better that a mill- 
stone should be hanged about his neck, and 
that he should be sunk in the depth of the 
sea I ." But casting away all shame, and 
shaking off the cloak which covered his error 2 , 
he openly in our holy synod persisted in saying 
that our Lord Jesus Christ ought not to be 
understood by us as having two natures after 
His incarnation in one substance and in one 
person : nor yet that the Lord's flesh was of 
the same substance with us, as if assumed 
from us and united to God the Word hypo- 
statically : but he said that the Virgin who 
bare him was indeed of the same substance 
with us according to the flesh, but the Lord 
Himself did not assume from her flesh of the 
same substance with us : but the Lord's body 
was not a man's body, although that which 
issued from the Virgin was a human body, 
resisting all the expositions of the holy 
Fathers. 

IV. He has sent Leo the minutes of their pro- 
ceedings that he may see all the details. 

But not to make my letter too long by 
detailing everything, we have sent your holi- 
ness the proceedings which some time since 
we took in the matter : therein we deprived 
him as convicted on these charges, of his 
priesthood, of the management of his mon- 
astery and of our communion : in order that 
your holiness also knowing the facts of his 
case may make his wickedness manifest to all 
the GoD-loving bishops who are under your 
reverence; lest perchance if they do not know 
the views which he holds, and of which he 
has been openly convicted, they may be found 
to be in correspondence with him as a fellow- 
believer by letter or by other means. I and 
those who are with me give much greeting to 
you and to all the brotherhood in Christ. 
The Lord keep you in safety and prayer for 
us, O most GoD-loving father 3 



1 S. Matt, xviii. 6, but it will be noticed that the quotation is 
confused with xxv. 40, minimis being substituted lor qui in me 
eredunt. 

3 Pudorem (instead of the impudenter of the MSS.) omnem 
abiciens et pel/em quiz eum circumdabat excutiens, the Gk. 
version of this somewhat obscure passage running aiSit iraaav 
a7rojSaAu)i' Kai y\v 7rept€KeiT0 ttJs TrA-ap-q? 5opav aTrorii'a^ajU.eyos. 

3 This was the letter " which was somewhat unaccountably 
delayed in its transit to Rome" (Bright), which reached Leo after 
XXIII. was written, and to which Leo refers in the Tome, chap, i., 
iitteris, quas miramur Juisse tam seras. Blight's note 139 
^should be read throughout as a clear exposition of the preliminary 
steps in the controversy. 



LETTER XXIII. 

To Flavian, Bishop of Constantinople. 

To his well-beloved brother Flavian the 
bishop, Leo the bishop. 

I. He complains that Flavian has not sent him 
a full account of Eutyches 1 case. 

Seeing that our most Christian and merciful 
Emperor, in his holy and praiseworthy faith 
and anxiety for the peace of the Catholic 
Church, has sent us a letter 4 upon the matters 
which nave roused the din of disturbance 
among you, we wonder, brother, that you 
have been able to keep silence to us upon 
the scandal that has been caused, and that 
you did not rather take measures for our being 
at once informed by your own report, that we 
might not have any doubt about the truth of 
the case. For we have received a document 
from the presbyter Eutyches s, who complains 
that on the accusation of bishop Eusebius he 
has been wrongfully deprived of communion, 
notwithstanding that he says he attended your 
summons and did not refuse his presence : 
and moreover asserts that he presented a deed 
of appeal in the very court, which was how- 
ever not accepted : whereupon he was forced 
to put forth letters of defence 6 in the city 
of Constantinople. Pending which matter we 
do not yet know with what justice he has been 
separated from the communion of the Church. 
But having regard to the importance of the 
matter, we wish to know the reason of your 
action and to have the whole thing brought to 
our knowledge : for we, who desire the judg- 
ments of the Lord's priests to be deliberate, 
cannot without information decide one way 
or another, until we have all the proceedings 
accurately before us. 

II. And 7ioiv demands it. 

And therefore, brother, signify to us in a 
full account by the hand of the most fit and 
competent person, what innovation has arisen 
against the ancient faith, which needed to be 
corrected by so severe a sentence.. For both 
the moderation of the Church and the devout 
faith of our most godly prince insist upon our 
showing much anxiety for the peace of Christ- 
endom : that dissensions may be cleared away 
and the Catholic Faith kept unimpaired, and 
that those whose faith has been proved may 
be fortified by our authority, when those who 



4 This letter from Theodosius II. came soon after Eutyches, 
letter (XXI), and "apparently gave Leo the impression, that 
Eutyches had been badly treated." Brigiit. 

5 See Letter XXL, ahove. 

6 Contestatorios libellos. See Lett. XXL, chap. ii. 



D 2 



36 



LETTERS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



maintain what is wrong have been recalled 
from their error. And no difficulty can arise 
on this side, since the said presbyter has pro- 
fessed himself, by his own statement, ready to 
be corrected if anything be found in him 
worthy of rebuke. For it beseems us in such 
matters to take every precaution that charity 
be kept and the Truth defended without the 
din of strife. And therefore because you see, 
beloved, that we are anxious about so great a 
matter, hasten to inform us of everything in as 
full and clear a manner as possible (for this 
ought to have been done before), lest in the 
cross-statements of both sides we be misled by 
some uncertainty, and the dissension, which 
ought to be stifled in its infancy, be fostered : 
for our heart is impressed by God's inspiration 
with the need of saving from violation by any- 
one's misinterpretation those constitutions of 
the venerable fathers which have received 
Divine ratification and belong to the ground- 
work of the Faith. God keep thee safe, dear 
brother. Dated 18 February (449), in the con- 
sulship of the illustrious Asturius and Proto- 



genes. 



LETTER XXIV. 



To Theodosius Augustus II. 
Leo the bishop, to Theodosius Augustus. 

I. He praises the E/nfieror's piety and mentions 
Eutyches 1 appeal. 

How much protection the Lord has vouch- 
safed His Church through your clemency and 
faith, is shown again by this letter which you 
have sent me : so that we rejoice at there 
being not only a kingly, but also a priestly 
mind within you. Seeing that, besides your 
imperial and public cares, you have a most 
devout anxiety for the Christian religion, lest 
schisms or heresies or other offences should 
grow up among God's people. For your realm 
is then in its best state when men serve the 
eternal and unchangeable Trinity by the con- 
fession of one Godhead ?. What the disturb- 
ance was which occurred in the Church of 
Constantinople, and which could have so 
moved my brother and fellow-bishop Flavian, 
that he deprived Eutyches, the presbyter, of 
communion, I have not yet been able to un- 
derstand clearly. For although the aforesaid 
presbyter sent in writing a complaint con- 
cerning his trouble to the Apostolic See, 
yet he only briefly touched on some points, 



7 Is it fanciful to trace an analogy between these words and 
the language of the Collect for Trinity Sunday (out of the Sacra- 
rnentary oi Gregory), " grace by the confession of a true faith to 
acknowledge the glory of the Eternal Trinity, and in the power of 
the Divine Majesty to worship the Unity ? " 



asserting that he kept the constitutions of the 
Nicene synod and had been vainly blamed for 
difference of faith. 

II. He finds fault with Flavia?ts silence. 

But the statement of bishop Eusebius, his 
accuser, copies of which the said presbyter 
has sent us, contained nothing clear about his 
objections, and though he charged a presbyter 
with heresy, he did not say expressly what 
opinion he disapproved of in him : although 
the bishop himself also professed that he ad- 
hered to the decrees of the Nicene synod : 
for which reason we had no means of learning 
anything more fully. And because the method 
of our Faith and the laudable anxiety shown 
by your piety requires the merits of the case 
to be known, there must now be no place 
allowed for deception, but we must be in- 
formed of the points on which he considers 
him unsound, that the right judgment may 
be passed after full information. I have sent 
a letter to the aforesaid bishop, from which he 
may gather that I am displeased at his still 
keeping silence upon what has been done in 
so grave a matter, when he ought to have 
been forward in disclosing all to us at the 
outset : and we believe that even after the 
reminder he will acquaint us with the whole, 
in order that, when what now seems obscure, 
has been brought into the light, judgment 
may be passed agreeably to the teaching of 
the Gospels and the Apostles. Dated the 18th 
of February 8 , in the consulship of the illustri- 
ous Asturius and Protogenes (449). 

LETTER XXV. 

From Peter Chrysologus, Bishop of Ra- 
venna, to Eutyches, the Presbyter. 

[In answer to a letter from Eutyches, he 
urges him to accept the decisions of the 
Church on the Faith in fear and withoat too 
close inquiry, and to abide by the ruling of 
the bishop of Rome.] 

LETTER XXVI 9. 

A SECOND ONE FROM FLAVIAN TO LEO. 

To the most holy and blessed father and 
fellow-minister Leo, Flavian greeting in the 
Lord. 



8 Quesnel reads the ist of March as the date. 

9 In reading the Tome (Lett. XXVIII.)the reader is warned 
to remember that he must take no account of this letter, which did 
not reach Leo until later, and which is acknowledged in Lett. 
XXXVI. dated a week after the Tome. Bright (n. 139)- There 
are two versions of this letter also, the ancient one and a modern 
one by Joannes Cotelerius, which latter, as being a more exact 
reproduction of the Gk. original, we have taken as the basis of our 
English translation. 



LETTER XXVI. 



37 



I. Etityches 1 heresy restated. 
Nothing, as you know, most beloved of 
God, is more precious to priests than piety 
and the right dividing of the word of truth. 
For all our hope and safety, and the recom- 
pense of promised good depend thereon. For 
this reason we must take all pains about the 
true Faith, and those things which have been 
set forth and decreed by the holy Fathers, that 
always, and in all circumstances, they may be 
kept and guarded whole and uninjured. And 
so it was necessary on the present occasion 
for us, who see the orthodox Faith suffering 
harm, and the heresy of Apollinaris and 
Valentinus being revived by the wicked monk 
Eutyches, not to overlook it, but publicly to 
disclose it for the people's safety. For this 
man, this Eutyches, keeping his diseased and 
sickly opinion hid within him, has dared to 
attack our gentleness, and unblushingly and 
shamelessly to instil his own blasphemy into 
many minds : saying that before the Incarna- 
tion, indeed, our Saviour Jesus Christ had 
two natures, Godhead and manhood : but 
that after the union they became one nature ; 
not knowing 1 what he says, or on what he 
is speaking so decidedly. For even the 
union of the two natures that came together 
in Christ did not, as your piety knows, con- 
fuse their properties in the process : but the 
properties of the two natures remain entire 
even in the union. And he added another 
blasphemy also, saying that the Lord's body 
which sprang from Mary was not of our sub- 
stance, nor of human matter : but, though he 
calls it human, he refuses to say it was con- 
substantial with us or with her who bare him, 
according to the flesh 2 . 

II. The means Eutyches has taken to circum- 
vent the Synod. 

And this notwithstanding that the acts 
of Ephesus3, in the letter written by the holy 
and ecumenical synod to the wicked and de- 
posed Nestorius, contain these express words : 
" the natures which came together to form 
true unity are indeed different : and yet from 
them both there is but one Christ and Son. 
Not as if the difference between the two 
natures was done away with through the 
union, but rather that these same natures, 
His Godhead and His Manhood perfected for 
us one Lord Jesus Christ, through an in- 



1 Ignarus: it will be remembered tbat in the Tome (chnp. i.) 
this is the chief fault which Leo also has to find with Eutyches, 
calling him multum iiuprudens et nimis i/irperitus, &c. 

2 So in Lett. XXII., chap. iii. , Domini corpus nou esse quidem 
corpus hominis, humanum autcm corpus esse quod ex Virgine est. 

3 The date of this Council is 431 B.c. 



effable and incomprehensible meeting which 
resulted in unity." And this does not escape 
your holiness, who have no doubt read the 
record of what was done at Ephesus. Yet 
this same Eutyches attaching no weight to 
these words, thinks he is not liable to the 
penalties fixed by that holy and ecumenical 
synod. For this reason, finding that many 
of the simpler-minded folk were injured in 
their faith by his contention, upon his being 
accused by the devout Bishop Eusebius, and 
upon his attending at the holy council, and 
with his own mouth declaring what he thought 
to the members of the synod, we have de- 
posed him for his estrangement from the true 
Faith, as your holiness will learn from the 
resolutions passed about him : which we have 
sent with this our letter. Moreover, it is fair 
in my opinion that you should be told this 
also that this same Eutyches, after suffering 
just and canonical deposition, instead of 
making amends for his earlier by his later 
conduct*, and appeasing God by careful peni- 
tence and many tears, and by a true repent- 
ance, comforting our heart which was greatly 
saddened at his fall : not only did not do so, 
but even made every effort to throw the most holy 
church of this place into confusion : setting 
up in public placards full of insults and male- 
dictions, and beyond this addressing his en- 
treaties to our most religious and Christ-loving 
Emperor, and these too over-flowing with 
arrogance and sauciness, whereby he tried 
to override the divine canons in everything. 

III. He ack?ww ledges the receipt of Leo's letter. 

But after all this had occurred, your holiness' 
letter was conveyed to us by the most honour- 
able count Pansophius : and from it we learnt 
that the same Eutyches had sent you a letter 
full of falsehood and cunning, saying that at 
the time of trial he had presented letters of 
appeal to us, and to the holy synod of bishops 
who were then present, and had appealed to 
your holiness : this he certainly never did, 
but in this matter, too, he has been guilty of 
deceit, like the father of lies, thinking to gain 
your ear. Therefore, most holy father, being 
stirred by all that he has ventured, and by 
what has been done, and is being done against 
us and the most holy Church, use your accus- 
tomed promptitude as becomes the priesthood, 
and in defending the commonweal and peace 
of the holy churches, consent by your own 
letters to endorse the resolution that has been 



4 Saltern secundis curare priora (Gk. ko.v tois Sevrepoti 
taa"a<T#at Ta 7rp6repa). 

5 Cf. Lett. XXVIL, n. 7, where the difference between 
Flavian's request here and in Lett. XXII. , chap iv., is pointed 
out- 



38 



LETTERS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



canonically passed against him, and to con- 
firm the faith of our most religious and Christ- 
loving Emperor. For the matter only requires 
your weight and support, which through your 
wisdom will at once bring about general peace 
and quietness. For thus both the heresy 
which has arisen, and the disorder it has 
excited, will easily be appeased by God's 
assistance through a letter from you : and 
the rumoured synod will also be prevented, 
and so the most holy churches throughout the 
world need not be disturbed. I and all that 
are with me salute all the brethren that are 
with you. May you be granted to us safe in 
the Lord, and still praying for us, O most 
God loving and holy father. 

LETTER XXVII. 

To Flavian, Bishop of Constantinople. 

Leo to Flavian, bishop of Constantinople. 

An ackiiowledgment of Flavian^ s first letter and 
a promise of a fuller reply. 

On the first opportunity we could find, 
which was the coming of our honourable son 
Rodanus, we acknowledge, beloved, the arrival 
of your packet 6 , which was to give us informa- 
tion about the case which has been stirred up 
to our grief among you by misguided error. 
Since this man, who has long seemed to be 
religiously disposed, has expressed himself in 
the Faith otherwise than is right, though he 
never ought to have departed from the catholic 
tradition, but to have persevered in the same 
belief as is held by all. But on this matter 
we are replying more fully7 by him who 
brought your letter to us, beloved : that we 
may give you all necessary instructions, be- 
loved, on the whole matter. For we do not 
allow either him to persist in his perverse 
conviction ; or you, beloved, who with such 
faithful zeal are resisting his wrong ami foolish 
error to be long disturbed by the adversary's 
opposition. Our aforesaid son, by whom we 
are sending this letter, we desire you to re- 
ceive with the affection he deserves, and to 
reply when he returns to us. Dated 21st 
May in the consulship of Asturius and Proto- 
genes (449). 



6 Epistolas. This refers to Lett. XXIL, and includes the 
gesta (or minutes of the synod's proceedings) which accom- 
panied it. 

7 This is the Tome (Letter XXVIIL): it will be noticed that 
Flavian (in Lett. XXII.) had not asked for any instructions, but 
only that Leo should inform the bishops under his jurisdiction 
of Eutyches' deposition ichap. iv.). Flavian's second letter 
(XXVI.), however, does mention vestras sacras litteras, which 
he hopes will avoid the necessity of a council (chap. iii.). Leo 
himself seems to be conscious of this: for in Letter XXXIII. 
chap. 2, he twice pointedly puts in the word "seems," as if 
Flavian had not expressed himself quite clearly: "the points 
which he seems to have referred to us," and "this error which 
seems to have arisen." 



LETTER XXVIII. 

To Flavian commonly called "the 
Tome." 

I. Etityches has been driven into his error by 
presumption and ignorance 8 . 

Having read your letter, beloved, at the late 
arrival of which we are surprised 9, and having 
perused the detailed account of the bishops' 
acts x , we have at last found out what the scandal 
was which had arisen among you against the 
purity of the Faith : and what before seemed 
concealed has now been unlocked and laid 
open to our view : from which it is shown that 
Eutyches, who used to seem worthy of all 
respect in virtue of his priestly office, is very 
unwary and exceedingly ignorant, so that it is 
even of him that the prophet has said : " he 
refused to understand so as to do well : he 
thought upon iniquity in his bed 2 ." But 
what more iniquitous than to hold blas- 
phemous opinions 3, and not to give way to 
those who are wiser and more learned than 
ourself. Now into this unwisdom fall they 
who, finding themselves hindered from know- 
ing the truth by some obscurity, have recourse 
not to the prophets' utterances, not to the 
Apostles' letters, nor to the injunctions of the 
Gospel but to their own selves : and thus they 
stand out as masters of error because they 
were never disciples of truth. For what learn- 
ing has he acquired about the pages of the 
New and Old Testament, who has not even 
grasped the rudiments of the Creed ? And 
that which, throughout the world, is professed 
by the mouth of every one who is to be born 
again 4, is not yet taken in by the heart of this 
old man. 

II. Concerning the twofold nativity and nature 
of Christ. 

Not knowing, therefore, what he was bound 
to think concerning the incarnation of the 
Word of God, and not wishing to gain the light 
of knowledge by researches through the length 



8 The original word (imperitia) implies that a recluse like 
Eutyches (an archimandrite of a convent) ought never to have 
entered into a nice controversy like the present: he has not 
enough savoir faire, and his knowledge is not quite up to date is 
a little old-fashioned. 

9 The exact reason of the delay is not altogether certain : we 
know Flavian had written much earlier than the date of arrival 
warranted : it is No. XXI I. in the series. 

1 Viz., the proceedings of the avvohos kvhr\\j.o\>ijo. summoned by 
Flavian at Constantinople. 2 Ps. xxxvi. 4. 

3 Impia sapere, to think disloyal things against God : cf. the 
recta sapere, "to have a right judgment" of the Collect for 
Whitsunday. 

4 Knowledge of and belief in the principles of the Faith as 
contained in the Creed (symboiuni) have of course always been 
required before Baptism from very early times. Leo here calls 
catechumens reger.erandi, just as those who are being baptized 
are spoken of as lenascentes (e.g. Lett. XVII. 8). those who have 
been baptized as renati (passim), and the rite itself as sacramentuM 
regenerationis (e.g. Lett. IX. 2) 



LETTER XXVIII. 



39 



and breadth of the Holy Scriptures, he might 
at least have listened attentively to that general 
and uniform confession, whereby the whole 
body ol the faithful confess that they believe 
in God the Father Almighty, and in Jesus 
Christ, His only Son 5 , our Lord, who was 
born of the Holy Spirit and 6 the Virgin Mary. 
By which three statements the devices of al- 
most all heretics are overthrown. For not 
only is God believed to be both Almighty and 
the Father, but the Son is shown to be co- 
eternal with Him, differing in nothing from the 
Father because He is God from God ?, Al- 
mighty from Almighty, and being born from 
the Eternal one is co-eternal with Him ; not 
later in point of time, not lower in power, not 
unlike in glory, not divided in essence : but 
at the same time the only begotten of the 
eternal Father was born eternal of the Holy 
Spirit and the Virgin Mary. And this nativity 
which took place in time took nothing from, 
and added nothing to that divine and eternal 
birth, but expended itself wholly on the re- 
storation of man who had been deceived 8 : 
in order that he might both vanquish death 
and overthrow by his strength 9 } the Devil who 
possessed the power of death. For we should 
not now be able to overcome the author of sin 
and death unless He took our nature on Him 
and made it His own, whom neither sin could 
pollute nor death retain. Doubtless then, He 
was conceived of the Holy Spirit within the 
womb of His Virgin Mother, who brought Him 
forth without the loss of her virginity, even as 
she conceived Him without its loss. 

But if He could not draw a rightful under- 
standing (of the matter) from this pure source 
of the Christian belief, because He had dark- 
ened the brightness of the clear truth by a 
veil of blindness peculiar to Himself, He might 
have submitted Himself to the teaching of the 
Gospels. And when Matthew speaks of " the 
Book of the Generation of Jesus Christ, the 
Son of David, the Son of Abraham 1 ," He 
might have also sought out the instruction 
afforded by the statements of the Apostles. 
And reading in the Epistle to the Romans, 
"Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called an 
Apostle, separated unto the Gospel of God, 
which He had promised before by His prophets 
in the Holy Scripture concerning His son, 
who was made unto Him 2 of the seed of 



5 The Latin aniens is not so exact as the Greek original 
fiopoyei'7J5: elsewhere, however, unigenitus is used. 

6 N.B. et (and) not ex (out of). 

7 The language of the Nicene Creed. 

8 I.e. by the Devil : the allusion is to Adam's fall in Paradise. 

9 Suavirtute: in patristic Latin virtus is, as is well known, 
usually the translation of the Greek Svva/j.i.^ and has a much 
wider meaning than moral excellence, our virtue. 

1 S. Matt. i. i. 2 ei. Sc the Vulgate. 



David after the flesh 3," he might have be- 
stowed a loyal carefulness upon the pages of 
the prophets. And finding the promise of God 
who says to Abraham, " In thy seed shall all 
nations be blest 4 ," to avoid all doubt as to 
the reference of this seed, he might have fol- 
lowed the Apostle when He says, "To Abraham 
were the promises made and to his seed. He 
saith not and to seeds, as if in many, but as ir 
in one, and to thy seed which is Christ 5 ." 
Isaiah's prophecy also he might have grasped 
by a closer attention to what he says, " Be- 
hold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a Son 
and they shall call His name Immanuel," which 
is interpreted " God with us 6 ." And the same 
prophet's words he might have read faithfully. 
" A child is born to us, a Son is given to us, 
whose power is upon His shoulder, and they 
shall call His name the Angel of the Great 
Counsel, Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty 
God, the Prince of Peace, the Father of the 
age to come ?." And then he would not 
speak so erroneously as to say that the Word 
became flesh in such a way that Christ, born of 
the Virgin's womb, had the form of man, but 
had not the reality of His mother's body 8 . 
Or is it possible that he thought our Lord 
Jesus Christ 'was not of our nature for this 
reason, that the angel, who was sent to the 
blessed Mary ever Virgin, says, "The Holy 
Ghost shall come upon thee and the power of 
the Most High shall overshadow thee : and 
therefore that Holy Thing also that shall be 
born of thee shall be called the Son of God9," 
on the supposition that as the conception of 
the Virgin was a Divine act, the flesh of the 
conceived did not partake of the conceiver's 
nature? But that birth so uniquely wondrous 
and so wondrously unique, is net to be under- 
stood in such wise that the properties of His 
kind were removed through the novelty of His 
creation. For though the Holy Spirit im- 
parted fertility to the Virgin, yet a real body 
was received from her body ; and, " Wisdom 
building her a house I ," " the Word became 
flesh and dwelt in us 2 ," that is, in that flesh 
which he took from man and which he quick- 
ened with the breath of a higher life 3. 



3 Rom. i. 1-3. 4 Gen. xii. 3. S Gal. iii.16. 

6 Is. vii. 14. and S. Matt. i. 23. 

7 Is. ix. 6. "The angel of the great counsel" (magni eon- 
silii angetus) is a translation of the LXX. (which in the rest of 
the ver^e either represents a very diflerent original text, or 
contents itself with a loose paraphrase), and is again repeated in 
the " Counsellor" (Consinarius), two words farther on (which is 
also the Vulgate reading). 

8 This was the third dogma of Apollinaris (more fully stated 
in Lett. CXXIV. 2 and CLXV. 2), that our Lord's acts and suffer- 
ings as man belonged entirely to His Divine nature, and were not 
really human at ail. 9 S. Luke i. 35. 

1 Prov. ix. 1. 

2 In nobis, which he seems from the immediately following 
words to interpret as meaning " in our flesh,'' and not " amongst 
us," as the R.V. and others. 

3 Quant spiritu vita rationalis (KoyiKov) animavit. 



40 



LETTERS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



III. The Faith and counsel of God in regard to 
the incarnation of the Word are set forth. 
Without detriment therefore to the pro- 
perties of either nature and substance which 
then came together in one person 4 , majesty 
took on humility, strength weakness, eternity 
mortality : and for the paying off of the debt 
belonging to our condition inviolable nature 
was united with passible nature , so that, as 
suited the needs of our case 5 , one and the 
same Mediator between God and men, the 
Man Christ Jesus, could both die with the 
one and not die with the other. 6 Thus in the 
whole and perfect nature of true man was 
true God born, complete in what was His 
own, complete in what was ours. And by 
" ours " we mean what the Creator formed 
in us from the beginning and what He under- 
took to repair. For what the Deceiver brought 
in and man deceived committed, had no trace 
in the Saviour. Nor, because He partook 
of man's weaknesses, did He therefore share 
our faults. He took the form of a slave 7 
without stain of sin, increasing the human and 
not diminishing the divine : because that 
emptying of Himself whereby the Invisible 
made Himself visible and, Creator and Lord 
of all things though He be, wished to be 
a mortal, was the bending down 8 of pity, 
not the failing of power. Accordingly He who 
while remaining in the form of God made 
man, was also made man in the form of 
a slave. For both natures retain their own 
proper character without loss : and as the 
form of God did not do away with the form 
of a slave, so the form of a slave did not 
impair the form of God. For inasmuch 
as the Devil used to boast that man had 
been cheated by his guile into losing the 
divine gifts, and bereft of the boon of im- 
mortality had undergone sentence of death, 
and that he had found some solace in his 
troubles from having a partner in delin- 
quency 9, and that God also at the demand of 
the principle of justice had changed His own 
purpose towards man whom He had created 
in such honour : there was need for the issue 



4 A famous passage quoted by Hooker, Eccl. Pol. v. 53, 2, and 
Liddon Bampt. Lect., p. 267. Compare Serm. Ixii. i,quod . . . in 
unam personam concurrat proprietas utriusque substantia 
(Bright), also xxii. 2, xxiii. 2. 

5 Quod nostris remediis congruebat, where remedia must mean 
the disease which needs remedies (a sort of passive use). 

6 This passage from " Thus in the whole " to " not the failing 
of power" is repeated again in Sermon xxiii. 2, almost word fo'r 
word. 

7 The reference, of course, is to Phil. ii. 6 : no passage is 
a greater favourite with the Fathers than this. 

8 Compare S. Aug. ad Catech. § 6,humilitas Chris ti quid est ? 
manum Deus homini iacentiporrexit : nos cecidimus, ille descen- 
dit : tios iacebamus, ille se inclinavit. Prendamus et surgamus 
ut non inpcenam cadamus. 

9 De prcevaricatoris consortio : prevaricator originally is 
a legal term, signifying "a shuffler" in a suit, an advocate who 
plays into the hands of the other side. 



of a secret counsel, that the unchangeable 
God whose will cannot be robbed of its own 
kindness, might carry out the first design 
of His Fatherly care ' towards us by a more 
hidden mystery 2 ; and that man who had 
been driven into his fault by the treacherous 
cunning of the devil might not perish contrary 
to the purpose of God 3. 

IV. The properties of the twofold nativity and 
nature of Christ are zvcighcd one against an- 
other. 

There enters then these lower parts of 
the world the Son of God, descending from 
His heavenly home and yet not quitting His 
Father's glory, begotten in a new order by 
a new nativity. In a new order, because 
being invisible in His own nature, He became 
visible in ours, and He whom nothing could 
contain was content to be contained 4 : abid- 
ing before all time He began to be in 
time : the Lord of all things, He obscured 
His immeasurable majesty and took on Him 
the form of a servant : being God that cannot 
suffer, He did not disdain to be man that can, 
:\nd, immortal as He is, to subject Himself to 
the laws of death. The Lord assumed His 
mother's nature without her faultiness: nor 
in the Lord Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin's 
womb, does the wonderfulness of His birth 
make His nature unlike ours. For He who is 
true God is also true man : and in this union 
there is no lies, since the humility of man- 
hood and the loftiness of the Godhead both 
meet there. For as God is not changed by the 
showing of pity, so man is not swallowed up 
by the dignity. For each form does what is 
proper to it with the co-operation of the 
other 6 ; that is the Word performing what 
appertains to the Word, and the flesh carry- 
ing out what appertains to the flesh. One of 



* Pietas, as in the collect for xvi. S. aft. Trin., where the 
English "pity" represents the Latin "pietas" philologically as 
well as in meaning. Cf. n. 2 in chap. vi. 

2 Sacramento, Ouu<rTT)piu>) : what the " mystery " was is finely 
set forth by Canon Bright's hymn, No. 172, H. A. and M. (new 
edition). 

3 The whole of the end of this chapter from " For inasmuch 
as," and the beginning of the next down to "laws of death," is 
repeated word for word in Sermon XXII., chaps, i. and ii. 

4 Incomprehensibilis votuit comprehend;'. Canon Bright's 
references are most apposite: "compare Serm. lxviii., idem 
est qui impiorum ?nanibus comprehenditur et qui nullo fine 
concluditur: and Serm. xxxvii. 1, genetricis gremio continetur 
qui nullo fine conclnditor. This ' antithesis ' has been grandly 
expressed in Milman's ' Martyr of Antioch.' 

" 'And Thou wast laid within the tomb. . . 
Whom heaven could not contain, 
Nor the immeasurable plain 
Of vast infinity enclose or circle round.'" 

5 I.e., there is no fancy, no pretending : each nature is in equal 
reality present, the human as well as the Divine, thus opposing 
all Docetic and Monophysite heresies. 

6 This passage (which is repeated in Serm. liv., chap. 2, down 
to "injuries"), was objected to by the Illyrian and Palestinian 
bishops as savouring of the heresy of Nestorius who "divided 
the substance : " but it is obvious that the same words might have 
an orthodox meaning in the mouth of one who was orthodox and 
to the unorthodox would bear an unorthodox construction. 



LETTER XXVIII. 



4i 



them sparkles with miracles, the other suc- 
cumbs to injuries. And as the Word does 
not cease to be on an equality with His 
Father's glory, so the flesh does not forego 
the nature of our race. For it must again 
and again be repeated that one and the same 
is truly Son of God and truly son of man. 
God in that "in the beginning was the Word, 
and the Word was with God, and the Word 
was God i ; " man in that " the Word became 
flesh and dwelt in us 8 ." God in that "all 
things were made by Him 9, and without 
Him was nothing made : " man in that " He 
was made of a woman, made under law 1 ." 
The nativity of the flesh was the mani- 
festation of human nature : the childbear- 
ing of a virgin is the proof of Divine 
power. The infancy of a babe is shown in 
the humbleness of its cradle 2 : the greatness 
of the Most High is proclaimed by the angels' 
voices 3. He whom Herod treacherously 
endeavours to destroy is like ourselves in 
our earliest stage *: but He whom the Magi 
delight to worship on their knees is the Lord 
of all. So too when He came to the baptism 
of John, His forerurner, lest He should not 
be known through the veil of flesh which 
covered His Divinity, the Father's voice, 
thundering from the sky, said, " This is My 
beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased 5 ." 
And thus Him whom the devil's craftiness 
attacks as man, the ministries of angels serve 
as God. To be hungry and thirsty, to be 
weary, and to sleep, is clearly human : but to 
satisfy 5,000 men with five loaves, and to be- 
stow on the woman of Samaria living water, 
draughts of which can secure the drinker from 
thirsting any more, to walk upon the surface of 
the sea with feet that do not sink, and to quell 
the risings of the waves by rebuking the winds, 
is, without any doubt, Divine. Just as there- 
fore, to pass over many other instances, it is 
not part of the same nature to be moved to 
tears of pity for a dead friend, and when the 
stone that closed the four-days' grave was re- 
moved, to raise that same friend to life with 
a voice of command : or, to hang on the cross, 
and turning day to night, to make all the 
elements tremble : or, to be pierced with nails, 
and yet open the gates of paradise to the rob- 
ber's faith : so it is not part of the same nature 
to say, " I and the Father are one," and to say, 



7 S. John i. 1. 8 ]bid. 14. 

9 Ibid. 3, the Latin is per ipsum y V,V. Si' aiiroC) (through Him). 

1 Gal. iv. 4. 

2 Viz., that it was laid "in a manger:" the Gk. version has 
o-Trapyai/wi/, " swaddling clothes," to represent cunarum, and this 
meaning is adopted by bright [and Heurtley], S. Luke ii. 7. 

3 Ibid. 13. 

* Similis est rudimentis hominum. 
5 S. Matt. iii. 17. 



" the Father is greater than I 6 ." For although 
in the Lord Jesus Christ God and man is 
one person, yet the source of the degradation, 
which is shared by both, is one, and the source 
of the glory, which is shared by both, is an- 
other. For His manhood, which is less than 
the Father, comes from our side : His God- 
head, which is equal to the Father, comes 
from the Father. 

V. Christ's flesh is proved real from Scripture. 
Therefore in consequence of this unity of 
person which is to be understood in both 
natures?, we read of the Son of Man also 
descending from heaven, when the Son of 
God took flesh from the Virgin who bore 
Him. And again the Son of God is said 
to have been crucified and buried, although 
it was not actually in His Divinity whereby 
the Only-begotten is co-eternal and con-sub- 
stantial with the Father, but in His weak 
human nature that He suffered these things. 
And so it is that in the Creed also we all con- 
fess that the Only-begotten Son of God was 
crucified and buried, according to that saying 
of the Apostle: " for if they had known, they 
would never have crucified the Lord of 
glory 8 ." But when our Lord and Saviour 
Himself would instruct His disciples' faith 
by His questionings, He said, " Whom do men 
say that I, the Son of Man, am ?" And when 
they had put on record the various opinions 
of other people, He said, " But ye, whom do 
ye say that I am ?" Me, that is, who am the 
Son of Man, and whom ye see in the form of 
a slave, and in true flesh, whom do ye say 
that I am ? Whereupon blessed Peter, whose 
divinely inspired confession was destined 
to profit all nations, said, " Thou art Cnrist, 
the Son of the living God 9." And not un- 
deservedly was he pronounced blessed by the 
Lord, drawing from the chief corner-stone J 
the solidity of power which his name also 
expresses, he, who, through the revelation of 
the Father, confessed Him to be at once Christ 



6 S. John xiv. 28; x. 30: the reconciliation of this class of 
apparently contradictory statements is olten undertaken by Leo 
[e.g. Sermon xxiii. 2 and lxxvii. 5 ; Kp. xxviii. 4 and lix. 3], and 
by other fathers (e.g. by Augustine tie Fide et Symbolo, 18). 

7 This is what theologians call communicatio idiomatum, or 
in Gk. avriSoais, the interchange of the properties of the two 
natures in Christ. The passage from the beginning of the chapter 
to "the Lord of glory " is somewhat freely adapted from S.Aug., 
c. Serm. Arian., cap. 8. 8 1 Cor. ii. 8. 

9 S. Matt. xvi. 13 — 16. 

' A principaii petra. the Gk. version giving a7ro ttj« irpoiTO- 
tvivov n-eipas: others translate it " from the original (or archetypal) 
rock," but it seems better to link the passage more closely with 
Eph. ii. 20; 1 Pet. ii. 0, &:c., although the Greek rendering is 
against this : see Serm. iv. chap. 2, where Leo is expound- 
ing the same favourite text. Brighl's note 64 is most useful in 
explaining the Leonine exposition. " Three elements," he says, 
combine in the idea ; (1) Christ Himself ; (2) the faith in Christ ; 
and (3) Peter considered as the chief o the Apostles and under 
Christ, the head of the Church." Hence petra is applied to 
each of these at different times. 



42 



LETTERS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



and Son of God : because the receiving of the 
one of these without the other was of no avail 
to salvation, and it was equally perilous to 
have believed the Lord Jesus Christ to be 
either only God without man, or only man 
without God. But after the Lord's resurrec- 
tion (which, of course, was of His true body, 
because He was raised the same as He had 
died and been buried), what else was effected 
by the forty days' delay than the cleansing of 
our faith's purity from all darkness? For to 
that end He talked with His disciples, and 
dwelt and ate with them, He allowed Himself 
to be handled with diligent and curious touch 
by those who were affected by doubt, He 
entered when the doors were shut upon the 
Apostles, and by His breathing upon them 
gave them the Holy Spirit 2 , and bestowing 
on them the light of understanding, opened 
the secrets of the Holy Scriptures 3. So 
again He showed the wound in His side, the 
marks of the nails, and all the signs of His 
quite recent suffering, saying, " See My hands 
and feet, that it is I. Handle Me and see 
that a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye 
see Me have * ; " in order that the properties 
of His Divine and human nature might be 
acknowledged to remain still inseparable : 
and that we might know the Word not to be 
different from the flesh, in such a sense as 
also to confess that the one Son of God is 
both the Word and flesh s. Of this mystery 
of the faith 6 your opponent Eutyches must 
be reckoned to have but little sense if he has 
recognized our nature in the Only-begotten of 
God neither through the humiliation of His 
having to die, nor through the glory of His 
rising again. Nor has he any fear of the 
blessed apostle and evangelist John's declara- 
tion when he says, "every spirit which con- 
fesses Jesus Christ to have come in the flesh, 
is of God : and every spirit which destroys 
Jesus is not of God, and this is Antichrist?." 
But what is " to destroy Jesus," except to take 
away the human nature from Him, and to 
render void the mystery, by which alone we 
were saved, by the most barefaced fictions. 
The truth is that being in darkness about the 
nature of Christ's body, he must also be be- 
fooled by the same blindness in the matter of 



» S. John xx. 22. 3 S. Luke xxiv. 27. 4 Ibid qo 

• »fc % n °, 1 , l ° H 1 i,,t ° the . Char y Wis of Nestorianism in avoid- 
ing the Scylla of Eutychiamsm. 

6 Fidei sacramento. 

7 1 John iv 2, 3 : the Lat. for "destroys" (or "dissolves " 
Bright is » Ivn >t M also in Lett. CXLIV. 3), which appears to be 
an exclusively Western reauing : for Socrates, "the only Greek 
authority for W> (the Gk. equivalent;, according to Dr. West- 
cott quotes no Gk. MSS. as = giving it, though he unhesitatingly 
makes use of that reading. 1 he Gk. version here, however, gives 
S«upei„, which simply begs the question (in Leo' s favour) Is to 
the original meaning ol the phrase solvere Jesum, though on the 
face of it that is not at all necessarily obvious 



His sufferings. For if he does not think the 
cross of the Lord fictitious, and does not 
doubt that the punishment He underwent to 
save the world is likewise true, let him acknow- 
ledge the flesh of Him whose death he already 
believes : and let him not disbelieve Him man 
with a body like ours, since he acknowledges 
Him to have been able to suffer : seeing that 
the denial of His true flesh is also the denial 
of His bodily suffering. If therefore he re- 
ceives the Christian faith, and does not turn 
away his ears from the preaching of the Gospel : 
let him see what was the nature that hung 
pierced with nails on the wooden cross, and, 
when the side of the Crucified was opened by 
the soldier's spear, let him understand whence 
it was that blood and water flowed, that the 
Church of God might be watered from the 
font and from the cup 8 . Let him hear also the 
blessed Apostle Peter, proclaiming that the 
sanctification of the Spirit takes place through 
the sprinkling of Christ's blood 9. And let 
him not read cursorily the same Apostle's 
words when he says, " Knowing that not with 
corruptible things, such as silver and gold, 
have ye been redeemed from your vain man- 
ner of life which is part of your fathers' tradi- 
tion, but with the precious blood of Jesus 
Christ as of a lamb without spot and blem- 
ish '." Let him not resist too the witness of 
the blessed Apostle John, who says : " and the 
blood of Jesus the Son of God cleanseth us 
from all sin 2 ." And again : " this is the 
victory which overcometh the world, our 
faith." And " who is He that overcometh 
the world save He that believeth that Jesus 
is the Son of God. This is He that came by 
water and blood, Jesus Christ : not by water 
only, but by water and blood. And it is the 
Spirit that testifieth, because the Spirit is the 
truth 3 5 because there are three that bear wit- 
ness, the Spirit, the water and the blood, and 
the three are one *." The Spirit, that is, of 
sanctification, and the blood of redemption, 
and the water of baptism : because the three 
are one, and remain undivided, and none of 
them is separated from this connection ; be- 
cause the catholic Church lives and progresses 
by this faith, so that in Christ Jesus neither 
the manhood without the true Godhead nor 



8 Et lavacro rigaretur et foculo : that is by the two great 
"generally necessary" sacraments of which he takes the water 
and the blood "from His riven side which flowed," to be 
a symbol. 9 This refers to i Pet. i. 2 (q.v.). 

1 1 Pet. i. 18. 2 1 S. John i 7. 

3 Some of the MSS. here give CAristus for Spin tus (tht: reading 
adopted also by the Vulgate): in this case you must translate that 
CArist is the Truth instead of because tAe Spirit, &>c. : but see 
Westcott's note in loc. 

4 1 S. John v. 4-8. The absence of the verse on the " Heavenly 
witnesses" (distinctly a western insertion) is to be noticed. On 
Leo's interpretation of this mysterious passage Canon Blight's 
note 168 should be consulted. 



LETTER XXIX. 



43 



the Godhead without the true manhood is 
believed in. 

VI. The wrong and mischievous concession of 
Eutyches. The terms on which he may be 
restored to communion. The sending of depu- 
ties to the East. 

But when during your cross-examination 
Eutyches replied and said, " 1 confess that 
our Lord had two natures before the union : 
but after the union I confess but one 5 ," I am 
surprised that so absurd and mistaken a state- 
ment of his should not have been criticised 
and rebuked by his judges, and that an utter- 
ance which reaches the height of stupidity 
and blasphemy should be allowed to pass 
as if nothing offensive had been heard : for 
the impiety of saying that the Son of God was 
of two natures before His incarnation is only 
equalled by the iniquity of asserting that there 
was but one nature in Him after "the Word 
became flesh." And to the end that Eutyches 
may not think this a right or defensible 
opinion because it was not contradicted by 
any expression' of yourselves, we warn you 
beloved brother, to take anxious care that 
if ever through the inspiration of God's mercy 
the case is brought to a satisfactory conclusion, 
his ignorant mind be purged from this per- 
nicious idea as well as others. He was, 
indeed, just beginning to beat a retreat from 
his erroneous conviction, as the order of pro- 
ceedings shows 6 , in so far as when hemmed 
in by your remonstrances he agreed to say 
what he had not said before and to acquiesce 
in that belief to which before he had been 
opposed. However, when he refused to give 
his consent to the anathematizing of his blas- 
phemous dogma, you understood, brother ?, 
that he abode by his treachery and deserved 
to receive a verdict of condemnation. And 
yet, if he grieves over it faithfully and to good 
purpose, and, late though it be, acknowledges 
how rightly the bishops' authority has been set 
in motion ; or if with his own mouth and hand 
in your presence he recants his wrong opinions, 
no mercy that is shown to him when penitent 
can be found fault with 8 : because our Lord, 
that true and " good shepherd " who laid down 
His life for His sheep 9 and who came to save 



5 This was the only compromise of his views which Eutyches 
could be brought to make at the synod of Constantinople. Though 
it was rejected, and did not hinder his condemnation, it was never 
met with a direct, categorical refutation. 

6 Gestorum ordo, as before, in chap. I. A report of the pro- 
ceedings had accompanied Flavian's letter. 

7 Fraternitas vestra: or, as the Gk. version apparently took 
it, " you and the rest of the brethren " (^ v/xiiv dSeA</>OTT)s). 

8 It will be remembered that he had been degraded from the 
priesthood and deprived of his monastery, as well as excommuni- 
cated : he might be reinstated in all these privileges, the merciful- 
ness of Leo hints, if he recant his errors. 

9 S. John x. ii and 15. 



not lose men's souls ', wishes us to imitate 
His kindness 2 ; in order that while justice 
constrains us when we sin, mercy may prevent 
our rejection when we have returned. For 
then at last is the true Faith most profitably 
defended when a false belief is condemned 
even by the supporters of it. 

Now for the loyal and faithful execution 
of the whole matter, we have appointed to 
represent us our brothers Julius 3 Bishop and 
Renatust priest [of the Title of S. Clement], 
as well as my son Hilarys, deacon. And 
with them we have associated Dulcitius our 
notary, whose faith is well approved : being 
sure that the Divine help will be given us, 
so that he who had erred may be saved 
when the wrongness of his view has been 
condemned. God keep you safe, beloved 
brother. 

The 13 June, 449, in the consulship of the 
most illustrious Asturius and Protogenes. 

LETTER XXIX. 

To Theodosius Augustus. 

To Csesar Theodosius, the most religious 
and devout Augustus Leo pope of the Catholic 
Church of the city of Rome 6 . 

He notifies the appointment of his representa- 
tives at the Council of Ephesus. 

How much God's providence vouchsafes to 
consult for the interests of men is shown 
by your merciful care which, incited by God's 
Spirit, is unwilling that there should be any 
disturbance or difference : since the Faith, 
which is absolutely one, cannot be different 
from itself in any thing. Hence although 
Eutyches, as the minutes of the bishops' 
proceeds reveals, has been detected in an ig- 
norant and unwise error, and ought to have 
withdrawn from his conviction which is rightly 
condemned, yet since your piety which loves 
the Catholic Truth with great jealousy for 
God's honour, has determined on a synodal 
judgment at Ephesus, that that Truth on 



1 S. Luke ix. 50. 

a Pietatis, a beautiful word, expressing now the Father's pity- 
ing protection, now the children's loyal affection, and here the 
Elder Brother's love for the younger and weaker. Cf. n. 1. on 
chap, iii- 

3 Bishop of Puteoli. 

4 Died at Delos on the way. The words " of the title of 
S. Clement" are of doubtful authenticity, and not found in the 
Gk. version. The parish churches of Rome seem to have been 
called tituli at their first founding about the beginning of the 
4th cent. a.d. Cf. our Eng. term " title," and refer to Bingham, 
Bk. viii. § 1. 

5 Afterwards Leo's successor in the see of Rome, 461-8. 

6 This is the title retained by Quesnel and the Ballerinii, 
though many MSS. exhibit the simpler gloriosissimo et cle'men- 
tissimo Theodosio Angusto Leo episcopus, which is favoured by 
the Gk. version tu> evSogoraTip <cai (^lAavSpcorroTaTu) k.t.A. Quesnel 
takes occasion to warn us to distinguish between this use of the 
title papa and that adopted later when it was equivalent u- 
acumenicus et universalis episcopus. 



44 



LETTERS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



which he is blind may be brought home to 
the ignorant old man ; I have sent my brothers 
Julius the Bishop, Renatus the presbyter, and 
my son Hilary the deacon to act as my 
representatives as the matter requires, and 
they shall bring with them such a spirit of 
justice and kindness that while the whole 
misguided error is condemned (for there can 
be no doubt as to what is the integrity of the 
Christian Faith), yet if he who has gone 
astray repents and entreats for pardon, he 
may receive the succour of priestly indulgence : 
seeing that in his appeal 7 which he sent us, 
he reserved to himself the right of earning our 
forgiveness by promising to correct whatever 
our opinion disapproved of in his opinion. 
But what the catholic Church universally 
believes and teaches on the mystery of the 
Lord's Incarnation is contained more fully 
in the letter which I have sent to my brother 
and fellow-bishop Flavian. Dated 13th June 
in the consulship of the illustrious Asturius and 
Protogenes (449). 

LETTER XXX. 

To Pulcheria Augusta. 

Much shorter than, but to nearly the same ef- 
fect as, xxxi., which was written on the same day 
as this. As xxx. has a Greek translation accom- 
panying it and is duly dated, whereas xxxi. has 
neither, the Ballerinii would seem to be correct 
in thinking that xxx. was despatched but did 
not_ reach Pulcheria (cf. Lett. xlv. i.) and that 
xxxi. was for some reason never used. Of the 
two we have printed xxxi. by preference, as 
being the fuller discussion of the subject. 

LETTER XXXI. 
To Pulcheria Augusta 8 . 
Leo to Pulcheria x\ugusta. 

I . He reminds Pulcheria of her former services 
to the Church, and suggests her interference 
in the Eutychian controversy. 
How much protection the Lord has ex- 
tended to His Church through your clemency, 
we have often tested by many signs. And 
whatever stand the strenuousness of the priest- 
hood has made in our times against the as- 
sailers of the catholic Truth, has redounded 
chiefly to your glory : seeing that, as you have 

7 Viz., Lett. XXL, chaps, i. and Hi. 

8 This was the Emperor Theodosius the younger's sister 
a woman of noted zeal in the cause of the Church : for many year-! 
she had practically ruled the empire owing to her brother's youth- 
f.ilness. When the intrigues of Chrysaphius had brought about 
3 T!^?,- bet * een brother and sister, she retired for a time from 
public life. But becoming the virgin wife of Marcian, she, through 
him, helped to effect the victory of the Catholic cause at the 
Council of Chalcedon 451). 



learnt from the teaching of the Holy Spirit, 
you submit your authority in all things to 
Him, by whose favour and under whose- pro- 
tection you reign. Wherefore, because I have 
ascertained from my brother and fellow-bishop 
Flavian's report, that a certain dispute has 
been raised through the agency of Eutyches 
in the church of Constantinople against the 
integrity of the Christian faith (and the text 
of the synod's minutes has shown me the 
exact nature of the whole matter), it is worthy 
of your great name that the error which in my 
opinion proceeds rather from ignorance than 
ingenuity, should be dispelled before, with the 
pertinacity of wrong-headedness, it gains any 
strength from the support of the unwise. Be- 
cause even ignorance sometimes falls into 
serious mistakes, and very frequently the 
simple-minded rush through unwariness into 
the devil's pit : and it is thus, I believe, that 
the spirit of falsehood has crept over Eutyches: 
so that, whilst he imagines himself to appre- 
ciate the majesty of the Son of God more 
devoutly, by denying in Him the real presence 
of our nature, he came to the conclusion that 
the whole of that Word which "became flesh" 
was of one and the same essence. And 
greatly as Ne.->torius fell away from the Truth, 
in asserting that Christ was only born man of 
His mother, this man also departs no less far 
from the catholic path, who does not believe 
that our substance was brought forth from the 
same Virgin: wishing it of course to be under- 
stood as belonging to His Godhead only ; so 
that that which took the form of a slave, and 
was like us and of the same form 9 ? was a 
kind of image, not the reality of our nature. 

II. Man's salvation required the union of the 
two natures in Christ. 

But it is of no avail to say that our Lord, 
the Son of the blessed Virgia Mary, was true 
and perfect man, if He is not believed to be 
Man of that stock which is attributed to Him 
in the Gospel. For Matthew says, " The 
book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the 
son of David, the son of Abraham x : " and 
follows the order of His human origin, so as 
to bring the lines of His ancestry down to 
Joseph to whom the Lord's mother was 
espoused. Whereas Luke going backwards 
step by step traces His succession to the first 
of the human race himself, to show that the 
first Adam and the last Adam were of the 
same nature. No doubt the Almighty Son of 
God could have appeared for the purpose 



9 Quod nostri similis fuit atque conformit. 
1 S. Matt. i. 1. 



LETTER XXXI. 



4' 



of teaching, and justifying men in exactly 
the same way that He appeared both to patri- 
• archs and prophets in the semblance of flesh 2 ; 
for instance, when He engaged in a struggle, 
and entered into conversation (with Jacob), 
or when He refused not hospitable entertain- 
ment, and even partook of the food set before 
Him. But these appearances were indica- 
tions of that Man whose reality it was an- 
nounced by mystic predictions would be 
assumed from the stock of preceding patri- 
archs. And the fulfilment of the mystery of 
our atonement, which was ordained from all 
eternity, was not assisted by any figures be- 
cause the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon 
the Virgin, and the power of the Most High 
had not over-shadowed her: so that "Wisdom 
building herself a house3" within her unde- 
filed body, " the Word became flesh ; " and 
the form of God and the form of a slave 
coming together into one person, the Creator 
of times was born in time ; and He Himself 
through whom all things were made, was 
brought forth in the midst of all things. For 
if the New Man had not been made in the 
likeness of sinful flesh, and taken on Him our 
old nature, and being consubstantial with the 
Father, had deigned to be consubstantial with 
His mother also, and being alone free 
from sin, had united our nature to Him, 
the whole human race would be held in 
bondage beneath the Devil's yoke*, and we 
should not be able to make use of the Con- 
queror's victory, if it had been won outside 
our nature. 

III. From the union of the two natures flows 
the grace of baptism. He makes a direct ap- 
peal to Pulcheria for her help. 

But from Christ's marvellous sharing of 
the two natures, the mystery of regeneration 
shone upon us that through the self-same 
j spirit, through whom Christ was conceived 
and born, we too, who were born through the 
desire of the flesh, might be born again from 
a spiritual source : and consequently, the 
Evangelist speaks of believers as those " who 
were born not of bloods, nor of the will of 
the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God 5 ." 
And of this unutterable grace no one is a 
partaker, nor can be reckoned among the 
adopted sons of God, who excludes from his 
faith that which is the chief means of our 



* Gen. xxxii. 24 and xviii. 1. It will be noticed that Leo 
unhesitatingly pronounces these and similar appearances to be 
raaniiotanoius of the Second Person in the Trinity. 

3 Prov. ix. 1. Cf. Letter XXVIII. (The Tome), chap, ii., 
towards the end. 

* Sub iugo diaboli generaliter teneretur htimana captivitas : 
•or the woru generaliter, cf. Letter XVI., chap, iv., no. 3. 

S S. John i. 13. 



salvation. Wherefore, I am much vexed and 
saddened that this man, who seemed before 
so laudably disposed towards humility, dares 
to make these empty and stupid attacks on the 
one Faith of ourselves and of our fathers. 
When he saw that his ignorant notion offended 
the ears of catholics, he ought to have with- 
drawn from his opinion, and not to have so dis- 
turbed the Church's rulers, as to deserve a sen- 
tenceof condemnation: which, of course, no one 
will be able to remit, if he is determined to 
abide by his notion. For the moderation of the 
Apostolic See uses its leniency in such a way 
as to deal severely with the contumacious, 
while desiring to offer pardon to those who 
accept correction. Seeing then that I possess 
great confidence in your lofty faith and piety, 
I entreat your illustrious clemency, that, as 
the preaching of the catholic Faith has always 
been aided by your holy zeal, so now, also, 
you will maintain its free action. Perchance 
the Lord allowed it to be thus assailed for 
this reason that we might discover what sort 
of persons lurked within the Church. And 
clearly, we must not neglect to look after 
such, lest we be afflicted with their actual 
loss. 

IV. His personal presence at the council must 
be excused. The question at issue is a very 
grave one. 

But the most august and Christian Emperor, 
being anxious that the disturbances may be 
set at rest with all speed, has appointed too 
short and early a date for the council of 
bishops, which he wishes held at Ephesus, 
in fixing the first of August for the meeting : 
for from the fifth of May, on which we re- 
ceived His Majesty's letter, most of the time 
remaining has to be spent in making complete 
arrangements for .the journey of such priests 
as are competent to represent me. For as to 
the necessity of my attending the council also, 
which his piety suggested, even if there were 
any precedent for the request, it could by no 
means be managed now : for the very uncertain 
state of things at present would not permit 
my absence from the people of this- great 
city: and the minds of the riotously-disposed 
might be driven to desperate deeds, if they 
were to think that I took occasion of eccle- 
siastical business to desert my country 6 and 
the Apostolic See. As then you recognize 
that it concerns the public weal that with 
your merciful indulgence I should not deny 
myself to the affectionate prayers of my 



6 Patriam. I can see very little ground for pressing this quite 
general expression to mean that he was a native of Rome, or even 
a native ot Italy. The most that can be said is that it does not 
forbid the supposition. 



46 



LETTERS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



people, consider that in these my brethren, 
whom I have sent in my stead, I also am 
present with the rest who appear : to them 
I have clearly and fully explained what is 
to be maintained in view of the satisfactory 
exposition of the case which has been given 
me by the detailed report, and by the defend- 
ant's own statement to me. For the question 
is not about some small portion of our Faith, 
on which no very distinct declaration has been 
made : but the foolish opposition that is raised 
ventures to impugn that which our Lord de- 
sired no one of either sex in the Church to 
be ignorant of. For the short but complete 
confession of the catholic creed which con- 
tains the twelve sentences of the twelve 
apostles? is so well furnished with the heavenly 
panoply, that all the opinions of heretics 
can receive their death-blow from that one 
weapon. And if Eutyches had been content 
to receive that creed in its entirety with a pure 
and simple heart, he would at no point go 
astray from the decrees of the most sacred 
council of Nicgea, and he would understand 
that the holy Fathers laid this down, to the end 
that no mental or rhetorical ingenuity should 
lift itself up against the Apostolic Faith which 
is absolutely one. Deign then, with your ac- 
customed piety to do your best endeavour, 
that this blasphemous and foolish attack upon 
the one and only sacrament of man's salvation 
may be driven from all men's minds. And if 
the man himself, who has fallen into this 
temptation, recover his senses, so as to con- 
demn his own error by a written recantation, 
let him not be denied communion with his 
order 8 . Your clemency is to know that I have 
written in the same strain to the holy bishop 
Flavian also : that loving-kindness be not 
lost sight of, if the error be dispelled. Dated 
13 June in the consulship -of the illustrious 
Astuiius and Protogenes (449). 

LETTER XXXII. 

To the Archimandrites of Constanti- 
nople 9. 

To his well-beloved sons Faustus, Martinus, 
and the rest of the archimandrites, Leo the 
bishop. 

He acknowledges their zeal and refers them to 
the Tome. 
As on behalf of the faith which Eutyches 



7 Let the reader beware of accepting the plausible account 
here suggested of the formation of the Apostles' Creed, and still 
more so of accepting the popular derivation of the word symbolum 
(vvtfoKov) as the twelve Apostles' twelve "contributions" (one 
each) to the Church s rule of faith. 

8 Communio sui ordinis. 

,\2 ViT!' b u C rem ?' 1 J ber ed that 23 abbots signed the condemna- 
t;on of Eutyches: cf. Lett. XXI. chap. 2. 



has tried to disturb, I was sending legates de 
latere 9* to assist the defence of the Truth, I 
thought it fitting that I should address a letter 
to you also, beloved : whom I know for certain 
to be so zealous in the cause of religion that 
you can by no means listen calmly to such 
blasphemous and profane utterances : for the 
Apostle's command lingers in your hearts, in 
which it is said, " If any man hath preached 
unto you any gospel other than that which he 
received, let him be anathema V And we 
also decide that the opinion of the said Euty- 
ches is to be rejected, which, as we have 
learnt from perusing the proceedings, has been 
deservedly condemned : so that, if its foolish 
maintainer will abide by his perverseness, he 
may have fellowship with those whose error he 
has followed. For one who says that Christ 
had not a human, that is our, nature, is de- 
servedly put out of Christ's Church. But, if he 
be corrected through the pity of God's Spirit 
and acknowledge his wicked error, so as to 
condemn unreservedly what catholics reject, 
we wish him not to be denied mercy, that the 
Lord's Church may suffer no loss : for the re- 
pentant can always be readmitted, it is only 
error that must be shut out. Upon the mystery 
of great godliness 2 , whereby through the In- 
carnation of the Word of God comes our 
justification and redemption, what is our 
opinion, drawn from the tradition of the 
fathers, is now sufficiently explained accord- 
ing to my judgment in the letter which I 
have sent to our brother Flavian the bishop 3 : 
so that through the declaration of your chief 
you may know what, according to the gospel 
of our Lord Jesus Christ, we desire to be fixed 
in the hearts of all the faithful. Dated 13th 
June, in the consulship of the illustrious As- 
tuiius and Protogenes (449). 

LETTER XXXIII. 

To the Synod of Ephesus*. 

Leo, bishop, to the holy Synod which is 
assembled at Ephesus. 

I. He commends the Emperor's appeal to the 
chair of Peter. 

The devout faith of our most clement prince, i 



9» De latere meo. This is interesting as an early instance of the 
use of this expression for the legates of the pope (now so familiar): 
even though Quesnel is incorrect in saying for certain that Leo is 
the first Bishop of Rome who employed them. He himself quotes 
Concil. Sardic., canon 7, where the fathers ask the Roman bishop 
to send some one e latere sua (a.d. 347). ' Gal. i. 9. 

2 I cannot doubt he has 1 Tim. iii. 27, fie'ya euri to tijs 
ev(re/3ei'as /j.v<TTr)piov (here sacrament inn, as usual) in his mind, 
though the Gk. translator apparently did not see it, his version 
being utterly inaccurate (n-epi de ttjs ayidniTos t^s /ueyaAqs 

7T10"T6<»S). 

3 Viz., Letter XXVIII. (The Tome). 

4 This letter has a note prefixed to it in some Gk. and Latin 
MSS., to the effect that it was produced but suppressed, and not 
allowed to be read through Dioscorus, Bishop of Alexandria 



< 



LETTER XXXIV. 



47 



knowing that it especially concerns his glory 
to prevent any seed of error from springing up 
within the catholic Church, has paid such defer- 
ence to the Divine institutions as to apply to the 
authority of the Apostolic See for a proper 
settlement : as if he wished it to be declared 
by the most blessed Peter himself what was 
praised in his confession, when the Lord said, 
"whom do men say that I, the Son of man, 
am 5 ? " and the disciples mentioned various 
people's opinion : but, when He asked what 
they themselves believed, the chief of the 
apostles, embracing the fulness of the Faith 
in one short sentence, said, " Thou art the 
Christ, the son of the living God s :" that is, 
Thou who truly art Son of man art also truly 
Son of the living God : Thou, I say, true in 
Godhead, true in flesh and one altogether 6 , 
the properties of the two natures being kept 
intact. And if Eutyches had believed this 
intelligently and thoroughly, he would never 
have retreated from the path of this Faith. 
For Peter received this answer from the Lord 
for his confession. " Blessed art thou, Simon 
Barjona ; for flesh and blood hath not re- 
vealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in 
heaven. And I say unto thee, that thou art 
Peter, and upon this rock I will build My 
Church : and the gates of Hades shall not pre- 
vail against it ?." But he who both rejects 
the blessed Peter's confession, and gainsays 
Christ's Gospel, is far removed from union 
with this building; for he shows himself never 
to have had any zeal for understanding the 
Truth, and to have only the empty appearance 
of high esteem, who did not adorn the hoary 
hairs of old age with any ripe judgment of the 
heart. 

II. The heresy of Eutyches is to be condemned, 
though his full repentance may lead to his 
restitution. 

But because the healing even of such men 
must not be neglected, and the most Christian 
Emperor has piously and devoutly desired a 
council of bishops to be held, that all error 
may be destroyed by a fuller judgment, I have 
sent our brothers Julius the bishop, Renatus 
the presbyter, and my son Hilary the deacon, 
and with them Dulcitius the notary, whose 
faith we have proved, to be present in my 
stead at your holy assembly, brethren, and 
settle in common with you what is in accord- 
ance with the Lord's will. To wit, that the 
pestilential error may be first condemned, and 
then the restitution of him, who has so un- 
wisely erred, discussed, but only if embracing 



5 S. Matt. xvi. 13 and 16 

6 Utrumque (Gk. ixaTepov) units. 



7 S. Matt. xvi. 17, 18. 



the true doctrine he fully and openly with his 
own voice and signature condemns those here- 
tical opinions in which his ignorance has been 
ensnared : for this he has promised in the ap- 
peal which he sent to us, pledging himself to 
follow our judgment in all things 8 . On re- 
ceiving our brother and fellow-bishop Flavian's 
letter, we have replied to him at some length 
on the points which he seems to have referred 
to us 9 ; that when this error which seems to 
have arisen, has been destroyed, there may be 
one Faith and one and the same confession 
throughout the whole world to the praise and 
glory of God, and that " in the name of Jesus 
every knee should bow, of things in heaven, 
and things on earth, and things under the 
earth, and that every tongue should confess 
that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of 
God the Father 1 ." Dated 13th June in the 
consulship of the illustrious Asturius and Pro- 
togenes (449). 

LETTER XXXIV. 

To Julian, Bishop of Cos. 

Leo, the bishop, to Julian, the bishop, his 
well-beloved brother. 

I. Eutyches is now dearly seen to have deviated 
from the Eaith. 

Your letter, beloved, which has just reached 
me, shows with what spiritual love of the 
Catholic Faith you are inspired : and it makes 
me very glad that devout hearts all agree in 
the same opinion, so that according to the 
teaching of the Holy Ghost there may be ful- 
filled in us what the Apostle says : " Now I 
beseech you, brethren, through the name of 
our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the 
same things, and there be no divisions among 
you : but that ye be perfect in the same mind 
and in the same judgment 2 ." But Eutyches 
has put himself quite outside this unity, if he 
perseveres in his perversity, and still does not 
understand the bonds with which the devil has 
bound him, and thinks any one is to be reck- 
oned among the Lord's priests, who is a party 
to his ignorance and madness. For some time 
we were uncertain in what he was displeasing 
to catholics : and when we received no letter 
from our brother Flavian, and Eutyches him- 
self complained in his letters that the Nesto- 
rian heresy was being revived, we could not 
fully learn the source or the motive of so 
crafty an accusation. But as soon as the 
minutes of the bishops' proceedings reached us, 
all those things which were hidden beneath 



Cf. Lett. XXL, chaps, i. and ii. 
9 See Lett. XXVIL, n. 7. « Phil. ii. 10. 

a 1 Cor. i. 10. 3 See Lett. XX., above. 



4 8 



LETTERS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



the veil of his deceitful complaints were re- 
vealed in their abomination. 

II. He announces the appointment of legates 
a latere. 

And because our most clement Emperor in 
the loving-kindness and godliness of his mind, 
wished a more careful judgment to be passed 
aboutthe position of onewhohithertohas seemed 
to be in high esteem, and for this purpose has 
thought fit to convene a council of bishops, 
by the hands of our brothers Julius the bishop, 
and Renatus the presbyter, and also my son 
Hilary, the deacon whom I have sent ex latere '■ 
in my stead, I have addressed a letter suited 
to the needs of the case to our brother Flavian, 
from which you also, beloved, and the whole 
Church may know about the ancient and 
unique Faith, which this unlearned opponent 
has assailed, what we hold as handed down 
from God and what we preach without altera- 
tion. Yet, because we must not forget the 
duty of mercy, we have considered it con- 
sonant with our moderation as priests, that, 
if the condemned presbyter corrects himself 
unreservedly, the sentence by which he is 
bound should be remitted : if, however, he 
chooses to lie in the mire of his foolishness, 
let the decree remain, and let him have his 
lot with those whose en or he has followed. 
Dated 13th June in the consulship of the 
illustrious Asturius and Protogenes (449)5. 

LETTER XXXV. 
To Julian, Bishop of Cos 6 . 
Leo, bishop of the city of Rome to his well- 
beloved brother, Julian the bishop. 

I. Eutyches' heresy involves many other heresies. 

Although by the hands of our brothers, 
whom we have despatched from the city on 
behalf of the Faith, we have sent a most full 
refutation of Eutyches' excessive heresy to our 



4 See Lett. XXX II., n. 9, above. 

5 This letter (X XXIV.) is written on the same day and subject 
and to the same person as the next letter(XXXV.) : the differences 
between them being (1) the greater length and fuller treatment of 
the second ; and (2) that the one is entrusted to Leo's legates the 
other to Julius' own messenger, Basil the deacon ; and (3) 'that 
the shorter has no Gk. version as the longer has. I think the 
Ballerina are undoubtedly right in facing the difficulty boldly 
the evidence of the MSS. being invariable, except that XXXIV 
vvvfv d '? a f ? W ^ctions: and I would suggest that 
aaaiv. is a tormal, official communication, and XXXV a 
private, confidential one. This will account for the difference of 
messengers, and the identity of date, subject and person 
addressed and _,s justifiable as a piece of necessary diplomatic 
secrecy. In XXX. and XXXI. we have another instance of two 
letters to the same person on the same day, one of these (XXXI ) 
being also without a Gk. version, this time the longer one: but 
here we have adopted the Ballerina's suggestion that only the 
first was sent. It should further be noticed that out of the very 
large batch of letters that are dated the i,th of June, which 
includes the Tome (8 in all, XXVIII. -XXXV.), it may well 
have been convenient to delay one and send it by another 

« See Lett. XXXIV., chap. ii. n. S . 



brother Flavian, yet because we have received, 
through our son Basil, your letter, beloved, 
which has given us much pleasure from the 
fervour of its catholic spirit, we have added 
this page also which agrees with the other 
document, that you may offer a united and 
strenuous resistance to those who seek to 
corrupt the gospel of Christ, since the wisdom 
and the teaching of the Holy Spirit is one and 
the same in you as in us : and whosoever 
does not receive it, is not a member of Christ's 
body and cannot glory in that Head in whicli 
he denies the presence of his own nature. 
What advantage is it to that most unwise old 
man under the name of the Nestorian heresy to 
mangle the belief of those, whose most devout 
faith he cannot tear to pieces : when in de- 
claring the only-begotten Son of God to have 
been so born of the blessed Virgin's womb 
that He wore the appearance of a human 
body without the reality of human flesh being 
united to the Word, he departs as far from the 
right path as did Nestorius in separating the 
Godhead of the Word from the substance of 
His assumed Manhood ? ? From which pro- 
digious falsehood who does not see what mon- 
strous opinions spring? for he who denies the 
true Manhood of Jesus Christ, must needs be 
filled with many blasphemies, being claimed 
by Apollinaris as his own, seized upon by 
Valentinus, or held fast by Manichasus : none 
of whom believed that there was true human 
flesh in Christ. But, surely, if that is not 
accepted, not only is it denied that He, 
who was in the form of God, but yet abode in 
the form of a slave, was born Man according 
to the flesh and reasonable soul : but also that 
He was crucified, dead, and buried, and that 
on the third day He rose again, and that, 
sitting at the right hand of the Father, he will 
come to judge the quick and the dead 8 in 
that body in which He Himself was judged : 
because these pledges 9 of our redemption are 
rendered void if Christ is not believed to have 
the true and whole nature of true Manhood. 

II. The two natures are to be found in Christ. 
Or because the signs of His Godhead were 
undoubted, shall the proof of his having a 
human body be assumed false, and thus the 
indications of both natures be accepted to 
prove Him Creator, but not be accepted for 
the salvation of the creature x ? No, for the 

7 The Gk. version here adds and " from the very conception of 
the Virgin," but this is probably only a repetition of the words "of 
the Virgin's womb," just above. 

8 It can escap.* no one that he is here, and frequently through- 
out this letter, quoting from the Creed. & Sacramcnta. 

1 i.e. shall the si;;ns of His being God. which are undoubted, 
and the signs that He had a body of some sort be allowed to prove 
Him one with the Creator of the world, but not go so far as to 
show that that body which He had was a fully human one? 



LETTER XXXV. 



49 



flesh did not lessen what belongs to His God- 
head, nor the Godhead destroy what belongs 
to His flesh. For He is at once both eternal 
from His Father and temporal from His 
mother, inviolable in His strength, passible 
in our weakness : in the Triune Godhead, of 
one and the same substance with the Father 
and the Holy Spirit, but in taking Manhood 
on Himself, not of one substance but of one 
and the same person [so that He was at once 
rich in poverty, almighty in submission, im- 
passible in punishment, immortal in death 2 ]. 
For the Word was not in any part of It 
turned either into flesh or into soul, seeing 
that the absolute and unchangeable nature of 
the Godhead is ever entire in its Essence, 
receiving no loss nor increase, and so beati- 
fying the nature that It had assumed that that 
nature remained forever glorified in the person 
of the Glorifier. [But why should it seem 
unsuitable or impossible that the Word and 
flesh and soul should be one Jesus Christ, and 
that the Son of God and the Son of Man 
should be one, if flesh and soul which are of 
different natures make one person even with- 
out the Incarnation of the Word : since it is 
much easier for the power of the Godhead to 
produce this union of Himself and man than 
for the weakness of manhood by itself to 
effect it in its own substance.] Therefore 
neither was the Word changed into flesh nor 
flesh into the Word : but both remains in one 
and one is in both, not divided by the diversity 
and not confounded by intermixture : He is 
not one by His Father and another by His 
mother, but the same, in one way by His 
Father before every beginning, and in another 
by His mother at the end of the ages : so 
that He was " mediator between God and men, 
the man Christ Jesus 3 ," in whom dwelt "the 
fulness of the Godhead bodily *:" because 
it was the assumed (nature) not the Assum- 
ing (nature) which was raised, because God 
" exalted Him and gave Him the Name which 
is above every name : that in the name of 
Jesus every knee should bow, of things in 
heaven and things on earth and things under 
the earth, and that every tongue should con- 
fess that Jesus Christ the Lord is in the glory 
of God the Fathers." 

III. The soul of Christ and the body of Christ 
were real in the full human sense, though the 
circumstances of His birth were unique. 

[But as to that which Eutyches dared to say 

2 So that — in death, bracketed by the editors as not being 
translated in the Gk. version, and perhaps here we have a gloss to 
explain the somewhat obscure words that precede it : but through- 
out this letter larse portions are so bracketed, in each case the 
Gk. version omitting them. 

3 i Tim. ii. 5. 4 Col. ii. 9. 5 Phil. ii. 0-11. 

VOL. XII. I 



in the court of bishops " that before the Incar- 
nation there were two natures in Christ, but 
after the Incarnation one 6 ," he ought to have 
been pressed by the frequent and anxious ques- 
tions of the judges to render an account of his 
acknowledgment, lest it should be passed 
over as something trivial, though it was seen 
to have issued from the same fount as his 
other poisonous opinions. For 1 think that 
in saying this he was convinced that the soul, 
which the Saviour assumed, had had its abode 
in the heavens before He was born of the 
Virgin Mary, and that the Word joined it to 
Himself in the womb. But this is intolerable 
to catholic minds and ears : because the Lord 
who came down from heaven brought with 
Him nothing that belonged to our state : for 
He did not receive either a soul which had 
existed before nor a flesh which was not of his 
mother's body. Undoubtedly our nature was 
not assumed in such a way that it was created 
first and then assumed, but it was created by 
the very assumption. And hence that which 
was deservedly condemned in Origen must be 
punished in Eutyches also, unless he prefers 
to give up his opinion, viz. the assertion that 
souls have had not only a life but also different 
actions before they were inserted in men's 
bodies 7]. For although the Lord's nativity 
according to the flesh has certain characteristics 
wherein it transcends the ordinary beginnings 
of man's being, both because He alone was 
conceived and born without concupiscence of 
a pure Virgin, and because He was so brought 
forth of His mother's womb that her fecundity 
bare Him without loss of virginity : yet His 
flesh was not of another nature to ours : nor 
was the soul breathed into Him from another 
source to that of all other men, and it excelled 
others not in difference of kind but in su- 
periority of power For He had no opposition 
in His flesh [nor did the strife of desires give 
rise to a conflict of wishes 8 ]. His bodily 
senses were active without the law of sin, and 
the reality of His emotions being under the 
control of His Godhead and His mind, was 
neither assaulted by temptations nor yielded 
to injurious influences. But true Man was 
united to God and was not brought down 
from heaven as regards a pre-existing soul, 
nor created out of nothing as regards the 
flesh : it wore the same person in the God- 
head of the Word and possessed a nature in 
common with us in its body and soul. For He 
wouid not be " the mediator between God 



6 Cf. the Tome, Lett. XXVI 1 1., chap, vi., n. 5. 

7 Cf. Lett. XV., chap, xi., n. 6. 

8 Here again the second clause (in brackets) seems a giosson 
the first, see n. 2, above : what is meant will be seen by comparing 
S. Paul's famous disquisition (Rom. vii.) 



5o 



LETTERS OE LEO THE GREAT. 



and man," unless God and man had co-existed 
in both natures forming: one true Person. 
The magnitude of the subject urges us to a 
lengthy discussion : but with one of your learn- 
ing there is no need for such copious disserta- 
tions, especially as we have already sent a 
sufficient letter to our brother Flavian by our 
delegates for the confirmation of the minds, not 
only of priests but also of the laitv. The 
mercy of God will, we believe, provide that 
without the loss of one soul the sound may be 
defended against the devil's wiles, and the 
wounded healed. Dated 13th June in the 
consulship of the illustrious Asturius and Pro- 
togenes (449). 

LETTER XXXVI. 
To Flavian, Bishop of Constantinople. 

(He acknowledges the receipt of Flavian's 
second letter (xxvi ) and protests against the 
necessity for a general council, though at the 
same time ho acquiesces in it. Dated 21 June, 
a week after the Tome). 

LETTER XXXVII 1 . 

To Theodosius Augustus. 
Leo to Theodosius Augustus. 

Unity of Faith is essential but the poi?it at issue 
hardly required a general council, it is so 
clear. 

On receiving your clemency's letter, I per 
ceived that the universal Church has much 
cause for joy, that you will have the Christian 
Faith, whereby the Divine Trinity is honoured 
and worshipped, to be different or out of 
harmony with itself in nothing. For what 
more effectual support can be given to human 
affairs in calling upon God's mercy than when 
one thanksgiving, and the sacrifice of one 
confession is offered to His majesty by all. 
Wherein the devotions of the priests and all 
the faithful will reach at last their complete- 
ness, if in what was done for our redemption 
by God the Word, the only Son of God, 
nothing else be believed than what He Him- 
self ordered to be preached and believed. 
Wherefore although every consideration pre- 
vents my attendance on the day which your 
piety has fixed for the councils of bishops 2 : 
for there are no precedents for such a thing, 



'u j tter ls on the same sub J ect as Lett. XXIX. above, but 

as the wording of it contains some interesting matter, it is here 
given in full. There is no Gk. version extant, and how there 
some to be two letters within a week of one another on the same 
topic is not clear. 

■ Cf. Lett. XXIX. above, and especially XXXI., chap, iv., 
where the reasons are given rather more fully. 



and the needs of the times do not allow me 
to leave the city, especially as the point of 
Faith at issue is so clear, that it would have 
been more reasonable to abstain from pro- 
claiming a synod : yet as far as the Lord 
vouchsafes to help me, I have bestowed my 
zeal upon obeying your clemency's com- 
mands, by appointing my brethren who are 
competent to act as the case requires in re- 
moving offences, and who can represent me : 
because no question has arisen on which there 
can or ought to be any doubt. Dated 21st 
of June, in the consulship of the illustrious 
Asturius and Protogenes, (449). 

LETTER XXXVIII 3. 

To Flavian, Bishop of Constantinople. 

Leo to Flavian, bishop of Constantinople. 

He acknowledges the receipt of a letter and 
advises mercy if Eutyches will recant. 

When our brethren had already started 
whom we despatched to you in the cause of 
the Faith, we received your letter, beloved, 
by our son Basil the deacon, in which you 
rightly said very little on the subject of our 
common anxiety, both because the accounts 
which had already arrived had given us full 
information on every thing, and because for 
purposes of private inquiry it was easy to con- 
verse with the aforesaid Basil, by whom now 
through the grace of God, in whom we trust, 
we exhort you, beloved, in reply, using the 
Apostle's words, and saying : " Be ye in 
nothing affrighted by the adversaries ; which 
is for them a cause of perdition, but to you of 
salvation ♦." For what is so calamitous as to 
wish to destroy all hope of man's salvation by 
denying the reality of Christ's Incarnation, and 
to contradict the Apostle who says distinctly: 
"great is the mystery of godliness which was 
manifest in the flesh 5 ?" What so glorious 
as to fight for the Faith of the gospel against 
the enemies of Christ's nativity and cross? 
About whose most pure light and uncon- 
quered power we have already disclosed what 
was in our heart, in the letter which has been 
sent to you beloved 6 : lest anything might 
seem doubtful between us on those things 
which we have learnt, and teach in accord- 
ance with the catholic doctrine. But seeing 
that the testimonies to the Truth are so clear 



3 If we are right in thinking that Lett. XXXVI. is Leo's 
acknowledgment of Flavian's second letter (XXVI.i, this (which 
again has no Gk. version) must be an acknowledgment of yet 
a third, not extant, sent by the hand of one Basil, the deacon, who 
is probably the same as Julian's messenger (XXXV., chap. i.). 

4 Phil. i. 28. 

5 1 Tim. iii. 16 : the reading here is quod manifestum est in 
cai-'te, in agreement with the general Western usage. 

6 Sc. the Tome (XXVIII.). 



LETTER XLII. 



51 



and strong that a man must be reckoned 
thoroughly blind and stubborn, who does not 
at once shake himself free from the mists of 
falsehood in the bright light of reason ; we 
desire you to use the remedy of long-suffering 
in curing the madness of ignorance that 
through your fatherly admonitions they who 
though old in years are infants in mind, may 
learn to obey their elders. And if they give 
up the vain conceits of their ignorance and 
come to their senses, and if they condemn 
all their errors and receive the one true Faith, 
do not deny them the mercifulness of a 
bishop's kind heart : although your judgment 
must remain, if their impiety which you have 
deservedly condemned persists in its depravity. 
Dated 23 July in the consulship of the illus- 
trious Asturius and Protogenes (449). 



LETTER XXXIX. 
To Flavian, Bishop of Constantinople. 
Leo, the bishop, to Flavian, the bishop. 

He rebukes Flavian for not answering his re- 
pealed letters. 

Our anxiety is increased by your silence, 
for it is long now since we received a letter 
from you, beloved : while we who bear a chief 
share in your cares ?, through our anxiety for 
the defence of the Faith, have several times 8 , 
as occasion served, sent letters to you : that 
we might aid you with the comfort of our 
exhortations not to yield to the assaults of 
your adversaries in defence of the Faith, but 
to feel that we were the sharers In your labour. 
Some time since we believe our messengers 
have reached you, brother, through whom you 
find yourself fully instructed by our writings 
and injunctions, and we have ourselves sent 
back Basil to you as you desired 9. Now, lest 
you should think we had omitted any oppor- 
tunity of communicating with you, we have 
sent this note by our son Eupsychius, a man 
whom we hold in great honour and affection, 
asking you to reply to our letter with all 
speed, and inform us at once about your own 
actions and those of our representatives, and 
about the completion of the whole matter : so 
that we may allay the anxiety which we now 
feel in defence of the Faith, by happier tidings. 
Dated nth August in the consulship of the 
illustrious Asturius and Protogenes (449). 



7 Curarum tuarum principes. 

8 Frequenter, four times in all (Letters XXVIL, XXVIIL, 
XXXVI. and XXXVIII.). 

9 This must be in the third lost letter to which we have 
assumed Lett. XXXVI 11. to be an answer. 



LETTER XL. 

To the Bishops of the Province of 
Arles in Gaul. 

To his well-beloved brethren Constantinus 
Audentius, Rusticus, Auspicius, Nicetas, Nec- 
tarius, Florus, Asclepius, Justus, Augustalis, 
Ynantius, and Chrysaphius *, Leo the pope. 

He approves of their having unanimously 
elected Ravennius, Bishop of Aries. 

We have just and reasonable reason for 
rejoicing, when we learn that the Lord's 
priests have done what is agreeable both to 
the rules of the Father's canons and to the 
Apostles' institutions. For the whole body 
of the Church must needs increase with a 
healthy growth, if the governing members 
excel in the strength ot their authority, and 
in peaceful management. Accordingly, we 
ratify with our sanction your good deed, 
brethren, in unanimously, on the death of 
Hilary 2 of holy memory, consecrating our 
brother Ravennius, a man well approved by 
us, in the city of Aries, in accordance with 
the wishes of the clergy, the leading citizens, 
and the laity. Because a peace-making and 
harmonious election, where neither personal 
merits nor the good will of the congregation 
are wanting, is we believe the expression 
not only of man's choice, but of God's in- 
spiration. So dearly beloved brethren, let the 
said priest use God's gift, and understand what 
self-devotion is expected of him, that by dili- 
gently and prudently carrying out the office 
entrusted to him, he may prove himself equal 
to your testimony, and fully worthy of our 
favour. God keep you safe, beloved brethren. 
Dated 22 August in the consulship of Asturius 
and Protogenes (449). 

LETTER XLI. 

To Ravennius, Bishop of Arles. 

(He congratulates him on his appointment, 
exhorts him to firm but gentle government, 
and advises him frequently to consult the 
Apostolic See. Undated, but no doubt sent 
about the same time as XL.) 

LETTER XLII. 

To Ravennius, Bishop of Arles. 

Leo the Pope to his well-beloved brother 
Ravennius. 



1 These twelve bishops do not include the Bishop of Vienne, 
according to Perthel (p. 29). following apparently Qiiesnel, whose 
wish-fathered thought, though possibly right, has little evidence 
to go upon. Cf. Letters LXV. and LXVI. l.elow. 

2 It will be noticed that Leo speaks of Hilary not only with 
respect, but as if he acquiesced in his sentence (passed against 
Hilary in Lett. X. above) not having been carried out. 



E 2 



52 



LETTERS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



He asks him to deal with the imposture of a 
certain Petronianus. 
We wish you to be circumspect and careful 
lest any blameworthy presumption should 
put forth undue claims: for, when it once 
rinds an entrance by crafty stealth, it spreads 
itself into greater rashness in the name of the 
dignity it has assumed. We have learnt, on 
the trustworthy evidence of your clergy, that 
a certain wandering and vagabond Petro- 
nianus has boasted himself throughout the 
provinces of Gaul as our deacon, and under 
cover of this office is going about the various 
churches of that country. We desire you, 
beloved brother, so to check his abominable 
effrontery, as to disclose his imposture, by 
warning the bishops of the whole district, and 
to expel him from communion with all the 
Churches, lest he continue his claim. The 
Lord keep you safe, dearly beloved brother. 
Dated 26th August, in the consulship of the 
illustrious Asturius and Protogenes (449)- 

LETTER XLIII3. 

To Theodosius Augustus. 

To the most glorious and serene Emperor 
Theodosius. 

Leo the bishop. 

I. He complains of the conduct of Dioscorus at 
the Council of Ephesus. 

Already and from the beginning, in the 
synods which have been held, we have re- 
ceived such freedom of speech from the most 
holy Peter, chief of the Apostles, as to have 
the power both to maintain the Truth in the 
cause of peace, and to allow no one to disturb 
it in its firm position, but at once to repel the 
mischief Since then the council of bishops 
which you ordered to be held in the city of 
Ephesus on account of Flavian, does mischief 
to the Faith itself and inflicts wounds on all 

the churches * ; and this has been brought 

to our knowledge not by some untrustworthy 
messenger, but by the most reverend bishops s 
themselves who were sent by us and by the 
most trusty Hilarus our deacon, who have 
narrated to us what took place. And the 
occurrences are to be put down to the fault of 



3 No satisfactory conclusion can be reached about this letter 
as it has come down to us, the Ballerinii not thinking that the 
Latin version extant is the original on which the Gk. version is 
based. _ On the whole I have thought it safer to make my transla- 
tion chiefly from the Gk., though I am not at all sure that there is 
sufficient ground for the Ballerinii s suspicion 01 the Latin. 

4 A lacuna is here visible in the sense though not in 
the MSS. 

5 The Gk. and the Lat.both read the plural here im<T koitihv 
(episcopis) which the Ballerinii alter to the singular. As far as we 
know, Julius was the only bishop in the party, but the greater 
ncludes the less. 



those who met, not having, as is customary, 
with a pure conscience and right judgment 
made a definite statement about the faith and 
those who erred therefrom. For we have 
learnt that all did not come together in the 
conference who ought, some being ejected 
and others received : who were ensnared into 
an ungodly act of subscription by the designs 
of the aforesaid priest 6 . For the declaration 
effected by him is of such a nature as to injure 
all the churches. For when those who were 
sent by us saw how exceedingly impious and 
hostile to the Faith it was, they notified it 
to us. 



II. He asks him to restore the ancient catholic 
docti ine. 



Wherefore, most peace-loving prince, vouch- 
safe for the Faith's sake to avert this danger 
from your godly conscience, and let not man's 
presumption use violence upon Christ's Gospel 
In my sincere desire, which is shared by the 
bishops that are with me, that you, most 
Christian and revered prince, should before 
all things please God, to whom the prayers 
of the whole Church are poured with one 
accord for your empire, I give you counsel, 
for fear lest, if we keep silence on so great 
a matter, we incur punishment before the 
tribunal of Christ. I entreat you therefore 
before the undivided Trinity of the one God- 
head, which is injured by these evil doings, 
and which is the guardian of your kingdom, 
and before Christ's holy angels that all things 
remain intact as they were before the judg- 
ment, and that they await the weightier deci- 
sion of the Synod at which the whole number 
of the bishops in the whole world is gathered 
together : and do not allow yourselves to bear 
the weight of others' misdoing. We are 
constrained to say this plainly by the fear of 
a constraining necessity 7. But keep before 
your eyes the blessed Peter's glory, and the 
crowns which all the Apostles have in common 
with him, and the joys of the martyrs who had 
no other incentive to suffering but the confes- 
sion of the true Godhead and the perfect con- 
tinuance in Christ 8 . 



III. And asks for another Synod to be sum- 
moned. 

And now that this confession is being god- 

6 Viz., Dioscorus. who must have been mentioned in the 
lacuna above, if anywhere. 

7 The old Lat. version has here something very different quia 
quod necesse est nos dicere, %'eremur ne cuius religio d/ss/falrrr, 
indignatio Jirovocetur (for we are bound to say we fear lest He 
whose religion is being undermined, sh?uld have His wrath 
aroused). 

8 ») iv Xpio-Tu reAei'a Siafinvri : here again the Latin version 
diverges, reading verce ku?nanitatis (*c. coufessio) in Christo. So 
too the next sentence begins with cui sacramento, instead of the 
Gk. 1)5 Tifos 6/noAoyias, and elsewhere. 



LETTER XLIV. 



53 



lessly impugned by some few men, all the 
churches of our parts and all the priests im- 
plore your clemency with tears in accord- 
ance with the request which Flavian makes 
in his appeal, to command the assembling 
together of a special Synod in Italy, in order 
that all opposition may be expelled or paci- 
fied, and that there may be no deviation 
from or ambiguity in the Faith : and to it 
should also come the bishops of all the 
Eastern provinces, that, if any have wandered 
out of the way of Truth, they may be recalled 
to their allegiance by wholesome remedies, and 
they who are under a more grievous charge 
may either be reduced to submission by 
counsel or cut off from the one Church. So 
that we are bound to preserve both what the 
Nicene canon enjoins and what the definitions 
of the bishops of the whole world enjoin 
according to the custom of the catholic 
Church, and also (to maintain) the freedom 
of our fathers' Faith, on which your tran- 
quillity rests. For we pray that when those 
who harm the Church are driven out, and your 
provinces enjoy the possession of justice, and 
vengeance has been executed on these heretics, 
your royal power also may be defended by 
Christ's right hand. 

LETTER XLIV. 

To Theodosius Augustus. 

Leo, the bishop, and the holy Synod which 
is assembled at Rome to Theodosius Augustus. 

I. He exposes the unscrupulous nature of the 
proceedings at Ephcsus. 

From your clemency's letter, which in your 
love of the catholic Faith you sent sometime 
ago to the see of the blessed Apostle Peter, we 
drew such confidence in your defence of truth 
and peace that we thought nothing harmful 
could happen in so plain and well-ordered 
a matter ; especially when those who were 
sent to the episcopal council, which you 
ordered to be held at Ephesus, were so fully 
instructed that, if the bishop of Alexandria 
had allowed the letters, which they brought 
either to the holy synod or to Flavian the 
bishop, to be read in the ears of the bishops, 
by the declaration of the most pure Faith, 
which being Divinely inspired we both have 
received and hold, all noise of disputings 
would have been so completely hushed that 
neither ignorance could any longer disport 
itself, nor jealousy find occasion to do mis- 
chief. But because private interests are con- 
sulted under cover of religion, the disloyalty 
of a few has wrought that which must wound 
the whole Church. For not from some un- 



trustworthy messenger, but from a most faith- 
ful narrator of the things which have been 
done, Hilary, our deacon, who, lest he should 
be compelled by force to subscribe to their 
proceedings, with great difficulty made his 
escape, we have learnt that a great many 
priests came together at the synod, whose 
numbers would doubtless have assisted the 
debate and decision, if he who claimed for 
himself the chief place had consented to 
maintain priestly moderation, in order that, 
according to custom, when all had freely 
expressed their opinion, after quiet and fair 
deliberation, that might be ordained which 
was both agreeable to the Faith and helpful 
to those in error. But we have been told that 
all who had come were not present at the 
actual decision : for we have learnt that some 
were rejected while others were admitted, who 
at the aforesaid priest's requisition surrendered 
themselves to an unrighteous subscription, 
knowing they would sutler harm unless they 
obeyed his commands, and that such a re- 
solution was brought forward by him that in 
attacking one man he might wreak his fury 
of the whole Church. Which our delegates 
from the Apostolic See saw to be so blas- 
phemous and opposed to the catholic Faith 
that no pressure could force them to assent ; 
for in the same synod they stoutly protested, 
as they ought, that the Apostolic See would 
never receive what was being passed : since 
the whole mystery of the Christian Faith is 
absolutely destroyed (which Heaven forfend 
in your Grace's reign), unless this abominable 
wickedness, which exceeds all former blas- 
phemies, be abolished. 

II. And entreats the Emperor to help in revers- 
ing their decision. 

But because the devil with wicked subtlety 
deceives the unwary, and so mocks the im- 
prudence of some by a show of piety as to 
persuade them to things harmful instead of 
profitable, we pray your Grace, renounce all 
complicity in this endangering of religion and 
Faith, and afford in the treatment of Divine 
things that which is granted in worldly matters 
by the equity of your laws, that human pre- 
sumption may not do violence to Christ's 
Gospel. Behold, I, O most Christian and 
honoured Emperor, with my fellow-priests 9 
fulfilling towards your revered clemency the 
offices of sincere love, and desiring you in 
all things to please God, to whom prayers 
are offered for you by the Church, lest before 



9 Cum consacerdotibus meis. The Ok. version here reads the 
singular (neraTou avWeirovpyov nov). This, if intentional and not 
a slip, is, I suppose, Flavian, of whose death Leo was not yet 
apprized. 



54 



LETTERS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



the Lord Christ's tribunal we be judged guilty 
for our silence, — we beseech you in the pre- 
sence of the Undivided Trinity of the One 
Godhead, Whom such an act wongs (for He 
is Himself the Guardian and the Author of 
your empire), and in the presence of Christ's 
holy angels, order everything to be in the 
position in which they were before the decision 
until a larger number of priests be assembled 
from the whole world. Suffer not yourself to 
be weighted with another's sin because (and 
we must say it) we are afraid lest He, Whose 
religion is being destroyed, be provoked to 
wrath. Keep before your eyes, and with all 
your mental vision gaze reverently upon the 
blessed Peter's glory, and the crowns which 
all the Apostles have in common with him and 
the palms of all the martyrs, who had no other 
reason for suffering than the confession of the 
true Godhead and the true Manhood in Christ. 

III. He asks for a Council in Italy. 

And because this mystery is now being 
impiously opposed by a few ignorant persons, 
all the churches of our parts, and all the priests 
entreat your clemency, with groans and tears, 
seeing that our delegates faithfully protested, 
and bishop Flavian gave them an appeal in 
writing, to order a general synod to be held in 
Italy, which shall either dismiss or appease all 
disputes in such a way that there be nothing 
any longer either doubttul in the Faith or 
divided in love, and to it, of course, the 
bishops of the Eastern provinces must come, 
and if any of them were overcome by threats 
and injury, and deviated from the path of 
truth, they may be fully restored by health- 
giving measures, and they themselves, whose 
case is harder, if they acquiesce in wiser 
counsels, may not fall from the unity of the 
Church. And how necessary this request is 
after the lodging of an appeal is witnessed by 
the canonical decrees passed at Nicaea by the 
bishops of the whole world, which are added 
below £> a . Show favour to the catholics after 
your own and your parents' custom. Give 
us such liberty to defend the catholic Faith as 
no violence, no fear of the world, while your 



9 a Both Quesnel and the Ball, agree that the Canon here 
quoted by Leo really belongs not to the Nicene collection, but to 
that of Sardica (about 344), in which it stands as no. 4. (Exactly 
the same mistake is made in Letter LVI., where Galla Placid ia 
Augusta quotes Canon 5 of Sardica to Theodosius as secundum 
dejinitiones Nkceni concilii). Cf. Core's Leo, pp. 113, 174. The 
wording of this fourth Canon is as follows: " Gaudentius, the 
bishop, said, Ii it please you to add to this admirable declaration 
which you have passed, I propose that whensoever one bishop 
has been deposed by the judgment of other bishops, and appeals 
for his case to be heard in Civitas Nervorum, the other bishop 
cannot by any means be considered confirmed in the same See 
after the appeal oi the one who appears to be deposed, until he 
receive the decision oi the judges there." In applying this to 
the present case, Leo no doubt proposed to substitute Urbs Roma 
for Civitas Novorum, though this was hardly the same thing. 



revered clemency is safe, shall be able to 
take away. For it is the cause not only of 
the Church but of your Kingdom and pro- 
sperity that we plead, that you may enjoy the 
peaceful sway of your provinces. Defend the 
Church in unshaken peace against the heretics, 
that your empire also may be defended by 
Christ's right hand. Dated the 13th of 
October, in the consulship of the illustrious 
Asturius and Protogenes (449). 

LETTER XLV. 

(To Pulcheria Augusta.) 

Leo, the bishop, and the holy Synod which 
is assembled in the City of Rome to Pulcheria 
Augusta. 

I. He sends a copy of the former letter which 

jailed to reach her. 
If the letters respecting the Faith which 
were despatched to your Grace by the hands of 
our clergy had reached you, it is certain you 
would have been able, the Lord helping you, 
to provide a remedy for these things which 
have been done against the Faith. For when 
have you failed either the priests or the reli- 
gion or the Faith of Christ ? But when those 
who were sent were so completely hindered 
from reaching your clemency that only one 
of them, namely Hilary our deacon, with 
difficulty fled and returned, we thought it 
necessary to re-write our letter : and that our 
prayers may deserve to receive more weight, 
we have subjoined a copy of the very docu- 
ment which did not reach your clemency, 
entreating you even more earnestly than be- 
fore to take under protection that religion in 
which you excel which will win you the greater 
glory in proportion to the heinousness of the 
crimes against which your royal faith requires you 
to proceed, lest the integrity of the Christian 
Faith be violated by any plot of man's de- 
vising. For the things which were believed 
to require setting at rest and healing by the 
meeting of a Synod at Ephesus, have not only 
resulted in still greater disturbances of peace 
but, which is the more to be regretted, even in 
the overthrow of the very Faith whereby we are 
Christians. 

II. He also sends a copy of his letter to the 

Emperor and explains its contents. 

And they indeed, who were sent, and one 
of whom, escaping the violence of the bishop 
of Alexandria who claims everything for him- 
self, faithfully reported to us what took place 
in the Synod, opposed, as it became them, 
what I will call the frenzy not the judgment 
of one man, protesting that those things which 



LETTER LII. 



5: 



were being carried through by violence and 
fear could not reverse the mysteries of the 
Church and the Creed itself composed by the 
Apostles, and that no injuries could sever them 
from that Faith which they had brought fully 
set forth and expounded from the See of the' 
blessed Apostle Peter to the holy synod. And 
since this statement was not allowed to be 
read out at the bishop's request, in order 
forsooth that by the rejection of that Faith 
which has crowned patriarchs, prophets, 
apostles and martyrs, the birth according to 
the flesh of Jesus Christ our Lord and the 
confession of His true Death and Resurrection 
(we shudder to say it) might be overthrown, 
we have written x on this matter according to 
our ability, to our most glorious and (what is 
far greater) our Christian Prince, and at the 
same time have subjoined a copy of the letter 
to you to the end that he may not allow the 
Faith, in which he was re-born and reigns through 
God's grace, to be corrupted by any inno- 
vation, since Bishop Flavian continues in com- 
munion with us all, and that which has been 
done without regard to justice and contrary to 
all the teaching of the canons can, under no 
consideration, be held valid. And because the 
Synod of Ephesus has not removed but in- 
creased the scandal of disagreement (I have 
asked him) to appoint a place and time for 
holding a council within Italy, all quarrels and 
prejudices on both sides being suspended, 
that everything which has engendered offence 
may be the more diligently reconsidered and 
without wounding the Faith, without injuring 
religion those priests may return into the peace 
of Christ, who through irresolution were forced 
to subscribe, and only their errors be re 
moved. 

III. He asks her to assist his petition with the 
Empeivr. 

And that we may be worthy to obtain this, 
let your well-tried faith and protection, which 
has always helped the Church in her labours, 
deign to advance our petition with our most 
clement Prince, under a special commission 
so to act from the blessed Apostle Peter; so 
that before this civil and destructive war gains 
strength within the Church, he may grant 
opportunity of restoring unity by Cod's aid, 
knowing that the strength of his empire will 
be increased by every extension of catholic 
free iom that his kindly will affects. 

Dated 13th of October in the consulship of 
the illustiious Asturius and Protogenes (449). 



• This is, of course, Letter XLIV. 



LETTER XLVI. 

From Hilary, then Deacon (afterwards 
Bishop of Rome), to Pulcheria Augusta. 
(Describing his ill-treatment, as Leo's dele- 
gate, by Dioscorus.) 

LETTER XLVIL 

To Anastasius, Bishop of Thessalonica. 

(Congratulating him on being present at the 
synod of Ephesus ) 

LETTER XLVIII. 

To Julian, Bishop of Cos. 

(Consoling him after the riots at Ephesus 
and exhorting him to stand firm.) 

LETTER XLIX. 

To Flavian, Bishop of Constantinople. 

(Whose death he is unaware of, promising 
him all the support in his power.) 

LETTER L. 
To the people of Constantinople, by the 
hand of Epiphanius and Dionysius, 
Notary of the Church of Rome. 

(Exhorting them to stand firm and consoling 
them for Flavian's deposition.) 

LETTER LI. 

to faustus and othkr presbyters and 
Archimandrites in Constantinople. 

(With the same purport as the last.) 

LETTER LII. 

From Theoooret, Bishop of Cyrus, to 
Leo. (See vol. iii. of this Series, p. 293.) 

To Leo, bishop of Rome. 

I. If Paul appealed to Peter how much mo?e 
must ordinary folk have recourse to his suc- 
cessor. 

If Paul, the herald of the Truth, the trumpet 
of the Holy Ghost, had recourse to the great 
Peter, in order to obtain a decision from him 
for those at Antioch who were disputing about 
living by the Law, much more do we small 
and humble folk run to the Apostolic See to 
get healing from you for the sores of the 
churches. For it is fitting that you should in 
all things have the pre-eminence, seeing that 
your See possesses many peculiar privileges. 
For other cities get a name for size or beauy 
or population, and some that are devoid of 
these advantages are compensated by certain 
spiritual gifts : but your city has the fullest 



56 



LETTERS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



abundance of good things from the Giver of 
all good. For she is of all cities the greatest 
and most famous, the mistress of the world 
and teeming with population. And besides 
this she has created an empire which is still 
predominant and has imposed her own name 
upon her subjects. But her chief decoration 
is her Faith, to which the Divine Apostle is 
a sure witness when he exclaims " your faith is 
proclaimed in all the world Ia ; " and if imme- 
diately after receiving the seeds of the saving 
Gospel she bore such a weight of wondrous 
fruit, what words are sufficient to express the 
piety which is now found in her ? She has, too, 
the tombs of our common fathers and teachers of 
the Truth, Peter and Paul 2 , to illumine the 
souls of the faithful. And this blessed and 
divine pair arose indeed in the East, and shed 
its rays in all directions, but voluntarily under- 
went the sunset of life in the West, from 
whence now it illumines the whole world. 
These have rendered your See so glorious : 
this is the chief of all your goods. And their 
See is still blest by the light of their God's 
presence, seeing that therein He has placed 
your Holiness to shed abroad the rays of the 
one true Faith. 

II. He commends Leo's zeal against the Mani- 
chees, and latterly against Entychianism % as 
evidenced especially in the Tome. 

Of which thing indeed, though there are 
many other proofs to be found, your zeal 
against the ill-famed Manichaeans is proof 
enough, that zeal which your holiness has of 
late years displayed 3, thereby revealing the 
intensity of your devotion to Goo in things 
Divine. Proof enough, too, of your Apostolic 
character is what you have now written. For 
we have met with what your holiness has 
written about the Incarnation of our God and 
Saviour, and have admired the careful dili- 
gence of the work \ For it has proved both 
points equally well, viz., the Eternal Godhead 
of the Only-begotten of the Eternal Father, 
and at the same time His manhood of the 
seed of Abraham and David, and His assump- 
tion of a nature in all things like ours, except 
in this one thing, that He remained free from 
all sin : for sin is engendered not of nature, 
but of free will s. This also was contained in 



« a Rom. i. 8. 

2 It is sufficient here to quote Eusebius {Hist. Eccl. ii. 25) as 
oneof the earliest (before 340) maintained of this tradition. In this 
passage he again quotes Gaius of Rome (3rd cent.) and Dionysius 
of Corinth (2nd cent.] as corroborative authorities. Eusebius" 
own words aie these : " Paul is recorded to have been beheaded 
in Rome itself, and Peter likewise to have been impaled. And 
this statement is supported by their names, which remain to this 
day inscribed in the cemeteries there." 

3 Viz , in 444: cf. Letter vn, supra, together with the 
Emperors decree (Lett. VIII.). 

4 This is, of course, the Tome (Lett. XXVIII. ). 

5 Here ' nature' must mean ' man's original nature before the 



your letter, that the only-begotten Son of God 
is One and His Godhead impassible, irrever- 
sible, unchangeable even as the Father who 
begat Him and the All-holy Spirit. And since 
the Divine nature could not suffer, He took 
the nature that could suffer to this end, that 
by the suffering of His own Flesh He might 
give exemption from suffering to those that 
believed on Him. These points, and all that 
is akin thereto, the letter contained. And we, 
admiring your spiritual wisdom, extolled the 
grace of the Holy Ghost which spake through 
you, and ask and pray, and beg and beseech 
your holiness to come to the rescue of the 
churches of God that are now tempest tossed. 

III. He complains of Dioscorus' ill-treatment 

of himself. 

For when we expected a stilling of the waves 
through those who were sent to Ephesus from 
your holiness, we have fallen into yet worse 
storm. For the most righteous s a prelate of 
Alexandria was not satisfied with the illegal 
and most unrighteous deposition of the Lord's 
most holy and GoD-loving bishop of Constan- 
tinople, Flavian, nor was his wrath appeased 
by the slaughter of the other bishops likewise. 
But me, too, he murdered with his pen in my 
absence, without calling me to judgment, with- 
out passing judgment on me in person, without 
questioning me on what I hold about the In- 
carnation of our God and Saviour. But even 
murderers, tomb-breakers, and ravishers of 
other men's beds, those who sit in judgment 
do not condemn until they either themselves 
corroborate the accusations by their confes- 
sions, or are clearly con\icted by others. But 
us, when five and thirty days' journey distant, 
he, though brought up on Divine laws, has 
condemned at his will. And not now onlv 
has he done this, but also last year, after that 
two persons infected with the Apollinarian 
disorder had come hither and laid false infor- 
mation against us, he rose up in church and 
anathematized us, and that when I had written 
to him and expressed what I hold in a letter. 

IV. This ill-treatment has come after 20 years' 

good work in his diocese of Cyrus. 

I bemoan the distress of the Church and 
yearn after its peace. For having ruled 
through your prayers the church committed 
to me by the God of the universe for 20 years, 
neither in the time of the blessed Theodotus, 
president of the East, nor in the tune of those 



Fall,' when it was still in the image of Him who so created it, to 
which nature Christ'.-, manhood w..s a triumphant return. Other- 
wise it is hard to see how Theodoret escapes the pitfall of Pela 
gian sm. 

5» The epithet is shown by the context to be bitterly sarcastic. 



LETTER LVI. 



57 



who have succeeded him in the See of Antioch, 
have I received the slightest blame, but, the 
Divine Grace working with me, have freed 
more than 1,000 souls from the disease of 
Marcion, and have won over many others from 
the company of Arius and Eunomius to the 
Master, Christ. And 800 churches have I 
had to shepherd : for that is the number of 
parishes in Cyrus, in which not a single tare 
through your prayers has lingered. But our 
flock has been freed from every heretical error. 
He that sees all things knows how I have been 
stoned by the ill-famed heretics that have been 
sent against me, and what struggles I have had 
in many cities of the East against Greeks, Jews, 
and every heretical error. And after all these 
toils and troubles, I have been condemned 
without a hearing. 

V. He appeals to the Apostolic See with con- 
fidence. 

I however await the verdict of your Apos- 
tolic See, and beg and pray your Holiness 
to succour me when I appeal to your upright 
and just tribunal, and bid me come to you 
and show that my teaching follows in the 
track of the Apostles. For there are writings 
of mine some 20 years ago, some 1 8, some 15, 
and some 1 2, some again against the Arians and 
Eunomians, some against the Jews and Greeks, 
some against the Magi in Persia, some also 
about the universal Providence, others about 
the nature of God and about the Divine 
Incarnation. I have interpreted, through the 
Divine grace, both the Apostolic writings and 
the prophetic utterances, and it is easy there- 
from to gather whether I have kept unswerv- 
ingly the standard of the Faith, or have turned 
aside from its straight path. And I beg you 
not to spurn my petition, nor to overlook 
the insults heaped on my poor white hairs. 



VI. Ought he to acquiesce in his deposition ? 

First of all, I beg you to tell me, whether 
I ought to acquiesce in this unrighteous de- 
position or not. For I await your verdict : 
and, if you bid me abide by my condemna- 
tion, I will abide by it, and will trouble no 
one hereafter, but await the unerring verdict 
of our God and Saviour. I indeed, the Master 
God is my witness, care nought for honour 
and glory, but only lor the stumbling-block 
that is put 111 men's way : because many of 
the simpler folk, and especially tho^e who 
have been rescued by us from divers heresies, 
will give credence to those who have con- 
demned us, and perchance reckon us heretics, 
not being able to discern the exact truth of 
the dogma, and because, after my long episco- 



pate, I have acquired neither house, nor land, 
nor obol, nor tomb, only a voluntary poverty, 
having straightway distributed even what came 
to me from my fathers after their death, as all 
know who live in the East. 

VII. Being prevented himself, he has sent dele- 
gates to plead his cause. 

And before all things I entreat you, holy 
and GoD-loved brother, render assistance to 
my prayers. These .things I have brought 
to your Holiness' knowledge, by the most 
religious and GoD-beloved presbyters, Hypatius 
and Abramius the chorepiscopi 6 , andAlypius, 
superintendent? of the monks in our district: 
seeing that I was hindered from coming to 
you myself by the Emperor's restraining letter, 
and likewise the others. And I entreat your 
holiness both to look on them with fatherly 
■egard, and to lend them your ears in sincere 
kindness, and also to deem my slandered and 
falsely attacked position worthy of your pro- 
tection, and above all to defend with all \our 
might the Faith that is now plotted against, 
and to keep the heritage of the fathers intact 
for the churches, so shall your holiness receive 
from the Bountiful Master a full reward. 
(Date about the end of 449.) 

LETTER LIII. 
A fragment of a letter from Anatolius, 
bishop of Constantinople, to Leo (about his 
consecration). 

LETTER LIV. 

To Theodosius Augustus (asking for a 
synod in Italy). 

LETTERS LV. to LVIII. 

A series of Letters. 

(1) From Valentinian the Emperor to Theo- 
dosius Augustus. 

(2) From Galla Placidia Augusta to Theo- 
dosius Augustus. 

(3) From Licinia Eudoxia Augusta to 
Theodosius Augustus. 

(4) From Galla Placidia Augusta to Pul- 
cheria Augusta, all graphically describing how 
Leo had appealed to them in public to press 
his suit with Theodosius. Of these, LVI. 
is subjoined as pernaps the most interesting 
specimen. 

LETTER LVI. 

(From Galla Placidia Augusta to 
Theodosius). 

To the Lord Theodosius, Conqueror and 

6 Chorepi. copi (country bishops) were a kind of suffragan 
bishop to assist the town bisnops in the remoter parts of their 
diocese. They continued in use irom the end of the 3rd till ti.t 
yth centuiy, when they were abolished. 7 Exarchns. 



53 



LETTERS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



Emperor, her ever august son, Galla Placidia, 
most pious and prosperous, perpetual Augusta 
and mother. 

When on our very arrival in the ancient 
city, we were engaged in paying our devotion 
to the most blessed Apostle Peter, at the 
martyr's very altar, the most reverend Bishop 
Leo waiting behind awhile after the service, 
uttered laments over the catholic Faith to 
us, and taking to witness the chief of the 
Apostles himself likewise, whom we had just 
approached, and surrounded by a number of 
bishops whom he had brought together from 
numerous cities in Italy by the authority and 
dignity of his position, adding also tears to his 
words, called upon us to join our moans to his 
own. For no slight harm has arisen from 
those occurrences, whereby the standard of 
the catholic Faith so long guarded since the 
days of our most Divine father Constantine, 
who was the first in the palace to stand out 
as a Christian, has been recently disturbed by 
the assumption of one man, who in the synod 
held at Ephesus is alleged to have rather 
stirred up hatred and contention, intimidating 
by the presence of soldiers, Flavianus, the 
bishop of Constantinople, because he had 
sent an appeal to the Apostolic See, and to 
all the bishops of these parts by the hands 
of those who had been deputed to attend the 
Synod by the most reverend Bishop of Rome, 
who have been always wont so to attend, 
most sacred Lord and Son and adored King, 
in accordance with the provisions of the 
Nicene Synod 8 . For this cause we pray your 
clemency to oppose such disturbances with 
the Truth, and to order the Faith of the 
catholic religion to be preserved without 
spot, in order that according to the standard 
and decision of the Apostolic See, which we 
likewise revere as pre-eminent, Flavianus may 
remain altogether uninjured in his priestly 
office, and the matter be referred to the Synod 
of the Apostolic See, wherein assuredly he 
first adorned the primacy, who was deemed 
worthy to receive the keys of heaven : for it 
becomes us in all things to maintain the 
respect due to this great city, which is the 
mistress ot all the earth ; and this too we 
must most carefully provide that what in 
former times our house guarded seem not 
in our day to be infringed, and that by the 
present example schisms be not advanced 
either between the bishops or the most holy 
churches. 



LETTER LIX. 

To the Clergy and People of the City 
of Constantinople. 

Leo the bishop to the clergy, dignitaries, 
and people, residing at Constantinople. 

I. He congratulates them on their outspoken 
resistance to error. 

Though we are greatly grieved at the things 
reported to have been done recently in the 
council of priests at Ephesus, because, as is 
consistently rumoured, and also demonstrated 
by results, neither due moderation nor the 
strictness of the Faith was there observed, 
yet we rejoice in your devoted piety and in 
the acclamations of the holy people 9, in- 
stances of which have been brought to our 
notice, we have approved of the right feeling 
of you all ; because there lives and abides in 
good sons due affection for their excellent 
Father, and because you suffer the fulness 
of catholic teaching to be in no part cor- 
rupted. For undoubtedly, as the Holy Spirit 
has unfolded to you, they are leagued with 
the Manichseans' error, who deny that the 
only-begotten Son of God took our nature's 
true Manhood, and maintain that all His 
bodily actions were the actions of a false 
apparition. And lest you should in aught 
give your assent to this blasphemy, we have 
now sent you, beloved, by my son Epiphanius 
and Dionysius, notary of the Roman Church, 
letters of exhortation wherein we have of our 
own accord rendered you the assistance which 
you sought, that you may not doubt of our 
bestowing all a father's care on you, and 
labouring in every way, by the help of God's 
mercy, to destroy all the stumbling-blocks 
which ignorant and foolish men have raised. 
And let no one venture to parade his priestly 
dignity who can be convicted of holding 
such detestably blasphemous opinions. For 
if ignorance seems hardly tolerable in laymen, 
how much less excusable or pardonable is it 
in those who govern ; especially when they 
dare even to defend their mendacious and 
perverse views, and persuade the unsteadfast 
to agree with them either by intimidation or 
by cajoling. 

II. They are to be rejected who deny the truth 
oj Christ's flesh, a truth repeated by every 
recipient at the Holy Eucharist. 

Let such men be rejected by the holy 
members of Christ's Body, and let not catholic 



9 SanctcF plebis acclamationibus. It seems that the people 
See no. oa to Lett. XLIV., 3, where it is shown that this is had openly expressed their disapproval of the maltreatment to 
a mistake, willul or otherwise, on Leo's part. which rlavian had been subjected. 



LETTER LIX. 



59 



liberty suffer the yoke of the unfaithful to be 
laid upon it. For they are to be reckoned 
outside the Divine grace, and outside the 
mystery of man's salvation, who, denying the 
nature of our flesh in Christ, gainsay the 
Gospel and oppose the Creed. Nor do they 
perceive that their blindness leads them into 
such an abyss that they have no sure footing 
in the reality either of the Lord's Passion 
or His Resurrection : because both are dis- 
credited in the Saviour, if our fleshly nature 
is not believed in Him. In what density of 
ignorance, in what utter sloth must they 
hitherto have lain, not to have learnt from 
hearing, nor understood from reading, that 
which in God's Church is so constantly in 
men's mouths, that even the tongues of in- 
fants do not keep silence upon the truth of 
Christ's Body and Blood at the rite of Holy 
Communion ' ? For in that mystic distribution 
of spiritual nourishment, that which is given 
and taken is of such a kind that receiving 
the virtue of the celestial food we pass into 
the flesh of Him, Who became our flesh 2 . 
Hence to confirm you, beloved, in your 
laudably faithful resistance to the foes of 
Truth, I shall fitly and opportunely use the 
language and sentiments of the Apostle, and 
say : " Therefore I also hearing of your faith, 
which is in the Lord Jesus, and love towards 
all saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, 
making mention of you in my prayers that 
the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father 
of glory, may give you the spirit of wisdom 
and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the 
eyes of your hearts being enlightened that you 
may know what is the hope of His calling, 
and what the riches of the glory of His in- 
heritance among the saints, and what is the 
exceeding greatness of His power in us, who 
believed according to the working of His 
mighty power which he has wrought in Christ, 
raising Him from the dead, and setting Him 
at His right hand in heavenly places above 
every principality, and power, and strength, 
and dominion, and every name which is 
named not only in this age, but also in that 
which is to come : and hath put all things 
under His feet, and given Him to be the head 
over all the Church which is His body, and 
the fulness of Him Who filleth all in all 3." 



1 Two things are here to be noticed : (i) that the allusion 
appears to be to the formula of reception then in use at the 
Eucharist, the priest saying Corpus Christi, and the recipient 
answering An/en. Cf. Serm. xci. 3, sic sacree mensoz communicare 
debet is ut nihil prorsits de veritate corporis Christi et sanguinis 
ambigatis. Hoc enim ore sumitur quod fide creditur : et fntstra 
ab litis Amen respondetur a quibus contra id quod accipitur 
disputatur ; (2) that infant communion is implied as regular : this 
we know to have been the case in much earlier days. Cf. Apost. 
Const, viii. 13, Cyprian de Lapsis, ix. and xxv. &c, also Bingham's 
Antiq. xv. chap. iv. \ 7. 

3 Cf. Sermon LX1II. 7, where much the same language is 
"sed. 3 Ephes. i. 15—23. 



III. Perfect God and perfect Man ivere united 
in Christ. 
In this passage let the adversaries of the 
Truth say when or according to what nature 
did the Almighty Father exalt His Son above 
all things, or to what substance did He sub- 
ject all things. For the Godhead of the 
Word is equal in all things, and consubstan- 
tial with the Father, and the power of the 
Begetter and the Begotten is one and the 
same always and eternally. Certainly, the 
Creator of all natures, since " through Him 
all things were made, and without Him was 
nothing made 4 ," is above all things which He 
created, nor were the things which He made 
ever not subject to their Creator, Whose 
eternal property it is, to be from none other 
than the Father, and in no way different to 
the Father. If greater power, grander dignity, 
more exalted loftiness was granted Him, then 
was He that was so increased less than He 
that promoted Him, and possessed not the 
full riches of His nature fiora Whose fulness 
He received. But one who thinks thus is 
hurried off into the society of Anus, whose 
heresy is much assisted by this blasphemy 
which denies the existence of human nature 
in the Word of God, so that, in rejecting the 
combination of humility with majesty in God, 
it either asserts a false phantom-body in 
Christ, or says that all His bodily actions 
and passions belonged to the Godhead rather 
than to the flesh. But everything he ventures 
to uphold is absolutely foolish : because nei- 
ther our religious belief nor the scope of the 
mystery admits either of the Godhead suf- 
fering anything or of the Truth belying Itself 
in anything. The impassible Son of God, 
therefore, whose perpetually it is with the 
Father and with the Holy Spirit to be what 
He is in the one essence of the Unchangeable 
Trinity, when the fulness of time had come 
which had been fore-ordained by an eternal 
purpose, and promised by the prophetic signi- 
ficance of words and deeds, became man not 
by conversion of His substance but by as- 
sumption of our nature, and " came to seek 
and to save that which was lost 5 ." But He 
came not by local approach nor by bodily 
motion, as if to be present where He had 
been absent, or to depart where He had 
come : but He came to be manifested to on- 
lookers by that which was visible and com- 
mon to others, receiving, that is to say, human 
flesh and soul in the Virgin mother's womb, 
so that, abiding in the form of God, He 
united to Himself the lorm of a slave, and 



4 S. John i. 3. 



5 S. Luke xix. 10. 



6o 



LETTERS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



the likeness of sinful flesh, whereby He did 
not lessen the Divine by the human, but in- 
creased the human by the Divine. 



IV. The Sacrament of Baptism typifies and 
realizes this union to each individual believer. 

For such was the state of all mortals re- 
sulting from our first ancestors that, after the 
transmission of original sin to their descend- 
ants, no one would have escaped the punish- 
ment of condemnation, had not the Word 
become flesh and dwelt in us, that is to say, 
in that nature which belonged to our blood 
and race. And accordingly, the Apostle says : 
"As by one man's sin (judgment passed) upon 
all to condemnation, so also by one man's 
righteousness (it) passed upon all to justifica- 
tion of life. For as by one man's disobedience 
many were made sinners, so also by one 
man's obedience shall many be made right- 
eous 6 ;" and again, "For because by man 
(came) death, by man also (came) the resur- 
rection of the dead. And as in Adam all die, 
so also in Christ shall all be made alive 7." 
All they to wit who though they be born in 
Adam, yet are found reborn in Christ, having 
a sure testimony both to their justification by 
grace, and to Christ's sharing in their nature 8 ; 
for he who does not believe that Cod's only-be- 
gotten Son did assume our nature in the 
womb of the Virgin-daughter of David, is 
without share in the Mystery of the Christian 
religion, and, as he neither recognizes the 
Bridegroom nor knows the Bride, can have 
no place at the wedding-banquet. For the 
flesh of Christ is the veil of the Word, where- 
with every one is clothed who confesses Flim 
unreservedly. But he that is ashamed of it 
and rejects it as unworthy, shall have no 
adornment from Him, and though he present 
himself at the Royal feast, and unseasonably 
join in the sacred banquet, yet the intruder 
will not be able to escape the' King's discern- 
ment, but, as the Lord Himself asserted, will 
be taken, and with hands and feet bound, be 
cast into outer darkness ; where will be weep- 
ing and gnashing of teeth 9. Hence whoso- 
ever confesses not the human body in Christ, 
must know that he is unworthy of the mystery 
of the Incarnation, and has no share in that 
sacred union of which the Apostle speaks 
saying, " For we are His members, of His 
flesh and of His bones. For this cause a man 
shall leave father and mother and shall cleave 
to his wife, and there shall be two in one 



6 Rom. v. 18 19. 7 iCor. xv. 2i 22 

° Habentes Jidei testimonium et de justijicatioke gratia et 
ae communione natum. --.««« grnnts ei 

9 The reference is to S. Matt. xxii. 11— 13. 



flesh V And explaining what was meant by 
this, he added, " This mystery is great, but 
I speak in respect of Christ and the Church." 
Therefore, from the very commencement of 
the human race, Christ is announced to all 
men as coming in the flesh. In which, as 
was said, "there shall be two in one flesh," 
there are undoubtedly two, God and man, 
Christ and the Church, which issued from 
the Bridegroom's flesh, when it received the 
mystery of redemption and regeneration, water 
and blood flowing from the side of the Cruci- 
fied. For the very condition of a new 
creature which at baptism puts off not the 
covering of true flesh but the taint of the old 
condemnation, is this, that a manjs made the 
body of Christ, because Christ also is the 
body of a man 2 , 

V. The true doctrine of the Incarnation re- 
stated and commended to their keeping. 

Wherefore we call Christ not God only, as 
the Manichaean heretics, nor Man only, as the 
Photinian 3 heretics, nor man in such a way 
that anything should be wanting in Him which 
certainly belongs to human nature, whether 
soul or reasonable mind or flesh which was 
not derived from woman, but made from the 
Word turned and changed into flesh; which 
three false and empty propositions have been 
variously advanced by the three sections of 
the Apollinarian heretics 4. Nor do we say 
that the blessed Virgin Mary conceived a Man 
without Godhead, Who was created by the 
Holy Ghost and afterwards assumed by the 
Word, which we deservedly and properly con- 
demned Nestorius for preaching: but we call 
Christ the Son of God, true God, born of God 
the Father without any beginning in time, and 
likewise true Man, born of a human Mother, 
at the ordained fulness of time, and we say- 
that His Manhood, whereby the Father is the 
greater, does not in anything lessen that nature 
whereby He is equal with the Father. But 
these two natures form one Christ, Who has 
said most truly both according to His God- 
head : "I and the Father are ones," and 
according to His manhood " the Father is 
greater than Is." This true and indestruct- 



* Eph. v. 30, 31, 32. 

2 Ipsa est enim novce conditio creaturce qua in baptismate non 
tndumento vera; carnis sed contagio damnatte vetusiatis exuitur 
lit efficiatur homo corpus Christi, quia et Cknstus corpus est 
homims. 1 he most crabbed of the several crabbed passage, in 
this letter. 1 he mystical transmutation of the believer's body 
into the body of Christ is here referred to the sacrament of 
Baptism while earher in the letter (chap, ii.) it is described as one 
ot the effects of Holy Communion. 

3 The followers of Photinus, Bishop of Sirmium (circ. 410 A.D.): 
for an account of Ins heretical opinions see Schaffs History of the 
Christian Church, tn loc. Cf. Letter XV. 4. 

4 Apolthiaristarum tres partes; see Sermon xxviii. chap. 4 
{end 1 with Bright s n. 32 on Apollinarianism generally. 

5 b. John x. 30; xiv. 28. 



LETTER LXVII. 



61 



ible Faith, dearly-beloved, which alone makes 
us true Christians, and which, as we hear with 
approval, you are defending with loyal zeal 
and praiseworthy affection, hold fast and 
maintain boldly. And since, besides God's 
aid, you must win the favour of catholic 
Princes also, humbly and wisely make request 
that the most clement Emperor be pleased to 
grant our petition, wherein we have asked for 
a plenary synod to be convened ; that by the 
aid of God's mercy the sound may be in- 
creased in courage, and the sick, if they con- 
sent to be treated, have the remedy applied. 
(Dated October 15, in the consulship of the il- 
lustrious Asturius and Protogenes, 449.) 

*" LETTER LX. 
To Pulcheria Augusta. 
(He hopes for her intercession to procure 
the condemnation of Eutyches.) 

LETTER LXL 

To Martinus and Faustus, Presbyters. 

(Reminding them of a former letter he has 
written to them, viz. Lett. LI.) 

(Letters LXIL, LXIIL, LXIV., are the Em- 
peror Theodosius' answers (a) to Valentinian, 
(/;) to Galla Placidia, and (c) to Licinia Eu- 
doxia (assuring them of his orthodoxy and 
care for the Faith.) 

LETTER LXV. 

Fpom the Bishops of the Province of 
Arles. 

(Asking Leo to confirm the privileges of 
that city, which they allege date from the 
mission of Trophimus, by S. Peter, and more 
recently ratified by the Emperor Constantine.) 

LETTER LXVI. 

Leo's Reply to Letter LXV. 

Leo, the pope, to the dearly-beloved bre- 
thren Constantinus, Armentarius, Audientius, 
Severianus, Valerianus, Ursus, Stephanus, 
Nectarius, Constantius, Maximus, Asclepius, 
Theodorus, Justus Ingenuus, Augustalis, Super- 
ventor, Ynantius, Fonteius, and Palladius. 

I. The bishop of Vienne has anticipated their 
appeal. He proposes to arbitrate with im- 
partiality. 

When we read your letter, beloved, which 
was brought to us by our sons Petronius 
the presbyter and Regulus the deacon, we 
recognized how affectionate is the regard 
in which you hold our brother and fellow- 



bishop, Ravennius : for your request is that 
what his predecessor 6 deservedly lost for his 
excessive presumption maybe restored to him. 
But your petition, brothers, was forestalled by 
the bishop of Vienne. who sent a letter and, 
legates with the complaint that the bishop of 
Aries had unlawfully claimed the ordination of 
the bishop of Vasa. Accordingly, as we had 
to show such respect both for the canons of 
the fathers and for your good opinion of us, 
that in the matter of the churches' privileges 
we should allow no infringement or depri- 
vation, it were incumbent on us to preserve 
the peace within the province of Vienne by 
employing such righteous moderation as should 
disregard neither ancient usage nor your de- 
sires. 

II. The bishop of Vienne is to retain juris- 
diction over four neighbouring cities : the rest 
to belong to Aries. 

For alter considering the arguments ad- 
vanced by the clergy present on either side, 
we find that the cities of Vienne and Aries 
within your province have always been so 
famous, that in certain matters of ecclesiastical 
privilege, now one, now the other, has altern- 
ately taken precedence, though the national 
tradition is that formerly they had community 
of rights. And hence we suffer not the city of 
Vienne to be altogether without honour, so far 
as concerns ecclesiastical jurisdiction, espe- 
cially as it already possesses the authority of 
our decree for the enjoyment of its privilege : 
to wit the power which, when taken away from 
Hilary, we thought proper to confer on the 
bishop of Vienne. And that he seem not 
suddenly and unduly lowered, he shall hold 
rule over the four neighbouring towns, that is, 
Valentia, Tarantasia, Genava and Gratian- 
opolis, with Vienne herself for the fifth, to the 
bishop of which shall belong the care of all 
the said churches. But the other churches 
of the same province shall be placed under 
the authority and management of the bishop 
of Aries, who from his temperate moderation 
we believe will be so anxious for love and 
peace as by no means to consider himself 
deprived of that which he sees conceded to 
his brother. Dated 5th of May, in the con- 
sulship of Valentinianus Augustus (7th time), 
and the most famous Avienus (450.) 

LETTER LXVII 7. 

To Ravennius, Bishop of Arles. 

To his dearly-beloved brother Ravennius, 
Leo the pope. 

6 This, it will be remembered, was Hilary: see Letter X. 
above. 

7 This letter, together with Letters XL., LXV. and LXVI.. 



62 



LETTERS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



We hnve kept our sons Petronius the pres- 
byter, and Regulus the deacon, long in the 
City, both because they deserved this from 
their favour in our eyes, and because the 
needs of the Faith, which is now being as- 
sailed by the error of some, demanded it. 
For we wished them to be present when we 
discussed the matter, and to ascertain every- 
thing which we desire through you, beloved, 
should reach the knowledge of all our bre- 
thren and fellow-bishops, specially deputing 
this to you, dear brother, that through your 
watchful diligence our letter, which we have 
issued to the East in defence of the Faith, or 
else 8 that of Cyril of blessed memory, which 
agrees throughout with our views, may become 
known to all the brethren ; in order that being 
furnished with arguments they may fortify 
themselves with spiritual strength against those 
who think fit to insult the Lord's Incarnation 
with their misbeliefs. You have a favourable 
opportunity, beloved brother, of recommend 
ing the commencement of your episcopacy to 
all the churches and to our God, if you will 
carry out these things in the way we have 
charged and enjoined you. But the matters 
which were not to be committed to paper, 
in reliance on God's aid, you shall cany out 
effectually, as we have said, and laudably, 
when you have learnt about them from the 
mouths of our aforesaid sons. God keep 
you safe, dearest brother. Dated 5th of 
May, in the consulship of the most glorious 
Valentinianus (for the 7th time) and of the 
f imous Avienus (450). 

LETTER LXVIII. 

From Three Gallic Bishops to St, Leo. 

Ceretius, Salonius and Veranus to the holy 
Lord, most blessed father, and pope most 
worthy of the Apostolic See, Leo. 

I. They congratulate and thank Leo for the 

Tome. 

Having perused your Excellency's letter, 
which you composed for instruction in the 
Faith, and sent to the bishop of Constanti- 
nople, we thought it our duty, being enriched 
with so great a wealth of doctrine, to pay our 
debt of thanks by at least inditing you a letter. 
For we appreciate your fatherly solicitude on 
our behalf, and confess that we are the more 
indebted to your preventing care because we 



are found only in the Collection of Aries (numbered XV. by the 
Ballerina). * 

8 y e i can hardly equal ct as the Ball, would wish. So that 
here Leo recommends either his own Tome or Cvril's second letter 
LXx! St ° rlUS ' "" LX1X ' cha P- «• be ' low J al *° Letter 



now have the benefit of the remedy before ex- 
periencing the evils. For knowing that those 
remedies are well-nigh too late which are ap- 
plied after the infliction of the wounds, you 
admonish us with the voice of loving fore- 
thought to arm ourselves with those Apostolic 
means of defence. We acknowledge frankly, 
most blessed pope 8 ", with what singular loving- 
kindness you have imparted to us the inner- 
most thoughts of your breast, by the efficacy 
of which you secure the safety of others : and 
while you extract the old Serpent's infused 
poison from the hearts of others, standing as 
it were on the watch-tower of Love, with Apo- 
stolic care and watchfulness you cry aloud, 
lest the enemy come on us unawares and off 
our guard, lest careless securitv expose us to 
attack, O holy Lord, most blessed father and 
pope, most worthy of the Apostolic See. More- 
over we, who specially belong to you °, are filled 
with a great and unspeakable delight, because 
this special statement of your teaching is so 
highly regarded wherever the Churches meet 
together, that the unanimous opinion is ex- 
pressed that the primacy of the Apostolic See 
is rightfully there assigned, from whence the 
oracles of the Apostolic Spirit still receive 
their interpretations. 

II. They ask him to correct or add to their 
copy of the Tome. 

Therefore, if you deem it worth while, we 
entreat your holiness to run through and cor- 
rect any mistake of the copyist in this work, 
so valuable both now and in the future, which 
we have had committed to parchment 10 , in our 
desire to preserve it, or if you have devised 
anything further in your zeal, which will profit 
all who read, give orders in your loving care 
that it be added to this copy, so that not only 
many holy bishops our brethren throughout 
the provinces of Gaul, but also many of your 
sons among the laity, who greatly desire to see 
this letter for the revelation of the Truth, may 
be permitted, when it is sent back to us, cor- 
rected by your holy hand, to transcribe, read 
and keep it. If you think fit, we are anxious 
that our messengers should return soon, in order 
that we may the speedier have an account of 
your good health over which to rejoice : for 
your well-being is our joy and health. 

May Christ the Lord long keep your emi- 
nence mindful of our humility, O holy Lord, 
most blessed father and pope most worthy of 
the Apostolic See. 



«» Cf. Lett. XVII. n. 2 ». 

9 Peculiares till. So in each one's autograph subscription at 
the end of the letter Ceretius calls himself susccptus vester, 
Salonius veiierator vester, and Veranus cultor vestri a/ostotatus. 
10 Folds. 



\\ 



LETTER LXIX. 



^ 



I, Ceretius, your adopted (son ?), salute your 
apostleship, commending me to your prayers. 

I, Salonius, your adorer, salute your apostle- 
ship, entreating the aid of your prayers. 

I, Veranus, the worshipper of your apostle- 
ship, salute your blessedness, and beseech you 
to pray for me. 

LETTER LXIX. 
(To Theodosius Augustus.) 

Leo, the bishop, to Theodosius ever 
Augustus. 

I. He suspends his opinion on the appointment 
of Ana', otitis till he has made open con- 
fession of the catholic Faith. 

In all your piously expressed letters amid 
the anxieties, which we suffer for the Faith, 
you have afforded us hope of security by 
supporting the Council of Nicasa so loyally as 
not to allow the priests of the Lord to budge 
from it, as you have often written us already. 
But lest I should seem to have done anything 
prejudicial to the catholic defence, I thought 
nothing rash on either side ought meanwhile 
to be written back on the ordination of him 
who has begun to preside over the church 
of Constantinople, and this not through want 
of loving interest, but waiting for the catholic 
Truth to be made clear. And I beg your 
clemency to bear this with equanimity that 
when he has proved himself such as we desire 
towards the catholic Faith, we may the more 
fully and safely rejoice over his sincerity. But 
that no evil suspicion may assail him about 
our disposition towards him, I remove all 
occasion of difficulty, and demand nothing 
which may seem either hard or controvertible 
but make an invitation which no catholic 
would decline. For they are well known and 
renowned throughout the world, who before 
our time have shone in preaching the catholic 
Truth whether in the Greek or the Latin tongue, 
to whose learning and teaching some even of 
our own day have recourse, and from whose 
writings a uniform and manifold statement of 
doctrine is produced : which, as it has pulled 
down the heresy of Nestorius, so has it cut off 
this error too which is now sprouting out again. 
Let him then read again what is the belief on 
the Lord's Incarnation which the holy fathers 
guarded and has always been similarly preached, 
and when he has perceived that the letter of 
Cyril of holy memory, bishop of Alexandria, 
agrees with the view of those who preceded 
him [wherein he wished to correct and cure 
Nestorius, refuting his wrong statements and 
setting out more clearly the Faith as defined 



at Nicaea, and which was sent by him and 
placed in the library of the Apostolic See '], 
let him further reconsider the proceedings of 
the Ephesian Synod 2 wherein the testimonies 
of catholic priests on the Lord's Incarnation 
are inserted and maintained by Cyril of holy 
memory. Let him not scorn also to read my 
letter3 over, which he will find to agree through- 
out with the pious belief of the fathers. And 
when he has realized that that is required and 
desired from him which shall serve the same 
good end, let him give his hearty assent to 
the judgment of the catholics, so that in the 
presence of all the clergy and the whole people 
he may without any reservation declare his 
sincere acknowledgment of the common Faith, 
to be communicated to the Apostolic See and 
all the Lord's priests and churches, and thus 
the world being at peace through the one 
Faith, we may all be able to say what the 
angels sang at the Saviour's birth of the Virgin 
Mary, "Glory in the highest to God and on 
earth peace to men of good will V 

II. He promises to accept Anatolius on mak- 
ing this confession, and asks for a council in 
Italy to finally define the Faith. 

But because both we and our blessed 
fathers, whose teaching we revere and follow, 
are in concord on the one Faith, as the 
bishops of all the provinces attest, let your 
clemency's most devout faith see to it that 
such a document as is due may reach us 
as soon as may be from the bishop of Con- 
stantinople, as from an approved and catholic 
priest, that is, openly and distinctly affirming 
that he will separate from his communion any 
one who believes or maintains any other vie\v 
about the Incarnation of the Word of God 
than my statement and that of all catholics 
lays down, that we may fairly be able to 
bestow on him brotherly love in Christ. And 
that swifter and fuller effect, God aiding us, may 
be given through your clemency's faith to our 
wholesome desires, I have sent to your piety 
my brethren and fellow-bishops Abundius and 
Asterius, together with Basilius and Senator 
presbyters, whose devotion is well proved to 
me, through whom, when they have displayed 
the instructions which we have sent, you may 
be able properly to apprehend what is the 
standard of our faith, so that, if the bishop 
of Constantinople gives his hearty assent to 
the same confession, we may securely, as is due, 
rejoice over the peace of the Church and no 



1 Wherein — see, probably a gloss by way of identifying the 
letter: it is the 2nd letter to Nestorius. See Letter LXVII 
above. 

2 Viz., the third Ecumenical Council held at Ephesus 431, in 
which Nestorius was condemned. 

3 Viz., XXVIII (The Tome). 4 S. Luke ii. 14. 



6 4 



LETTERS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



ambiguity may seem to lurk behind which may 
trouble us with perhaps ungrounded suspicions. 
But if any dissent from the purity of our Faith 
and from the authority of the Fathers, the 
Synod which has met at Rome for that pur- 
pose joins with me in asking your clemency 
to permit a universal council within the limits 
of Italy ; so that, if all those come together in 
one place who have fallen either through 
ignorance or through fear, measures may be 
taken to correct and cure them, and no one 
any longer may be allowed to quote the Synod 
of Nicaea in a way which shall prove him 
opposed to its Faith ; since it will be of 
advantage both to the whole Church and to 
your rule, if one God, one Faith and one 
mystery of man's Salvation, be held by the 
one confession of the whole world. 

Dated 17th July in the consulship of the 
illustrious Valentinianus ^for the seventh time) 
and Avienus (450). 

LETTER LXX. 

To Pulcheria Augusta. 
(In which he again says he is waiting for 
Anatolius' acceptance of Cyril's and his own 
statement of the Faith, and looks forward to 
a Synod in Italy.) 

LETTER LXXI. 

To the Archimandrites of 
Constantinople. 
(Complaining of Anatolius' silence.) 

LETTER LXXII. 

To Faustus, one of the Archimandrites 
at Constantinople. 

(Commending his faith and exhorting him 
to steadfastness.) 

LETTER LXXIII. 

From Valentinian and Marcian. 

(Announcing their election as Emperors 5 

(a.d. 450), and asking his prayers that (per 

celebrandam synodum, te auctore), peace may 

be restored to the Church.) 

LETTER LXXIV. 

To Martinus, another of the 
Archimandrites at Constantinople. 

(Commending his steadfastness in the 
Faith.) 



. 5 Valentinian III. had been nominally Emperor of the West 
S3?!/! 5, .' h,s , mother 's (Galla Placidia) death this year com- 
pelled him to rule as well as have the name of ruler : almost 
simultaneously in the East the death of TheodoMus II. brought 
to the front his sister Pulcheria and her soldier husband Marcian 



LETTER LXXV. 

To Faustus and Martinus together. 

(Condemning the Latrocinium and main- 
taining that Eutyches equally with Nestorius 
promotes the cause of Antichrist.) 

LETTER LXXVI. 

From Marcianus Augustus to Leo. 
(Proposing that he should either attend 
a Synod at Constantinople or help in arranging 
some other more convenient place of meet- 
ing-) 

LETTER LXXVII. 

From Pulcheria Augusta to Leo. 

(In which she expresses her assurance that 
Anatolius is orthodox, and begs him to assist 
her husband in arranging for the Synod, and 
announces that Flavian's body has been buried 
in the Basilica of the Apostles at Constantinople 
and the exiled bishops restored.) 

LETTER LXXVI1I. 

Leo's answer to Marcianus. 
(Briefly thanking him.) 

LETTER LXXIX. 

To Pulcheria Augusta. 

Leo, bishop of the city of Rome to Pulcheria 
Augusta. 

I. lie rejoices at PuL hsria's zeal both against 
Nestorius and Eutyches. 

That which we have always anticipated 
concerning your Grace's holy purposes, we 
have now proved fully true, viz. that, however 
varied may be the attacks of wicked men 
upon the Christian Faith, yet when you are 
present and prepared by the Lord for its 
defence, it cannot be disturbed. For God 
will not forsake either the mystery of His 
mercy or the deserts of your labours, whereby 
you long ago repelled the crafty foe of our 
holy religion from the very vitals of the 
Church : when the impiety of Nestorius 
failed to maintain his heresy because it did 
not escape you the handmaid and pupil of the 
Truth, how much poison was instilled into 
simple folk by the coloured falsehoods of that 
glib fellow. And the sequel to that mighty 
struggle was that through your vigilance the 
things which the devil contrived by means of 
Eutyches, did not escape detection, and they 
who had chosen to themselves one side in the 
twofold heresy, were overthrown by the one 
and undivided power of the catholic Faith. 



LETTER LXXX. 



65 



This then is your second victory over the ravaging it. And this too we ask of you. 
destruction of Eutyches' error : and, if he had 1 Grace, which we doubt not you will do of 
had any soundness of mind, that error having your own free 'will, to extend the favour which 
been once and long ago routed and put to is due as well to my brother and fellow-bishop 



confusion in the person of his instigators, he 
would easily have been able to avoid the 
attempt to rekindle into life the smouldering 
ashes, and thus only share the lot of those, 
whose example he had followed, most glorious 
Augusta. We desire, therefore, to feap for 
joy and to pay due vows for your clemency's 
prosperity to God, who has already bestowed 
on you a double palm and crown through all 
the parts of the world, in which the Lord's 
Gospel is proclaimed. 

II. He thanks her for her aid to the catholic 
cause, and explains his wishes about the 
restoration of the lapsed bishops. 

Your clemency must know, therefore, that 
the whole church of Rome is highly grateful 
for all your faithful deeds, whether that you 
have with pious zeal helped our representa- 
tives throughout and brought back the catho- 
lic priests, who had been expelled from their 
churches by an unjust sentence, or that you 
have procured the restoration with due honour 
of the remains of that innocent and holy 
priest, Flavian, of holy memory, to the church, 
which he ruled so well. In all which things 
assuredly your glory is increased manifold, so 
long as you venerate the saints according to 
their deserts, and are anxious that the thorns 
and weeds should be removed from the Lord's 
field. But we learn as well from the account 
of our deputies as from that of my brother 
and fellow-bishop, Anatolius, whom you gra- 
ciously recommend to me, that certain bishops 
crave reconciliation for those who seem to 
have given their consent to matters of heresy, 
and desire catholic communion for them : to 
whose request we grant effect on condition 
that the boon of peace should not be vouch- 
safed them till, our deputies acting in concert 
with the aforesaid bishop, they are corrected, 
and with their own hand condemn their evil 
doings ; because our Christian religion re- 
quires both that true justice should constrain 
the obstinate, and love not reject the penitent. 

III. He commends certain bishops and churches 
to her care. 

And because we know how much pious care 
your Grace deigns to bestow on catholic 
priests, we have ordered that you should be 
informed that my brother and fellow-bishop, 
Eusebius, is living with us, and sharing our 
communion, whose church we commend to 
you ; for he that is improperly asserted to 
have been elected in his place, is said to be 

VOL. XII. f 



Julian, as to the clergy of Constantinople, 
who clung to the holy Flavian with faithful 
loyalty. On all things we have instructed your 
Grace by our deputies as to what ought to be 
done or arranged. Dated April 13, in the 
consulship of the illustrious Adelfius (451). 

LETTER LXXX. 

(To Anatolius, Bishop of Constan- 
tinople.) 

Leo, the bishop, to Anatolius, the bishop. 

I. He rejoices at Anatolius having proved him- 
self orthodox. 

We rejoice in the Lord and glory in the 
gift of His Grace, Who has shown you a fol- 
lower of Gospel-teaching as we have found 
from your letter, beloved, and our brothers' 
account whom we sent to Constantinople : for 
now through the approved faith of the priest, 
we are justifying in presuming that the whole 
church committed to him will have no wrinkle 
nor spot of error, as says the Apostle, " for 
I have espoused you to one husband to pre- 
sent you a pure virgin to Christ 6 ." For that 
virgin is the Church, the spouse of one hus- 
band Christ, who suffers herself to be cor- 
rupted by no error, so that through the whole 
world we have one entire and pure communion 
in which we now welcome you as a fellow, 
beloved, and give our approval to the order 
of proceedings which we have received, rati 
fied, as was proper, with the necessary si-na- 
tures. In order, therefore, that your spirit in 
turn, beloved, might be strengthened by words 
of ours, we sent back after the Easter festival 
with our letters, our sons, Casterius, the Pres- 
byter, and Patricius and Asclepias, the Dea- 
cons, who brought your writings to us, inform- 
ing you, as we said above, that we rejoice at 
the peace of the church of Constantinople, 
on which we have ever spent such care that 
we wish it to be polluted by no heretical de- 
ceit. 

II. The penitents among the backsliding bi- 
shops are to be received back into full com- 
munion upon some plan to be settled by Ana- 
tolius and Leo's delegates. 

But concerning the brethren whom we learn 
from your letters, and from our delegates' ac 
count, to be desirous of communion with us, 
on the ground of their sorrow that they did 

* 2 Cor. xi. a. 



66 



LETTERS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



not remain constant against violence and in- 
timidation, but gave their assent to another's 
crime when terror had so bewildered them, 
that with hasty acquiescence they ministered 
to the condemnation of the catholic and guilt- 
less bishop (Flavian), and to the acceptance of 
the detestable heresy (of Eutyches), we approve 
of that which was determined upon in the pre- 
sence and with the co operation of our delegates, 
viz., that thev should be content meanwhile 
with the communion of their own churches, 
but we wish our delegates whom we have sent 
to consult with you, and come to some ar- 
rangement whereby those who condemn their 
ill-doings with full assurances of penitence, and 
choose rather to accuse than to defend them- 
selves, may be gladdened by being at peace 
and in communion with us ; on condition that 
what has been received against the catholic 
Faith is first condemned with complete ana- 
thema. For otherwise in the Church of God, 
which is Christ's Body, there are neither valid 
priesthoods nor true sacrifices, unless in the 
reality of our nature the true High Priest 
makes atonement for us, and the true Blood 
of the spotless Lamb makes us clean. For 
although He be set on the Father's right hand, 
yet in the same flesh which He took from the 
Virgin, he carries on the mystery of propitia- 
tion, as says the Apostle, " Christ Jesus Who 
died, yea, Who also rose, Who is on the right 
hand of God, Who also mak'eth intercession 
for us 7." For our kindness cannot be blamed 
in any case where we receive those who give 
assurance of penitence, and at whose decep- 
tion we were grieved. The boon of communion 
with us, therefore, must neither harshly be 
withheld nor rashly granted, because as it is 
fully consistent with our religion to treat the 
oppressed with a Christlike charity, so it is fair 
to lay the full blame upon the authors of the 
disturbance. 

III. The names of Dioscorus, Juvenal, and 
Eustathius are not to be read aloud at the 
holy altar. 

Concerning the reading out of the names of 
Dioscorus, Juvenal, and Eustathius 8 at the 
holy altar, it beseems you, beloved, to observe 
that which our friends who were there present 
said ought to be done, and which is consis- 
tent with the honourable memory of S. Flavian, 
and will not turn the minds of the laity away 

7 Rom. viii. 34. 

8 Juvenal (Bishop of Jerusalem), and Eustathius (Bishop of 
Berytus), had been two of the principal abettors of Dioscorus in 
the Latroamum. The " reading out of their names at the altar " 
alludes to the practice in the early Church of keeping registers 
(called ' diptychs ') of the members (alive and dead) of the 
Church from which one or two of the more prominent names 
(clerical and lay) were read out at the celebration of the Holy 
mysteries : cf. the modern " Bidding " prayer, S> 



from you. For it is very wrong and unbecoming 
that those who have harassed innocent catho- 
lics with their attacks, should be mingled in- 
discriminately with the names of the saints, 
seeing that by not forsaking their condemned 
heresy, they condemn themselves by their per- 
versity : such men should either be chastised 
for their unfaithfulness, or strive hard after 
forgiveness. 

IV. One or t7(>o instructions about individuals. 

But our brother and fellow-bishop, Julian, 
and the clergy who adhered to Flavian of holy 
memory, rendering him faithful service, we 
wish to adhere to you also beloved, that they 
may know him who we are sure lives by the 
merits of his faith with our God to be pre- 
sent with them in you. We wish you to know 
this too, beloved, that our brother and fellow- 
bishop Eusebius 9, who for the Faith's sake 
endured many dangers and toils, is at present 
staying with us and continuing in our com- 
munion ; whose church we would that your 
care should protect, that nothing may be de- 
stroyed in his absence, and no one may ven- 
ture to injure him in anything until he come 
to you bearing a letter from us. And that our 
or rather all Christian people's affection for 
you may be stirred up in greater measure, we 
wish this that we have written to you, beloved, 
to come to all men's knowledge, that they who 
serve our God may give thanks for the con- 
summation of the peace of the Apostolic See 
with you. But on other matters and persons 
you will be more fully instructed, beloved, by 
the letter you will have received through our 
delegates. Dated 13 April, in the consulship 
of the illustrious Adelfius (451). 

LETTER LXXXI. 

To Bishop Julian. 

(Warning him to be circumspect in receiving 
the lapsed.) 

LETTER LXXXII. 

To Marcian Augustus. 

I. After congratulating the Emperor on his 
noble conduct, he depiecates random inquiries 
into the tenets of the Eaith. 

Although I have replied * already to your 
Grace by the hand of the Constantinopolitan 
clergy, yet on receiving your clemency's 
mercy through the illustrious prefect of the 



9 This is the Bishop of Dorylaeum in Phrygia, Eutyches 
former friend, but more recently his relentless accuser of heresy. 
1 i.e. Lett. LXXVIII. of the series. 



LETTER LXXXV. 



6 7 



city, my son Tatian, I found still greater 
cause for congratulation, because I have 
learnt your strong eagerness for the Church's 
peace. And this holy desire as in fairness 
it deserves, secures for your empire the same 
happy condition as you seek for religion. 
For when the Spirit of God establishes har- 
mony among Christian princes, a twofold 
confidence is produced throughout the world, 
because the progress of love and faith makes 
the power of their arms in both directions 
unconquerable, so that God being propi- 
tiated by one confession, the falseness of 
heretics and the enmity of barbarians are 
simultaneously overthrown, most glorious Em- 
peror. The hope, therefore, of heavenly aid 
being increased through the Emperor's friend- 
ship, I venture with the greater confidence to 
appeal to your Grace on behalf of the mystery 
of man's salvation, not to allow any one in vain 
and presumptuous craftiness to inquire what 
must be held, as if it were uncertain. And 
although we may not in a single word dissent 
from the teaching of the Gospels and Apostles, 
nor entertain any opinion on the Divine Scrip- 
tures different to what the blessed Apostles 
and our Fathers learnt and taught, now in 
these latter days unlearned and blasphemous 
inquiries are set on foot, which of old the 
Holy Spirit crushed by the disciples of the 
Truth, so soon as the devil aroused them in 
hearts which were suited to his purpose. 

II. The points to be settled are only which 
of the lapsed shall be restored, and on what 
terms. 

But it is most inopportune that through the 
foolishness of a few we should be brought 
once more into hazardous opinions, and to 
the warfare of carnal disputes, as if the 
wrangle was to be revived, and we had to 
settle whether Eutyches held blasphemous 



LETTER LXXX1II. 

To THE SAME MARCIAN. 

(Congratulating him on his benefits to the 
Church, and deprecating a Synod as inoppor- 
tune.) 

LETTER LXXXIV. 

To Pulcheria Augusta. 

(Announcing the despatch of his legates 
to deal with the lapsed, and asking that 
Eutyches should be superseded in his monas- 
tery by a catholic, and dismissed from Con- 
stantinople.) 

LETTER LXXXV. 

To Anatolius, Bishop of 
Constantinople. 



Leo, the bishop, to the bishop Anatolius. 



Dioscorus gave 



wrom* 



views, and whether 

judgment, who in condemning Flavian of holy 
memory struck his own death-blow, and in- 
volved the simpler folk in the same destruc- 
tion. And now that many, as we have 
ascertained, have betaken themselves to the 
means of amendment, and entreat forgiveness 
for their weak hastiness, we have to determine 
not the character of the Faith, but whose 
prayers we shall receive, and on what terms. 
And hence that most religious anxiety which 
you deign to feel for the proclamation of 
a Synod, shall have fully and timely put 
before it all that I judge pertinent to the 
needs of the case, by means of the deputies 
who will with all speed, if God permit, reach 
your Grace. Dated the 23rd of April in the 
consulship of the illustrious Adelfius (451). 



I. Anatolius with Teo's delegates is to settle the 
question of the receiving back of those who 
had temporarily gone astray after Eutyches. 

Although I hope, beloved, you are devoted 
to every good work, yet that your activity may 
be rendered the more effective, it was needful 
and fitting to despatch my brothers Lucentius 
the bishop and Basil the presbyter, as we 2 
promised, to ally themselves with you, beloved, 
that nothing may be done either indecisively 
or lazily in matters, which concern the welfare 
of the universal Church ; for as long as you 
are on the spot, to whom we have entrusted 
the carrying out of our will, all things can be 
conducted with such moderation that the 
claims of neither kindness nor justice may 
be neglected, but without the accepting of 
persons, the Divine judgment may be con- 
sidered in everything. But that this may be 
properly observed and guarded, the integrity 
of the catholic Faith must fir^t of all be pre- 
served, and. because in all cases " narrow " 
and steep "is the way that leadeth unto life 3," 
there must be no deviation from its track, 
either to the right hand or to the left. And 
because the evangelical and Apostolic Faith 
has to combat all errors, on the one side 
casting down Nestorius, on the other crushing 
Eutyches and his accomplices, remember the 
need of observing this rule, that all those who 
in that synod \ which cannot, and does not 
deserve to have the name of Synod, and in 
which Dioscorus displayed his bad feeling, 
and Juvenal s his ignorance, grieve as we learn 
from your account, beloved, that they were 



2 Viz., in Letter LXXX. , chap. iv. : see also chap. iii. 

3 S. Matt. vii. 14. 

4 Sc. the so-called Latrocinium. 

5 See n. 8 to Letter LXXX., chap. iii. 



F 2 



68 



LETTERS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



conquered by fear, and being overcome with 
tenor, were able to be forced to assent to 
that iniquitous judgment, and who now desire 
to obtain catholic communion, are to receive 
the peace of the brethren after due assurance 
of repentance, on condition that in no doubtful 
terms they anathematize, execrate and con- 
demn Eutyches and his dogma and his ad- 
herents. 

II. The case of the more serious offenders must 
be reserved for the present. 
But concerning those who have sinned 
more gravely in this matter, and claimed 
for themselves a higher place in the same 
unhappy synod, in order to irritate the simple 
minds of their lowlier brethren by their per- 
nicious arrogance, if they return to their right 
mind, and ceasing to defend their action, turn 
themselves to the condemnation of their par- 
ticular error, if these men give such assurance 
of penitence as shall seem indisputable, let 
their case be reserved for the maturer de- 
liberations of the Apostolic See, that when all 
things have been sifted and weighed, the right 
conclusion may be arrived at about their real 
actions. And in the Church over which the 
Lord has willed you to rule, let none such 
as we have already written 6 have their names 
read at the altar until the course of events 
shows what ought to be determined concern- 
ing them. 

III. Anaiolius is requested to co-operate loyally 
with Leo's delegates. 

But concerning the address ? presented to 
us by your clergy, beloved, there is no need 
to put my sentiments into a letter : it is suffi- 
cient to entrust all to my delegates, whose 
words shall carefully instruct you on every 
point. And so, dearest brother, do your en- 
deavour with these brethren whom we have 
chosen as suitable agents in so great a matter 
faithfully and effectually to carry out what 
is agreeable to the Church of God : especially 
as the very nature of the case, and the promise 
of Divine aid incite you, and our most gracious 
princes show such holy faith, such religious 
devotion, that we find in them not only the 
general sympathy of Cnristians, but even 
that of the priesthood. Who assuredly in 
accordance with that piety, whereby they boast 
themselves to be servants of God, will receive 
all your suggestions for the benefit of the 
catholic Faith in a worthy spirit, so that by 
their aid also the peace of Christendom can 
be restored and wicked error destroyed. And 



6 Viz.. in Letter LXXX.. chap, iii., where see note- 

7 Cptnmonitorium. Nothing iiirther serins known of this. 



if on any points more advice is needed, 
let word be quickly sent to us, that after 
investigating the nature of the case, we may 
carefully prescribe the rightful measures. 
Dated 9th of June in the consulship of the 
illustrious Adelfius (45 1). 

LETTER LXXXVI. 

To Julian, Bishop of Cos. 
(Begging him for friendship's and the 
Church's sake to assist his legates in quelling 
the remnants of heresy.) 

LETTER LXXXVII. 

To Anatolius, Bishop of Constantinople. 

. (Commending to him two presbyters, Basil 

and John, who being accused of heresy had 

come to Rome, and quite convinced Leo 

of their orthodoxy.) 

LETTER LXXXVIII. 
To Paschasinus, Bishop of Lilyb^eum. 
Leo, the bishop, to Paschasinus, bishop of 
Lilybaeum. 

I. He sends a copy of the Tome and still further 
explains the heterodoxy of Eutyches. 
Although I doubt not all the sources of 
scandal are fully known to you, broiher, 
which have arisen in the churches of the 
East about the Incarnation of our Lord 
Jesus Christ, yet, lest anything might have 
chanced to escape your care, I have de- 
spatched for your attentive perusal and study 
our letter 8 , which deals with this matter in 
the fullest way, which we sent to Flavian 
of holy memory, and which the universal 
Church has accepted ; in order that, under- 
standing how completely this whole blasphe- 
mous error has with God's aid been destroyed, 
you yourself also in your love towards God 
may show the same spirit, and know that they 
are utterly to be abhorred, who, following the 
blasphemy and madness of Eutyches, have 
dared to say there are not two natures, 
i.e. perfect Godhead and perfect manhood, 
in our Lord, the only-begotten Son of God, 
who took upon Himself to restore mankind ; 
and think they can deceive our wariness by 
saying they believe the one nature of the 
Word to be Incarnate, whereas the Word of 
God in the Godhead of the Father, and of 
Himself, and of the Holy Spirit has indeed one 
nature ; but when He took on Him the reality 
of our flesh, our nature also was united to His 
unchangeable substance: for even Incarnation 
could not be spoken of, unless the Word took 
on Him the flesh. And this taking on of 



8 So. Letter XXVIII. (Tome). 



LETTER XCII. 



69 



flesh forms so complete a union, that not 
only in the blessed Virgin's child-bearing, but 
also in her conception, no division must be 
imagined between the Godhead and the life- 
endowed flesh 9, since in the unity of person 
the Godhead and the manhood came together 
both in the conception and in the child- 
bearing of the Virgin. 

II. Eutyches might have been warned by the 

fate of former heretics. 

A like blasphemy, therefore, is to be ab- 
horred in Eutyches, as was once condemned 
and overthrown by the Fathers in former 
heretics : and their example ought to have 
benefited this foolish fellow, in putting him on 
his guard against that which he could not 
grasp by his own sense, lest he should render 
void the peerless mystery of our salvation by 
denying the reality of human flesh in our 
Lord Jesus Christ. For, if there is not in 
Him true and perfect human nature, there is 
no taking of us upon Him, and the whole of 
our belief and teaching according to his 
heresy is emptiness and lying. But because 
the Truth does not lie and the Godhead is not 
passible, there abides in God the Word both 
substances in one Person, and the Church 
confesses her Saviour in such a way as to 
acknowledge Him both impassible in God- 
head and passible in flesh, as says the Apostle, 
"although He was crucified through (our) 
weakness, yet He lives by the power of 
God 1 ." 

III. He sends quotations from the Fathers, and 
announces that the churches of the East have 
accepted the Tome. 

And in order that you may be the fuller 
instructed in all things, beloved, I have sent 
you certain quotations from our holy Fathers, 
that you may clearly gather what they felt and 
what they preached to the churches about the 
mystery of the Lord's Incarnation, which 
quotations our deputies produced at Constan- 
tinople also together with our epistle. And 
you must understand that the whole church 
of Constantinople, with all the monasteries and 
many bishops, have given their assent to it, 
and by their subscription have anathematized 
Nestorius and Eutyches with their dogmas. 
You must also understand that I have recently 
received the bishop of Constantinople's letter, 
which states that the bishop of Antioch has 
sent instructions to all the bishops throughout 
his provinces, and gained their assent to my 
epistle, and their condemnation of Nestorius 
and Eutvches in like manner. 



IV. He asks him to settle the discrepancy be- 
tween the Alexandrine and the Roman cal- 
culation of Easter for 455, by consulting the 
proper authority. 

This also /we think necessary to enjoin upon 
your care that you should diligently inquire in 
those quarters where you are sure of informa- 
tion concerning that point in the reckoning' 
of Easter, which we have found in the table 2 
of Theophilus, and which greatly exercises us, 
and that you should discuss with those who 
are learned in such calculations, as to the 
date, when the day of the Lord's resurrection 
should be held four years hence. For, where- 
as the next Easter is to be held by God's 
goodness on M^rch 23rd, the year after on 
April 1 2th, the year after that on April 4th, 
Theophilus of holy memory has fixed April 
24th to be observed in 455, which we find 
to be quite contrary to the rule of the Church ; 
but in our Easter cycles 3 as you know very 
well, Easter that year is set down to be kept 
on April 17th. And therefore, that all our 
doubts may be removed, we beg you carefully 
to discuss this point with the best authorities, 
that for the future we may avoid this kind of 
mistake. Dated June 24th in the consulship 
of the illustrious Adelfius (451). 

LETTER LXXXIX. 

To Marcian Augustus. 

(Appointing Paschasinus the bishop and 
Boniface a presbyter, and Julian the bishop, 
his representatives at the Synod, as the Em- 
peror is determined it should be held at once.) 

LETTER XC. 

To Marcian Augustus. 

(Assenting perforce to the meeting of the 
Synod, but begging him to see that the Faith 
be not discussed as doubtful.) 

LETTER XCI. 
To Anatolius, Bishop of Constantinople. 
(Telling him that he has appointed Pascha- 
sinus, Boniface, and Julian, bishop of Cos, 
to represent him at the Synod.) 

LETTER XCII. 
To Julian, Bishop of Cos, 
(Asking him to act as one of his repre- 
sentatives at the Synod.) 



9 Caro animata. 



» a Cor. xiii. 4. 



a His Laterculum Paschale is meant, in which he calculated 
Easter for 100 years from 375. A similar dispute had occurred 
in 444, in which we have S.Cyril's and Paschasinus' Letters (II. 
and III. of the series) to Leo, but not Leo's answers. 

3 The Latin Easter cycles were calculated for 84 years. 



70 



LETTERS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



LETTER XCIII. 
To the Synod of Chalcedon. 

Leo, the bishop of the city of Rome, to 
the holy Synod, assembled at Nicaea 4 . 

I. He excuses his absence from the Synod, and 

introduces his representatives. 

I had indeed prayed, dearly beloved, on 
behalf of my dear colleagues that all the 
Lord's priests would persist in united de- 
votion to the catholic Faith, and that no one 
would be misled by favour or fear of secular 
powers into departure from the way of Truth \ 
but because many things often occur to pro- 
duce penitence and God's mercy transcends 
the faults of delinquents, and vengeance is 
postponed in order that reformation may have 
place, we must make much of our most merci- 
ful prince's piously intentioned Council, in 
which he has desired your holy brotherhood 
to assemble for the purpose of destroying the 
snares of the devil and restoring the peace of 
the Church, so far respecting the rights and 
dignity of the most blessed Apostle Peter 
as to invite us too by letter to vouchsafe our 
presence at your venerable Synod. That in- 
deed is not permitted either by the needs of 
the times or by any precedent. Yet in these 
brethren, that is Paschasinus and Lucentius, 
bishops, Boniface and Basil, presbyters, who 
have been deputed by the Apostolic See, 
let your brotherhood reckon that I am pre- 
siding s at the Synod ; for my presence is not 
withdrawn from you, who am now represented 
Dy my vicars, and have this long time been 
really with you in the proclaiming of the 
catholic Faith : so that you who cannot help 
knowing what we believe in accordance with 
ancient tradition, cannot doubt what we desire. 

II. He entreats them to re- state the Faith as 

laid doivn in the Tome. 

Wherefore, brethren most dear, let all at- 
tempts at impugning the Divinely-inspired 
Faith be entirely put down, and the vain un- 
belief of heretics be laid to rest : and let not 
that be defended which may not be believed : 
since in accordance with the authoritative 
statements of the Gospel, in accordance with 
the utterances of the prophets, and the teach- 
ing of the Apostles, with the greatest fulness 
and clearness in the letter which we sent to 



4 In accordance with instructions, the bishops, to the number 
of 529 first met at Nicaea, in Bithynia, the scene of the famous 
First General Council : but the Emperor Marcian was afraid to 
go so far from Constantinople, and so they were summoned to 
Chalcedon, which was much nearer, on the eastern shore of the 
Bosporus. There the Council opened on Oct. 8, 451. 

5 The right of presiding, which he here virtually claims for 
his delegates, seems actually to have been accorded to them by 
the Council. 



bishop Flavian of happy memory, it has been 
laid down what is the loyal and pure confes- 
sion upon the mystery of our Lord Jesus 
Christ's Incarnation. 

III. The ejeied bishops must be restored, and 
the Nestorian canons retain their force. 

But because we know full well that through 
evil jealousies the state of many churches has 
been disturbed, and a large number of bishops 
have been driven from their sees for not re- 
ceiving the heresy and conveyed into exile, 
while others have been put into their places 
though yet alive, to these wounds first of all 
must the healing of justice be applied, nor 
must any one be deprived of his own posses- 
sion that some one else may enjoy it : for if, 
as we desire, all forsake their error, no one 
need lose his present rank, and those who 
have laboured for the Faith ought to have 
their rights restored with every privilege. 
Let the decrees specially directed against Nes- 
torius of the former Synod of Ephesus, at which 
bishop Cyril of holy memory presided, still 
retain their force, lest the heresy then con- 
demned flatter itself in aught because Euty- 
ches is visited with condign execration. For 
the purity of the Faith and doctrine which we 
proclaim in the same spirit as our holy Fathers, 
equally condemns and impugns the Nestorian 
and the Eutychian misbelief with its sup- 
porters. Farewell in the Lord, brethren most 
dear. Dated 26th s* of June, in the consulship 
of the illustrious Adelfius (,451). 

LETTER XCIV. 
To Marcian Augustus. 

(Commending his legates to him and pray- 
ing for the full success of the Synod, if it adhere 
to the Faith once delivered to the saints.) 

LETTER XCV. 

To Pulcheria Augusta by the hand of 
Theoctistus the Magistrian 6 . 

Leo, the bishop to Pulcheria Augusta. 

I. He informs the Empress that he has loyally 
recognized the Council ordered by her, and 
sent representatives with letters to it. 

Your clemency's religious care which you 
unceasingly bestow on the catholic Faith, 
I recognize in everything, and give God thanks 
at seeing you take such interest in the uni- 
versal Church, that I can confidently suggest 
what I think agreeable to justice and kindness, 



S» The Ball, think the date should be the 27th. 

6 The Magistriani were what would now be called King's 
Messengers: another name for them was agentcs in rebus, and 
they were under the direction of the Imperial Magister Offici' 
orum. 



LETTER XCVII. 



7i 



and so what thus far your pious zeal through the 
mercy of Christ has irreproachably accomplished, 
may the more speedily be brought to an issue 
which we shall be thankful for, O most noble 
Augusta. Your clemency's command, there- 
fore, that a Synod should be held at Nicaea?, and 
your gently expressed refusal of my request 
that it should be held in Italy, so that all the 
bishops in our parts might be summoned and 
assemble, if the state of affairs had permitted 
them, I have received in a spirit so far re- 
moved from scorn as to nominate two of my 
fellow-bishops and fellow-presbyters respec- 
tively to represent me, sending also to the 
venerable synod an appropriate missive from 
which the brotherhood therein assembled 
might learn the standard necessary to be 
maintained in their decision, lest any rashness 
should do detriment either to the rules of the 
Faith, or to the provisions of the canons, or 
to the remedies required by the spirit of loving 
kindness. 

II. In the settlement of this matter that modera- 
tion must be observed which ivas entirety 
absent at Ephesus. 

For, as I have very often stated in letters 
from the beginning of this matter, I have de- 
sired that such moderation should be observed 
in the midst of discordant views and carnal 
jealousies that, whilst nothing should be al- 
lowed to be wrested from or added to the 
purity of the Faith, yet the remedy of pardon 
should be granted to those who return to 
unity and peace. Because the works of the 
devil are then more effectually destroyed when 
men's hearts are recalled to the love of God 
and their neighbours. But how contrary to 
my warnings and entreaties were their actions 
then, it is a long story to explain, nor is their 
need to put down in the pages of a letter 
all that was allowed to be perpetrated in that 
meeting, not of judges but of robbers, at 
Ephesus ; where the chief men of the synod 
spared neither those brethren who opposed 
them nor those who assented to them, seeing 
that for the breaking down of the catholic 
Faith and the strengthening of execrable 
heresy, they stripped some of their rightful 
rank and tainted others with complicity in 
guilt ; and surely their cruelty was worse to 
those whom by persuasion they divorced from 
innocence, than to those whom by persecution 
they made blessed confessors. 

III. Those who recant their error must be 

treated with forbearance. 

And yet because such men have harmed 



7 See n. 4 on Letter XCIII., i. 



themselves most by their wrong-doing, and 
because the greater the wounds, the more 
careful must be the application of the remedy, 
I have never in any letter maintained that 
pardon must be withheld even from them if 
they came to their right mind. And although 
we unchangeably abhor their heresy, which is 
the greatest enemy of Christian religion, yet 
the men themselves, if they without any doubt 
amend their ways and clear themselves by full 
assurances of repentance, we do not judge to 
be outcasts from the unspeakable mercy of 
God : but rather we lament with those that 
lament, " we weep with those that weep 7 a ," and 
obey the requirements of justice in deposing 
without neglecting the remedies of loving- 
kindness : and this, as your piety knows, is 
not a mere word-promise, but is also borne 
out by our actions, inasmuch as nearly all who 
had been either misled or forced into assent- 
ing to the presiding bishops, by rescinding 
what they had decreed and by condemning what 
they had written, have obtained complete ac- 
quittal from guilt and the boon of Apostolic 
peace. 

IV. Even the authors of the mischief may find 
room for forgiveness by repentance. 

If, therefore, your clemency deigns to re- 
flect upon my motives, it will be satisfied that 
I have acted throughout with the design of 
bringing about the abolition of the heresy 
without the loss of one soul ; and that in the 
case of the authors of these cruel disturbances 
I have modified my practice somewhat in 
order that their slow minds might be aroused 
by some feelings of compunction to ask for 
lenient treatment. For although since their 
decision, which is no less blasphemous than 
unjust, they cannot be held in such honour 
by the catholic brotherhood as they once 
were, yet they still retain their sees and their 
rank as bishops, with the prospect either of 
receiving the peace of the whole Church, after 
true and necessary signs of repentance or, if 
(which God forbid) they persist in their heresy, 
of reaping the reward of their misbelief. Dated 
20th of July, in the consulship of the illustrious 
Adelfius (451). 

LETTER XCVI. 

To Ravennius, Bishop of Arles. 

(Requesting him to keep Easter on March 

23 in 45 2 

LETTER XCVII. 

From Eusebius, Bishop of Milan, to Leo. 

(Informing him that the Tome has been 

7» Rom. xii. 15. 



72 



LETTERS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



approved by the Synod of Milan, and con- 
taining the subscriptions of the bishops there 
assembled.) 

LETTER XCVIII. 
From the Synod of Chalcedon to Leo. 
The great and holy and universal Synod, 
which by the grace of God and the sanction 
of our most pious and Christ-loving Em- 
perors has been gathered together in the 
metropolis of Chalcedon in the province of 
Bithynia, to the most holy and blessed arch- 
bishop of Rome, Leo. 

I. They congratulate Leo on taking the fore- 
most part in maintaining the Faith. 

" Our mouth was filled with joy and our 
tongue with exultation 8 ." This prophecy 
grace has fitly appropriated to us for whom 
the security of religion is ensured. For what 
is a greater incentive to cheerfulness than the 
Faith ? what better inducement to exultation 
than the Divine knowledge which the Saviour 
Himself gave us from above for salvation, 
saying, "go ye and make disciples of all the 
nations, baptizing them into the name of the 
Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, 
teaching them to observe all things that I have 
enjoined you 9." And this golden chain lead- 
ing down from the Author of the command to 
us, you yourself have stedfastly preserved, 
being set as the mouthpiece unto all of the 
blessed Peter, and imparling the blessedness 
of his Faith unto all Whence we too, wisely 
taking you as our guide in all that is good, 
have shown to the sons of the Church their 
inheritance of Truth, not giving our instruction 
each singly and in secret, but making known 
our confession of the Faith in conceit, with 
one consent and agreement And we were 
all delighted, revelling, as at an imperial 
banquet, in the spiritual food, which Christ 
supplied to us through your letter : and we 
seemed to see the Heavenly Bridegroom 
actually present with us. For if " where two 
or three are gathered together in His name," 
He has said that "there He is in the midst 
of them y must He not have been much more 
particularly present with 520 priests, who pre- 
ferred the spread of knowledge concerning Him 
to their country and their ease? Of whom you 
were chief, as the head to the members, show- 
ing your goodwill 2 in the person of those who 
represented you ; whilst our religious Emperors 
presided to the furtherance of due order, in- 
viting us to restore the doctrinal fabric of the 



9 S. Matt, xxviii. 19, 20. 



8 Ps. cxxvi. 2. 

1 Ibid, xviii. 20. 

B ei/rotav : others read evfiovKCav (good advice). 



Church, even as Zerubbabel invited Joshua to 
rebuild Jerusalem 2 ". 

IF They detail Dioscorus' wicked acts. 
And the adversary would have been like 
a wild beast outside the fold, roaring to him- 
self and unable to seize any one, had not the 
late bishop of Alexandria thrown himself for 
a prey to him, who, though he had done many 
terrible things before, eclipsed the former by 
the latter deeds ; for contrary to all the in- 
junctions of the canons, he deposed that 
blessed shepherd of the saints at Constantino- 
ple, Flavian, who displayed such Apostolic 
faith, and the most pious bishop Eusebius, and 
acquitted by his terror-won votes Eutyches, 
who had been condemned for heresy, ami 
restored to him the dignity which your holi- 
ness had taken away from him as unwoithy 
of it, and like the strangest of wild beasts, 
falling upon the vine which he found in the 
finest condition, He uprooted it and brought 
in that which had been cast away as unfruitful, 
and those who acted like true shepherds he 
cut off, and set over the flocks those who had 
shown themselves wolves : and besides all this 
he stretched forth his fury even against him 
who had been charged with the custody of 
the vine by the Saviour, we mean of course 
your holiness, and purposed excommunication 
against one who had at heart the unifying 
of the Church. And instead of showing 
penitence for this, instead of begging mercy 
with tears, he exulted as if over virtuous 
actions, rejecting your holiness' letter and 
resisting all the dogmas of the Truth. 

III. We have deposed Eutyches, treati?ig him 
as mercifully as we could. 
And we ought to have left him in the posi- 
tion where he had placed himself: but. since 
we profess the teaching of the Saviour " who 
wishes all men to be saved and to come to 
a knowledge of the Truth 3," as a fact we took 
pains to carry out this merciful policy towards 
him, and called him in brotherly fashion to 
judgment, not as if trying to cut him off but 
affording him room for defence and healing ; 
and we prayed that he might be victorious 
over the many charges they had brought against 
him, in order that we might conclude our meet- 
ing in peace and happiness and Satan might 
gain no advantage over us. But he, being 
absolutely convicted by his own conscience *, 
by shirking the trial gave countenance to the 
accusations and rejected the three lawful 

sa The reference is to Ezra iii. 9. 

3 i Tim. ii. 4. 

4 kv eavriZ aKparov tov o-vvet&oros t\u>v rov (Keyxov. There 
seems, however, some grounds, but no actual necessity for the 
reading sfyypa<J>oi/ = written (instead of aKparov) adopted by the 
Ball. 



LETTER XCIX. 



73 



summonses he received. In consequence of 
which, we ratified with such moderation as 
we could the vote which he had passed 
against himself by his blunders, stripping the 
wolf of his shepherd's skin, which he had long 
been convicted of wearing for a pretence, 
Thereupon our troubles ceased and straight- 
way a time of welcome happiness set in : and 
having pulled up one tare, we filled the whole 
world to our delight with pure grain : and 
having received, as it were, full power to root 
up and to plant, we limited the up-rooting 
to one and carefully plant a crop of good fruit. 
For it was God who worked, and the trium- 
phant Euphemia who crowned the meeting as 
for a bridal 481 , and who, taking our definition 
of the Faith as her own confession, presented 
it to her Bridegroom by our most religious 
Emperor and Christ-loving Empress, ap- 
peasing all the tumult of opponents and 
establishing our confession of the Truth as 
acceptable to Him, and with hand and tongue 
setting her seal s to the votes of us ail in 
proclamation thereof. These are the things 
we have done, with you present in the spirit 
and known to approve of us as brethren, and 
all but visible to us through the wisdom of 
your representatives. 

IV. They announce their decision that Con- 
stantinople should take precedence next to 
J?ome, and ask Leo's consent to it. 

And we further inform you that we have 
decided on other things also for the good 
management and stability of church matters, 
being persuaded that your holiness will accept 
and ratify them, when \ou are told. The 
long prevailing custom, which the holy Church 
of God at Constantinople had of ordaining 
metropolitans for the provinces of Asia, Pontus 
and Thrace, we have now ratified by the votes 
of the Synod, not so much by way of con- 
ferring a privilege on the See of Constantinople 
as to provide for the good government of 
those cities, because of the frequent disorders 
that arise on the death of their bishops, both 
clergy and laity being then without a leader 
and disturbing church order. And this has 
not escaped your holiness, particularly in the 
case of Ephesus, which has often caused you 
annoyance 6 . We have ratified also the canon 
of the 150 holy Fathers who met at Constanti- 
nople in the time of the great Theodosius of 



<* t\ tov (TuAAoyoi/ toj i<t>/it<£u>i>i (lit. bride-chamber) txTc^avova-a 
KaXAiViKO? Ei'^/xia ; this obscure passage is to a certain extent 
elucidated by Letter CI., chap. iii. {q.v.). The martyr, Euphemia, 
seems to have been a sort of pa'ron saint of Chalcedon. 

5 eni(r<l>pa.yC<ra<ro.; others eiw{/r}<t>io-a<Ta., which seems meaning- 
less here. 

6 The reference (ace. to Ball.) is to the dispute about the 
bishopric between Bassian and Stephen, in which Leo interfered, 
though the letter is not extant. 



holy memory, which ordains that after your 
most holy and Apostolic See, the See of Con- 
stantinople shall take precedence, being placed 
second : for we are persuaded that with your 
usual care for others you have often extended 
that Apostolic prestige which belongs to you, 
to the church in Constantinople also, by virtue 
of your great disinterestedness in sharing all 
your own good things with your spiritual kins- 
folk. Accordingly vouchsafe most holy and 
blessed father to accept as your own wish, 
and as conducing to good government the 
things which we have resolved on for the 
removal of al confusion and the confirmation 
of church order. For your holiness' delegates, 
the most pious bishops Paschasinus and 
Lucentius, and with them the right godly 
presbyter Boniface, attempted vehemently to 
resist these decisions, from a strong desire 
that this good work also should start from 
your foresight, in order that the establishment 
of good order as well as of the Faith should 
be put to your account. For we duly regard- 
ing our most devout and Christ loving 
Emperors, who delight therein, and the illus- 
trious senate and, so to say, the whole im- 
perial city, considered it opportune to use the 
meeting of this ecumenical Synod for the rati- 
fication of your honour, and confidently 
corroborated this decision as if it were initiated 
by you with your customary fostering zeal, 
knowing that every success of the children 
rebounds to the parent's glory. Accordingly, 
we entreat you, honour our decision by your 
assent, and as we have yielded to the head 
our agreement on things honourable, so may 
the head also fulfil for the children what is 
fitting. For thus will our pious Emperors be 
treated with due regard, who have ratified your 
holiness' judgment as law, and the See of Con- 
stantinople will receive its recompense for hav- 
ing always displayed such loyalty on matters 
of religion towards you, and for having so 
zealously linked itself to you in full agree- 
ment. But that you may know that we have 
done nothing for favour or in hatred, but as 
being guided by the Divine Will, we have 
made known to you the whole scope of our 
proceedings to strengthen our position and to 
ratify and establish what we have done ?. 

LETTER XCIX. 

From Ravennius and other Gallic 
Bishops. 

(Announcing that the Tome has been ac- 
cepted in Gaul also as a definitive statement 
of the Faith, with the bishops' subscriptions.) 



7 One of the Latin versions adds the names and titles of the 
subscribing bishops here. For the subject matter of Chap, iv., sea 
Introduction, p. viii. 



74 



LETTERS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



LETTER C. 

From the Emperor Marctan. 

(Dealing much more briefly with the same 
subjects as Letter XCVIII. above.) 

LETTER CI. 

From Anatoi.ius, Bishop of Con- 
stantinople, to Leo. 

(Dealing with much the same subjects as 
Letter XCVIII. from Anatolius' own stand- 
point : Chap. iii. is translated in exteiiso as 
illustrating XCVIII., chap, iii.) 

III. He describes the circumstances under which 
the doctrine of the Incarnation had been formu- 
lated by the Synod. 

But since after passing judgment upon him 
we had to come to an agreement with prayers 
and tears upon a definition of the right Faith ; 
for that was the chief reason for the Emperor's 
summoning the holy Synod, at which your 
holiness was present in the spirit with us, and 
wrought with us by the GoD-fearing men who 
were sent from you ; we, having the protection 
of the most holy and beautiful martyr Eu- 
phemia, have all given ourselves to this impor- 
tant matter with all deliberateness. And as 
the occasion demanded that all the assembled 
holy bishops should publish a unanimous de 
cision for clearness and for an explicit state- 
ment of the Faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, 
the Lord God who is found and revealed even 
to those who seek Him not, yes, even to those 
who ask not for Him 8 , in spite of some at- 
tempts to resist at first, nevertheless showed us 
His Truth, and ordained that it should be 
written down and proclaimed by all unani- 
mously and without gainsaying, which thus 
confirmed the souls of the strong, and invited 
into the way of Truth all who were swerving 
therefrom. And, indeed, after unanimously 
setting our names to this document, we who 
have assembled in this ecumenical Synod in 
the name of the Faith of the same most holy 
and triumphant martyr, Euphemin, and of our 
most religious and Christ-loving Emperor Mar- 
cian, and our most religious and in all things 
most faithful daughter the Empress Pulcheria 
Augusta, with prayer and joy and happiness, 
having laid on the holy altar the definition 
written in accordance with your holy epistle 
for the confirmation of our Fathers' Faith, pre- 
sented it to their pious care ; for thus they 
had asked to receive it, and, having received 
it, they glorified with us their Master Christ, 
who had driven away all the mist of heresy 



8 Cf. Is. lx\ 



and had graciously made clear the word of 
Truth. And in this way was simultaneously 
established the peace of the Church and the 
agreement of the priests concerning the pure 
Faith by the Saviour's mercy. 

LETTER CII. 
To the Gallic Bishops. 

(Thanking them for their letter (viz. XCIX.) 
to him, and announcing the result of the Synod 
of Chalcedon.) 

LETTER CIH. 
To the Gallic Bishops. 

(Written later : enclosing a copy of the sen- 
tence against Eutyches and Dioscorus.) 

LETTER CIV. 

(To Marcian Augustus, about the pre- 
sumption of Anatolius, by the hand of Lu- 
cian the bishop and Basil the deacon.) 

Leo, the bishop, to Marcian Augustus. 

I. He congratulates the Emperor on his share in 
the triumph of the catholic Faith. 

By the great bounty of God's mercy the joys 
of the whole catholic Church were multiplied 
when through your clemency's holy and glo- 
rious zeal the most pestilential error was 
abolished among us ; so that our labours the 
more speedily reached their desired end, be- 
cause your GoD-serving Majesty had so faith- 
fully and powerfully assisted them. For al- 
though the liberty of the Gospel had to be 
defended against certain dissentients in the 
power of the Holy Ghost, and through the 
instrumentality of the Apostolic See, yet God's 
grace has shown itself more manifestly (than 
we could have hoped) by vouchsafing to the 
world that in the victory of the Truth only 
the authors of the violation of the Faith should 
perish 9 and the Church restored to her sound- 
ness. Accordingly the war which the enemy of 
our peace had stirred up, was so happily ended, 
the Lord's right hand fighting for us, that 
when Christ triumphed all His priests shared 
in the one victory, and when the light of Truth 
shone forth, only the shades of error, with its 
champions, were dispelled. For as in believ- 
ing the Lord's own resurrection, with a view 
to strengthen the beginnings of Faith, con- 
fidence was much increased by the fact that 
certain Apostles doubted of the bodily reality 
of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by examining 
the prints of the nails and the wound of the 



9 Perish spiritually he means, as the sequel shows, for at 
least one great and good man on the catholic side, Flavian 
perished corporeally. 



LETTER CIV. 



75 



spear with sight and touch removed the doubts 
of all by doubting; so now, too, while the 
misbelief of some is refuted, the hearts of all 
hesitaters are strengthened, and that which 
caused blindness to some few avails for the 
enlightenment of the whole body. In which 
work your clemency duly and rightly rejoices, 
having faithfully and properly provided that 
the devil's snares should do no hurt to the 
Eastern churches, but that to propitiate God 
everywhere more acceptable holocausts should 
be offered ; seeing that through the mediator 
between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus, 
one and the self-same creed is held by people, 
priests, and princes, O most glorious son 
and most clement Augustus. 

II. Considering all the circumstances Anatolius 
might have been expected to show more 
modesty. 

But now that these things, about which so 
great a concourse of priests assembled, have 
been brought to a good and desirable con- 
clusion, I am surprised and grieved that the 
peace of the universal Church which had been 
divinely restored is again being disturbed by 
a spirit of self-seeking. For although my 
brother Anatolius seems necessarily to have 
consulted his own interest in forsaking the error 
of those who ordained him, and with salutar) 
change of mind accepting the catholic Faith, 
yet he ought to have taken care not to mar by 
any depravity of desire that which he is known 
to have obtained through your means r . For 
we, having regard to your faith and inter- 
vention, though his antecedents were suspicious 
on account of those who consecrated him 2 , 
wished to be kind rather than just towards 
him, that by the use of healing measures we 
might assuage all disturbances which through 
the operations of the devil had been excited ; 
and this ought to have made him modest rather 
than the opposite. For even if he had been 
lawfully and regularly ordained for conspicuous 
merit, and by the wisest selection yet without 
respect to the" canons of the Fathers, the or- 
dinances of the Holy Ghost, and the prece- 
dents of antiquity, no votes could have availed 
in his favour. 1 speak before a Christian and 
a truly religious, truly orthodox prince (when 
I say that) Anatolius the bishop detracts 
greatly from his proper merits in desiring 
undue aggrandizement. 

III. The City of Constantinople, royal though 
it be, can never be raised to Apostolic rank. 

Let the city of Constantinople have, as we 



1 Viz., the See of Constantinople. 
* Dioscorus in particular. 



desire, its high rank, and under the protection 
of God's right hand, long enjoy your clemency's 
rule. Yet things secular stand on a different 
basis from things divine : and there can be no 
sure building save on that rock which the Lord 
has laid for a foundation. He that covets 
what is not his due, loses what is his own. 
Let it be enough for Anatolius that by the aid 
of your piety and by my favour and approval he 
has obtained the bishopric of so great a city. 
Let him not disdain a city which is royal, 
though he cannot make it an Apostolic See 3 • 
and let him on no account hope that he can 
rise by doing injury to others. For the privi- 
leges of the churches determined by the canons 
of the holy Fathers, and fixed by the decrees 
of the Nicene Synod, cannot be overthrown by 
any unscrupulous act, nor disturbed by any 
innovation. And in the faithful execution of 
this task by the aid of Christ I am bound to 
display an unflinching devotion ; for it is a 
charge entrusted to me, and it tends to my 
condemnation if the rules sanctioned by the 
Fathers and drawn up under the guidance of 
God's Spirit at the Synod of Nicaea for the 
government of the whole Church are violated 
with my connivance (which God forbid), and if 
the wishes of a single brother have more 
weight with me than the common good of the 
Lord's whole house. 

IV. He asks the Emperor to express his dis- 
approval of Anatolius' 1 self-seeking spirit. 

And therefore knowing that your glorious 
clemency is anxious for the peace of the 
Church and extends its protection and ap- 
proval to those measures which conduce to 
pacific unity, I pray and beseech you with 
earnest entreaty to refuse all sanction and pro- 
tection to these unscrupulous attempts against 
Christian unity and peace, and put a salutary 
check upon my brother Anatolius' desires, 
which will only injure himself, if he persists : 
that he may not desire things which are op- 
posed to your glory and the needs of the times, 
and wish to be greater than his predecessors, 
and that it may be free for him to be 
as pre-eminent as he can in virtues, 
in which he will be partaker only if he 
prefer to be adorned with love rather than 
puffed up with ambition. The conception of 
this unwarrantable wish he ought indeed never 
to have received within the secret of his heart, 
but when my brothers and fellow-bishops who 
were there to represent me withstood him, he 
might at least have desisted from his unlawfu, 

3 The chief Apostolicce secies were Rome and Antioch, accord- 
ing to tradition founded by S. Peter, and Alexandria founded by 
his disciple S. Mark, and the See of Constantinople ould not 
exercise jurisdiction over them. 



LETTERS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



self-seeking at their wholesome opposition. 
For both your gracious Majesty and his own 
letter affirm that the legates of the Apostolic 
See opposed him as they ought with the most 
justifiable resistance, so that his presumption 
was the less excusable in that not even when 
rebuked did it restrain itself. 

V. And to try to bring him to a right mind. 

And hence, because it becomes your glorious 
faith that, as heresy was overthrown, God act- 
ing through you, so now all self-seeking should 
be defeated, do that which beseems both 
your Christian and your kingly goodness, so 
that the said bishop may obey the Fathers, 
farther the cause of peace, and not think he 
had any right to ordain a bishop * for the 
Church of Antioch, as he presumed to do with- 
out any precedent and contrary to the pro- 
visions of the canons : an act which from 
a longing to re-establish the Faith and in the 
interests of peace we have determined not to 
cancel. Let him abstain therefore from doing 
despite to the rules of the Church and shun 
unlawful excesses, lest in attempting things un- 
favourable to peace he cut himself off from 
the universal Church. I had much liefer love 
him for acting blamelessly than find him per- 
sist in this presumptuous frame of mind which 
may separate him from us all. My brother 
and fellow-bishop, Lucian, who with my son, 
Basil the deacon, brought your clemency's 
letter to me, has fulfilled the duties he under- 
took as legate with all devotion : for he must 
not be reckoned to have failed in his mission, 
the course of events having rather failed him. 
Dated the 22nd of May in the consulship of 
the illustrious Herculanus (452). 

LETTER CV. 

(To Pui.cheria Augusta about the 

SELF-SKEKING OF ANATOLIUS.) 

Leo the bishop to Pulcheria Augusta. 

I. He congratutates the Empress on the triumfh 
of the Faith, but regrets the introduction oj 
a new controversy into the Church. 

We rejoice ineffably with your Grace that 
the catholic Faith has been defended against 
heretics and peace restored to the whole 
Church through your clemency's holy and 
GoD-pleasing zeal : giving thanks to the 
Merciful and Almighty God that He has 
suffered none save those who loved darkness 
rather than light to be defrauded of the gospel- 
truth : so that by the removal of the mists of 
error the purest light might arise in the hearts 
of all, and that darkness-loving foe might not 



triumph over certain weak souls, whom not only 
those who stood unhurt but also those whom he 
had made to totter have overcome, and that by 
the abolition of error the true Faith might 
reign throughout the world, and " every tongue 
might confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is 
in the glory of God the Fathers." But when 
the whole world had been confirmed in the 
unity of the Gospel, and the hearts of all 
priests had been guided into the same belief, 
it had been better that besides those matters 
for which the holy Synod was assembled, and 
which were brought to a satisfactory agree- 
ment through your Grace's zeal, nothing should 
be introduced to counteract so great an ad- 
vantage, and that a council of bishops should 
not be made an occasion for the inopportune 
advancing of an illegitimate desire. 

II. The Nicene canons are. unalterable and bind- 
ing utiivcrsal/y. 

For my brother and fellow-bishop Anatolius 
not sufficiently considering your Grace's kind- 
ness and the favour of my assent, whereby he 
pained the priesthood of the church of Con- 
stantinople, instead of rejoicing at what he 
has gained, has been inflamed with undue 
desires beyond the measure of his rank, be- 
lieving that his intemperate self-seeking could 
be advanced by the assertion that certain per- 
sons had signified their assent thereto by an 
extorted signature : notwithstanding that my 
brethren and fellow-bishops, who represented 
me, faithfully and laudably expressed their dis- 
sent from these attempts which are doomed to 
speedy failure. For no one may venture upon 
anything in opposition to the enactments of 
the Fathers' canons which many long years 
a^o in the city of Nicoea were founded upon 
the decrees of the Spirit, so that any one 
who wishes to pass any different decree injures 
himself rather than impairs them. And if all 
pontiffs will but keep them inviolate as they 
should, there will be perfect peace and com- 
plete harmony through all the churches : there 
will be no disagreements about rank, no dis- 
putes about ordinations, no controversies about 
privileges, no strifes about taking that which 
is another's ; but by the fair law of love a 
reasonable order will be kept both in conduct 
and in office, and he will be truly great who 
is found free from all self-seeking, as the Lord 
says, " Whosoever will become greater among 
you, let him be your minister, and whosoever 
will be first among you shall be your slave ; ; 
even as the Son of Man came not to be min- 
istered unto but to minister 6 ." And yet these 
precepts were at the time given to men who 



4 One Maximus by name. 



5 Phil. i. 11. 



« S. Matt. xx. 26— 28. 



LETTER CVI. 



71 



wished to rise from a mean estate and to pass 
from the lowest to the highest things ; but 
what more does the ruler of the church of 
Constantinople covet than he has gained ? or 
what will satisfy him, if the magnificence and 
renown of so great a city is not enough? It 
is too arrogant and intemperate thus to step be- 
yond all proper bounds and trampling on ancient 
custom to wish to seize another's right : to 
increase one man's dignity at the expense of so 
manymetropolitans' primacy, and to carryanew 
war of confusion into peaceful provinces which 
were long ago set at rest by the enactments of the 
holy Nicene Synod : to break through the 
venerable Fathers' decrees by alleging the con- 
sent of certain bishops, which even the course 
of so many years has not rendered effective. 
For it is boasted that this has been winked at 
for almost 60 years now, and the said bishop 
thinks that he is assisted thereby ; but it is vain 
for him to look for assistance from that which, 
even if a man dared to wish for it, yet he 
could never obtain. 

III. Only by imitating his predecessor will he 
regain Leo's confidence : the assent of the 
bishops is declared null and void. 

Let him realize what a man he has suc- 
ceeded, and expelling all the spirit of pride let 
him imitate Flavian's faith, Flavian's modesty, 
Flavian's humility, which has raised him right 
to a confessor's glory. If he will shine with 
his virtues, he will merit all praise, and in all 
quarters he will win an abundance of love not 
by seeking human advancement but by de- 
serving Divine favour. And by this careful 
course I promise he will' bind my heart also 
to him, and the love of the Apostolic See, 
which we have ever bestowed on the church 
of Constantinople, shall never be violated by 
any change. Because if sometimes rulers fall 
into errors through want of moderation, yet 
the churches of Christ do not lose their purity. 
But the bishops' assents, which are opposed to 
the regulations of the holy canons composed 
at Nicsea in conjunction with your faithful 
Grace, we do not recognize, and by the blessed 
Apostle Peter's authority we absolutely dis- 
annul in comprehensive terms, in all ecclesias- 
tical cases obeying those laws which the Holy 
Ghost set forth by the 318 bishops for the 
\ pacific observance of all priests in such sort 
that even if a much greater number were to pass 
a different decree to theirs, whatever was op- 
posed to their constitution would have to be 
held in no respect. 

IV. He requests the Empress to give his letter 
her favourable consideration. 

And so I request your Grace to receive in a 



worthy spirit this lengthy letter, in which I had 
to explain my views, at the hands of my brother 
and fellow-bishop Lucianus, who, as far as in 
him lies, has faithfully executed the anxious 
duties of his undertaking as my delegate, and 
of my son Basil, the deacon. And because 
it is your habit to labour for the peace and 
unity of the Church, for his soul's health keep 
my brother Anatolius the bishop, to whom I 
have extended my love by your advice, within 
those limits which shall be profitable to him, 
that as your clemency's glory is magnified 
already for the restoration of the Faith, so it 
may be published abroad for the restraint of 
self-seeking. Dated the 22nd of May, in the 
consulship of the illustrious Herculanus (452). 

LETTER CVI. 
To Anatolius, Bishop of Constantinople, 

IN REBUKE OF HIS SELF-SEEKING. 

Leo, the bishop, to Anatolius, the bishop. 

I. He commends Anatolius for his orthodoxy, 
but condemns him for his presumption. 

Now that the light of Gospel Truth has 
been manifested, as we wished, through God's 
grace, and the night of most pestilential error 
has been dispelled from the universal Church, 
we are unspeakably glad in the Lord, because 
the difficult charge entrusted to us has been 
brought to the desired conclusion, even as the 
text of your letter announces, so that, ac- 
cording to the Apostle's teaching, " we all 
I speak the same thing, and that there be no 
schisms among us : but that we be perfect in 
' the same mind and in the same knowledge 7." 
In devotion to which work we commend' you, 
beloved, for taking part : for thus you benefited 
those who needed correction by your activity, 
and purged yourself from all complicity with 
I the transgressors. For when your predecessor 
I Flavian, of happy memory, was deposed for 
' his defence of catholic Truth, not unjustly it 
was believed that your ordainers seemed to 
have consecrated one like themselves, contrary 
to the provision of the holy canons. But 
God's mercy was present in this, directing and 
confirming you, that you might make good use 
of bad beginnings, and show that you were 
promoted not by men's judgment, but by 
God's loving-kindness : ami this may be ac- 
cepted as true, on condition that you lose not 
the grace of this Divine gift by another cause 
of offence. For the catholic, and especially 
the Lord's priest, must not only be entangled 
I in no error, but also be corrupted by no 
covetousness ; for, as says the Holy Scripture, 



1 1 Cor. i. to. 



78 



LETTERS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



"Go not after thy lusts, and decline from thy 
desire 8 ." Many enticements of this world, 
many vanities must be resisted, that the per- 
fection of true self-discipline may be attained : 
the first blemish of which is pride, the begin- 
ning of transgression and the origin of sin. 
For the mind greedy of power knows not 
either how to abstain from things forbidden 
nor to enjoy things permitted, so long as 
transgressions go unpunished and run into 
undisciplined and wicked excesses, and wrong 
doings are multiplied, which were only en- 
dured in our zeal for the restoration of the 
Faith and love of harmony °. 

II. Nothing can cancel or modify the Nicene 
canons. 

And so after the not irreproachable begin- 
ning of your ordination, after the consecration 
of the bishop of Antioch, which you claimed 
for yourself contrary to the regulations of the 
canons, I grieve, beloved, that you have fallen 
into this too, that you should try to break 
down the most sacred constitutions of the 
Nicene canons r : as if this oDportunity had 
expressly offered itself to you for the See of 
Alexandria to lose its privilege of second 
place, and the church of Antioch to forego 
its right to being third in dignity, in order 
that when these places had been subjected to 
your jurisdiction, all metropolitan bishops 
might be deprived of their proper honour. 
By which unheard of and never before at- 
tempted excesses you went so far beyond 
yourself as to drag into an occasion of self- 
seeking, and force connivance from that holy 
Synod which the zeal of our most Christian 
prince had convened, solely to extinguish heresy 
and to confirm the catholic Faith : as if the 
unlawful wishes of a multitude could not be 
rejected, and that state of things which was 
truly ordained by the Holy Spirit in the canon 
of Nicaea could in any part be overruled by 
any one. Let no synodal councils flatter them- 
selves upon the size of their assemblies, and 
let not any number of priests, however much 
larger, dare either to compare or to prefer 
themselves to those 318 bishops, seeing that 
the Synod of Nicaea is hallowed by God with 
such privilege, that whether by fewer or by 
more ecclesiastical judgments are supported, 



"u P c |1es 5 asticiis xv!ii - 30. The application of the description 
°^ T Cripture " t0 an A Pocyphal book will not escape notice. 
9 Cf. Letter CIV., chap. v. 

'The wording of Canon 6 is as follows : mos antiquusperduret, 
in Aegypto vel Libya et Pentapoli, ui Alexandrinns episcopus 
Iwriim omnium habeat potest at em, quoniam quidem et episcopo 
Romano parilts mos est. Similiter autem et apud Antiochiam 
ceterasque provmcias (en-apxios) honor suus unicuique servetur 
ecclesia : where, it will be noticed, no mention is made of Con- 
stantinople at all, so that its position is not explicitly defined 
either way. 



whatever is opposed to their authority is utterly 
destitute of all authority. 

III. The Synod of Cha/cedon, which met for 
one purpose, ought never to have been used for 
another. 

Accordingly these things which are found to 
be contrary to those most holy canons are ex- 
ceedingly unprincipled and misguided. This 
haughty arrogance tends to the disturbance of 
the whole Church, which has purposed so to 
misuse a synodal council, as by wicked argu- 
ments to over-persuade, or by intimidation to 
compel, the brethren to agree with it, when 
they had been summoned simply on a matter 
of Faith, and had come to a decision on the 
subject which was to engage their care. For 
it was on this ground that our brothers sent 
by the Apostolic see, who presided in our 
stead at the synod with commendable firm- 
ness, withstood their illegal attempts, openly 
protesting against the introduction of any 
reprehensible innovation contrary to the en- 
actments of the Council of Nicasa. And there 
can be no doubt about their opposition, seeing 
that you yourself in your epistle complain of 
their wish to contravene your attempts. And 
therein indeed you greatly commend them to 
me by thus writing, whereas you accuse your- 
self in refusing to obey them concerning your 
unlawful designs, vainly seeking what cannot 
be granted, and craving what is bad for your 
soul's health, and can never win our consent. 
For may I never be guilty of assisting so wrong 
a desire, which ought rather to be subverted 
by my aid, and that of all who think not high 
things, but agree with the lowly. 

IV. The Nicene canons are for universal appli- 
cation and not to be wrested to private inter- 
pretations. 

These holy and venerable fathers who in 
the city of Nicaea, after condemning the blas- 
phemous Arius with his impiety, laid down 
a code of canons for the Church to last till 
the end of the world, survive not only with us 
but with the whole of mankind in their con- 
stitutions ; and, if anywhere men venture upon 
what is contrary to their decrees, it is ipso 
facto null and void ; so that what is univer- 
sally laid down for our perpetual advantage 
can never be modified by any change, nor can 
the things which were destined for the com- 
mon good be perverted to private interests ; 
and thus so long as the limits remain, which 
the Fathers fixed, no one may invade another's 
right but each must exercise himself within the 
proper and lawful bounds, to the extent of his 
power, in the breadth of love; of which the 
bishop of Constantinople may reap the fruits 



lb:tter cviii. 



richly enough, if he rather relies on the virtue many priests may find both a defence of the 
of humility than is puffed up with the spirit of Fathers' canons and an example of uprightness 
self-seeking. | in observing you ? 



V. The sanction alleged to have been accorded 60 
years- ago to the supremacy of Constantinople 
over Alexandria and Antioch is worthless. 



2 " 



"Be not highminded," brother, "but fear 
and cease to disquiet with unwarrantable de- 
mands the pious ears of Christian princes, who 
I am sure will be better pleased by your mod- 
esty than by your pride. For your purpose is 
in no way whatever supported by the written 
assent of certain bishops given, as you allege, 
60 years ago 3, and never brought to the know- 
ledge of the Apostolic See by your prede- 
cessors; and this transaction, which from its 
outset was doomed to fall through and has 
now long done so, you now wish to bolster up by 
means that are too late and useless, viz., by 
extracting from the brethren an appearance of 
consent which their modesty from very weari- 
ness yielded to their own injury. Remember 
what the Lord threatens him with, who shall 
have caused one of the little ones to stumble, 
and get wisdom to understand what a judg- 
ment of God he will have to endure who has 
not feared to give occasion of stumbling to so 
many churches and so many priests. For I 
confess I am so fast bound by love of the 
whole brotherhood that I will, not agree with 
any one in demands which are against his own 
interests, and thus you may clearly perceive 
that my opposition to you, beloved, proceeds 
from the kindly intention to restrain you from 
disturbing the universal Church by sounder 
counsel. The rights of provincial primates 
may not be overthrown nor metropolitan ■ 

bishops be defrauded of privileges based on ' LETTER CVIII. 

antiquity. The See of Alexandria may not To Theodore, Bishop of Forum Julii. 
lose any of that dignity which it merited 

through S. Mark, the evangelist and disciple ot I Leo . the . bishop, to Theodore, bishop of 
the blessed Peter, nor may the splendour of Forum Julii. 
so great a church be obscured by another's 1 
clouds, Dioscorus having fallen through his L Theodo us should not have approached him 



VI. Christian love demands self-denial not self- 
seeking. 

In thus writing to you, brother, I exhort 
and admonish you in the Lord, laying aside 
all ambitious desires to cherish rather a spirit 
of love and to adorn yourself to your profit 
with the virtues of love, according to the 
Apostle's teaching. For love " is patient and 
kind, and envies not, acts not iniquitousiy, is 
not puffed up, is not ambitious, seeks not its 
owns." Hence if love seeks not its own, how 
greatly does he sin who covets another's ? From 
which I desire you to keep yourself altogether, 
and to remember that sentence which savs, 
" Hold what thou hast, that no other take thy 
crown 6 ." For if you seek what is not per- 
mitted, you will deprive yourself by your own ac- 
tion and judgment of the peace of the uni- 
versal Church. Our brother and fellow-bishop 
Lucian and our son Basil the deacon, at- 
tended to your injunctions with all the zeal 
they possessed, but justice refused to give 
effect to their pleadings. Dated the 22nd of 
May in the consulship of the illustrious Her- 
culanus (452). 

LETTER CVII. 

To Julian, Bishop of Cos. 

(Expostulating with him for putting personal 
considerations before the good of the Church 
in the matter of the precedence of the See 
of Constantinople.) 



persistence in impiety. The church of An- 
tioch too, in which first at the preaching of 



except through his metropolitan. 
Your first proceeding, when anxious, should 



the blessed Apostle Peter the Christian name have been to have consulted your metro- 
arose^ must continue in the position assigned politan on the point which seemed to need 
it by the Fathers, and being set in the third inquiry, and if he too was unable to help you, 
place must never be lowered therefrom. For the beloved, you should both have asked to be 
See is on a different footing to the holders 01 ' instructed (by us) ; for in matters, which con- 
it ; and each individual's chief honour is his cern all the Lord's priests as a whole, no in- 
own integrity. And since that does not lose quiry ought to be made without the primates, 
its proper worth in any place, how much more But in order that the consulter's doubts may 



glorious must it be when placed in the mag 
nificence of the city of Constantinople, where 



in any case be set at rest, I will not keep back 
the Church's rules about the state of penitents. 



• R 



om. xi. 20. 



3 Cf. Letter CV., chap. ii. ;end). 
* Acts xi. 26. 



S 1 Cor. xiii. 4. 



* Revel, iii. it. 



So 



LETTERS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



II. The grace of penitence is for those who fall 
after baptism. 
The manifold mercy of God so assists men 
when they fall, that not only by the grace of 
baptism but also by the remedy of penitence 
is the hope of eternal life revived, in order that 
they who have violated the gifts of the second 
birth, condemning themselves by their own 
judgment, may attain to remission of their 
crimes, the provisions of the Divine Goodness 
having so ordained that God's indulgence 
cannot be obtained without the supplications 
of priests. For the Mediator between God 
and men, the Man Christ Jesus, has trans- 
mitted this power to those that are set over 
the Church that they should both grant a 
course of penitence ? to those who confess, 
and, when they are cleansed by wholesome 
correction admit them through the door of 
reconciliation to communion in the sacra- 
ments. In which work assuredly the Saviour 
Himself unceasingly takes part and is never 
absent from those things, the carrying out of 
which He has committed to His ministers, 
saying : " Lo, I am with you all the days even 
to the completion of the age 8 : " so that what- 
ever is accomplished through our service in due 
order and with satisfactory results we doubt not 
to have been vouchsafed through the Holy 
Spirit. 

III. Penitence is sure only in this life. 

But if any one of those for whom we entreat 
God be hindered by some obstacle and lose 
the benefit of immediate absolution, and 
before he attain to the remedies appointed, 
end his days in the course of nature, he will 
not be able when stripped of the flesh to gain 
that which when yet in the body he did not 
receive. And there will be no need for us 
to weigh the merits and acts of those who 
have thus died, seeing that the Lord our Goo, 
whose judgments cannot be found out, has 
reserved for His own decision that which our 
priestly ministry could not complete : for He 
wishes His power to be so feared that this 
fear may benefit all, and every one may dread 
that which happens to the lukewarm or care- 
less. For it is most expedient and essential 
that the guilt of sins should be loosed by 
priestly supplication before the last day of life. 

IV. And yet penitence and reconciliation must 
not be refused to men in extremis. 

But to those who in time of need and in 
urgent danger implore the aid first of penitence, 
then of reconciliation, must neither means of 



7 Actionem (others not so well sanctionevi) fxeuitentia. 

8 S. Matt, xxviii. 20. 



amendment nor reconciliation be forbidden : 
because we cannot place limits to God's 
mercy nor fix times for Him with whom true 
conversion suffers no delay of forgiveness, as 
says God's Spirit by the prophet, "when thou 
hast turned and lamented, then shalt thou 
be saved 9 ; " and elsewhere, " Declare thou thy 
iniquities beforehand, that thou may'st be 
justified 1 ;" and again, "For with the Lord 
there is mercy, and with Him is plenteous 
redemption 2 ." And so in dispensing God's 
gifts we must not be hard, nor neglect the 
tears and groans of self-accusers, seeing that 
we believe the very feeling of penitence springs 
from the inspiration of God, as says the 
Apostle, "lest perchance God will give them 
repentance that they may recover themselves 
from the snares of the devil, by whom they 
are held captive at his will 3." 

V. Hazardous as deathbed repentance is, the 
grace of absolution must not be refused even 
when it can be asked for only by signs. 

Hence it behoves each individual Christian 
to listen to the judgment of his own conscience, 
lest he put off the turning to God from day to 
day and fix the time of his amendment at the 
end of his life; for it is most perilous for 
human frailty and ignorance to confine itself 
to such conditions as to be reduced to the 
uncertainty of a few hours, and instead of 
winning indulgence by fuller amendment, to 
choose the narrow limits of that time when 
space is scarcely found even for the penitent's 
confession or the priest's absolution. But, 
as I have said, even such men's needs must 
be so assisted that the free action of penitence 
and the grace of communion be not denied 
them, if they demand it even when their voice is 
gone, by the signs of a still clear intellect. And 
if they be so overcome by the stress of their 
malady that they cannot signify in the priest's 
presence what just before they were asking for, 
the testimony of believers standing by must pre- 
vail for them, that they may obtain the benefit 
of penitence and reconciliation simultaneously, 
so long as the regulations of the Fathers' 
canons be observed in reference to those 
persons who have sinned against God by 
forsaking the Faith. 



VI. He is to bring this letter to the notice of the 
metropolitan. 

These answers, brother, which I have given 
to your questions in order that nothing 
different be done under the excuse of ignor- 
ance, you shall bring to the notice of your 



9 Is. xxx. 15 (LXX.). 
2 Ps. exxx. 7. 



1 Is. xliii. 26 (I. XX). 
3 2 Tim. ii. 25, 26. 






LETTER CIX. 



81 



metropolitan ; that if there chance to be any 
of the brethren who before now have thought 
there was any doubt about these points, they 
may be instructed by him concerning what 
I have written to you. Dated June nth in 
the consulship of the illustrious Herculanus 
(45 2 )- 

LETTER CIX. 
To Julian, Bishop of Cos. 
Leo, the pope, to Julian, the bishop. 

I. He laments 07'er the recent rioting in 

Palestine. 

The information which you give, brother, 
about the riotous doings of the false monks 4 
is serious and to no slight degree lamentable ; 
for they are due to the war which the wicked 
Eutyches by the madness of deceivers is 
waging against the preaching of the Gospel 
and the Apostles, though it will end in his 
own destruction and that of his followers : 
but this is delayed by the long-suffering of 
God, in order that it may appear how greatly 
the enemies of the cross of Christ are enslaved 
to the devil ; because heretical depravity, 
breaking through its ancient veil of pretence 
can no longer restrain itself within the limits 
of its hypocrisy, and has poured forth all its 
long-concealed poison, raging against the 
disciples of the Truth not only with pen but 
also with deeds of violence 5 , in order to wrest 
consent from unlearned simplicity or from 
i panic-stricken faith. But the sons of light 
ought not to be so afraid of the sons of darkness, 
as being sane to acquiesce in the ideas of 
madmen or to think that any respect should 
be shown to men of this kind ; for, if they 
would rather perish than recover their senses, 
provision must be made lest their escape from 
punishment should do wider harm, and long 
toleration of them should lead to the destruc- 
tion of many. 

II. The ringleaders must be removed to a 

distance. 

I am not unaware what love and favour 
is due to our sons, those holy and true monks, 
who forsake not the moderation of their pro- 
fession, and carry into practice what they 
'promised by their vows. But these insolent 
;disturbers, who boast of their insults and 



4 These were the monks of Palestine who immediately on 
Iheodosius' return from the Synod stirred up great riots first in 
lerusalem and then throughout Palestine. 

5 Letters of the Emperor Marcian (quoted by the Ball.) speak 
1) of a letter written by Theodosius quas solns foterat Jingere 
labohts; and (2) of cruelties, tortures, and insults committed 
'articulaily in mulieres hones las et nobiles, whereby the rioters 
sd not hesitated to force many to acquiesce in their wicked 
-aching. 



injuries to priests 6 , are to be held not the 
slaves of Christ, but the soldiers of Antichrist, 
and must be chiefly humiliated in the person 
of their leaders, who incite the ignorant mob 
to uphold their insubordination. And hence, 
seeing that our most merciful Prince loves the 
catholic Faith with all the devotion of a reli- 
gious heart, and is greatly offended at the 
effrontery of these rebel heretics, as is every- 
where reported, we must appeal to his cle- 
mency that the instigators of these seditions 
be removed from their mad congregations; 
and not only Eutyches and Dioscorus but also 
any who have been forward in aiding their 
wrongheaded madness, be placed where they 
can hold no intercourse with their partners in 
blasphemy: for the simpleness of some may 
chance to be healed by this method, and men 
will be more easily recalled to soundness of 
mind, if they be set free from the incitements 
of pestilential teachers. 

III. He sends a letter of S. Athanasius to 
show that the present heresy is only a revival 
of former exploded heresies. 

But lest the instruction necessary for the 
confirmation of faithful spirits or the refutation 
of heretics should be wanting or not expressed, 
I have sent the letter of bishop Athanasius of 
holy memory addressed to bishop Epictetus ?, 
whose testimony Cyril of holy memory made 
use of at the Synod of Ephesus against Nes- 
torius, because it has so clearly and carefully 
set forth the Incarnation of the Word, as to 
overthrow both Nestorius and Eutyches by 
anticipation in the heresies of those times. 
Let the followers of Eutyches and Dioscorus 
dare to accuse such an authority as this of 
ignorance or of heresy, who assert that our 
preaching goes astray from the teaching and 
the knowledge of the Fathers. But it ought to 
avail for the confirmation of the minds of all 
the Lord's priests, who, having been already 
detected and condemned of heresy in respect 
of the authorities they followed, now begin 
more openly to set forth their blasphemous 
dogma, lest, if their meaning were hid beneath 
the cloke of silence it might st 11 be doubtful 
whether the triple error of A ollinaris 8 , and 
the mad notion of the Manichees was really 
revived in them. And as they no longer seek 
to hide themselves but rise boldly against the 
churches of Christ, must we not take care to 
destroy all the strength of their attempts, 



VOL. XII. 



6 They had slain Severian, Bishop of Scythopolis, and 
would also have slain Juvenal, Bishop of Jerusalem, if he had 
not taken refuge in flight (Ball.). 

7 A portion of this letter is among the quotations added at the 
end of Letter CLXV. See also Vol. IV. p. 570. 

8 What this triple error was will be lound in Lett. LIX., 
chap. y.(q.v.)\ cf. also Lett. CXX1V. and CLXVII. 



G 



82 



LETTERS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



observing, as I have said, such discrimination 
as to separate the incorrigible from the more 
docile spirits : for "evil conversations corrupt 
good manners 9," and "the wise man will be 
sharper than the pestilent person who is 
chastised 1 ;" in order that in whatever way 
the society of the wicked is broken up, some 
vessels may be snatched from the devil's hand ? 
For we ought not to be so offended at scurri- 
lous and empty words as to have no care for 
their correction. 

IV. He expresses a hope that Juvenal's timely 
acknowledgment of error will be imitated by 
the rest. 

But bishop Juvenal, whose injuries are to 
be lamented, joined himself too rashly to 
those blasphemous heretics, and by embracing 
Eutyches and Dioscorus, drove many ignorant 
folk headlong by his example, albeit he after- 
wards corrected himself by wiser counsels. 
These men, however, who drank in more 
greedily the wicked poison, have become the 
enemies of him, whose disciples they had been 
before, so that the very food he had supplied 
them was turned to his own ruin : and yet 
it is to be hoped they will imitate him in 
amending bis ways, if only the holy asso- 
ciations of the neighbourhood in which they 
dwell will help them to recover their senses. 
But the character of him 2 who has usurped 
the place of a bishop still living cannot be 
doubted from the character of his actions, nor 
is it to be disputed that he who is loved by 
the assailants of the Faith must be a mis- 
believer. Meanwhile, brother, do not hesitate 
to continue with anxious care to keep me 
acquainted with the course of events by more 
frequent letters. Dated November 25th in 
the consulship of Herculanus (452). 

FETTER CX. 
From Marcian Augustus. 

(Expressing surprise that Leo has not by 
now confirmed the acts of the Synod, and 
asking for a speedy confirmation.) 

LETTER CXF 

To Marcian Augustus. 

(About Anatolius' mistake in deposing Aetius 
from the office of archdeacon and putting in 
Andrew instead.) 

LETTER CXII. 
To Pulcheria Augusta. 
(On the same subject more briefly.) 

9 1 Cor. xv. 33. i Prov. xxi. n, LXX. * Sc. Theodosiu., 



LETTER CXIII. 
To Julian, Bishop of Cos. 

Leo, bishop of Rome, to Julian, bishop 
of Cos. 

I. After thanks for Julian's sympathy he com- 
plains of the deposition of Aetius from the 
archdeaconry. 

I acknowledge in your letter, beloved, the 
feelings of brotherly love, in that you sym- 
pathize with us in true grief at the many 
grievous evils we have borne. But we pray 
that these things which the Lord has either 
allowed or wished us to suffer, may avail to 
the correction of those who live through them 3, 
and that adversities may cease through the 
cessation of offences. Both which results will 
follow through the mercy of God, if only He 
remove the scourge and turn the hearts of 
His people to Himself. But as you, brother, 
are saddened by the hostilities which have raged 
around us, so I am made anxious because, 
as vour letter indicates, the treacherous attacks 
of heretics are not set at rest in the church 
of Constantinople, and men seek occasion to 
persecute those who have been the defenders 
of the catholic Faith. For so long as Aetius is 
removed from his office of archdeacon under 
pretence of promotion 4 and Andrew is taken 
into his place, who had been cast off for 
associating with heretics ; so long as respect 
is shown to the accusers of Flavian of holy 
memory, and the partners or disciples of that 
most pious confessor are put down, it is only 
too clearly shown what pleases the bishop of 
the church itself. Towards whom I put off 
taking action till I hear the merits of the case 
and await his own dealing with me in the 
letter our son Aetius tells me he will send, 
giving opportunity for voluntary correction, 
whereby I desire my vexation to be appeased. 
Nevertheless, I have written to our most cle- 
ment Prince and the most pious Augusta about 
these things which concern the peace of the 
Church ; and I do not doubt they will in the 
devoutness of their faith take heed lest a 
heresy already condemned should succeed in 
springing up again to the detriment of their 
own glorious work. 

II. He asks Julian to act for him as Anato- 
lius is deficient in vigour. 

See then, beloved brother, that you bestow 

3 Servatoruvt. I am not sure whether this is the right sense ; 
others read muttorum. 

4 In Lett. CXI., chap, ii., he is said to have been ccemeteno 
deputatus, and, according to Quesnel, when the cemeteries (or 
catacombs) had no longer to be used as refuges for the persecuted 
Christians, the custom had grown up of putting priests in charge 
to perpetuate the memory of the martyrs therein buried ; in 
process of time, when love grew cold, this was looked upon as 
a sort of exile, and an onerous duty in consequence. 






'«" 






LETTER CXIII. 



83 



the necessary thought on the cares of the 
Apostolic See, which by her rights as your 
mother commends to you, who were nourished 
at her breast, the defence of the catholic 
Truth against Nestorians and Eutychians, in 
order that, supported by the Divine help, you 
may not cease to watch the interests of the city 
of Constantinople, lest at any time the storms 
of error arise within, her. And because the faith 
of our glorious Princes is so great that you 
may confidently suggest what is necessary to 
them, use their piety for the benefit of the 
universal Church. But if ever you consult 
me, beloved, on things which you think doubt- 
ful, my reply shall not fail to supply instruction, 
so that, apart from cases which ought to be 
decided by the inquiries of the bishops of each 
particular church, you may act as my legate 
and undertake the special charge of preventing 
the Nestorian or Eutychian heresy reviving in 
any quarter ; because the bishop of Constanti- 
nople does not possess catholic vigour, and is 
not very jealous either for the mystery of man's 
salvation or for his own reputation : whereas, 
if he had any spiritual activity, he ought to 
have considered by whom he was ordained, 
and whom he succeeded in such a way as to 
follow the blessed Flavian rather than the 
instruments of his promotion. And, therefore, 
when our most religious Princes deign in 
accordance with my entreaties to reprimand 
our brother Anatolius on those matters, which 
deservedly come under blame, join your dili- 
gence to theirs, beloved, that all causes of 
offences may be removed by the application 
of the fullest correction and he cease from 
injuring our son Aetius. For with a catholic- 
minded bishop even though there was some- 
thing which seemed calculated to annoy in his 
archdeacon, it ought to have been passed over 
from regard for the Faith, rather than that the 
most worthless heretic should take the place 
of a catholic. And so when I have learnt the 
rest of the story, 1 shall then more clearly 
gather what ought to be done. For, mean- 
while, I have thought better to restrain my 
vexation and to exercise patience that there 
might be room for forgiveness. 

III. He asks for further information about the 
rioting in Palestitie and in Egypt. 

But with regard to the monks of Palestine, 
who are said this long time to be in a state 
of mutiny, I know not by what spirit they are 
at present moved. Nor has any one yet ex- 
plained to me what reasons they seem to 
bring forward for their discontent : whether 
for instance, they wish to serve the Eutychian 
heresy by such madness, or whether they are 



irreconcilably vexed that their bishop could 
have been misled into that blasphemy, where- 
by, in spite of the very associations of the 
holy spots, from which issued instruction for 
the whole world, he has alienated himself from 
the Truth of the Lord's Incarnation, and in 
their opinion that cannot be venial in him which 
in others had to be wiped out by absolution. 
And therefore I desire to be more fully informed 
about these things that proper means may he 
taken for their correction ; because it is one 
thing to arm oneself wickedly against the 
Faith, and another thing to be immoderately 
disturbed on behalf of it. You must know, 
too, that the documents which Aetius the 
presbyter told me before had been dispatched, 
and the epitome of the Faith which you say 
you have sent, have not yet arrived. Hence, 
if an opportunity offers itself of a more expe 
ditious messenger, I shall be glad for any 
information that may seem expedient to be 
sent me as soon as possible. I am anxious to 
know about the monks of Egypt 5 , whether 
they have regained their peacefulness and their 
faith, and about the church of Alexandria, 
what trustworthy tidings reaches you : I wish 
you to know what I wrote to its bishop or his 
ordainers, or the clergy, and have therefore 
sent you a copy of the letter. You will learn 
also what I have said to our most clement 
Prince and our most religious Empress from 
the copies sent. 

IV. He asks for a Latin translation of the acts 
of Chalcedon. 

I wish to know whether my letter 6 has been 
delivered to you, brother, which I sent you 
by Basil the deacon, upon the Faith of the 
Lord's Incarnation, while Flavian of holy 
memory was still alive ; for I fancy you have 
never made any comment on its contents. 
We have no very clear information about the 
acts of the Synod, which were drawn up at the 
time of the council at Chalcedon, on account 
of the difference of language 7. And therefore 
I specially enjoin upon you, brother, that you 
have the whole collected into one volume, 
accurately translated of course into Latin, that 
we may not be in doubt on any portion of the 
proceedings, and that there may be ho manner 
of uncertainty after you have taken pains to 
bring it fully within my understanding. Dated 
March nth, in the consulship of the illustrious 
Opilio (453). 



5 There had been riots ationg the monks of Egypt about the 
appointment of Proterius as bishop, instead of Dioscorus, deposed. 

6 This is Letter XXXV. {q.v.). 

7 It is, of course, well known that Leo knew no Greek what 
ever. 



G 2 



84 



LETTERS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



LETTER CXIV. 

To the Bishops assembled in Synod at 
Chalcedon. 

(In answer to their Letter (XCVIIL), ap- 
proving of their acts in the general so long as 
nothing is contrary to the canons of Nicaea.) 

LETTER CXV. 

To Marcian Augustus. 
(Congratulating him upon the restoration of 
peace to the Church, and the suppression of 
the riotous monks ; giving his consent also, as 
a liege subject of the Emperor's, to the acts of 
Chalcedon, and asking him to make this 
known to the Synod.) 

LETTER CXVI. 

To Pulcheria Augusta. 

(Commending her pious zeal and informing 
her of his assent to the acts of Chalcedon.) 

LETTER CXVI I. 
To Julian, Bishop of Cos. 
Leo to Julian the bishop. 

I. He wishes his assent to the Acts of Chalcedon 
to be widely known. 

How watchfully and how devotedly you 
guard the catholic Faith, brother, the tenor 
of your letter shows, and my anxiety is greatly 
relieved by the information it contains ; sup- 
plemented as it is by the most religious piety 
of our religious Emperor, which is clearly 
shown to be prepared by the Lord for the 
confirmation of tiie whole Church ; so that, 
whilst Christian princes act for the Faith with 
holy zeal, the priests of the Lord may con- 
fidently pray for their realm. 

What therefore our most clement Emperor 
deemed needful I have willingly complied 
with, by sending letters to all the brethren, 
who were present at the Synod of Chalcedon, 
in which to show that I approved of what was 
resolved upon by our holy brethren about the 
Rule of Faith ; on their account to wit, who, 
in order to cloke their own treachery, pretend 
to consider invalid or doubtful such conciliar 
ordinances as are not ratified by my assent : 
albeit, after the return of the brethren whom 
I had sent in my stead, I dispatched a letter to 
the bishop of Constantinople ; so that, if he 
had been minded to publish it, abundant proof 
might have been furnished thereby how gladly 
I approved of what the synod had passed con- 
cerning the Faith. But, because it contained 
such an answer as would have run counter to 
his self-seeking, he preferred my acceptance of 



the brethren's resolutions to remain unknown, 
lest at the same time my reply should become 
known on the absolute authority of the Nicene 
canons. Wherefore take heed, beloved, that 
you warn our most gracious prince by frequent 
reminders that he add his words to ours and 
order the letter of the Apostolic See to be sent 
round to the priests of each single province, 
that hereafter no enemy of the Truth may 
venture to excuse himself under cover of 
my silence. 

II. He expresses his thanks for the zeal shown by 

the Emperor and the Empress. 

And as to the edict of the most Christian 
Emperor, in which he has shown what the 
ignorant folly of certain monks deserved and 
as to the reply of the most gracious Augusta, 
in which she rebuked the heads of the monas- 
teries, I wish my great rejoicing to be known, 
being assured that this fervour of faith is 
bestowed upon them by Divine inspiration, in 
order that all men may acknowledge their 
superiority to rest not only on their royal state 
but also on their priestly holiness : whom both 
now and formerly I have asked to treat you 
with full confidence, being assured of their 
good will, and that they will not refuse to give 
ear to necessary suggestions. 

III. He wishes to know the effect of his letter 

to the Empress Eudocia. 

And, because the most clement Emperor 
has been pleased to charge me secretly by our 
son Paulus with the task of admonishing our 
daughter the most clement Augusta Eudocia 8 , 
I have done what he wished, in order that 
from my letter she may learn how profitable 
it will be to her if she espouses the cause of 
the catholic Faith, and. have managed that she 
should further be admonished by a letter from 
that most clement prince her son ; nothing 
doubting that she herself, too, will set to work 
with pious zeal to bring the leaders of sedition 
to a knowledge of the consequences of their 
action, and, if they understand not the utter- 
ances of those who teach them, to make them 
at least afraid of the powers of those who will 
punish them. And so what effect this care of 
ours produces, I wish to know at once by 
a letter from you, beloved, and whether their 
ignorant contumacy has at length subsided : 
as to which if they think there is any doubt 
about our teaching, let them at least not 
reject the writings of such holy priests as 



8 This is Eudocia, the widow of Theodosius II., and the 
Prince, her son, mentioned below, is Valentinianns III., who had 
married her daughter Eudoxia. The letter of Leo here mentioned 
is probably not Letter CXXIII. below. For a graphic sketch ol 
the elder lady see Gore's Life of Leo, pp. 131, 2. 



LETTER CXIX. 



SS 



Athanasius, Theophilus and Cyril of Alex- 
andria, with whom our statement of the Faith 
so completely harmonizes that any one who 
professes consent to them disagrees in nothing 
with us. 

IV. Aelius must be content at present with the 

Emperor's favour. 

With our son Aetius 9 the presbyter we 
sympathize in his sorrow ; and, as one has 
been put into his place who had previously 
been judged worthy of censure, there is no 
doubt that this change tends to the injury of 
catholics. But these things must be borne 
patiently meanwhile, lest we should be thought 
to exceed the measure of our usual moderation, 
arid for the present Aetius must be content 
with the encouragement of our most clement 
prince's favour, to whom I have but lately so 
commended him by letter that I doubt not 
his good repute has been increased in their 
most religious minds. 

V. Anatolius sho7Vs no contrition in his subse- 

quent acts. 

This too we would have you know, that 
bishop Anatolius after our prohibition so per- 
sisted in his rash presumption as to call upon 
the bishops of Illyricum to subscribe their 
names : this news was brought us by the bishop 
who was sent by the bishop of Thes?alonica * 
to announce his consecration. We have de- 
clined to write to Anatolius about this, although 
you might have expected us to do so, because 
we perceived he did not wish to be reformed. 
I have made two versions of my letter to the 
Synod, one with a copy of my letter to Ana- 
tolius subjoined, one without it; leaving it to 
your judgment to deliver the one which you 
think ought to be given to our most clement 
prince and to keep the other. Dated 21st 
March, in the consulship of the illustrious 
Opilio (453). 

LETTER CXVIII. 

TO THE SAME JULIAN, BlSHOP OF COS. 

(In which, after speaking of his own efforts 
for the Faith, he objects to monks being per- 
mitted to preach, especially if heretically in- 
clined, and asks Julian to stir up the Em- 
peror's zeal for the Faith.) 

LETTER CXIX. 

To Maximus, Bishop of Antioch, by the 

hand of Marian the Presbyter, and 

Olvmpius the Deacon. 

Leo to Maximus of Antioch. 



9 Cf. Letter CXIII. above. 

1 This is Eu.xitheus, the successor of Anastasius : 
is addressed to him. 



Letter CL. 



I. The Faith is the mean between the two 

extremes of Eutyches and Nestorius. 
How much, beloved, you have at heart 
the most sacred unity of our common Faith 
and the tranquil harmony of the Church's 
peace, the substance of your letter shows, 
which was brought me by our sons, Marian 
the presbyter and Olvmpius the deacon, and 
which was the more welcome to us because 
thereby we can join as it were in conversation, 
and thus the grace of God becomes more and 
more known and greater joy is felt through 
the whole world over the revelation of catholic 
Truth. And yet we are sore grieved at some 
who still (so your messengers indicate) love 
their darkness ; and though the brightness of 
day has arisen everywhere, even still delieht in 
the obscurity of their blindness, and abandoning 
the Faith, remain Christians in only the empty 
name, without knowledge to discern one error 
from another, and to distinguish the blasphemy 
of Nestorius from the impiety of Eutyches. 
For no delusion of theirs can appear ex- 
cusable, because they contradict themselves in 
their perverseness. For, though Eutyches' 
disciples abhor Nestorius, and the followers of 
Nestorius anathematize Eutyches, yet in the 
judgment of catholics both sides are con- 
demned and both heresies alike are cut away 
from the body of the Church : because neither 
falsehood can be in unison with us. Nor does 
it matter in which direction of blasphemy they 
disagree with the truth of the Lord's Incar- 
nation, since their erroneous opinions hold 
neither with the authority of the Gospel nor 
with the significance of the mystery 2 . 

II. Maximus is to keep the churches of the East 

free from these two opposite heresies. 

And therefore, beloved brother, you must 
with all your heart consider over which church 
the Lord has set you to preside, and remember 
that system of doctrine of which the chief of 
all the Apostles, the blessed Peter, laid the 
foundation, not only by his uniform preaching 
throughout the world, but especially by his 
teaching in the cities of Antioch and Rome : 
so that you may understand that he demands 
of him who is set over the home of his own 
renown those institutions which he handed 
down, as he received them from the Truth 
Itself, which he confessed. And in the 
churches of the East, and especially in those 
which the canons of the most holy Fathers at 
Nicrea 3 assigned to the See of Antioch, you 
must not by any means allow unscrupulous 
heretics to make assaults on the Gospel, and 



2 Ratio sacramenii. 

3 These were apparently twenty in number, but include no veiy 
important towns except Seleucia the seaport of Antioch. 



$6 



LETTERS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



the dogmas of either Nestorius or Eutyches to 
be maintained by any one. Since, as I have 
said, the rock (petra) of the catholic Faith, 
from which the blessed Apostle Peter took his 
name at the Lord's hands, rejects every trace 
of either heresy; for it openly and clearly 
anathematizes Nestorius for separating the 
nature of the Word and of the flesh in the 
blessed Virgin's conception, for dividing the 
one Christ into two, and for wishing to dis- 
tinguish between the person of the Godhead 
and the person of the Manhood : because He 
is altogether one and the same who in His 
eternal Deity was born of the Father without 
time, and in His true flesh was born of His 
mother in time; and similarly it eschews 
Eutyches for ignoring the reality of the human 
flesh in the Lord Jesus Christ, and asserting 
the transformation of the Word Himself into 
flesh, so that His birth, nurture, growth, suf- 
fering, death and burial, and resurrection on 
the third day, all belonged to His Deity only, 
which put on not the reality but the semblance 
of the form of a slave. 

III. Antioch as the third See in Christendom is 
to retain her privileges. 

And so it behoves you to use the utmost 
vigilance, lest these depraved heretics dare 
to assert themselves ; for you must resist 
them with all the authority of priests, and 
frequently inform us by your reports what 
is being done for the progress of the churches. 
For it is right that you should share this re- 
sponsibility with the Apostolic See, and realize 
that the privileges of the third See in Christen- 
dom 4 give you every confidence in action, 
privileges which no intrigues shall in any wav 
impair : because my respect for the Nicene 
canons is such that I never have allowed nor 
ever will the institutions of the holy Fathers 
to be violated by any innovation. For dif- 
ferent sometimes as are the deserts of indi- 
vidual prelates, yet the rights of their Sees 
are permanent : and although rivalry may 
perchance cause some disturbance about them, 
yet it cannot impair their dignity. Wherefore, 
brother, if ever you consider any action ought 
to be taken to uphold the privileges of the 
church of Antioch, be sure to explain it 
in a letter of your own, that we may be able 
to reply to your application completely and 
appropriately. 



4 Privilegia tertitz sedis. Leo here still assigns to Antioch 
the third place in order of precedence, Rome and Alexandria 
being fii^t and second respectively; but since 381, as we have 
seen e.g. in Lett. XCVIII., chnp. iv.. it had been lowered to the 
4th 1 1. ce by the insertion of Constan'inople between Rome and 
Alexandria : see Schaffs Hist., Vol. II. § 56, pp. « 77 and follow- 
ing, and Oore s Leo, pp. 119 and full. 



IV. Anatolius" 1 attempts to subvert the decisions 

of Nicoza are futile. 
But at the present time let it be enough to 
make a general proclamation on all points, that 
if in any synod any one makes any attempt 
upon or seems to take occasion of wresting 
an advantage against the provisions of the 
Nicene canons, he can inflict no discredit 
upon their inviolable decrees : and it will be 
easier for the compacts of any conspiracy to 
be broken through than for the regulations of 
the aforesaid canons to be in any particular 
invalidated. For intrigue loses no opportunity 
of stealing an advantage, and whenever the 
course of things brings about a general as- 
sembly of priests, it is difficult for the greedi- 
ness of the unscrupulous not to try to gain 
some unfair point '■ just as in the Synod of 
Ephesus which overthrew the blasphemous 
Nestorius with his dogma, bishop Juvenal 
believed that he was capable of holding the 
presidency of the province of Palestine, and 
ventured to rally the insubordinate by a lying 
letters. At which Cyril of blessed memory, 
bishop of Alexandria, being properly dismayed, 
pointed out in his letter to me 6 to what au- 
dacity the other's cupidity had led him : and 
with anxious entreaty begged me hard that no 
assent should be given his unlawful attempts. 
For be it known to you that we found the 
original document of Cyril's letter which was 
sought for in our book-case, and of which you 
sent us copies. On this, however, my judg- 
ment lays especial stress that, although a 
majority of priests through the wiliness of 
some came to a decision which is found op- 
posed to those constitutions of the 318 fathers, 
it must be considered void on principles of 
justice : since the peace of the whole Church 
cannot otherwise be preserved, except due 
respect be invariably shown to the canons. 

V. If Leo's legates in any way exceeded their 

instructions, they did so ineffectually. 

Of course, if anything is alleged to have 
been done by those brethren whom I sent in 
my stead to the holy Synod, beyond that 
which was germane to the Faith, it shall be of 
no weight at all : because they were sent by 
the Apostolic See only for the purpose of 



5 It is a curious fact in the history of Church government that 
the bishopric of Jerusalem for the first centuries never had the 
first place in Palestine : this was assigned to the metropolitan of 
Csesarea, although on great occasions the Bishop of Jerusalem sat 
next to the patriarch of Antioch : cf. Schaff's Hist., Vol. II. § 56, 
p. 283, and the viith. Nicene canon : mos antiquus obthieat ut 
Aelice. id est Ierosolymce, episcopus honor etur salva metropolis 
prop7-ia dignitate. 

6 The Ballerinii point out that the 1st Council of Ephesus 
was held in 431, at which Cyril presided for Celestinus I. of Rome, 
and that Leo was not bishop till 441 ; this letter was probably 
addressed to him when archdeacon of Rome, in which case tha 
authority which he had already gained is remarkably illustrated. 



LETTER CXX. 



87 



extirpating heresy and upholding the catholic 
Faith. For whatever is laid before bishops 
for inquiry beyond the particular subjects 
which come before synodal councils may ad- 
mit of a certain amount of free discussion, 
if the holy Fathers have laid down nothing 
thereon at Nicaea. For anything that is 
not in agreement with their rules and consti- 
tutions can never obtain the assent of the 
Apostolic See. But how great must be the 
diligence with which this rule is kept, you 
will gather from the copies of the letter which 
Ave sent to the bishop of Constantinople, re- 
straining his cupidity ; and you shall take 
order that it reach the knowledge of all our 
brethren and fellow-priests. 

VI. No one but priests arc allowed to preach. 

This too it behoves you, beloved, to guard 
against, that no one except those who are the 
Lord's priests dare to claim the right of 
teaching or preaching, be he monk or layman 7, 
who boasts himself of some knowledge. Be- 
cause although it is desirable that all the 
Church's sons should understand the things 
which are right and sound, yet it is permitted 
to none outside the priestly rank to assume 
the office of preacher, since in the Church of 
God all things ought to be orderly, that in 
Christ's one body the more excellent mem- 
bers should fulfil their own duties, and the 
lower not resist the higher. Dated the nth 
of June, in the consulship of the illustrious 
Opilio (453). 

LETTER CXX. 

To Theodoret, Bishop of Cyrus, on 
Perseverance in the Faith. 

Leo, the bishop, to his beloved brother 
Theodoret, the bishop. 

I. He congratulates Theodoret on their joint 
victory, and expresses his approval of an 
honest inquiry which leads to good results. 

On the return of our brothers and fellow- 
priests, whom the See of the blessed Peter 
sent to the holy council, we ascertained, be- 
loved, the victory you and we together had 
won by assistance from on high over the 
blasphemy of Nestorius, as well as over the 
madness of Eutyches. Wherefore we make 
our boast in the Lord, singing with the pro- 
phet : " our help is in the name of the Lord, 
who hath made heaven and earth 8 : " who has 
suffered us to sustain no harm in the person 
}f our brethren, but has corroborated by the 
rrevocable assent of the whole brotherhood 



what He had already laid down through our 
ministry : to show that, what had been first 
formulated by the foremost See of Christen- 
dom, and then received by the judgment of 
the whole Christian world, had truly proceeded 
from Himself: that in this, too, the members 
may be at one with the Head. And herein 
our cause for rejoicing grows greater when we 
see that the more fiercely the foe assailed 
Christ's servants, the more did he afflict him- 
self. For lest the assent of other Sees to 
that which the Lord of all has appointed to 
take precedence of the rest might seem mere 
complaisance, or lest any other evil suspicion 
might creep in, some were found to dispute 
our decisions before they were finally ac- 
cepted 9. And while some, instigated by the 
author of the disagreement, rush forward into 
a warfare of contradictions, a greater good 
results through his fall under the guiding hand 
of the Author of all goodness. For the gifts 
of God's grace are sweeter to us when they 
are gained with mighty efforts : and uninter- 
rupted peace is wont to seem a lesser good 
than one that is restored by labours. More- 
over, the Truth itself shines more brightly, 
and is more bravely maintained when what 
the Faith had already taught is afterwards 
confirmed by further inquiry. And still fur- 
ther, the good name of the priestly office gains 
much in lustre where the authority of the 
highest is preserved without it being thought 
that the liberty of the lower ranks has been 
at all infringed. And the result of a discussion 
contributes to the greater glory of God when 
the debaters exert themselves with confidence 
in overcoming the gainsayers : that what of 
itself is shown wrong may not seem to be 
passed over in prejudicial silence. 

II. Christ's victory has won back many to the 

Faith. 

Exult therefore, beloved brother, yes, exult 
triumphantly in the only-begotten Son of God. 
Through us He has conquered for Himself 
the reality of Whose flesh was denied. 
Through us and for us He has conquered, 
in whose cause we have conquered. This 
happy day ranks next to the Lord's Advent 
for the world. The robber is laid low, and 
there is restored to our age the mystery of the 
Divine Incarnation which the enemy of man- 
kind was obscuring with his chicaneries, be- 
cause the facts would not let him actually 
destroy it. Nay, the immortal mystery had 



7 See Lett. CXX., chap, vi., nole 7 



8 Ps. exxiii. 8. 



9 These were, of course, the bishops of Illyricum and Palestine, 
who raised objections at various points in the reading of Leo's 
Tome at Chalcedon. They were allowed five days to reconsider 
the matter, and ultimately yielded their consent. See Introduc- 
tion, p. x., and Blight's notes to the Tome, who gives their 
objections and the answers in detail, esp. nn. 148, 156, 160, and 173. 



88 



LETTERS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



perished from the hearts of unbelievers, be- 
cause so great salvation is of no avail to un- 
believers, as the Very Truth said to His 
disciples : " he that believeth and is baptized 
shall be saved ; but he that believeth not 
shall be condemned \" The rays of the 
Sun of Righteousness which were obscured 
throughout the East by the clouds of Nes- 
torius and Eutyches, have shone out brightly 
from the West, where it has reached its zenith 
in the Apostles and teachers of the Church. 
And yet not even in the East is it to be 
believed that it was ever eclipsed where noble 
confessors 2 have been found among your 
ranks : so that, when the old enemy was 
trying afresh, through the impenitent heart 
of a modern Pharaoh 3, to blot out the seed 
of faithful Abraham and the sons of promise, 
he grew weary, through God's mercy, and 
could harm no one save himself. And in 
regard to him the Almighty has worked this 
wonder also, in that He has not overwhelmed 
with the founder of the tyranny those who 
were associated with him in the slaughter 
of the people of Israel, but has gathered them 
into His own people ; and as the Source of 
all mercy knew to be worthy of Himself and 
possible for Himself alone, He has made 
them conquerors with us who were conquered 
by us. For whilst the spirit of falsehood is 
the only true enemy of the human race, it is 
undoubted that all whom the Truth has won 
over to His side share in His triumph over 
that enemy. Assuredly it now is clear how 
divinely authorized are these words of our 
Redeemer, which are so applicable to the 
enemies of the Faith that one may not doubt 
they were said of them : " You," He says, 
"are of your father the devil, and the lusts 
of your father it is your will to fulfil. He 
was a murderer from the beginning and stood 
not in the truth, because the truth is not in 
him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh 
of his own : for he is a liar and the father 
thereof!" 

III. Dioscorus, who in his madness has attacked 
even the bishop of Rome, has shown himselj 
the instrument of Satan. 

It is not to be wondered, then, that they who 
have accepted a delusion as to our nature in the 
true God agree with their father on these 
points also, maintaining that what was seen, 
heard, and in fact, by the witness of the gospel, 
touched and handled in the only Son of God, 
belonged not to that to which it was proved 



* S. Mark xvi. 16. 

' He is thinking especially of the martyred Flavian. 

3 Dioscorus of Alexandria is meant. 

4 S. John viii. 44. 



to belong s, but to an essence co-eternal and 
consubstantial with the Father : as if the 
nature of the Godhead could have been 
pierced on the Cross, as if the Unchangeable 
could grow from infancy to manhood, or the 
eternal Wisdom could progress in wisdom, or 
God, who is a Spirit, could thereafter be filled 
with the Spirit. In this, too, their sheer 
madness betrayed its origin, because, as far as 
it could, it attempted to injure everybody. 
For he, who afflicted you with his persecu- 
tions, led others wrong by driving them to 
consent to his wickedness. Yea, even us too, 
although he had wounded us in each one of 
the brethren (for they are our members), even 
us he did not exempt from special vexation 
in attempting to inflict an injury upon his 
Head with strange and unheard of and in- 
credible effrontery 6 . But would that he had 
recovered his senses even after all these 
enormities, and had not saddened us by his 
death and eternal damnation. There was no 
measure of wickedness that he did not reach : 
it was not enough for him that, sparing neither 
living nor dead, and forswearing truth and 
allying himself with falsehood, he imbrued his 
hands, that had been already long polluted, 
in the blood of a guiltless, catholic priest 7. 
And since it is written : " he that hateth his 
brother is a murderer 8 :" he has actually 
carried out what he was said already to have 
done in hate, as if he had never heard of this 
nor of that which the Lord says, " learn of 
Me ; for I am meek and lowly in heart, and 
ye shall find rest unto your souls : for My 
yoke is easy and My burden is lights." 
A worthy preacher of the devil's errors has 
been found in this Egyptian plunderer, who, 
like the cruellest tyrant the Church has had, 
forced his villainous blasphemies on the 
reverend brethren through the violence of 
riotous mobs and the blood-stained hands 
of soldiers. And when our Redeemer's voice 
assures us that the author of murder and of 
lying is one and the same, He has carried out 
both equally : as if these things were written 
not to be avoided but to be perpetrated : and 
thus does he apply to the completion of his 
destruction the salutary warnings of the Son 
of God, and turns a deaf ear to what the same 
Lord has said, " I speak that which I have 



5 Viz. to human nature. 

6 A reference to Letter XCVIII. (from the Synod of Chalcedon 
to Leo), chap. ii. shows that Dioscorus had threatened Leo with 
excommunication ; excommujiicationem meditatus est centra it 
qui corpus ecclesice tcnirefestinas. 

7 This was of course Flavian. Quesnel quotes Liberatus the 
deacon (chap. x. of the Breviary) as asserting that no sooner wns 
Dioscorus made bishop of Alexandria than oppressit Cyrilh 
heredes et per calumnias multas ab eis abstulit pecunias. His 
accusers at Chalcedon charge him with being an Origenist, an 
Arian, a murderer, an incendiary, and an evil liver generally 

8 i S. John iii. 15. 9 S. Matt. xi. 29, 30. 






LETTER CXX. 



89 



seen with My Father ; and ye do that which 
ye have seen with your father I ." 

IV. Those who undertake to speak authorita- 
tively on doctrine, must preserve the balance 
between the extremes. 

Accordingly while he strove to cut short 
Flavian of blessed memory's life in the pre- 
sent world, he has deprived himself of the 
light of true life. While he tried to drive you 
out of your churches, he has cut off himself 
from fellowship with Christians. While he 
drags and drives many into agreement with 
error, he has stabbed his own soul with many 
a wound, a solitary convicted offender beyond 
all, and through all and for all, for he was the 
cause of all men's being accused. But, al- 
though, brother, you who are nurtured on 
solid food, have little need of such reminders, 
yet that we mny fulfil what belongs to our 
position according to that utterance of the 
Apostle who says, " Besides these things that 
are without, that which presseth on me daily, 
anxiety for all the churches. Who is weakened 
and I am not weak ? Who is made to stumble 
and I burn not 2 ?" we believe this admoni- 
tion ought to be given especially on the pre- 
sent occasion, that whenever by the ministra- 
tion of the Divine grace we either overwhelm 
or cleanse those who are without, in the pool 
of doctrine, we go not away in aught from 
those rides of Faith which the Godhead of the 
Holy Ghost brought forward at the Council 
of Chalcedon, and weigh our words with 
every caution so as to avoid the two extremes 
of new false doctrine 3 : not any longer (God 
forbid it) as if debating what is doubtful, but 
with full authority laying down conclusions 
already arrived at ; for in the letter which we 
issued from the Apostolic See, and which has 
been ratified by the assent of the entire holy 
Synod, we know that so many divinely author- 
ised witnesses are brought together, that no 
one can entertain any further doubt, except one 
jwho prefers to enwrap himself in the clouds 
of error, and the proceedings of the Synod 
whether those in which we read the formu- 
lating of the definition of Faith, or those in 
which the aforesaid letter of the Apostolic See 
was zealously supported by you, brother, and 
especially the address of the whole Council to 
our most religious Princes, are corroborated 
by the testimonies of so many fathers in the 
past that they must persuade any one, however 
anwise and stubborn his heart, so long as he 
be not already joined with the devil in dam- 
nation for his wickedness. 



» S. John viii. 38. 2 2 Cor. xi. 28, 29. 

3 Inter utrumqiie kostetn novella perfidite, sc. Nestorianism 
rnd Eutychianism. 



V. Theodorefs orthodoxy has been happily and 
thoroughly vindicated. 
Wherefore this, too, it is our duty to pro- 
vide against the Church's enemies, that, as far 
as in us lies, we leave them no occasion for 
slandering us, nor yet, in acting against the 
Nestorians or Eutychians, ever seem to have 
retreated before the other side, but that we 
shun and condemn both the enemies of Christ 
in equal measure, so that whenever the interesis 
of the hearers in any way require it, we may 
with all promptitude and clearness strike down 
them and their doctrines with the anathema 
that they deserve, lest if we seem to do this 
doubtfully or tardily, we be thought to act 
against our will*. And although the facts 
themselves are sufficient to remind your wis- 
dom of this, yet now actual experience has 
brought the lesson home. But blessed be our 
God, whose invincible Truth has shown you 
free from all taint of heresy in the judgment 
of the Apostolic See 5 . To whom you will 
repay due thanks for all these labours, if you 
keep yourself such a defender of the universal 
Church as we have proved and do still prove 
you. For that God has dispelled all calum- 
nious fallacies, we attribute to the blessed 
Peter's wondrous care of us all, for after sanc- 
tioning the judgment of his See in defining 
the Faith, he allowed no sinister imputation 
to rest on any of you, who have laboured with 
us for the catholic Faith : because the Holy 
Spirit adjudged that no one could fail to come 
out conqueror of those whose Faith had now 
conquered. 

VI. He asks Theodoret for his continued co- 
operation, and refers him to a letter which 
he has written to the bishop of Antioch. 

It remains that we exhort you to con- 
tinue your co-operation with the Apostolic 
See, because we have learnt that some rem- 
nants of the Eutychian and Nestorian error 
still linger amongst you. For the victory 
which Christ our Lord has vouchsafed to His 
Church, although it increases our confidence, 
does not yet entirely destroy our anxiety, nor 
is it granted us to sleep but to work on more 
calmly. Hence it is we wish to be assisted 
in this too by your watchful care, that you 



4 The Ballerinii remind us that all these allusions to keeping 
the balance of Truth in this and the last chapter, and here to 
acting promptissime et evidentissime were intended for Theo- 
doret's especial benefit, who from his former defence of Nestorius 
and attacks on Cyril had been suspected of the Nestorian taint, 
but had expressly cleared himself at the Council of Chalcedon. 
This explains the res ipsa and experimenta of the next sentence, 
and the solemn adjuration of the sentence next but one. 

5 See the Acts of Chalcedon 1, ingrediatur et reverendissimus 
episcopus Theodoretus ut sit particeps synndi, quia et rejtituit 
ei episcopatum sanctissimus archiepiscopus Leo, and 8, where the 
judges ask for a verdict, "sicut et sanctissimus Leo archiepiscopus 
iudicavit," to which the whole council replied Post JDeum Leo 
iudicavit. 



90 



LETTERS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



hasten to inform the Apostolic See by your 
periodic reports what progress the Lord's 
teaching makes in those regions ; to the end 
that we may assist the priests of that district 
in whatever way experience suggests. 

On those matters which were mooted in the 
often-quoted council, in unlawful opposition to [ 
the venerable canons of Nicaea, we have written 
to our brother and fellow-bishop, the occupant 
of the See of Antioch 6 , adding that too which 
you had given us verbal information about 
by your delegates with reference to the un- 
scrupulousness of certain monks, and laying 
down strict injunctions that no one, be he 
monk 7 or layman, that boasts himself of some 
knowledge, should presume to preach except 
the Lord's priests. That letter, however, we 
wish to reach all men's knowledge for 'the 
benefit of the universal Church through our 
aforesaid brother and fellow-bishop Maximus ; 
and for that reason we have not thought fit 
to add a copy of it to this ; because we have 
no doubt of the due carrying out of our in- 
junctions to our aforesaid brother and fellow- 
bishop. (In another hand.) God keep thee 
safe, beloved brother. Dated 1 1 June in the 
consulship of the illustrious Opilio (453). 

LETTERS CXXL and CXXII. 

The former to Marcian Augustus, and 
the other to julian the blshop. 

Asking him for further inquiries and infor- 
mation about the proper date for Easter in 
455 ; cf. Letter LXXXVIII. chap. 4, above. 

LETTER CXXIII. 

To Eudocia Augusta 8 , about the Monks 
of Palestine 9. 

Leo, the bishop, to Eudocia Augusta. 

I. A request that she should use her influence 
with the monks of Palestine in reducing them 
to order. 

I do not doubt that your piety is aware how 
great is my devotion to the catholic Faith, 
and with what care I am bound, God helping 
me, to guard against the Gospel of truth 
being withstood at any time by ignorant 
or disloyal men. And, therefore, after ex- 
pressing to you my dutiful greetings which 
your clemency is ever bound to receive at 



6 This is Letter CXIX. to Maximus, bishop of Antioch 

7 It must be remembered that monachns esse in those days 
meant complete withdrawal from all active life in the world the 
preaching orders being a much later institution. The Balle'rihii 
suggest that it may have been a certain abbot Barsumas, who with 
his followers is said (Act. Chalc. 4) totam Syriam commovisse. 
See also Lett. CXIX., chap. vi. 

8 See Letter CXVIL, chap, ill., n. 8. 

9 See Letter CIX. above. 



my hands, I entreat the Lord to gladden me 
with the news of your safety, and to bring aid 
evermore and more by your means to the 
maintenance of that article of the Faith over 
which the minds of certain monks within the 
province of Palestine have been much dis- 
turbed ; so that to the best of your pious zeal 
all confidence in such heretical perversity may 
be destroyed. For what but sheer destruction 
was to be feared by men who were not moved 
either by the principles of God's mysteries x , 
or by the authority of the Scriptures, or by 
the evidence of the sacred places themselves 2 . 
May it advantage then the Churches, as by 
God's favour it does advantage them, and may 
it advantage the human race itself which the 
Word of God adopted at the Incarnation, that 
you have conceived the wish to take up your 
abode in that country 3 where the proofs of 
His wondrous acts and the signs of His suffer- 
ings speak to you of our Lord Jesus Christ 
as not only true God but also true Man. 

II. They are to be told that the catholic Faith 
rejects both the Eu'ychian and the Nestorian 
extremes. He wishes to be informed how far 
she succeeds. 

If then the aforesaid revere and love the 
name of " catholic," and wish to be numbered 
among the members of the Lord's body, let 
them reject the crooked errors which in their 
rashness they have committed, and let them 
show penitence 4 for their wicked blasphemies 
and deeds of bloodshed 5 . For the salvation 
of their souls let them yield to the synodal 
decrees which have been confirmed in the 
city of Chalcedon. And because nothing but 
true faith and quiet humility attains to the 
understanding of the mystery of man's salva- 
tion, let them believe what they read in the 
Gospel, what they confess in the Creed, and 
not mix themselves up with unsound doctrines. 
For as the catholic Faith condemns Nestorius, 
who dared to maintain two persons in our one 
Lord Jesus Christ, so does it also condemn 
Eutyches and Dioscorus 6 who deny that the 



1 Ratio sacramentorutn, it cannot be too often lepeated that 
to Leo am! other early Fathers, all nature, and all its phenomena, I 
and all God's dealings with mankind are sacramenta. and capable 
of a sacramental (i.e. higher, inner) interpretation : the particular 
sacrameutum he is thinking of here is the Incarnation, which he 1 
speaks of just below, as often elsewhere, as the sacrament inn 
salutis humaiue (the sacrament or mystery whereby man is 
saved). 

2 Viz., the places in Palestine where these monks themselves 
lived, which trustworthy history or tradition connects with the 
various incidents in our Lord's life. 

3 Eudocia had just made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. 

4 Agant poenitentiam : this is the regular and very expressive 
translation in the Latin Versions and among the Fathers of the 
Greek ^ravoelv. 

5 They had seized Jerusalem, and deposed Juvenal, the 
Bishop, setting up a partisan of their own in his stead. 

6 Leo not infrequently joins these two together as equally 
responsible (e.g. Lett. CIX. 3). 



LETTER CXXIV. 



91 



true human flesh was assumed in the Virgin 
Mother's womb by the only-begotten Word 
of God. 

If your exhortations have any success in 
convincing these persons, which will win for 
you eternal glory, I beseech your clemency 
to inform me of it by letter ; that I may have 
the joy of knowing that you have reaped the 
fruit of your good work, and that they through 
the Lord's mercy have not perished. Dated 
the 15th of June, in the consulship of the 
illustrious Opilio (453)- 

LETTER CXXIV. 

To the Monks of Palestine. 

Leo, the bishop, to the whole body of 
monks settled throughout Palestine. 

I. They have possibly been misled by a ivrong 
translation of his letter on the Incarnation to 
Flavian. 

The anxious care, which I owe to the 
whole Church and to all its sons, has ascer- 
tained from many sources that some offence 
has been given to your minds, beloved, through 
my interpreters ?, who being either ignorant, as 
it appears, or malicious, have made you take 
some of my statements in a different sense to 
what I meant, not being capable of turning 
the Latin into Greek with proper accuracy, 
although in the explanation of subtle and 
difficult matters, one who undertakes to dis- 
cuss them can scarcely satisfy himself even in 
his own tongue. And yet this has so far been 
of advantage to me, that by your disapproving 
of what the catholic Faith rejects, we know 
you are greater friends to the true than to 
the false : and that you quite properly refuse 
to believe what I myself also abhor, in accord- 
ance with ancient doctrine 8 . For although my 
letter addressed to bishop Flavian, of holy 
memory, is of itself sufficiently explicit, and 
stands in no need either of correction or ex- 
planation, yet other of my writings harmonize 
with that letter, and in them my position will 
be found similarly set forth. For necessity 
was laid upon me to argue against the. heretics 
who have thrown many of Christ's peoples 
into confusion, both before our most merciful 
princes and the holy synodal Council, and the 
church of Constantinople, and thus I have 
laid down what we ought to think and feel on 
the Incarnation of the Word according to the 



7 It will be remembered that Leo himself knew not a word 
of the language, which will account for his uncertainty, consequent 
helplessness, and uneasiness in this and other cases where a 
knowledge of the language would have served him in excellent 
stead. 

8 I.e. so much good at all events has come from your objection 
that we know you are strongly opposed to Eutyches, at present 
my own special abhorrence. 



teaching of the Gospel and Apostles, and in 
nothing have I departed from the creed of the 
holy Fathers : because the Faith is one, true, 
unique, catholic, and to it nothing can be 
added, nothing taken away : though Nestorius 
first, and now Eutyches, have endeavoured to 
assail it from an opposite standpoint, but with 
similar disloyalty, and have tried to impose on 
the Church of God two contradictory heresies, 
which has led to their both being deservedly 
condemned by the disciples of the Truth , 
because the false view which they both held in 
different ways was exceedingly mad and sacri- 
legious. 

II. Eutyches, who confounds the persons, is as 
much to be rejected as JVestorius, who separates 
them 9. 

Nestorius, therefore, must be anathematized 
for believing the Blessed Virgin Mary to be 
mother of His manhood only, whereby he 
made the person of His flesh one thing, and 
that of His Godhead another, and did not 
recognize the one Christ in the Word of God 
and in the flesh, but spoke of the Son of 
God as separate and distinct from the son 
of man : although, without losing that un- 
changeable essence which belongs to Him 
together with the Father and the Holy Spirit 
from all eternity and without respect of time, 
the " Word became flesh " within the Virgin's 
womb in such wise that by that one conception 
and one parturition she was at the same time, 
in virtue of the union of the two substances, 
both handmaid and mother of the Lord. 
This Elizabeth also knew, as Luke the evan- 
gelist declares, when she said : " Whence is 
this to me that the mother of my Lord should 
come to me * ? " But Eutyches also must be 
stricken with the same anathema, who,, be- 
coming entangled in the treacherous errors of 
the old heretics, has chosen the third dogma 
of Apollinaris 2 : so that he denies the reality 
of his human flesh and soul, and maintains 
the whole of our Lord Jesus Christ to be of 
one nature, as if the Godhead of the Word 
had turned itself into flesh and soul : and as if 
to be conceived and born, to be nursed and 
grow, to be crucified and die, to be buried and 
rise again, and to ascend into heaven and to 
sit on the Father's right hand, from whence 
He shall come to judge the living and the 
dead — as if all those things belonged to that 
essence only which admits of none of them 



9 The whole of chap. ii. will be found repeated in Ep. clxv. 
chap. ii. 1 Luke i. 43. 

a Cf. Ep. xxii. chap. 3 " conahis—antiqua impii Valtnlini" 
(the adherent of Apollinaris and head of one of the sections ol 
Apollinsrians after his death) " et Apollinaris mala dogmata re- 
novare." The third dogma of Apollinaris was that " Christ's man- 
hood was formed out of a divine substance." Bright, 147. 



92 



LETTERS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



without the reality of the flesh : seeing that 
the nature of the Only-begotten is the nature 
of the Father, the nature of the Holy Spirit, 
and that the undivided unity and consub- 
stantial equality of the eternal Trinity is at 
once impassible and unchangeable. But if 3 
this heretic withdraws from the perverse views 
of Apollinaris, lest he be proved to hold that 
the Godhead is passible 4 and mortal : and yet 
dares to pronounce the nature of the Incarnate 
Word that is of the Word made Flesh one, he 
undoubtedly crosses over into the mad view 
of Manichaeus 5 and Marcion 6 , and believes 
that the man Jesus Christ, the mediator be- 
tween God and men, did all things in an 
unreal way, and had not a human body, 
but that a phantom-like apparition presented 
itself to the beholders' eyes. 

III. The acknowledgment of 'our nature in Christ 
is necessary to orthodoxy. 

As these iniquitous lies were once rejected 
by the catholic Faith, and such men's blas- 
phemies condemned by the unanimous votes 
of the blessed Fathers throughout the world, 
whoever these are that are so blinded and 
strange to the light of truth as to deny the 
presence of human, that is our, nature in the 
Word of God from the time of the Incarna- 
tion, they must show on what ground they 
claim the name of Christian, and in what wa\ 
they harmonize with the true Gospel, if the 
child-bearing of the blessed Virgin produced 
either the flesh without the Godhead or the 
Godhead without the flesh. For as it cannot 
be denied that "the Word became flesh and 
dwelt in us 7," so it cannot be denied that 
"God was in Christ, reconciling the world 
to Himself 8 ." But what reconciliation can 
there be, whereby God might be propitiated 
for the human race, unless the mediator be- 
tween God and man took up the cause of all ? 



3 Eutyches had expressly tried to guard himself against this 
imputation: Ep. xxi. chap. 3, '■ anathemiitizans Apollinarinm 
Valentinum, Manem et Nestorium, &c." See Bright's valuable 
notes 32, 33, 34, and esp. 35, where he shows that " it was polemical 
rhetoric to say that he was reviving Apollinarian or Valentinian 
theories." 

4 It must be clearly understood that this ugly word is here and 
elsewhere employed to translate passibilis (naetiTot) for no reason 
except the necessity of the case : pati and nd<rxei.v are both of fai 
wider and broader signification than "suffer" or its synonyms: 
they are simply the passive of/acere and n-oieii' (ffpao-o-etp) ami 
there is no proper equivalent in ordinary English parlance. This 
tendency of terms to become more and more narrow and ol 
particular application is constantly meeting and baffling one in 
translating the Latin and Greek languages. 

5 Leo elsewhere also makes this hardly justifiable inference 
that Eutychianism is a new form of Docetism as this view was 
called ;_ chap. vi. below, and Serm. lxv. c. 4 " 'isli phantasmatici 
Christian!, also xxvui. 4, and lxiv. 1, 2. That the Manichaeans 
,naturally held Docetic views on the Incarnation is obv'ous when 

we remember that their fundamental misconception was that matter 
is identical with evil. 

6 Marcion was the founder of one of the most formidable 
Gnostic sects towards the close of the second century : Tertullian 
wrote a famous treatise (still extant) against him. Like other 
Gnostics, his views involved him in 1 >ocetism. 

7 S. John i. 14. 8 2 Cor. v. 19. 



And in what way could He properly fulfil His 
mediation, unless He who in the form of God 
was equal to the Father, were a sharer of our 
nature also in the form of a slave : so that the 
one new Man might effect a renewal of the 
old : and the bond of death fastened on us by 
one man's wrong-doing 9 might be loosened 
by the death of the one Man who alone owed 
nothing to death. For the pouring out of the 
blood of the righteous on behalf of the un- 
righteous was so powerful in its effect *, so 
rich a ransom that, if the whole body of us 
prisoners only believed in their Redeemer, not 
one would be held in the tyrant's bonds : since 
as the Apostle says, " where sin abounded, 
grace also did much more abound 2 ." And 
since we, who were born under the imputa- 
tion 3 of sin, have received the power of a 
new birth unto righteousness, the gift of 
liberty has become stronger than the debt of 
slavery. 

IV. They only benefit by the blood of Christ 
who truly share in His death and resur- 
rection. 

What hope then do they, who deny the 
reality of the human person in our Saviour's 
body, leave for themselves in the efficacy of 
this mystery? Let them say by what sacrifice 
they have been reconciled, by what blood- 
shedding brought back. Who is He " who 
gave Himself for us an offering and a 
victim to God for a sweet smell + :" or what 
sacrifice was ever more hallowed than that 
which the true High priest placed upon the 
altar of the cross by the immolation of His 
own flesh ? For although in the sight of the 
Lord the death of many of His saints has 
been precious s, yet no innocent's death was 
the propitiation of the world. The righteous 
have received, not given, crowns : and from 
the endurance of the faithful have arisen ex- 
amples of patience, not the gift of justification. 
For their deaths affected themselves alone, 
and no one has paid off another's debt by his 
own death 6 : one alone among the sons of 

9 Pr&varicatio : this is a legal term which is often used of sin 
(esp. in connexion with Adam's transgression). Its original tech- 
nical meaning is the action of an advocate who plays into the 
enemy's hand. In theology the devil (6iaj3oAos) is man's adversary, 
and man himself is befooled into collusion with him by breaking 
God's law. 

1 Potens ad privilegium : privileghim is another legal term 
signifying technically a bill framed to meet an individual case 
generally in a detrimental way, such bills being against the spirit 
of the Roman law: here Leo uses it in a sense more nearly 
approaching our English idea of " privilege." 

8 Rom. v. 20. 

3 Sub peccati preBhidicio: yet a third legal term: prcehidiciirm 
in Roman law was a semi-formal and anticipatory verdict by the 
judge before the case came on for final decision in court; in 
chapter vi. we have the verb prceiudicare. 

4 Eph. v. 2. S Cf. Ps. cxv. 5. 

6 The idea of vicarious death was not unfamiliar to the Greeks 
and Romans : e.g. Alkestis dying for her husband Admetos. and 
the fairly numerous examples of "devotion" of Roman Generals 
on the battlefield. 



LETTER CXXIV. 



93 



men, our Lord Jesus Christ, stands out as One 
in whom all are crucified, all dead, all buried, 
all raised again. Of them He Himself said : 
" when I am lifted from the earth, I will draw 
all (things) unto Me?." True faith also, that 
justifies the transgressors and makes them 
just, is drawn to Him who shared their human 
nature, and wins salvation in Him, in whom 
alone man finds himself not guilty ; and thus is 
free to glory in the power of Him who in the 
humiliation of our flesh engaged in conflict 
with the haughty foe, and shared His victory 
with those in whose body He had triumphed. 

V. The actions of Christ's two natures must be 
kept distinct. 

Although therefore in our one Lord Jesus 
Christ, the true Son of God and man, the 
person of the Word and of the flesh is one, and 
both beings have their actions in common 8 : 
yet we must understand the character of the 
acts themselves, and by the contemplation of 
sincere faith distinguish those to which the 
humility of His weakness is brought from 
those to which His sublime power is inclined : 
what it is that the flesh without the Word or 
the Word without the flesh does not do. For 
instance, without the power of the Word the 
Virgin would not have conceived nor brought 
forth : and without the reality of the flesh His 
infancy would not have laid wrapt in swaddling 
clothes. Without the power of the Word the 
Magi would not have adored the Child that a 
new star had pointed out to them : and with- 
out the reality of the flesh that Child would 
not have been ordered to be carried away into 
Egypt and withdrawn from Herod's perse- 
cution. Without the power of the Word the 
Father's voice uttered from the sky would not 
have said, " This is My beloved Son, in whom 
I am well pleased ° :" and without the reality of 
the flesh John would not have been able to 
point to Him and say : " Behold the Lamb of 
God, behold Him that beareth away the sins 
of the world '." Without the power of the 
Word there would have been no restoring of 
the sick to health, no raising of the dead to 
life : and without the reality of the flesh He 
would not have hungered and needed food, 
nor grown weary and needed rest. Lastly, 
without the power of the Word, the Lord 
would not have professed Himself equal to 
the Father, and without the reality of the 
Mesh He would not also have said that the 



1 S. John xii. 32, ovinia: with the Vulgate. 

8 It is scarcely necessary to point out mat the old story of the 
communicatio idiomatum' is here again discussed : cf. the Tome, 

:hapters iv. and v. 

9 S. Matt. iii. 17, and Bright's note 5. 

1 S. John i. 29 : the repetition of the Ecee (behold) is in 
ccordance with the old Latin version* : cf. Westcott in loc. 



Father was greater than He : for the catholic 
Faith upholds and defends both positions, be- 
lieving the only Son of God to be both Man 
and the Word according to the distinctive 
properties of His divine and human substance. 

VI. There is no confusion of the two natures in 
Christ 2 . 

Although therefore from that beginning 
whereby in the Virgin's womb " the Word 
became flesh," no sort of division ever arose 
between the Divine and the human substance, 
and through all the growth and changes of 
His body, the actions were of one Person the 
whole time, yet we do not by any mixing of 
them up confound those very acts which were 
done inseparably : and from the character of 
the acts we perceive what belonged to either 
form. For neither do His Divine acts affect 3 
His human, nor His human acts His Divine, 
since both concur in this way and to this very 
end that in their operation His twofold quali- 
ties be not absorbed the one by the other, nor 
His individuality doubled. Therefore let those 
Christian phantom-mongers •* tell us, what 
nature of the Saviour's it was that was fast- 
ened to the wood of the Cross, that lay in the 
tomb, and that on the third day rose in the 
flesh when the stone was rolled away from the 
grave : or what kind of body Jesus presented 
to His disciples' eyes entering when the doors 
were shut upon them : seeing that to drive 
away the beholders' disbelief, He required 
them to inspect with their eyes and to handle 
with their hands the still open prints of the 
nails and the flesh wound of His pierced side. 
But if in spite of the truth being so clear, their 
persistence in heresy will not abandon their 
position in the darkness, let them show whence 
they promise themselves the hope of eternal 
life, which no one can attain to, save through 
the mediator between God and man, the man 
Jesus Christ. For "there is not another name 
given to men under heaven, in which they 
must be saved s ." Neither is there any ransom- 
ing of men from captivity, save in His blood, 
" who gave Himself a ransom for all 6 : " who, 
as the blessed apostle proclaims, " when He 
was in the form of God, thought it not robbery 
that He was equal with God ; but emptied 
Himself, receiving the form of a slave, Leing 
made in the likeness of men, and being found 
in fashion as a man He humbled Himself, 
being made obedient even unto death, the 
death of the cross. For which reason God 



2 Considerable portions of this chapter are found repeated word 
for word in Sermon LXIV. chap. i. and iv. 

3 Lat. prce indicant , see note 3 to chap, iii., above. 

4 Isti phantasmatici Ckristiani, cf. note 5, above. 

5 Acts iv. 12. 6 1 Tim. ii. 6. 



94 



LETTERS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



also exalted Him, and gave Him a name 
which is above every name : that in the name 
of Jesus every knee may bow of things in 
heaven, of things on the earth, and of things 
under the earth, and that every tongue may 
confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the 
glory of God the Father 7." 

VII. // was as being " in form of a slave" not 
as Son of God that He was exalted. 

8 Although therefore the Lord Jesus Christ is 
one, and the true Godhead and true Manhood 
in Him forms absolutely one and the same 
person, and the entirety of this union cannot 
be separated by any division, yet the exalta- 
tion wherewith "God exalted Him," and 
" gave Him a name which excels every name," 
we understand to belong to that form which 
needed to be enriched by this increase of 
glory 9. Of course " in the form of God" the 
Son was equal to the Father, and between the 
Father and the Only-begotten there was no 
distinction in point of essence, no diversity in 
point of majesty : nor through the mystery x of 
the Incarnation had the Word been deprived 
of anything which should be restored Him by 
the Father's gift. But " the form of a slave " 
by which the impassible Godhead fulfilled 
a pledge of mighty loving-kindness 2 , is human 
weakness which was lifted up into the glory of 
the divine power, the Godhead and the man- 
hood being right from the Virgin's conception 
so completely united that without the manhood 
the divine acts, and without the Godhead the 
human acts were not performed. For which 
reason as the Lord of majesty is said to have 
been crucified, so He who from eternity is 
equal with God is said to have been exalted. 
Nor does it matter by which substance Christ 
is spoken of, since the unity of His person in- 
separably remaining He is at once both wholly 
Son of man according to the flesh and wholly 
Son of God according to His Godhead, which 
is one with the Father. Whatever therefore 
Christ received in time, He received in virtue 
of His manhood, on which are conferred what- 
soever it had not. For according to the power 
of the Word, "all things that the Father hath " 
the Son also hath indiscriminately, and what 
" in the form of a slave " He received from the 
Father, He also Himself gave in the form of 
the Father. He is in Himself at once both 



7 Phil. ii. 6— II. 

8 The whole of this chapter is repeated with slight variations 
in his letter (CLXV.) to Leo the Emperor (chaps. 8 and 9). 

9 Quce ditanda erat tantee glorificationis augmento ace. to 
Leo's use of the gerundive, see Tome, chap. i. quod . . . omnium 
regenertindorum voce depromitur. 

1 Here the word is actually mysterium, not, as usual, sacra- 
ment ton. 

2 Sacramentum magna pietatis, 1 Tim. iii. 16: cf. Bright's 
note 8. 



rich and poor; rich, because "in the begin- 
ning was the Word, and the Word was with 
God, and God was the Word. This was in 
the beginning with God. All things were 
made through Him, and without Him was 
made nothing:" and poor because "the Word 
became flesh and dwelt in us 3." But what is 
that emptying of Himself, or that poverty 
except the receiving of the form of a slave by 
which the majesty of the Word was veiled, 
and the scheme for man's redemption carried 
out ? For as the original chains of our captivity 
could not be loosed, unless a man of our race 
and of our nature appeared who was not under 
the prejudice of the old debt, and who with his 
untainted blood might blot out the bond of 
death «, as it had from the beginning been 
divinely fore-ordained, so it came to pass in 
the fulness of the appointed time that the 
promise which had been proclaimed in many 
ways might reach its long expected fulfilment, 
and that thus, what had been frequently an- 
nounced by one testimony after another, might 
have all doubtfulness removed. 

VIII. A protest against their faithlessness and 
inconsistency in this matter. 

And so, as all these heresies have been 
destroyed, which through the holy devotion 
of the presiding Fathers have been cut off 
from the body of the catholic unity, and which 
deserved to be exiles from Christ, because 
they have made the Incarnation of the Word, 
which is the one salvation of those who believe 
aright, a stone of offence and a stumbling- 
block to themselves, I am surprised that you, 
beloved, have any difficulty in discerning the 
li^ht of the Truth. And since it has been 
made clear by numerous explanations that the 
Christian Faith was right in condemning both 
Nestorius and Eutyches with Dioscorus, andi 
that a man cannot be called a Christian who; 
gives his assent to the blasphemous opinion 
of either the one or the other, I am grieved] 
that you are, as I hear, doing despite to 
the teaching of the Gospel and the Apostles 
by stirring up the various bodies of citizens 
with seditions, by disturbing the churches, and 
by inflicting not only insults, but even death,! 
upon priests and bishops, so that you lose 
sight of your resolves and profession s through 
your fury and cruelty. Where is your rule ol 
meekness and quietness ? where is the long- 
suffering of patience? where the tranquillity ol 
peace ? where the firm foundation of love and 
courage of endurance? what evil persuasion 
has carried you off, what persecution has 



3 S. John i. i — 3, 14. * The reference is to Col. ii. 14. 

5 Viz. as monks as well as baptized members of the church. 



LETTER CXXIX 



95 



separated you from the gospel of Christ ? or 
what strange craftiness of the Deceiver has 
shown itself that, forgetting the prophets and 
apostles, forgetting the health-giving creed and 
confession which you pronounced before manv 
witnesses when you received the sacrament of 
baptism you should give yourselves up to the 
the Devil's deceits? what effect would "the 
Claws 6 " and other cruel tortures have had 
on you if the empty comments of heretics have 
had so much weight in taking the purity of 
your faith by storm ? you think you are acting 
for the Faith and yet you go against the Faith. 
You arm yourselves in the name of the 
Church and yet fight against the Church. Is 
this what you have learnt from prophets, evan- 
gelists, and apostles? to deny the true flesh 
of Christ, to subject the very essence of the 
Word to suffering and death, to make our 
nature different from His who repaired it, and 
to reckon all that the cross uplifted, that the 
spear pierced, that the stone on the tomb 
\ received and gave back, to be only the work 
! of Divine power, and not also of human hu- 
mility? It is in reference to this humility that 
the Apostle says, " For I do not blush for the 
Gospel 7," inasmuch as he knew what a slur 
was cast upon Christians by their enemies. 
And, therefore, the Lord also made proclama- 
tion, saying: "he that shall confess Me before 
men him will I also confess before My 
Father 8 ." For these will not be worthy of 
the Son and the Father's acknowledgment in 
whom the flesh of Chiist awakens no respect : 
and they will prove themselves to have gained 
no virtue from the sign of the cross 9 who 
blush to avow with their lips what they have 
consented to bear upon their brows. 

IX. An exhortation to accept the catholic view 
of the Incarnation. 

Give up, my sons, give up these suggestions 
pf the devil. God's Truth nothing can impair, 
!Dut the Truth does not save us except in our 
lesh. For, as the prophet says, " truth is 
;prung out of the earth I ," and the Virgin 
Vlary conceived the Word in such wise that 
he ministered flesh of her substance to be 
inited to Him without the addition of a second 
>erson, and without the disappearance of her 
iature : seeing that He who was in the form 
>f God took the form of a slave in such wise 
hat Christ is one and the same in both forms : 
iOD bending Himself to the weak things of 
lan, and man rising up to the high things of 



' The Unguis (Claws) were among the numerous instruments 
th which Christians were tortured : cf. Tert. Apol. xii. 57, 
'gttiis deraditis latent cliristianorum ; Cypr. de la/sis chap. 
li. (cum) ungula effodeiet, caro me in colluctatione deseruit. 

1 Rom. i. 16. 8 S. Matt. x. 33. 9 Viz. in Baptism. 

■ Ps. lxxxv. 12. 



the Godhead, as the Apostle says, " whose are 
the fathers, and from whom, according to the 
flesh is Christ, who is above all things God 
blessed for ever. Amen 2 ." 

LETTER CXXV. 

To Julian, the Bishop, by Count 
Rodanus. 

(Asking him to write quickly, and not keep 
him in suspense.) 

LETTER CXXVI. 

To Marcian Augustus. 

(Congratulating him on the restoration of 
peace in Palestine.) 

LETTER CXXVI I. 

To Julian, Bishop of Cos. 

(About (1) affairs in Palestine, (2) a letter 
from Proterius, (3) the date of Easter, (4) his 
reply to the Synod of Chalcedon, (5) the 
deposition of Aetius.) 

LETTER CXXVII. 

To Marcian Augustus. 
(Professing readiness to be reconciled to 
Anatolius if he will abide by the canons and 
not infringe the prerogatives of others.) 

LETTER CXXIX. 

To Proterius, Bishop of Alexandria. 

Leo to Proterius, bishop of Alexandria. 

I. He commends his persistent loyalty to the 

Faith. 

Your letter, beloved, which our brother 
and fellow-bishop Nestorius duly brought us, 
has caused me great joy. For it was seemly 
that such an epistle should be sent by the 
head of the church of Alexandria to the 
Apostolic See, as showed that the Egyptians 
had from the first learnt from the teaching 
of the most blessed Apostle Peter through his 
blessed disciple Mark 3, that which it is agreed 
the Romans' have believed, that beside the 
Lord Jesus Christ " there is no other name 
given to men under heaven, in which they 
must be saved ♦." But because "all men 
have not faiths" and the crafty Tempter 
never delights so much in wounding the hearts 
of men as when he can poison their unwary 
minds with errors that are opposed to Gospel 
Truth, we must strive by the mighty teaching 
of the Holy Ghost to prevent Christian know- 



8 Rom. ix. 5. 

3 S. Mark was the reputed founder of the church of Alexandria. 
Cf. Letter IX. chap. i. 4 Acts iv. 12. 5 2 Thess. iii. 2. 



9 6 



LETTERS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



ledge from being perverted by the devil's 
falsehoods. And against this danger it be- 
hoves the rulers of the churches especially 
to guard and to avert from the minds of 
simple folk lies which are coloured by a cer- 
tain show of truth 6 . " For narrow and steep 
is the way which leads to life 7." And they 
seek to entrap men not so much b ■ watching 
their actions as by nice distinctions of meaning, 
corrupting the force of sentences by some very 
slight addition or alteration, whereby some- 
times a statement, which made for salvation, 
by a subtle change is turned to destruction. 
But since the Apostle says, "there must be 
heresies, that they which are approved may 
be made manifest among you 8 ," it tends to 
the progress of the whole Church, that, when- 
ever wickedness reveals itself in setting forth 
wrong opinions, the things which are harmful 
be not concealed, and that what will inevitably 
end in ruin may not injure the innocence 
of others. Wherefore they must put down 
their blind wanderings and downfalls to them- 
selves, who with rash obstinacy prefer to glory 
in their shame than to accept the offered 
remedy. You do right, brother, to be dis- 
pleased at their stubbornness, and we commend 
you for holding fast that teaching which has 
come down to us from the blessed Apostles 
and the holy Fathers. 

II. Let him fortify the faithful by the public 
reading aloud of (/notations from the Fathers 
bearing on the question and of the Tome. 
For there is no new preaching in the letter, 
which I wrote in reply to Flavian of holy 
memory, when he consulted me about the 
Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ ; for in 
nothing did I depart from that rule of Faith 
which was outspokenly maintained by your 
ancestors and ours. And if Dioscorus had 
been willing to follow and imitate them, he 
would have abided in the Body of Christ, 
having in the works of Athanasius9 of blessed 
memory the materials for instruction, and in 
the discourses of Theophilus? and Cyril 9 of 
holy remembrance the means rather of praise- 
worthily opposing the already condemned 
dogma than of choosing to consort with 
Eutyches in his blasphemy. This therefore, 
beloved brother, I advise in my anxiety for 
our common Faith that, because the enemies 
of Christ's cross lie in watch for all our words 
and syllables, we give them not the slightest 
occasion for falsely asserting that we agree 

6 See chap. ii. and more particularly Lett. CXXX. chap. 3 
from which it is evident that the Eutychians had sought to foist 
upon certain passages in the Tome a Nestorian interpretation. 

7 S. Matt. vii. 14. 8 , Cor. xi. 19. 

9 Who as he himself says in the next letter, eidem ecclesia 
firtrfnerunt (CXXX. ii.). 



with the Nestorian doctrine. And you must 
so diligently exhort the laity and clergy and 
all the brotherhood to advance in the Faith as 
to show that you teach nothing new but instil 
into all men's breasts those things, which the 
Fathers of revered memory have with harmony 
of statement taught, and with which in all 
things our epistle agrees. And this must be 
shown not only by your words but also by the 
actually reading aloud of previous statements, 
that God's people may know that what the 
Fathers received from their predecessors and 
handed on to their descendants, is still in- 
stilled into them in the present day. And to 
this end, when the statements of the aforesaid 
priests have first been read, then lastly let my 
writings also be recited, that the ears of the 
faithful may attest that we preach nothing else 
than what we received from our forefathers. 
And because their understandings are but little 
practised in discerning these things, let them 
at least learn from the letters of the Fathers, 
how ancient this evil is, which is now con- 
demned by us in Nestorius as well as in 
Eutyches, who have both been ashamed to 
preach the gospel of Christ according to the 
Lord's own teaching. 

III. The ancient precedents are to be main- 
tained throughout. 

Accordingly, both in the rule of Faith and 
in the observance of discipline, let the standard i 
of antiquity be maintained throughout, and do ; 
thou, beloved, display the firmness of a pru- 
dent ruler, that the church of Alexandria may 
get the benefit of my earnest resistance to the 
unprincipled ambition of certain people in 
maintaining its ancient privileges, and of my 
determination that all metropolitans should 
retain their dignity undiminished, as you will 
ascertain from the tenor of my letters, which 
I have addressed, whether to the holy Synod 
or to the most Christian Emperor, or to the Bi 
shop of Constantinople; for you will perceive 
that I have made it my special care to allow nc 
deviation from the rule of Faith in the Lord- 
churches, nor any diminution of their pn 
vileges through any individual's unscrupulous 
ness. And as this is so, hold fast, brother, td 
the custom of your predecessors, and keep du«' 
authority over your comprovincial bishops: 
who by ancient constitution are subject to th 
See of Alexandria ; so that they resist no 
ecclesiastical usage, and refuse not to mee 
together under your presidency, either at fixe* 
times or when any reasonable cause demand 
it : and that if anything has to be discussed i 
a general meeting which will be to the benef 
of the Church, when the brethren have thu 
met together, they may unanimously come t 






LETTER CXXXIX. 



97 



some resolution thereupon. For there is no- 
thing which ought to recall them from this 
obedience, seeing that both for faith and con- 
duct we have such good knowledge of you, 
brother, that we will not allow you to lose any 
of your predecessor's authority, nor to be 
slighted with impunity. Dated March ioth, 
in the consulship of the illustrious Aetius and 
Studius (454). 

LETTER CXXX. 

To Marcian Augustus. 

(Praising the orthodoxy of Proterius, advo- 
cating the public recital by him of passages 
bearing on the present controversy from the 
writings of Athanasius and others, and also of 
the Tome itself in a new Greek translation.) 

LETTER CXXXI. 

To Julian, Bishop of Cos. 

(Telling him he has received Proterius' 
letter, and asking for (1) a new Greek trans- 
lation of the Tome ; (2) a report on the Easter 
difficulty of the next year (455) ). 

LETTER CXXXII. 

From Anatolius, Bishop of Constanti- 
nople, to Leo. 

(In which he complains of the intermission 
in their correspondence, maintains his alle- 
giance to Rome, announces the restitution of 
Aetius, deprecates the charge of personal am- 
bition, and remits the proceedings of Chal- 
cedon for his approval.) 

LETTER CXXXIII. 

From Proterius, Bishop of Alexandria, 
to Leo. 

(Upon the Easter difficulty of 455.) 

LETTER CXXXIV. 

To Marcian Augustus. 

(Suggesting that Eutyches should be ban- 
ished to a still remoter place, where he cannot 
do so much harm by his false teaching.) 



LETTER CXXXV. 
To Anatolius. 
(In answer to CXXXII.) 



LETTER CXXXVII. 

TO THE SAME, AND ON THE SAME DAY. 

(On the subject of Easter, acknowledging 
the trouble Proterius has taken, — to which is 
joined a request that the accounts of the 
aconomi 1 should be audited by priests, not lay 
persons.) 

LETTER CXXXVIII. 

To the Bishops of Gaul and Spain. 

(On Easter.) 

LETTER CXXXIX. 

To Juvenal, Bishop of Jerusalem. 

Leo, bishop of the city of Rome, to Ju- 
venal, bishop of Jerusalem. 

I. He rejoices over Juvenal's return to ortho- 
doxy, though chiding him for having gone 
astray. 

When I received your letter, beloved, which 
our sons Andrew the presbyter and Peter the 
deacon brought me, I rejoiced indeed that 
you had been allowed to return to the seat of 
your bishopric ; but when all the reasons came 
to my remembrance, which brought you into 
such excessive troubles, I grieved to think 
you had been yourself the source of your 
adversities by failing in persistency of oppo- 
sition to the heretics : for men can but think 
you were not bold enough to refute those 
with whom when in error you professed 
yourself satisfied. For the condemnation of 
Flavian of blessed memory, and the ac- 
ceptance of the most unholy Eutyches, what 
was it but the denial of our Lord Jesus 
Christ according to the flesh ? which He 
Himself of His great mercy caused to be 
overthrown, when by the authority of the 
holy Council of Chalcedon He brought to 
nought that accursed judgment of the Synod 
of Ephesus without debarring any of the 
attainted from being healed by correction. 
And therefore, because in the time of long- 
suffering, you have chosen return to wisdom 
rather than persistency in folly, I rejoice that 
you have so sought the heavenly remedies as 
at last to have become a defender of the 
Faith which is assailed by heretics. For, 
though no priest ought to be ignorant of that 
which he preaches 2 , yet any Christian living 
at Jerusalem is more inexcusable than all the 



LETTER CXXXVI. 
To Marcian Augustus. 

(Simultaneously with CXXXV., on the sub- 
ect of his reconciliation with Anatolius.) 
vol. xii. h 



1 CEconomi (stewards) were officers appointed to manage the 
revenues of each diocese under the bishops' direction, when the 
bishops and their archdeacons had enough to do otherwise : cf. 
Bingham, Antiq., Bk. III. chap. xii. 

2 Quod pr&dicat, some MSS. quid prtzdicat (what to preach): 
some also add quoniam qui ignorat, ignorabitur (from i Cor. xiv. 
38). 



9 8 



LETTERS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



ignorant, seeing that he is taught to under- 
stand the power of the Gospel, not only by 
the written word but by the witness of the 
places themselves, and what elsewhere may 
not be disbelieved, cannot there remain un- 
seen. Why is the understanding in difficulty, 
where the eyes are its instructors? And why 
are things read or heard doubtful, where all 
the mysteries of man's salvation obtrude them- 
selves upon the sight and touch ? As if to 
each individual doubter the Lord still used 
His human voice and said, why are "ye dis- 
turbed and why do thoughts arise into your 
hearts ? see My hands and My feet that it is 
I myself. Handle Me and see because (or 
that) a spirit hath not bones and flesh, as ye 
see Me have V 

II. Let him be strengthened in his faith by 
the holy associations of the place where he 
lives. 

Make use, therefore, beloved brother, of 
these incontrovertible proofs of the catholic 
Faith and support the preaching of the Evan- 
gelists by the testimony of the holy places in 
which you live. In your country is Bethlehem, 
in which the Light of Salvation sprang from 
the womb of the Virgin of the house of David 4 , 
whom wrapped in sv\ addling clothes the manger 
of the crowded inn received. In your country 
was the Saviour's infancy announced by angels, 
adored by magi, sought by Herod through 
the death of many infants. In your country 
was it that His boyhood grew, His youth 
ripened, and His true man's nature reached 
to perfect manhood by the increase of the 
body, not without food for hunger, not with- 
out sleep for rest, not without tears of pity, 
not without fear and dread : for He is one 
and the same Person, who in the form of God 
wrought great miracles of power, and in the 
form of a slave underwent the cruelty of the 
passion. This the very cross unceasingly says 
to you : this the stone of the sepulchre cries 
out, under which the Lord in human con- 
dition lay, and from which by Divine power 
He rose. And when you approach the mount 
of Olivet, to venerate the place of the Ascen- 
sion, does not the angel's voice ring in your 
ears, which says to those who were dumb- 
founded at the Lord's uplifting, "ye men 
of Galilee, why stand ye gazing into heaven? 
this Jesus, Who was taken up from you into 
heaven, shall so come, as ye saw Him going 
into heaven 5 ." 



3 S. Luke xxiv. 38, 39. 

4 Salutifer Davidicce Virgiriis partus illuxit. 



S Acts i. 11. 



III. The facts of the Gospel attest the 
Incarnation. 
The true birth of Christ, therefore, is con- 
firmed by the true cross ; since He is Himself 
born in our flesh, Who is crucified in our 
flesh, which, as no sin entered into it, could 
not have been mortal, unless it had been that 
of our race. But in order that He might 
restore life to all, He undertook the cause of 
all and rendered void the force of the old 
bond, by paying it for all, because He alone 
of us all did not owe it : that, as by one man's 
guilt all had become sinners, so by one man's 
innocence all might become innocent, right- 
eousness being bestowed upon men by Him 
Who had undertaken man's nature. For in 
no way is He outside our true bodily nature, 
of Whom the Evangelist in beginning his 
story says, " the book of the generation of 
Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of 
Abraham 6 ," with which the blessed Apostle 
Paul's teaching agrees, when he says " whose 
are the fathers and of whom is Christ accord- 
ing to the flesh, Who is above all God blessed 
for ever 7," and so to Timothy " remember," he 
says, "that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead, 
of the seed of David V 



IV. Those who are still in error must be 
thoroughly instructed in the historic Faith. 

But how many are the authorities, both in 
the New and Old Testaments, by which this 
truth is declared, as befits the antiquity of 
your See, you clearly understand, seeing that 
the belief of the Fathers and my letter written 
to Flavian, of holy memory, of which you 
yourself made mention, confirmed, as they 
have been, by the universal synod, are suffi- 
cient for you. And therefore it behoves you, 
beloved, to take heed that no one raise a 
murmur against the unspeakable mystery of 
our Redemption and Hope. But if there are 
any who are still in the darkness of ignorance 
or the discord of perversity, let them be in- 
structed by the authority of those whose doc- 
trine in God's Church was apostolical and 
clear, that they may recognize that on the 
Incarnation of God's Word we believe what 
they did, and may not by their obstinacy place 
themselves outside the Body of Christ, in 
which we died and rose with Him : because 
neither loyalty to the Faith nor the plan of 
the mystery admits that either the Godhead 
should be passible in its own essence, or the 
reality be falsified in His taking on Him of our 
flesh. Dated 4th September, in the consulship 
of the illustrious Aetius and Studius (454). 



« S. Matt. 



7 Rom. ix. S. 



8 1 Tim. ii. 8. 




LETTER CLVI. 



99 



LETTER CXL. 

To Julian, Bishop of Cos. 

(Now that Dioscorus is dead, the peace of 
the Church will be more easily restored.) 

LETTER CXLI. 

To the same. 
(On several minor points of detail.) 

LETTER CXLI I. 

To Marcian Augustus. 

{Inter alia thanking him for the trouble he 
has taken about the Easter of 455.) 

LETTER CXLIII. 

To Anatoljus, Bishop of Constantinople. 

(Briefly asking him to extirpate all remains 
of heresy.) 

LETTER CXLIV. 

To Julian, Bishop of Cos. 

(Speaking of rumours which have reached 
him of disturbances at Alexandria, and begging 
of him to be on the alert.) 

LETTER CXLV. 

To Leo Augustus'. 

(Asking him to help the church of Alex- 
andria in appointing a good bishop in place 
of the murdered Proterius x .) 

LETTER CXLVI. 

To Anatolius, Bishop of Constantinople. 

(Begging him to take precautions lest the 
change of Emperor should be made the oc- 
casion for fresh outbreaks of heresy.) 

LETTER CXLVII. 

To Julian, Bishop of Cos, and Aetius, 
the Presbyter. 

(Charging him to uphold the acts of Chal- 
cedon, and to help in choosing a good suc- 
cessor to Proterius.) 

LETTER CXLVIII. 

To Leo Augustus. 

(Thanking him for assurances made that he 
would guard the interests of the Church.) 

LETTER CXLIX. 

To Basil, Bishop of Antioch. 

(Asking him to give no countenance to the 
demand for a new Synod.) 



9 Marcian died in 457, and was succeeded by Leo of Thrace. 

1 On Marcian's death, there had been a rising, in which Pro- 
erius had been brutally murdered, and a monk named Timothy 
Elurus set up in his stead. 



LETTER CL. 

To Euxitheus, Bishop of Thessalonica 
(and others). 

(To the same effect.) 

LETTER CLI. 

To Anatolius, Bishop of Constantinople. 

(He is to keep the church of Constantinople 
free from all heresy.) 

LETTER CLII. 

To Julian, Bishop of Cos. 

(Charging him to see that the preceding 
letters reach their destination.) 

LETTER CLIII. 

To Aetius, Presbyter of Constantinople. 

(Asking him to assist in the distribution of 
these letters.) 

LETTER CLIV. 
To the Egyptian Bishops. 
(See Letter CLVIII.) 

LETTER CLV. 

To Anatolius, Bishop of Constantinople. 

(In which he incites him to watchfulness, 
and complains that certain of the clergy in 
Constantinople are in collusion with the ad- 
versary.) 

LETTER CLVI. 
To Leo Augustus. 
Leo, the bishop, to Leo Augustus. 

I. There is no need to open the question of 
doctrine again now. 

Your clemency's letter, which was full of 
vigorous faith and of the light of truth, I have 
respectfully received, which I wish I could 
obey, even in the matter of my personal 
attendance, which your Majesty thinks neces- 
sary ; for then I should gain the greater ad- 
vantage from the sight of your splendour. 
But I believe you will approve of my view 
when reason has shown it preferable. For 
since with holy and spiritual zeal you con- 
sistently maintain the Church's peace, and 
nothing is more conducive to the defence of 
the Faith than to adhere to those things which 
have been incontrovertibly defined under the 
unceasing guidance of the Holy Spirit, we 
shall seem 2 to be doing our best to upset 



a i.e. by carrying out your plan. The appeal to tiie Emperor's 
orthodoxy must be regarded as diplomatic rather than accurate: 
for Leo was the nominee of Arianism, if not himself an Arian. 



H 2 



IOO 



LETTERS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



the decrees, and at the bidding of a heretic's 
petition to overthrow the authorities which the 
universal Church has adopted, and thus to 
remove all limits from the conflicts of Churches, 
and giving full rein to rebellion, to extend 
rather than appease contentions. And hence 
because after the disgraceful scenes at the 
synod of Ephesus, whereat through the wick- 
edness of Dioscorus the catholic Faith was 
rejected, and Eutyches' heresy accepted, no- 
thing more useful could be devised for the 
preservation of the Christian Faith than that 
the holy Synod of Chalcedon should rescind 
his wicked acts, and that such care should be 
bestowed thereat on heavenly doctrine, that 
nothing should linger in any one's mind in 
disagreement with the utterances of either the 
Prophets or the Apostles, such moderation of 
course being observed that only the persistent 
rebels should be cast off from the unity of the 
Church, and no one who was penitent should 
be denied pardon, what more in accordance 
with men's expectations or with religion will 
your Majesty be able to decree, than that no 
one henceforth be permitted to attack what 
has been determined by decrees which are 
Divine rather than human, lest they be truly 
worthy but to lose God's gift, who have dared 
to doubt concerning His Truth ? 

II. The proposal to reconsider the question pro- 
ceeds frotn antichrist or the devil himself. 

Since, therefore, the universal Church has 
become a rock (petra) through the building 
up of that original Rock 3, and the first of the 
Apostles, the most blessed Peter, heard the 
voice of the Lord saying, " Thou art Peter, 
and upon this rock {petra) I will build My 
Church 4," who is there who dare assail such 
impregnable strength, unless he be either 
antichrist or the devil, who, abiding uncon- 
verted in his wickedness, is anxious to sow 
lies by the vessels of wrath which are suited 
to his treachery, whilst under the false name 
of diligence he pretends to be in search of the 
Truth. And his unrestrained madness and 
blind wickedness has deservedly brought con- 
tempt and disrepute on himself, so that while 
he rages against the holy church of Alexandria 
with diabolical purpose, men may learn the 
character of those who desire to reconsider 
the Synod of Chalcedon. For it cannot pos- 
sibly have been that an opinion was there 
expressed contrary to the holy Synod of 
Nicsea, as the heretics falsely maintain, who 
pretend that they hold the faith of the Nicene 
Council, in which our holy and venerable 



fathers, being assembled against Arius, af- 
firmed not that the Lord's Flesh, but that the 
Son's Godhead was homoousioti with the Father, 
whereas in the Council of Chalcedon against 
the blasphemy of Eutyches, it was defined that 
the Lord Jesus Christ took the reality of our 
body from the substance of the Virgin-mother. 

III. All the bishops of Christendom agree with 
him in this. 
Therefore in addressing our most Christian 
Emperor, who is worthy to be classed among 
the champions of Christ, I use the freedom of 
the catholic Faith and fearlessly exhort you to 
throw in your lot with Apostles and Prophets ; 
firmly to despise and reject those who have 
deprived themselves of their Christian name, 
and not to let blasphemous parricides, who, 
it is agreed, wish to annul the Faith, discuss 
that Faith under treacherous pretexts. For 
since the Lord has enriched your clemency 
with such insight into His mystery, you ought 
unhesitatingly to consider that the kingly 
power has been conferred on you not for the 
governance of the world alone but more 
especially for the guardianship of the Church : 
that by quelling wicked attempts you may 
both defend that which has been rightly 
decreed, and restore true peace where there 
has been disturbance, that is to say by depos- 
ing usurpers s of the rights of others and re- 
instating the ancient Faith in the See of 
Alexandria, that by your reforms God's wrath 
may be appeased, and so He take not ven- 
geance for their doings on a people hitherto 
religious, but forgive them. Set before the 
eyes of your heart, venerable Emperor, the 
fact that all the Lord's priests which are in 
all the world, are beseeching you on behalf of 
that Faith, wherein is Redemption for the 
whole world. In which those maintainers 
of the Apostolic Faith more particularly appeal 
to you who have presided over the Church of 
Alexandria, entreating your Majesty not to 
allow heretics who have rightfully been con- 
demned for their perversity, to continue in 
their usurpation 6 ; for, whether you look at 
the wickedness of their error or consider the 
deed which their madness has perpetrated, 
not only are they unable to be admitted to the 
dignity of the priesthood, but they even deserve 
to be cut off from the name of Christian. 
For — and I entreat your Majesty's forgiveness 
for saying so — they to some extent dim your 
own splendour, most glorious Emperor, when 
such treacherous parricides dare to ask for 



3 Per iilius principalis petra <edi_ficationem : here petra is 
apparently Christ Himself, cf. Letter XXVIII. chap. 5, and 
Bright's n. 64. 4 S. Matt. xvi. 18. 



5 Sc. Timothy ^lurus. 

6 Pervasione, others read persuasione (false opinion). 









LETTER CLVI. 



101 



that which even the guiltless could not law- 
fully obtain. 

IV. The difference behveen the two petitions 
which have been presented to the Emperor. 

Petitions have been presented to your 
Majesty?, copies of which you subjoined to 
your letter. But in that which comes in de- 
precation from the catholics, a list of signatures 
is contained : and because their case had 
good reason in it, the names of individuals, 
and even their dignified rank is confidently 
disclosed. But in that, which heretical intru- 
sion has not feared to offer to our orthodox 
Emperor under the vague sanction of a motley 
body, all particular names are withheld for this 
reason, lest not only the paucity of members 
but also their worth might be discovered. 
For they think it expedient to conceal their 
number, though their quality is indicated, and 
not improperly they are afraid to proclaim 
their position, seeing that they deserve to be 
condemned. In the one document therefore 
is contained the petition of catholics, in the 
other the fictions of heretics are set forth. 
Here the overthrow of the Lord's priests, of 
the whole Christian people, and of the 
monasteries is bemoaned : there is displayed 
the continuance of gigantic wrongs, so that 
what ought never to have been heard of 8 
is allowed to be widely extended. 

V. // is a great opportunity for the Emperor 

to show his faith. 

Is it not clear which side you ought to sup- 
port and which to oppose, if the Church of 
Alexandria, which has always been the "house 
of prayer," is not now to be "a den of rob- 
bers 8a ? " For surely it is manifest that through 
the cruellest and maddest savagery all the 
light of the heavenly mysteries is extinguished. 
The offering of the sacrifice is cut off, the 
hallowing of the chrism has failed 9, and from 
the murderous hands of wicked men all the 
mysteries have withdrawn themselves. Nor 
can there be any manner of doubt what decree 
ought to be passed on these men, who after 
unutterable acts of sacrilege, after shedding 
the blood of a most highly reputed priest, and 



7 These had come, one from either side, as the sequel shows : 
lhat oi the catholics was signed by fourteen bishops, four pres- 
byters, and two deacons (Ball.). 

8 Attdiri: others auderi (to have been ventured on). 
8a S. Luke xi.x. 46. 

9 Cf. Serm. LXVl. chap. 2, nobiscum est signaculum circum- 
cisiouis, sanctificatio chi ismatum, consecratio saceraotum : see 
Blight's n. go, trom which we learn that "this chrism was that 
which, from the second century, had beenadministered in connection 
with Confirmation." This rite, which had at first been part ot the 
Baptism itself, was now apparently pcr.ormed at a shorter or longer 
interval after Baptism according to the convenience of the Bishop : 
ci. Serm. LXXV1I. 1. 



scattering the ashes of his burnt body to be 
the sport of the winds of heaven, dare to 
demand for themselves the rights of a usurped 
dignity and to arraign before councils the 
inviolable Faith of the Apostolic teaching. 
Great, therefore, is the opportunity for you 
to add to your diadem from the Lord's hand 
the crown of failh also, and to triumph over 
the Church's foes : for, if it be matter of praise 
to you to vanquish the armies of opposing 
nations, how great will be the glory of freeing 
from its mad tyrant the church of Alexandria, 
the affliction of which is an injury to all 
Christians? 

VI. H? promises more detailed statements on 
the Faith subsequently, and begs him to correct 
certain things in which Anatolius is remiss. 

But in order that my correspondence may 
have the effect on your Majesty of a mouth to 
mouth colloquy, I have seen that whatever 
suggestions I would make about our common 
Faith, must be conveyed in subsequent com- 
munications 1 . And lest the pages of this 
epistle reach too great a length, I have com- 
prised in another letter what is agreeable to 
the maintenance of the catholic Faith, in 
order that, though the published statements of 
the Apostolic See were sufficient, yet these 
additional statements might also break down 
the snares of the heretics. For your Majesty's 
priestly and Apostolic mind ought to be still 
further kindled to righteous vengeance by this 
pestilential evil, which mars the purity of the 
church of Constantinople, in which are found 
certain clerics, who agree with the interpreta- 
tions of the heretics and within the very heart 
of the Church assist them by their support 2 . 
In removing whom if my brother Anatolius is 
found remiss through too good-natured leniency, 
vouchsafe to show your laith by administering 
this remedy also to the Church, that such men 
be driven not only from the ranks of the clergy, 
but also from dwelling in the city. I commend 
to you your Majesty's loyal subjects, bishop 
Julian and presbyter Aetius, with a request 
that you will deign to listen quietly to their 
suggestions in defence of the catholic Faith, 
because they are in good truth men who may 
be found helpful to your faith in all things. 
Dated the ist of Dec. in the consulship of the 
illustrious Constantine and Rufus (457). 



« Viz. Letters CLXIL, CLXIV., and esp. CLXV. (which last 
is in a large measuie a rescription of Letter CXXIV. q.v.). 

2 Two of these are mentioned by name subsequently, e.g. in 
Lett. CLVII. (to Anatolius), chap 4, viz. Atticus a presbyter, 
and Andrew, in which chapter he blames Anatolius severely fot 
his double-dealing (cogor vehementius de tua dissimulatione 
causari, etc.). 



102 



LETTERS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



LETTER CLVII. 

To Anatolius, Bishop of Constantinople. 

(Urging him to active measures in certain 
specified matters.) 

LETTER CLVIII3. 
To the Catholic Bishops of Egypt 

SOJOURNING IN CONSTANTINOPLE. 

Leo to the catholic Egyptian bishops so- 
journing in Constantinople. 

He encourages them in their sufferings for the 
Faith, and in their entreaties for redress to 
the Emperor. 

I have before now been so saddened by 
tidings of the crimes committed in Alexandria, 
and my spirit has been so wounded by the 
atrocity of the deed itself, that I know not 
what tears to show and what lamentation to 
utter over it, and am fain to use the prophet's 
language, "who will give waters to my head 
and a fountain of tears to my eyes-*?" Yet 
anticipating your complaint, beloved, I have 
entreated our most clement and Christian 
Emperor for a remedy of these great evils, 
and by our sons and assistants Gerontius and 
Olympius have at a different time demanded 
that he should make haste to purge of a 
heresy already condemned the church of that 
city, in which so many Catholic teachers have 
flourished, and not allow murderous spirits 
whom no reverence for place or time s could 
deter from shedding their ruler's blood, to 
gain anything from his clemency, more par- 
ticularly when they desire to reconsider the 
council of Chalcedon to the overthrow of the 
Faith. Accordingly the same reason, beloved, 
which drove you from your own Sees, ought 
to console you for your sufferings ; for it 
is certain that afflicted souls, that suffer ad- 
versity for His name, are in no wise deprived 
of the Lord's protection. Bear it therefore 
bravely, and mindful of that country which 
is yours, rejoice over your present sojourn 
in a strange land. Abstain from grieving over 
your exile and indulge not in sorrow for your 
present weariness, ye who know that the 
Apostle glories even in his many perils on 
behalf of the Lord's Faith. You have One 
who knows your conflicts and has prepared 
the rewards of recompense. Let no one 



3 One of three Letters, the other two being CLIV. and CLX., 
first printed by Quesnel on the authority apparently of a single 
MS. (.Codex Grimanicus), and addressed to the bishops (and clergy) 
who had fled out of Egypt to Constantinople in consequence ol 
the recent disturbances. Letter CLX. mentions fifteen of them by 
name but is not otherwise so interesting as CLVIIL, the one 
selected lor translation. 

4 Jer. ix. r (Vulg.) 

5 Protcrius had been slain in the baptistery die Ccence Domini 
(? Thursday in Holy Week) 



shrink from this labour, whose guerdon is to 
reign and 6 live for ever. Let the feet of all 
who fight be fixed in the halls of Jerusalem ; 
for in the hope of that retribution they will 
have no cause to fear the camp nor the onsets 
of the enemy. Victory is never hard nor 
triumph difficult over the remnants of an 
abject foe who has been routed by the whole 
world alike, especially over those whose ring- 
leaders you see already prostrate. With un- 
ceasing prayers, therefore (even as I also have 
not failed to do), entreat the favour of the most 
Christian Emperor, who in God's mercy is 
ready to hear : that in accordance with the 
letter I have sent ?, he may strengthen the 
cause of the common Faith with that devotion 
of mind, which we are well assured he pos- 
sesses, and in his piety may remove all the 
harmful charges which the madness of heretics 
has invented, and arrange for your return, be- 
loved, and so may cause each several province 
and all the churches with their priests to re- 
joice in the unshaken p(a~e of Christ. Dated 
the r st of Dec. in the consulship of Constan- 
tine and Rufus (457). 

LETTER CLIX. 

To Nicvetas, Bishop of Aquileia. 

(Leo, the bishop, to Nicaetas, bishop of 
Aquileia, greeting.) 

I. Prefatory. 

My son Adeodatus, deacon of our See, on 
returning to us has delivered your request, 
beloved, to receive from us the authority of 
the Apostolic See upon matters which seem 
indeed to be hard to decide, but which we 
must make provision for with a view to the 
necessities of the times that the wounds which 
have been inflicted by the attacks of the 
enemy may be healed chiefly by the agency 
of religion. 

II. About the women who married again when 
their husbands were taken prisoners. 

As then you say that through the disasters 
of war and through the grievous inroads of 
the enemy families have in certain cases been 
so broken up that the husbands have been 
carried off into captivity and their wives re- 
main forsaken, and these latter thinking their 
own husbands either dead or never likely to 
be freed from their masters, have contracted 
another marriage under stress of loneliness, 
and as, now that the state of things has im- 



* The MS. reads vel here, but I think the Ball, are right in 
maintaining that Leo does at times use vel for et. 
7 Viz. Lett. CLVI. q.v. 









LETTER CLIX. 



10' 



proved through the Lord's help, some of 
those who were thought to have perished 
have returned, you seem, dear brother, natur- 
ally to be in doubt what ought to be settled 
by us about women thus joined to other 
husbands. But because we know it is written 
that " a woman is joined to a man by God 8 ," 
and again, we are aware of the precept that 
"what God hath joined, man may not put 
asunder^" we are bound to hold that the 
compact of the lawful marriage must be re- 
newed, and after the removal of the evils 
inflicted by the enemy, what each lawfully 
had must be restored to him ; and we must 
take every pains that each should recover 
what is his own. 

III. Whether he is blameable who has taken the 
prisoners wife ? 

But notwithstanding let him not be held 
blameable and treated as the invader of 

' another's right, who took the place of the 
husband, who was thought no longer alive. 
For thus many things which belonged to those 

j led into captivity happened to pass into the 

1 possession of others, and yet it is altogether 
fair that on their return their property should 
be restored. And if this is duly observed in 
the case of slaves or of lands, or even of 

! houses and personal goods, how much more 
ought it to be done in the restoration of wives, 
that what has been disturbed by the neces- 
sitities of war may be restored by the remedy 
of peace ? 

IV. The 7vife must be restored to her first 
husband. 

And, therefore, if husbands who have re- 
turned after a long captivity still feel such 
affection for their wives as to desire them 
to return to partnership 1 , that, which necessity 
brought about, must be passed over and judged 
blameless and the demands of fidelity satis- 
ied. 



V. Women must be excommunicated who refuse 
to return. 

And if any women are so possessed by love 
>f their later husbands as to prefer to remain 
nt\\ them than to return to their lawful part- 
ers, they are deservedly to be branded : so 
;hat they be even deprived of the Church's 
pmmunion ; for in a pardonable matter they 
ave chosen to taint themselves with crime, 
howing that they have sought their own 
leasure in their incontinence, when a right- 

8 Prov. xix 14 (LXX.). 9 Matt. xix. 6. 

1 There is little doubt, I think, that the return of the wife was 
'he husband's option in Leo's opinion, and could not be forced 
in him. 



ful restitution could have obtained their for- 
giveness. Let them return then to their former 
state and make voluntary reparation, nor let 
that which a condition of necessity extorted 
from them be by any means turned into dis- 
grace through evil desires; because, as those 
women who refuse to return to their husbands 
are to be held unholy, so they who return to 
an affection entered on with God's sanction 
are deservedly to be praised. 

VI. About captives, who were compelled to eat of 
sacrificial food. 

Concerning those Christians who are as- 
serted to have been polluted with sacrificial 
food, while among those by whom they were 
taken prisoners, Ave have thought it right to 
make this reply to your enquiry, dear brother, 
that they be purged by a satisfactory penitence 
which is to be measured not so much by the 
duration of the process as by the intensity of 
the feeling. And whether their compliance 
was wrung from them by terror or hunger, 
there need be no hesitation at acquitting 
them, since the food was taken from fear or 
want, not from superstitious reverence. 

VII. About those who in fear or by mistake 
were re-baptized 

But as to those about whom you thought, 
beloved, we ought likewise to be consulted 
who were either forced by fear or led by 
mistake to repeat their baptism, and now 
understand that they acted contrary to the 
ordinances of the catholic Faith, such modera- 
tion must be observed towards them that they 
be received into full communion with us, but 
not without the healing of penitence and the 
imposition of the bishop's hands, the length 
of the penance (with due regard to modera- 
tion) being left to your judgment, as you 
shall perceive the minds of the penitents to 
be disposed : in which you must not forget to 
consider old age, illness, and other risks. 
For if a man be in so dangerous a case that 
his life is despaired of, while he is still under 
penance, he should receive the gracious aid of 
communion by the priest's tender care. 

VIII. About baptism by heretics. 

For they who have received baptism from 
heretics, not having been previously baptized, 
are to be confirmed by imposition of hands 
with only the invocation of the Holy Ghost, 
because they have received the bare form 
of baptism without the power of sanctifica- 
tion 2 . And this regulation, as you know, we 



3 Leo repeats this injunction in Letter CLXVI. chap. 2. and 
Lett. CLXVlI., inquiry t8- Qucsnel identities this ceremony 
with the right of Confirmation, but the Ballerinii are probably 



104 



LETTERS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



require to be kept in all the churches, that 
the font once entered may not be defiled by 
repetition, as the Lord says, " One Lord, one 
faith, one baptism." And that washing may 
not be polluted by repetition, but, as we have 
said, only the sanctification of the Holy Ghost 
invoked, that what no one can receive from 
heretics may be obtained from catholic 
priests. This letter of ours, which we have sent 
in reply to the inquiries of the brotherhood, 
you shall bring to the knowledge of all your 
brethren and fellow-bishops of the province, 
that our authority, now that it is given, may 
avail for the general observance. Dated 21st 
March, in the consulship of Majorian Au- 
gustus (458). 

LETTER CLX. 
(See Letter CLVIII.) 

LETTER CLXI. 

To the Presbyters, Deacons and Clergy 
of the Church of Constantinople. 

(Exhorting them to remain stedfast in the 
Faith as fixed at Chalcedon, and to have no 
dealings with Atticus and Andrew unless 
they recant.) 

LETTER CLX 1 1. 

To Leo Augustus. 

By the hand of Philoxenus agens in rebus 2 \ 

Leo the Bishop to Leo Augustus. 

I. The decrees of Chalcedon and Niccea arc 
identical and final. 

With much joy my mind exults in the Lord, 
and great is my cause for thankfulness, now 
that I perceive your clemency's most excellent 
faith to be in all things enlarged by the gifts of 
heavenly grace, and I experience by increased 
diligence the devotion of a priestly mind in 
you. For in your Majesty's communications 
it is beyond doubt revealed what the Holy 
Spirit is working through you for the good of 
the whole Church, and how greatly it is to be 
desired by the prayers of all the faithful that 
your empire may be everywhere extended 
with glory, seeing that besides your care for 
things temporal you so perseveringly exercise 
a religious foresight in the service of what is 
divine and eternal : to wit that the catholic 
Faith, which alone gives life to and alone 
hallows mankind, may abide in the one con- 
fession, and the dissensions which spring from 



right in thinking this a mistake, and in identifying it with the 
manuum impositio in poenitentiam mentioned by Cyprian and 
other fathers. See Lett. CLXVI. chap. 2 n. 5b. 
21 Cf. Lett. XCV. n. 6. 



the variety of earthly opinions may be driven 
away, most glorious Emperor, from that solid 
Rock, on which the city of God is built. 
And these gifts of God will at last be granted 
us from Him, if we be not found ungrateful 
for what has been vouchsafed, and as though 
what we have gained were naught, we seek 
not rather the very opposite. For to seek 
what has been discovered, to reconsider what 
has been completed, and to demolish what 
has been defined, what else is it but to return 
no thanks for things gained and to indulge 
the unholy longings of deadly lust on the 
food of the forbidden tree? And hence by 
deigning to show a more careful regard for the 
peace of the universal Church, you manifestly 
recognize what is the design of the heretics' 
mighty intrigues that a more careful discussion 
should take place between the disciples of 
Eutyches and Dioscorus and the emissary of 
the Apostolic See. as if nothing had already 
been defined, and that what with the glad 
approval of the catholic priests of the whole 
world was determined at the holy Synod of 
Chalcedon should be rendered invalid to the 
detriment also of the most sacred Council of 
Nicaea. For what in our own days at Chalcedon 
was determined concerning our Lord Jesus 
Christ's Incarnation, was also so defined at 
Nicaea by that mystic number of Fathers 3, lest 
the confession of catholics should believe that 
God's Only-begotten Son was in aught unequal 
to the Father, or that when He was made Son 
of man He had not the true nature of our 
flesh and soul. 

II. The wicked designs of heretics must be sted- 
fastly resisted. 

Therefore we must abhor and persistently 
avoid what heretical deceit is striving to obtain, 
nor must what has been well and fully defined 
be brought again under discussion, lest we 
ourselves should seem at the will of condemned 
men to have doubts concerning things which 
it is clear agree throughout with the authority 
of Prophets, Evangelists, and Apostles. Ana 
hence, if there are any who disagree with these 1 
heaven-inspired decisions, let them be left tc 
their own opinions and depart from the unit) 
of the Church with that perverse sect which 
they have chosen. For it can in no wise bt 
that men who dare to speak against diviru 
mysteries are associated in any communior 
with us. Let them pride themselves on th( 
emptiness of their talk and boast of the clever 
ness of their arguments against the Faith: w« 



3 The number was 318 : cf. Lett. CVI. 2, where the exa< 
number is quoted and the explanation perhaps given of Leo 
epithet " mystic " here applied to it. 






LETTER CLXIV. 



105 



are pleased to obey the Apostle's precepts, 
where he says, " See that no one deceive you 
with philosophy and vain seductions of 
men*." For according to the same Apostle, 
"if I build up those things which I destroyed, 
I prove myself a transgressors," and subject 
myself to those conditions of punishment 
which not only the authority of Prince Mar- 
cian of blessed memory, but I myself also 
by my consent have accepted. Because as 
you have justly and truthfully maintained 
perfection admits of no increase nor fulness 
of addition. And hence, since I know you, 
venerable Prince, imbued as you are with the 
purest light of truth, waver in no part of the 
Faith, but with just and perfect judgment 
distinguish right from wrong, and separate 
what is to be embraced from what is to be 
rejected, I beseech you not to think that my 
humility is to be blamed for want of confidence, 
since my cautiousness is not only in the 
interests of the universal Church but also for 
the furtherance of your own glory, that under 
your reign the unscrupulousness of heretics 
may not seem to be advanced and the 
security of catholics disturbed. 

III. He promises to send envoys not to discuss 
with the Eutychians, but to explain the Faith 
to the Emperor. 

Although, therefore, I am very confident of 
the piety of your heart in all things, and perceive 
that through the Spirit of God dwelling in you, 
you are sufficiently instructed, nor can any 
error delude your faith, yet I will endeavour 
to follow your bidding so far as to send 
cemin of my brothers to represent my person 
before you, and to set forth what the Apostolic 
rule of Faith is, although, as I have said, it is 
well known to you, in all things making it 
clear and certain that they are not in any way 
to be reckoned among catholics, who do not 
accept the definitions of the venerable Synod 
of Nicaea or the ordinances of the holy Council 
of Chalcedon, inasmuch as it is evident the 
holy decrees of both proceed from the Evan- 
gelical and Apostolical source, and whatever is 
not of Christ's watering is like a snake-poisoned 
draught 6 . Your Majesty should understand 
beforehand, most venerable Emperor, that 
those whom I undertake to send will come 
from the Apostolic See, not to fight with the 
enemies of the Faith nor to strive against any, 
because of matters already settled as it has 
pleased God both at Nicaea and at Chalcedon 
jWe dare not enter upon any discussion, as if 
what so great an authority has fixed by the 
Holy Spirit were doubtful or weak. 



* Col. ii. 8. 



5 Gal. ii. 18. 



6 Poculi esse -vipcrei. 



IV. The heretics must be forced to give up their 
usurpations and left to the Judgment of God. 
But we do not refuse the assistance of our 
ministry for the instruction of our little ones, 
who after being fed with milk desire to be 
satisfied with more solid food : and as we do 
not scorn the simple folk, so we will have no 
dealings with rebel heretics, remembering the 
Lord's command, who says, " Give not that 
which is holy to the dogs, nor cast your pearls 
before swine 7." Surely it is altogether un- 
worthy and unjust to admit to freedom of 
discussion men whom the Holy Spirit describes 
in the words of the prophet, " the sons of the 
stranger have lied unto me 8 ." For even 
though they resist not the Gospel, yet they 
have shown themselves to be of those of whom 
it is written " they profess that they know God 
but by their deeds they deny Him 9," while 
the blood of just Abel x still cries against 
wicked Cain r , who being rebuked by the 
Lord did not set quietly about his repentance 
but burst forth into murder. Whose punish- 
ment we wish to be reserved for the Lord's 
judgment in such a way that, unprincipled 
plunderer and blood-thirsty murderer as he is, 
he may be thrown back upon himself and 
relinquish what is ours. We pray you also 
not to suffer the lamentable captivity of the 
holy church of Alexandria to be any further 
prolonged, which by the help of your faith and 
justice ought to be restored to its liberty, that 
through all the cities of Egypt the dignity of 
the Fathers and their priestly rights may be 
restored. Dated 21st of March in the consul- 
ship of Leo and Majorian August! (458). 

LETTER CLXIII. 

To Anatolius, Bishop of Constantinople. 

By Patritius the deacon. 

(Glorying over the harshness of his former 
letter, to which Anatolius had objected, but 
persisting that he is not satisfied with the 
explanation Atticus had furnished of his 
orthodoxy.) 

LETTER CLXIV. 

To Leo Augustus. 

Leo, the bishop, to Leo Augustus. 

I. He sends envoys but depi-ecates any fresh 
discussion of the Faith. 

Rejoicing that it has been proved to me by 



7 S. Matt. vii. 6. 8 Ps. xviii. 44 (Vulg.). 9 Tit. i. 16. 

1 Sc. in the persons of Proterius and Timothy jElurus. 

2 Portions of this letter are found quoted by various ancient 
Fathers, e.g. by Popes Vigiliusand Pelagius II. in the sixth cent. ; 
by Facundus, bishop of Hermiae, in the same century, and augur 
one half of the whole by Prudentius, bishop of Troyes (ninth cent.) 
in his famous treatise on Piedctination against John Scotus 



io6 



LETTERS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



many clear proofs with what earnestness you 
consult the interests of the universal Church, 
I have not delayed to obey your Majesty's 
commands on the first opportunity, by de- 
spatching Domitian and Geminian my brothers 
and fellow-bishops, who in furtherance of 
my earnest prayers, shall entreat you for the 
peaceful acceptance of the gospel-teaching and 
obtain the liberty of the Faith in which through 
the instruction of the Holy Spirit you yourself 
are so conspicuously eminent, now that the 
enemies of Christ are driven far away, who 
even if they had wished to conceal their mad- 
ness, could not lie hid, because the holy 
simplicity of the Lord's flock is very different 
from the pretences of beasts who hide them- 
selves in sheeps' clothing, nor can they creep 
in by hypocrisy now that their exceeding mad- 
ness has revealed them. Recognize, therefore, 
august and venerable Emperor, how that you 
are called by Divine providence to the guardian- 
ship of the whole world, and understand what 
aid you owe to your Mother, the Church, who 
makes especial boast of you. Disputes that 
are ended must not be allowed to rise with 
renewed vigour against the triumphs of the 
Almighty's right hand, especially when this 
can in no wise be allowed to heretics, whose 
attempts have long ago been condemned and 
the labours of the faithful have a just claim to 
this result, that all the fulness of the Church 
shall remain secure in the completeness of her 
unity, and that nothing whatever of what has 
been well laid down shall be reconsidered, 
because, after constitutions have been legi- 
timately framed under Divine guidance, to 
wish still to wrangle is the sign not of a peace- 
making but of a rebellious spirit, as savs the 
Apostle, " for to strive with words is profitable 
for nothing, but for the subverting of them 
that hear 2 ." 

II. In matters of Faith human rhetom s out 
of place. 

For if it be always free for human fancies to 
assert themselves in dispute, there never will 
be wanting men who will dare to oppose the 
Truth, and to put their trust in the glib 
utterances of this world's wisdom, whereas the 
Christian Faith and wisdom knows from the 
teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ Himself 
how strictly it ought to shun this most harmful 
vanity. For when Christ was about to 
summon all nations to the illumination of the 
Faith, He chose those who were to devote 
themselves to the preaching of the Gospel not 



Erigena. Quesnel, however, appears to have been the first to i 
print it as a whole ex cndice Grimanico; after which the JJall ! 
also discovered it in the Ratisbon MS. 

2 Loosely quoted from 2 Tim. ii. 14. | 



from among philosophers or orators, but tool; 
humble fishermen as the instruments by which 
He would reveal Himself, lest the heavenly 
teaching, which was of itself full of mighty 
power, should seem to need the aid of words. 
And hence the Apostle protests and says, 
" For Christ sent me not to baptize but to 
preach the Gospel, not in wisdom of words 
lest the cross of Christ should be made void ; 
for the word of the cross is to them indeed 
that perish foolishness, but to those which are 
being saved it is the power of God. For it 
is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the 
wise and the prudence of the prudent will I 
reject. Where is the wise ? where is the 
scribe? where is the inquirer of this age ? has 
not God made foolish the wisdom of this 
worlds?" For rhetorical arguments and 
clever debates of man's device make their 
chief boast in this, that in doubtful matters 
which are obscured by the variety of opinions 
they can induce their hearers to accept that 
view which each has chosen for his own 
genius and eloquence to bring forward ; and 
thus it happens that what is maintained with 
the greatest eloquence is reckoned the truest. 
But Christ's Gospel needs not this art ; for in 
it the true teaching stands revealed by its own 
light : nor is there any seeking for that which 
shall please the ear, when to know Who is the 
Teacher is sufficient for true faith. 

III. Euty dies' dogma is condemned by the 
testimony of Scripture and cannot further be 
entertained. 

But nothing severs those who are deceived 
by their own inventions, from the light of the 
Gospel so much as their not thinking that the 
Lord's Incarnation appertains in a true sense 
to man's, that is, our, nature: as if it were 
unworthy of God's glory that the majesty of 
the impassible Word should have taken the 
reality of human flesh, whereas men's salvation 
could not otherwise have been restored had 
not He Who is in the form of God deigned 
also to take the form of a slave. And hence 
since the holy Synod of Chalcedon, which was 
attended by all the provinces of the Roman ! 
world and obtained universal acceptance for its 
decisions, and is in complete harmony therein 
with the most sacred council of Nicaea, has cut 
off all the wicked followers of the Eutychian 
dogma from the body of the catholic commu-i 
nion,howshallanyof the lapsed regain the peace 
of the church, without purging himself by a full 
course of penitence? For what licence can be 
granted them for discussing, when they have 
deserved to be condemned by a just and holy 



3 1 Cor. i. 17- 



LETTER CLXV. 



107 



judgment, so that they might most truly fall 
under that sentence of the blessed Apostle, 
wherewith at the very outset of the infant 
Church he overthrew the enemies of Christ's 
cross, saying : " every spirit which confesses 
Jesus Christ to have come in the flesh is of 
God, and every spirit which dissolves Jesus is 
not of God, but this is antichrist V And this 
pre-existent teaching of the Holy Ghost we 
must faithfully and stedfastly make use of, 
lest, by admitting the discussions of such men 
the authority of the divinely inspired decrees 
be diminished, when in all parts of your king- 
dom and in all borders of the earth that Faith 
which was confirmed at Chalcedon is being 
established on the surest basis of peace, nor is 
any one worthy of the name of Christian who 
cuts himself off from communion with us. Of 
whom the Apostle says, " a man that is heretical 
after a first and a second admonition, avoid, 
knowing that such a one is perverse and con- 
demned by his own judgment **." 

IV. If the Divine mercy is to be exercised, the 
heretics must cease entirely from the error of 
their ways. 

What therefore the unholy parricide has 
perpetrated by seizing on the holy Church and 
cruelly murdering its very ruler, cannot be 
expiated by man's forgiveness, unless He Who 
alone can rightly punish such things, and alone 
can of His unspeakable mercy remit them, be 
propitiated. But though we are not anxious 
for vengeance, we cannot in any way be allied 
with the devil's servants. Yet if we learn they 
are quitting the ranks of heresy, repenting 
them of their error and turning from the wea- 
pons of discord to the lamentations of sorrow, 
we also can intercede for them, lest they perish 
for ever, thus following the example of the 
Lord's loving-kindness, who, when nailed to 
the wood ot the cross prayed for His perse- 
cutors, " Father, forgive them ; for they know 
not what they do s ." And that Christian love 
may do this profitably for its enemies, wicked 
heretics must cease to harass God's ever re- 
ligious and ever devout Church ; they must 
not dare to disturb the souls of the simple by 
their falsehoods, to the end that, where in all 
former times the purest faith has flourished, 
the teaching of the Gospel and of the Apostles 
may now also have free course ; because we 
also imitating, so far as we can, the Divine 
mercy desire no one to be punished by justice, 
but all to be released by mercy. 



4 t John iv. 2, 3. For the reading solvit (dissolves), cf. Lett. 
XXVI 1 1. (Tome), chap. 5 and note. 

* a Tit. iii. 10, 11. 5 S. Luke xxiii. 34. 



V. Let him restore the refugee clergy and laity 
and titter ly reject those who persist in heresy. 
I entreat your clemency, listen to the sug- 
gestions of my brethren already mentioned, 
whom, as I some time ago have said in a former 
letter sa ? I have sent not to wrangle with the 
condemned, but merely to intercede with you 
for the stability of the catholic Faith. And in 
accordance with your faith in and regard for 
the Divine Majesty this especially you should 
grant, that completely setting aside the con- 
tentions of heretics you should deign to be- 
stow a mercifal attention on those who have 
fallen upon such evil days, and, after restoring 
the liberty of the church of Alexandria to its 
pristine state, should set up there a bishop 
who, upholding the decrees of the Synod of 
Chalcedon and agreeing with the ordinances 
of the Gospel, shall be able to restore peace 
among that greatly disturbed people. Those 
bishops and clergy also whom the unholy 
parricide has driven out ot their churches, 
should be recalled at your Majesty's com- 
mand, all others also, whom a like malicious- 
ness has banished from their dwellings, being 
restored to their former estate, to the end that 
we may have due cause fully and perfecfly to 
rejoice in the grace of God and your faith 
without any further noise of strife. For if 
any one is so forgetful of the Christian hope 
and his own salvation as to venture by any dis- 
pute to assail the Evangelical and Apostolical 
decrees of the holy Synod of Chalcedon, thus 
overthrowing the most sacred Council of Nicaea 
also, him with all heretics who have held 
blasphemous and abominable views on the 
Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ we 
condemn by a like anathema and equal 
curse, so that, without refusing the remedy ot 
repentance to those who make full and legiti- 
mate atonement, the sentence of the Synod, 
which is based on truth, may rest upon those 
who still resist. Dated 17th of August, in the 
consulship of Leo and Majorian Augusti (458). 

LETTER CLXV. 

To Leo Augustus. 

[This letter, which is sometimes called the 
Second Tome, contains the detailed state- 
ment of the catholic doctrine of the Incarna- 
tion, which Leo had promised the Emperor in 
Letter CLVI. It consists of 9 chapters, but, 
as chaps, iii. to viii. and parts of ii. and ix. 
are almost identical in language with Letter 
CXXIV., already given in full, I have not 
thought it necessary to reproduce the letter 
here. At the end a long series of quotations 



5» Viz. Lett. CLXII. chap. iii. 



io8 



LETTERS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



from Hilary, Ambrose and other Fathers bear- 
ing upon the doctrine are also added, but 
these also are dispensed with in accordance 
with our general practice, as we are now pre- 
senting Leo and no one else to the reader.] 

LETTER CLXVI. 
To Neo, Bishop of Ravenna. 
Leo, the bishop, to Neo, bishop of Ravenna, 
greeting. 

I. Those, who being taken captives in infamy 
cannot remember or bring witnesses of their 
baptism, must not be denied this sacrament. 
We have indeed frequently, God's Spirit 
instructing us, steadied the brethren's hearts, 
when they were tottering on the slippery 
places of doubtful questions, by formulating 
an answer either out of the teaching of the 
Holy Scriptures or from the rules of the 
Fathers : but lately in Synod a new and hitherto 
unheard-of subject of debate has arisen. For 
at the instance of certain brethren we have 
discovered that some of the prisoners of war, 
on their free return to their own homes, such 
to wit as went into captivity at an age when 
they could have no sure knowledge of any- 
thing, crave the healing waters of baptism, but 
in the ignorance of infancy cannot remember 
whether they have received the mystery and 
rites of baptism, and that therefore in this 
uncertainty of defective recollection their souls 
are brought into jeopardy, so long as under 
a show of caution they are denied a grace, 
which is withheld, because it is thought to 
have been bestowed. And so, since certain 
brethren in a not unjustifiable fear have 
hesitated to perform the rites of the Lord's 
mystery, at a synodal meeting, as we have 
said, we have received a formal request for 
advice on this matter, and in carefully discus- 
sing it, we have desired to weigh each mem- 
ber s opinion, and to handle it in so cautious 
a manner as to arrive with certainty at the 
truth by making use of the knowledge of 
many. Consequently the same things, which 
have come into our mind by the Divine in- 
spiration, have received the assent and con- 
firmation of a large number of the brethren. 
And so we are bound betore all things to take 
heed lest, while we hold fast to a certain show 
of caution, we incur a loss of souls who are to 
be regenerated. For who is so given over to 
suspicions as to decide that to be true which 
without any evidence he suspects by mere 
guesswork ? And so wherever the man himself 
who is anxious for the new birth does not recol- 
lect his baptism, and no one can bear witness 
about him being unaware ot his consecration 



to God, there is no possibility for sin to creep 
in, seeing that, so far as their knowledge goes, 
neither the bestower or receiver of the conse- 
cration is guilty. We know indeed that an 
unpardonable offence is committed, whenever 
in accordance with the institutions of heretics 
which the holy Fathers have condemned, any 
one is forced twice to enter the font, which is 
but once available for those who are to be 
re-born, in opposition to the Apostle's teach- 
ing 5l) , which speaks to us of One Godhead in 
Trinity, one confession in Faith, one sacra- 
ment in Baptism. But in this nothing similar 
is to be apprehended, since, what is not known 
to have been done at all, cannot come under 
the charge of repetition. And so, whenever 
such a case occurs, first sift it by careful in- 
vestigation, and spend a considerable time, 
unless his last end is near, in inquiring whether 
there be absolutely no one who by his testi- 
mony can assist the other's ignorance. And 
when it is established that the man who re- 
quires the sacrament of baptism is prevented 
by a mere baseless suspicion, let him come 
boldly to obtain the grace, of which he is 
conscious of no trace in himself. Nor need 
we fear thus to open the door of salvation 
which has not been shown to have been en- 
tered before. 

II. Baptism by heretics must not be invalidated 
by second baptism. 

But if it is established that a man has been 
baptized by heretics, on him the mystery of 
regeneration must in no wise be repeated, but 
only that conferred which was wanting before, 
j so that he may obtain the power of the Holy 
Ghost by the laying on of the Bishop's hands 6 . 
This decision, beloved brother, we wish to be 
brought to the knowledge of you all generally, 
to the end that God's mercy may not be re- 
fused to those who desire to be saved through 
undue timidity. Dated the 24th of Oct., in 
the consulship of Majorian Augustus (458). 



LETTER CLXVII 7. 

To Rusticus, Bishop of Gallta 

Narp.onensis, with the replies to his 

Questions on various points. 

Leo, the bishop, to Rusticus, bishop of Gallia 
Narbonensis. 



5 b Viz. Eph. iv. 5. It will be remembered that the practice 
of re-baptism was very definitely condemned in the times of 
S. Cyprian (3rd cent.), who himself went wrong in advocating 
it in the case of heretics. 

*> See n. 2 to Lett. CLIX. chap. 8. 

7 The date of this important letter has been variously con- 
jectured, Quesnel assigning it to the years 442-4, Siimond and 
Baluze to 452, and the Ball, preferring 458 or 9. 



LETTER CLXVII. 



109 



I. He exhorts him to act with moderation 
towards two bishops who have offended him. 
Your letter, brother, which Hermes your arch- 
deacon 8 brought, I have gladly received ; the 
number of different matters it contains makes 
it indeed lengthy, but not so tedious to me 
on a patient perusal that any point should 
be passed over, amid the cares that press 
upon me from all sides. And hence having 
grasped the gist of your allegation and re- 
viewed what took place at the inquiry of the 
bishops and leading men', we gather that 
Sabinian and Leo, presbyters, lacked con- 
fidence in your 1 action, and that they have no 
longer any just cause for complaint, seeing that 
of their own accord they withdrew from the 
discussion that had been begun. What form 
or what measure of justice you ought to mete 
out to them I leave to your own discretion, 
advising you, however, with the exhortation 
of love that to the healing of the sick you 
ought to apply spiritual medicine, and that 
remembering the Scripture which says "be not 
over just 2 ," you should act with mildness to- 
wards these who in zeal for chastity seem to 
have exceeded the limits of vengeance, lest 
the devil, who deceived the adulterers, should 
triumph over the avengers of the adultery. 

II. He expostulates with him for wishing to 
give up his office, which would imply distrust 
of God's promises. 

But I am surprised, beloved, that you are 
so disturbed by opposition in consequence of 
offences, from whatever cause arising, as to 
say you would rather be relieved of the labours 
of your bishopric, and live in quietness and 
ease than continue in the office committed to 
you. But since the Lord says, " blessed is he 
who shall persevere unto the end 3," whence 
shall come this blessed perseverance, except 
from the strength of patience ? For as the 
Apostle proclaims, " All who would live godly 
in Christ shall suffer persecution 1" And it is 
not only to be reckoned persecution, when 
sword or fire or other active means are used 
against the Christian religion ; for the direst 
persecution is often inflicted by nonconformity 
of practice and persistent disobedience and 
the barbs of ill-natured tongues : and since 
all the members of the Church are alwavs 
. liable to these attacks, and no portion of the 
faithful are free from temptation, so that a life 



8 In an inscription quoted from Gruter and Baluze by Quesnel, 
Hermes is mentioned as diaconus to Ritsticus episcopus. He was 
afterwards made bp of Biterra, but being unfairly expelled by 
that city, he succeeded Rusticus in Narbonensis. 

9 H onorati. r Tuir, others suce (the bishops). 

2 Eccl. vii. 17 (A. V. ovexiuicked). 

3 S. Matt. xxiv. 13. 4 2 Tim. iii. 12. 



neither of ease nor of labour is devoid of 
danger, who shall guide the ship amidst the 
waves of the sea, if the helmsman quit his 
post ? Who shall guard the sheep from the 
treachery of wolves, if the shepherd himself be 
not on the watch ? Who, in fine, shall resist 
the thieves and robbers, if love of quietude 
draw away the watchman that is set to keep 
the outlook from the strictness of his watch ? 
One must abide, therefore, in the office com- 
mitted to him and in the task undertaken. 
Justice must be stedfastly upheld and mercy 
lovingly extended. Not men, but their sins 
must be hated 5 . The proud must be re- 
buked, the weak must be borne with ; and 
those sins which require severer chastisement 
must be dealt with in the spirit not of vin- 
dictiveness but of desire to heal. And if 
a fiercer storm of tribulation fall upon us, let 
us not be terror-stricken as if we had to over- 
come the disaster in our own strength, since 
both our Counsel and our Strength is Christ, 
and through Him we can do all things, with- 
out Him nothing, Who, to confirm the 
preachers of the Gospel and the ministers of 
the mysteries, says, " Lo, I am with you all the 
days even to the consummation of the age 6 ." 
And again He says, " these things I have 
spoken unto you that in me ye may have 
peace. In this world ye shall have tribulation, 
but be of good cheer, because I have overcome 
the world?." The promises, which are as 
plain as they can be, we ought not to let any 
causes of offence to weaken, lest we should 
seem ungrateful to God for making us His 
chosen vessels, since His assistance is power- 
ful as His promises are true. 

III. Many of the questions raised could be more 
easily settled in a personal interview than 
on paper. 

On those points of inquiry, beloved, which 
your archdeacon has brought me separately 
written out, it would be easier to arrive at 
conclusions on each point face to face, if you 
could grant us the advantage of your presence. 
For since some questions seem to exceed the 
limits of ordinary diligence, I perceive that they 
are better suited to conversation than to writ- 
ing : for as there are certain things which can 
in no wise be controverted, so there are many 
things which require to be modified either by 
considerations of age or by the necessities of 
the case ; always provided that we remember 
in things which are doubtful or obscure, that 



5 The thought of this fine passage is more fully worked out in 
Sermon XLV1U., chaps. 2 and 3. Cf. esp. the remark, tellum 
vi til's pot nis quam hominibtis indicunt, " nulli malum pro mulo 
reddentes " sed correctionem peccantium semper optantes. 

6 S. Matt, xxviii. 20. 7 S. John xvi. 33. 



no 



LETTERS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



must be followed which is found to be neither 
contrary to the commands of the Gospel nor 
opposed to the decrees of the holy Fathers. 

Question I. Concerning a presbyter or deacon, 
7vho falsely claims to be a bishop, and those 
whom they have ordained. 
Reply. No consideration permits men to 
be reckoned among bishops who have not 
been elected by the clergy, demanded by the 
laity, and consecrated by the bishops of the 
province with the assent of the metropolitan 8 . 
And hence, since the question often arises con- 
cerning advancement unduly obtained, who 
need doubt that that can in no wise be which 
is not shown to have been conferred on them. 
And if any clerics have been ordained by such 
false bishops in those churches which have 
bishops of their own, and their ordination took 
place with the consent and approval of the 
proper bishops, it may be held valid on con- 
dition that they continue in the same churches. 
Otherwise it must be held void, not being con- 
nected with any place nor resting on any 
authority. 

Question II. Concerning a presbyter or 
deacon, who on his crime being knoivn asks 
for public penance, 7vhether it is to be granted 
him by laying on of hands? 
Reply. It is contrary to the custom of 
the Church that they who have been dedi- 
cated to the dignity of the presbyterate or 
the rank of the diaconate, should receive the 
remedy of penitence by laying on of hands 
for a r y crime ; which doubtless descends 
from the Apostles' tradition, according to 
what is written, " If a priest shall have sinned, 
who shall pray for him 9?" And hence such 
men when they have lapsed in order to obtain 
God's mercy must seek private retirement, 
where their atonement may be profitable as 
well as adequate. 

Question III. Concerning those ivho minister 
at the altar and have wives, whether they 
may lawfully cohabit with them 1 

Reply. The law of continence is the same 
for the ministers J of the altar as for bishops 
and priests, who when they were laymen or 
readers, could lawfully marry and have off- 
spring. But when they reached to the said 
ranks, what was before lawful ceased to be 
so. And hence, in order that their wedlock 
may become spiritual instead of carnal, it be- 



8 The same requisites of ordination of bishops are laid down in 
Lett. X. chap. 6. 

9 i Sam. li. 25. 

« The order ot sub-deacons (ace. to Quesnel) is here particularly 
meant : cf. Lett. XIV. chap. 4. The readers (lectores) men- 
tioned below were of course one of the Minor Orders of clergy: 
cf. Bingham, Antiq. Bk.V. chap. iii. 



hoves them not to put away their wives but 

to " have them as though they had them 

not 2 ," whereby both the affection of their 

wives may be retained and the marriage 
functions cease. 

Question IV. Concerning a presbyter or 
deacon who has given his unmarried daughter 
in marriage to a man- who already had 
a woman joined to him, by whom he had 
also had children. 

Reply. Not every woman that is joined to 
a man is his wife, even as every son is not his 
'father's heir. But the marriage bond is legiti- 
mate between the freeborn and between 
equals : this was laid down by the Lord long 
before the Roman law had its beginning. And 
so a wife is different from a concubine, even 
as a bondwoman from a freewoman. For 
which reason also the Apostle in order to 
show the difference of these persons quotes 
from Genesis, where it is said to Abraham, 
" Cast out the bondwoman and her son : for 
the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir 
with my son Isaac 3." And hence, since the 
marriage tie was from the beginning so con- 
stituted as apart from the joining of the 
sexes to symbolize the mystic union of Christ 
and His Church, it is undoubted that that 
woman has no part in matrimony, in whose 
case it is shown that the mystery of mar- 
riage has not taken place. Accordingly a 
clergyman of any rank who has given his 
daughter in marriage to a man that has a con- 
cubine, must not be considered to have given 
her to a married man, unless perchance the 
other woman should appear to have become 
free, to have been legitimately dowered and 
to have been honoured by public nuptials. 

Question V. Concerning young women who 
have married men that have concubines. 
Reply. Those who are joined to husbands 
by their fathers' will are free from blame, if 
the women whom their husbands had were not 
in wedlock. 

Question VI. Concerning those who leave 
the women by whom they have children and 
take wives. 

Reply. Seeing that the wife is different 
from the concubine, to turn a bondwoman 
from one's couch and take a wife whose free 
birth is assured, is not bigamy but an honour- 
able proceeding. 



* i Cor. vii. 39. This was also provided by the Apostolic 
Canons (.quoted by Quesnel), episcopus aut presbyter uxorem 
ptopriam neqitaqutuit sub obteniu reiigionis abiciat. 

3 Gal. iv. 30, from Gen. xxt. 10. 



LETTER CLXVII. 



Til 



Question VI I. Concerning those who in 

sickness accept terms of penitence, and when 

they have recovered, refuse to keep them. 

Reply. Such men's neglect is to be blamed 

but not finally to be abandoned, in order that 

they may be incited by frequent exhortations 

to carry out faithfully what under stress of 

need they asked for. For no one is to be 

despaired of so long as he remain in this 

body, because sometimes what the diffidence 

of age puts off is accomplished by maturer 

counsels. 

Question VIII. Concerning those who on 
their deathbed promise repentance and die 
before receiving commitnion. 

Reply. Their cause is reserved for the 
judgment of God, in Whose hand it was that 
their death was put off until the very time of 
communion. But Ave cannot be in commu- 
nion with those, when dead, with whom when 
alive we were not in communion. 



Question IX. Concerning thoss who under 
pressure of great pain ask for penance to be 
granted them, and when the presbyter has 
come to give what they seek, if the pain has 
abated somei^hat, make excuses and refuse to 
accept what is offered. 

Reply. This tergiversation cannot proceed 
from contempt of the remedy but from fear of 
falling into worse sin. Hence the penance 
which is put off, when it is more earnestly 
sought must not be denied in order that the 
wounded soul may in whatever way attain to 
the healing of absolution. 

Question X. Concerning those who have 
professed repe?ita?ice, if they begin to go to law 
in the forum. 

Reply. To demand just debts is indeed 
one thing and to think nothing of one's own 
property from the perfection of love is an- 
other. But one who craves pardon for un- 
lawful doings ought to abstain even from many 
things that are lawful, as says the Apostle, " all 
things are lawful for me, but all things are not 
expedient 4 ." Hence, if the penitent has a 
matter which perchance he ought not to 
neglect, it is better for him to have recourse to 
the judgment of the Church than of the 
forum. 

Question XI. Concerning those who during or 
after penance transact business. 

Reply. The nature of their gains either 
excuses or condemns the trafficker, because 

4 i Cor. vi. 1a. 



there is an honourable and a base kind of 
profit. Notwithstanding it is more expedient 
for the penitent to suffer loss than to be in- 
volved in the risks of trafficking, because it is 
hard for sin not to come into transactions 
between buyer and seller. 

Question XII. Concerning those ivho return 
to military service after doing penance. 
Reply. It is altogether contrary to the rules 
of the Church to return to military service in 
the world after doing penance, as the Apostle 
says, " No soldier in God's service entangles 
himself in the affairs of the world 5 ." Hence he 
is not free from the snares of the devil who 
wishes to entangle himself in the military ser- 
vice of the world. 

Question XIII. Concerning those 7cho after 
penance take wives or join themselves to con- 
cubines. 

Reply. If a vounsr man under fear of death 
or the dangers of captivity has done penance, 
and afterwards fearing to fall into youthful 
incontinence has chosen to marry a wife lest 
he should be guilty of fornication, he seems 
to have comitted a pardonable act, so long as 
he has known no woman whatever save his 
wife. Yet herein we lay down no rule, but 
express an opinion as to what is less objection- 
able. For according to a true view of the 
matter nothing better suits him who has done 
penance than continued chastity both of mind 
and body. 

Question XIV. Concerning monks who take 
to military service or to marriage. 
Reply. The monk's vow being undertaken 
of his own will or wish cannot be given up with- 
out sin. For that which a man has vowed to 
God, he ought also to pay. Hence he who 
abandons his profession of a single life and 
betakes himself to military service or to mar- 
riage, must make atonement and clear himself 
publicly, because although such service may 
be innocent and the married state honourable, 
it is transgression to have forsaken the higher 
choice. 

Question XV. Concerning young women who 
have worn the religious habit for some time 
but have not been dedicated, if they afterwards 
marry. 

Reply. Young women, who without being 
forced by their parents' command but of their 
own free-will have taken the vow and habit 
of virginity, if afterwards they choose wedlock, 
act wrongly, even though they have not re- 

S 2 Tim. ii. 4. 



112 



LETTERS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



ceived dedication : of which they would doubt- 
less not have been defrauded, if they had 
abided by their vow. 

Question XVI. Concerning those who have 
been left as infants by Christian parents, if 
no proof of their baptism can be found whether 
they ought to be baptized ? 
Reply. If no proof exist among their kins- 
folk and relations, nor among the clergy or 
neighbours whereby those, about whom the 
question is raised, may be proved to have 
been baptized, steps must be taken for their 
regeneration : lest they evidently perish ; for 
in their case reason does not allow that what 
is not shown to have been done should seem 
to be repeated. 

Question XVII. Concerning those who have 
been captured by the enemy and are not aware 
whether they have been baptized but know they 
were several times taken to church by their 
parents, whether they can or ought to be bap 
tized when they come back to Roman terri- 
tory 6 ? 

Reply. Those who can remember that they 
used to go to church with their parents can 
remember whether they received what used to 
be given to their parents ?. But if this also 
has escaped their memory, it seems that that 
must be bestowed on them which is not 
known to have been bestowed because 
there can be no presumptuous rashness where 
the most loyal carefulness has been exercised. 

Question XVIII. Concerning those who have 

come from Africa or Mauretania and know 

not in what sect they were baptized, what 

ought to be done in their case 6 ? 

Reply. These persons are not doubtful 

of their baptism, but profess ignorance as to 

the faith of those who baptized them : and 

hence since they have received the form of 

baptism in some way or other, they are not 

to be baptized but are to be united to 

the catholics by imposition of hands, after the 

invocation of the Holy Spirit's power, which 

they could not receive from heretics. 

Question XIX. Concerning those who after 
being baptized in infancy were captured by the 
Gentiles, a?id lived with them after the man- 
ner of the Gentiles, when they come rack to 
Roman territory as still young men, if they 
seek communion, what shall be done ? 
Reply. If they have only lived with Gentiles 

and eaten sacrificial food, they can be purged 

6 On these points, cf. Letter CLXVL, to Neo.bp. of Ravenna. 

7 Viz. the sacred elements of the Eucharist. 



by fasting and laying on of hands, in order 
that for the future abstaining from things 
offered to idols, they may be partakers of 
Christ's mysteries. But if they have either 
worshipped idols or been polluted with man- 
slaughter or fornication, they must not be 
admitted to communion, except by public 
penance. 

LETTER CLXVIII. 

To all the Bishops of Campania, Samnium 

AND PlCENUM. 

(Rebuking them first for performing baptisms 
without due preparation or sufficient cause on 
ordinary saints'-days (Easter and Whitsuntide 
being the only recognized times), and secondly 
for requiring from penitents that a list of their 
offences should be read out publicly, a practice 
which is in many ways objectionable.) 

LETTER CLXIX. 

To Leo Augustus. 

Leo, the bishop, to Leo Augustus. 

I. He heartily thanks the Emperor for what he 
has done, and asks him to complete the work 
in any way he can. 

If we should seek to reward your Majesty's 
glorious resolution in defence of the Faith 
with all the praise that the greatness of the 
issue demands, we should be found unequal 
to the task of giving thanks and celebrating 
the joy of the universal Church with our feeble 
tongue. But His worthier recompense awaits 
your acts and deserts, in whose cause you 
have shown so excellent a zeal, and are now 
triumphing gloriously over the attainment of 
the wished-for end. Your clemency must 
know therefore that all the churches of God 
join in praising you and rejoicing that the 
unholy parricide has been cast off from the 
neck of the Alexandrine church, and that 
God's people, on whom the abominable robber 
has been so great a burden, restored to the 
ancient liberty of the Faith, can now be 
recalled into the way of salvation by the 
preaching of faithful priests, when it sees the 
whole hotbed of pestilence done away with in; 
the person of the originator himself. Now 
therefore, because you have accomplished 
this by firm resolution and stedfast will, com- 
plete your tale of work for the Faith by pass-, 
ing such decrees as shall be well-pleasing 






to God in favour of this city's catholic ruler' 
who is tainted by no trace of the heres) 



8 This is another Timothy surnamed Solophaciolus, supposec 
to be the same as that Timotheus presbyter et occonomus Ecdesiir 
mentioned among the Egyptian icfugees who petitioned the Em- 
peror against vElurus 



LETTER CLXXI. 



T *3 



now so often condemned : lest, perchance, the 
wound apparently healed but still lurking 
beneath the scar should grow, and the Chris- 
tian laity, which by your public action has 
been freed from the perversity of heretics, 
should again fall a prey to deadly poison. 

II. Good works as well as integrity of faith is 

required in a priest. 

But you see, venerable Emperor, and clearly 
understand, that in the person, whose excom- 
munication is contemplated, it is not only the 
integrity of his faith that must be considered ; 
for even, if that could be purged by any 
punishments and confessions, and completely 
restored by any conditions, yet the wicked and 
bloody deeds that have been committed can 
never be done away by the protestations of 
plausible words : because in God's pontiff, and 
particularly in the priest of so great a church, 
the sound of the tongue and the utterance of 
the lips is not enough, and nothing is of avail, 
if God makes proclamation with His voice and 
the mind is convicted of blasphemy. For of 
such the Holy Ghost speaks by the Apostle, 
" having an appearance of godliness, but deny- 
ing the power thereof," and again elsewhere, 
" they profess that they know God, but in 
deeds they deny Him 9." And hence, since 
in every member of the Church both the 
integrity of the true Faith and abundance of 
good works is looked for, how much more 
ought both these things to predominate in the 
chief pontiff, because the one without the 
other cannot be in union with the Body of 
Christ. 

III. Timothys request for indulgence on the 
score of orthodoxy must not be allowed. 

Nor need we now state all that makes 
Timothy accursed, since what has been done 
through him and on his account, has abund- 
antly and conspicuously come to the know- 
ledge of the whole world, and whatever has 
been perpetrated by an unruly mob against 
justice, all rests qn his head, whose wishes 
were served by its mad hands. And hence, 
even if in his profession of faith he neglects 
nothing, and deceives us in nothing, it best 
consorts with your glory absolutely to exclude 
him from this design of his 1 , because in the 
bishop of so great a city the universal Church 
ought to rejoice with holy exultation, so that 
the true peace of the Lord may be glorified 
not only by the preaching of the Faith, but 
ilso by the example of men's conduct. Dated 



9 2 Tim. iii. 5, and Tit. i. 16. 

1 Apparently to be allowed to reside in Constantinople (or 
srhaps at this stage to remain in Alexandria). 

VOL. XII. 



17th of June, in the consulship of Magnus and 
Apollonius (460). (By the hand of Philo- 
xenus agens i?i rebus Ia .) 

LETTER CLXX. 

To Gennadius, Bishop of Constantinople 2 . 

(Complaining of Timothy yElurus having 
been allowed to come to Constantinople, and 
saying that there is no hope of his restitution.) 

LETTER CLXXI. 
To Timothy, Bishop of Alexandria. 

Leo, the bishop, to Timothy, catholic bishop 
of the church of Alexandria. 

I. He congratulates him on his election, and 
bids him win back wanderers to the fold. 

It is clearly apparent from the brightness of 
the sentiment quoted by the Apostle, that 
" all things work together for good to them 
that love God 3," and by the dispensation of 
God's pity, where adversities are received, 
there also prosperity is given. This the 
experience of the Alexandrine church shows, 
in which the moderation and long suffering of 
the humble has laid up for themselves great 
store in return for their patience : because 
" the Lord is nigh them that are of a contrite 
heart, and shall save those that are humble in 
spirit 4 ," our noble Prince's faith being glorified 
in all things, through whom "the right-hand 
of the Lord hath done great acts 4 ," in pre- 
venting the abomination of antichrist any 
longer occupying the throne of the blessed 
Fathers ; whose blasphemy has hurt no one 
more than himself, because although he has 
induced some to be partners of his guilt, yet 
he has inexpiably stained himself with blood. 
And hence concerning that which under the 
direction of Faith your election, brother, by 
the clergy, and the laity, and all the faithful, 
has brought about, I assure you that the whole 
of the Lord's Church rejoices with me, and it 
is my strong desire that the Divine pity will 
in its loving-kindness confirm this joy with 
manifold signs of grace, your own devotion 
ministering thereto in all things, so that you 
may sedulously win over, through the Church's 
prayers, those also who have hitherto resisted 
the Truth, to reconciliation with God, and, 
as a zealous ruler, bring them into union with 
the mystic body of the catholic Faith, whose 
entirety admits of no division, imitating that 
true and gentle Shepherd, who laid down His 



» See Lett. CLXII. n. 2». . 

2 He had succeeded to the see on the death of Anatolius in 



458. 



3 Rom. viii. 28. 



4 Ps. xxxiv. 18, and cxviii. 16. 



ii4 



LETTERS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



life for His sheep, and, when one sheep wan- 
dered, drove il not back with the lash, but 
carried it back to the fold on His own 
shoulders. 

II. Let him be watchful against heresy and 
send frequent reports to Rome. 

Take heed, then, dearly beloved brother, 
lest any trace of either Nestorius' or Eutyches' 
error be found in God's people : because " no 
one can lay any foundation except that which 
is laid, which is Christ Jesus s ;" who would not 
have reconciled the whole world to God the 
Father, had He not by the regeneration of 
Faith adopted us all in the reality of our 
flesh 6 . Whenever, therefore, opportunities 
arise which you can use for writing, brother, 
even as you necessarily and in accordance 
with custom have done in sending a report 
of your ordination to us by our sons, Daniel 
the presbyter and Timothy the deacon, so 

5 i Cor. iii. n. 

6 Per Jidei regenerationem omnes in nostra carnis veritate 
susciperet. The doctrine of the Atonement in the light of the 
Incarnation is here expressed in a rather unusual way, and I have 
therefore translated the expression as literally as possible. 



continue to act at all times and send us, who 
will be anxious for them, as frequent accounts 
as possible of the progress of peace, in order 
that by regular intercourse we may feel that 
" the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts 
through the Holy Ghost, which is given unto 
us 7." Dated the i8th of August, in the con- 
sulship of Magnus and Apollonius (460). 

LETTER CLXXII. 

To the Presbyters and Deacons of the 
Church of Alexandria. 

(Inviting them to aid in confirming the 
peace of the Church, and in winning those 
who had given way to heresy.) 

LETTER CLXXIII. 

To certain Egyptian Bishops. 
(Congratulating them on the election of 
Timothy, and begging them to assist in main- 
taining unity and bringing back wanderers to 
the fold.) 



1 Rom. r. 5. 



r 
V 

k 



SERMONS. 



SERMON I. 

Preached on his Birthday l , or day of 
Ordination. 

Having been elected i?i absence 2 he returns 
thanks for the kindness and earnestly demands 
the prayers of his church. 

"Let my mouth speak the praise of the 
Lord 3," and my breath and spirit, my flesh and 
tongue bless His holy Name. For it is a sign, 
not of a modest, but an ungrateful mind, to keep 
silence on the kindnesses of God : and it is 
very meet to begin our duty as consecrated 
pontiff with the sacrifices of the Lord's praise 4 . 
Because "in our humility " the Lord "has been 
mindful of us s " and has blessed us : because 
" He alone has done great wonders for me 5 ," so 
that your holy affection for me reckoned me pre- 
sent, though my long journey had forced me to 
be absent. Therefore I give and always shall 
give thanks to our God for all the things with 
which He has recompensed me. Your favour- 
able opinion also I acknowledge publicly, pay- 
ing you the thanks I owe, and thus showing 
that I understand how much respect, love and 
fidelity your affectionate zeal could expend on 
me who long with a shepherd's anxiety for the 
safety of your souls, who have passed so con- 
scientious a judgment on me, with absolutely 
no deserts of mine to guide you. I entreat 
you, therefore, by the mercies of the Lord, 
aid with your prayers him whom you have 
sought out by your solicitations that both the 
i Spirit of grace may abide in me and that your 
(judgment may not change. May He who 
inspired you with such unanimity of purpose, 
vouchsafe to us all in common the blessing of 
peace : so that all the days of my life being 
ready for the service of Almighty God, and 
for my duties towards you, I may with con- 
fidence entreat the Lord : " Holy Father, keep 
in Thy name those whom Thou hast given me 6 :" 



1 Natalis seems to have been applied to the day or anniversary 
if a Bishop's consecration as well as to the festivals of Martyrs 
n the Calendar. Cf. Serm. IV. chap. 4, illi ergo liunc servitutis 
•wstro? natalitium diem ascribamus. One reason for the shortness 
)f this sermon, which used to be joined with Sermon II. (a few 
lecessary alterations in the text of the latter being made) is, 

think, rightly given by the Ballerinii: " perh.ips," they say, 
' the unusual length of the ceremonies that day did not allow 
>f a longer sermon." 

2 Viz. on his mission of reconciling /Etius and Albinus the 
ioman generals in Gaul : see Introduction. 3 Ps. cxliv. 21. 

4 Especially of course in the Holy Eucharist. 



and while you ever go on unto salvation, may 
" my soul magnify the Lord 7," and in the retri- 
bution of the judgment to come may the ac- 
count of my priesthood so be rendered to the 
just Judge 8 that through your good deeds you 
may be my joy and my crown, who by your 
good will have given an earnest testimony to 
me in this present life. 

SERMON II. 

On his Birthday, II. : delivered on the 
Anniversary 9 of his Consecration.) 

I. The Lord raises up the weak and gives him 
grace a ceo?- ding to his need. 
The Divine condescension has made this 
an honourable day for me, for it has shown by 
raising 1 my humbleness to the highest rank, 
that He despised not any of His own. And 
hence, although one must be diffident of 
merit, yet it is one's bounden duty to rejoice 
over the gift, since He who is the Imposer of 
the burden 2 is Himself 3 the Aider in its 
execution : and lest the weak recipient should 
fall beneath the greatness of the grace, He 
who conferred the dignity will also give the 
power. As the day therefore returns in due 
course on which the Lord purposed that 
I should begin my episcopal office, there is 
true cause for me to rejoice to the glory of 
God, Who that I might love Him much, has 
forgiven me much, and that I might make His 
Grace wonderful, has conferred His gifts upon 
me in whom He found no recommendations 
of merit. And by this His work what does 
the Lord suggest and commend to our hearts 
but that no one should presume upon his own 
righteousness nor distrust God's mercy which 
shines out more pre-eminently then, when the 
sinner is made holy and the downcast lifted 



5 Ps. exxxv. 23, 24. 



6 1 S. John xvii. n. 



7 S. Luke i. 46. 

8 The words of S. Paul to the Thessalonians (i Thess. ii. 19) 
are clearly in his mind. 

9 This sermon, which in the older editions used to be joined 
in one with the first was separated by the Ballerinii and assigned 
to the (1st?) anniversary of his pontifical consecration. Quesnel, 
who did not go so far as to separate the two parts, saw that there 
were certain expressions in the first portion which did not suit the 
common title given to the whole in anniversario die assnmptionis 
eins, proposed to alter it to in octavo, consecrationis eius (on the 
octave, &c). I nave adhered to the Ball.'s division, though I am 
not entirely convinced by their arguments, 

1 Provexit unwillingly altered by the Ball, from praveliit, 
against all the MSS. , to suit their view. 

2 Oneris, others honoris (advancement). 

3 Ipse est, others (including Quesnel) ipse mikijiet (future). 



I 2 



u6 



SERMONS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



up. For the measure of heavenly gifts does 
not rest upon the quality of our deeds, nor in 
this world, in which " all life is temptation 4 ," 
is each one rewarded according to his deserving, 
for if the Lord were to take count of a man's 
iniquities, no one could stand before His 
judgment. 

II. The mighty assemblage of prelates testifies 
to men's loyal aceeptauce of Peter in Peter's 
unworthy sueeessor. 

Therefore, dearly-beloved, "magnify the 
Lord with me and let us exalt His name 
together s," that the whole reason of to-day's 
concourse may be referred to the praise of Him 
Who brought it to pass. For so far as my 
own feelings are concerned, I confess that 
I rejoice most over the devotion of you all ; 
and when I look upon this splendid assemblage 
of my venerable brother-priests 6 , I feci that, 
where so many saints are gathered, the very 
angels are amongst us. Nor do I doubt that 
we are to-day visited by a more abundant out- 
pouring of the Divine Presence, when so many 
fair tabernacles of God, so many excellent 
members of the Body of Christ are in one 
place and shine with one light. Nor yet 
I feel sure, is the fostering condescension and 
true love of the most blessed Apostle Peter 
absent from this congregation : he has not 
deserted your devotion, in whose honour you 
are met together. And so he too rejoices 
over your good feeling and welcomes your 
respect for the Lord's own institution as 
shown towards the partners of His honour, 
commending the well ordered love of the 
whole Church, which ever finds Peter in 
Peter's See, and from affection for so great 
a shepherd grows not lukewarm even over 
so inferior a successor as myself. In order 
therefore, dearly beloved, that this loyalty 
which you unanimously display towards my 
humbleness may obtain the fruit of its zeal, 
on bended knee entreat the merciful goodness 
of our God that in our days He will drive out 
those who assail us, strengthen faith, increase 
love, increase peace and deign to render me 
His poor slave, whom to show the riches of 
His grace He has willed to stand at the helm 
of the Church, sufficient for so great a work 
and useful in building you up, and to this end 
to lengthen our time for service that the years 
He may grant us may be used to His glory 
through Christ our Lord. Amen. 



4 Job. vii. i (LXX.). 5 Ps. xxxiv. 3. 

6 The Ball, quote from several more or less contemporary 
authorities to prove that this concourse is more likely to have 
been on the anniversary than on the day of consecration itself, 
and they say that such a celebration of the octave as Quesnel 
suggests is unknown to all antiquity. 



SERMON III. 

On his Birthday, III : delivered on the 

Anniversary of his Elevation to 

the Pontificate. 

I. The honour of being raised to the episcopate 
must be referred solely to the Divine Head of 
the Church. 

As often as God's mercy deigns to bring 
round the day of His gifts to us, there is, 
dearly-beloved, just and reasonable cause for 
rejoicing, if only our appointment to the 
office be referred to the praise of Him who 
gave it. For though this recognition of God 
may well be found in all His priests, yet I 
take it to be peculiarly binding on me, who, 
regarding my own utter insignificance and the 
greatness of the office undertaken, ought my- 
self also to utter that exclamation of the 
Prophet," Lord, I heard Thy speech and was 
afraid : I considered Thy works and was dis- 
mayed 7." For what is so unwonted and so 
dismaying as labour to the frail, exaltation to 
the humble, dignity to the undeserving? And 
yet we do not despair nor lose heart, because 
we put our trust not in ourselves but in Him 
who works in us. And hence also we have 
sung with harmonious voice the psalm of 
David, dearly beloved, not in our own praise, 
but to the glory of Christ the Lord. For it is 
He of whom it is prophetically written, "Thou 
art a priest for ever after the order of Melchi- 
zedeck 8 ," that is, not after the order of Aaron, 
whose priesthood descending along his own 
line of offspring was a temporal ministry, and 
ceased with the law of the Old Testament, but 
after the order of Melchizedeck, in whom was 
prefigured the eternal High Priest. And no 
reference is made to his parentage because in 
him it is understood that He was portrayed, 
whose generation cannot be declared. And 
finally, now that the mystery of this Divine 
priesthood has descended to human agency, it 
runs not by the line of birth, nor is that which 
flesh and blood created, chosen, but without 
regard to the privilege of paternity and suc- 
cession by inheritance, those men are received 
by the Church as its rulers whom the Holy 
Ghost prepares : so that in the people of God's 1 
adoption, the whole body of which is priestl 
and royal, it is not the prerogative of earthl 
origin which obtains the unction 9, but the 
condescension of Divine grace which creates 
the bishop. 



7 Hab. iii. 2 (LXX.). _ 8 Ps. ex. 4. 

9 Quesnel is no doubt correct in taking this literally as alluding 
to the anointing of bishops at consecration : cf. Serm. IV. chap. 1 
Sancti Spirit us unctio consecrat sacerdotes, anil lower down h< 
speaks of the effusum benedictionis unguentum : so also ii 
Serm. LIX. chap. 7, sacratior est unctio sacerdottim. 



SERMON III. 



117 



II. From Christ and through S. Peter the 
pi'iesthood is handed on in perpetuity. 
Although, therefore, dearly beloved, we be 
found both weak and slothful in fulfilling the 
duties of our office, because, whatever devoted 
and vigorous action we desire to do, we are 
hindered by the frailty of our very condition ; 
yet having the unceasing propitiation of the 
Almighty and perpetual Priest, who being like 
us and yet equal with the Father, brought 
down His Godhead even to things human, and 
raised His Manhood even to things Divine, we 
worthily and piously rejoice over His dispen- 
sation, whereby, though He has delegated the 
care of His sheep to many shepherds, yet He 
has not Himself abandoned the guardianship 
of His beloved flock. And from His over- 
ruling and eternal protection we have received 
the support of the Apostles' aid also, which 
assuredly does not cease from its operation : 
and the strength of the foundation, on which 
the whole superstructure of the Church is 
reared, is not weakened x by the weight of the 
temple that rests upon it. For the solidity of 
that faith which was praised in the chief of 
the Apostles is perpetual : and as that re- 
mains which Peter believed in Christ, so that 
remains which Christ instituted in Peter. 
For when, as has been read in the Gospel 
lesson 2 , the Lord had asked the discipies 
whom they believed Him to be amid the 
various opinions that were held, and the 
blessed Peter had replied, saying, " Thou art 
the Christ, the Son of the living God," the 
Lord says, " Blessed art thou, Simon Bar- 
Jona, because flesh and flood hath not re- 
vealed it to thee, but My Father, which is in 
heaven. And I say to thee, that thou art 
Peter, and upon this rock will I build My 
church, and the gates of Hades shall not 
prevail against it. And I will give unto thee 
the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And 
whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, shall 
be bound in heaven ; and whatsoever thou 
shalt loose on earth, shall be loosed also in 
heaven 3." 

III. S. Peter's work is still carried out by his 
successors. 

The dispensation of Truth therefore abides, 
and the blessed Peter persevering in the 
strength of the Rock, which he has received, 
has not abandoned the helm of the Church, 
which he undertook. For he was ordained 



1 We read lassescit with Hurter, instead of the unintelligible 
lacessit of the MSS. 

2 By the evangelica lectio is meant the Gospel for the day, 
just as, for instance, in Sermon XXXIII. chap. 1, &c 

3 S. Matt. xvi. 16 — 19. 



before the rest in such a way that from his 
being called the Rock, from his being pro- 
nounced the Foundation, from his being con- 
stituted the Doorkeeper of the kingdom of 
heaven, from his being set as the Umpire to 
bind and to loose, whose judgments shall 
retain their validity in heaven, from all these 
mystical titles we might know the nature of 
his association with Christ. And still to-day 
he more fully and effectually performs what is 
entrusted to him, and carries out every part 
of his duty and charge in Him and with Him, 
through Whom he has been glorified. And so 
if anything is rightly done and rightly decreed 
by us, if anything is won from the mercy of 
God by our daily supplications, it is of his 
work and merits whose power lives and whose 
authority prevails in his See. For this, dearly- 
beloved, was gained by that confession, which, 
inspired in the Apostle's heart by God the 
Father, transcended all the uncertainty of 
human opinions, and was endued with the 
firmness of a rock, which no assaults could 
shake. For throughout the Church Peter 
daily says, " Thou art the Christ, the Son of 
the living God," and every tongue which con- 
fesses the Lord, accepts the instruction his 
voice conveys. This Faith conquers the devil, 
and breaks the bonds of his prisoners. It 
uproots us from this earth and plants us in 
heaven, and the gates of Hades cannot prevail 
against it. For with such solidity is it en- 
dued by God that the depravity of heretics 
cannot mar it nor the unbelief of the heathen 
overcome it. 

IV. This festival then is in S. Peter's honour, 
and the progress of his flock redounds to his 
glory. 

And so, dearly beloved, with reasonable 
obedience we celebrate to-day's festival by 
such methods, that in my humble person he 
may be recognized and honoured, in whom 
abides the care of all the shepherds, together 
with the charge of the sheep commended 
to him, and whose dignity is not abated even 
in so unworthy an heir. And hence the pre- 
sence of my venerable brothers and fellow- 
priests, so much desired and valued by me, 
will be the more sacred and precious, if they 
will transfer the chief honour of this service 
in which they have deigned to take part to 
him whom they know to be not only the 
patron of this see, but also the primate of 
all bishops. When therefore we utter our ex- 
hortations in your ears, holy brethren, believe 
that he is speaking whose representative we 
are : because it is his warning that we give, 
nothing else but his teaching that we preach, 
beseeching you to " gird up the loins of your 



u8 



SERMONS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



mind V' an d lead a chaste and sober life in the 
fear of God, and not to let your mind forget 
his supremacy and consent to the lusts of the 
flesh. Short and fleeting are the joys of this 
world's pleasures which endeavour to turn 
aside from the path of life those who are 
called to eternity. The faithful and religious 
spirit, therefore, must desire the things which 
are heavenly, and being eager for the Divine 
promises, lift itself to the love of the in- 
corruptible Good and the hope of the true 
Light. But be sure, dearly-beloved, that your 
labour, whereby you resist vices and fight 
against carnal desires, is pleasing and precious 
in God's sight, and in God's mercy will profit 
not only yourselves but me also, because the 
zealous pastor makes his boast of the progress 
of the Lord's flock. " For ye are my crown 
and joy 5 ," as the Apostle says ; if your faith, 
which from the beginning of the Gospel has 
been preached in all the world, has continued 
in love and holiness. For though the whole 
Church, which is in all the world, ought to 
abound in all virtues, yet you especially, above 
all people, it becomes to excel in deeds of 
piety, because founded as you are on the very 
citadel of the Apostolic Rock, not only has 
our Lord Jesus Christ redeemed you in com- 
mon with all men, but the blessed Apostle 
Peter has instructed you far beyond all men. 
Through the same Christ our Lord. 

SERMON IX. 

Upon the Collections 6 , IV. 

I. The devil's wickedness in leading Jiien astray 
is now counteracted by the work of Redemp- 
tion in restoring them to the Truth. 

God's mercy and justice, dearly-beloved, 
has in loving-kindness disclosed to us through 
our Lord Jesus Christ's teaching, the manner 
of His retributions, as they have been ordained 
from the foundation of the world, that accept- 
ing the significance of facts we might take 
what we believe will happen, to have, as it 
were, already come to pass. For our Re- 
deemer and Saviour knew what great errors 
the devil's deceit had dispersed throughout 
the world and by how many superstitions he 
had subjected the chief part of mankind to 



* i Pet. i. T3. ^ Si Thess. ii. 20. 

6 The Ballerinii in an excellent note have shown that the 
series of six Sermons de Collectis were delivered in connexion 
with the annual Collections then in vogue at Rome for the sick 
and poor of the seven city regions. These collections seem to 
have been continued for several consecutive days (cf. Serm. VI. 
primus collectarum dies, and Serm. X. chap. 4), and probably 
began on the 6th of July (the octave of SS. Peter and Paul), the 
day on which in pagan times the Ludi Apollinares had also 
begun : this date being designedly chosen, as Leo himself s?ys 
(Serm. VIIl.),ad destruendas antiqui hostis i?isuiias in die quo 
impii sub idolorum suorum nomine diabolo sej-vneant : cf. what 
he says also in the first and third chapters of this Sermon (IX.). 



himself. But that the creature formed in 
God's image might not any longer through 
ignorance of the Truth be driven on to the 
precipice of perpetual death, He inserted in 
the Gospel-pages the nature of His judgment 
that it might recover every man from the 
snares of the crafty foe ; for now all would 
know what rewards the good might hope for 
and what punishments the evil must fear. For 
the instigator and author of sin in order first 
to fall through pride and then to injure us 
through envy, because " he stood not in 
the Truth 7 " put all his strength in lying and 
produced every kind of deceit from this 
poisoned source of his cunning, that he might 
cut off man's devout hopes from that happiness 
which he had lost by his own uplifting, and drag 
them into partnership with his condemnation, 
to whose reconciliation he himself could not 
attain. Whoever therefore among men has 
wronged God by his wickednesses, has been 
led astray by his guile, and depraved by his 
villainy. For he easily drives into all evil 
doings those whom he has deceived in the 
matter of religion. But knowing that God is 
denied not only by words but also by deeds, 
many whom he could not rob of their faith, he 
has robbed of their love, and by choking the 
ground of their heart with the weeds of 
avarice, has spoiled them of the fruit of good 
works, when he could not spoil them of the 
confession of their lips. 

II. Govs just judgment against sin is de- 
nounced that zve may avoid it by deeds of 
mercy and love. 

On account therefore, dearly-beloved, of 
these crafty designs of our ancient foe, the un- 
speakable goodness of Christ has wished us to 
know, what was to be decreed about all man- 
kind in the day of retribution, that, while in 
this life healing remedies are legitimately 
offered, while restoration is not denied to the 
contrite, and those who have been long barren 
can at length be fruitful, the verdict on 
wnich justice has determined may be fore- 
stalled and the picture of God's coming to 
judge t'ie world never depart from the mind's 
eye. For the Lord will come in His glorious 
Majesty, as He Himself has foretold, and there 
will be with Him an innumerable host of 
angel-legions radiant in their splendour. Be- 
fore the throne of His power will all the 
nations of the world be gathered ; and all the 
men that in all ages and on all the face of the 
earth have been born, shall stand in the 
Judge's sight. Then shall be separated the 
just from the unjust, the guiltless from the 



7 S. John viii. 44. 



SERMON IX. 



119 



guilty ; and when the sons of piety, their 
works of mercy reviewed, have received the 
Kingdom prepared for them, the unjust shall 
be upbraided for their utter barrenness, and 
those on the left having naught in common 
with those on the right, shall by the con- 
demnation of the Almighty Judge be cast into 
the fire prepared for the torture of the devil 
and his angels, with him to share the punish- 
ment, whose will they choose to do. Who 
then would not tremble at this doom of eternal 
torment ? Who would not dread evils which are 
never to be ended ? But since this severity is 
only denounced in order that we may seek for 
mercy, we too in this present life must show such 
open-handed mercy that after perilous neglect 
returning to works of piety it may be possible for 
us to be set free from this doom. For this is the 
purpose of the Judge's might and of the Saviour's 
graciousness, that the unrighteous may forsake 
his ways and the sinner give up his wicked 
habits. Let those who wish Christ to spare 
them, have mercy on the poor; let them give 
freely to feed the wretched, who desire to 
attain to the society of the blessed. Let no 
man consider his fellow vile, nor despise in 
any one that nature which the Creator of the 
world made His own. For who that labours 
can deny that Christ claims that labour as 
done unto Himself? Your fellow-slave is 
helped thereby, but it is the Lord who will 
repay. The feeding of the needy is the pur- 
chase money of the heavenly kingdom and 
the free dispenser of things temporal is made 
:he heir of things eternal. But how has such 
small expenditure deserved to be valued so 
lighly except because our works are weighed 
n the balance of love, and when a man loves 
vhat God loves, he is deservedly raised into 
His kingdom, whose attribute of love has in 
)art become his ? 

III. We minister to Christ Himself in the 
person of His poor. 

To this pious duty of good works, therefore, 
'.early beloved, the day of Apostolic institu- 
ion 8 invites us, on which the first collection 



8 Dies apostolical insiituiionis : this was, as note 6 explains, the 
ctave of SS. Peter and Paul, but how far Leo actually attributes 
;s institution to the Apostles themselves, is a little doubtful. In 
le next clause here he speaks of the Collection as a patribus 
\rdinata (so too in Serm. VII. dies saluberime a Sanctis patribus 
istitutus, and Serm. XI. chap. 2: cf. Serm. X. chap. 1, aiic- 
rritattm patrum); whereas in Sermon VIII. the day is said to 
2 apostolicis traditionibus institutus, and in Serm. XI. chap. 1, 
posto litis didicimus institutis, and strongest of all the openii.g 
ords of Serm. X. chap. 1, apostolicis traditionis instituta ser- 
\intes ut diem quem Mi ab impiorum consuetudine pur- 
itum misericordiiF operibnts consecrarunt celebremus. Patres 
awever often includes apostoli, e.g. Serm. LXXIII. chap. 1, 
,'atias aganms .... sanctorum patrum necessaries tarditati, 
jhere pa'trum = apostoli aliiqtte discipnli. The fact is, as Bright 
pints out upon a similar matter (the origin of Lent), Leo " would 
Y prone to make that claim for any institute of his own church 
iee Bingham xxi. 1, 8.) " (n. 103.) On Serm. LXXIX. 1 the 



of our holy offerings has been prudently and 
profitably ordained by the Fathers ; in order 
that because at this season formerly the 
Gentiles used superstitiously to serve demons, 
we might celebrate the most holy offering of 
our alms in protest against the unholy victims 
of the wicked. And because this has been 
most profitable to the growth of the Church, 
it has been resolved to make it perpetual. We 
exhort you, therefore, holy brethren throughout 
the churches of your several regions 9 on 
Wednesday next l to contribute of your goods, 
according to your means and willingness, to 
purposes of charity, that ye may be able to 
win that blessedness in which he shall rejoice 
without end, who " considereth the needy and 
poor 2 ." And if we are to "consider" him, 
dearly beloved, we must use loving care and 
watchfulness, in order that we may find him 
whom modesty conceals and shamefastness 
keeps back. For there are those who blush 
openly to ask for what they want and prefer 
to suffer privation without speaking rather 
than to be put to shame by a public appeal. 
These are they whom we ought to " consider " 
and relieve from their hidden straits in order 
that they may the more rejoice from the very 
fact that their modesty as well as poverty 
has been consulted. And rightly in the 
needy and poor do we recognize the person 
of Jesus Christ our Lord Himself, " Who 
though He was rich," as says the blessed 
Apostle, " became poor, that He might enrich 
us by His poverty 3." And that His presence 
might never seem to be wanting to us, He so 
effected the mystic union of His humility and 
His glory that while we adore Him as King 
and Lord in the Majesty of the Father, we 
might also feed Him in His poor, for which 
we shall be set free in an evil day from per- 
petual damnation, and for our considerate 
care of the poor shall be joined with the whole 
company of heaven. 

IV. To complete their acceptance by God, they 
must not neglect to lay all information against 
the Manichees ivho are in the city. 
But in order that your devotion, dearly 
beloved, may in all things be pleasing to God, 
we exhort you also to show due zeal in in- 
forming your presbyters of Manichees where- 



Ball. appropriately quote a dictum of S. Augustine s that what 
the universal Church has always held is correctly credited with 
the authority of the Apostles. . 

9 Regionum, viz. the seven regions into which Rome was then 
divided : see n. 6, above. 

i The Ball, wish to alter this to Thursday (against Mbb.) 
to suit their calculations, by which as the detection of Mam. 
chaeism at Rome, mentioned in chap. iv., occurred after the 6th 
of July, 443, this sermon must have been delivered in 444. 

a Ps. xli. 1. 3 2 Cor. Vlil. 9. 



120 



SERMONS OF LEO THE GREAT 



ever they be hidden 4. For it is naught but 
piety to disclose the hiding-places of the 
wicked, and in them to overthrow the devil, 
whom they serve. For against them, dearly 
beloved, it becomes indeed the whole world 
and the whole Church everywhere to put on 
the armour of Faith : but your devotion ought 
to be foremost in this work, who in your pro- 
genitors learnt the Gospel of the Cross of 
Christ from the very mouth of the most blessed 
Apostles Peter and Paul. Men must not be al- 
lowed to lie hid who do not believe that the law 
given through Moses, in which God is shown 
to be the Creator of the Universe, ought to 
be received : who speak against the Prophets 
and the Holy Ghost, dare in their damnable 
profanity to reject the Psalms of David which 
are sung through the universal Church with 
all reverence, deny the birth of the Lord 
Christ, according to the flesh, say that His 
Passion and Resurrection was fictitious, not 
true, and deprive the baptism of regeneration 
of all its power as a means of grace. Nothing 
with them is holy, nothing entire, nothing 
true. They are to be shunned, lest they 
harm any one : they are to be given up, lest 
they should settle in any part of our city. 
Yours, dearly beloved, will be the gain before 
the Lord's judgment-seat of what we bid, of 
what we ask. For it is but right that the 
triumph of this deed also should be joined to 
the oblation of our alms, the Lord Jesus 
Christ in all things aiding us, Who lives and 
reigns for ever and ever. Amen. 

'SERMON X. 

On the Collections, V. 

I. Our goods are given us not as our own pos- 
sessions but for use in God's service. 

Observing the institutions of the Apostles' 
tradition, dearly beloved, we exhort you, as 
watchful shepherds, to celebrate with the de- 
votion of religious practice that day which 
they s purged from wicked superstitions and 
consecrated to deeds of mercy, thus showing 
that the authority of the Fathers still " lives 
among us, and that we obediently abide by 
their teaching. Inasmuch as the sacred use- 
fulness of such a practice affects not only time 
past but also our own age, so that what aided 
them in the destruction of vanities, might 
contribute with us to the increase of virtues. 
And what so suitable to faith, what so much 
in harmony with godliness as to assist the 
poverty of the needy, to undertake the care 
of the weak, to succour the needs of the 



4 Cf. Lett. VII. and VIII. 

5 See Serm. IX. n. 6, and chap. iii. n. 8. 



brethren, and to remember one's own con- 
dition in the toils of others 6 . In which work 
He only who knows what He has given to 
each, discerns aright how much a man can 
and how much he cannot do. For not only 
are spiritual riches and heavenly gifts received 
from God, but earthly and material possessions 
also proceed from His bounty, that He may 
be justified in requiring an account of those 
things which He has not so much put in our 
possession as committed to our stewardship. 
God's gifts, therefore, we must use properly 
and wisely, lest the material for good work 
should become an occasion of sin. For wealth, 
after its kind and regarded as a means, is good 
and is of the greatest advantage to human 
society, when it is in the hands of the bene- 
volent and open-handed, and when the luxu- 
rious man does not squander nor the miser 
hoard it ; for whether ill-stored or unwisely 
spent it is equally lost. 

II. The liberal use of riches is worse than vain, 

if it be for selfish ends alone. 

And, however praiseworthy it be to fie 
from intemperance, and to avoid the waste 
of base pleasures, and though many in their 
magnificence disdain to conceal their wealth, 
and in the abundance of their goods think 
scorn of mean and sordid parsimony, yet 
such men's liberality is not happy, nor 
their thriftiness to be commended, if their 
riches are of benefit to themselves alone ; i: 
no poor folks are helped by their goods, n 
sick persons nourished ; if out of the abund- 
ance of their great possessions the captive 
gets not ransom, nor the stranger comfort, 
nor the exile relief. Rich men of this kind 
are needier than all the needy. For they los 
those returns which they might have for ever, 
and while they gloat over the brief and not 
always free enjoyment of what they possess, 
they are not fed upon the bread of justice noi 
the sweets of mercy : outwardly splendid, the) 
have no light within : of things temporal the) 
have abundance, but utter lack of thing: 
eternal : for they inflict starvation on then 
own souls, and bring them to shame anc 
nakedness by spending upon heavenly trea 
sures none of these things which they put 
into their earthly storehouses. 

III. The duty of mercy outweighs all othet 

virtues. 

But, perhaps there are some rich people 
who, although they are not wont to help tht 
Church's poor by bounteous gifts, yet kee 
other commands of God, and among thei. 

6 i.e. apparently to do as you would be done by. 



SERMON XII. 



121 



many meritorious acts of faith and uprightness 
think they will be pardoned for the lack of 
this one virtue. But this is so important that, 
though the rest exist without it, they can be 
of no avail. For although a man be full of 
faith, and chaste, and sober, and adorned 
with other still greater decorations, yet if he 
is not merciful, he cannot deserve mercy : for 
the Lord says, " blessed are the merciful, for 
God shall have mercy upon them 7." And 
when the Son of Man comes in His Majesty 
and is seated on His glorious throne, and all 
nations being gathered together, division is 
made between the good and the bad, for what 
shall they be praised who stand upon the 
right except for works of benevolence and 
deeds of love which Jesus Christ shall reckon 
as done to Himself? For He who has made 
man's nature His own, has separated Himself 
in nothing from man's humility. And what 
objection shall be made to those on the left, 
except for their neglect of love, their inhuman 
harshness, their refusal of mercy to the poor? 
as if those on the right had no other virtues, 
: | those on the left no other faults. But at the 
great and final day of judgment large-hearted 
liberality and ungodly meanness will be 
counted of such importance as to outweigh 
: all other virtues and all other shortcomings, 
■ so that for the one men shall gain entrance 
Ijinto the Kingdom, for the other they shall be 
sent into eternal fire. 

IV. And its efficacy, as Scripture proves, is 
incalculable. 

Let no one therefore, dearly beloved, flatter 
limself on any merits of a good life, if works 

• pf charity be wanting in him, and let him not 

• hrust in the purity of his body, if he be not 
cleansed by the purification of almsgiving. 
! ?or ' ; almsgiving wipes out sin 8 ," kills death, 
;ind extinguishes the punishment of perpetual 
lire. But he who has not been fruitful therein, 

: :;hall have no indulgence from the great Re- 
:ompenser, as Solomon says, " He that closeth 
us ears lest he should hear the weak, shall 
limself call upon the Lord, and there shall be 



7S. Matt: v. 7. 
I 8 Ecclus. iii. 30. The purifying power of almsgiving is 
favourite thought with Leo: cf. for instance Serm. XII. 

hap. 4, and XVIII. chap. 3, where he says, castigatio corporis 

' instantia oratiotiis tunc veram obtinent puritatem cum elee- 
\tosynarum sancti/icatione nitimtur. In several places he com- 

ires its cleansing effect to the waters of baptism : e.g. Serm. XX. 

lap. 3, in eleemosynis virtus quccdam est instituta baptismatis, 
\itia sicut aqua, extinguit iguem, si eleemosyna peccatum — ut 

?mo dijjidat regenerationis sibi nit or em etiam post mtilta peccata 
Kstitui, qui eleemosynarum studuerit purificatione mundari : 
lid again in Serm. VII. he says, unusquisque — in usus atque 
Vimoniam pauperum de vestris Jacultatibus conferatis sciences 
\ r a>ter lUud regenerationis lavacrum, in quo uuiversorum abluta? 

tnt macula peccatoritm, hoc remedium infirmitati humana 

Vtnitus esse donatum ut si qu d cu/parum in fiac terrena 

ibitatione contrahitur, eleemosynis deleatur. 



none to hear him 9." And hence Tobias also, 
while instructing his son in the precepts of 
godliness, says, " Give alms of thy substance, 
and turn not thy face from any poor man : 
so shall it come to pass that the face of God 
shall not be turned from thee I ." This virtue 
makes all virtues profitable ; for by its pre- 
sence it gives life to that very faith, by which 
"the just lives 2 ," and which is said to be 
" dead without works 3 ; " because as the 
reason for works consists in faith, so the 
strength of faith consists in works. " While 
we have time therefore," as the Apostle says, 
" let us do that which is good to all men, and 
especially to them that are of the household 
of faith 4." " But let us not be weary in doing 
good ; for in His own time we shall reap V 
And so the present life is the time for sow- 
ing, and the day of retribution is the time of 
harvest, when every one shall reap the fruit of 
his seed according to the amount of his sow- 
ing. And no one shall be disappointed in the 
produce of that harvesting, because it is the 
heart's intentions rather than the sums ex- 
pended that will be reckoned up. And little 
sums from little means shall produce as much 
as great sums from great means. And there- 
fore, dearly beloved, let us carry out this 
Apostolic institution. And as the first collec- 
tion will be next Sunday, let all prepare them- 
selves to give willingly, that every one accord- 
ing to his ability may join in this most sacred 
offering. Your very alms and those who shall 
be aided by your gifts shall intercede for you, 
that you may be always ready for every good 
work in Christ Jesus our Lord, Who lives and 
reigns for ages without end. Amen. 

SERMON XII. 

On the fast of the Tenth Month, I. s 

I. Restoration to the Divine image in which 
we were made is only possible by our imitation 
of God's will. 

If, dearly beloved, we comprehend faithfully 
and wisely the beginning of our creation, we 
shall find that man was made in God's image, 
to the end that he might imitate his Creator, 
and that our race attains its highest natural 
dignity, by the form of the Divine goodness 
being reflected in us, as in a mirror. And 
assuredly to this form the Saviour's grace is 
daily restoring us, so long as that which, in the 



9 Prov. xxi. 13. 

1 Tob. iv. 7 (one of the offertory sentences it will be remem- 
bered in the English Prayer-book). 

2 Habb. ii. 4. 3 James ii. 26. 4 Gal. ii. 10 and 9. 

S That is the December or. as we should now call it, the Advent 
Embertide. Cf. Serm. XIX. chap. 2, where the four seasons, 
as arranged in Leo's day, are clearly set forth. 



122 



SERMONS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



first Adam fell, is raised up again in the 
second. And the cause of our restoration is 
naught else but the mercy of God, Whom we 
should not have loved, unless He had first loved 
us, and dispelled the darkness of our igno- 
rance by the light of His truth. And the 
Lord foretelling this by the holy Isaiah says, 
" I will bring the blind into a way that they 
knew not, and will make them walk in paths 
which they were ignorant of. I will turn dark- 
ness into light for them, and the crooked into 
the straight. These words will I do for them, 
and not forsake them 6 ." And again he says, " I 
was found by them that sought Me not, and 
openly appeared to them that asked not 
for Me 6 . And the Apostle John teaches us 
how this has been fulfilled, when he says. 
" We know that the Son of God is come, and 
has given us an understanding, that we may 
know Him that is true, and may be in Him 
that is true, even His Son 7," and again, "let 
us therefore love God, because He first loved 
us 7." Thus it is that God, by loving us, 
restores us to His image, and, in order that 
He may find in us the form of His goodness, 
He gives us that whereby we ourselves too 
may do the work that He does, kindling that 
is the lamps of our minds, and inflaming us 
with the fire of His love, that we may love not 
only Himself, but also whatever He loves. 
For if between men that is the lasting friend- 
ship which is based upon similarity of character, 
notwithstanding that such identity of wills is 
often directed to wicked ends, how ought we 
to yearn and strive to differ in nothing from 
what is pleasing to God. Of which the pro- 
phet speaks, " for wrath is in His indignation, 
and life in His pleasure 8 ," because we shall 
not otherwise attain the dignity of the Divine 
Majesty, unless we imitate His will. 

II. We must love both God and our neighbour, 
and " our neighbour " must be inter j>> eted in 
its widest sense. 

And so, when the Lord says, "Thou shalt 
love the Lord thy God, from all thy heart and 
from all thy mind : and thou shalt love thy 
neighbour as thyself 9," let the faithful soul put 
on the unfading love of its Author and Ruler, 
and subject itself also entirely to His will 
in Whose works and judgments true justice and 
tender-hearted compassion never fail. For 
although a man be wearied out with labours 
and many misfortunes, there is good reason for 
him to endure all in the knowledge that adver- 
sity will either prove him good or make him 



better. But this godly love cannot be perfect 
unless a man love his neighbour also. Under 
which name must be included not only those 
who are connected with us by friendship or 
neighbourhood, but absolutely all men, with 
whom we have a common nature, whether 
they be foes or allies, slaves or free. For the 
One Maker fashioned us, the One Creator 
breathed life into us ; we all enjoy the same 
sky and air, the same days and nights, and, 
though some be good, others bad, some righ- 
teous, others unrighteous, yet God is bountiful 
to all, kind to all, as Paul and Barnabas said 
to the Lycaonians concerning God's Provi- 
dence, "«ho in generations gone by suffered 
all the nations to walk in their own ways. 
And yet He left Himself not without witness, 
doing them good, giving rain from heaven and 
fruitful seasons, and filling our hearts with 
food and gladness I ." But the wide extent of 
Christian grace has given us yet greater reasons 
for loving our neighbour, which, reaching to 
all parts of the whole world, looks down on 2 
no one, and teaches that no one is to be I 
neglected. And full rightly does He com- | 
mand us to love our enemies, and to pray to 
Him for our persecutors, who, daily grafting 
shoots of the wild olive from among all nations 
upon the holy branches of His own olive, 
makes men reconciled instead of enemies, 
adopted sons instead of strangers, just instead 
of ungodly, " that every knee may bow of 
things in heaven, of things on earth, and of 
things under the earth, and every tongue 
confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the 
glory of God the Father 3." 

III. We must be thankful, and shoiv our thank- 
fulness for what we have received, whether 
much or little. 

Accordingly, as God wishes us to be good, 
because He is good, none of His judgments 
ought to displease us. For not to give Him 
thanks in all things, what else is it but to blame 
Him in some degree. Man's folly too often 
dares to murmur against his Creator, not only 
in time of want, but also in time of plenty, so 
that, when something is not supplied, he com- 
plains, and when certain things are in abund- 
ance he is ungrateful. The lord of rich 
harvests thought scorn of his well-filled gar- 
ners, and groaned over his abundant grape- 
gathering : he did not give thanks for the size 
of the crop, but complained of its poorness 3". 
And if the ground has been less prolific than 
its wont in the seed it has reared, and the vines 



6 Is. xlii. 16, and lxv. i. 

7 i John v 20, and iv. 19 (the latter loosely). 

8 Ps. xxx. 5 (LXX.). 9 S. Matt. xxii. 37, 39. 



1 Acts xiv. 16, 17. For gladness (Itztitia) others read right- 
eousness (iustitia). 

2 Desj>ectat: others desperat (despairs of). 3 Phil. ii. 10, II 
3* Viz. in S. Lui^e xii. 16 — 20. 



SERMON XVI. 



123 



and the olives have failed in their supply of 
fruit, the year is accused, the elements blamed, 
neither the air nor the sky is spared, whereas 
nothing better befits and reassures the faithful 
and godly disciples of Truth than the persistent 
and unwearied lifting of praise to God, as says 
the Apostle, " Rejoice alway, pray without ceas- 
ing: in all things give thanks. For this is the 
will of God in Christ Jesus in all things for youV 
But how shall we be partakers of this devotion, 
unless vicissitudes of fortune train our minds 
in constancy, so that the love directed towards 
God may not be puffed up in prosperity nor 
faint in adversity. Let that which pleases 
God, please us too. Let us rejoice in what- 
ever measure of gifts He gives. Let him who 
has used great possessions well, use small ones 
also well. Plenty and scarcity may be equally 
for our good, and even in spiritual progress we 
shall not be cast down at the smallness of the 
results, if our minds become not dry and 
barren. Let that spring from the soil of our 
heart, which the earth gave not. To him that 
fails not in good will, means to give are ever 
supplied. Therefore, dearly beloved, in all 
works of godliness let us use what each year 
gives us, and let not seasons of difficulty hinder 
our Christian benevolence. The Lord knows 
how to replenish the widow's vessels, which her 
pious deed of hospitality has emptied : He 
knows how to turn water into wine : He knows 
how to satisfy 5,000 hungry persons with a few 
loaves. And He who is fed in His poor, can 
multiply when He takes what He increased 
when He gave. 

IV. Prayer, fasting and almsgiving are the 
three comprehensive duties of a Christian. 

But there are three things which most be- 
long to religious actions, namely prayer, fast- 
ing, and almsgiving, in the exercising of which 
while every time is accepted, yet that ought to 
be more zealously observed, which we have re- 
ceived as hallowed by tradition from the 
Apostles : even as this tenth month brings 
round again to us the opportunity when accord- 
ing to the ancient practice we may give more 
diligent heed to those three things of which 
I have spoken. For by prayer we seek to 
propitiate God, by fasting we extinguish the 
lusts of the flesh, by alms we redeem our sins : 
and at the same time God's image is through- 
out renewed in us, if we are always ready to 
praise Him, unfailingly intent on our purifi- 
cation and unceasingly active in cherishing 
our neighbour. This threefold round of duty, 
dearly beloved, brings all other virtues into 
action : it attains to God's image and likeness 

4 x Thess. v. x6. 



and unites us inseparably with the Holy Spirit. 
Because in prayer faith remains stedfast, in 
fastings life remains innocent, in almsgiving 
the mind remains kind. On Wednesday and 
Friday therefore let us fast : and on Saturday 
let us keep vigil with the most blessed Apostle 
Peter, who will deign to aid our supplications 
and fast and alms with his own prayers through 
our Lord Jesus Christ, who with the Father 
and the Holy Ghost lives and reigns for ever 
and ever. Amen. 

SERMON XVI. 

On the fast of the Tenth Month. 

I. The prosperous must show forth their thank- 
fulness to God, by liberality to the poor and 
needy. 

The transcendant power of God's grace, 
dearly beloved, is indeed daily effecting in 
Christian hearts the transference of our every 
desire from earthly to heavenly things. But 
this present life also is passed through the 
Creator's aid and sustained by His provi- 
dence, because He who promises things 
eternal is also the the Supplier of things 
temporal. As therefore we ought to give 
God thanks for the hope of future happiness 
towards which we run by faith, because He 
raises us up to a perception of the happiness 
in store for us, so for those things also which 
we receive in the course of every year, God 
should be honoured and praised, who having 
from the beginning given fertility to the earth 
and laid down laws of bearing fruit for every 
germ and seed, will never forsake his own de- 
crees but will as Creator ever continue His 
kind administration of the things that He has 
made. Whatever therefore the cornfields, the 
vineyards and the olive groves have borne 
for man's purposes, all this God in His boun- 
teous goodness has produced : for under the 
varying condition of the elements He has 
mercifully aided the uncertain toils of the 
husbandmen so that wind, and rain, cold and 
heat, day and night might serve our needs. 
For men's methods would not have sufficed to 
give effect to their works, had not God given 
the increase to their wonted plantings and 
waterings. And hence it is but godly and just 
that we too should help others with that 
which the Heavenly Father has mercifully 
bestowed on us. For there are full many, 
who have no fields, no vineyards, no olive- 
groves, whose wants we must provide out of 
the store which God has given, that they too 
with us may bless God for the richness of the 
earth and rejoice at its possessors having re- 
ceived things which they have shared also 
with the poor and the stranger. That garner 



124 



SERMONS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



is blessed and most worthy that all fruits 
should increase manifold in it, from which the 
hunger of the needy and the weak is satisfied, 
from which the wants of the stranger are re- 
lieved, from which the desire of the sick is 
gratified. For these men God has in His 
justice peunitted to be afflicted with divers 
troubles, that He might both crown the wretched 
for their patience and the merciful for their 
loving-kindness. 

II. Almsgiving and fasting are the most 
essential aids to prayer. 

And while all seasons are opportune for this 
duty, beloved, yet this present season is 
specially suitable and appropriate, at which 
our holy fathers, being Divinely inspired, 
sanctioned the Fast of the tenth month, that 
when all the ingathering of the crops was 
complete, we might dedicate to God our 
reasonable service of abstinence, and each 
might remember so to use his abundance 
as to be more abstinent in himself and more 
open-handed towards the poor. For forgive- 
ness of sins is most efficaciously prayed for 
with almsgiving and fasting, and supplications 
that are winged by such aids mount swiftly 
to God's ears : since as it is written, " the 
merciful man doeth good to his own soul 5 ,'' 
and nothing is so much a man's own as that 
which he spends on his neighbour. For that 
part of his material possessions with which he 
ministers to the needy, is transformed into 
eternal riches, and such wealth is begotten of 
this bountifulness as can never be diminished 
or in any way destroyed, for " blessed are the 
merciful, for God shall have mercy on them 6 ," 
and He Himself shall be their chief Reward, 
who is the Model of His own command. 

III. Christians' 1 pious activity has so enraged 
Satan that he has multiplied heresies to wreak 
them harm. 

But at all these acts of godliness, dearly- 
beloved, which commend us more and more 
to God, there is no doubt that our enemy, 
who is so eager and so skilled in harming us, 
is aroused with keener stings of hatred, that 
under a false profession of the Christian name 
he may corrupt those whom he is not allowed 
to attack with open and bloody persecutions, 
and for this work he has heretics in his ser- 
vice whom he has led astray from the catholic 
Faith, subjected to himself, and forced under 
divers errors to serve in his camp. And as 
for the deception of primitive man he used the 
services of a serpent, so to mislead the minds 
of the upright he has armed these men's 



5 Prov. xi. 17. 



6 S. Matt. v. 7. 



tongues with the poison of his falsehoods. 
But these treacherous designs, dearly beloved, 
with a shepherd's care, and so far as the Lord 
vouchsafes His aid, we will defeat. And 
taking heed lest any of the holy flock should 
perish, we admonish you with fatherly warn- 
ings to keep aloof from the " lying lips " and 
the " deceitful tongue " from which the prophet 
asks that his soul should be delivered ?; because 
"their words," as says the blessed Apostle, 
" do creep as doth a gangrene 8 ." They creep 
in humbly, they arrest softly, they bind gently, 

For they " come," as the 
1 in sheeps' clothing, but 
ravening wolves 9 • " be- 



they slay secretly. 
Saviour foretold, 
inwardly they are 
cause they could not deceive the true and 
simple sheep, unless they covered their bestial 
rage with the name of Christ. But in them 
all he is at work who, though he is really the 
enemy of enlightenment, " transforms himself 
into an angel of light V His is the craft which 
inspires Basilides ; his the ingenuity which 
worked in Marcion ; he is the leader under 
whom Sabellius acted ; he the author of 
Photinus' headlong fall, his the authority and 
his the spirit which Arius and Eunomius 
served : in fine under his command and au- 
thority the whole herd of such wild beasts has 
separated from the unity of the Church and 
severed connexion with the Truth. 

IV. Of all heresies Manicheism is the worst 

and joullcst. ' 

But while he retains this ever-varying su- 
premacy over all the heresies, yet he has 
built his citadel upon the madness of the 
Manichees, and found in them the most 
spacious court in which to strut and boast 
himself: for there he possesses not one form 
of misbelief only, but a general com- j 
pound of all errors and ungodlinesses. For 
all that is idolatrous in the heathen, all that 
is blind in carnal Jew?, all that is unlawful 
in the secrets of the magic art, all finally that 
is profane and blasphemous in all the heresies 
is gathered together with all manner of filth 
in these men as if in a cesspool 2 . And hence 
it is too long a matter to describe all their 
ungodlinesses : for the number of the charges 
against them exceeds my supply of words. It 
will be sufficient to indicate a few instances, 
that you may, from what you hear, conjecture 
what from modesty we omit. In the matter 
of their rites, however, which are as indecent 
morally as they are religiously, we cannot keep 



8 2 Tim. ii. 17. 



9 S. Matt. vii. 15. 



7 Ps. cxx. 2. 

1 2 Cor. xi. 14. 

* Strong as this language undoubtedly is, it is perhaps almost 
justifiable, if the story which he proceeds to indicate is not only 
true but characteristic of the sect. 



SERMON XVII. 



125 



silence about that which the Lord has been 
pleased to reveal to our inquiries, lest any one 
should think we have trusted in this thing to 
vague rumours and uncertain opinions. And 
so with bishops and presbyters sitting beside 
me, and Christian nobles assembled in the 
same place, we ordered their elect men and 
women to be brought before us. And when 
they had made many disclosures concerning 
their perverse tenets and their mode of con- 
ducting festivals, they revealed this story of 
utter depravity also, which I blush to describe, 
but which has been so carefully investigated 
that no grounds for doubt are left for the 
incredulous or for cavillers. For there were 
present all the persons by which the unutter- 
able crime had been perpetrated, to wit a girl 
at most ten years old, and two women who 
had nursed her and prepared her for this 
outrage. There was also present the stripling 
who had outraged her, and the bishop, who 
had arranged their horrible crime. All these 
made one and the same confession, and a tale 
of such foul orgies 3 was disclosed as our ears 
could scarcely bear. And lest by plainer 
speaking we offend chaste ears, the account 
of the procee .lings shall suffice, in which it 
is most fully shown that in that sect no 
modesty, no sense of honour, no chastity 
whatever is found : for their law is falsehood, 
j their religion the devil, their sacrifice im- 
morality. 

V. Every one should abjure such men, and 
give all the information they possess about 
them to the authorities. 

And so, dearly beloved, renounce all friend- 
ship with these men who are utterly abomin- 
able and pestilential, and whom disturbances 
in other districts have brought in great num- 
bers to the city ^: and you women especially 
refrain from acquaintance and intercourse with 
such men, lest while your ears are charmed 
unawares by their fabulous stories, you fall 
into the devil's noose, who, knowing that he 
seduced the first man by the woman's mouth, 
ind drove all men from the bliss of paradise 
:hrough feminine credulity, still lies in watch 
for your sex with more confident craft that he 
nay rob both of their faith and of their 
nodesty those whom he has been able to 
ensnare by the servants of his falseness. This, 
:oo, dearly beloved, I entreat and admonish 



3 Exsecramentum, cf. Serm. LXXV. chop. 7, ad ilia, non 
acra sed exsecranwnta perveniunt , quce propter commune in vere- 
undiam non sunt nostra sermone promenda. 

4 The Ball, quote Aug. (Conf. v. chap. 10) to show that Rome 
ad long ago been infested with Manichees. They identity the 

sturbances Leo here speaks of with Genseric's invasion ot Africa 
iiid occupation of Carthage in 438. 



you loyally to inform us s, if any of you know- 
where they dwell, where they teach, whose 
houses they frequent, and in whose company 
they take rest : because it is of little avail to 
any one that through the Holy Ghost's pro- 
tection he is not caught by them himself, if 
he takes no action when he knows that others 
are being caught. Against common enemies 
for the common safety all alike should exercise 
the same vigilance lest from one member's 
wound other members also be injured, and 
they that think such men should not be given 
up, in Christ's judgment be found guilty for 
their silence even though they are not con- 
taminated by their approval. 

VI. Zeal in rooting out heresy will make other 
pious duties more acceptable. 

Display then a holy zeal of religious vigi- 
lance, and let all the faithful rise in one body 
against these savage enemies of their souls. 
For the merciful God has delivered a certain 
portion of our noxious foes into our hands in 
order that by revelation of the danger the 
utmost caution might be aroused. Let not 
what has been done suffice, but let us perse- 
vere in searching them out : and by God's 
aid the result will be not only the continuance 
in safety of those who still stand, but also the 
recovery from error of many who have been 
deceived by the devil's seduction. And the 
prayers, and alms, and fasts that you offer to 
the merciful God shall be the holier for this 
very devotion, when this deed of faith also is 
added to all your other godly duties. On 
Wednesday and Friday, therefore, let us fast, 
and on Saturday let us keep vigil in the 
presence of the most blessed Apostle Peter; 
who, as we experience and know, watches 
unceasingly like a shepherd over the sheep 
entrusted to him by the Lord, and who will 
prevail in his entreaties that the Church of 
God, which was founded by his preaching, 
may be free from all error, through Christ 
our Lord. Amen. 

SERMON XVII. 

On the Fast of the Tenth Month, VI. 

I. The duty of fasting is based on both the Old 
and New Testaments, and is closely connected 
with the duties of prayer and almsgiving. 

The teaching of the Law, dearly beloved, 
imparts great authority to the precepts of the 
Gospel, seeing that certain things are trans- 
ferred from the old ordinances to the new, 
and by the very devotions of the Church it is 
shown that the Lord Jesus Christ " came not 

S For a like injunction, cf. Serm. X., chap 4, where the pres- 
byters are to be told 



126 



SERMONS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



to destroy but to fulfil the Law 6 ." For since 
the cessation of the signs by which our 
Saviour's coming was announced, and the 
abolition of the types in the presence of the 
Very Truth, those things which our religion 
instituted, whether for the regulation of cus- 
toms or for the simple worship of God, con- 
tinue with us in the same form in which 
they were at the beginning, and what was in 
harmony with both Testaments has been 
modified by no change. Among these is 
also the solemn fast of the tenth month, 
which is now to be kept by us according to 
yearly custom, because it is altogether just 
and godly to give thanks to the Divine 
bounty for the crops which the earth has 
produced for the use of men under the guid- 
ing hand of supreme Providence. And to 
show that we do this with ready mind, we 
must exercise not only the self-restraint of 
fasting, but also diligence in almsgiving, that 
from the ground of our heart also may spring 
the germ of righteousness and the fruit of love, 
and that we may deserve God's mercy by 
showing mercy to His poor. For the suppli- 
cation, which is supported by works of piety, 
is most efficacious in prevailing with God, 
since he who turns not his heart away from 
the poor soon turns himself to hear the Lord, 
as the Lord says: "be ye merciful as your 
Father also is merciful .... release and ye 
shall be released 7." What is kinder than 
this justice? what more merciful than this 
retribution, where the judge's sentence rests 
in the power of him that is to be judged ? 
" Give," he says, " and it shall be given to 
you 7." How soon do the misgivings of dis- 
trust and the puttings off of avarice fall to the 
ground, when humanity 8 may fearlessly spend 
what the Truth pledges Himself to repay. 

II. He that lends to the Lord makes a better 
bargain than he that lends to man. 

Be stedfast, Christian giver : give what you 
may receive, sow what you may reap, scatter 
what you may gather. Fear not to spend, 
sigh not over the doubtfulness of the gain. 
Your substance grows when it is wisely dis- 
pensed. Set your heart on the profits due to 
mercy, and traffic in eternal gains. Your 
Recompenser wishes you to be munificent, 
and He who gives that you may have, com- 
mands you to spend, saying, " Give, and it 
shall be given to you." You must thankfully 
embrace the conditions of this promise. For 
although you have nothing that you did not 



receive, yet you cannot fail to have what you 
give. He therefore that loves money, and 
wishes to multiply his wealth by immoderate 
profits, should rather practise this holy usury 
and grow rich by such money-lending, in 
order not to catch men hampered with diffi- 
culties, and by treacherous assistance entangle 
them in debts which they can never pay, but 
to be His creditor and His money-lender, who 
says, "Give, and it shall be given to you," i 
and " with what measure ye measure, it shall 
be measured again to you 9." But he is unfaith- 
ful and unfair even to himself, who does not 
wish to have for ever what he esteems desir- 
able. Let him amass what he may, let him 
hoard and store what he may, he will leave! 
this world empty and needy, as David the 
prophet says, " for when he dieth he shall 
take nothing away, nor shall his glory descend 
with him '." Whereas if he were considerate 
of his own soul, he would trust his good to 
Him, who is both the proper Surety 2 for the, 
poor and the generous Repayer of loans. But 
unrighteous and shameless avarice, which pro- 
mises to do some kind act but eludes it, trusts 
not God, whose promises never fail, and trusts 
man, who makes such hasty bargains ; and 
while he reckons the present more certain 
than the future, often deservedly finds that his 
greed for unjust gain is the cause of by no 
means unjust loss. 



» S. Matt. v. 17. 7 S. Luke vi. 36, 37, 38. 

8 Humanitas : one MS. reads humilitas (man's humility), but 
humanitas occurs again in chap. hi. lucrum quod omni caret 
humamtate. 



Ill 



III. Money-lending at high interest is in all 
respects iniquitous. 

And hence, whatever result follow, the 
money-lender's trade is always bad, for it is 
sin either to lessen or increase the sum, in 
that if he lose what he lent he is wretched, 
and if he takes more than he lent he is more 
wretched still. The iniquity of money-lending 
must absolutely be abjured, and the gain which 
lacks all humanity must be shunned. A man's 
possessions are indeed multiplied by these 
unrighteous and sorry means, but the mind's 
wealth decays because usury of money is the j 
death of the soul 3. For what God thinks o < 
such men the most holy Prophet David make; 
clear, for when he asks, " Lord, who shal 
dwell in thy tabernacle, or who shall rest upor 
thy holy hilH?" he receives the Divine utter 
ance in reply, from which he learns that that 
man attains to eternal rest who among othe; 
rules of holy living " hath not given his monej 
upon usury * :" and thus he who gets deceitfu 
gain from lending his money on usury is showr 
to be both an alien from God's tabernacle anc 



9 S. Luke vi. 38. 

» Ps. xlix. t7. a Fide iussor one of Leo's legal terms 

2 Fcenus pecunice funus est anima, the epigrammatic play 01 
words will not escape notice. * Ps. xv. 1 and 5. 



SERMON XIX. 



127 



an exile from His holy hill, and in seeking to 
enrich himself by other's losses, he deserves to ; 
be punished with eternal neediness. 

IV. Let us avoid avarice, and share Govs j 
benefits with others. 

And so, dearly beloved, do ye who with the 
whole heart have put your trust in the Lord's 
promises, flee from this unclean leprosy of 
avarice, and use God's gift piously and wisely. 
And since you rejoice in His bounty, take 
heed that you have those who may share 
in your joys. For many lack what you 
have in plenty, and some men's needs afford 
you opportunity for imitating the Divine 
goodness, so that through you the Divine 
benefits may be transferred to others also, 
and that by being wise stewards of your 
temporal goods, you may acquire eternal 
riches. On Wednesday and Friday next, 
therefore, let us fast, and on Saturday keep 
vigil with the most blessed Apostle Peter, 
by whose prayers we may in all things ob- 
tain the Divine protection through Christ our 
Lord. Amen. 



SERMON XIX. 

On the Fast of the Tenth Month, VIII 

I. Self-restraint leads to higher enjoyments. 

When the Saviour would instruct His dis- 
:iples about the Advent of God's Kingdom and 
he end of the world's times, and teach His 
vhole Church, in the person of the Apostles, 
le said, "Take heed lest haply your hearts 
>e overcharged with surfeiting and drunken- 
ness, and care of this life 5 ." And assuredly, 
learly beloved, we acknowledge that this pre- 
ept applies more especially to us, to whom 
jndoubtedly the day denounced is near, even 
nough hidden. For the advent of which it 
ehoves every man to prepare himself, lest it 
nd him given over to gluttony, or entangled 
1 cares of this life. For by daily experience, 
eloved, it is proved that the mind's edge is 
lunted by over-indulgence of the flesh, and 
te heart's vigour is dulled by excess of food, 
» that the delights of eating are even opposed 
' the health of the body, unless reasonable 
oderation withstand the temptation and the 
uisideration of future discomfort keep us 
pm the pleasure. For although the flesh 
pires nothing without the soul, and receives 
i sensations from the same source as it 
ipeives its motions also, yet it is the function 
I the same soul to deny certain things to the 
1 dy which is subject to it, and by its inner 
jlgment to restrain the outer parts from 



5 S. Luke xxi. 34. 



things unseasonable, in order that it may be 
the oftener free from bodily lusts, and have 
leisure for Divine wisdom in the palace of the 
mind, where, away from all the noise of earthly 
cares, it may in silence enjoy holy medita- 
tions and eternal delights. And, although 
this is difficult to maintain in this life, yet the 
attempt can frequently be renewed, in order 
that we may the oftener and longer be occupied 
with spiritual rather than fleshly cares ; and by 
our spending ever greater portions of our time 
on higher cares, even our temporal actions may 
end in gaining the incorruptible riches. 

II. The teaching of the four yearly fasts is that 
spiritual self-restraint is as necessary as 
corporeal. 

This profitable observance, dearly beloved, 
is especially laid down for the fasts of the 
Church, which, in accordance with the Holy 
Spirit's teaching, are so distributed over the 
whole year that the law of abstinence may be 
kept before us at all times. Accordingly we 
keep the spring fast in Lent, the summer fast 
at Whitsuntide, the autumn fast in the seventh 
month, and the winter fast in this which is the 
tenth month, knowing that there is nothing 
unconnected with the Divine commands, and 
that all the elements serve the Word of God 
to our instruction, so that from the very hinges 
on which the world turns, as if by four gospels 
we learn unceasingly what to preach and what 
to do. For, when the prophet says, "The 
heavens declare the glory of God, and the 
firmament shovveth His handiwork : day unto 
day uttereth speech, and night shovveth know- 
ledge 6 ," what is there by which the Truth does 
not speak to us ? By day and by night His 
voices are heard, and the beauty of the things 
nnde by the workmanship of the One God 
ceases not to instil the teachings of Reason 
into our hearts' ears, so that "the invisible 
things of God may be perceived and seen 
through the things which are made," and men 
may serve the Creator of all, not His crea- 
tures 7. Since therefore all vices are destroyed 
by self-restraint, and whatever avarice thirsts for, 
pride str.ves for, luxury lusts after, is overcome 
by the solid force of this virtue, who can fail 
to understand the aid which is given us by 
fastings ? for therein we are bidden to restrain 
ourselves, not only in food, but also in all 
carnal desires. Otherwise it is lost labour to 
endure hunger and yet not put away wrong 
wishes ; to afflict oneself by curtailing food, 
and yet not to flee from sinful thoughts. That 
is a carnal, not a spiritual fast, where the body 
only is stinted, and those things persisted in, 



* Ps. xix. 1, 2. 



Cf Rom. i. 20 and 25. 



128 



SERMONS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



which are more harmful than all delights. 
What profit is it to the soul to act outwardly 
as mistress and inwardly to be a captive and 
a slave, to issue orders to the limbs and to lose 
the right to her own liberty ? That soul for the 
most part (and deservedly) meets with rebel- 
lion in her servant, which does not pay to God 
the service that is due. When the body there- 
fore fasts from food, let the mind fast from 
vices, and pass judgment upon all earthly 
cares and desires according to the law of its 
King 

III. Thus fasting in mind as 7vell as body, and 
giving alms freely, we shall win God's highest 
favour. 

Let us remember that we owe love first to 
God, secondly to our neighbour, and that all 
our affections must be so regulated as not to 
draw us away from the worship of God, or the 
benefiting our fellow slave. But how shall we 
worship God unless that which is pleasing to 
Him is also pleasing to us ? For, if our will is 
His will, our weakness will receive strength 
from Him, from Whom the very will came ; 
"for it is God," as the Apostle says, '"who 
worketh in us both to will and to do for (His) 
good pleasure 8 ." And so a man will not be 
puffed up with pride, nor crushed with despair, 
if he uses the gifts which God gave to His glory, 
and withholds his inclinations from those things, 
which he knows will harm him. For in abstain- 
ing from malicious envy, from luxurious and 
dissolute living, from the perturbations of 
anger, from the lust after vengeance, he will be 
made pure and holy by true fasting, and will 
be fed upon the pleasures of incorruptible 
delights, and so he will know how, by the 
spiritual use of his earthly riches, to transform 
them into heavenly treasures, not bv hoarding 
up for himself what he has received, but by 
gaining a hundred-fold on what he gives. And 
hence we warn you, beloved, in fatherly affec- 
tion, to make this winter fast fruitful to your- 
selves by bounteous alms, rejoicing that by you 
the Lord feeds and clothes His poor, to whom 
assuredly He could have given the possessions 
which He has bestowed on you, had He not 
in His unspeakable mercy wished to justify 
them for their patient labour, and you for your 
works of love. Let us therefore fast on Wed- 
nesday and Friday, and on Saturday keep vigil 
with the most blessed Apostle Peter, and he 
will deign to assist with his own prayers our 
supplications and fastings and alms which our 
Lord Jesus Christ presents, Who with the 
Father and the Holy Ghost lives and reigns 
for ever and ever. Amen. 



8 Phil. ii. 13. 



SERMON XXI. 
On the Feast of the Nativity, I. 

I. All share in the joy of Christmas. 
Our Saviour, dearly-beloved, was born to- 
day : let us be glad. For there is no proper 
place for sadness, when we keep the birthday 
of the Life, which destroys the fear of mortality 
and brings to us the joy of promised eternity. 
No one is kept from sharing in this happiness. 
There is for all one common measure of joy, 
because as our Lord the destroyer of sin and 
death finds none free from charge, so is He 
come to free us all. Let the saint exult in 
that he draws near to victory. Let the sinner 
be glad in that he is invited to pardon. Let 
the gentile take courage in that he is called to 
life. For the Son of God in the fulness of 
time which the inscrutable depth of the Divine 
counsel has determined, has taken on him the 
nature of man, thereby to reconcile it to its 
Author: in order that the inventor of death, 
the devil, might be conquered through that 
(nature) which he had conquered. And in 
this conflict undertaken for us, the fight was 
fought on great and wondrous principles of 
fairness; for the Almighty Lord enters the 
lists with His savage foe not in His own 
majesty but in our humility, opposing him 
with the same form and the same nature, 
which shares indeed our mortality, though it 
is tree from all sin. Truly foreign to this 
nativity is that which we read of all others, " no 
one is clean from stain, not even the infant who 
has lived but one day upon earth °." Nothing 
therefore of the lust of the flesh has passed 
into that peerless nativity, nothing of the law 
of sin has entered. A royal Virgin of the 
stem of David is chosen, to be impregnated 
with the sacred seed and to conceive the 
Divinely-human offspring in mind first and 
then in body. And lest in ignorance of the 
heavenly counsel she should tremble at so 
strange a result 10 , she learns from converse 
with the angel that what is to be wrought in 
her is of the Holy Ghost. Nor does she 
believe it loss of honour that she is soon to be 
the Mother of God *. For why should she be 
in despair over the novelty of such conception, 
to whom the power of the most High ha; 
promised to effect it. Her implicit faith i: 
confirmed also by the attestation of a precursor} 
miracle, and Elizabeth receives uncxpectec 






9 Job xix 4. 

10 t-Jpi'c.us: the older editions read affatus (sc. the utterance 
of the angel). 

1 Dei genetrix (Storo/tos) : in opposing Eutyches, I-eo is cart 
ful not to lull imo Nestorianism. bri^lit's note 3 should be rea 
on this passage, and esp. his quotation from Bp. Pearson (note : 
on Art. 3) absit ut guisguam S. Mariant Divince gi'atia: priv 
Ugiis et sfcciaU gloria fraudare coneiur. 



SERMON XXII. 



129 



fertility : in order that there might be no 
doubt that He who had given conception 
to the barren, would give it even to a virgin. 

II. The mystery of the Incarnation is a fitting 

theme for joy both to angels and to men. 

Therefore the Word of God, Himself God, 
the Son of God who " in the beginning was ' 
with God," through whom " all things were 
made" and "without" whom "was nothing 
made 2 ," with the purpose of delivering man 
from eternal death, became man : so bending ! 
Himself to take on Him our humility without ' 
decrease in His own majesty, that remaining! 
what He was and assuming what He was not, I 
He might unite the true form of a slave to that 
form in which He is equal to God the Father, 
and join both natures together by such a com- 
pact that the lower should not be swallowed up 
in its exaltation nor the higher impaired by its 
new associate. 3 Without detriment therefore to 
the properties of either substance which then 
came together in one person, majesty took 
on humility, strength weakness, eternity mor- 
tality : and for the paying off of the debt 
belonging to our condition, inviolable nature 
was united with passible nature, and true God 
and true man were combined to form one 
Lord, so that, as suited the needs of our case, 
one and the same Mediator between God and 
men, the Man Christ Jesus, could both die 
with the one and rise again with the other 3. 

Rightly therefore did the birth of our 
Salvation impart no corruption to the Virgin's 
purity, because the bearing of the Truth was 
the keeping of honour. Such then beloved 
was the nativity which became the Power of 
God and the Wisdom of God even Christ, 
whereby He might be one with us in manhood 
and surpass us in Godhead. For unless He 
were true God, He would not bring us a 
remedy . unless He were true Man, He would 
not give us an example. Therefore the 
exulting angel's song when the Lord was born 
is this, "Glory to God in the Highest," and 
their message, "peace on earth to men of good 
will 4." For they see that the heavenlyjerusalem 
is being built up out of all the nations of the 
world : and over that indescribable work of the 
! Divine love how ought the humbleness of 
men to rejoice, when the joy of the lofty 
angels is so great? 

III. Christians then must live worthily of 

Christ their Head. 

Let us then, dearly beloved, give thanks to 

God the Father, through His Son, in the Holy 

I 

» S. John i. 1—3. 

3 "Without — other" repeated in almost the same words in 
getter XXVIII. chap. 3. 4 S. Luke ii. 14. 

VOL. XII. \ 



Spirit s, Who " for His great mercy, wherewith 
He has loved us," has had pity on us : and 
" when we were dead in sins, has quickened 
us together in Christ 6 ," that we might be in 
Him a new creation and a new production. 
Let us put off then the old man with his 
deeds : and having obtained a share in the 
birth of Christ let us renounce the works of 
the flesh. Christian, acknowledge thy dignity, 
and becoming a partner in the Divine na- 
ture, refuse to return to the old baseness by 
degenerate conduct. Remember the Head 
and the Body of which thou art a member. 
Recollect that thou wert rescued from the 
power of darkness and brought out into God's 
light and kingdom. By the mystery of Baptism 
thou wert made the temple of the Holy Ghost: 
do not put such a denizen to flight from thee 
by base acts, and subject thyself once more 
to the devil's thraldom : because thy purchase 
money is the blood of Christ, because He 
shall judge thee in truth Who ransomed thee 
in mercy, who with the Father and the Holy 
Spirit reigns tor ever and ever. Amen. 

SERMON XXII. ' 

On the Ff.ast of the Nativity, II. 

I. The mystery of the Incarnation demands 
our joy. 

Let us be glad in the Lord, dearly-beloved, 
and rejoice with spiritual joy that there has 
dawned for us the day of ever-new redemption, 
of ancient preparation 7, of eternal bliss. For 
as the year rolls round, there recurs for us the 
commemoration 8 of our salvation, which 
promised from the beginning, accomplished 
in the fulness of time will endure for ever ; 
on which we are bound with hearts up-lifted ' 
to adore the divine mystery : so that what 
is the effect of God's great gift may be 
celebrated by the Church's great rejoicings. 
For God the almighty and merciful, Whose 
nature is goodness, Whose will is power, 
Whose work is mercy : as soon as the devil's 
malignity killed us by the poison of his hatred, 
foretold at the very beginning of the world 
the remedy His piety had prepared for the 
restoration of us mortals : proclaiming to the 
serpent that the seed of the woman should 
come to crush the lifting of his baneful head 
by its power, signifying no doubt that Christ 

5 Ringham observes (b. xiv. c. 2, s. 1), that Leo here uses, 
though in a catholic sense, that form of doxology which had become 
associated with Arianism. He could well afford to do as S. Atha- 
nasius had done, who ascribes glory to the Father "through the 
Son " at the conclusion of four treatises. Bright. 

6 Eph. ii. 4, 5. 

7 F iieparationis (viz. the day to which prophecies and types 
were leading up): another reading is refarationis (restoration), 
which is less apposite. 8 Sacramentnm. 

9 Erectis sursum cordibus, the phrase reminds us of the 
Eucharistic V. sursum co?da R . habemus ad Dontinum. 



130 



SERMONS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



would come in the flesh, God and man, Who 
born of a Virgin should by His uncorrupt 
birth condemn the despoiler of the human 
stock. l Thus in the whole and perfect 
nature of true man was true God born, 
complete in what was His own, complete in 
what was ours. And " ours " we call what 
the Creator formed in us from the beginning 
and what He undertook to repair. For what 
the deceiver brought in and the deceived 
admitted had no trace in the Saviour Nor 
because He partook of man's weaknesses, did 
He therefore share our faults. He took the 
form of a slave without stain of sin, increasing 
the human and not diminishing the Divine : 
because that "emptying of Himself" whereby 
the Invisible made Himself visible and 
Creator and Lord of all things as He was, 
wished to be mortal, was the condescension oi 
Pity not the failing of Power '. 

II. The ?iew character of the birth of Christ 
explained. 

Therefore, when the time came, dearly be- 
loved, which had been foreordained for men's 
redemption' 2 , there enters these lower parts of 
the world, the Son of God, descending from 
His heavenly throne and yet not quitting His 
Father's glory, begotten in a new order, by 
a new nativity. In a new order, because 
being invisible in His own nature He became 
visible in ours, and He whom nothing could 
contain, was content to be contained: abiding 
before all time He began to be in time : the 
Lord of all things, He obscured His im- 
measurable majesty and took on Him the 
form of a servant : being God, that cannot 
suffer, He did not disdain to be man that can, 
and immortal as He is, to subject Himself to 
the laws of death 2 . And by a new nativity He 
was begotten, conceived by a Virgin, born of 
a Virgin, without paternal desire, without in- 
jury to the mother's chastity : because such 
a birth as knew no taint of human flesh, 
became One who was to be the Saviour of 
men, while it possessed in itself the nature of 
human substance. For when God was born 
in the flesh, God Himself was the Father, as 
the archangel witnessed to the Blessed Virgin 
Mary : " because the Holy Spirit shall come 
upon thee, and the power of the most High 
shall overshadow thee : and therefore, that 
which shall be born of thee shall be called 
holy, the Son of God 3." The origin is differ- 
ent but the nature like: not byintercourse 



v v\r From " Tllus " t0 tne end of the chapter is repeated in Lett. 
XXVIII. (Tome), chap. 3. 

v v 2 ,^TT m ^' tile r e enteis " to "death" is repeated in Lett. 
XXVIII. (Tome), chap 4. 
3 S Luke i. 35. 



with man but by the power of God was it 
brought about : for a Virgin conceived, a Virgin 
bare, and a Virgin she remained. Consider 
here not the condition of her that bare but 
the will of Him that was born ; for He was 
born Man as He willed and was able. If you 
inquire into the truth of His nature, you must 
acknowledge the matter to be human : if you 
search for the mode of His birth, you must 
confess the power to be of God. For the 
Lord Jesus Christ came to do away with not 
to endure our pollutions : not to succumb 
to our faults but to heal them ■*. He came 
that He might cure every weakness of our 
corruptness and all the sores of our defiled 
souls : for which reason it behoved Him to be 
born by a new order, who brought to men's 
bodies the new gift of unsullied purity. For 
the uncorrupt nature of Him that was born 
had to guard the primal virginity of the 
Mother, and the infused power of the Divine 
Spirit had to preserve in spotlessness and 
holiness that sanctuary which He had chosen 
for Himself: that Spirit (I say) who had 
determined to raise the fallen, to restore the 
broken, and by overcoming the allurements 
of the flesh to bestow on us in abundant 
measure the power of chastity : in order that 
the virginity which in others cannot be re- 
tained in child-bearing, might be attained by 
them at their second birth. 

III. Justice required that Satan should be van- 
quished by God made man. 

And, dearly beloved, this very fact that 
Christ chose to be born of a Virgin does it 
not appear to be part of the deepest design ? 
I mean, that the devil should not be aware 
that Salvation had been born for the human 
race, and through the obscurity of that spirit- 
ual conception, when he saw Him no different 
to others, should believe Him born in no dif- 
ferent way to others. For when he observed 
that His nature was like that of all others, 
he thought that He had the same origin as 
all had : and did not understand that He was 
free from the bonds of transgression because 
he did not find Him a stranger to the weak- 
ness of mortality. For though the true 5 mercy 
of God had infinitely many schemes to hand 
for the restoration of mankind, it chose that 
particular design which put in force for de- 
stroying the devil's woik, not the efficacy ot 
might but the dictates of justice. For the 
pride of the ancient foe not undeservedly 



4 For the impeccability of Christ involved in this statement, 
cf. Serm. LXIV. chap. 2, and Lett. XXVIII. (Tome) chap. 3, 
and especially Bright s note 15 (to Sermon XX11I. chap. 2). 

5 / erax, literally truih speaking, and so genuine, sincere, &c. 






SERMON XXII. 



131 



made good its despotic rights over all men, and 
with no unwarrantable supremacy tyrannized 
over those who had been of their own accord 
lured away from God's commands to be the 
slaves of his will. And so there would be no 
justice in his losing the immemorial slavery of 
the human race, were he not conquered by 
that which he had subjugated. And to this 
end, without male seed Christ was conceived 
of a Virgin, who was fecundated not by human 
intercourse but by the Holy Spirit. And 
whereas in all mothers conception does not 
take place without stain of sin, this one re- 
ceived purification from the Source of her 
conception. For no taint of sin penetrated, 
where no intercourse occurred. Her unsullied 
virginity knew no lust when it ministered the 
substance. The Lord took from His mother 
our nature, not our fault 6 . The slave's form is 
created without the slave's estate, because the 
New Man is so commingled with the old, as 
both to assume the reality of our race and 
to remove its ancient flaw. 



IV. The Incarnation deceived the Devil and 
caused him to break the bond under which he 
held men. 

When, therefore, the merciful and almighty 
Saviour so arranged the commencement of 
His human course as to hide the power of 
His Godhead which was inseparable from His 
manhood under the veil of our weakness, the 
cralty foe was taken off his guard and he 
thought that the nativity of the Child, Who 
was born for the salvation of mankind, was as 
much subject to himself as all others are at 
their birth. For he saw Him crying and 
weeping, he saw Him wrapped in swaddling 
clothes, subjected to circumcision, offering 
the sacrifice which the law required. And 
then he perceived in Him the usual growth 
of boyhood, and could have had no doubt of 
His reaching man's estate by natural steps. 
Meanwhile, he inflicted insults, multiplied in- 
juries, made use of curses, affronts, blas- 
phemies, abuse, in a word, poured upon Him 
all the force of his fury and exhausted all the 
varieties of trial : and knowing how he had 
poisoned man's nature, had no conception that 
He had no share in the first transgression 
Whose mortality he had ascertained by so 
jmany proofs. The unscrupulous thief and 
greedy robber persisted in assaulting Him 
Who had nothing of His own, and in carrying 
out the general sentence on original sin, went 



* This sentence is found also in Lett XXVIII (Tome), c'iap. 3 ; 
'"t heie instead of tie matre Do)iiini, natura there is a variant 
hiding, de utatrc, hominis natura. 



beyond the bond on which he rested i, and 
required the punishment of iniquity from Him 
in Whom he found no fault. And thus the 
malevolent terms of the deadly compact are 
annulled, and through the injustice of an over- 
charge the whole debt is cancelled. The 
strong one is bound by his own chains, and every 
device of the evil one recoils on his own head. 
When the prince of the world is bound, all 
that he held in captivity is released 8 . Our 
nature cleansed from its old contagion regains 
its honourable estate, death is destroyed by 
death, nativity is restored by nativity : since at 
one and the same time redemption does away 
with slavery, regeneration changes our origin, 
and faith justifies the sinner. 

V. The Christian is exhorted to share in i/ie 

blessings of the Incarnation. 

Whoever then thou art that devoutly and 
faithfully boastest of the Christian name, esti- 
mate this atonement at its right worth. For 
to thee who wast a castaway, banished from 
the realms of paradise, dying of thy weary 
exile, reduced to dust and ashes, without fur- 
ther hope of living, by the Incarnation of the 
Word was given the power to return from afar 
to thy Maker, to recognize thy parentage, to 
become free after slavery, to be promoted 
from being an outcast to sonship : so that, 
thou who wast born of corruptible flesh, may est 
be reborn by the Spirit of God, and obtain 
through grace what thou hadst not by nature, 
and, if thou acknowledge thyself the son of 
God by the spirit of adoption, dare to call 
God Father. Freed from the accusings of a 
bad conscience, ascire to the kingdom of 
heaven, do God's will supported by the Divine 
help, imitate the angels upon earth, feed on 
the strength of immortal sustenance, fight 
fearlessly on the side of piety against hostile 
temptations, and if thou keep thy allegiance 8 " 
in the heavenly warfare, doubt not t.iat thou 
wilt be crowned for thy victory in the tri- 
umphant camp of the Eternal King, when the 
resurrection that is prepared for the faithful 
has raised thee to participate in the heavenly 
Kingdom. 

VI. The festival has nothing to do with Sun- 

worship, as some maintain. 

Having therefore so confident a hope, dearly 
beloved, abide firm in the Faith in which you 
are built : lest that same tempter whose 



7 Dum vitiata* originis firceiudicinm genera 7 e persequitur, 
chirographum quo nitebatur excedit. Cf. Col. ii. 14, and Lett. 
CXXIV. 7. 

8 Captivitatis vasa rapiuntur : the passage in the writer's 
mind is S. Luke xi. 21, 22, q.v. 

8a Si ctelestis miVtice sacratnenta servaveris : here we have 
a return to the earlier classical meaning of sacramentum. 



K 2 



132 



SERMONS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



tyranny over you Christ has already destroyed, 
win you back again with any of his wiles, and 
mar even the joys of the present festival by 
his deceitful art, misleading simpler souls with 
the pestilential notion of some to whom this 
our solemn feast day seems to derive its 
honour, not so much from the nativity of 
Christ as, according to them, from the rising 
of the new sun 9. Such men's hearts are 
wrapped in total darkness, and have no grow- 
ing perception of the true Light : for they are 
still drawn away by the foolish errors of 
heathendom, and because they cannot lift the 
eyes of their mind above that which their 
carnal sight beholds, they pay divine honour 
to the luminaries that minister to the world. 
Let not Christian souls entertain any such 
wicked superstition and portentous lie. Be- 
yond all measure are things temporal removed 
from the Eternal, things corporeal from the In- 
corporeal, things governed from the Governor. 
For though they possess a wondrous beauty, 
yet they have no Godhead to be worshipped. 
That power then, that wisdom, that majesty is 
to be adored which created the universe out 
of nothing, and framed by His almighty 
methods the substance of the earth and sky 
into what forms and dimensions He willed. 
Sun, moon, and stars may be most useful to 
us, most fair to look upon; but only if we 
render thanks to their Maker for them and 
worship God who made them, not the creation 
which does Him service. Then praise God, 
dearly beloved, in all His works and judg- 
ments. Cherish an undoubting belief in the 
Virgin's pure conception. Honour the sacred 
and Divine mystery of man's restoration with 
holy and sincere service. Embrace Christ 
born in our flesh, that you may deserve to see 
Him also as the God of glory reigning in His 
majesty, who with the Father and the Holy 
Spirit remains in the unity of the Godhead for 
ever and ever. Amen. 

SERMON XXIII. 

On the Feast of the Nativity, III. 

I. The truths of the Incarnation never suffer 

from being repeated. 

The things which are connected with the 

mystery' of to-day's solemn feast are well 

known to you, dearly-beloved, and have fre- 



9 Such an Idea is no doubt to be referred to the Manichsans 
KaJ* ■ ? r t m ™ iu ™ (*? usual). I would venture to urge "hit 

an^'\ere"nL J s U I S h fiedi "- inte r eting this as " -credTbse, 'v- 
m ,„ „c .K t , aVe m,su nrierstood his note 8. Surely Leo 

mystery of the'ln?" ^'^ a " d <™*«l«ences arising from the 
mystery cm the Incarnation are well known to you. This a rees 

ot the word. thC CO,UeXl a " d " in "wrdance "iS. his common use 



quently been heard : but as yonder visible 
light affords pleasure to eyes that are unim- 
paired, so to sound hearts does the Saviour's 
nativity give eternal joy ; and we must not keep 
silent about it, though we cannot treat of it as 
we ought. For we believe that what Isaiah 
says, " who shall declare his generation 2 ? " 
applies not only to that mystery, whereby the 
Son of God is co-eternal with the Father, but 
also to this birth whereby " the Word became 
flesh." And so God, the Son of God, equal 
and of the same nature from the Father and 
with the Father, Creator and Lord of the 
Universe, Who is completely present every- 
where, and completely exceeds all things, in 
the due course of time, which runs by His own 
disposal, chose for Himself this day on which 
to be born of the blessed virgin Mary for the 
salvation of the world, without loss of the 
mother's honour. For her virginity was vio- 
lated neither at the conception nor at the 
birth : " that it might be fulfilled," as the 
Evangelist says, "which was spoken by the 
Lord through Isaiah the prophet, saying, 
behold the virgin shall conceive in the womb, 
and shall bear a son, and they shall call his 
name Emmanuel, which is interpreted, God 
with us 3." For this wondrous child-bearing of 
the holy Virgin produced in her offspring one 
person which was truly human and truly Di- 
vine *, because neither substance so retained 
their properties that there could be any di- 
vision of persons in them ; nor was the 
creature taken into partnership with its Creator 
in such a way that the One was the in-dweller, 
and the other the dwelling ; but so that the 
one nature was blended s with the other. And 
although the nature which is taken is one, and 
that which takes is another, yet these two 
diverse natures come together into such close 
union that it is one and the same Son who 
says both that, as true Man, " He is less than 
the Father," and that, as true God, ' ; He is 
equal with the Father." 

II. The Arians could not comprehend the union 
of (joi> a 'nt man. 

This union, dearly beloved, whereby the 
Creator is joined to the creature, Arian blind- 
ness could not see with the eyes of intelli- 
gence, but, not believing that the Only-begotten 
of God was of the same glory and substance 
with the Father, spoke of the Son's Godhead 
as inferior, drawing its arguments from those 



En; 



• Isaiah liii. 8. 3 S. Matt. i. 22, 23. 

4 I ere huinanam vereqne uiv.u.i/;/ iinam eduiit prole per- 
sonam. 

5 Muceretur: Quesnel truly remarks that the fathers " scciirins 
locuti sunt uondnm litigantibus Eutychianis post ctcius lueresis 
ortuw cautiin—locutus est Leo. That ui> " fusion " ol the n.iluies 
is really iuiulied Bright (note 11) clearly shows. 



SERMON XXIII. 



133 



words which are to be referred to the " form of 
a slave," in respect of which, in order to show 
that it belongs to no other or different person 
in Himself, the same Son of God with the 
same form, says, " The Father is greater than 
I 6 ," just as He says with the same form, " I 
and my Father are one 7." For in "the form 
of a slave," which He took at the end of the 
ages for our restoration, He is inferior to the 
Father : but in the form of God, in which He 
was before the ages, He is equal to the Father. 
In His human humiliation He was " made of 
a woman, made under the Law 8 :" in His 
Divine majesty He abides the Word of God, 
"through whom all things were made 9." 'Ac- 
cordingly, He Who in the form of God made 
man, in the form of a slave was made man. 
For both natures retain their own proper cha- 
racter without loss : and as the form of God 
did not do away with the form of a slave, so 
the form of a slave did not impair the form of 
God '. And so the mystery of power united to 
weakness, in respect of the same human 
nature, allows the Son to be called inferior to 
the Father: but tiie Godhead, which is One 
in the Trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy 
Ghost, excludes all notion of inequality. For 
the eternity of the Trinity has nothing tem- 
poral, nothing dissimilar in nature : Its will 
is one, Its substance identical, Its power 
equal, and yet there are not three Gods, but 
one God 2 ; because it is a true and inseparable 
unity, where there can be no diversity 3. Thus 
in the whole and perfect nature of true man 
was true God born, complete in what was His 
own, complete in what was ours. And by 
" ours " we mean what the Creator formed in us 
from the beginning, and what He undertook 
to repair. For what the deceiver brought in, 
and man deceived committed, had no trace in 
the Saviour ; nor because He partook of man's 
weaknesses, did He therefore share our faults. 
He took the form of a slave without stain of 
sin, increasing the human and not diminishing 
the divine: for that "emptying of Himself," 
whereby the Invisible made Himself visible, 
was the bending clown of pity, not the failing 
of power. 

III. The Incarnation was necessary to the 
taking azvay of sin. 

In order therefore that we might be called 



« S. John xiv. 28. 7 lb. x. 30. 8 Gal. iv. 4. 

9 S. John. i. 3. 
I * From "accordingly" to "form of God " occurs again in 
Lett. XXVIII. (Tome) chap. 3. 

j 2 Several times in this chapter and elsewhere in Leo the 
Janguage reminds us forcibly of the Quicunque " which," says 
Bright (note 14), "whatever be its date, was clearly compiled 
by some one accustomed to the theological terminology 01 the 
'Latin church 01 the fifth century." 

3 From here to end of chapter occurs again in Lett. XXVIII. 
lomej chap. 3. 



to eternal bliss from our original bond and 
from earthly errors, He came down Himself 
to us to Whom we could not ascend, because, 
although there was in many the love of truth, 
yet the variety of cur shifting opinions was de- 
ceived by the craft of misleading demons, and 
man's ignorance was dragged into diverse and 
conflicting notions by a falsely-called science. 
But to remove this mockery, whereby men's 
minds were taken captive to serve the arrogant 
devil, the teaching of the Law was not suffi- 
cient, nor could our nature be restored merely 
by the Prophets' exhortations ; but the reality 
of redemption had to be added to moral 
injunctions, and our fundamentally corrupt 
origin had to be re-born afresh. A Victim 
had to be offered for our atonement Who 
should be both a partner of our race and 
free from our contamination, so that this 
design of Goo whereby it pleased Him to 
take away the sin of the world in the Nativity 
and Passion of Jesus Christ, might reach to 
all generations * : and that we should not be 
disturbed but rather strengthened by these 
mysteries, which vary with the character of the 
times, since the Faith, whereby we live, has at 
no time suffered variation. 

IV. The blessings of the Incarnation stretch 
backzvards as well as reach forward. 

Accordingly let those men cease their com- 
plaints who with disloyal murmurs speak against 
ihe dispensations of God, and babble about 
the lateness of the Lord's Nativity as if that, 
which was fulfilled in the last age of the world, 
had no bearing upon the times that are past. 
For the Incarnation of the Word did but con- 
tribute to the doing of that which was done 5 : 
and the mystery of n an s salvation was never 
in the remotest age at a standstill. What the 
apostles foretold, that the prophets announced : 
nor was that fulfilled too late which has always 
been believed. But the Wisdom and Good- 
ness of God made us more receptive of His 
call by thus delaying the work which brought 
salvation : so that wnat through so many ages 
had been foretold by many signs, many utter- 
ances, and many mysteries, might not be 
doubtful in these days of the Gospel : and that 
the Saviour's nativity, which was to exceed all 
wonders and all the measure of human know- 
ledge, might engender in us a Faith so much 
the firmer, as the foretelling of it had been 



4 From what he goes on to say in the next chapter, it is clear 
that Leo meant that both past anu future generations ot mankind 
shared in the benefits of the Incarnation : ci. Bright's note 16. 

5 Hoc contulit faciendum quod factum, i.e. the Incarnation 
was but a part (though an essential part) in the Divine scheme 
of redemption, and, as he goes on to show, could not have occurred 
sooner than it did occur : tor it would have marred the sequence ot 
the whole design : ci. Bright's note 17 : also S. John viii. 56. 



134 



SERMONS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



ancient and oft-repeated. And so it was no 
new counsel, no tardy pity whereby God took 
thought for men : but from the constitution of 
the world He ordained one and the same Cause 
of Salvation for all. For the grace of God, by 
which the whole body of the saints is ever 
justified, was augmented, not begun, when 
Christ was born : and this mystery of God's 
great love, wherewith the whole world is now 
filled, was so effectively presignified that those 
who believed that promise obtained no less 
than they, who were the actual recipients. 

V. The coming of Christ in our flesh corre- 
sponds with our becoming members of His 
body. 

Wherefore since the loving-kindness is mani- 
fest, dearly beloved, wherewith all the riches 
of Divine goodness are showered on us, whose 
call to eternal life has been assisted not only 
by the profitable examples of those who went 
before, but also by the visible and bodily 
appearing of the Truth Itself, we are bound to 
keep the day of the Lord's Nativity with 
no slothful nor carnal joy. And we shall each 
keep it worthily and thoroughly, if we remember 
of what Body we are members, and to what 
a Head we are joined, lest any one as an ill- 
fitting joint cohere not with the rest of the 
sacred building. Consider, dearly beloved, 
and by the illumination of the Holy Spirit 
thoughtfully bear in mind Who it was that 
received us into Himself, and that we have 
received in us : since, as the Lord Jesus be- 
came our flesh by being born, so we also 
became His body by being re-born. There- 
fore are we both members of Christ, and the 
temple of the Holy Ghost : and for this reason 
the blessed Apostle says, "Glorify and carry 
God in your body 6 : " for while suggesting to 
us the standard of His own gentleness and 
humility, He fills us with that power whereby 
He redeemed us, as the Lord Himself pro- 
mises : " come unto Me all ye who labour and 
are heavy-laden, and 1 will refresh you. Take 
My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am 
meek and lowly of heart, and ye shall find rest 
to your souls ?." Let us then take the yoke, 
that is not heavy nor irksome, of the Truth 
that rules us, and let us imitate His humility, 
to Whose glory we wish to be conformed : He 
Himself helping us and leading us to His pro- 
mises, Who, according to His great mercy, is 
powerful to blot out our sins, and to perfect 



Cor. 



vi. 20. Glorificale et portate Deum in corpore 
vestro, quoted again in this form in Sermon LI 1 1. 3. Observe 
(t) that " et portate is doubtless a very old 'Western' gloss" 
(Bright, note 18), and (2) that the words "and in your spirit 
whicn are God's" (A.V.) find no place in the Latin Versions, and 
are now omitted in R.V. 
7 S. Matt. xi. 28. 



His gifts in us, Jesus Christ our Lord, Who 
lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen. 

SERMON XXIV. 
On the Feast of the Nativity, IV. 

I. The Incarnation fulfils all its types and 
promises. 

The Divine goodness, dearly beloved, has 
indeed always taken thought for mankind in 
divers manners, and in many portions, and of 
His mercy has imparted many gifts of His pro- 
vidence to the ages of old ; but in these last 
times has exceeded all the abundance of His 
usual kindness, when in Christ the very Mercy 
has descended to sinners, the very Truth to 
those that are astray, the very Life to those 
that are dead : so that that Word, which is 
co-eternal and co-equal with the Father, might 
take our humble nature into union with His 
Godhead, and, being born God of God, might 
also be bcrn Man of man. This was indeed 
promised from the foundation of the world, 
and had always been prophesied by many 
intimations of facts and words 8 : but how 
small a portion of mankind would these types 
and fore-shadowed mysteries have saved, had 
not the coming of Christ fulfilled those long 
and secret promises : and had not that which 
then benefited but a few believers in the pro- 
spect, now benefited myriads of the faithful in 
its accomplishment. Now no longer then are 
we led to believe by signs and types, but being 
confirmed by the gospel story we worship that 
which we believe to have been done ; the pro- 
phetic lore 9 assisting our knowledge, so that 
we have no manner of doubt about that which 
we know to have been predicted by such sure 
oracles. For hence it is that the Lord says to 
Abraham : " In thy seed shall all nations be 
blessed 1 :" hence David, in the spirit of pro- 
phecy, sings, saying: "The Lord swore truth 
to David, and He shall not frustrate it : of the 
fruit of thy loins will I set upon thy seat 2 ;" 
hence the Lord again says through Isaiah : 
" behold a virgin shall conceive in her womb, 
and shall bear a Son, and His Name shall be 
called Emmanuel, which is interpreted, God 
with us y and again, " a rod shall come forth 
from the root of Jesse, and a flower shall arise 
from his root 4 ." In which rod, no doubt the 
blessed Virgin Mary is predicted, who sprung 
from the stock of Jesse and David and fecun- 
dated by the Holy Ghost, brought forth a new 






8 Cf. Serm. XXIII., chap. 4. 

9 Instntinentis (lit. materials, stock-in-trade). 

» Gen. xxii. 18. 2 Ps. xxxi. 14. 3 Is. vii. 14. 

* Is. xi. 1 ; in the interpretation that follows there is apparently 
a play on the rod (virga) and the virgin (virgo). 



SERMON XXIV. 



135 



flower of human flesh, becoming a virgin- 
mother. 

II. The Incarnation was the only effective 
remedy to the Fall. 

Let the righteous then rejoice in the Lord, 
and let the hearts of believers turn to God's 
praise, and the sons of men confess His won- 
drous acts ; since in this work of God espe- 
cially our humble estate realizes how highly its 
Maker values it : in that, after His great gift 
to mankind in making us after His image, He 
contributed far more largely to our restoration 
when the Lord Himself took on Him " the 
form of a slave." For though all that the 
Creator expends upon His creature is part of 
one and the same Fatherly love, yet it is less 
wonderful than man should advance to divine 
things than that God should descend to human- 
.ity. But unless the Almighty God did deign 
\.o do this, no kind of righteousness, no form 
of wisdom could rescue any one from the 
'devil's bondage and from the depths of eternal 
i death. For the condemnation that passes 
with sin from one upon all would remain, and 
jour nature, corroded by its deadly wound, 
I would discover no remedy, because it could 
not alter its state in its own strength. For the 
first man received the substance of flesh from 
the earth, and was quickened with a rational 
spirit by the in-breathing of his Creator 5 , so 
that living after the image and likeness of his 
Maker, he might preserve the form of God's 
goodness and righteousness as in a bright 
mirror. And, if he had perseveringly main- 
lined this high dignity of his nature by observ- 
ng the Law that was given him, his uncorrupt 
pind would have raised the character even of 
lis earthly body to heavenly glory. But be- 
cause in unhappy rashness he trusted the 
■nvious deceiver, and agreeing to his presump- 
uous counsels, preferred to forestall rather than 
o win the increase of honour that was in store 
or him, not only did that one man, but in him 
li that came after him also hear the verdict : 
earth thou art, and unto earth shalt thou 



" << 



as in the earthy," therefore, "such are 
hey also that are earthy ?," and no one is im- 
jiortal, because no one is heavenly. 



II. We all become partakers in the Birth of 
Christ, by the re-birth of baptism. 

And so to undo this chain of sin and death, 
lie Almighty Son of God, that fills all things 
ad contains all things, altogether equal to the 
ather and co-eternal in one essence from 
[im and with Him, took on Him man's 



5 Cl. 1 Cor. xv. 45, and Gen. ii. 7. 6 Gen. lii. 19. 

7 1 Cor. xv. 48. 



nature, and the Creator and Lord of all things 
deigned to be a mortal : choosing for His 
mother one whom He had made, one who, 
without loss of her maiden honour, supplied so 
much of bodily substance, that without the 
pollution of human seed the New Man might 
be possessed of purity and truth. In Christ, 
therefore, born of the Virgin's womb, the 
nature does not differ from ours, because 
His nativity is wonderful. For He VVho is 
true God, is also true man : and there is no 
lie in either nature. " The Word became 
flesh " by exaltation of the flesh, not by failure 
of the Godhead : which so tempered its power 
and goodness as to exalt our nature by taking- 
it, and not to lose His own by imparting it. In 
this nativity of Christ, according to the pro- 
phecy of David, " truth sprang out of the earth, 
and righteousness looked down from heaven 8 ." 
In this nativity also, Isaiah's saying is fulfilled, 
" let the earth produce and bring forth salva- 
tion, and let righteousness spring up together 9." 
For the earth of human flesh, which in the first 
transgressor, was cursed, in this Offspring of 
the Blessed Virgin only produced a seed that 
was blessed and free from the fault of its stock. 
And each one is a partaker of this spiritual 
origin in regeneration ; and to every one when 
he is re-born, the water of baptism is like the 
Virgin's womb; for the same Holy Spirit fills 
the font, Who filled the Virgin, that the sin, 
which that sacred conception overthrew, may 
be taken away by this mystical washing. 

IV. The Manichceans, by rejecting the Incarna- 
tion, have fallen into terrible iniquities. 

In this mystery, dear beloved, the mad 
error of the Manichaeans ha=i no part, nor have 
they any partnership in the regeneration of 
Christ, who say that He was corporeally born 
of the Virgin Mary : so that, as they do not 
believe in His real nativity, they do not accept 
His real passion either; and, not acknowledg- 
ing Him really buried, they reject His genuine 
resurrection. For, having entered on the 
perilous path of their abominable dogma, 
where all is dark and slippery, they rush into 
the abyss of death over the precipice of false- 
hood, and find no sure ground on which to 
rest ; because, besides all their other diabolical 
enormities, on the very chief feast of Christ's 
worship, as their latest confession has made 
manifest r , they revel in bodily as well as 
mental pollution, losing their own modesty as 
well as the purity of their Faith ; so that they 



8 Ps. lxxxiv. 12. 9 Is. xlv. 8. 

1 See lntrod. p. vi., and for details of their iniquity, Serm. 
XVI. ciiaps. 4 and 5 : the words proxima conjessione rix tiie dati 
of this sermon proLably in 444 or 445. 



T36 



SERMONS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



are found to be as filthy in their rites as they 
are blasphemers in their doctrines. 

V. Other heresies contain some portion of truth, 
but the Manichozans contain none -whatever. 
Other heresies, dearly beloved, although 
they are all rightly to be condemned in their 
variety, yet have each in some part of them 
that which is true. Arius, in laying down that 
the Son of God is less than the Father and 
a creature, and in thinking that the Holy Spirit 
was like all else made by the same (Father), 
has lost himself in great blasphemy ; but he 
has not denied the eternal and unchangeable 
Godhead in the essence of the Father, though 
he could not see it in the Unity of the Trinity. 
Macedonius was devoid of the light of the 
Truth when he did not receive the Godhead 
of the Holy Spirit, but he did acknowledge one 
power and the same nature in the Father and 
the Son. Sabellius was plunged into inextric- 
able error by holding the unity of substance 
to be inseparable in the Father, Son and Holy 
Spirit, but granted to a singleness of nature 
what he should have attributed to an equality 
of nature 2 , and because he could not under- 
stand a true Trinity, he believed in one and 
the same person under a threefold appellation. 
Photinus, misled by his mental blindness, 
acknowledged in Christ true man of our sub- 
stance, but did not believe Him born God of 
God before all ages, and so losing the entirety 
of the Faith, believed the Son of God to have 
taken on Him the true nature of human flesh 
in such a way as to assert that there was no 
soul in it, because the Godhead Itself took it- 
place 3. Thus, if all the errors which the 
catholic Faith has anathematized are recanted, 
something is found in one after another which 
can be separated from its damnable setting. 
But in the detestable dogma of the Mani- 
cheans there is absolutely nothing which can 
be adjudged tolerable in any degree. 

VI. Christians must cling to the one Faith and 
not be led astray. 

But you, dearly beloved, whom I address in 
no less earnest terms than those of the blessed 
Apostle Peter, " a chosen race, a royal priest- 
hood, a holy nation, a people for God's own 
possession *" built upon the impregnable rock, 
Christ, and joined to the Lokd our Saviour by 
His true assumption of our flesh, remain firm 



2 Quod tzqualitati tribuere deberet, sivgularitati dedit, cf. 
Lett. XV. chap. 2, where the Priscillianists' notion (ol a singularis 
unit as in tribus vocabulis sed noil in t tubus accipienda personis), 
is said to be taken from Sabellianism. 

3 Cf. Ruff, de Symb. chap. 39, and Schaff, Ch. Hist., ?'* loco, 
where the relation of Photinus to Marcellus is explained. 

* 1 Pet. ii 9. 



in that Faith, which you have professed before 
many witnesses, and in which you were re- 
born through water and the Holy Ghost, and 
received the anointing of salvation, and the 
seal of eternal life s. But "if any one preach 
to you any thing beside that which you have 
learnt, let him be anathema 6 :" refuse to put 
wicked fables before the clearest truth, and 
what you may happen to read or hear contrary 
to the rule of the catholic and Apostolic creed, 
judge it altogether deadly and diabolical. Be 
not carried away by their deceitful keepings of 
sham and pretended fasts which tend not to the 
cleansing, but to the destroying of men's souls. 
They put on indeed a cloke of piety and 
chastity, but under this deceit they conceal 
the filthiness of their acts, and from the re- 
cesses of their ungodly heart hurl shafts to 
wound the simple ; that, as the prophet says, 
"they may shoot in darkness at the upright in 
heart 7." A mighty bulwark is a sound faith, 
a true faith, to which nothing has to be added 
or taken away : because unless it is one, it is 
no faith, as the Apostle says, " one Lord, one 
faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, 
who is above all, and through all, and in us 
all 8 ." Cling to this unity, dearly beloved, with 
minds unshaken, and in it " follow after " all 
" holiness 9," in it carry out the Lord's com 
mands, because "without faith it is impossible 
to please God '," and without it nothing is holy, 
nothing is pure, nothing alive: "for the just 
lives by faith V and he who by the devil's de- 
ception loses it, is dead though living, be- 
cause as righteousness is gained by faith, sc 
too by a true faith is eternal life gained, as 
says our Lord and Saviour. And this if 
life eternal, that they may know Thee, the only 
true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hasi 
sent 3. May He make you to advance and per 
severe to the end, Who lives and reigns witr 
the Father and the Holy Spirit, for ever am 
ever. Amen. 



I - 






SERMON XXVI. 

On the Feast of the Nativity, VI. 

I. Christmas morning is the most appropriate 
time for thoughts on the Nativity. 

On all days and at all times, dearly beloved 
does the birth of our Lord and Saviour iron 
the Virgin-mother occur to the thoughts of tin 



5 Christna (charisma, gift. Quesnel) salutis et sigtiacului 
vita ceternce, the anointing and the sign of the cross are, as is wel 
known, two of the oldest baptismal ceremonies; see Binghan 
Antiq. Bk. xi. chap. 9. 6 Gal. i. 9. 7 Ps. xi. 2. 

8 Eph. iv. 5, 6. 9Heb.xii. 14- ' lb. xi. 6. 

2 Habbakuk ii. 4. 3 S. John xvii. 3. 



SERMON XXVI. 



T37 



faithful, who meditate on divine things, that 

(the mind may be aroused to the acknowledg- 
ment of its Maker, and whether it be occupied 
in the groans of supplication, or in the shout- 
,ing of praise, or in .the offering of sacrifice, 
may employ its spiritual insight on nothing 
more frequently and more trustingly than on 
the fact that God the Son of God, begotten 
of the co-eternal Father, was also born by 
a human birth. But this Nativity which is to 
be adored in heaven and on earth is suggested 
to us by no day more than this when, with the 
early light still shedding its rays on nature 4 , 
there is borne in upon our senses the bright- 
ness of this wondrous mystery. For the angel 
Gabriel's converse with the astonished Mary 
and her conception by the Holy Ghost as 
wondrously promised as believed, seem to 
recur not only to the memory but to the very 
eyes. For to day the Maker of the world was 
born of a Virgin's womb, and He, who made 
all natures, became Son of her, whom He 
created. To-day the Word of God appeared 
clothed in flesh, and That which had never 
been visible to human eyes began to be 
tangible to our hands as well. To-day the 
shepherds learnt from angels' voices that the 
Saviour was born in the substance of our 
flesh and soul ; and to-day the form of the 
Gospel message was pre-arranged by the 
leaders of the Lord's flocks s, so that we too 
may say with the army of the heavenly host : 
" Glory in the highest to God, and on earth 
peace to men of good will." 



\ 

)ib 
[iut 
u 

en 

15) 

aj 

hti 
U 

,iti 

■a 

ini 

,ii 
i 






II. Christians are essentially participators in 
the tiativity of Christ. 

Although, therefore, that infancy, which the 
majesty of God's Son did not disdain, reached 
mature manhood by the growth of years and, 
when the triumph of His passion and resur- 
rection was completed, all the actions of 
humility which were undertaken for us ceased, 
yet to-day's festival renews for us the holy 
childhood of Jesus born of the Virgin Mary : 
and in adoring the birth of our Saviour, we 
find we are celebrating the commencement 
[Of our own life. For the birth of Ghrist is 
the source of life for Christian folk, and the 
birthday of the Head is the birthday of the 
body. Although every individual that is called 



* Nova etiam in elementis luce radiante, the phrase seems 
to point to an early service as the time of delivering this sermon 
[possibly the missa in gallicantu). 

5 Apud Dominicorum prcesules gregum hodie evangelizandi 
forma prcpcondita >st. This clause has be:n taken to be an 
illusion to the reciting of the angelic hymn Gloria in Excelsis, 
it the Holy Eucharist, but as Brignt (note 20, all of which should 
be read) says, " the words do not necessarily mean more than that 
:he original Angelic Hymn (S. Luke ii. 14) was recited in the 
•hristmas Day Service. 



has his own order, and all the sons of the 
Church are separated from one another by 
intervals of time, yet as the entire body of the 
faithful being born in the font of baptism is 
crucified with Christ in His passion, raised 
again in His resurrection, and placed at the 
Father's right hand in His ascension, so with 
Him are they born in this nativity. For any 
believer in whatever part of the world that is 
re-born in Christ, quits the old paths of his 
original nature 6 and passes into a new man by 
being re-born ; and no longer is he reckoned 
of his earthly father's stock but among the 
seed of the Saviour, Who became the Son 
of man in order that we might have the power 
to be the sons of God. For unless He came 
down to us in this humiliation, no one would 
reach His presence by any merits of his own. 
Let not earthly wisdom shroud in darkness 
the hearts of the called on this point, and let 
not the frailty of earthly thoughts raise itself 
against the loftiness of God's grace, for it will 
soon return to the lowest dust. At the end of 
the ages is fulfilled that which was ordained 
from all eternity : and in the presence of 
realities, when signs and types have ceased, 
the Law and prophecy have become Truth : 
and so Abraham is found the father ot all 
nations, and the promised blessing is given 
to the world in his seed : nor are they only 
Israelites whom blood and flesh 7 begot, but 
the whole body of the adopted enter into 
possession of the heritage prepared for the 
sons of Faith. Be not disturbed by the cavils 
of silly questionings, and let not the effects 
of the Divine word be dissipated by human 
calculation ; we with Abraham believe in God 
and " waver not through unbelief 8 ," but 
" know most assuredly that what the Lord 
promised, He is able to perform." 

III. Peace with God is His best gift to man. 

The Saviour then, dearly beloved, is born 
not of fleshly seed but of the Holy Spirit, in 
such wise that the condemnation of the first 
transgression did not touch Him. And hence 
the very greatness of the boon conferred de- 
ma ids of us reverence worthy of its splendour. 
For, as the blessed Apostle teaches, "we have 
received not the spirit of this world but the 
Spirit which is of God, that we may know the 
things which are given us by God ? : " and 
that Spirit can in no other way be rightly 
worshipped, except by offering Him that 
which we received from Him. But in the 



6 lnterciso originalis tramite vetwstatis. 

7 Sanguis et carol it is noticeable that the same order is 
observed in Heb. ii. 14. 

8 Rom. iv. 20, 21. 9 1 Cor. ii. 12. 



138 



SERMONS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



treasures of the Lord's bounty what can we 
find so suitable to the honour of the present 
feast as the peace, which at the Lord's nativity 
was first proclaimed by the angel-choir? For 
that it is which brings forth the sons of God, 
the nurse of love and the mother of unity : 
the rest of the blessed and our eternal home ; 
whose proper work and special office it is to 
join to God those whom it removes from the 
world. Whence the Apostle incites us to this 
good end, in saying, " being justified therefore 
by faith let us have peace towards God i ." 
In which brief sentence are summed up nearly 
all the commandments ; for where true peace 
is, there can be no lack of virtue. But what 
is it, dearly beloved, to have peace towards 
God, except to wish what He bids, and not to 
wish what He forbids ? For if human friend- 
ships seek out equality of soul and similarity 
of desires, and difference of habits can never 
attain to full harmony, how will he be par- 
taker of divine peace, who is pleased with 
what displeases God and desires to get de- 
light from what he knows to be offensive to 
God? That is not the spirit of the sons of 
God ; such wisdom is not acceptable to the 
noble family of the adopted. That chosen 
and royal race must live up to the dignity of 
its regeneration, must love what the Father 
loves, and in nought disagree with its Maker, 
lest the Lord should again say : " 1 have be- 
gotten and raised up sons, but they have 
scorned Me : the ox knovveth his ow tier and 
the ass his master's crib : but Israel hath not 
known Me and My people hath not acknow- 
ledged Me 2 ." 

IV. We must be worthy of our calling as sons 
and friends of God. 

The mystery of this boon is great, denrly 
beloved, and this gift exceeds all gifts that 
God should call man son, and man should 
name God Father : for by these terms we 
perceive and learn the love which reached so 
great a height. For if in natural progeny and 
earthly families those who are born of noble 
parents are lowered by the faults of evil inter- 
course, and unworthy offspring are put to shame 
by the very brilliance of their ancestry ; to 
what end will they come who through love of 
the world do not fear to be outcast from the 
family of Christ ? But if it gains the praise of 
men that the father's glory should shine again 
in their descendants, how much more glorious 
is it for those who are born of God to regain 
the brightness of their Maker's likeness and 
display in themselves Him Who begat them, 
as saith the Lord : " Let your light so shine 



1 Rom. v. i. 



3 Is. i 



i 2. 3- 



before men that they may see your good works 
and glorify your Father which is in heaven 3?" 
We know indeed, as the Apostle John says 
that "the whole world lieth in the evil one 4 ," 
and that by the stratagems of the Devil and 
his angels numberless attempts are made either 
to frighten man in his struggle upwards by 
adversity or to spoil him by prosperity, but 
" greater is He that is in us, than he that is 
against us 5 ," and they who have peace with 
God and are always saying to the Father with 
their whole hearts "thy will be done 6 " can 
be overcome in no battles, can be hurt by no 
assaults. For accusing ourselves in our 
confessions and refusing the spirit's consent 
to our fleshly lusts, we stir up against us the 
enmity of him who is the author of sin, but 
secure a peace with God that nothing can 
destroy, by accepting His gracious service, in 
order that we may not only surrender ourselves 
in obedience to our King but also be united 
to Him by our free-will. For if we are like- 
minded, if we wish what He wishes, and 
disapprove what He disapproves, He will finish 
all our wars for us, He Who gave the will, 
will also give the power : so that we may be 
fellow-workers in His works, and with the 
exultation of Faith may utter that prophetic 
song : " the Lord is my light and my salvation: 
whom shall I fear ? the Lord is the defender 
of my life : of whom shall I be afraid i ? " 

V. The birth of Christ is the birth of peace to 
the Church. 

They then who " are born not of blood nor 
of the will of the flesh nor of 'die will of man 
but of God 8 ," must offer to the Father the 
unanimity of peace-loving sons, and all the 
members of adoption must meet in the First- 
begotten of the new creation, Who came to do 
not His own Will but His that sent Him ; inas- 
much as the Father in His gracious favour has 
adopted as His heirs notthosethat are discordant 
nor those that are unlike Him, but those that are 
in feeling and affection one. They that are 
re-modelled after one pattern must have a 
spirit like the model. The birthday of the 
Lord is the birthday of peace : for thus says 
the Apostle, " He is our peace, who made 
both one 9 ; " since whether we be Jew or 
Gentile, "through Him we have access in one 
Spirit to the Father 9." And it was this in 
particular that He taught His disciples before 
the day of His passion which He had of His 
own free-will fore-ordained, saying, " My peace 
I give unto you, My peace I leave for you l ;" 



3 S. Matt. v. 16. * x S. John v. 19. 

5 Cf. I John iv. 4, and 2 King-i vi. 16. 6 S. Matt. vi. 10. 

7 IV xxvii. 1. s S- John i. 13. 9 Eph. ii. 14, 18. 

1 S. John xiv. 27. 




SERMON XXVII. 



T 39 



and lest under the general term the character 
of His peace should escape notice, He added, 
"not as the world give I unto you 1 ." The 
world, He says, has its friendships, and brings 
many that are apart into loving harmony. 
There are also minds which are equal in vices, 
and similarity of desires produces equality of 
affection. And if any are perchance to be 
found who are not pleased with what is mean 
and dishonourable, and who exclude from the 
terms of their connexion unlawful compacts, 
yet even such if they be either Jews, heretics 
or heathens 2 , belong not to God's friendship 
but to this world's peace. But the peace of 
the spiritual and of catholics coming down 
from above and leading upwards refuses to 
hold communion with the lovers of the world, 
:resists all obstacles and flies from pernicious 
pleasures to true joys, as the Lord says : 
j" Where thy treasure is, there will thy heart 
;be also 3 :" that is, if what you love is below, 
you will descend to the lowest depth : if what 
you love is above, you will reach the topmost 
leight : thither may the Spirit of peace lead 
md bring us, whose wishes and feeling are at 
)ne, and who are of one mind in faith and 
lope and in charity: since "as many as are 
ed by the Spirit of God these are sons of 
jOd*" Who reigneth with the Son and Holy 
Spirit for ever and ever. Amen. 



SERMON XXVII. 

On the Feast of the Nativity, VII. 

. It is equally dangerous to deny the Godhead or 
the Manhood in Christ. 

He is a true and devout worshipper, dearly- 
eloved, of to-day's festival who thinks nothing 
lat is either false about the Lord's Incarna- 
on or unworthy about His Godhead. For 
is an equally dangerous evil to deny in Him 
le reality of our nature and the equality with 
le Father in glory. When, therefore, we 
.tempt to understand the mystery of Ghrist's 
ativity, wherein He was born of the Virgin- 
tother, let all the clouds of earthly reasonings 
t driven far away and the smoke of worldly 
isdom be purged from the eyes of illuminated 
ith : for the authority on which we trust is 
vine, the teaching which we follow is divine, 
lasmuch as whether it be the testimony of 
te Law, or the oracles of the prophets, or the 
limpet of the gospel to which we apply our 



» lb. 

j 8 Pagani (lit. villagers or rustics): the later meaning arose 
m the fact that idolatry and superstition tends to linger longer 
nit-of-the-way rural districts, than in the more civilized towns : 
"heath" and "heathen." See Blight's note 24, and the 
:rences quoted by him. Hooker, v. 80. 2 ; Trench, "on Study 
•Vords," p. 69, &c 3 S. Matt. vi. ai. 

* Rom. viii. 14. 



inward ear, that is true which the blessed John 
full of the Holy Spirit uttered with his voice 
of thunder s : " in the beginning was the Word : 
and the Word was with God, and the Word 
was God. The same was in the beginning 
with God. All things were made through Him, 
and without Him was nothing made 6 ." And 
similarly is it true what the same preacher 
added : " the Word became flesh and dwelt in 
us : and we beheld His glory, the glory as of 
the only-begotten of the Father 6 ." Therefore 
in both natures it is the same Son of God 
taking what is ours and not losing what is His 
own ; renewing man in His manhood, but en- 
during unchangeable in Himself. For the 
Godhead which is His in common with the 
Father un ierwent no loss of omnipotence, nor 
did the "form of a slave" do despite to the 
"form of God," because the supreme and 
eternal Essence, which lowered Itself for the 
salvation of mankind, transferred us into Its 
glory, but did not cease to be what It was. 
And hence when the Only-begotten of God 
confesses Himself less than the Father 7, and 
yet calls Himself equal with Him ?, He demon- 
strates the reality of both forms in Himself: 
so that the inequality proves the human nature, 
and the equality the Divine. 

II. The Incarnation has changed all the possi- 
bilities of man's existence. 

The bodily Nativity therefore of the Son of 
God took nothing from and added nothing 
to His Majesty because His unchangedde 
substance could be neither d'minished nor 
increased. For that " the Word became flesh" 
does not signify that the nature of God was 
changed into flesh, but that the Word took 
the flesh into the unity of His Person : 
and therein undoubtedly the whole man was 
received, with which within the Virgin's womb 
fecundated by the Holy Spirit, whose virginity 
was destined never to be lost 8 , the Son of 
God was so inseparably united that He who 
was born without time of the Father's essence 
was Himself in time born of the Virgin's 
womb. For we could not otherwise be re- 
leased from the chains of eternal death but by 
Him becoming humble in our nature, Who 
remained Almighty in His own. And so our 
Lord Jesus Christ, being at birth true man 
though He never ceased to be true God, made 
in Himself the beginning of a new creation, 



5 [ntonuit, no doubt a reference to the name of Boanerges 
(sons of thunder) which he shared with his brother Janes (S Marl; 
iii. 17). 6 S John i. 1—3, 14. 7 S. John xiv. 28, and x. 30. 

8 Et nitnquam virgimtate caritura, cf. Letter XXVIil. 
(Tome) chap. 2, beatam Mariam sei/i/er virginem: these two 
passages seem to me much stronger than others quoted by Bright, 
n. 9, to prove Leo's belief in the perpetual virginity of the blessed 
Mary. 



140 



SERMONS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



and in the "form" of His birth started the 
spiritual life of mankind .afresh, that to abolish 
the taint of our birth according to the flesh 
there might be a possibility of regeneration 
without our sinful seed for those of whom it is 
said, " Who were born not of blood, nor of the 
will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but 
of God 9." What mind can grasp this mystery, 
what tongue can express this gracious act ? 
Sinfulness returns to guiltlessness and the old 
nature becomes new ; strangers receive adop- 
tion and outsiders enter upon an inheritance. 
The ungodly begin to be righteous, the miserly 
benevolent, the incontinent chaste, the earthly 
heavenly. And whence comes this change, 
save by the right hand of the Most High? 
For the Son of God came to " destroy the 
works of the devil I ," and has so united Himself 
with us and us with Him that the descent 
of God to man's estate became the exaltation 
of man to God's. 

III. The Devil knows exactly what temptations 
to offer to each severa/ person. 

But in this mercifulness of Goo, dearly 
beloved, the greatness of which towards us we 
cannot explain, Ghristians must be extremely 
careful lest they be caught again in the devil's 
wiles and once more entangled in the errors 
which they have renounced. For the old 
enemy does not cease to " transform himself 
into an angel of light 2 ," and spread everywhere 
the snares of his deceptions, and make every 
effort to corrupt the faith of believers. He 
knows whom to ply with the zest of greed, 
whom to assail with the allurements of the 
belly, before whom to set the attractions oi 
self-indulgence, in whom to instil the poison 
of jealousy : he knows whom to overwhelm 
with grief, whom to cheat with joy, whom to 
surprise with fear, whom to bewilder with 
wonderment : there is no one whose habits he 
does not sift, whose cares he does not winnow, 
whose affections he does not pry into : and 
wherever he sees a man most absorbed in 
occupation, there he seeks opportunity to 
injure him. Moreover he has many whom he 
has bound still more tightly because they are 
suited for his designs, that he may use their 
abilities and tongues to deceive others. 
Through them are guaranteed the healing 
of sicknesses, the prognosticating of future 
events, the appeasing of demons and the driv- 
ing away of apparitions 3. They also are to 
be added 4 who falsely allege that the entire 



9 S. John i. 13. 1 , s. John iii. 8. 

\ %y°r' X1 ' \ 4 \r u 3 Umbrarum. 

4 U. Lett. XV. chaps. 12—14, where such opinions are put 
down to the Spanish Fnsci Iianists, though doubtless Leo is 
thinking here rather of the Alanicbjeans, from whom they derived 
so many of their false views. 



condition of human life depends on the in- 
fluences of the stars, and that that which is 
really either the divine will or ours rests with 
the unchangeable fates. And yet, in order to 
do still greater harm, they promise that they 
can be changed if supplication is made to 
those constellations which are adverse. And 
thus their ungodly fabrications destroy them- 
selves ; for if their predictions are not reliable, 
the fates are not to be feared : if they are, the 
stars are not to be venerated. 

IV. The foolish practice of some who turn to the 

sun and bow to it is reprehensio/e. 

From such a system of teaching proceeds 
also the ungodly practice of certain foolish 
folk who worship the sun as it rises at the 
beginning of daylight from elevated positions: 
even some Christians think it is so proper to 
do this that, before entering the blessed Apostle 
Peter's basilica, which is dedicated to the One 
Living and true God, when they have mounted 
the steps which lead to the raised platform s, 
they turn round and bow themselves to- 
wards the rising sun and with bent neck do 
homage to its brilliant orb. We are full ot 
grief and vexation that this should happen, 
which is partly due to the fault of ignorance 
and partly to the spirit of heathenism : be- 
cause although some of them do perhaps wor- 
ship the Creator of that fair light rather than 
the Light itself, which is His creature, yet we 
must abstain even fiom the appearance of this 
observance: for if one who has abandoned 
the worship of gods, finds it in our own wor- 
ship, will he not hark back again to this frag- 
ment of his old superstition, as if it were 
allowable, when he sees it to be common both 
to Christians and to infidels? 

V. The sun and moon were created for use, not 

for worship. 

This objectionable practice must be given 
up therefore by the faithful, and the honour 
due to God alone must not be mixed up with 
those men's rites who serve their fellow-crea- 
tures. For the divine Scripture says: "Thou 
shalt worship the Lord thy Cod, and Him 
only shalt thou serve ." Ami the blessed 
Job, '■ a man without complaint," as the Lord 






'■ 






5 Suggestum area suf>erioris : the oh'.cr reading was arte. 
some ot the MSS. again read area which is no doubt midway 
between the two. A learned di sertation on this passage by 
Ciampini quoted by Quesnel (Migne's Patrol, i. pp 529—534): 
established the true reading : lie says also that this was the stair- 
case up which the laithful climbed on bended knee in approaching 
the Vatican basilica. S- Leo has alluded to this curious practict 
aheady in Serm. XXII. chap. 6, stij>ra. It is perhaps hardl) 
necessary to add that this superstition has little, if any, connexior 
with the Christian habit o> turning to the East, which is probably 
rather to the Altar as the centre of worship; for at all event: 
in Western Christendom churches do not by any means univer 
sally orientate ' (i.e. lie due east and west). 

° S. Matt. iv. 10. 






SERMON XXVIII. 



141 



says, " and one that eschews every evil ?," 
said, " Have I seen the sun when it shone or 
the moon walking brightly, and my heart hath 
rejoiced in secret, and I have kissed my hand : 
what is my great iniquity and denial against 
the most High God 8 ?" But what is the sun 
or what is the moon but elements of visible 
creation and material light : one of which is of 
greater brightness and the other of lesser light? 
For as it is now day time and now night time, 
so the Creator has constituted divers kinds of 
luminaries, although even before they were 
! made there had been days without the sun 
and nights without the moon 9. But these 
1 were fashioned to serve in making man, that 
he who is an animal endowed with reason 
might be sure of the distinction of the months, 
the recurrence of the year, and the variety of 
1 the seasons, since through the unequal length 
of the various periods, and the clear indica- 
tions given by the changes in its risings, the 
sun closes the year and the moon renews the 
months. For on the fourth day, as we read, 
i God said : " Let there be lights in the firma- 
i ment of the heaven, and let them shine upon 
I the earth, and let them divide between day 
and night, and let them be for signs and for 
seasons, and lor days and years, and let them 
be in the firmament of heaven that they may 
shine upon earth." 

VI. Let us awake to the proper use of all our 
parts and faculties. 

Awake, O man, and recognize the dignity of 
thy nature. Recollect thou wast made in the 
image of God, which although it was corrupted 
iin Adam, was yet re-fashioned in Christ. Use 
|visible creatures as they should be used, as 
thou usest earth, sea, sky, air, springs, and 
rivers : and whatever in them is fair and won- 
drous, ascribe to the praise and glory of the 
Maker. Be not subject to that light wherein 
birds and serpents, beasts and cattle, flies and 
worms delight. Confine the material light to 
your bodily senses, and with all your mental 
powers embrace that " true light which lighteth 
-very man that cometh into this world %" and 
pf which the prophet says, " Come unto Him 
ind be enlightened, and your faces shall not 
>lush 2 ." For if we "are a temple of God, 
md the Spirit of God dwelleth in 2a " us, what 
-very one of the faithful has in his own heart 
s more than what he wonders at in heaven. 
And so, dearly beloved, we do not bid 
»r advise you to despise God's works or to 



7 Job i. 8. 8 lb. XX xi. 26—28. 

9 He is ot course following the Mosaic order of creation, where 

ie creation of the day and night is ascribed to the first day 

id that of the Sun and Moon to the fourth day (Gen. i. 5, 1 —19). 

1 S. John i. 9. -i JPs. xxxiv. 5. » 1 Cor. iii. ic. 



think there is anything opposed to your Faith 
in what the good God has made good, but to 
use every kind of creature and the whole fur- 
niture of this world reasonably and moderately: 
for as the Apostle says, "the things which are 
seen are temporal : but the things which are 
not seen are eternal 3 ." Hence because we are 
born for the present and reborn for the future, 
let us not give ourselves up to temporal goods, 
but to eternal : and in order that we may 
behold our hope nearer, let us think on what 
the Divine Grace has bestowed on our nature 
on the very occasion when we celebrate the 
mystery of the Lord's birthday. Let us hear 
the Apostle, saying: "for ye are dead, and 
your life is hid with Christ in God. But when 
Christ, who is your life, shall appear, then 
shall ye also appear with Him in glory* : " who 
lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy 
Ghost for ever and ever. Amen. 

SERMON XXVIIL 
On the Festival of the Nativity, VIII. 
I. The Incarnation an unceasing source of joy. 

Though all the divine utterances exhort 
us, dearly beloved, to " rejoice in the Lord 
always 5 ," yet to-day we are no doubt in- 
cited to a full spiritual joy, when the 
mystery of the Lord's nativity is shining 
brightly upon us 6 , so that we may have re- 
course to that unutterable condescension of the 
Divine Mercy, whereby the Creator of men 
deigned to become man, and be found our- 
selves in His nature whom we worship in 
ours. For God the Son of God, the only- 
begotten of the eternal and not-begotten 
Father, remaining eternal "in the form of 
God," and unchangeably and without time i 
possessing the property of being no way 
different to the Father He received " the form 
of a slave " without loss of His own majesty, 
that He miqht advance us to His state and 
not lower Himself to ours. Hence both 
natures abiding in possession of their own 
properties such unity is the result of the 
union that whatever of Godhead is there is 
inseparable from the manhood : and whatever 
of manhood, is indivisible from the Godhead. 

II. The Virgin's conception explained. 

In celebrating therefore the birthday of our 
Lord and Saviour, dearly beloved, let us 

3 2 Cor. iv. 1 8. 4 Col. iii. 3, 4. 5 Phil. iv. 4. 

6 Niitivitatis Dominica Sacramento nobis clarius coruscunte I 
cf. XXVI. chap. 1, note 1. I have no doubt that sacrnmentum 
here is almost equivalent to " the festival with its sacred observ- 
ances " (cf. Bright's n. 8), but I have preferred to translate it 
as uniformly as possible by the same word '"mystery." Cf. Sermon 
XXXI. chap. 1. 

7 In contradiction of the Arian's position Jjv nore ore ovk ?,v'. 
cf. Lett. XXVIII. (Tome), chap. 2, de aterno natus est cotzteruus : 
non posterior tempore. 



T42 



SERMONS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



entertain pure thoughts of the blessed Virgin's 
child-bearing, so as to believe that at no 
moment of time was the power of the Word 
wanting to the flesh and soul which she con- 
ceived, and that the temple of Christ's body 
did not previously receive its form and soul 
that its Inhabitant might come and take pos- 
session but through Himself and in Himself 
was the beginning given to the New Man, 
so that in the one Son of God and Man there 
might be Godhead without a mother, and 
Manhood without a Father. For her vir- 
ginity fecundated by the Holy Spirit at one 
and the same time brought forth without trace 
of corruption both the offspring and the 
Maker of her race. Hence also the same 
Lord, as the Evangelist relates, asked of the 
[ews whose son thev had learnt Christ to be 
on the authority of the Scriptures, and when 
they replied that the tradition was He would 
come of David's seed, " How," saith He, 
" doth David in the Spirit call Him Lord, 
saying, the Lord said to my Lord : sit thou 
on My right hand till I place thy enemies as 
the footstool of thy feet 8 ?" And the Jews 
could not solve the question put, because 
they did not understand that in the one 
Christ both the stock of David and the Divine 
nature were there prophesied. 

III. In redeem ing man, justice as ivell as mercy 
had to be considered. 

But the majesty of the Son of God in which 
He is equal with the Father in its garb of 
a slave's humility feared no diminution, re- 
quired no augmentation : and the very effect 
of His mercy which He expended on the 
restitution of man, He was able to bring 
about solely by the power of His Godhead ; 
so as to rescue the creature that was made in 
the image of God from the yoke of his cruel 
oppressor. But because the devil had not 
shown himself so violent in his attack on the 
first man as to bring him over to his side 
without the consent of His free will, man's 
voluntary sin and hostile desires had to be 
destroyed in such wise that the standard of 
justice should not stand in the way of the 
gift of Grace. And therefore in the general 
ruin of the entire human race there was but 
one remedy in the secret of the Divine plan 
which could succour the fallen, and that was 
that one of the sons of Adam should be born 
free and innocent of original transgression, to 
prevail for the rest both by His example and 
His merits. Still further, because this was 
not permitted by natural geneiation, and be- 
cause there could be no offspring from our 



8 S - Matt - xx >'- 43» 44, quoted from Psalm ex. i. 



faulty stock without seed, of which the Scripture 
saith, "Who can make a clean thing conceived 
of an unclean seed ? is it not Thou who art 
alone 9?" David's Lord was made David's 
Son, and from the fruit of the promised 
branch T sprang One without fault, the two- 
fold nature coming together into one Person, 
that by one and the same conception and 
birth might spring our Lord Jesus Christ, in 
Whom was present both true Godhead for the 
performance of mighty works and true Man- 
hood for the endurance of sufferings. 

IV. All heresies proceed from faihire to believe 
the twofold nature of Christ. 

The catholic Faith then, dearly beloved, 
may scorn the errors of the heretics that bark 
against it, who, deceived by the vanity of 
worldly wisdom, have forsaken the Gospel of 
Truth, and being unable to understand the 
Incarnation of the Word, have constructed 
for themselves out of the source of enlighten- 

O 

ment occasion of blindness. For after in- 
vestigating almost all false believers' opinions, 
even those which presume to deny the Holy 
Spirit, we come to the conclusion that hardly 
any one has gone astray, unless he has refused to 
believe the reality of the two natures in Christ 
under the confession of one Person. For some 
have ascribed to the Lord only manhood 2 , 
others only Deily3. Some have said that, though 
there was in Him true Godhead, His flesh was 
unreal *. Others have acknowledged that He 
took true flesh but say that He had not the 
nature of God the Father ; and by assigning 
to His Godhead what belonged to His human 
substance, have made for themselves a greater 
and a lesser God, although there can be in 
true Godhead no grades : seeing that what- 
ever is less than God, is not Gods. Others 
recognizing that there is no difference between 
Father and Son, because they could not 
understand unity of Godhead except in unity 
of Person, have maintained that the Father 
is the same as the Son 6 : so that to be born 
and nursed, to suffer and die, to be buried 
and rise again, belonged to the same Father 
who sustained throughout the Person of both 



9 Job xiv. 4. 

1 Germinis preferred to the older reading generis by the Bal- 
lerinii as agreeing better with Is. xl. 1 and Jer. xxiii. 5. 

2 These were called ' Psilanthropists' (upholders of the mere 
manhood) : of whom Cerinthus (the opponent of S. John) was the 
earliest propounder. 

3 These are heretics like Sabellius the founder of the Patri- 
passian impiety. 

4 These are ' Docetists,' to whom Leo in Sermon LXV., 
chap. 4, compares the Eutychians isti fihantasmatici Christian!. 
Simon Magus was the earliest exponent of this view. 

5 These are Arians who, as Bright (n. 29) points out, in wishing 
to pacify the catholics by exalting the character of Christ without 
acknowledging His equality with the Father, fell into the error 
of setting up two Gods (an Uncreate and a Created). 

6 This is the heresy alluded to in note 3 above. 



. 



d~ 



SERMON XXVIII. 



T4- 



Man and the Word. Certain have thought 
that our Lord Jesus Christ had a body not 
of our substance but assumed from higher and 
subtler elements ? ; whereas certain others 
have considered that in the flesh of Christ 
there was no human soul, but that the God- 
head of the Word Itself fulfilled the part of 
soul 8 . But their unwise assertion passes into 
this form that, though they acknowledge the 
existence of a soul in the Lord, yet they say 
it was devoid of mind, because the Godhead 
of Itself was sufficient for all purposes of 
reason to the Man as well as to the God in 
Christ. Lastly the same people have dared to 
assert that a certain portion of the Word was 
turned into Flesh, so that in the manifold 
varieties of this one dogma, not only the nature 
of the flesh and of the soul but also the 
essence of the Word Itself is dissolved. 



V. Nestorianism and Entycliiamsm are par- 
ticularly to be avoided at the present time. 

There are many other astounding falsehoods 
also which we must not weary your ears, be- 
loved, with enumerating. But after all these 
various impieties, which are closely connected 
by the relationship that exists between one 
form of blasphemy and another, we call your 
devout attention to the avoiding of these two 
errors in particular: one of which, with Nestorius 
"or its author, some time ago attempted to gain 
ground, but ineffectually ; the other, which is 
equally damnable, has more recently sprung up 
vith Eutyches as its propounder. The former 
lared to maintain that the blessed Virgin 
vlary was the mother of Christ's manhood 
>nly, so that in her conception and child- 
jearing no union might be believed to have 
aken place of the Word and the Flesh : be- 
ause the Son of God did not Himself become 
'■on of Man, but of His mere condescension 
nked Himself with created man. This can 
i no wise be tolerated by catholic ears, which 
re so imbued with the gospel of Truth that 
ley know of a surety there is no hope of 
alvation for mankind unless He were Him- 
slf the Son of the Virgin who was His 
lother's Creator. On the other hand this 
lasphemous propounder of more recent pro 
inity has confessed the union of the two 
Tatures in Christ, but has maintained that the 
lOFect of this very union is that of the two one 
;:mained while the substance of the other no 
>nger existed, which of course could not have 



' 



7 Ab elementis sufierioribus et subtilioribus sumptum, cf. 
rm. XXX. chap. 2, de sublimioris generis pro Hisse materia. 
lis is the modification of "Docetism" adopted by the Gnostic 
ilentinus(see Bright's note 31). 

8 This is the view of Apollinaris. 



been brought to an end except by either de- 
struction or separation^ But this is so op- 
posed to sound faith that it cannot be enter- 
tained without loss of one's Christian name. 
For if the Incarnation of the Word is the 
uniting of the Divine and human natures, but 
by the very fact of their coming together that 
which was twofold became single, it was only 
the Godhead that was born of the Virgin's 
womb, and went through the deceptive ap- 
pearance of receiving nourishment and bodily 
growth : and to pass over all the changes of 
the human state, it was only the Godhead that 
was crucified, dead, and buried : so that ac- 
cording to those who thus think, there is no 
reason to hope for the resurrection, and Christ 
is not " the first-begotten from the dead T ; " 
because He was not One who ought to have 
been raised again, if He had not been One 
who could be slain. 



VI. The Deity and the Manhood were p7'esent 
in Christ from the very first. 

Keep far from your hearts, dearly beloved, 
the poisonous lies of the devil's inspirations, 
and knowing that the eternal Godhead of the 
Son underwent no growth while with the 
Father, be wise and consider that to the same 
nature to which it was said in Adam, " Thou 
art earth, and unto earth shalt thou go 2 ," it is 
said in Christ, " sit Thou on My right hand 3." 
According to that Nature, whereby Christ is 
equal to the Father, the Only-begotten was 
never inferior to the sublimity of the Father; 
nor was the glory which He had with the Father 
a temporal possession ; for He is on the very 
right hand of the Father, of which it is said in 
Exodus, "Thy right hand, O Lord, is glorified 
in power *;" and in Isaiah, " Lord, who hath 
believed our report ? and the arm of the Lord, 
to whom is it revealed s?" The man, there- 
fore, assumed into the Son of God, was in such 
wise received into the unity of Christ's Person 
from His very commencement in the body, 
that without the Godhead He was not con- 
ceived, without the Godhead He was not 
brought forth, without the Godhead He was 
not nursed. It was the same Person in the 
wondrous acts, and in the endurance of insults ; 
through His human weakness crucified, dead 
and buried : through His Divine power, being 



9 It is doubtful whether Eutyches did ever actually say this, 
but it was the logical inference from his position : as Gore (p. 57), 
says, " Eutyches never formulated a heresy : he was no philoso- 
pher ; but 'he refused to say that the human nature remained 
in Christ after the Incarnation. He shrank from calling Christ 
' of one substance' with us men : in some sort of way he left us to 
suonose that the human nature was absorbed into and lost in the 
Divinity. x Col. i. 18 

* Gen. iii. 19. 3 Ps. cix. 1. 

4 Exod. xvi. 6. 5 Is. liii. 1. 



144 



SERMONS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



raised the third day, He ascended to the 
heavens, sat down at the right hand of the 
Father, and in His nature as man received 
from the Father that which in His nature as 
God He Himself also gave 6 . 

VII. The fulness of the Godhead is imparted 
to the Body {the Church) through the Head, 
{Christ). 

Meditate, dearly beloved. on these things with 
devout hearts, and be always mindful of the 
apostle's injunction, who admonishes all men, 
saying, " See lest any one deceive you through 
philosophy and vain deceit according to the 
tradition of men, and not according to Christ ; 
for in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the God- 
head bodily, and ye have been filled in Him ?." 
He said not " spiritually" but " bodily," that 
we may understand the substance of Mesh to 
be real, where there is the dwelling in the body 
of the fulness of the Godhead : wherewith, of 
course, the whole Church is also filled, which, 
clinging to the Head, is the body of Christ ; 
who liveth and reigneth with the Father and 
the Holy Ghost, God for ever and ever. 
Amen. 



SERMON XXXI. 

On the Frast of the Epiphany, I. 

I. The Epiphany a necessary sequel to the 
Nativity. 

After celebrating but lately the day on which 
immaculate virginity brought forth the Saviour 
of mankind, the venerable feast of the Epi- 
phany, dearly beloved, gives us continuance of 
joy, that the force of our exultation and the 
fervour of our faith may not grow cool, in the 
midst of neighbouring and kindred mysteries 8 . 
For it concerns all men's salvation,' that the 
infancy of the Mediator between God and men 
was already manifested to the whole world, 
while He was still detained in the tiny town. 
For although He had chosen the Israelitish 
nation, and one family out of that nation, from 
whom to assume the nature of all mankind, 
yet He was unwilling that the early days of 
His birth should be concealed within the narrow 
limits of His mother's home : but desired to 
be soon recognized by all, seeing that He 
deigned to be born for all. To three 9 wise 



6 Cf .Lett. XXVIII (Tome), chap. 6. 7 Col. ii. 8-10. 

° J "' e > ' cognatarwn solemnitatum vicina sacramenta, cf. 
Serm. XXVIII. chap, i, note 2. 

9 The number " three" has no further scriptural support than 
the_ possible inference from their threefold offerines. It will be 
noticed that b. Leo knows nothing of their being^kings, though 
that tradition is apparently as old as Tertullian (adv. Marc. iii. 1?) 
see Bright s n. 38. 3 " 



men, therefore, appeared a star of new splen- 
dour in the region of the East, which, being 
brighter and fairer than the other stars, might 
easily attract the eyes and minds of those that 
looked on it, so that at once that might be 
observed not to be meaningless, which had 
so unusual an appearance. He therefore who 
gave the sign, gave to the beholders under- 
standing of it, and caused inquiry to be made 
about that, of which He had thus caused 
understanding, and after inquiry made, offered 
Himself to be found. 

II. Herod's evil designs were fruitless. The 
Wise men's gifts were consciously symbolical. 
These three men follow the leading of the 
light above, and with stedfast gaze obeying the 
indications of the guiding splendour, are led 
to the recognition of the Truth by the brilliance 
of Grace, for they supposed that a king's birth 
was notified in a human sense t , and that it 
must be sought in a royal city. Yet He who 
had taken a slave's form, and had come not to 
judge, but to be judged, chose Bethlehem for 
His nativity, Jerusalem for His passion. But 
Herod, hearing that a prince of the Jews was 
born, suspected a successor, and was in great 
terror : and to compass the death of the Author 
of Salvation, pledged himself to a false homage. 
How happy had he been, if he had imitated 
the wise men's faith, and turned to a pious use 
what he designed for deceit. What blind 
wickedness of foolish jealousy, to think thou 
canst overthrow the Divine plan by thy frenzy. 
The Lord of the world, who offers an eternal 
Kingdom, seeks not a temporal. Why dost 
thou attempt to change the unchangeable 
order of things ordained, and to forestall others 
in their crime ? The death of Christ belongs 
not to thy time. The Gospel must be first set' 
on foot, the Kingdom of God first preached, 
healings first given to the sick, wondrous acts 
first performed. Why dost thou wish thyself 
to have the blame of what will belong to 
another's work, and why without being able to 
effect thy wicked design, dost thou bring on. 
thyself alone the charge of wishing the evil? 
Thou gainest nothing and earnest out nothing 
by this intriguing. He that was born volun- 
tarily shall die of His own free will. The 
Wise men, therefore, fulfil their desire, and 
come to the child, the Lord Jesus Christ, the 
same star going before them. They adore the 
Word in flesh, the Wisdom in infancy, the 
Power in weakness, the Lord of majesty in 
the reality of man : and by their gifts make 



1 Humano sensu significaiitm sibi regis ortum, " by their 
natural thoughts ' in Bright's translation : but 1 doubt whether 
the words could bear that meaning, and whether they suit the 
context : cf. Serm. XXXIV. chap. 2. 



SERMON XXXIII. 



145 



open acknowledgment of what they believe in 
their hearts, that they may show forth the 
mystery of their faith and understanding 2 . The 
incense they offer to God, the myrrh to Man, 
the gold to the King, consciously paying 
honour to the Divine and human Nature in 
union : because while each substance had its 
own properties, there was no difference in the 
power 3 of either. 

III. The massacre of the Innocents is in harmony 
with the Virgin's conception, which again 
teaches us purity of life. 

And when the wise men had returned to 
their own land, and Jesus had been carried 
into Egypt at the Divine suggestion, Herod's 
madness blazes out into fruitless schemes. 
He orders all the little ones in Bethlehem to 
'•be slain, and since he knows not which infant 
to fear, extends a general sentence against the 
age he suspects. But that which the wicked 
king removes from the world, Christ admits 
to heaven : and on those for whom He had 
not yet spent His redeeming blood, He al- 
ready bestows the dignity of martyrdom. 
Lift your faithful hearts then, dearly-beloved, 
:o the gracious blaze of eternal light, and in 
idoration of the mysteries dispensed for man's 
;alvation4 give your diligent heed to the 
hings which have been wrought on your 
>ehalf. Love the purity of a chaste life, 
>ecause Christ is the Son of a virgin. "Ab- 
tain from fleshly lusts which war against the 
oul s," as the blessed Apostle, present in his 
/ords as we read, exhorts us, " In malice be 
e children 6 ," because the Lord of glory 
onformed Himself to the infancy of mortals, 
ollow after humility which the Son of God 
eigned to teach His disciples. Put on the 
lower of patience, in which ye may be able to 
pin 7 your souls ; seeing that He who is the 
j.edemption of all, is also the Strength of 
1. " Set your minds on the things which are 
oove, not on the things which are on the 
lirth 8 ." Walk firmly along the path of truth 
|id life : let not earthly things hinder you 
|r whom are prepared heavenly things through 
ir Lord Jesus Christ, who with the Father 
id the Holy Ghost liveth and reigneth for 
er and ever. Amen. 



2 Sacramentum Jidei sua intelligenticrquc : here sacramentum 
i ( ms to come nearer to the older and more general use of the 
yd among the Fathers, viz. symbol or sign. 

3 "He means, Christ had a king's power, both as God and 
J:vlan," Bright, n. 42. 

It lmfiensa humaniz saluti sacramenta. 

p 1 Peter ii. 11. 61 Cor. xiv. 20. 

1' Acquirerc, S. Lukexxi. 19. It is not clear from this whether 
1 Leo's time the reading was future, " ye shall win " (R.V.), or 
iterative, "possess ye" (A.V.). The Vulgate now reads possi- 
a 'is. 
Col. 



HI. 2. 

)L. XII. 



SERMON XXXIII. 
On the feast of the Epiphany, III. 

I. When we were yet sinners, Christ ca7ne to 
save. 

Although I know, dearly-beloved, that you 
are fully aware of the purpose of to-day's 
festival, and that the words of the Gospel 9 
have according to use unfolded it to you, yet 
that nothing may be omitted on our part, 
I shall venture to say on the subject what the 
Lord has put in my mouth : so that in our 
common joy the devotion of our hearts may 
be so much the more sincere as the reason of 
our keeping the feast is better understood. 
The providential Mercy of God, having de- 
termined to succour the perishing world in 
these latter times, fore-ordained the salvation 
of all nations in the Person of Christ ; in order 
that, because all nations had long been turned 
aside from the worship of the true God by 
wicked error, and even God's peculiar people 
Israel had well-nigh entirely fallen away from 
the enactments of the Law, now that all were 
shut up under sin J , He might have mercy 
upon all. 

For as justice was everywhere failing and 
the whole world was given over to vanity and 
wickedness, if the Divine Power had not de- 
ferred its judgment, the whole of mankind 
would have received the sentence of damna- 
tion. But wrath was changed to forgiveness, 
and, that the greatness of the Grace to be dis- 
played might be the more conspicuous, it 
pleased God, to apply the mystery of remission 
to the abolishing of men's sins at a time when 
no one could boast of his own merits. 

II. The wise men from the East are typical 'ful- 
filments of God's promise to Abraham. 

Now the manifestation of this unspeakable 
mercy, dearlv-beloved, came to pass when 
Herod held the royal power in Judaea, where 
the legitimate succession of Kings having 
failed and the power of the High-priests having 
been overthrown, an alien-born had gained the 
sovereignty : that the rising of the true King 
might be attested by the voice of prophecy,, 
which had said : " a prince shall not fail from 
Juda, nor a leader from his loins, until He 
come for whom it is reserved 2 , and He shall 



9 Secundum consuetudincm evangelicus sermo reseraverit. 
The Roman Gospel for the day was apparently then, as now 
with us, S. Matt. ii. i— 12 : but the manifestation of Christ to the 
wise men was not universally so prominent a feature of the Festival 
as other manifestations of Him, e.g. His birth (Jan. 6 having 
been in the East the original Christmas Day), His baptism, &c. 

1 Gal. iii. 22, cf. Rom. xi. 32. _ ... 

2 Gen xlix 10, donee veniat cui reposition est (w airoKenai),. 
cf Ezek. xxi. 27 : the reading of A. and R. W. is " until Shtloh 



146 



SERMONS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



be the expectation of the nations." Concern- 
ing which an innumerable succession was once 
promised to the most blessed patriarch Abra- 
ham to be begotten not by fleshly seed but by 
fertile faith; and therefore it was compared to 
the stars in multitude that as father of all the 
nations he might hope not for an earthly but 
for a heavenly progeny. And therefore, for 
the creating of the promised posterity, the 
heirs designated under the figure of the stars 
are awakened by the rising of a new star, that 
the ministrations of the heaven might do 
service in that wherein the witness of the 
heaven had been adduced. A star more bril- 
liant than the other stars arouses wise men 
that dwell in the far East, and from the bright- 
ness of the wondrous light these men, not un- 
skilled in observing such things, appreciate the 
importance of the sign : this doubtless being 
brought about in their hearts by Divine in- 
spiration, in order that the mystery of so great 
a sight might not be hid from them, and, what 
was an unusual appearance to their eyes, 
might not be obscure to their minds. In 
a word they scrupulously set about their duty 
and provide themselves with such gifts that 
in worshipping the One they may at the same 
time show their belief in His threefold function : 
with gold they honour the Person of a King, 
with myrrh that of Man, with incense that of 
God 3. 



IT I. The chosen race is no longer the Jew's, but 
believers of every nation. 

And so they enter the chief city of the King- 
dom of Judaea, and in the royal city ask that He 
should be shown them Whom they had learnt 
was begotten to be King. Herod is perturbed : 
he fears for his safety, he trembles for his 
power, he asks of the priests and teachers of 
the Law what the Scripture has predicted 
about the birth of Christ, he ascertains what 
had been prophesied : truth enlightens the 
wise men, unbelief blinds the experts: carnal 
Israel understands not what it reads, sees not 
what it points out ; refers to the pages, whose 
utterances it does not believe. Where is thy 
boasting, O Jew ? where thy noble birth drawn 
from the stem of Abraham ? is not thy circum- 
cision become uncircumcision * ? Behold thou, 
the greater servest the less s , and by the 



come; the LXX. read ews av eASr; to. airoieciixeva avr<Z, and the 
Vulgate, donee veniat qui mittendus erat. Origen paraphrases 
thus: " He should come for Whom the things were reserved, that 
is. the Christ of God, the Prince of the Divine promises. He 
alone could be called the expectation of the nations, for men of all 
nations believed in God through Him, according to the words 
of Isaiah. 'In His name shall the Gentiles trust.'" Horn, in 
Genesin xvii. § 6. 

3 Cf. Serm. XXXI. chap. 2, above. 

t Rom. iu.25. 5 Gen. xxv. 33. 



reading of that covenant 6 which thou keepest 
in the letter only, thou becomest the slave 
of strangers born, who enter into the lot 
of thy heritage. Let the fulness of the 
nations enter into the family of the patri- 
archs, yea let it enter, and let the sons of 
promise receive in Abraham's seed the blessing 
which his sons, according to the flesh, renounce 
their claim to. In the three Magi 7 let all 
people worship the Author of the universe : 
and let God be known not in Judaea alone, 
but in all the world, so that everywhere 
" His name" may be "great in Israel 8 ." For 
while the dignity of the chosen race is proved 
to be degenerate by unbelief in its descend 
ants, it is made common to all alike by our 
belief. 



IV. The massacre of the Innocents through 
the consequent flight of Christ, brings the truth 
into Egypt. 

Now when the wise men had worshipped 
the Lord and finished all their devotions, 
according to the warning of a dream, they 
return not by the same route by which they 
had come. For it behoved them now thai 
they believed in Christ not to walk in the 
paths of their old line of life, but having 
entered on a new way to keep away frorr 
the errors they had left : and it was also t( 
baffle Herod's design, who, under the clokt 
of homage, was planning a wicked plot agains 
the Infant Jesus. Hence when his craft; 
hopes were overthrown, the king's wrath rosi 
to a greater fury. For reckoning up the thru 
which the wise men had indicated, lie pourei 
out his cruel rage on all the men-children c 
Bethlehem, and in a general massacre of th 
whole of that city 9 slew the infants, who thu 
passed to their eternal glory, thinking tha 
if every single babe was slain there, Chri.' 
too would be slain. But He Who was pos 
poning the shedding of His blood for th 
world's redemption till another time, v/i 
carried and brought into Egypt by h 
parents' aid, and thus sought the ancier 
cradle of the Hebrew race, and in the powi 
of a greater providence dispensing the prince 
office of the true Joseph, in that He, the Bret 
of Life and the Food of reason that can 
down from heaven, removed that worse thr 
all famines under which the Egyptians' mini 
were labouring, the lack of truth x , nor witho 



6 Or " will " (testament?, itaflijKTjs). 

7 Cf. Sermon XXXI. chaps, i. and ii. 8 p s . Ixxvi. i. 
9 Ccede generali univeisa' civitatis Wilis; as the coiH 

shows, this phrase is rhetorically exaggerated. 

1 Cf. Sermon XXXII. chap, i, Tunc autem SEaypto Salva 
Hiatus est, ut gens antiquis erroribus dediia, lain ad victtu 
salutem per occultam gratiam vocaretur ; et qu& nondum < 
cerat ab animo superstitionem, iam recuperet veritatem. 



SERMON XXXIV. 



147 



that sojourn would the symbolism of that One 
Victim have been complete ; for there first by 
the slaying of the lamb was fore-shadowed the 
health-bringing sign of the Cross and the 
Lord's Passover. 

V. We must keep this festival as thankful sons 
of light. 

Taught then, dearly-beloved, by these mys- 
teries of Divine grace, let us with reasonable 
joy celebrate the day of our first-fruits and the 
commencement of the nations' calling: "giving 
thanks to" the merciful God " who made us 
worthy," as the Apostle says, "to be partakers 
of the lot of the saints in light : who delivered 
us from the power of darkness and translated 
us into the kingdom of the Son of His love 2 : " 
since as Isaiah prophesied, " the people of the 
nations that sat in darkness, have seen a great 
light, and they that dwelt in the land of the 
shadow of death, upon them hath the light 
shined3." Of whom he also said to the Lord, 
"nations which knew not thee, shall call on 
thee : and peoples which were ignorant of 
thee, shall run together unto thee*." This 
day " Abraham saw and was glad s ," when he 
understood that the sons of his faith would be 
blessed in his seed that is in Christ, and fore- 
saw that by believing he should be the father 
of all nations, "giving glory to God and being 
fully assured that What He had promised, He 
was able also to perform 6 ." This day David 
sang of in the psalms saying: "all nations 
that thou hast made shall come and worship 
before Thee, O Lord : and they shall glorify 
Thy name 7;" and again: "The Lord hath 
made known His salvation : His righteous- 

! ness hath He openly showed in the sight of 
the nations 8 ." This in good truth we know 
to have taken place ever since the three wise 

i men aroused in their far-off land were led by 

I a star to recognize and worship the King of 
heaven and earth, [which to those who gaze 

1 aright ceases not daily to appear. And if it 
could make Christ known when concealed in 
infancy, how much more able was it to reveal 
Him when reigning in majesty] 9. And surely 

! their worship of Him exhorts us to imitation ; 
that, as far as we can, we should serve our 
gracious God who invites us all to Christ. 
For whosoever lives religiously and chastely 
in the Church and "sets his mind on the 
things which are above, not on the things that 

I are upon the earth '," is in some measure like 

* Col. i. 12, 13. 3 Is. ix. 2. 4 lb. lv. 5. 

5 S. John viii. 56. 

6 Rom. iv. 21. 7 Ps. Ixxxvi. 9. 8 p S- xcviii 2. 

9 Both Quesnel and the Kallerinii condemn this passage in- 
closed in brackets as spurious. The former thinks it has crept 
into the text ex annotatione mai ginali alicuius astrologice plus 
-pquo deciiti. It is wanting in all the MSS. tnelioris ?iotie. 

1 Col. iii. 2. 



the heavenly light : and whilst he himself 
keeps the brightness of a holy life, he points 
out to many the way to the Lord like a star. 
In which regard, dearly-beloved, ye ought all 
to help one another in turn, that in the king- 
dom of God, which is reached by right faith 
and good works, ye may shine as the sons of 
light : through our Lord Jesus Christ, Who 
with God the Father and the Holy Spirit lives 
and reigns for ever ami ever. Amen. 

SERMON XXXIV. 

On the Feast of the Epiphany, IV. 

I. The yearly observance of the Epiphany is 
profitable to Christians. 

It is the right and reasonable duty of true 
piety, dearly-beloved, on the days which bear 
witness to the works of Divine mercy, to 
rejoice with the whole heart and to celebrate 
with all honour the things which have been 
wrought for our salvation : for the very law of 
recurring seasons calls us to such devout 
observance, and has now brought before us the 
feast of the Epiphany, consecrated by the 
Lord's appearance soon after the day on 
which the Son of God co-eternal with the 
Father was born of a Virgin. And herein the 
providence of God has established a great 
safeguard to our faith, so that, whilst the 
worship of the Saviour's earliest infancy is 
repeated year by year, the production of true 
man's nature in Him might be proved by the 
original verifications themselves. For this it 
is that justifies the ungodly, this it is that 
makes sinners saints, to wit the belief in the 
true Godhead and the true Manhood of the 
one Jesus Christ, our Lord : the Godhead, 
whereby being before all ages " in the form 
of God " He is equal with the Father : the 
Manhood whereby in the last days He is 
united to Man in the "form of a slave." For 
the confirmation therefore of this Faith which 
was to be fore-armed against all errors, it was 
a wondrous loving provision of the Divine 
plan that a nation which dwelt in the far-off 
country of the East and was cunning in the art 
of reading the stars, should receive the sign of 
the infant's birth who was to reign over all Israel. 
For the unwonted splendour of a bright new 
star appeared to the wise men and filled their 
mind with such wonder, as they gazed upon 
its brilliance, that they could not think they 
ought to neglect what was announced to them 
with such distinctness. And, as the event 
showed, the grace of God was the disposing 
cause of this wondrous thing : who when the 
whole of Bethlehem itself was still unaware of 
Christ's birth, brought it to the knowledge of 



l 2 



148 



SERMONS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



the nations who would believe, and declared 
that which human words could not yet explain, 
through the preaching of the heavens. 

II. Both Herod and the wise men originally 
had an earthly conception of the kingdom 
signified; but the latter learnt the truth, the 
former did not. 

But although it was the office of the Divine 
condescension to make the Saviour's Nativity 
recognizable to the nations, yet for the under 
standing of the wondrous sign the wise men 
could have had intimation even from the an- 
cient prophecies of Balaam, knowing that it was 
predicted of old and by constant repetition 
spread abroad : " A star shall rise out of Jacob, 
and a man shall rise out of Israel, and shall 
rule the nations 2 ." And so the three men 
aroused by God through the shining of a 
strange star, follow the guidance of its twink- 
ling light, thinking they will find the babe 
designated at Jerusalem in the royal city. 
But finding themselves mistaken in this 
opinion, through the scribes and teachers of 
the Jews they learnt what the Holy Scripture 
had foretold of the birth of Christ ; so that 
confirmed by a twofold witness, they sought 
with still more eager faith Him whom both 
the brightness of the star and the sure word 
of prophecy revealed. And when the Divine 
oracle was proclaimed through the chief 
priests' answers and the Spirit's voice de- 
clared, which says: "And thou, Bethlehem, 
the land of Judah, art not least among the 
princes of Judah ; for out of thee shall come a 
leader to rule My people Israels," how easy 
and how natural it was that the leading men 
among the Hebrews should believe what they 
taught ! But it appears that they held material 
notions with Herod, and reckoned Christ's 
kingdom as on the same level as the powers 
of this world : so that they hoped for a tem- 
poral leader while he dreaded an earthly rival. 
The fear that racks thee, Herod, is wasted ; in 
vain dost thou try to vent thy rage on the 
infant thou suspectest. Thy realm cannot 
hold Christ ; the Lord of the world is not 
satisfied with the narrow limits of thy sway. 
He, whom thou dost not wish to reign in 
Judaea, reigns everywhere : and thou wouldst 
rule more happily thyself, if thou wert to sub- 
mit to His command. Why dost thou not do 
with sincerity what in treacherous falseness 
thou dost promise ? Come with the wise men, 
and in suppliant adoration worship the true 
King. But thou, from too great fondness for 
Jewish blindness, wilt not imitate the nations' 



a Numb. xxiv. 17 : cf. Serm. XXXI. chap 2, above. 
3 Micah v. 2. 



faith, and directest thy stubborn heart to cruel 
wiles, though thou art doomed neither to stay 
Him whom thou fearest nor to harm them 
whom thou slayest. 

III. The perseverance of the Magi has led to 
the most important results. 

Led then, dearly beloved, into Bethlehem 
by obeying the guidance of the star, the wise 
men "rejoiced with very great joy," as the 
evangelist has told us: "and entering the 
house, found the child with Mary, His mother; 
and falling down they worshipped Him ; and 
opening their treasures they presented to Him 
gifts, gold, frankincense and myrrh V What 
wondrous faith of perfect knowledge, which 
was taught them not by earthly wisdom, but 
by the instruction of the Holy Spirit ! Whence 
came it that these men, who had quitted their 
country without having seen Jesus, and had 
not noticed anything in His looks to enforce 
such systematic adoration, observed this 
method in offering their gifts ? unless it were 
that besides the appearance of the star, which 
attracted their bodily eyes, the more refulgent 
rays of truth taught their hearts that before 
they started on their toilsome road, they must 
understand that He was signified to Whom 
was owed in gold royal honour, in incense 
I )ivine adoration, in myrrh the acknowledg 
ment of mortality. Such a belief and un- 
derstanding no doubt, as far as the en- 
lightenment of their faith went, might have 
been sufficient in themselves and have pre- 
vented their using their bodily eyes in in- 
quiring into that which they had beheld with 
their mind's fullest gaze. But their sagacious 
diligence, persevering till they found the child, 
did good service for future peoples and for the 
men of our own time : so that, as it profited 
us all that the apostle Thomas, after the 
Lord's resurrection, handled the traces of the 
wounds in His flesh, so it was of advantage to 
us that His infancy should be attested by the 
visit of the wise men. And so the wise men 
saw and adored the Child of the tribe of Judah, 
"of the seed of David according to the 
flesh 5 ," " made from a woman, made under 
the law 6 ," which He had come " not to destroy 
but to fulfil 7." They saw and adored the 
Child, small in size, powerless to help others 8 , 
incapable of speech, and in nought different 
to the generality of human children. Because, 
as the testimonies were trustworthy which 
asserted in Him the majesty of invisible God- 
head, so it ought to be impossible to doubt 
that "the Word became flesh," and the eter- 



4 S. Matt. ii. 10, 11. 
7 S. Matt. v. 17. 



5 Rom. 



6 Gal. iv. 



8 Alienee opis indignant. 



SERMON XXXIV. 



149 



nal essence of the Son of God took man's 
true nature : lest either the inexpressible 
marvels of his acts which were to follow or 
the infliction of sufferings which He had 
to bear should overthrow the mystery of our 
Faith by their inconsistency : seeing that no 
one at all can be justified save those who 
believe the Lord Jesus to be both true God 
and true Man. 

IV. The Manichcean heresy corrupts the Scrip- 
tures in order to disprove the truth. 

This peerless Faith, dearly-beloved, this 
Truth proclaimed throughout all ages, is op- 
posed by the devilish blasphemies of the 
Manichaeans : who to murder the souls of the 
deceived have woven a deadly tissue of wicked 
doctrine out of impious and forged lies, and 
over the ruins of their mad opinions men have 
fallen headlong to such depths as to imagine 
a Christ with a fictitious body, who presented 
nothing solid, nothing real to the eyes and 
touch of men 9, but displayed an empty shape 
of fancy-flesh. For they wish it to be thought 
unworthy of belief that God the Son of God 
placed Himself within a woman's body and 
subjected His majesty to such a degradation 
as to be joined to our fleshly nature and be 
born in the true body of human substance : 
although this is entirely the outcome of His 
power, not of His ill-treatment, and it is His 
glorious condescension, not His being polluted 
that should be believed in. For if yonder 
visible light is not marred by any of the un- 
cleannesses with which it is encompassed, and 
the brightness of the sun's rays, which is 
doubtless a material creature, is not contamin- 
ated by any of the dirty or muddy places to 
which it penetrates, is there anything what- 
ever its quality which could pollute the es- 
sence of that eternal and immaterial Light ? 
seeing that by allying Himself to that creature 
which He had made after His own image He 
furnished it with purification and received no 
stain, and healed the wounds of its weakness 
without suffering loss of power. And because 
this great and unspeakable mystery of divine 
godliness was announced by all the testi- 
monies of the Holy Scriptures, those oppo- 
nents of the Truth of which we speak have 
rejected the law that was given through Moses 
and the divinely inspired utterances * of the 
prophets, and have tampered with the very 
pages of the gospels and apostles, by removing 
or inserting certain things : forging for them- 

9 Whatever may be the correct reading here, actionibus with 
lhe better MSS. or tactibus, the conjecture of Quesnel from the 
reading of some MSS. actibus, the meaning must be such as 
is given in the translation. 

i Oracu/a representing the \6yia of the New Testament 
(viz. Acts vii. 38, Rom. iii. 2, &c). 



selves under the Apostles' names and under 
the words of the Saviour Himself many 
volumes of falsehood, whereby to fortify their 
lying errors and instil deadly poison into 
the minds of those to be deceived. For they 
saw that everything contradicted and made 
against them and that not only by the New 
but also by the Old Testament their blas- 
phemous and treacherous folly was confuted. 
And yet persisting in their mad lies they cease 
not to disturb the Church of God with their 
deceits, persuading those miserable creatures 
whom they can ensnare to deny that man's 
nature was truly taken by the Lord Jesus 
Christ ; to deny that He was truly crucified 
for the world's salvation : to deny that from 
His side wounded by the spear flowed the 
blood of Redemption and the water of bap- 
tism 2 : to deny that He was buried and 
raised again the third day : to deny that in 
sight of the disciples He was lifted above all 
the heights of the skies to take His seat on 
the right hand of the Father ; and in order 
that when all the truth of the Apostles' Creed 
was destroyed, there may be nothing to 
frighten the wicked or inspire the saints with 
hope, to deny that the living and the dead 
must be judged by Christ ; so that those whom 
they have robbed of the power of these great 
mysteries may learn to worship Christ in the 
sun and moon, and under the name of the 
Holy Spirit to adore Manichaeus himself, the 
inventor of all these blasphemies. 

V. Avoid all dealings with the heretics, but 
intercede with God for the in. 
To confirm your hearts therefore, dearly- 
beloved, in the Faith and Truth, let to-day's 
festival help you all, and let the catholic con- 
fession be fortified by the testimony of the 
manifestation of the Saviour's infancy, while 
we anathematize the blasphemy of those who 
deny the flesh of our nature in Christ : about 
which the blessed Apostle John has fore- 
warned us in no doubtful utterance, saying, 
" every spirit which confesses Christ J esus 
to have come in the flesh is of God : and 
every spirit which destroys Jesus is not of 
God, and this is Antichrists." Consequently 
let no Christian have aught in common with 
men of this kind, let him have no alliance or 
intercourse with such. Let it advantage the 
whole Church that many of them in the mercy 
of God have been discovered, and that their 



2 Cf. Ep. xxviii. (Tome) 5, aperto per militis lanceam latere 
crucijixi intelligat unde sanguis et aqua Jiuxerit ut ecctesia Dei 
et lavacro rigaretur et poculo, and almost immediately afterwards, 
where he interprets the spirit, water and blood of 1 S. John v. 8, 
as spiritus sanctificationis et sanguis redemptionis et aqua 
baptismatis. 

3 1 John iv. 2, 3: see Letter XXVIII. (Tome) 5, n. 7, on tha 
various reading. 



ISO 



SERMONS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



own confession has disclosed how sacrilegious 
their lives were. Let no one be deceived by 
their discriminations between food and food, 
by their soiled raiment, by their pale faces. 
Fasts are not holy which proceed not on the 
principle of abstinence but with deceitful de 
sign. Let this be the end of their harming 
the unwary, and deluding the ignorant ; hence- 
forth no one's fall shall be excusable : no 
longer must he be held simple but extremely 
worthless and perverse who hereafter shall be 
found entangled in detestable error. A prac- 
tice countenanced by the Church and Di- 
vinely instituted, not only do we not forbid, 
we even incite you to, that you should suppli- 
cate the Lord even for such : since we also 
with tears and mourning feel pity for the ruins 
of cheated souls, carrying out the Apostles' 
example of loving-kindness *, so as to be weak 
with those that are weak and to " weep with 
those that weeps." For we hope that God's 
mercy can be won by the many tears and due 
amendment of the fallen : because so long as 
life remains in the body no man's restoration 
must be despaired of, but the reform of all 
desired with the Lord's help, " who raiseth up 
them that are crushed, looseth them that are 
chained, giveth light to the blind 6 : " to whom 
is honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen. 

SERMON XXXVI. 

On the Feast of the Epiphany, VI. 

I. The story of the magi not o?ily a byegone 
fact in history, but of everyday application to 
ourselves. 

The day, dearly-beloved, on which Christ 
the Saviour of the world first appeared to the 
nations must be venerated by us with holy 
worship : and to-day those joys must be enter- 
tained in our hearts which existed in the 
breasts of the three magi, when, aroused by 
the sign and leading of a new star, which they 
believed to have been promised, they fell 
down in presence of the King of heaven and 
earth. For that da) has not so passed away that 
the mighty work, which was then revealed, has 
passed away with it, and that nothing but the re- 
port of the thing has come down to us for faith 
to receive and memory to celebrate ; seeing 
that, by the off-repeated gift of God, our times 
daily enjoy the fruit of what the first age pos- 
sessed. And therefore, although the narrative 
which is read to us from the Gospel 7 properly 
records those days on which the three men, 

4 Exsequentes apostolica pietatis exemflum. 

5 2 Cor. xi. 29 ; Rom. xii. 15. 6 Ps. cxlvi. 7, 8. 

7 Narratio evangelical lectionis. This, according to Bright's 
n. 46 (q v.) '" refers to the reading of passages of Scripture by the 
Lector as a part of the church service." 



who had neither been taught by the prophets' 
predictions nor instructed by the testimony of 
the law, came to acknowledge God from the 
furthest parts of the East, yet we behold this 
same thing more clearly and abundantly car- 
ried on now in the enlightenment of all those 
who are called, since the prophecy of Isaiah is 
fulfilled when he says, " the Lord has laid bare 
His holy arm in the sight of all the nations, and 
all the nations upon earth have seen the salvation 
which is from the Lord our God ;" and again, 
"and those to whom it has not been an- 
nounced about Him shall see, and they who 
have not heard, shall understand 8 ." Hence 
when we see men devoted to worldly wisdom 
and far from belief in Jesus Christ brought out 
of the depth of their error and called to an 
acknowledgment of the true Light, it is un- 
doubtedly the brightness of the Divine grace 
that is at work : and whatever of new light illu- 
mines the darkness of their hearts, comes from 
the rays of the same star : so that it should 
both move with wonder, and going before lead 
to the adoration of God the minds which it 
visited with its splendour. But if with careful 
thought we wish to see how their threefold 
kind of gift is also offered by all who come 
to Christ with the foot of faith, is not the 
same offering repeated in the hearts of true 
believers? For he that acknowledges Christ 
the King of the universe brings gold from the 
treasure of his heart : he that believes the 
Only-begotten of God to have united man's 
true nature to Himself, offers myrrh ; and he 
that confesses Him in no wise inferior to the 
Father's majesty, worships Him in a manner 
with incense. 

II. Satan still carries on the iviles of Herod, 
and, as it were, personates him in his oppo- 
sition to Christ. 

These comparisons, dearly-beloved, being 
thoughtfully considered, we find Herod's charac- 
ter also not to be wanting, of which the devil 
himself is now an unwearied imitator, just as he 
was then a secret instigator. For he is tortured 
at the calling of all the nations, and racked 
at the daily destruction of his power, grieving 
at his being everywhere deserted, and the true 
King adored in all places. He prepares de- 
vices, he hatches plots, he bursts out into 
murders, and that he may make use of the 
remnants of those whom he still deceives, is 
consumed with envy in the persons of the 
Jews, lies treacherously in wait in the persons 
of heretics, blazes out into cruelty in the 
persons of the heathen. For he sees that 

8 Is. Hi. 10, 15. 









SERMON XXXVI. 



I5i 






the power of the eternal King is invincible, 
Whose death has extinguished the power of 
death itself; and therefore he has armed him- 
self with all his skill of injury against those 
who serve the true King; hardening some 
by the pride that knowledge of the law en- 
genders, debasing others by the lies of false 
belief, and inciting others to the madness 
of persecution. Yet the madness of this 
" Herod " is vanquished, and brought to 
nought by Him who has crowned even in- 
fants with the glory of martyrdom, and has 
endued His faithful ones with so unconquer- 
able a love that in the Apostle's words they 
dare to say, " who shall separate us from the 
love of Christ ? shall tribulation, or want, or 
persecution, or hunger, or nakedness, or peril, or 
the sword? as it is written, For thy sake are 
we killed all the day long, we are counted 
as sheep for the slaughter. But in all these 
things we overcome on account of Him who 
loved us9." 

III. The cessation of active persecution does not 
do away with the need of continued vigilance : 
Satan has only changed his tactics. 

Such courage as this, dearly-beloved, we do 
not believe to have been needful only at those 
times in which the kings of the world and all 
the powers of the age were raging against 
God's people in an outburst of wickedness, 
thinking it to redound to their greatest glory 
if they removed the Christian name from the 
arth, but not knowing that God's Church 
rows through the frenzy of their cruelty, since 
in the tortures and deaths of the martyrs, 
those whose number was reckoned to be 
diminished were augmented through the force 
bf example 1 . In fine, so much strength has 
bur Faith gained by the attacks of perse- 
cutors that royal princedoms have no greater 
Ornament than that the lords of the world are 
nembers of Christ ; and their boast is not so 
nuch that they were born in the purple as 
hat they have been re-born in baptism. But 
because the stress of former blasts has lulled, 
ind with a cessation of fightings a measure of 
;ranquillity has long seemed to smile upon 
is, those divergences are carefully to be 
.uarded against which arise from the very 
eign of peace. For the adversary having 
•een proved ineffective in open persecutions 
ow exercises a hidden skill in doing cruel 
urt, in order to overthrow by the stumbling- 
lock of pleasure those whom he could not 



' 9 Rom. viii. 35. 

1 Cf. Tertullian's famous boast in his Apohgetic-us (chap. I., 
176). semen est C hristianorum sanguis, and Leo's own words 
;ain, Serm. LXXXII. 6, non minuitur persecutionibus ecclesia 
.1 augetur. 



strike with the blow of affliction. And so 
seeing the faith of princes opposed to him 
and the indivisible Trinity of the one God- 
head as devoutly worshipped in palaces as in 
churches, he grieves at the shedding of Chris- 
tian blood being forbidden, and attacks the 
mode of life of those whose death he cannot 
compass. The terror of confiscations he 
changes into the fire of avarice, and corrupts 
with covetousness those whose spirit he could 
not break by losses. For the malicious naughti- 
ness which long use has ingrained into his 
very nature has not laid aside its hatred, but 
changed its character in order to subjugate 
the minds of the faithful by blandishments. 
He inflames those with covetous desires whom 
he cannot distress with tortures : he sows 
strifes, kindles passions, sets tongues a-wag- 
ging, and, lest more cautious hearts should 
draw back from his lawless wiles, facilitates 
opportunities for accomplishing crimes : be- 
cause this is the only fruit of all his devices 
that he who is not worshipped with the sacri- 
fice of cattle and goats, and the burning of 
incense, should be paid the homage of divers 
wicked deeds 2 . 

IV. Timely repentatice gains Govs merciful 
consideration. 

Our state of peace 3 , therefore, dearly-be- 
loved, has its dangers, and it is vain for those 
who do not withstand vicious desires to feel 
secure of the liberty which is the privilege of 
their Faith. Men's hearts are shown by the 
character of their works, and the fashion of 
their minds is betrayed by the nature of their 
actions. For there are some, as the Apostle 
says, " who profess that they know God, but 
deny Him by their deeds*." For the charge 
of denial is truly incurred when the good 
which is heard in the sound of the voice 
is not present in the conscience. Indeed, the 
frailty of man's nature easily glides into faults : 
and because no sin is without its attractiveness, 
deceptive pleasure is quickly acquiesced in. 
But we should run for spiritual succour from 
the desires of the flesh : and the mind that 
has knowledge of its God should turn away 
from the evil suggestion of the enemy. Avail 
thyself of the long-suffering of God, and 
persist not in cherishing thy sin, because its 
punishment is put off. The sinner must not 
feel secure of his impunity, because if he loses 



a The warning of this chapter is insisted on not only by Leo 
himself often elsewhere (see references in Blight's note 51), but, 
among others doubtless, by Cyprian in more than one passage, 
esp. in De Lapsis, where he accuses even the clergy of world- 
liness in the strongest terms. 

3 Cf. Cypr. de lapsis v. traditam nobis divinitus disciplinam 
pax longa corruperat. 

4 Titus i. 16. 



152 



SERMONS OF LEO THE GREAT. 






the time for repentance he will find no place 
for mercy, as the prophet says, "in death no 
one remembers thee; and in the realms below 
who will confess to thees? " But let him who 
experiences the difficulty of self-amendment 
and restoration betake himself to the mercy 
of a befriending God, and ask that the chains 
of evil habit may be broken off by Him " who 
lifts up those that fall and raises all the 
crushed 6 ." The prayer of one that confesses 
will not be in vain since the merciful God 
" will grant the desire of those that fear Him 6 ," 
and will give what is asked, as He gave the 
Source from Which to ask. Through our 
Lord Jesus Christ, Who liveth and reigneth 
with the Father and the Holy Ghost for ever 
and ever. Amen. 

SERMON XXXIX. 
On Lent, I. 

I. The benefits of abstinence shown by the 
cxa?nple of the Hebrews. 

In former days, when the people of the 
Hebrews and all the tribes of Israel were 
oppressed for their scandalous sins by the griev- 
ous tyranny of the Philistines, in order that 
they might be able to overcome their enemies, 
as the sacred story declares, they restored their 
powers of mind and body by the injunction 
of a fast. For they understood that they had 
deserved that hard and wretched subjection 
for their neglect of God's commands, and evil 
ways, and that it was in vain for them to strive 
with arms unless they had first withstood their 
sin. Therefore abstaining from food and 
drink, they applied the discipline of strict 
correction to themselves, and in order to con- 
quer their foes, first conquered the allurements 
of the palate in themselves. And thus it came 
about that their fierce enemies and cruel task- 
masters yielded to them when fasting, whom 
they had held in subjection when full. And 
so we too, dearly beloved, who are set in the 
midst of many oppositions and conflicts, may 
be cured by a little carefulness, if only we will 
use the same means. For our case is almost 
the same as theirs, seeing that, as they were 
attacked by foes in the flesh so are we chiefly 
by spiritual enemies. And if we can conquer 
them by Goo's grace enabling us to correct 
our ways, the strength of our bodily enemies 
also will give way before us, and by our self- 
amendment we shall weaken those who were 
rendered formidable to us, not by their own 
merits but by our shortcomings. 



PS. 



vi. 6. 



6 lb. cxlv. 14, 19. 



II. Use Lent to vanquish the enemy, and be 
thus preparing for Eastertide. 

Accordingly, dearly-beloved, that we may be 
able to overcome all our enemies, let us seek 
Divine aid by the observance of the heavenly 
bidding, knowing that we cannot otherwise 
prevail against our adversaries, unless we pre- 
vail against our own selves. For we have 
many encounters with our own selves : the flesh i 
desires one thing against the spirit, and the j 
spirit another thing against the flesh 6a . And in 
this disagreement, if the desires of the body! 
be stronger, the mind will disgracefully lose: 
its proper dignity, and it will be most disas-J 
trous for that to serve which ought to have 
ruled. But if the mind, being subject to its J 
Ruler, and delighting in gifts from above,; 
shall have trampled under foot the allure- 1 
ments of earthly pleasure, and shall not have 1 
allowed sin to reign in its mortal body 6 ", reason 
will maintain a well-ordered supremacy, and 
its strongholds no strategy of spiritual wicked-i 
nesses will cast down : because man has then 
only true peace and true freedom when the 
flesh is ruled by the judgment of the mind, 
and the mind is directed by the will of God. 
And although this state of preparedness, 
dearlyd)eloved, should always be maintained 
that our ever-watchful foes may be overcome 
by unceasing diligence, yet now it must be 
the more anxiously sought for and the more 
zealously cultivated when the designs of our 
subtle foes themselves are conducted with 
keener craft than ever. For knowing that 
the most hallowed days of Lent are now 
at hand, in the keeping of which all pasl 
slothfulnesses are chastised, all negligence? 
atoned for, they direct all the force of theii 
spite on this one thing, that they who intern 
to celebrate the Lord's holy Passover maj 
be found unclean in some matter, and tha 
cause of offence may arise where propitiatioi 
ought to have been obtained. 



III. Fights are necessary to prove our Faith. 

As we approach then, dearly-beloved, th 
beginning of Lent, which is a time for th 
more careful serving of the Lord, because W' 
are, as it were, entering on a kind of contes 
in good works, let us prepare our souls foj 
fighting with temptations, and understand 
that the more zealous we are for our Salvador, 
the more determined must be the assaults d 
our opponents. But " stronger is He that i 
in us than He that is against us 7," and throug 
Him are we powerful in whose strength w 
rely : because it was for this that the Lor 






Cf. Gal. v. 17 : and below, Rom. vi. 12. 
7 1 S. John iv. 4. 



SERMON XXXIX. 



153 



allowed Himself to be tempted by the tempter, 
that we might be taught by His example as 
well as fortified by His aid. For He con- 
quered the adversary, as ye have heard 8 , by 
quotations from the law, not by actual strength, 
that by this very thing He might do greater 
honour to man, and inflict a greater punish- 
ment on the adversary by conquering the 
enemy of the human race not now as God 
but as Man. He fought then, therefore, that 
we too might fight thereafter: He conquered 
that we too might likewise conquer. For 
there are no works of power, dearly-beloved, 
without the trials of temptations, there is no 
faith without proof, no contest without a foe, 
no victory without conflict. This life of ours 
is in the midst of snares, in the midst of battles ; 
if we do not wish to be deceived, we must 
watch : if we want to overcome, we must fight. 
And therefore the most wise Solomon says, 
" My son in approaching the service of God 
; prepare thy soul for temptation 81 ." For He 
being a man full of the wisdom of God, and 
knowing that the pursuit of religion involves 
laborious struggles, foreseeing too the danger 
of the fight, forewarned the intending com- 
batant ; lest haply, if the tempter came upon 
him in his ignorance, he might find him un- 
ready and wound him unawares. 



IV. The Christian's armour is both for defence 
and for attack. 

So, dearly-beloved, let us who instructed in 

Divine learning come wittingly to the present 

:ontest and strife, hear the Apostle when he 

says, " for our struggle is not against flesh and 

Dlood, but against principalities and powers, 

igainst the rulers of this dark world, against 

spiritual wickedness in heavenly things?," and 

et us not forget that these our enemies feel it 

s against them all is done that we strive to do 

or our salvation, and that by the very fact of 

>ur seeking after some good thing we are 

•.hallenging our ' foes. For this is an old- 

tanding quarrel between us and them fostered 

by the devil's ill-will, so that they are tortured 

|>your being justified, because they have fallen 

pom those good tilings to which we, God 

lelping us, are advancing. If, therefore, we 

re raised, they are prostrated : if we are 

.trengthened, they are weakened. Our cures 

ire their blows, because they are wounded by 

ur wounds' cure. " Stand, therefore," dearly- 

leloved, as the Apostle says, "having the 

bins of your mind girt in truth, and your feet 

liod in the preparation of the gospel of peace, 



Ut andis/is, viz. in the Gospel for Quadragesima, or the 
Sunday in Lent then apparently as now S. Matt. iv. 1 — 11 : 
:rm. XL. 3. & a Ecclus. ii. 1. 9 Eph. vi. 12. 



8 
,-st _. 
Serm. XL. 3. 



in all things taking the shield of faith in which 
ye may be able to extinguish all the fiery darts 
of the evil one, and put on the helmet of 
salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is 
the Word of God 1 ." See, dearly-beloved, with 
what mighty weapons, with what impregnable 
defences we are armed by our Leader, who 
is famous for His many triumphs, the uncon- 
quered Master of the Christian warfare. He 
has girt our loins with the belt of chastity, 
He has shod our feet with the bonds of peace : 
because the unbelted soldier is quickly van- 
quished by the suggester of immodesty, and he 
that is unshod is easily bitten by the serpent. 
He has given the shield of faith for the 
protection of our whole body ; on our head 
has He set the helmet of salvation ; our right 
hand has He furnished with a sword, that 
is with the word of Truth : that the spiritual 
warrior may not only be safe from wounds, but 
also may have strength to wound his assailant. 



V. Abstinence not only from food but from other 
evil desires, especially from wrath, is required 
in Lent. 

Relying, therefore, dearly-beloved, on these 
arms, let us enter actively and fearlessly on 
the contest set before us : so that in this 
fasting struggle we may not rest satisfied with 
only this end, that we should think abstinence 
from food alone desirable. For it is not 
enough that the substance of our flesh should 
be reduced, if the strength of the soul be not 
also developed. When the outer man is 
somewhat subdued, let the inner man be 
somewhat refreshed ; and when bodily excess 
is denied to our flesh, let our mind be in- 
vigorated by spiritual delights. Let every 
Christian scrutinise himself, and : earch se- 
verely into his inmost heart : let him see that 
no discord cling there, no wrong desire be 
harboured. Let chasteness drive incontinence 
far away ; let the light of truth dispel the 
shades of deception ; let the swellings of pride 
subside ; let wrath yield to reason ; let the 
darts of ill-treatment be shattered, and the 
eludings of the tongue be bridled ; let 
thoughts of revenge fall through, and injuries 
be given over to oblivion. In fine, let " every 
plant which the heavenly Father hath not 
planted be removed by the roots 2 ." For then 
only are the seeds of virtue well nourished in 
us, when every foreign germ is uprooted from 
the field of wheat. If any one, therefore, has 
been fired by the desire for vengeance against 
another, so that he has given him up to prison 
or bound him with chains, let him make haste 



1 Eph. vi. 14 — 17. 



a S. Matt. xv. 13. 



154 



SERMONS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



to forgive not only the innocent, but also one 
who seems worthy of punishment, that he may 
with confidence make use of the clause in the 
Lord's prayer and say, " Forgive us our debts, 
as we also forgive our debtors V Which peti- 
tion the Lord marks with peculiar emphasis, 
as if the efficacy of the whole rested on this 
condition, by saying, " For if ye forgive men 
their sins, your Father which is in heaven 
also will forgive you : but if ye forgive not 
men, neither will your Father forgive you your 
sins 3." 

VI. The right use of Lent tvill lead to a happy 
participation in Easter. 

Accordingly, dearly-beloved, being mindful 
of our weakness, because we easily fall into all 
kinds of faults, let us by no means neglect this 
special remedy and most effectual healing of 
our wounds. Let us remit, that we may have 
remission : let us grant the pardon which we 
crave : let us not be eager to be revenged 
when we pray to be forgiven. Let us not pass 
over the groans of the poor with deaf ear, but 
with prompt kindness bestow our mercy on the 
needy, that we may deserve to find mercy in 
the judgment. And he that, aided by God's 
grace, shall strain every nerve after this per- 
fection, will keep this holy fast faithfully ; free 
from the leaven of the old wickedness, in the 
unleavened bread of sincerity and truth 4, he 
will reach the blessed Passover, and by new- 
ness of life will worthily rejoice in the mystery 
of man's reformation through Christ our Lord, 
Who with the Father and the Holy Spirit lives 
and reigns for ever and ever. Amen. 

SERMON XL. 
On Lent, II. 

I. Progress and improvement always possible. 

Although, dearly-beloved, as the Easter 
festival approaches, the very recurrence of the 
season points out to us the Lenten fast, yet 
our words also must add their exhortations 
which, the Lord helping us, may be not use- 
less to the active nor irksome to the devout. 
For since the idea of these days demands 
the increase of all our religious performances, 
there is no one, I am sure, that does not feel 
glad at being incited to good works. For 
though our nature which, so long as we are 
mortal, will be changeable, is advancing to the 
highest pursuits of virtue, yet always has the 
possibility of falling back, so has it always the 
possibility of advancing. And this is the true 
justness of the perfect, that they should never 



3 S. Matt. vi. i2, 14, 15. 



4 Cf. 1 Cor. v. 8. 



assume themselves to be perfect, lest flagging 
in the purpose of their yet unfinished journey, 
they should fall into the danger of failure, 
through giving up the desire for progress. 

And, therefore, because none of us, dearly- 
beloved, is so perfect and holy as not to be 
able to be more perfect and more holy, let us 
all together, without difference of rank, without 
distinction of desert, with pious eagerness 
pursue our race from what we have attained 
to what we yet aspire to, and make some 
needful additions to our regular devotions. 
For he that is not more attentive than usual 
to religion in these days, is shown at other 
times to be not attentive enough. 

II. Satan seeks to supply his numerous losses by 
fresh gai?is. 

Hence the reading of the Apostle's procla- 
mation has sounded opportunely in our ears, 
saying, " Behold now is the accepted time, 
behold now is the day of salvation s." For 
what is more accepted than this time, what 
more suitable to salvation than these days, 
in which war is proclaimed against vices and 
progress is made in all virtues ? Thou hadst 
indeed always to keep watch, O Christian soul, 
against the enemy of thy salvation, lest any, 
spot should be exposed to the tempter's 
snares : but now greater wariness and keener 
prudence must be employed by thee when that 
same foe of thine rages with fiercer hatred. 
For now in all the world the power of his 
ancient sway is taken from him, and the 
countless vessels of captivity are rescued from 
his grasp. The people of all nations and oi 
all tongues are breaking away from their cruei 
plunderer, and now no race of men is found 
that does not struggle against the tyrant's laws 
while through all the borders of the earth man) 
thousands of thousands are being prepared tc 
be reborn in Christ 6 : and as the birth of 1 
new creature draws near, spiritual wickedness i: 
being driven out by those who were possessec 
by it. The blasphemous fury of the despoilec 
foe frets, therefore, and seeks new gains 
because it has lost its ancient right. Un 
wearied and ever-wakeful, he snatches at an; 
sheep he finds straying carelessly from th 
sacred folds, intent on leading them over th 
steeps of pleasure and down the slopes c 
luxury into the abodes of death. And so h 
inflames their wrath, feeds their hatreds, whet 
their desires, mocks at their continence, arouse 
their gluttony. 



5 2 Cor. vi. 2 from the Epistle for the First Sunday in Lenl 
cf. Serm. XXXVI. i, n. 7. 

6 Viz. by Baptism at the Easter festival. 



SERMON XL. 



155 



III. The twofold nature of Christ shown at the 
Temptation. 

For whom would he not dare to try, who did 
not keep from his treacherous attempts even 
on our Lord Jesus Christ ? For, as the story 
of the Gospel has disclosed 7, when our 
Saviour, Who was true God, that He might 
show Himself true Man also, and banish all 
wicked and erroneous opinions, after the fast 
of 40 days and nights, had experienced the 
hunger of human weakness, the devil, rejoicing 
at having found in Him a sign of passible and 
mortal nature, in order to test the power which 
he feared, said, " If Thou art the Son of God, 
command that these stones become bread 8 ." 
Doubtless the Almighty could do this, and it 
was easy that at the Creator's command a 
creature of any kind should change into the 
form that it was commanded : just as when 
He willed it, in the marriage feast, He 
changed the water into wine : but here it 
better agreed with His purposes of salvation 
that His haughty foe's cunning should be 
vanquished by the Lord, not in the power of 
His Godhead, but by the mystery of His 
humiliation. At length, when the devil had 
been put to flight and the tempter baffled in 
all his arts, angels came to the Lord and 
ministered to Him, that He being true Man 
and true God, His Manhood might be unsullied 
by those crafty questions, and His Godhead 
displayed by those holy ministrations. And 
so let the sons and disciples of the devil be 
confounded, who, being filled with the poison 
of vipers, deceive the simple, denying in 
Christ the presence of both true natures, whilst 
they rob either His Godhead of Manhood, or 
His Manhood of Godhead, although both 
falsehoods are destroyed by a twofold and 
simultaneous proof : for by His bodily hunger 
His perfect Manhood was shown, and by the 
attendant angels His perfect Godhead. 



the disease of avarice, but in bountiful bene- 
volence : that in truth we may be of those oi 
whom the very Truth speaks, "blessed are 
they which hunger and thirst after righteous- 
ness, for they shall be filled V Let works of 
piety therefore, be our delight, and let us be 
filled with those kinds of food which feed us 
for eternity. Let us rejoice in the replenish- 
ment of the poor, whom our bounty has 
satisfied. Let us delight in the clothing of 
those whose nakedness we have covered with 
needful raiment. Let our humaneness be 
felt by the sick in their illnesses, by the 
weakly in their infirmities, by the exiles in 
their hardships, by the orphans in their desti- 
tution, and by solitary widows in their 
sadness : in the helping of whom there is no 
one that cannot carry out some amount of 
benevolence. For no one's income is small 
whose heart is big : and the measure of one's 
mercy and goodness does not depend on the 
size of one's means. Wealth of goodwill is 
never rightly lacking, even in a slender purse 
Doubtless the expenditure of the rich is 
greater, and that of the poor smaller, but 
there is no difference in the fruit of their 
works, where the purpose of the workers is the 
same. 



IV. The fast should not end with abstinence 
from food, but lead to good deeds. 
Therefore, dearly-beloved, seeing that, as we 
are taught by our Redeemer's precept, "man 
lives not in bread alone, but in every word of 
God 9," and it is right that Christian people, 
whatever the amount of their abstinence, should 
rather desire to satisfy themselves with the 
"Word of God " than with bodily food, let us 
with ready devotion and eager faith enter 
upon the celebration of the solemn fast, not 
with barren abstinence from food, which is 
}ften imposed on us by weakliness of body, or 



7 Uteyangelka fatefecit historia, cf. Serm. XXXIX. 3, n. 8. 

fc. Matt. iv. 3. 

* lb. iv. 4, quoted from Deut. viii. 3. 



V. And still further it should lead to personal 
amendment and domestic harmony. 
_ But, beloved, in this opportunity for the 
virtues' exercise there are also other notable 
crowns, to be won by no dispersing abroad of 
granaries, by no disbursement of money, if 
wantonness is repelled, if drunkenness' is 
abandoned, and the lusts of the flesh tamed 
by the laws of chastity : if hatreds pass into 
affection, if enmities be turned into peace, if 
meekness extinguishes wrath, if gentleness 
forgives wrongs, if in fine the conduct of 
master and of slaves is so well ordered chat 
the rule of the one is milder, and the discipline 
of the other is more complete. It is by such 
observances then, dearly-beloved, that God's 
mercy will be gained, the charge of sin wiped 
out, and the adorable Easter festival devoutly 
kept. And this the pious Emperors of the 
Roman world have long guarded with holy 
observance ; for in honour of the Lord's 
Passion and Resurrection they bend their lofty 
power, and relaxing the severity of their 
decrees set free many of their prisoners : so 
that on the days when the world is saved by 
the Divine mercy, their clemency, which is 
modelled on the Heavenly goodness, may be 
zealously followed by us. Let Christian 
peoples then imitate their princes, and be 

1 S. Matt. v. 6. 



i S 6 



SERMONS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



incited to forbearance in their homes by these 
royal examples. For it is not right that 
private laws should be severer than public 
Let faults be forgiven, let bonds be loosed, 
offences wiped out, designs of vengeance fall 
through, that the holy festival through the 
Divine and human grace may find all happy, 
all innocent : through our Lord Jesus Christ, 
Who with the Father and the Holy Spirit 
liveth and reigneth God for endless ages of 
ages. Amen. 

SERMON XLII. 

On Lent, IV. 

I. The Lenten fast an opportunity for restoring 

our purity. 

In proposing to preach this most holy and 
important fast to you, dearly beloved, how 
shall I begin more fitly than by quoting the 
words of the Apostle, in whom Christ Himself 
was speaking, and by reminding you of what 
we have read 2 : " behold, now is the acceptable 
time, behold now is the day of salvation." For 
though there are no seasons which are not full 
of Divine blessings, and though access is ever 
open to us to God's mercy through His grace, 
yet now all men's minds should be moved 
with greater zeal to spiritual progress, and 
animated by larger confidence, when the return 
of the day, on which we were redeemed, invites 
us to all the duties of godliness : that we may 
keep the super-excellent mystery of the Lord's 
passion with bodies and hearts purified. These 
great mysteries do indeed require from us such 
unflagging devotion and unwearied reverence 
that we should remain in God's sight always the 
same, as we ought to be found on the Easter 
feast itself. But because few have this con- 
stancy, and, because so long as the stricter ob- 
servance is relaxed in consideration of the frailty 
of the flesh, and so long as one's interests extend 
over all the various actions of this life, even 
pious hearts must get some soils from the dust 
of the world, the Divine Providence has with 
great beneficence taken care that the discipline 
of the forty days should heal us and restore 
the purity of our minds, during which the 
faults of other times might be redeemed by 
pious acts and removed by chaste fasting. 

II. Lent must be used for removing all our 
defilements, and of good works there must be 
no stint. 

As we are therefore, dearly-beloved, about 
to enter on those mystic days which are 
dedicated to the benefits of fasting, let us 
take care to obey the Apostle's precepts, 

8 Cf. Serm. XL. chap. ii. n. 5. 



cleansing " ourselves from every defilement of 
flesh and spirit 3 ; " that by controlling the 
struggles that go on between our two natures, 
the spirit which, if it is under the guidance 
of God, should be the governor of the body, 
may uphold the dignity of its rule : so that we 
may give no offence to any, nor be subject to 
the chidings of reprovers. For we shall be 
rightly attacked with rebukes, and through our 
fault ungodly tongues will arm themselves to 
do harm to religion, if the conduct of those 
that fast is at variance with the standard of 
perfect purity. For our fast does not consist 
chiefly of mere abstinence from food, nor are 
dainties withdrawn from our bodily appetites 
with profit, unless the mind is recalled from 
wrong-doing and the tongue restrained from 
slandering. This is a time of gentleness and 
long-suffering, of peace and tranquillity : when 
all the pollutions of vice are to be eradicated 
and continuance of virtue is to be attained by 
us. Now let godly minds boldly accustom 
themselves to forgive faults, to pass over 
insults, and to forget wrongs. Now let the 
faithful spirit train himself with the armour of 
righteousness on the right hand and on the 
left, that through honour and dishonour, 
through ill repute and good repute, the con- 
science may be undisturbed in unwavering 
uprightness, not puffed up by praise and not 
wearied out by revilings. The self-restraint 
of the religious should not be gloomy, but 
sincere ; no murmurs of complaint should 
be heard from those who are never without 
the consolation of holy joys. The decrease of 
worldly means should not be feared in the 
practice of works of mercy. Christian poverty 
is always rich, because what it has is more 
than what it has not. Nor does the poor 
man fear to labour in this world, to whom 
it is given to possess all things in the Lord 
of all things. Therefore those who do 
the things which are good must have no 
manner of fear lest the power of doing should 
fail them ; since in the gospel the widow's de- 
votion is extolled in the case of her two mites, 
and voluntary bounty gets its reward for a 
cup of cold water*. For the measure of 
our charitableness is fixed by the sincerity 
of our feelings, and he that shows mercy 
on others will never want for mercy himself. 
The holy widow of Sarepta discovered this, 
who offered the blessed Elias in the time of 
famine one day's food, which was all she had, 
and putting the prophet's hunger before her 
own needs, ungrudgingly gave up a handful of 
corn and a little oil s. But she did not lose 



3 2 Cor. vii. i. 

4 The reffs. are obviously to S. Luke xxi. 2 — 4, and S. Matt. 
x. 42 (q.v.). 5 Cf. 1 Kings xvii. 11 and foil. 






SERMON XLII. 



157 



what she gave in all faith, and in the vessels 
emptied by her godly bounty a source of nevv 
plenty arose, that the fulness of her substance 
might not be diminished by the holy purpose 
to which she had put it, because she had never 
dreaded being brought to want. 

III. As with the Saviour, so with us, the devil 
tries to make our very piety its own snare. 
But, dearly-beloved, doubt not that the 
devil, who is the opponent of all virtues, is 
jealous of these good desires, to which we 
are confident you are prompted of your own 
selves, and that to this end he is arming the 
force of his malice in order to make your very 
piety its own snare, and endeavouring to over- 
come by boastfulness those whom he could 
not defeat by distrustfulness. For the vice 
of pride is a near neighbour to good deeds, 
and arrogance ever lies in wait hard by virtue: 
because it is hard for him that lives praise- 
worthily not to be caught by man's praise 
.unless, as it is written, " he that glorieth, 
glorieth in the Lord 6 ." Whose intentions 
would that most naughty enemy not dare to 
attack ? whose fasting would he not seek to 
break down ? seeing that, as has been shown in 
the reading of the Gospel 6a , he did not restrain 
his wiles even against the Saviour of the world 
Himself. For being exceedingly afraid of 
His fast, which lasted 40 days and nights, he 
svished most cunningly to discover whether 
:his power of abstinence was given Him or 
His verv own : for he need not fear the defeat 
)f all his treacherous designs, if Christ were 
hroughout subject to the same conditions as He 
s in body ?. And so he first craftily examined 
vhether He were Himself the Creator of all 
! hings, such that He could change the natures 
l)f material things as He pleased : secondly, 
vhether under the form of human flesh the 
jodhead lay concealed, to Whom it was easy 
!o make the air His chariot, and convey His 
arthly limbs through space. But when the 
J.1ORD preferred to resist him by the upright- 
ess of His true Manhood, than to display 
he power of His Godhead, to this he turns 
he craftiness of his third design, that he 
,iight tempt by the lust of empire Him in 
Vhom the signs of Divine power had failed, 
nd entice Him to the worship of himself by 
romising the kingdoms of the world. But 
\\e devil's cleverness was rendered foolish by 
fOD's wisdom, so that the proud foe was 
ound by that which he had formerly bound, 
nd did not fear to assail Him Whom it be- 
Dved to be slain for the world. 



6 1 Cor. x. 17. <5» Cf. Serm. XXXVI. chap, i., note 7. 

1 7 Si Christies eius esset conditio/lis cuius est corporis, an 
purely expressed but intrinsically clear statement. 



IV. The perverse turn even their fasting 
into sin. 
This adversary's wiles then let us beware of, 
not only in the enticements of the palate, but 
also in our purpose of abstinence. For he 
who knew how to bring death upon mankind 
by means of food, knows also how to harm us 
through our very fasting, and using the Mani- 
chseans as his tools, as he once drove men to 
take what was forbidden, so in the opposite 
direction he prompts them to avoid what is 
allowed. It is indeed a helpful observance, 
which accustoms one to scanty diet, and 
checks the appetite for dainties : but woe to 
the dogmatizing of those whose very fasting is 
turned to sin. For they condemn the crea- 
ture's nature to the Creator's injury, and main- 
tain that they are defiled by eating those 
things of which they contend the devil, not 
God, is the author : although absolutely 
nothing that exists is evil, nor is anything 
in nature included in the actually bad. For 
the good Creator made all things good and 
the Maker of the universe is one, "Who made 
the heaven and the earth, the sea and all that 
is in them 8 ." Of which whatever is granted 
to man for food and drink, is holy and clean 
after its kind. But if it is taken with im- 
moderate greed, it is the excess that disgraces 
the eaters and drinkers, not the nature of the 
food or drink that defiles them. "For all 
things," as the Apostle says, "are clean to the 
clean. But to the defiled and unbelieving 
nothing is clean, but their mind and con- 
science is defiled?." 

V. Be reasonable and seasonable in your 
fasting. 

But ye, dearly-beloved, the holy offspring of 
the catholic Mother, who have been taught in 
the school of Truth by God's Spirit, moderate 
your liberty with due reasonableness, knowing 
that it is good to abstain even from things 
lawful, and at seasons of greater strictness to 
distinguish one food from another with a view 
to giving up the use of some kinds, not to 
condemning their nature. And so be not 
infected with the error of those who are 
corrupted merely by their own ordinances, 
" serving the creature rather than the Cre- 
ator 1 ," and offering a foolish abstinence to 
the service of the lights of heaven : seeing 
that they have chosen to fast on the first and 
second days of the week in honour of the 
sun and moon, proving themselves in this one 
instance of their perverseness twice disloyal 
to God, twice blasphemous, by setting up their 



8 Ps. cxlvi. 6. 



9 Titus i. 15. 



« Rom. ix. 26. 



i 5 3 



SERMONS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



fast not only in worship of the stars but also 
in contempt of the Lord's Resurrection. For 
they reject the mystery of man's salvation and 
refuse to believe that Christ our Lord in the 
true flesh of our nature was truly born, truly 
suffered, was truly buried and was truly raised. 
And in consequence, condemn the day of our 
rejoicing by the gloom of their fasting. And 
since to conceal their infidelity they dare to 
be present at our meetings, at the Communion 
of the Mysteries 2 they bring themselves some- 
times, in order to ensure their concealment, 
to receive Christ's Body with unworthy lips, 
though they altogether refuse to drink the 
Blood of our Redemption. And this we make 
known to you, holy brethren, that men of this 
sort may be detected by you by these signs, 
and that they whose impious pretences have 
been discovered may be driven from the 
society of the saints by priestly authority. 
For of such the blessed Apostle Paul in his 
foresight warns God's Church, saying: "but 
we beseech you, brethren, that ye observe 
those who make discussions and offences 
contrary to the doctrine which ye learnt and 
turn away from them. For such persons serve 
not Christ the Lord but their own belly, and 
by sweet words and fair speeches beguile the 
hearts of the innocent 3." 



VI. Make your fasting a reality by amend- 
ment in your lives. 

Being therefore, dearly-beloved, fully in- 
structed by these admonitions of ours, which 
we have often repeated in your ears in protest 
against abominable error, enter upon the holy 
days of Lent with godly devoutness, and pre- 
pare yourselves to win God's mercy by your 
own works of mercy. Quench your anger, 
wipe out enmities, cherish unity, and vie with 
one another in the offices of true humility. 
Rule your slaves and those who are put under 
you with fairness, let none of them be tortured 
by imprisonment or chains. Forego vengeance, 
forgive offences : exchange severity for gentle- 
ness, indignation for meekness, discord for 
peace. Let all men find us self-restrained, peace- 
able, kind: that our fastings may be acceptable 
to God. For in a word to Him we offer the 
sacrifice of true abstinence and true godliness, 
when we keep ourselvc3 from all evil: the 
Almighty God helping us through all, to 
Whom with the Son and Holy Spirit belongs 
one Godhead and one Majesty, for ever and 
ever. Amen: 



■ In sacrament orum communione. 



S Rom. xvi. 17, iS. 



SERMON XLVI. 
On Lent, VIII. 



I. Lent must be kept ?wt only by avoiding bodily 
impurity but also by avoiding errors of thought 
and faith. 

We know indeed, dearly-beloved, your de- 
votion to be so warm that in the fasting, which 
is the forerunner of the Lord's Easter, manyl I 
of you will have forestalled our exhortations.) 
But because the right practice of abstinence isi 
needful not only to the mortification of thei 
flesh but also to the purification of the mind,, 
we desire your observance to be so complete! 
that, as you cut down the pleasures that be-j 
long to the lusts of the flesh, so you should 1 
banish the errors that proceed from the imagi-; 
nations of the heart. For he whose heart isl 
polluted with no misbelief prepares himself 
with true and reasonable purification for the 
Paschal Feast, in which all the mysteries of 
our religion meet together. For, as the 
Apostle says, that " all that is not of faith is 
sin 4," the fasting of those will be unprofitable 
and vain, whom the father of lying deceives 
with his delusions, and who are not fed by, 
Christ's true flesh. As then we must with the 
whole heart obey the Divine commands and 
sound doctrine, so we must use all foresight 
in abstaining from wicked imaginations. Foi 
the mind then only keeps holy and spiritual 
fast when it rejects the food of error and the 
poison of falsehood, which our crafty and wily 
foe plies us with more treacherously now, 
when by the very return of the venerable 
Festival, the whole church generally is ad 
monished to understand the mysteries of its 
salvation. For he is the true confessor anc 
worshipper of Christ's resurrection, who is not 
confused about His passion, nor deceivec 
about His bodily nativity. For some are si 
ashamed of the Gospel of the Cross of Christ 
as to impu lently nullify the punishment! 
which He underwent for the world's redemp 
tion, and have denied the very nature of trut 
flesh in the Lord, not understanding how th< 
impassible and unchangeable Deity of God': 
Word could have so far condescended fo 
man's salvation, as by His power not to los< 
His own properties, and in His mercy to tab 
on Him ours. And so in Christ, there i 
a twofold form but one person, and the Soi 
of God, who is at the same time Son of Man 
is one Lokd, accepting the condition of ; 
slave by the design of loving-kindness, not b; 
the law of necessity, because by His power H 
became humble, by His power passible, b 






i- 



* Rom. xiv. 23. 



SERMON XLVI. 



159 



His power mortal ; that for the destruction 
of the tyranny of sin and death, the weak 
nature in Him might be capable of punish- 
ment, and the strong nature not lose aught of 
its glory. 

II. All the actions of Christ reveal the pi'esence 
of the twofold nature. 

And so, dearly-beloved, when in reading or 
hearing the Gospel you find certain things in 
our Lord Jesus Christ subjected to injuries 
and certain things illumined by miracles, in 
such a way that in the same Person now the 
Humanity appears, and now the Divinity 
shines out, do not put down any of these 
things to a delusion, as if in Christ there is 
either Manhood alone or Godhead alone, but 
believe both faithfully, Avorship both right 
humbly ; so that in the union of the Word and 
the Flesh there may be no separation, and the 
bodily proofs may not seem delusive, because 
the divine signs were evident in Jesus. The 
attestations to both natures in Him are true 
and abundant, and by the depth of the Divine 
;purpose all concur to this end, that the in- 
violable Word not being separated from the 
passible flesh, the Godhead may be understood 
as in all things partaker with the flesh and the 
flesh with the Godhead. And, therefore, must 
:the Christian mind that would eschew lies and 
ibe the disciple of truth, use the Gospel-story 
confidently, and, as if still in company with the 
Apostles themselves, distinguish what is visibly 
done by the Lord, now by the spiritual under- 
standing and now by the bodily organs of 
sight. Assign to the man that He is born a boy 
bf a woman : assign to God that His mother's 
i/irginity is not harmed, either by conception 
pr by bearing. Recognize "the form of a 
;;lave " enwrapped in swaddling clothes, lying 
n a manger, but acknowledge that it was the 
,ord's form that was announced by ar.gels, 
'proclaimed by the elements 5 ," adored by the 
vise men. Understand it of His humanity 
hat he did not avoid the marriage feast : 
jonfess it Divine that he turned water into wine. 
^et your own feelings explain to you why He 
hed tears over a dead friend : let His Divine 
>ower be realized, when that same friend, after 
louldering in the grave four days, is brought 
3 life and raised only by the command of His 
,oice. To make clay with spittle and earth 
'as a work of the body : but to anoint there- 
ith and enlighten the eyes of the blind is an 
ndoubted mark of that power which had 
perved for the revelation of its glory that 
hich it had not allowed to the early part of 



S Declaratam ab elementis, viz. by the star in the East. 



His natural life. It is truly human to relieve 
bodily fatigue with rest in sleep : but it is truly 
Divine to quell the violence of raging storms 
by a rebuking command. To set food before 
the hungry denotes human kindness and a 
1 philanthropic spirit : but with five loaves and 
two fishes to satisfy 5,000 men, besides women 
and children, who would dare deny that to be 
the work of Deity ? a Deity which, by the 
co-operation of the functions of true flesh, 
showed not only itself in Manhood, but also 
Manhood in itself; for the old, original wounds 
in man's nature could not be healed, except by 
the Word of God taking to Himself flesh from 
the Virgin's womb, whereby in one and the 
same Person flesh and the Word co-existed. 

III. Hold fast to the statements of the Creed. 

This belief in the Lord's Incarnation, dearly- 
beloved, through which the whole Church is 
Christ's body 6 , hold firm with heart unshaken 
and abstain from all the lies of heretics, and 
remember that your works of mercy will only 
then profit you, and your strict continence 
only then bear fruit, when your minds are un- 
soiled by any defilement from wrong opinions. 
Cast away the arguments of this world's 
wisdom, for God hates them, and none can 
arrive by them at the knowledge of the Truth, 
and keep fixed in your mind that which you 
say in the Creed. Believe ? the Son of God to 
be co-eternal with the Father by Whom all 
things were made and without Whom nothing 
was made, born also according to the flesh 
at the end of the times. Believe Him to have 
been in the body crucified, dead, raised up, 
and lifted above the heights of heavenly 
powers, set on the Father's right hand, about 
to come in the same flesh in which He as- 
cended, to judge the living and the dead. 
For this is what the Apostle proclaims to all 
the faithful, saying : " if ye be risen with 
Christ seek the things which are above, where 
Christ is sitting on the right hand of God. 
Set your mind on the things that are above, 
not on the things that are upon the earth. For 
ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in 
God. For when Christ, our life, shall appear, 
then shall ye also appear with Him in glory 8 ." 

IV. Use Lent for general improvement in the 
whole round of Christian duties. 

Relying, therefore, dearly-beloved, on so 
great a promise, be heavenly not only in hope, 



6 Per quam tota Ecclesta corpus est Christi. This is a great 
saying, by which the centrality of the doctrine of the Incarnation 
is fearlessly asserted. 

7 Notice that both here and in the next sentence the con- 
struction is credite Filium — credite Hunc not credite in Filium — 
in Hunc, the exact language of the creed being the latter (I be 
lieve in, &c). 8 Col. iii. i — 4. 



i6o 



SERMONS OF LEO THE GREAT. 






but also in conduct. And though our minds 
must at all times be set on holiness of mind 
and body, yet now during these 40 days of 
fasting bestir yourselves 9 to yet more active 
works of piety, not only in the distribution of 
alms, which are very effectual in attesting 
reform, but also in forgiving offences, and in 
being merciful to those accused of wrong- 
doing, that the condition which God has laid 
down between Himself and us may not be 
against us when we pray. For when we say, 
in accordance with the Lord's teaching, 
" Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive 
our debtors 1 ," we ought with the whole heart 
to carry out what we say. For then only will 
what we ask in the next clause come to pass, 
that we be not led into temptation and freed 
from all evils 2 : through our Lord Jesus 
Christ, Who with the Father and the Holy 
Spirit lives and reigns for ever and ever. 
Amen. 

SERMON XLIX. 

On Lent, XL 

I. The Lenten fast is incumbent on all alike. 

On all days and seasons, indeed, dearly- 
beloved, some marks of the Divine goodness 
are set, and no part of the year is destitute of 
sacred mysteries, in order that, so long as 
proofs of our salvation meet us on all sides, 
we may the more eagerly accept the never- 
ceasing calls of God's mercy. But all that 
is bestowed on the restoration of human souls 
in the divers works and gifts of grace is put 
before us more clearly and abundantly now, 
when no isolated portions of the Faith are 
to be celebrated, but the whole together. For 
as the Easter festival approaches, the greatest 
and most binding of fasts is kept, and its 
observance is imposed on all the faithful 
without exception ; because no one is so holy 
that he ought not to be holier, nor so devout that 
he might not be devouter. For who, that is 
set in the uncertainty of this life, can be found 
either exempt from temptation, or free from 
fault ? Who is there who would not wish for 
additions to his virtue, or removal of his vice ? 
seeing that adversity does us harm, and pros- 
perity spoils us, and it is equally dangerous not 
to have what we want at all, and to have it in 
the fullest measure. There is a trap in the 
fulness of riches, a trap in the straits of 
poverty. The one lifts us up in pride, the 
other incites us to complaint. Health tries 



9 Lit. " polish yourselves up ' (expolite vos). 

1 S. Matt. vi. 12. 

s A inalis omnibus Ziberemus. The free turn given to this 
passage is interesting : airb tov Troi'rjpoO (Vulg. a malo) being now 
'onsidtred personal " from the evil one " (R.V.). 



us, sickness tries us, so long as the one fosters 
carelessness and the other sadness. There is 
a snare in security, a snare in fear ; and it 
matters not whether the mind which is given 
over to earthly thoughts, is taken up with 
pleasures or with cares ; for it is equally un- 
healthy to languish under empty delights, or to 
labour under racking anxiety. 

II. The broad road is crowded, the narrow way 
of salvation nearly empty. 

And thus is perfectly fulfilled that assurance 
of the Truth, by which we learn that " narrow 
and steep is the way that leads to life 3 ;" and 
whilst the breadth of the way that leads to 
death is crowded with a large company, the 
steps are few of those that tread the path of 
safety. And wherefore is the left road more 
thronged than the right, save that the multitude 
is prone to wordly joys and carnal goods ? And 
although that which it desires is short-lived 
and uncertain, yet men endure toil more 
willingly for the lust of pleasure than for love 
of virtue. Thus while those who crave things 
visible are unnumbered, those who prefer the 
eternal to the temporal are hardly to be found. 
And, therefore, seeing that the blessed Apostle 
Paul says, " the things which are seen are 
temporal, but the things which are not seen 
are eternal *," the path of virtue lies hid and 
in concealment, to a certain extent, since " by 
hope we were saved 5 ," and true faith loves 
that above all things, which it attains to 
without any intervention of the flesh. A great 
work and toil it is then to keep our wayward 
heart from all sin, and, with the numberless 
allurements of pleasure to ensnare it on all 
sides, not to let the vigour of the mind give 
way to any attack. Who " toucheth pitch, and 
is not defiled thereby 6 ?" who is not weakened 
by the flesh ? who is not begrimed by the 
dust ? who, lastly, is of such purity as not to be 
polluted by those things without which one can- 
not live ? For the Divine teaching commands 
by the Apostle's mouth that "they who have 
wives " should " be as though they had none : 
and those that weep as though they wept not; 
and those that rejoice as though they rejoiced 
not ; and those that buy as though they 
possessed not ; and those that use this world 
as though they used it not ; for the fashion 
of this world passeth away ?." Blessed, there- 
fore, is the mind that passes the time of its 
pilgrimage in chaste sobriety, and loiters not 



3 S. Matt. vii. 14. 4 2 Cor. iv. 18. 

5 Rom. viii. 24. 6 Ecclus. xiii. 1. 

7 1 Cor. vii. 29 — 31. In the last clause but one, the Lat. 
runs, qui utuntur hoc mundo tanguam non utantur (as also the 
Vulg. and the margin of R.V., "(as not) using to the full, 
though the text reads, "as not abusing it"). 



: 



SERMON XLIX. 



161 



in the things through which it has to walk, so 
that, as a stranger rather than the possessor 
of its earthly abode, it may not be wanting in 
human affections, and yet rest on the Divine 
promises. 

III. Satan is incited to fresh efforts at this season 
of the year. 

And, dearly-beloved, no season requires and 

bestows this fortitude more than the present, 

when by the observance of a special strictness 

a habit is acquired which must be persevered 

in. For it is well known to you that this 

is the time when throughout the world the 

devil waxes furious, and the Christian army 

has to combat him, and any that have grown 

lukewarm and slothful, or that are absorbed 

in worldly cares, must now be furnished with 

spiritual armour and their ardour kindled for 

the fray by the heavenly trumpet, inasmuch as 

le, through whose envy death came into the 

vorld 8 , is now consumed with the strongest 

ealousy and now tortured with the greatest 

•exation. For he sees 9 whole tribes of the 

luman race brought in afresh to the adoption 

>f God's sons and the offspring of the New 

Jirth multiplied through the virgin fertility of 

he Church. He sees himself robbed of all 

is tyrannic power, and driven from the hearts 

f those he once possessed, while from either 

ex thousands of the old, the young, the 

liddle-aged are snatched away from him, and 

o one is debarred by sin either of his own 

r original, where justification is not paid for 

!eserts, but simply given as a free gift. He 

>es, too, those that have lapsed, and 

ave been deceived by his treacherous snares, 

ashed in the tears of penitence and, by the 

postle's key unlocking the gates of mercy, 

Imitted to the benefit of reconciliation x . 

"e feels, moreover, that the day of the 

ord's Passion is at hand, and that he is 

|ushed by the power of that cross which in 

prist, Who was free from all debt of sin, was 

e world's ransom and not the penalty of sin. 

' '. Self-examination by the standard of GOD'S 
commands the right occupation in Lent. 

And so, tha the malice of the fretting foe 
uy effect nothing by its rage, a keener devo- 
t n must be awaked to the performance of 
tb Divine commands, in order that we may 
eter on the season, when all the mysteries of 
t: Divine mercy meet together, with pre- 
t redness both of mind and body, invoking 



Wisdom ii. 24. 

The allusion is of course to the large numbers of persons 
b ized every year at Easter. 

Portas misericordi<e Apostolica clave reserante ad remedia 



the guidance and help of God, that we may be 
strong to fulfil all things through Him, without 
Whom we can do nothing. For the injunction 
is laid on us, in order that we may seek the 
aid of Him Who lays it. Nor must any one 
excuse himself by reason of his weakness, 
since He Who has granted the will, also gives 
the power, as the blessed Apostle James says, 
" If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of 
God, Who giveth to all liberally and up- 
braideth not, and it shall be given him 2 ." 
Which of the faithful does not know what 
virtues he ought to cultivate, and what vices 
to fight against ? Who is so partial or so 
unskilled a judge of his own conscience as 
not to know what ought to be removed, and 
what ought to be developed ? Surely no one 
is so devoid of reason as not to understand 
the character of his mode of life, or not to 
know the secrets of his heart. Let him not 
then please himself in everything, nor judge 
himself according to the delights of the flesh, 
but place his every habit in the scale of the 
Divine commands, where, some things being 
ordered to be done and others forbidden, 
he can examine himself in a true balance 
by weighing the actions of his life according 
to this standard. For the designing mercy of 
God 3 has set up the brightest mirror in His 
commandments, wherein a man may see his 
mind's face and realize its conformity or dis- 
similarity to God's image : with the specific 
purpose that, at least, during the days of our 
Redemption and Restoration, we may throw 
off awhile our carnal cares and restless occu- 
pations, and betake ourselves from earthly 
matters to heavenly. 

V. Forgiveness of our own sins requires that we 
should forgive others. 

But because, as it is written, " in many 
things we all stumble 4 ," let the feeling of mercy 
be first aroused and the faults of others against 
us be forgotten ; that we may not violate by any 
love of revenge that most holy compact, to 
which we bind ourselves in the Lord's prayer, 
and when we say " forgive us our debts as we 
also forgive our debtors," let us not be hard in 
forgiving, because we must be possessed either 
with the desire for revenge, or with the 
leniency of gentleness, and for man, who 
is ever exposed to the dangers of temptations, 
it is more to be desired that his own faints 
should not need punishment 5 than that he 
should get the faults of others punished. And 



3 A rti/ex misericordia Dei. 



* S. James i. 5. 

4 S. James iii. 2. 

5 Ut suas culpas h/ibeat impunitas (some through a mis- 
h uciliationis admitti: no doubt confession and priestly ab- understanding of the argument read pun'.tas here) quam ut 
V- uon is meant with a reference to S. Matt. xvi. 19. plectat alienas. 

'OL. XII. M 



i6 



SERMONS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



what is more suitable to the Christian faith than 
that not only in the Church, but also in all men's 
homes, there should be forgiveness of sins ? 
Let threats be laid aside ; let bonds be loosed, 
for he who will not loose them will bind him- 
self with them much more disastrously. For 
whatsoever one man resolves upon against 
another, he decrees against himself by his own 
terms. Whereas "blessed are the merciful, 
for God shall have mercy on them 6 : " and 
He is just and kind in His judgments, allow- 
ing some to be in the power of others to this 
end, that under fair government may be pre- 
served both the profitableness of discipline 
and the kindliness of clemency, and that no one 
should dare to refuse that pardon to another's 
shortcomings, which he wishes to receive for 
his own. 

VI. Reconciliation bchveen enemies and alms 
giving are also Lenten duties. 

Furthermore, as the Lord says, that "the 
peacemakers are blessed, because they shall 
be called sons of God V' let all discords and 
enmities be laid aside, and let no one think to 
have a share in the Paschal feast that has 
neglected to restore brotherly peace. For with 
the Father on high, he that is not in charity 
with the brethren, will not be reckoned in the 
number of His sons. Furthermore, in the 
distribution of alms and care of the poor, let 
our Christian fast-times be fat and abound ; 
and let each bestow on the weak and destitute 
those dainties which he denies himself. Let 
pains be taken that all may bless God with one 
mouth, and let him that gives some portion of 
his substance understand that he is a minister 
of the Divine mercy ; for God has placed the 
cause of the poor in the hand of the liberal 
man ; that the sins which are washed away 
either by the waters of baptism, or the tears 
of repentance, may be also blotted out by alms- 
giving ; for the Scripture says, " As water 
extinguisheth fire, so alms extinguisheth sin 8 ." 
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, &c. 

SERMON LI. 

A HOMILY DELIVERED ON THE SATURDAY 
BEFORE THE SECOND SUNDAY IN LENT ON 

the Transfiguration, S. Mat:, xvii. i — 13. 

I. S. Peter's confession shozvn to lead up to 
the Transfiguration. 

The Gospel lesson, dearly-beloved, which 
has reached the inner hearing of our minds 



6 S. Matt. v. 7, quoted in the same form in Serm. XCV. 
chap. 7, q.v. 

7 S. Matt. v. 9. 8 Ecclus. iii. 30. 



through our bodily ears, calls us to the under- 
standing of a great mystery, to which we shall 
by the help of God's grace the better attain, ii 
we turn our attention to what is narrated just 
before. 

The Saviour of mankind, Jesus Christ, ir 
founding that faith, which recalls the wicket 
to righteousness and the dead to life, used tc! 
instruct His disciples by admonitory teaching 
and by miraculous acts to the end that He 
the Christ, might be believed to be at onc< 
the Only-begotten of God and the Son of Man 
For the one without the other was of no avai 
to salvation, and it was equally dangerous t( 
have believed the Lord Jesus Christ to b< 
either only God without manhood, or onh 
man without Godhead 9, since both ha< 
equally to be confessed, because just as tru 
manhood existed in His Godhead, so tru 
Godhead existed in His Manhood. T 
strengthen, therefore, their most wholesom 
knowledge of this belief, the Lord had aske< 
His disciples, among the various opinions c 
others, what they themselves believed, o 
thought about Him : whereat the Apostl 
Peter, by the revelation of the most Hig 1 
Father passing beyond things corporeal anl 
surmounting things human by the eyes of hi 
mind, saw Him to be Son of the living Gor 
and acknowledged the glory of the Godheac 
because he looked not at the substance of Hi 
flesh and blood alone ; and with this lofty fait 
Christ was so well pleased that he receive 
the fulness of blessing, and was endued wit 
the holy firmness of the inviolable Rock o 
which the Church should be built and coi 
quer the gates of hell and the laws of death, sj 
that, in loosing or binding the petitions of ar 
whatsoever, only that should be ratified il 
heaven which had been settled by the jud 
ment of Peter. 

II. 77/i? same continued. 

But this exalted and highly-praised undf 
standing, dearly-beloved, had also to i 
instructed on the mystery of Christ's low 
substance, lest the Apostle's faith, being raisi 
to the glory of confessing the Deity in Chri: 
should deem the reception of our weakne 
unworthy of the impassible God, and incc 
gruous, and should believe the human natu 
to be so glorified in Him as to be incapat 
of suffering punishment, or being dissolved 
death. And, therefore, when the Lord sa 
that He must go to Jerusalem, and sufi 
many things from the elders and scribes ai 
chief of the priests, and the third day ri 

9 The same words are used in Lett. XXVIII. (Tome), chap. 



SERMON LI. 



163 



again, the blessed Peter who, being illumined 
with light from above, was burning with the 
heat of his confession, rejected their mocking 
insults and the disgrace of the most cruel 
death, with, as he thought, a loyal and out- 
spoken contempt, but was checked by a 
kindly rebuke fiom Jesus and animated with 
the desire to share His suffering. For the 
Saviour's exhortation that followed, instilled 
and taught this, that they who wished to follow 
Him should deny themselves, and count the 
loss of temporal things as light in the hope 
'of things eternal ; because he alone could 
save his soul that did not fear to lose it 
! for Christ. In order, therefore, that the 
Apostles might entertain this happy, constant 
courage with their whole heart, and have no 
tremblings about the harshness of taking up 
the cross, and that they might not be ashamed 
of the punishment of Christ, nor think what 
He endured disgraceful for themselves (for the 
bitterness of suffering was to be displayed 
without despite to His glorious power), Jesus 
took Peter and James and his brother John, 
and ascending a very high * mountain with 
them apart, showed them the brightness of 
His glory ; because, although they had recog- 
nised the majesty of God in Him, yet the 
power of His body, wherein His Deity was 
contained, they did not know. And, there- 
fore, rightly and significantly, had He pro- 
mised that certain of the disciples standing 
by should not taste death till they saw " the 
Son of Man coming in His Kingdom 2 ," that 
is, in the kingly brilliance which, as specially 
belonging to the nature of His assumed Man- 
hood, He wished to be conspicuous to these 
:hree men. For the unspeakable and un- 
ipproachable vision of the Godhead Itself, 
which is reserved till eternal life for the pure 
n heart, they could in no wise look upon and 
>ee while still surrounded with mortal flesh. 
The Lord displays His glory, therefore, before 
:hosen witnesses, and invests that bodily 
shape which He shared with others with such 
splendour, that His face was like the sun's 
brightness and His garments equalled the 
vhiteness of snow. 

II. The object and the meaning of the Trans- 
figuration. 

And in this Transfiguration the foremost 
>bject was to remove the offence of the cross 
rom the disciple's heart, and to prevent their 
rith being disturbed by the humiliation of His 



1 PreeeeJso (Vulg. excelso): possibly the form of the adjective 
lpports Codex Bezce (D) in adding Kiav after vijj-qKou. 

2 S. Matt. xvi. 28. Leo's application of the prophecy is almost 
x O fanciful to be the true one, though he stands by no means 
one among commentators (ancient and modern) in so applying it. 



voluntary Passion by revealing to them the 
excellence of His hidden dignity. But with 
no less foresight, the foundation was laid of 
the Holy Church's hope, that the whole body 
of Cnrist might realize the character of the 
change which it would have to receive, and 
that the members might promise themselves 
a share in that honour which had already 
shone forth in their Head. About which the 
Lord had Himself said, when He spoke ot 
the majesty of His coming, " Then shall the 
righteous shine as the sun in their Father's 
Kingdom 3," whilst the blessed Apostle Paul 
bears witness to the self-same thing, and says : 
" for I leckon that the sufferings of this time 
are not worthy to be compared with the future 
glory which shall be revealed in us 4 : " and 
again, " for ye are dead, and your life is hid 
with Christ in God. For when Christ our 
life shall appear, then shall ye also appear 
with Him in glory s." But to confirm the 
Apostles and assist them to all knowledge, 
still further instruction was conveyed by that 
miracle. 

IV. The significance of the appearance of Moses 

and Elias. 

For Moses and Elias, that is the Law and 
the Prophets, appeared talking with the Lord ; 
that in the presence of those five men might 
most truly be fulfilled what was said : " In 
two or three witnesses stands every word 6 ." 
What more stable, what more steadfast than 
this word, in the proclamation of which the 
trumpet of the Old and of the New Testament 
joins, and the documentary evidence of the 
ancient witnesses ? combine with the teaching 
of the Gospel ? For the pages of both cove- 
nants 8 corroborate each other, and He Whom 
under the veil of mysteries the types that went 
before had promised, is displayed clearly and 
conspicuously by the splendour of the present 
glory. Because, as says the blessed John, 
" the law was given through Moses : but 
grace and truth came through Jesus Christ 9," 
in Whom is fulfilled both the promise of pro- 
phetic figures and the purpose of the legal 
ordinances : for He both teaches the truth of 
prophecy by His presence, and renders the 
commands possible through grace. 

V. .S. Peter s suggestion contrary to the Divine 

oraer. 

The Apostle Peter, therefore, being excited 
by the revelation of these mysteries, despising 



4 Rom. viii. 18. 



5 Col. iii. 3. 



3 S. Matt. xiii. 43. 

6 Deut. xix. 15. 

7 Antiquarum protestationum instrumenta. 

8 Utriusque loederis J>ng nee (instead of the more usual Tes- 
tauietUi). 9 S. Jonn i. 17. 



M 2 



164 



SERMONS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



things mundane and scorning things earthly, 
was seized with a sort of frenzied craving 
for the things eternal, and being filled with 
rapture at the whole vision, desired to make 
his abode with Jesus in the place where he 
had been blessed with the manifestation of 
His glory. Whence also he says, " Lord, it is 
good for us to be here : if thou wilt let us 
make three tabernacles 1 , one for Thee, one 
for Moses, and one for Elias." But to this 
proposal the Lord made no answer, signify- 
ing that what he wanted was not indeed 
wicked, but contrary to the Divine order : 
since the world could not be saved, except 
by Christ's death, and by the Lord's example 
the faithful were called upon to believe that, 
although there ought not to be any doubt 
about the promises of happiness, yet we 
should understand that amidst the trials of 
this life we must ask for the power of endur- 
ance rather than the glory, because the joyous- 
ness of reigning cannot precede the times of 
suffering. 

VI. The import of the Father's voice from the 

cloud. 

And so " while He was yet speaking, behold 
a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold 
a voice out of the cloud, saying, " This is My 
beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased ; 
hear ye Him." The Father was indeed present 
in the Son, and in the Lord's brightness, which 
He had tempered to the disciples' sight, the 
Father's Essence was not separated from the 
Only-begotten : but, in order to emphasi/.e 
the two-fold personality, as the effulgence of 
the Son's body displayed the Son to their 
sight, so the Father's voice from out the cloud 
announced the Father to their hearing. And 
when this voice was heard, " the disciples 
fell upon their faces, and were sore afraid," 
trembling at the majesty, not only of the 
Father, but also of the Son : for they now 
had a deeper insight into the undivided Deity 
of Both : and in their fear they did not 
separate the One from the Other, because 
they doubted not in their faith 2 . That was 
a wide and manifold testimony, therefore, and 
contained a fuller meaning than struck the ear. 
For when the Father said, " This is My beloved 
Son, in Whom, &c," was it not clearly meant, 
"This is My Son," Whose it is to be eternally 
from Me and with Me ? because the Begetter 
is not anterior to the Begotten, nor the 
Begotten posterior to the Begetter. "This is 
My Son," Who is separated from Me, neither 
by Godhead, nor by power, nor by eternity. 



1 Sc. booths or tents. 

2 Quia hi fide nonfuit hcesitatio, nonjuit in timore discretio. 



" This is My Son," not adopted, but true-born, 
not created from another source, but begotten 
of Me : nor yet made like Me from another 
nature, but born equal to Me of My nature. 
" This is My Son," " through Whom all things 
were made, and without Whom was nothing 
made 2a ," because all things that I do He doth 
in like manner : and whatever I perform, He 
performs with Me inseparably and without 
difference : for the Son is in the Father and 
the Father in the Son 2a , and Our Unity is never 
divided : and though I am One Who begat, and 
He the Other Whom I begat, yet is it wrong 
for you to think anything of Him which is not 
possible of Me. "This is My Son," Who 
sought not by grasping, and seized not in 
greediness 211 , that equality with Me which He 
has, but remaining in the form of My glory, 
that He might carry out Our common plan 
for the restoration of mankind, He lowered 
the unchangeable Godhead even to the form 
of a slave. 

VII. Who it is we have to hear. 

" Here ye Him," therefore, unhesitatingly, 
in Whom I am throughout well pleased, and 
by Whose preaching I am manifested, by 
Whose humiliation I am glorified ; because He 
is "the Truth and the Life 2b ," He is My " Power 
and Wisdom 2 V "Hear ye Him," Whom 
the mysteries of the Law have foretold, Whom 
the mouths of prophets have sung. " Hear 
ye Him," Who redeems the world by His 
blood, Who binds the devil, and carries off 
his chattels, Who destroys the bond of sin, 
and the compact of the transgression. Flear 
ye Him, Who opens the way to heaven, and 
by the punishment of the cross prepares for 
you the steps of ascent to the Kingdom ? 
Why tremble ye at being redeemed ? why fear 
ye to be healed of your wounds ? Let that 
happen which Christ wills and I will. Cast 
away all fleshly fear, and arm yourselves with 
faithful constancy ; for it is unworthy that ye 
should fear in the Saviour's Passion what by 
His good gift ye shall not have to fear even 
at your own end. 

VIII. The Father's words have a universal 
application to the whole Church. 

These things, dearly-beloved, were said not 
for their profit only, who heard them with 
their own ears, but in these three Apostles the 
whole Church has learnt all that their eyes 
saw and their ears heard. Let all men's faith 
then be established, according to the preach- 
ing of the most holy Gospel, and let no one 



S. John i. 3 : and below, cf. x. 38 : and again Phil. ii. 6. 
3b S. John xiv. 6 ; 1 Cor. i. 24. 









I :: 



SERMON LIV. 



165 



be ashamed of Christ's cross, through which 
the world was redeemed. And let not any 
one fear to suffer for righteousness' sake, or 
doubt of the fulfilment of the promises, for 
this reason, that through toil we pass to rest 
and through death to life ; since all the weak- 
ness of our humility was assumed by Him, 
in Whom, if we abide in the acknowledg- 
ment and love of Him, we conquer as He 
conquered, and receive what he promised, 
because, whether to the performance of His 
commands or to the endurance of adversities, 
the Father's fore-announcing voice should al- 
ways be sounding in our ears, saying, " This 
is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well 
pleased; hear ye Him:" Who liveth and 
reigneth, with the Father and the Holy 
Ghost, for ever and ever. Amen. 

SERMON LIV. 

On the Passion, III. ; delivered on the 
Slnday before Easter. 

I. The two-fold Nature of Christ set forth. 

Among all the works of God's mercy, dearly- 
beloved, which from the beginning have been 
bestowed upon men's salvation, none is more 
wondrous, and none more sublime, than that 
Christ was crucified for the world. For to 
this mystery all the mysteries of the ages 
preceding led up, and every variation which 
the will of God ordained in sacrifices, in pro- 
phetic signs, and in the observances of the 
Law, foretold that this was fixed, and promised 
its fulfilment : so that now types and figures 
are at an end, and we find our profit in 
believing that accomplished which before we 
found our profit in looking forward to. In 
all things, therefore, dearly-beloved, which 
pertain to the Passion of our Lord Jesus 
Christ, the Catholic Faith maintains and de- 
mands that we acknowledge the two Natures 
to have met in our Redeemer, and while their 
properties remained, such a union of both 
Natures to have been effected that, from the 
time when, as the cause of mankind required, 
in the blessed Virgin's womb, "the Word 
became flesh," we may not think of Him as 
God without that which is man, nor as man 
without that which is God. Each Nature 
does indeed express its real existence by 
actions that distinguish it, but neither separates 
itself from connexion with the other. Nothing 
is wanting there on either side ; in the majesty 
the humility is complete, in the humility the 
majesty is complete : and the unity does not 
introduce confusion, nor does the distinctive- 
ness destroy the unity. The one is passible, 
the other inviolable ; and yet the degradation 
belongs to the same Person, as does the glory. 



He is present at once in weakness and in 
power ; at once capable of death and the 
vanquisher of it. Therefore, God took on 
Him whole Manhood, and so blended the 
two Natures together by means of His mere} 
and power, that each Nature was present in 
the other, and neither passed out of its own 
properties into the other. 

II. The two Natures acted conjointly, and the 
human sufferings were not compulsory, but in 
accordance with the Divine will. 

But because the design of that mystery 
which was ordained for our restoration before 
the eternal ages, was not to be carried out 
without human weakness and without Divine 
power 3, both ''form" does that which is proper 
to it in common with the other, the Word, 
that is, performing that which is the Word's 
and the flesh that which is of the flesh. One 
of them gleams bright with miracles, the other 
succumbs to injuries. The one departs not 
from equality with the Father's glory, the 
other leaves not the nature of our race. But 
nevertheless even His very endurance of 
sufferings does not so far expose Him to a 
participation in our humility as to separate 
Him from the power of the Godhead. All 
the mockery and insults, all the persecution 
and pain which the madness of the wicked 
inflicted on the Lord, was not endured of 
necessity, but undertaken of free-will : " for 
the Son of Man came to seek and to save that 
which had perished 4 :" and He used the 
wickedness of His persecutors for the re- 
demption of all men in such a way that in 
the mystery of His Death and Resurrection 
even His murderers could have been saved, if 
they had believed. 

III. Judas' infamy has never been exceeded. 

And hence, Judas, thou art proved more 
criminal and unhappier than all ; for when 
repentance should have called thee back 
to the Lord, despair dragged thee to the 
halter. Thou shouldest have awaited tie 
completion of thy crime, and have put cff 
thy ghastly death by hanging, until Christ's 
Blood was shed for all sinners. And among 
the many miracles and gifts of the Lord s 
which might have aroused thy conscience, thote 
holy mysteries, at least, might have rescued 
thee from thy headlong fall, which at the 
Paschal supper thou hadst received, being 
even then detected in thy treachery by the 

n of Divine knowledge. Why dost thou 



sig 



3 This passage from " both form " down to " race" is repeated 
almost word lor word in Lett. XXVIII. (The Tome), chap. 4- 

4 S. Luke xix. 10. 



1 66 



SERMONS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



distrust the goodness of Him, Who did not 
repel thee from the communion of His body 
and blood, Who did not deny thee the kiss of 
peace when thou earnest with crowds and a 
band of armed men to seize Him. But O man 
that nothing could convert, O " spirit going 
and not returning s," thou didst follow thy 
heart's rage, and, the devil standing at thy 
right hand, didst turn the wickedness, which 
thou hadst prepared against the life of all the 
saints, to thine own destruction, so that, 
because thy crime had exceeded all measure 
of punishment, thy wickedness might make 
thee thine own judge, thy punishment allow 
thee to be thine own hangman. 

IV. Christ voluntarily bartered His glory for 

our weakness. 
When, therefore, " Gon was in Christ re- 
conciling the world to Himself 6 ," and the 
Creator Himself was wearing the creature 
which was to be restored to the image of its 
Creator ; and after the Divinely-miraculous 
works had been performed, the performance 
of which the spirit of prophecy had once pre- 
dicted, "then shall the eyes of the blind be 
opened and the ears of the deaf shall hear ; 
then shall the lame man leap as a hart, and 
the tongue of the dumb shall be plain 7;" 
Jesus knowing that the time was now come 
for the fulfilment of His glorious Passion, said, 
" My soul is sorrowful even unto death 8 ; " and 
again, " Father, if it be possible, let this cup 
pass from Me 8 ." And these words, expressing 
a certain fear, show His desire to heal the 
affection of our weakness by sharing them, and 
to check our fear of enduring pain by under- 
going it. In our Nature, therefore, the Lord 
trembled with our fear, that He might fully 
clothe our weakness and our frailty with the 
completeness of His own strength. For He- 
had come into this world a rich and merciful 
Merchant from the skies, and by a wondrous 
exchange had entered into a bargain of salva- 
tion with us, receiving ours and giving His, 
honour for insults, salvation for pain, life for 
death: and He Whom more than 12,000 of 
the angel-hosts might have served ° for the 
annihilation of His persecutors, preferred to 
entertain our fears, rather than employ His 
own power. 

V. »S. Peter was the first to benefit by his 

Maste?' y s humiliation. 
And how much this humiliation conferred 
upon all the faithful, the most blessed Apostle 

5 Ps. lxxviii. 39. 6 2 Cor. v. 19. 

7 Is. xxxv. 5, 6. 8 S. Matt. xxvi. 38, 39. 

9 Cf. S. Matt. xxvi. 33. The whole of this is a wonderfully 
powerful passage. 



Peter was the first to prove, who, after the 
fierce blast of threatening cruelty had dis- 
mayed him, quickly changed, and was restored 
to vigour, finding remedy from the great 
Pattern, so that the suddenly-shaken mernbei 
returned to the firmness of the Head. For the 
bond-servant could not be " greater than the 
lord, nor the disciple greater than the master 9 a } " 
and he could not have vanquished the trem- 
bling of human frailty had not the Vanquisher 
of Death first feared. The Lord, therefore, 
" looked back upon Peter 9 a ," and amid the ca- 
lumnies of priests, the falsehoods of witnesses, 
the injuries of those that scourged and spat 
upon Him, met His dismayed disciple with 
those eyes wherewith He had foreseen his 
dismay : and the gaze of the Truth entered 
into him, on whose heart correction must be 
wrought, as if the Lord's voice were making 
itself heard there, and saying, Whither goest 
thou, Peter? why retirest thou upon thyself? 
turn thou to Me, put thy trust in Me, follow 
Me : this is the time of My Passion, the hour 
of thy suffering is not yet come. Why dost 
thou fear what thou, too, shalt overcome ? Let 
not the weakness, in which I share, confound 
thee. I was fearful for thee ; do thou be 
confident of Me. 

VI. The mad counsel of the Jews was turned to 
their own destruction. 

" And when morning was come all the chief 
priests and elders of the people took counsel 
against Jesus to put him to death I ." This 
morning, () ye Jews, was for you not the 
rising, but the setting of the sun, nor did 
the wonted daylight visit your eyes, but a 
night of blackest darkness brooded on your 
naughty hearts. This morning overthrew for 
you the temple and its altars, did away with 
the Law and the Prophets, destroyed the 
Kingdom and the priesthood, turned all your 
feasts into eternal mourning. For ye resolved 
on a mad and bloody counsel, ye "fat bulls," 
ye "many oxen," ye "roaring" wild beasts, ye 
rabid " dogs ia ," to give up to death the Author 
of life and the Lord of glory ; and, as if the 
enormity of your fury could be palliated by 
employing the verdict of him, who ruled your 
province, you lead Jesus bound to Pilate's 
judgment, that the terror-stricken judge being 
overcome by your persistent shouts, you 
might choose a man that was a murderer for 
pardon, and demand the crucifixion of the 
Saviour of the world. After this condemna- 
tion of Christ, brought about more by the 
cowardice than the power of Pilate, who with 



9» Cf. S. Matt. x. 24 and below, S. Luke xxii. 61. 

1 S. Matt, xxvii. 1. «• Cf. Ps. xxii. 12, 13, 16. 



SERMON LV. 



167 



washed hands but polluted mouth sent Jesus 
to the cross with the very lips that had pro- 
nounced Him innocent, the licence of the 
people, obedient to the looks of the priests, 
heaped many insults on the Lord, and the 
frenzied mob wreaked its rage on Him, Who 
meekly and voluntarily endured it all. But 
because, dearly-beloved, the whole story is 
too long to go through to-day, let us put off 
the rest till Wednesday, when the reading of 
the Lord's Passion will be repeated 2 . For 
the Lord will grant to your prayers, that of 
His own free gift we may fulfil our promise: 
through our Lord Jesus Christ, Who liveth 
and reigneth for ever and ever. Amen. 

SERMON LV. 

On the Lord's Passion IV., delivered on 
Wednesday in Holy Week. 

I. The difference between the penitence and 
blasphemy of the two robbers is a type of 
the human race. 

That which we owe to your expectations, 
dearly-beloved, must be paid through the Lord's 
bountiful answer to your prayers that He 
Who has made you eager in the demanding 
would make us fit for the performing. 

In speaking but lately of the Lord's Passion, 
i we reached the point in the Gospel story, 
where Pilate is said to have yielded to the 
Jews' wicked shouts that Jesus should be 
crucified. And so when all things had been 
accomplished, which the Godhead veiled in 
frail flesh 3 permitted, Jesus Christ the Son of 
God was fixed to the cross which He had also 
been carrying, two robbers being similarly 
crucified, one on His right hand, and the 
other on the left : so that even in the incidents 
of the cross might be displayed that difference 
which in His judgment must be made in the 
case of all men ; for the believing robber's 
faith was a type of those who are to be 
saved, and the blasphemer's wickedness pre- 
figured those who are to be damned. Christ's 
Passion, therefore, contains the mystery of our 
salvation, and of the instrument which the 
iniquity of the Jews prepared for His punish- 
ment, the Redeemer's power has made for us 
the stepping-stone to glory 4 : and that Passion 
the Lord Jesus so underwent for the salvation 
bf all men that, while hanging there nailed to 



J ■ Leo seems here to speak as if the story of the Passion from 
he Gospels in his time was read only on the Sunday and Wed- 
nesday in Holy Week : various uses prevailed, for which cf. 
Bingham's Antiq. Bk. xiv. chap. iii. g 3. 

3 Divinitas carnis velamine temperata. It is not easy to 
ender the exact force of this phrase in English without a danger 
'f being misunderstood. 

1 4 Gradum nob's fecit ad 'gloriam, Quesnel's reading gaudium, 
hough well supported by the MSS , is, I think with the Ball., 
^satisfactory, cf.Serm. LI. chap. 7 , per crucis supplicium gradus 
jbis ascensionis parat ad regnum. 



the wood, He entreated the Father's mercy 
for His murderers, and said, " Father, forgive 
them, for they know not what they do 5 ." 

II. The chief priests showed utter ignorance of 

Scripture in their taunts. 

But the chief priests, for whom the Saviour 
sought forgiveness, rendered the torture of the 
cross yet worse by the barbs of railery ; and at 
Him, on Whom they could vent no more fury 
with their hands, they hurled the weapons of 
their tongues, saying, " He saved others ; 
Himself he cannot save. If He is the King 
of Israel, let Him now come down from the 
cross, and we believe Him 6 ." From what 
spring of error, from what pool of hatred, O 
ye Jews, do ye drink such poisonous blas- 
phemies? What master informed you, what 
teaching convinced you that you ought to 
believe Him to be King of Israel and Son 
of God, who should either not allow Himself 
to be crucified, or should shake Himself free 
from the binding nails. The mysteries of the 
Law, the sacred observances of the Passover, 
the mouths of the Prophets never told you 
this : whereas you did find truly and oft-times 
written that which applies to your abominable 
wicked-doing and to the Lord's voluntary 
suffering. For He Himself says by Isaiah, 
" I gave My back to the scourges, My cheeks 
to the palms of the hand, I turned not My 
face from the shame of spitting 7." He Him- 
self says by David, " They gave Me gall for 
My food, and in My thirst they supplied Me 
with vinegar 8 ; " and again, " Many dogs 
came about Me, the council of evil-doers 
beset Me. They pierced My hands and My 
feet, they counted all My bones. But they 
themselves watched and gazed on Me, they 
parted My raiment among them, and for My 
robe they cast lots 8 ." And lest the course of 
your own evil doings should seem to have 
been foretold, and no power in the Crucified 
predicted, ye read not, indeed, that the Lord 
descended from the cross, but ye did read, 
"The Lord reigned on the tree'." 

III. The triumph of the Cross is immediate and 

effective. 

The Cross of Christ, therefore, symbolizes x 
the true altar of prophecy, on which the obla- 
tion of man's nature should be celebrated by 



5 S. Luke xxiii. 34. 

6 S. Matt, xxvii. 42. 

7 Is. 1. 6. 8 Ps. lxix. 21 ; xxii. 16, 17. 

9 Ps. xcvi. 10. "An ancient gloss, but without authority from 
existing MSS or ancient versions, viz., a7rb tou fvAov, was re- 
ceived by S. Justin Martyr and others as a genuine portion of the 
text." Speaker's Commentary in loco. Compare also the old 
Latin hymn (" The Royal Banners," H.A.M. 96, verse 3). 

1 S acr amentum habet. 



1 68 



SERMONS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



means of a salvation-bringing Victim. There 
the blood of the spotless Lamb blotted out 
the consequences of the ancient trespass : 
there the whole tyranny of the devil's hatred 
was crushed, and humiliation triumphed glori- 
ously over the lifting up of pride : for so swift 
was the effect of Faith that of the robbers 
crucified with Christ, the one who believed 
in Christ as the Son of God entered paradise 
justified. Who can unfold the mystery of so 
great a boon ? who can state the power of so 
wondrous a change? In a moment of time 
the guilt of long evil-doing is done away ; 
clinging to the cross, amid the cruel tortures 
of his struggling soul, he passes over to 
Christ • and to him, on whom his own wicked- 
ness had brought punishment, Christ's grace 
now gives a crown. 

IV. When the last act in the tragedy was over 

how must the Jews havejelt ? 

And then, having now tasted the vinegar, 
the produce of that vineyard which had 
degenerated in spite of its Divine Planter, 
and had turned to the sourness of a foreign 
vine ia , the Lord says, " it is finished ;" that is, 
the Scriptures are fulfilled : there is no more 
for Me to abide from the fury of the raging 
people : I have endured all that I foretold 
I should suffer. The mysteries of weakness 
are completed, let the proofs of power be 
produced. And so He bowed the head and 
yielded up His Spirit and gave that Body, 
Which should be raised again on the third day, 
the rest of peaceful slumber. And when the 
Author of Life was undergoing this mysterious 
phase, and at so great a condescension of 
God's Majesty, the foundations of the whole 
world were shaken, when all creation con- 
demned their wicked crime by its upheaval, 
and the very elements of the world delivered 
a plain verdict against the criminals, what 
thoughts, what heart-search ings had ye, O 
Jews, when the judgment of the universe 
went against you, and your wickedness could 
not be recalled, the crime having been done ? 
what confusion covered you ? what torment 
seized your hearts ? 

V. Chastity and charity are the two things 
most needful in preparing for Easter Com- 
munion. 

Seeing therefore, dearly-beloved, that God's 
Mercy is so great, that He has deigned to 
justify by faith many even from among such 
a nation, and had adopted into the company 
of the patriarchs and into the number of the 
chosen people us who were once perishing in 

tm The reference is perhaps to Is. v. i — 5. 



the deep darkness of our old ignorance, let us 
mount to the summit of our hopes not sluggishly 
nor in sloth ; but prudently and faithfully re- 
flecting from what captivity and from how 
miserable a bondage, with what ransom we 
were purchased, by how strong an arm led 
out, let us glorify God in our body : that 
we may show Him dwelling in us, even by 
the uprightness of our manner of life And 
because no virtues are worthier or more 
excellent than merciful loving-kindness and 
unblemished chastity, let us more especially 
equip ourselves with these weapons, so that, 
raised from the earth, as it were, on the two 
wings of active charity and shining purity, we 
may win a place in heaven. And whosoever, 
aided by God's grace, is filled with this desire 
and glories not in himself, but in the Lord, 
over his progress, pays due honour to the 
Easter mystery. His threshold the angel of de- 
struction does not cross, for it is marked with 
the Lamb's blood and the sign of the cross lb . 
He fears not the plagues of Lgypt, and leaves 
his foes overwhelmed by the same waters by 
which he himself was saved. And so, dearly- 
beloved, with minds and bodies purified let 
us embrace the wondrous mystery of our 
salvation, and, cleansed from all " the leaven of 
our old wickedness, let us keep lb " the Lord's 
Passover with due observance : so that, the 
Holy Spirit guiding us, we may be "separated" 
by no temptations "from the love of Christ lb ," 
Who bringing peace by His blood to all 
things, has returned to the loftiness of the 
Father's glory, and yet not forsaken the low- 
liness of those who serve Him t6 Whom is 
the honour and the glory for ever and ever. 
Amen. 



SERMON LVIII. 

(On the Passion, VII.) 

I. The reason of Christ suffering at the Paschat 

Feast. 

I know indeed, dearly-beloved, that the 
Easter festival partakes of so sublime 2 
mystery as to surpass not only the slendei 
perceptions of my humility, but even the 
powers of great intellects. But I must no 
consider the greatness of the Divine wort 
in such a way as to distrust or to feel ashamec 
of the service which I owe ; for we may no 
hold our peace upon the mystery of man': 
salvation, even if it cannot be explained 
But, your prayers aiding us, we believe God': 
Grace will be granted, to sprinkle the barren 
ness of our heart with the dew ol His inspira 

lb Cf. Exod. xii. 23 ; and below, i Cor. v. 8, and Rom. vii 35- 



SERMON LVIII. 



x6g 



tion : that by the pastor's mouth things may 
be proclaimed which are useful to the ears of 
his holy flock. For when the Lord, the 
Giver of all good things, says : " open thy 
mouth, and I will fill it 2 ," we dare likewise to 
reply in the prophet's words : " Lord, Thou 
shalt open my lips, and my mouth shall shew 
forth Thy praises." Therefore beginning, 
dearly-beloved, to handle once more the Gospel- 
story of the Lord's Passion, we understand it 
was part of the Divine plan that the profane 
chiefs of the Jews and the unholy priests, who 
had often sought occasion of venting their rage 
on Christ, should receive the power of exer- 
cising their fury at no other time than the 
Paschal festival. For the things which had 
long been promised under mysterious figures 
had to be fulfilled in all clearness ; for 
instance, the True Sheep had to supersede 
the sheep which was its antitype, and the 
One Sacrifice to bring to an end the multi- 
tude of different sacrifices. For all those 
things which had been divinely ordained 
through Moses about the sacrifice of the lamb 
had prophesied of Christ and truly announced 
the slaying of Christ. In order, therefore, that 
the shadows should yield to the substance and 
types cease in the presence of the Reality, the 
ancient observance is removed by a new Sacra- 
ment, victim passes into Victim, blood is 
wiped away by Blood, and the law-ordained 
Feast is fulfilled by being changed. 

II. The leading Jews broke their own Law, as 
well as failed to apprehend the new dispensa- 
tion in destroying Christ. 

And hence, when the chief priests gathered 

the scribes and elders of the people together 

to their council, and the minds of all the 

priests were occupied with the purpose of 

doing wrong to Jesus, the teachers of the law 

put themselves without the law, and by their 

iDwn voluntary failure in duty abolished theii 

incestral ceremonies. For when the Paschal 

,'east began, those who ought to have adorned 

the temple, cleansed the vessels, provided the 

victims, and employed a holier zeal in the 

mrifications that the law enjoined, seized with 

he fury of traitorous hate, give themselves up 

o one work, and with uniform cruelty conspire 

or one crime, though they were doomed to 

jain nothing by the punishment of innocence 

md the condemnation of righteousness, except 

he failure to apprehend the new mysteries 

.nd the violation of the old. The chiefs, 

herefore, in providing against a tumult arising 

>n a holy day *, showed zeal not for the festival, 



' Ps. lxxxi. 10. 



3 Ps. li. 15. 



4 Cf. S. Matt. xxvi. 5. 



but for a heinous crime ; and their anxiety 
served not the cause of religion, but their 
own incrimination. For these careful pontiffs 
and anxious priests feared the occurrence of 
seditious riots on the principal feast-day, not 
lest the people should do wrong, but lest Christ 
should escape. 

III. Jesus instituting the Blessed Sacrament 
showed mercy to the Ti aitor Judas to the last. 

But Jesus, sure of His purpose and un- 
daunted in carrying out His Father's will, 
fulfilled the New Testament and founded a 
new Passover. For while the disciples were 
lying down with Him at the mystic Supper, 
and when discussion was proceeding in the 
hall of Caiaphas how Christ might be put to 
death, He, ordaining the Sacrament of His 
Body and Blood, was teaching them what kind 
of Victim must be offered up to God, and not 
even from this mystery was the betrayer kept 
away, in order to show that he was exasperated 
by no personal wrong, but had determined 
beforehand of his own free-will upon his 
treachery. For he was his own source of 
ruin and cause of perfidy, following the guid- 
ance of the devil and refusing to have Christ 
as director. And so when the Lord said, 
" Verily I say to you that one of you is about 
to betray Me," He showed that His betrayer's 
conscience was well known to Him, not con- 
founding the traitor by harsh or open rebukes, 
but meeting him with mild and silent warnings 
that he who had never been sent astray by 
rejection, might the easier be set right by 
repentance. Why, unhappy Judas, dost thou 
not make use of so great long-suffering ? 
Behold, the Lord spares thy wicked attempts ; 
Christ betrays thee to none save thyself. 
Neither thy name nor thy person is dis- 
covered, but only the secrets of thy heart 
are touched by the word of truth and mercy. 
The honour of the apostolic rank is not 
denied thee, nor yet a share in the Sacra- 
ments. Return to thy right mind ; lay aside 
thy madness and be wise. Mercy invites thee, 
Salvation knocks at the door, Life recalls thee 
to life. Lo, thy stainless and guiltless fellow- 
disciples shudder at the hint of thy crime, and 
all tremble for themselves till the author of the 
treachery is declared. For they are saddened 
not by the accusations of conscience, but by 
the uncertainty of man's changeableness ; fear- 
ing lest what each knew against himself be less 
true than what the Truth Himself foresaw. 
But thou abusest the Lord's patience in this 
panic of the saints, and believest that thy 
bold front hides thee. Thou addest impu- 
dence to guilt, and art not frightened by so 
clear a test And when the others refrain trom 



lyo 



SERMONS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



the food in which the Lord had set His judg- 
ment, thou dost not withdraw thy hand from 
the dish, because thy mind is not turned aside 
from the crime. 

IV. Various incidents of the Passion further 
explained and the reality of Christ 's sufferings 
asserted. 

And thus it followed, dearly-beloved, that as 
John the Evangelist has narrated, when the 
Lord offered the bread which He had dipped 
to His betrayer, more clearly to point him out, 
die devil entirely seized Judas, and now, by his 
veritable act of wickedness, took possession of 
one whom he had already bound down by his 
evil designs. For only in body was he lying 
there with those at meat : in mind he was arm- 
ing the hatred of the priests, the falseness of 
the witnesses, and the fury of the ignorant mob. 
At last the Lord, seeing on what a gross crime 
Judas was bent, says, "What thou doest, do 
quickly s." This is the voice not of command 
but of permission, and not of fear but of readi- 
ness : He, that has power over all times, shows 
that He puts no hindrance in the way of the 
traitor, and carries out the Father's will for the 
redemption of the world in such a way as 
neither to promote nor to fear the crime which 
His persecutors were preparing. When Judas, 
therefore, at the devil's persuasion, departed 
from Christ, and cut himself off from the unity 
of the Apostolic body, the Lord, without being 
disturbed by any fear, but anxious only for the 
salvation of those He came to redeem, spent 
all the time that was free from His persecutors' 
attack on mystic conversation and holy teach- 
ing, as is declared in St. John's gospel : raising 
His eyes to heaven and beseeching the Father 
for the whole Church that all whom the Father 
had and would give the Son might become one 
and remain undivided to the Redeemer's glory, 
and adding lastly that prayer in which He says, 
" Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from 
Me 6 ." Wherein it is not to be thought that the 
Lord Jesus wished to escape the Passion and 
the Death, the sacraments of which He had 
already committed to His disciples' keeping, 
seeing that He Himself forbids Peter, when 
he was burning with devoted faith and love, 
to use the sword, saying, "The cup which 
the Father hath given 'Me, shall I not 
drink it??" and seeing that that is certain 
which the Lord also says, according to 
John's Gospel, '• For God so loved the 
world that He gave His only begotten Son, 
that everyone who believes in Him may not 
perish, but have eternal life 8 ;" as also what 



5 S. John xiii. 27. 
7 S. John xviii. it. 



6 S. Matt. xxvi. 39. 
8 lb. iii. 16. 



the Apostle Paul says, " Christ loved us and 
gave Himself for us, a victim to God for a 
sweet-smelling savour 9." For the saving of all 
through the Cross of Christ was the common 
will and the common plan of the Father and 
the Son ; nor could that by any means be dis- 
turbed which before eternal ages had been 
mercifully determined and unchangeably fore- 
ordained. Therefore in assuming true and 
entire manhood He took the true sensations of 
the body and the true feelings of the mind. 
And it does not follow because everything in 
Him was full of sacraments, full of miracles, 
that therefore He either shed false tears or 
took food from pretended hunger or feigned 
slumber. It was in our humility that He was 
despised, with our grief that He was saddened, 
with our pain that He was racked on the 
cross. For His compassion underwent the suf- 
ferings of our mortality with the purpose of 
healing them, and His power encountered 
them with the purpose of conquering them. 
And this Isaiah has most plainly prophesied, 
saying, "He carries our sins and is pained for 
us, and we thought Him to be in pain and in 
stripes and in vexation. But He was wounded 
for our sins, and was stricken for our offences, 
and with His bruises we are healed 1 ." 

V. The resignation of Christ is an undying 
lesson to the Church 

And so, dearly-beloved, when the Son of 
God says, " Father, if it be possible, let this 
cup pass from Me 2 ," He uses the outcry of our 
nature, and pleads the cause of human frailty 
and trembling: that our patience may be 
strengthened and our fears driven away in the 
things which we have to bear. At length, 
ceasing even to ask this now that He had in a 
measure palliated our weak fears, though it is 
not expedient for us to retain them, He passes 
into another mood, and says, " Nevertheless, 
not as I will but as Thou ; " and again, " If this 
cup can not pass from Me, except I drink it, 
Thy will be done 2 ." These words of the Head 
are the salvation of the whole Body : these 
words have instructed all the faithful, kindled 
the zeal of all the confessors, crowned all the 
martyrs. For who could overcome the world's 
hatred, the blasts of temptations, the terr cisf 
persecutors, had not Christ, in the name of all 
and for all, said to the Father, " Thy will be 
done?" Then let the words be learnt by all the 
Church's sons who have been purchased at so 
great a price, so freely justified : and when the 

9 Eph. v. a. 

1 Is. liii. 45. Leo's version is a very literal translation of the 
LXX. , which varies a good deal from the Vulgate and the A.V. ; 
he omits, however, the clause, "the chastisement of our peace," 
&c, which is common to all three- 
8 S. Matt. xxvi. 39 and 42. 






SERMON LIX. 



171 



shock of some violent temptation has fallen on 
them, let them use the aid of this potent prayer, 
that they may conquer their fear and trembling, 
and learn to suffer patiently. From this point, 
dearly-beloved, our sermon must pass to the 
consideration of the details of the Lord's Pas- 
sion, and lest we should burden you with pro- 
lixity, we will divide our common task, and 
put off the rest 3 till the fourth day of the week. 
God's grace will be vouchsafed to you if you 
pray Him to give me the power of carrying out 
my duty: through our Lord Jesus Christ, &c. 

SERMON LIX. 

(On the Passion, VIII. : on Wednesday 
in Holy Week.) 

I. Christ's arrest fulfils His own etertial 
purpose. 

Having discoursed, dearly beloved, in our 
last sermon, on the events which preceded the 
Lord's arrest, it now remains, by the help of 
God's grace, to discuss, as we promised, the 
details of the Passion itself. When the Lord 
had made it clear by the words of His sacred 
prayer that the Divine and the Human Nature 
was most truly and fully present in Him, show- 
ing that the unwillingness to suffer proceeded 
from the one, and from the other the deter- 
mination to suffer by the expulsion of all frail 
fears and the strengthening of His lofty power, 
then did He return to His eternal purpose, and 
" in the form of a " sinless " slave " encounter 
the devil who was savagely attacking Him by 
the hands of the Jews : that He in Whom alone 
was all men's nature without fault, might under- 
take the cause of all. The sins of darkness, 
therefore, assailed the true Light, and, for all 
their torches and lanterns 4 , could not escape 
the night of their own unbelief, because they 
did not recognize the Fount of Light. They 
arrest Him, and He is ready to be seized ; they 
lead Him away, and He is willing to be led ; 
for though, if He had willed to resist, their 
wicked hands could have done Him no harm, 
yet thereby the world's redemption would have 
been impeded, and He, who was to die for all 
men's salvation, would have saved none at all. 

II. How great was Pilate's crime in allowing 
himself to be led astray by the Jews. 

Accordingly, permitting the infliction on 
Himself of all that the people's fury inflamed 
by the priests dared do, He is brought to 
Annas, father-in-law to Caiaphas, and thence 
Annas passes Him on to Caiaphas : and after 

3 This is Sermon LIX. which follows in exienso. See 
Serm. LIV., chap. vi. n. 2. 

4 The allusion doubtless is to the "lanterns and torches" 
mentioned by S. John xviii. 3. 



the calumniators' mad accusations, after the 
lying falsehoods of suborned witnesses, He is 
transferred to Pilate's hearing by the delegation 
of the two high-priests, who in neglecting the 
Divine law, and exclaiming that they had " no 
king but Caesar," as if they were devoted to 
the Roman laws, and had left the whole judg- 
ment in the hands of the governor, really 
sought for an accomplisher of their cruelty 
rather than an umpire of the case. For they 
gave up Jesus, bound in hard bonds, bruised 
by many buffets and blows, spat upon, already 
condemned by their shouts : so that amidst 
so many signs of their own verdict Pilate 
might not dare to acquit One Whom all de- 
sired to perish. In fact, the very inquiry shows 
both that he found in the Accused no fault, 
and that in his judgment he did not adhere to 
his purpose : for as judge he condemns One 
Whom he pronounces guiltless, invoking on the 
unrighteous people the blood of the Righteous 
Man with Whom he felt by his own conviction, 
and knew from his wife's dream 4 a , he must have 
nothing to do. That stained soul is not 
cleansed by the washing of hands, there is no 
expiation in water-besprinkled fingers for the 
crime abetted by that wicked mind. Pilate's 
fault is. indeed, less than the Jews' crime; for 
it was they that terrified him with Caesar's 
name, chode him with hateful words, and 
drove him to perpetrate his wickedness. But 
he also did not escape incrimination for play- 
ing into the hands of those that made the 
uproar, for abandoning his own judgment, and 
for acquiescing in the charges of others. 

III. Yet the Jews' guilt was infinitely greater. 

In bowing, therefore, dearly-beloved, to the 
madness of the imp'acable people, in permitting 
Jesus to be dishonoured by much mocking, and 
harassed with excessive insults, and in display- 
ing Him to the eyes of His persecutors lace- 
rated with scourges, crowned with thorns, and 
clothed in a robe of scorn, Pilate doubtless 
thought to appease the enemies' minds, so that, 
when they had glutted their cruel hate, they 
might cease further to persecute One Whom they 
beheld subjected to such a variety of afflictions. 
But their wrath was still in full blaze, and they 
cried out to him to release Barabbas and let 
Jesus bear the penalty of the cross, and thus, 
when with consenting murmur the crowd said, 
"His blood be on us and on our sons ♦%" those 
wicked folk gained, to their own damnation, 
what they had persistently demanded, "whose 
teeth," as the prophet bore witness, " were 
arms and arrows, and their tongue a sharp 
swords." For in vain did they keep their 



4» Cf. S. Matt, xxvii. 19 and 25. 



S Ps vii. 4- 



172 



SERMONS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



own hands from crucifying the Lord of glory 
when they had hurled at Him the tongue's 
deadly darts and the poisoned weapons of 
words. On you, on you, false Jews and unholy 
leaders of the people, falls the full weight of 
that crime : and although the enormity of the 
guilt involves the governor and the soldiers 
also, yet you are the primary and chief 
offenders. And in Christ's condemnation, 
whatsoever wrong was done either by Pilate's 
judgment or by the cohorts carrying out of his 
commands, makes you only the more deserv- 
ing of the hatred of mankind, because the 
impulse of your fury would not let even those 
be free from guilt who were displeased at your 
unrighteous acts. 

IV. Christ bearing His own cross is an eternal 

lesson to the Church. 
And so the Lord was handed over to their 
savage wishes, and in mockery of His kingly 
state, ordered to be the bearer of His own 
instrument of death, that what Isaiah the pro- 
phet foresaw might be fulfilled, saying, " Be- 
hold a Child is born, and a Son is given to us 
whose government is upon His shoulders 6 ." 
When, therefore, the Lord carried the wood 
of the cross which should turn for Him into 
the sceptre of power, it was indeed in the eyes 
of the wicked a mighty mockery, but to the 
faithful a mighty mystery was set forth, seeing 
that He, the glorious vanquisher of the Devil, 
and the strong defeater of the powers that were 
against Him, was carrying in noble sort the 
trophy of His triumph, and on the shoulders 
of His unconquered patience bore into all 
realms the adorable sign of salvation : as if 
even then to confirm all His followers by this 
mere symbol of His work, and say, " He that 
taketh not his cross and followeth Me, is not 
worthy of Me 6 \" 

V. The transference of the cross from the Lord 
to Simon of Cyrene signifies the pai ticifation 
of the Gentiles in His sufferings. 

But as the multitudes went with Jesus to the 
place of punishment, a certain Simon of Cyrene 
was found on whom to lay the wood of the 
cross instead of the Lord; that even by this 
act might be pre-signified the Gentiles' faith, 
to whom the cross of Christ was to be not 
shame but glory. It was not accidental, there- 
fore, but symbolical and mystical, that while 
the Jews were raging against Christ, a foreigner 
was found to share His sufferings, as the 
Apostle says, " if we suffer with Him, we shall 
also reign with Him i " ; so that no Hebrew nor 



Israelite, but a stranger, was substituted for 
the Saviour in His most holy degradation. For 
by this transference the propitiation of the 
spotless Lamb and the fulfilment of all mys- 
teries passed from the circumcision to the un- 
circumcision, from the sons according to the 
flesh to the sons according to the spirit : since as 
the Apostle says, " Christ our Passover is sacri- 
ficed for us 8 ," Who offering Himself to the 
Father a new and true sacrifice of reconcilia- 
tion, was crucified not in the temple, whose 
worship was now at an end, and not within the 
confines of the city which for its sin was doomed 
to be destroyed, but outside, " without the 
camp 9," that, on the cessation of the old sym- 
bolic victims, a new Victim might be placed 
on a new altar, and the cross of Christ might 
be the altar not of the temple but of the 
world. 

VI. We are to see not only the cross but the 

meaning of it. 
Accordingly, dearly-beloved, Christ being 
lifted up upon the cross, let the eyes of your 
mind not dwell only on that sight which those 
wicked sinners saw, to whom it was said by 
the mouth of Moses, "And thy life shall be 
hanging before thine eyes, and thou shalt fear 
day and night, and shalt not be assured of thy 
life 1 ." For in thi crucified Lord they could 
think of nothing but their wicked deed, having 
not the fear, by which true faith is justified, 
but that by which an evil conscience is racked. 
But let our understandings, illumined by the 
Spirit of Truth, foster with pure and free heart 
the glory of the cross which irradiates heaven 
and earth, and see with the inner sight what 
the Lord meant when He spoke of His 
coming Passion : " The hour is come that the 
Son of man may be glorified 2 : " and below 
He says, " Now is My spirit troubled. And 
what shall I say? Father, save Me from this 
hour, but for this cause came I unto this 
hour. Father, glorify Thy Son." And when 
the Father's voice came from heaven, saying, 
" I have both glorified it and will glorify 
it again," Jesus in reply said to those that 
stood by, "This voice came not for Me but 
for you. Now is the world's judgment, now 
shall the prince of this world be cast out. 
And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will 
draw all things unto Mc 2 ." 

VII. The fower of the cross is universally 

attractive. 

O wondrous power of the Cross ! O in- 






6 Is. ix. 6. The interpretation is fanciful, but not without some 8 i Cor. v. 7. 9 Heb. xui. 12. * Deut. xxyul. 66. 

support from the parallel phrase in Is. xxii. 22 * S John xii. 23 ; Ibid. 27, 28, 30— 32. The reading omni 

o» S. Matt. x. 38. 7 2 Tim. ii. 1a. I (all things) will not escape notice in v. 32. 



SERMON LXII. 



173 



e.ffable glory of the Passion, in which is con- 
tained the Lord's tribunal, the world's judg- 
ment, and the power of the Crucified ! For 
thou didst draw all things unto Thee, Lord, 
and when Thou hadst stretched out Thy 
hands all the day long to an unbelieving 
people that gainsaid Thee 2a , the whole world 
at last was brought to confess Thy majesty. 
Thou didst draw all things unto Thee, Lord, 
when all the elements combined to pronounce 
judgment in execration of the Jews' crime, 
when the lights of heaven were darkened, and 
the day turned into night, and the earth also 
was shaken with unwonted shocks, and all 
creation refused to serve those wicked men. 
Thou didst draw all things unto Thee, Lord. 
for the veil of the temple was rent, and the 
Holy of Holies existed no more for those 
unworthy high-priests : so that type was 
turned into Truth, prophecy into Revelation, 
law into Gospel. Thou didst draw all things 
unto Thee, Lord, so that what before was 
done in the one temple of the Jews in dark signs, 
was now to be celebrated everywhere by the 
piety of all the nations in full and open rite. 
For now there is a nobler rank of Levites, there 
are elders of greater dignity and priests of holier 
anointing : because Thy cross is the fount of 
all blessings, the source of all graces, and 
through it the believers receive strength for 
weakness, glory for shame, life for death. Now, 
too, the variety of fleshly sacrifices has ceased, 
and the one offering of Thy Body and Blood 
fulfils all those different victims : for Thou art 
the true " Lamb of God, that takest away the 
sins of the world 3," and in Thyself so accom- 
plishest all mysteries, that as there is but one 
sacrifice instead of many victims, so there is 
but one kingdom instead of many nations. 

VIII. We must live not for ourselves but for 
Christ, who died for us. 

Let us, then, dearly-beloved, confess what 
the blessed teacher of the nations, the 
Apostle Paul, confessed, saying, "Faithful is 
the saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that 
Christ Jesus came into the world to save 
sinners t." For God's mercy towards us is 
the more wonderful that Christ died not for 
the righteous nor for the holy, but for the un- 
righteous and wicked ; and though the nature 
of the Godhead could not sustain the sting of 
death, yet at His birth He took from us that 
which He might offer for us. For of old He 
threatened our death with the power of His 
death, saying, by the mouth of Hosea the 
prophet, " O "death, I will be thy death, and I 
will be thy destruction, O hell 5 ." For by 



dying He underwent the laws of hell, but by 
rising again He broke them, and so destroyed 
the continuity of death as to make it tem- 
poral instead of eternal. "For as in Adam 
all die, even so in Christ shall all be made 
alive 6 ." And so, dearly-beloved, let that come 
to pass of which S. Paul speaks, "that they 
that live, should henceforth not live to them- 
selves but to Him who died for all and rose 
again 7." And because the old things have 
passed away and all things are become new, 
let none remain in his old carnal life, but let 
us all be renewed by daily progress and 
growth in piety. For however much a man be 
justified, yet so long as he remains in this life, 
he can always be more approved and better. 
And he that is not advancing is going back, 
and he that is gaining nothing is losing some- 
thing. Let us run, then, with the steps of 
faith, by the works of mercy, in the love of 
righteousness, that keeping the day of our re- 
demption spiritually, " not in the old leaven of 
malice and wickedness, but in the unleavened 
bread of sincerity and truth 8 ," we may deserve 
to be partakers of Christ's resurrection, Who 
with the Father and the Holy Ghost liveth 
and reigneth for ever and ever. Amen. 

SERMON LXII. 
(On the Passion, XL) 

I. TJie mystery of the Passion passes ma??s 
comprehension. 

The Feast of the Lord's Passion 9 that we 
have longed for and that the whole world may 
well desire, has come, and suffers us not to 
keep silence in the tumult of our spiritual 
joys : because though it is difficult to speak 
often on the same thing worthily and appro- 
priately, yet the priest is not free to withhold 
from the people's ears instruction by sermon 
on this great mystery of God's mercy, inas- 
much as the subject itself, being unspeakable, 
gives him ease of utterance, and what is said 
cannot altogether fail where what is said can 
never be enough. Let human frailty, then, 
succumb to God's glory, and ever acknovy- 
ledge itself unequal to the unfolding of His 
works of mercy. Let us toil in thought, 
fail in insight, falter in utterance: it is good 
that even our right thoughts about the Lord's 
Majesty should be insufficient. For, remem- 
bering what the prophet says, " S^ek ye the 
Lord and be strengthened : seek His face 
always 1 ," no one must assume that he has 
found all he seeks, lest he fail of coming near, 



«» Cf. Is. lxv. a. 



3 S. John i. 29. 
5 Hos. xiii. 14. 



4 1 Tim. i. 15. 



6 1 Cor. xv. 22. 7 2 Cor. v. 15. . 8 1 Cor. v. 8. 

9 Fest'vi'tas dominicce fassionis is at first sight a strange phrase, 
hut in reality most suggestive. * Ps. cv. 4. 



174 



SERMONS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



I 



if he cease his endeavours. And amidst all 
the works of God which weary out man's 
wondering contemplation, what so delights 
and so baffles our mind's gaze as the Saviour's 
Passion ? Ponder as we may upon His om- 
nipotence, which is of one and equal substance 
with the Father, the humility in God is more 
stupendous than the power, and it is harder to 
grasp the complete emptying of the Divine 
Majesty than the infinite uplifting of the " slave's 
form " in Him. But we are much aided in our 
understanding of it by the remembrance that 
though the Creator and the creature, the In- 
violable God and the passible flesh, are abso- 
lutely different, yet the properties of both sub- 
stances meet together in Christ's one Person in 
such a way that alike in His acts of weakness 
and of power the degradation belongs to the 
same Person as the glory. 

II. The Creed takes up S. Peter's confession 
as tlie fitndamental doctrine of the Church. 

In that rule of Faith, dearly-beloved, which 
we have received in the very beginning of the 
Creed, on the authority of apostolic teaching, 
we acknowledge our Lord Jesus Christ, whom 
we call the only Son of God the Father Al- 
mighty, to be also born of the Virgin Mary by 
the Holy Ghost. Nor do we reject His Ma- 
jesty when we express our belief in His cruci- 
fixion, death, and resurrection on the third 
day. For all that is God's and all that is 
Man's are simultaneously fulfilled by His Man- 
hood and His Godhead, so that in virtue of 
the union of the Passible with the Impassible, 
His power cannot be affected by His weak- 
ness, nor His weakness overcome by His 
power. And rightly was the blessed Apostle 
Peter praised for confessing this union, who 
when the Lord was inquiring what the dis- 
ciples knew of Him, quickly anticipated the 
rest and said, "Thou art Christ, the Son of 
the living God 2 ." And this assuredly he saw, 
not by the revelation of flesh or blood, which 
might have hindered his inner sight, but by the 
very Spirit of the Father working in his be- 
lieving heart, that in preparation lor ruling the 
whole Church he might first learn what he 
would have to teach, and for the solidification 
of the Faith, which he was destined to preach, 
might receive the assurance, "Thou art Peter, 
and upon this rock I will build My Church, 
and the gates of hell shall not prevail against 
it »." The strength, therefore, of the Christian 
Faith, which, built upon an impregnable rock, 
fears not the gates of death, acknowledges the 
one Lord Jesus Christ to be both true God 
and true Man, believing Him likewise to be 



* S. Matt. xvi. 16, 18. 



the Virgin's Son, Who is His Mother's Creator: 
born also at the end of the ages, though He is 
the Creator of time : Lord of all power, and 
yet one of mortal stock : ignorant of sin, and 
yet sacrificed for sinners after the likeness of 
sinful flesh. 

III. The devil's devices were turned against 

himself. 

And in order that He might set the human 
race free from the bonds of deadly transgres- 
sion, He hid the power of His majesty from 
the raging devil, and opposed him with our 
frail and humble nature. For if the cruel and 
proud foe could have known the counsel of 
God's mercy, he would have aimed at sooth- 
ing the Jews' minds into gentleness rather than 
at firing them with unrighteous hatred, lest he 
should lose the thraldom of all his captives in 
assailing the liberty of One Who owed him 
nought. Thus he was foiled by his malice: 
he inflicted a punishment on the Son of God, 
which was turned to the healing of all the sons 
of men. Fie shed righteous Blood, which 
became the ransom and the drink for the 
world's atonement. The Lord undertook 
that which He chose according to the pur- 
pose of His own will. He permitted mad- 
men to lay their wicked hands upon Him: 
hands which, in ministering to their own doom, 
were of service to the Redeemer's work. And 
yet so great was His loving compassion for 
even His murderers, that He prayed to the 
Father on the cross, and begged not for His 
own vengeance but for their forgiveness, saying, 
"Father, forgive them, for they know not what 
they do 3 ." And such was the power of that 
prayer, that the hearts of many of those who 
had said, " His blood be on us and on our 
sons 3 a ," were turned to penitence by the Apostle 
Peter's preaching, and on one day there were 
baptized about 3,000 Jews : and they all were 
" of one heart and of one soul V being ready 
now to die for Him, Whose crucifixion they 
had demanded. 

IV. Why Judas could not obtain forgiveness 

through Christ. 

To this forgiveness the traitor Judas could 
not attain : for he, the son of perdition, at 
whose right the devil stood 5 , gave himself up 
to despair before Christ accomplished the 
mystery of universal redemption. For in that 
the Lord died for sinners, perchance even he 
might have found salvation if he had not 
hastened to hang himself. But that evil heart, 
which was now given up to thievish frauds, 
and now busied with treacherous designs, had 






3 S. Luke xxiii. 34. 

4 Acts iv. 33. 



3" S. Matt, xxvii. 23. 
5 Cf. Ps. cix. 6. 



SERMON LXIII. 



T75 



never entertained aught of the proofs of the 
Saviour's mercy. Those wicked ears had 
heard the Lord's words, when He said, " I 
same not to call the righteous but sinners 6 ," 
and " The Son of man came to seek and to 
save that which was lost ?,'' but they conveyed 
not to his understanding the clemency _ of 
Christ, which not only healed bodily infirmities, 
but also cured the wounds of sick souls, saying 
to the paralytic man, " Son, be of good cheer, 
thy sins are forgiven thee 8 ;" saying also to 
the adulteress that was brought to Him, 
"neither will I condemn thee; go and sin 
no more 9," to show in all His works that 
He had come as the Saviour, not the Judge of 
the world. But the wicked traitor refused to 
understand this, and took measures against 
himself, not in the self-condemnation of re- 
pentance, but in the madness of perdition, and 
thus he who had sold the Author of life to His 
murderers, even in dying increased the amount 
of sin which condemned him. 



V. The cruelty of Christ's crucifixion is lost in 
its wondrous power 

Accordingly that which false witnesses, cruel 
leaders ot the people, wicked priests did against 
the Lord Jesus Christ, through the agency of 
a coward governor and an ignorant band of 
soldiers, has been at once the abhorrence and 
the rejoicing of all ages. For though the 
Lord's cross was part of the cruel purpose of 
the Jews, yet is it of wondrous power through 
Him they crucified. The people's fury was 
directed against One, and the mercy of Christ 
ds for all mankind. That which their cruelty 
inflicts He voluntarily undergoes, in order 
that the work of His eternal will may be 
carried out through their unhindered crime. 
And hence the whole order of events which 
is most fully narrated in the Gospels must 
be received by the faithful in such a way 
that by implicit belief in the occurrences 
which happened at the time of the Lord's 
Passion, we should understand that not only 
■was the remission of sins accomplished by 
Christ, but also the standard of justice satis- 
fied. But that this may be more thoroughly 
discussed by the Lord's help, let us reserve this 
portion of the subject till the fourth day of the 
week9 a . God's grace, we hope, will be vouch- 
safed at your entreaties to help us to fulfil our 
Dromise : through Jesus Christ our Lord, &c. 
\men. 



6 S. Matt. ix. 13. 7 S. Luke xix. 10. 8 S. Matt. ix. 3. 

9 S. John viii. 11 ; this famous section therefore is recognized 
>y S. Leo : see Bright's note 69. 
9 a See Serm. LIV. chap. vi. n. a. 



SERMON LXIII. 

(On the Passion, XII. : preached on 
Wednesday.) 

I. God chose to save man by strength made 
perfect in weakness. 

The glory, dearly-beloved, of the Lord's 
Passion, on which we promised to speak again 
to-day, is chiefly wonderful for its mystery of 
humility, which has both ransomed and 
instructed us all, that He, Who paid the 
price, might also impart His righteousness to 
us. For the Omnipotence of the Son of God, 
whereby He is by the same Essence equal 
to the Father, might have rescued mankind 
from the dominion of the devil by the mere 
exercise of Its will, had it not better suited 
the Divine working to conquer the opposition 
of the foe's wickedness by that which had 
been conquered, and to restore our nature's 
liberty by that very nature by which bondage 
had come upon the whole race. But, when 
the evangelist says, " The Word became flesh 
and dwelt in us %" and the Apostle, " God was 
in Christ reconciling the world to Himself 2 ," 
it was shown that the Only-begotten of the 
Most High Father entered on such a union 
with human humility, that, when He took the 
substance of our flesh and soul, He remained 
one and the same Son of God by exalting our 
properties, not His own : because it was the 
weakness, not the power that had to be rein- 
forced, so that upon the union of the creature 
with the Creator there should be nothing 
wanting of the Divine to the assumed, nor 
of the human to the Assuming. 

II. Govs plan was always partially understood, 
and is nozv of universal application. 

This plan of God's mercy and justice, though 
in the ages past it was in a measure en- 
shrouded in darkness, was yet not so completely 
hidden that the saints, who have most merited 
praise from the beginning till the coming of 
the Lord, were precluded from understanding 
it : seeing that the salvation, which was to 
come through Christ, was promised both by 
the words of prophecy and by the significance 
of events, and this salvation not only they 
attained who foretold it, but all they also 
who believed their predictions. For the one 
Faith justifies the saints of all ages, and to the 
self-same hope of the faithful pertains all that 
by Jesus Christ, the Mediator between God 
and man, we acknowledge done, or our fathers 
reverently accepted as to be done. And be- 
tween Jew and Gentile there is no distinction, 
since, as the Apostle says, "Circumcision is 



• S. John i. 14 



2 Cor. v. 19. 



176 



SERMONS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but 
the keeping of God's commands 3," and if 
they be kept in entirety of faith, they make 
Christians the true sons of Abraham, that is 
perfect, for the same Apostle says, " For who- 
soever of you were baptized in Christ Jesus, 
have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor 
Greek : there is neither slave nor free : there 
is neither male nor female. For ye are all 
one in Christ. But if ye are Christ's, then 
are ye Abraham's seed, heirs according to 
promise *." 

III. The union of the Divine Head with Its 

members inseparable. 

There is no doubt therefore, dearly-beloved, 
that man's nature has been received by the 
Son of God into such a union that not only in 
that Man Who is the first-begotten of all 
creatures, but also in all His saints there is 
one and the self-same Christ, and as the Head 
cannot be separated from the members, so the 
members cannot be separated from the Head. 
For although it is not in this life, but in 
eternity that God is to be " all in all ♦%" yet even 
now He is the inseparable Inhabitant of His 
temple, which is the Church, according as He 
Himself promised, saying, " Lo ! I am with 
you all the days till the en .. of the age s." And 
agreeably therewith the Apostle says, " He 
is the head of the body, the Church, which 
is the beginning, the first-begotten from the 
dead, that in all things He may have the 
pre-eminence, because in Him it was pleasing 
that all fulness (of the Godhead) should dwell, 
and that through Him all things should be 
reconciled in Himself 6 ." 

IV. Christ's passion provided a saving mystery 

a fid an example for us to follow. 

And what is suggested to our hearts by these 
and many other references, save that we should 
in all things be renewed in His image Who, 
remaining " in the form of God 6 ''," deigned 
to "take the form " of sinful flesh? For all our 
weaknesses, which come from sin, He took on 
Him without sharing in sin, so that He felt 
the sensation of hunger and thirst and sleep and 
fatigue, and grief and weeping, and suffered the 
fiercest pangs up to the extremity of death, 
because no one could be loosed from the 
snares of death, unless He in Whom alone all 
men's nature was guileless allowed Himself 
to be slain by the hands of wicked men. And 
hence our Saviour the Son of God provided 



3 1 Cor. vii. 19. 4 Gal. iii. 27 — 29. 

4» i Cor xv. 28. 5 S. Matt, xxviii. 20. 

6 Col. i. 18-20: the word Divinitatis (of the Godhead) is 
omitted by some of the MSS. here. 
*» Cf. Phil. ii. 6, 7. 



for all that believe in Him both a mystery 
and an example ?, that they might apprehend 
the one by being born again, and follow the 
other by imitation. For the blessed Apostle 
Peter teaches this, saying, " Christ suffered 
for us, leaving you an example that ye should 
follow His steps. Who did no sin, neither 
was guile found in His mouth. Who when 
He was reviled, reviled not : when He suffered, 
threatened not,*but gave Himself up to His 
unjust judge. Who Himself bare our sins in 
His body on the tree, that being dead to sins, 
we may live to righteousness 8 ." 

V. Christ has not destroyed, but fulfilled and 

elevated the Law. 

As therefore there is no believer, dearly- 
beloved, to whom the gifts of grace are denied, 
so there is no one who is not a debtor in the 
matter of Christian discipline ; because, al- 
though the severity of the mystic Law is done 
away, yet the benefits of its voluntary observ- 
ance have increased, as the evangelist John 
says, " Because the Law was given through 
Moses, but grace and truth came through 
Jesus Christ'." For all things that, accord- 
ing to the Law, went before, whether in the 
circumcision of the flesh, or in the multitude 
of victims, or in the keeping of the Sabbath, 
testified of Christ, and foretold the grace of 
Christ. And He is " the end of the Law '," 
not by annulling, but by fulfilling its meanings. 
For although He is at once the Author of the 
old and of the new, yet He changed the symbolic 
rites connected with the promises, because He 
accomplished the promises and put an end to 
the announcement by the coming of the 
Announced. But in the matter of moral 
precepts, no decrees of the earlier Testa- 
ment are rejected, but many of them are 
amplified by the Gospel teaching : so that 
the things which give salvation are more 
perfect and clearer than those which promise 
a Saviour. 

VI. The present effect of Christ's Passion is 
daily realized by Christians, especially in 
Holy Baptism. 

All therefore that the Son of God did and 
taught for the world's reconciliation, we not 
only know as a matter of past history, but 
appreciate in the power of its present effect. 
It is He Who, born of the Virgin Mother 
by the Holy Ghost, fertilizes His unpolluted 
Church with the same blessed Spirit, that by 



7 Sacramentum (with its saving efficacy) et exemplum (with 
its spur to exertion), see Bright's n. 74. 

8 1 Pet. ii. 21 — 24 : notice the reading of the Vulgate iudicanti 
se miuste for tne correct tu Kpivovri Butaias (namely God). 

9 S. John i. 17. ' Rom. x. 4. 



SERMON LXVII. 



177 



the birth of Baptism an innumerable multitude 
of sons may be born to God, of Whom it is 
said, " who were born not of blood, nor 
of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of 
man, but of God 2 ." It is He, in Whom 
the seed of Abraham is blessed by the adop- 
tion of the whole world 2a , and the patriarch 
becomes the father of nations by the birth, 
through faith not flesh, of the sons of 
promise. It is He Who, without excluding 
any nation, makes one flock of holy sheep 
from every nation under heaven, and daily 
fulfils what He promised, saying, " Other sheep 
also I have which are not of this fold ; them 
also I must bring, and they shall hear My 
voice, and there shall be one flock and one 
shepherd 3 ." For though to the blessed Peter 
first and foremost He says, " Feed My sheep < ;" 
yet the one Lord directs the charge of all the 
shepherds, and feeds those that come to the 
rock with such glad and well-watered pastures, 
that countless sheep are nourished by the rich- 
ness of His love, and hesitate not to perish 
for the Shepherd's sake, even as the good 
Shepherd Himself was content to lay down 
His life for His sheep. It is He whose suffer- 
ings are shared not only by the martyrs' 
glorious courage, but also in the very act of 
regeneration by the faith of all the new-born. 
For the renunciation of the devil and belief in 
God 5j the passing from the old state into 
newness of life, the casting off of the earthly 
image, and the putting on of the heavenly 
form — all this is a sort of dying and rising 
again, whereby he that is received by Christ 
and receives Christ is not the same after as he 
was before he came to the font, for the body 
of the regenerate becomes the flesh of the 
Crucified 6 . 

VII. The good tvorks of Christians are only 
part of Christ's good works. 

This change, dearly-beloved, is the handiwork 
of the Most High ?, Who " worketh all things in 
all," so that by the good manner of life observed 
in each one of the faithful, we know Him to 
be the Author of all just works, and give 
thanks to God's mercy, Who so adorns the 
whole body of the Church with countless 
gracious gifts, that through the many rays of 
the one Light the same brightness is every- 
where diffused, and that which is well done by 



* S. John i. 13. '* Cf. Gen. xxii. 18. 

3 S. John x. 16. 4 lb. xxi. 17. 

5 The renouncing of the Devil and all his works and the 
professing of faith in God have always preceded the rite of 
Baptism : see Brignt's notes 78 and 142. 

6 Corpus tegeucrati fiat caro crudfixi an almost unduly 
strong assertion of the union between Christ, the Head and the 
members of His body, the Church effected by Holy Baptism : 
hee Hooker, Eccl. Pot. v. 60. 2, quoted by Blight, n. 79. 

7 Cf. Ps. lxxvii. io(LXX.) and 1 Cor. xvii. 6. 



any Christian whatsoever cannot but be part 
of the glory of Christ. This is that true 
Light which justifies and enlightens every 
man. This it is that rescues from the power 
of darkness and transfers us into the Kingdom 
of the Son of God. This it is that by newness 
of life exalts the desires of the mind and 
quenches the lusts of the flesh. This it is 
whereby the Lord's Passover is duly kept "with 
the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth" by 
the casting away of " the old leaven of wicked- 
ness 7 a " and the inebriating and feeding of the 
new creature with the very Lord. For naught 
else is brought about by the partaking of the 
Body and Blood of Christ than that we pass 
into that which we then take 8 , and both in 
spirit and in body carry everywhere Him, in 
and with Whom we were dead, buried, and 
rose again, as the Apostle says, " For ye are 
dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 
For when Christ, your life, shall appear, then 
shall ye also appear with Him in glory 9." 
Who with the Father, &c. 



SERMON LXVII. 

(On the Passion, XVI. : delivered on the 
Sunday.) 

I. The contemplation of the prophecies of Christ's 
sufferings are a great source of pious delight. 

The minds of the faithful, beloved, ought 
indeed always to be occupied with wonder at 
God's works and their reasoning faculties 
devoted particularly to those reflexions by 
which they may gain increase of faith. For 
so long as the pious heart's attention is 
directed either to the benefits which all 
enjoy, or to special gifts of His grace, it 
keeps aloof from many vanities and retires from 
bodily cares into a spiritual seclusion. But 
this must be the more eagerly and thoroughly 
done at the season of the Lord's Passion, 
that what is then read in the sacred lections 
may surely be received with the ears of under- 
standing, and that the themes which are great 
in word may be seen to be yet greater from 
the mysterious realities which underlie them. 
For the first reason for our lifting up our 
hearts J is that the voices of the prophets have 
sung of the things which the truth of the 
Gospel has also narrated, not as destined to 
happen, but as having happened, and that 
what man's ears had not yet learnt was to be 



7 a I Cor. v. 8. 

8 ut in id. quod sumimus, transeamus. He uses the same 
strong expression in Letter LIX. 2, ut accipientes virtutem 
caiestis cibi, in carnem ipsius qui caro nostra /actus est, tran- 
seamus. 9 Col. iii. 3, 4- . 

1 Erigendi sursum nostri cordis the liturgical allusion is the 
same as that noticed in Sermon LXXIV. 5, n. 6. 






VOL. XII. 



N 



i 7 8 



SERMONS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



accomplished, was already being proclaimed as 
fulfilled by the (Holy 2 j Spirit. For King David, 
whose seed according to the flesh is Christ, 
completed his life-time more than i,ioo 2a 
years before the day of the Lord's crucifixion, 
and endured none of those punishments which he 
relates as inflicted upon himself. But because 
by his mouth One spoke Who was to take 
suffering flesh of his stock, the story of the 
cross is rightly anticipated in the person of 
him who was the bodily ancestor of the 
Saviour. For David truly suffered in Christ, 
because Jesus was truly crucified in the flesh 
which He had from David. 

II. The Divine foreknowledge does not account 
for the Jews' wickedness so as to excuse them. 

Since then all things which Jewish ungodli- 
ness committed against the Lord of Majesty 
were foretold so long before 3, and the language 
of the prophets is concerned not so much with 
things to come as with things [ ast, what else 
is thereby revealed to us but the unchangeable 
order of God's eternal decrees, with Whom 
the things which are to be decided are already 
determined, and what will be is already accom- 
plished ? For since both the character of our 
actions and the fulfilment of all our wishes are 
fore-known to God, how much better known to 
Him are His own works? And He was rightly 
pleased that things should be recorded as if 
done which nothing could hinder from being 
done. And hence when the Apostles also, 
being full of the Holy Ghost, suffered the 
threats and cruelty of Christ's enemies, they 
said to God with one consent, " For truly in 
this city against Thy holy Servant Jesus, Whom 
Thou hast anointed, Herod and Pontius Pilate, 
with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 
were gathered together to do what Thy hand 
and Thy counsel ordained to come to pass V 
Did then the wickedness of Christ's perse- 
cutors spring from God's plan, and was that 
unsurpas-able crime prepared and set in motion 
by the hand of God? Clearly we must not 
think this of the highest Justice : that 
which was fore-known in respect of the Jews' 
malice is far different, indeed quite contrary to 
what was ordained in respect of Christ's 
Passion. Their desire to slay Him did not 
proceed from the same source as His to die : 



2 The epithet sanctus is of doubtful genuineness here. 

21 This calculation is based apparently on that of Prospers 
Chronicon, which again follows that of Eusebius. 

3 There is another reading here, ut (tor et) non tarn de/uturis 
quam de pmsentibus (for pr&teritis), &c, which the Ballerinii 
probably do right to reject. Trans, "foretold so long before that 
the language ol the prophets is concerned not so much with the 
future as with the present." 

4 Acts iv. 27, 28 ; it is perhaps worth noticing that Leo does 
not strictly follow the Biblical account in saving that the Apostles 
were " full of the Holy Ghost " at the time of uttering this prayer : 
v. 31 says they were so rilled afterwards. 



nor were their atrocious crime and the Re- 
deemer's endurance the offspring of One 
Spirit. The Lord did not incite but permit 
those madmen's naughty hands : nor in His 
foreknowledge of what must be accomplished 
did He compel its accomplishment, even 
though it was in order to its accomplishment 
that He had taken flesh. 



III. Christ 7cas in no sense the Author of His 
murderers* guilt. 

In fact, the case of the Crucified is so 
different from that of His crucifiers that what 
Christ undertook could not be reversed, while 
what they did could be wiped out. For He 
Who came to save sinners did not refuse 
mercy even to Flis murderers, but changed 
the evil of the wicked into the goodness of 
the believing, that God's grace might be the 
more wonderful, being mercifully put in force, 
not according to men's merits, but according 
to the multitude of the riches of God's wisdom 
and knowledge, seeing that they also who had 
shed the Saviour's blood were received into 
the oaptismal flood. For, as says the Scrip- 
ture, which contains the Apostles' acts when 
the preaching of the blessed Apostle Peter 
pierced the hearts of the Jews, ami they 
acknowledged the iniquity of their crime, 
saying, "what shall we do, brethren?" the 
same Apostle said, " Repent and be baptized, 
each one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ 
for the remission of your sins, and ye shall 
receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For to 
you is the promise, and to your sons, and to 
all that are afar off, whomsoever our Lord 
God has called," and soon after the Scripture 
goes on to say : " they therefore that received 
his word were baptized, and there were added 
on that day about 3,000 souls s." And so, 
in being willing to suffer their furious rage, 
the Lord Jesus Christ was in no way the 
Author of their crimes ; nor did He force 
them to desire this, but permitted them to 
be able, and used the madness of the blinded 
people just as He did also the treachery of 
His betrayer, whom by kindly acts and words 
He vouchsafed to recall from the awful crime 
he had conceived, by taking him for a disciple, 
by promoting him to be an apostle, by warning 
him with signs, by admitting him to the revela- 
tion of holy mysteries 6 , that one wlx> had 
lacked no degree of kindness to correct him, 
might have no pretext for his crime at all. 



5 Acts ii. 37 — 41. 

6 Consecrando mysteriis I think he has, as so often, the insti- 
tution of the Holy Eucharist especially in his mind together, 
of course, with other sacramental ordinances (such as Holy Bap- 
tism and matrimony) which our Saviour blessed with His sanction 
and made the means of holiness to His disciples. 



SERMON LXVII. 



179 



IV. The enormity of Judas'" crime is set forth. 
But O ungodliest of men, " thou seed of 
Chanaan and not of Juda 7," and no longer "a 
vessel of election," but "a son of perdition" and 
death, thou didst think the devil's instigations 
would profit thee better, so that, inflamed with 
the torch of greed, thou wert ablaze to gain 30 
pieces of silver and sawest not what riches 
thou wouldst lose. For even if thou didst not 
think the Lord's promises were to be be- 
lieved, what reason was there for preferring 
so small a sum of money to what thou hadst 
already received ? Thou wast wont to com- 
mand the evil spirits, to heal the sick, to 
receive honour with the rest of the apostles, 
and that thou mightest satisfy thy thirst for 
gain, it was open to thee to steal from the box 
that was in thy charge 8 . But thy mind, which 
lusted after forbidden things, was more strongly 
stimulated by that which was less allowed : 
and the amount of the price pleased thee not 
so much as the enormity of the sin. Where- 
fore thy wicked bargain is not so detestable 
merely because thou countedst the Lord so 
cheap, but because thou didst sell Him Who 
was the Redeemer, yea, even thine, and 
hadst no pity on thyself 9. And justly was 
thy punishment put into thine own hands, 
because none could be found more cruelly 
bent on thy destruction than thyself. 

V. Christ's Passion was for our Redemption by 
mystery and example. 

The fact, therefore, that at the time ap- 
pointed, according to the purpose of His will, 
Jesus Christ was crucified, dead, and buried 
was not the doom necessary to His own con- 
dition, but the method of redeeming us from 
captivity. For " the Word became flesh " in 
order that from the Virgin's womb He might 
take our suffering nature, and that what could 
not be inflicted on the Son of God might 
be inflicted on the Son of Man. For although 
at His very birth the signs of Godhead shone 
forth in Him, and the whole course of His 
bodily growth was full of wonders, yet had 
He truly assumed our weaknesses, and without 
share in sin had spared Himself no human 
frailty, that He might impart what was His to 
us and heal what was ours in Himself. For 
He, the Almighty Physician, had prepared 
a two-fold remedy for us in our misery, of 
which the one part consists of mystery and the 



7 Apocrypha, Hist, of Susanna, v. 56 : said by Daniel to one 
of the two elders ; cf. also Acts ix. 15, and S. John xvii. 12. 

H This last privilege which Leo, with curious sarcasm, co- 
ordinates with the other three is spoken of twice by S. John, 
viz. xii. 6, and xiii. 29. 

9 Redemfitorem etiam tuum ne tibi parceres, vendidisti. It 
seems to me that Leo's preaching power is nowhere better shown 
than in the passages where he draws out the heinousne^s of Judas' 
guilt: cf Sermon LVIII. chaps. 3 and 4, and Sermon LXII. 
chap. 4. 



other of example r , that by the one Divine 
powers may be bestowed, by the other human 
weaknesses driven out 2 . Because as God is 
the Author of our justification, so man is a 
debtor to pay Him devotion. 

VI. We can only attain to Christ's perfection 

by following in His steps. 

Therefore, dearly-beloved, by this unspeak- 
able restoration of our health no place is 
left us for pride or for idleness : because we 
have nothing which we did not receive 2 '" 1 , and we 
are expressly warned not to treat the gifts of 
God's grace with negligence 2a . For He that 
comes so timely to our aid justly urges us with 
precept, and He that leads us to glory merci- 
fully incites us to obedience. Wherefore the 
Lord Himself is rightly made our way, be- 
cause save through Christ there is no coming 
to Christ. But through Him and to Him does 
he take his way who treads the path of His 
endurance and humiliation, and on that road 
you may be sure there are not wanting the 
heats of toil, the clouds of sadness, the 
storms of fear. The snares of the wicked, the 
persecutions of the unbelieving, the threats of 
the powerful, the insults of the proud are 
there ; and all these things the Lord of hosts 
and King of glory passed through in the form 
of our weakness and in the likeness of sin- 
ful flesh, to the end that amid the danger 
of this present life we might desire not so 
much to avoid and escape them as to endure 
and overcome them. 

VII. Christ 's cry of "Forsaken" on the cross 
7vas to teach us the insufficiency of the human 
nature without the Divine. 

Hence it is that the Lord Jesus Christ, our 
Head, representing all the members of His 
body in Himself, and speaking for those whom 
He was redeeming in the punishment of the 
cross, uttered that cry which He had once 
uttered in the psalm, "O God, My God, look 
upon Me: why hast Thou forsaken Me 3 ?" 
That cry, dearly-beloved, is a lesson, not a 
complaint. For since in Christ there is one 
person of God and man, and He could not 
have been forsaken by Him, from Whom He 
could not be separated, it is on behalf of us, 
trembling and weak ones, that He asks why 
the flesh that is afraid to suffer has not been 
heard. For when the Passion was beginning, 
to cure and correct our weak fear He had said, 



» Aliud est in Sacramento, aliud in exem/>lo, cf. Serm. LXIIL 
chap. 4, n. 7. 

2 Exigantur: another reading perhaps more in keeping with 
the context and Leo's usual language is erigantur (raised): cf. 
Lett. XXVI II. (Tome), chap. 3, kumana augens, divina non 
tninuens, e c. 

2a Cf. 1 Cor. iv. 7, and 1 Tim. iv. 14. 3 Ps. xxii. 1. 



N « 



i8o 



SERMONS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



" Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass 
from Me : nevertheless not as I will but as 
Thou ; " and again, " Father, if this cup cannot 
pass except I drink it, Thy will be done*." 
As therefore He had conquered the tremblings 
of the flesh, and had now accepted the Father's 
will, and trampling all dread of death under 
foot, was then carrying out the work of His 
design, why at the very time of His triumph 
over such a victory does He seek the cause 
and reason of His being forsaken, that is, not 
heard, save to show that the feeling which He 
entertained in excuse of His human fears is 
quite different from the deliberate choice which, 
in accordance with the Father's eternal decree, 
He had made for the reconciliation of the 
world ? And thus the very cry of " Unheard " 
is the exposition of a mighty Mystery, because 
the Redeemer's power would have conferred 
nothing on mankind if our weakness in Him 
had obtained what it sought. Let these words, 
dearly-beloved, suffice to-day, lest we burden 
you by the length of our discourse : let us put 
off the rest till Wednesday. The Lord shall 
hear you if you pray that we may keep our 
promise through the bounty of Him Who lives 
and reigns for ever and ever. Amen. 

SERMON LXV1IL 

(On the Passion, XVII. : delivered on 
the Wednesday.) 

I. Christ 's Godhead never forsook Him in His 
Passion. 

The last discourse, dearly-beloved, of which 
we desire now to give the promised portion, 
had reached that point in the argument where 
we were speaking of that cry which the crucified 
Lord uttered to the Father: we bade the 
simple and unthinking hearer not take the 
words " My God, &c," in a sense as if, when 
Jesus was fixed upon the wood of the cross, 
the Omnipotence of the Father's Deity had 
gone away from Him ; seeing that God's and 
Man's Nature were so completely joined in Him 
that the union could not be destroyed by pun- 
ishment nor by death. For while each sub- 
stance retained its own properties, God neither 
held aloof trom the suffering of His body nor 
was made passible by the flesh, because the 
Godhead which was in the Sufferer did not 
actually suffer. And hence, in accordance 
with the Nature of the Word made Man, He 
Who was made in the midst of all is the 
same as He through Whom all things were 
made. He Who is arrested by the hands 
of wicked men is the same as He Who is 

4 S Matt. xxvi. 39, 42 



bound by no limits. He Who is pierced with 
nails is the same as He Whom no wound can 
affect. Finally, He Who underwent death is 
the same as He Who never ceased to be eter- 
nal, so that both facts are established by in- 
dubitable signs, namely, the truth of the 
humiliation in Christ and the truth of the 
majesty; because Divine power joined itself 
to human frailty to this end, that God, while 
making what was ours His, might at the same 
time make what was His ours. The Son, 
tnerefore, was not separated from the Father, 
nor the Father from the Son ; and the un- 
changeable Godhead and the inseparable 
Trinity did not admit of any division. For 
although the task of undergoing Incarnation 
belonged peculiarly to the Only-begotten Son 
of God, yet the Father was not separated from 
the Son any more than the flesh was separ- 
ated from the Word s. 

II. Christ's death was voluntary o?i His part, 
and yet in saving others He could not save 
Himself. 

Jesus, therefore, cried with a loud voice, 
saying, " Why hast Thou forsaken Me?" in 
order to notify to all how it behoved Him 
not to be rescued, not to be defended, but to 
be given up into the hands of cruel men, that is 
to become the Saviour of the world and the 
Redeemer of all men, not by misery but by 
mercy; and not by the failure of succour but 
by the determination to die. But what must we 
feel to be the intercessory power of His life 
Who died and rose again by His own inherent 
power 6 For the blessed Apostle says that 
the Father " spared not His own Son, but 
gave Him up for us all J ; " and again, he says, 
" For Christ loved the Church, and gave Him- 
self up for her, that He might sanctify it 8 ." 
And hence the giving up of the Lord to His 
Passion was as much of the Father's as of 
His own will, so that not only did the Father 
" forsake " Him, but He also abandoned Him- 
self in a certain sense, not in hasty flight, but in 
voluntary withdrawal. For the might of the 
Crucified restrained itself from those wicked 
men, and in order to avail Himself of a secret 
design, He refused to avail Himself of His 
open power. For how would He who nad 
come to destroy death and the author of death 
by His Passion have saved sinners, if he had 
resisted His persecutors? This, then, had 
been the Jews' belief, that Jesus had been for- 
saken by God, against Whom they had been 

5 For the doctrine here stated, cf. Serm. LI., chap. vi. 

6 Quie vero illic vitce intercessio sentieitiia est, ubi anuna 
et totestate est emissa et pote -state revocata ? If we adopt Ques- 
nel's conjecture intercisio for intercessio the meaning is I sup- 
pose, " What cutting off of the thread oflife is conceivable in Hii 
case Who &c?" 

7 Rom. viii. %-z. 8 Eph. v 2, and 2^. s» 



SERMON LXXI. 



181 



able to commit such unholy cruelty ; for not 
understanding the mystery of His wondrous 
endurance, they said in blasphemous mockery: 
"He saved others, Himself He cannot save. 
If He be the King of Israel, let Him now 
come down from the cross, and we believe 
Him 9." Not at your blind will, O foolish 
scribes and wicked priests, was the Saviour's 
power to be displayed, nor in obedience to 
blasphemers' evil tongues was the Redemption 
of mankind to be delayed ; for if you had 
wished to recognize the Godhead of the Son 
of God, you would have observed His num- 
berless works, and they must have confirmed 
you in that faith, which you so deceitfully pro- 
mise. But if, as you yourselves acknowledge, 
it is true that He saved others, why have those 
many, great miracles, which have been done 
under the public gaze, done nothing to soften 
the hardness of your hearts, unless it be be- 
cause you have always so resisted the Holy 
Ghost as to turn all God's benefits towards you 
into your destruction ? For even though Christ 
should descend from the cross, you would yet 
remain in your crime. 

III. A transition was then being effected from 
the Old to the New Dispensation. 

Therefore the insults of empty exultation 
were scorned, and the Lord's mercy in restor- 
ing the lost and the fallen was not turned from 
the path of its purpose by contumely or revil- 
ing. For a peerless victim was being offered 
to God for the world's salvation, and the slay- 
ing of Christ the true Lamb, predicted through 
so many ages, was transferring the sons of 
promise into the liberty of the Faith. The 
New Testament also was being ratified, and in 
the blood of Christ the heirs of the eternal 
Kingdom were being enrolled ; the High Pontiff 
was entering the Holy of Holies, and to inter- 
cede with God the spotless Priest was passing 
in through the veil of His flesh 9 a . In fine, so 
evident a transition was being effected from 
the Law to the Gospel, from the synagogue to 
the Church, from many sacrifices to the One 
Victim *, that, when the Lord gave up the 
ghost, that mystic veil which hung before and 
shut out the inner part of the Temple and its 
holy recess was by sudden force torn from top 
to bottom 9 a , for the reason that Truth was dis- 
placing figures, and forerunners were needless 
■ in the presence of Him they announced. To 
this was added a terrible confusion of all the 
elements, and nature herself withdrew her sup- 
port from Christ's crucifiers. And although 



9 S. Matt, xxvii. 42. 

9" Ct. Heb. x. 20 : and below, S. Matt, xxvii. 51 and 54. 

1 The older editions here add qua Deus est (which is God), 
which however both CJuesnel and the Ball, leject as a marginal 
tjLss. 



the centurion in charge of the crucifixion, in 
fright at what he had seen, said " truly this man 
was the Son of God 9 a ," yet the wicked hearts of 
the Jews, which were harder than all tombs 
and rocks, is not reported to have been pierced 
by any compunction:, so that it seems the 
Roman soldiers were then readier to recognize 
the Son of God than the priests of Israel. 

IV. Let ns profit by fasting and good works at 
this sacred season of the year. 

Because, then, the Jews, deprived of all the 
sanctification imparted by these mysteries, 
turned their light into darkness and their 
"feasts into mourning 13 ," let us, dearly-be- 
loved, prostrate our bodies and our souls and 
worship God's Grace, which has been poured 
out upon all nations, beseeching the merciful 
Father and the rich Redeemer from day to 
day to give us His aid and enable us to 
escape all the dangers of this life. For the 
crafty tempter is present everywhere, and leaves 
nothing free from his snares. Whom, God's 
mercy helping us, which is stretched out to us 
amid all dangers, we must ever with stedfast 
faith resist ia , so that, though he never ceases 
to asail, he may never succeed in carrying 
the assault. Let all, dearly-beloved, religiously 
keep and profit by the fast, and let no excesses 
mar the benefits of such self-restraint as we have 
proved convenient both for soul and body. 
For the things which pertain to sobriety and 
temperance must be the more diligently ob- 
served at this season, that a lasting habit may 
be contracted from a brief zeal ; and whether 
in works of mercy or in strict self-denial, no 
hours may be left idle by the faithful, seeing 
that, as years increase and time glides by, we 
are bound to increase our store of works, and 
not squander our opportunities. And to devout 
wills and religious souls God's Mercy will be 
granted, that He may enable us to obtain that 
which He enabled us to desire, Who liveth 
and reigneth with our Lord Jesus Christ His 
Son, and with the Holy Ghost, for ever and 
ever. Amen. 

SFRMON LXXI. 

(On the Lord's Resurrection, I.; de- 
livered on Holv Saturday in the Vigil 
of Easter 2 .) 

I. We must all be partakers in Christ's Resur- 
rection life. 

In my last sermon 3, dearly-beloved, not in- 

Ia Cf. Amos viii. 10 : and below, i Pet. v. 9. 

2 The time of delivery of this and tne next Sermons was first 
identified by Que.->nel with Easter Eve : for a most instructive 
note on the ceremonies of that day in early times, see Bright's 
n. 102. 

3 Viz. Serm. LXX. in which (chap 6) he had promised to 






182 



SERMONS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



appropriately, as I think, we explained to you 
our participation in the cross of Christ, whereby 
the life of believers contains in itself the mys- 
tery of Easter, and thus what is honoured at 
the feast is celebrated by our practice. And 
how useful this is you yourselves have proved, 
and by your devotion have learnt, how greatly 
benefited souls and bodies are by longer fasts, 
more frequent prayers, and more liberal alms. 
For there can be hardly any one who has not 
profited by this exercise, and who has not 
stored up in the recesses of his conscience 
something over which he may rightly rejoice. 
But these advantages must be retained with 
persistent care, lest our efforts fall away into 
idleness, and the devil's malice steal what 
God's grace gave. Since, therefore, by our 
forty days' observance 4 we have wished to bring 
about this effect, that we should feel something 
of the Cross at the time of the Lord's Passion, 
we must strive to be found partakers also of 
Christ's Resurrection, and " pass from death 
unto life 4 Y' while we are in this body. For 
when a man is changed by some process from 
one thing into another, not to be what he was 
is to him an ending, and to be what he was not is 
a beginning. But the question is, to what a man 
either dies or lives : because there is a death, 
which is the cause of living, and there is a life, 
which is the cause of dying. And nowhere else 
but in this transitory world are both sought after, 
so that upon the character of our temporal 
actions depend the differences of the eternal 
retributions. We must die, therefore, to the 
devil and live to God : we must perish to 
iniquity that we may rise to righteousness. 
Let the old sink, that the new may rise ; and 
since, as says the Truth, " no one can serve two 
masters 5 ," let not him be lord who has caused 
the overthrow of those that stood, but Him 
Who has raised the fallen to victory. 

II. God did not leave His soul in hell, nor suffer 
His flesh to see corruption. 

Accordingly, since the Apostle says, " the 
first man is of the earth earthy, the second 
man is from heaven heavenly. As is the 
earthy, such also are they that are earthy ; and 
as is the heavenly, such also are they that are 
heavenly. As we have borne the image of the 
earthy, so let us also bear the image of Him 



continue the subject (superest ut de obtinendo resurrectionis 
consortia di.sseramus : quod ne continuato sermone et mihi et 
vobisjiat onoosum, in diem sabbati ptomissa differemus). 

4 Ace. to Bright (n. 103), "As to the duration ot Lent, there 
was anciently much diversity .... Although it was not until the 
time of Gregory II. (715— 731) that it became strictly a forty days' 
fast, there is no doubt that in the fourth century ii not earlier 
a period was generally obsened which might be called 'forty 
days. ' 

4» Cf. 1 S. John iii. 14. 5 S. Matt. vi. 24. 



Who is from heaven 6 ," we must greatly rejoice 
over this change, whereby we are translated 
from earthly degradation to heavenly dignit) 
through His unspeakable mercy, Who de- 
scended into our estate that He might promote 
us to His, by assuming not only the substance 
but also the conditions of sinful nature, and 
by allowing the impassibility of Godhead to 
be affected by all the miseries which are the 
lot of mortal manhood. And hence that the 
disturbed minds of the disciples might not be 
racked by prolonged grief, He with such 
wondrous speed shortened the three days' 
delay which He had announced, that by join- 
ing the last part of the first and the first part 
of the third day to the whole of the second, 
He cut off a considerable portion of the 
period, and yet did not lessen the number of 
days. The Saviour's Resurrection therefore 
did not long keep His soul in Hades, nor His 
flesh in the tomb ; and so speedy was the 
quickening of His uncorrupted flesh that it 
bore a closer resemblance to slumber than to 
death, seeing that the Godhead, Which quitted 
not either part of the Human Nature which 
He had assumed, reunited by Its power that 
which Its power had separated 7. 

III. Chiisfs manifestations after the Resurrec- 
tion slunved that His Person was essentially 
the same as before. 

And then there followed many proofs, 
whereon the authority of the Faith to be 
preached through the whole world might be 
based. And although the rolling away of the 
stone, the empty tomb, the arrangement of 
the linen cloths, and the angels who narrated 
the whole deed by themselves fully built up 
the truth of the Lord's Resurrection, yet did 
He often appear plainly to the eyes both of 
the women and of the Apostles 8 , not only 
talking with them, but also remaining and 
eating with them, and allowing Himself to be 
handled by the eager and curious hands of 
those whom doubt assailed. For to this end 
He entered when the doors were closed upon 
the disciples, and gave them the Holy Spirit 
by breathing on them, and after giving them 
the light of understanding opened the secrets 



6 1 Cor. xv 47 — 49. Leo's text agrees with the Vulgate in in- 
serting ' heavenly' alter 'from heaven,' and in translating <j>opc 
erco/xei/ (let us bear) not c/iopeo-o/xei' (we shall bear), but is peculiar 
in its paraphrase at the end ot the quotation (" the image of Him, 
&c"). 

7 Cf. Serm. LXX. chap. 3, nisi enim Verbum caro Jieret, 
et tatn solida consisteret unitas in utraque natura, -ut a sus- 
cipiente susceptam nee ipsum breve mortis tempus abiungeret, 
nnnquam valeret ad tztemitatem redire mortatitas. Bright 
(n. 96) quotes authorities ancient and more recent to show that 
this has always been the Christian's belief. 

8 From this point to the end of the chapter the language 
is almost identical with a passage in Letter XXVIII. (Tome), 
chap. 5. 






SERMON LXXI. 



183 



of the Holy Scriptures, and again Himself 
showed them the wound in the side, the 
prints of the nails, and all the marks of His 
most recent Passion, whereby it might be 
acknowledged that in Him the properties of 
the Divine and Human Nature remained un- 
divided, and we might in such sort know that 
the Word was not what the flesh is, as to 
confess God's only Son to be both Word and 
Flesh. 

IV. But though it is the same, it is also 
glorified. 

The Apostle of the Gentiles, Paul, dearly- 
beloved, does not disagree with this belief, 
when he says, " even though we have known 
Christ after the flesh, yet now we know Him 
so no more 9." For the Lord's Resurrection 
was not the ending, but the changing of the 
flesh, and His substance was not destroyed by 
His increase of power. The quality altered, 
but the nature did not cease to exist : the 
body was made impassible, which it had been 
possible to crucify : it was made incorruptible, 
though it had been possible to wound it. And 
properly is Christ's flesh said not to be known 
in that state in which it had been known, 
Decause nothing remained passible in it, no- 
:hing weak, so that it was both the same in es- 
sence and not the same in glory. But what 
vonder if S. Paul maintains this about Christ's 
)ody, when he says of all spiritual Christians, 
' wherefore henceforth we know no one after 
he flesh." Henceforth, he says, we begin 

experience the resurrection in Christ, since 
he time when in Him, Who died for all, all 
>ur hopes were guaranteed to us. We do not 
lesitate in diffidence, we are not under the 
uspense of uncertainty, but having received 
n earnest of the promise, we now with the 
ye of faith see the things which will be, and 
Voicing in the uplifting of our nature, we 
lready possess what we believe. 

'. Being saved by hope, we must not fulfil the 
lusts of the flesh. 

1 Let us not then be taken up with the 
opearances of temporal matters, neither let 
jr contemplations be diverted from heavenly 
1 earthly things. Things which as yet have 
r the most part not come to pass must be 

.ckoned as accomplished : and the mind 
tent on what is permanent must fix its 
>sires there, where what is offered is eternal, 
or although " by hope we were saved '," and 



9 2 Cor. v. 16. It must be home in mind that the application 
the phrase after the flesh (itari crapica) is mistaken : S. Paul 

ians according to the ordinary view of man," as in Rom. viii. i, 

i ! 2 Cor. x. 2. See Blight's note 107. 
Rom. viii. 24. 



still bear about with us a flesh that is cor- 
ruptible and mortal, yet we are rightly said 
not to be in the flesh, if the fleshly affections 
do not dominate us, and are justified in ceas- 
ing to be named after that, the will of which 
we do not follow. And so, when the Apostle 
says, " make not provision for the flesh in the 
lusts thereof 2 ," we understand that those 
things are not forbidden us, which conduce 
to health and which human weakness demands, 
but because we may not satisfy all, our desires 
nor indulge in all that the flesh lusts after, we 
recognize that we are warned to exercise such 
self-restraint as not to permit what is excessive 
nor refuse what is necessary to the flesh, which 
is placed under the mind's control 3. And 
hence the same Apostle says in another place, 
" For no one ever hated his own flesh, but 
nourisheth and cherisheth it*;" in so far, of 
course, as it must be nourished and cherished 
not in vices and luxurv, but with a view to its 
proper functions, so that nature may recover 
herself and maintain due order, the lower 
parts not prevailing wrongfully and debasingly 
over the higher, nor the higher yielding to 
the lower, lest if vices overpower the mind, 
slavery ensues where there should be supre- 
macy. 

VI. Our godly resolutions must continue all the 
year round, not be confined to Easter only. 

Let God's people then recognize that they 
are a new creation in Christ, and with all 
vigilance understand by Whom they have 
been adopted and Wnom they have adopted s. 
Let not the things, which have been made 
new, return to their ancient instability ; and 
let not him who has " put his hand to 
the plough 6 " forsake his work, but rather 
attend to that which he sows than look back 
to that which he has left behind. Let no one 
fall back into that from which he has risen, 
but, even though from bodily weakness he 
still languishes under certain maladies, let him 
urgently desire to be healed and raised up. 
For this is the path of health through imitation 
of the Resurrection begun in Christ, whereby, 
notwithstanding the many accidents and falls 
to which in this slippery life the traveller is 
liable, his feet may be guided from the 
quagmire on to solid ground, for, as it is 
written, " the steps of a man are directed 
by the Lord, and He will delight in his way. 
When the just man falls he shall not be over- 
thrown, because the Lord will stretch out His 



2 Rom. xiii. 14. 

3 Cf. Serm. XIX. chap. 1. 4 Eph. v. 20. 

5 Quo suscepta sit (sc. nova creatura) quevive suscepertt, 
i.e. Christ has taken on Him human natuie, and we by virtu*' 
thereof are partakers of the Divine. 

6 S. Luke ix. 62. 



1 84 



SERMONS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



hand 7." These thoughts, dearly-beloved, must 
be kept in mind not only for the Easter 
festival, but also for the sanctification of the 
whole life, and to this our present exercise 
ought to be directed, that what has delighted 
the souls of the faithful by the experience of a 
short observance may pass into a habit and 
remain unalterably, and if any fault creep in, 
it may be destroyed by speedy repentance. 
And because the cure of old-standing diseases 
is slow and difficult, remedies should be 
applied early, when the wounds are fresh, so 
that rising ever anew from all downfalls, we 
may deserve to attain to the incorruptible 
Resurrection of our glorified flesh in Christ 
Jesus our Lo-d, Who lives and reigns with 
the Father and the Holy Ghost for ever and 
ever. Amen. 

SERMON LXXII. 



(On the Lord's Resurrection, II.) 

I. The Cross is ?iot only the mystery of salvation, 
but an example to follow. 

The whole of the Easter mystery, dearly- 
beloved, has been brought before us in the 
Gospel narrative, and the ears of the mind 
have been so reached through the ear of flesh 
that none of you can fail to have a picture 
of the events : for the text of the Divinely- 
inspired story has clearly shown the treachery 
of the Lord Jesus Christ's betrayal, the judg- 
ment by which He was condemned, the 
barbarity of His crucifixion, and glory of His 
resurrection. But a sermon is still required 
of us, that the priests' exhortation may be 
added to the solemn reading of Holy Writ, 
as I am sure you are with pious expectation 
demanding of us as your accustomed due. 
Because therefore there is no place for ignor- 
ance in faithful ears, the seed of the Word, 
which consists of the preaching of the Gospel, 
ought to grow in the soil of your heart, so that, 
when choking thorns and thistles have been 
removed, the plants of holy thoughts and the 
buds of right desires may spring up freely into 
fruit. For the cross of Christ, which was set 
up for the salvation of mortals, is both a 
mystery and an example 8 : a sacrament where 
by the Divine power takes effect, an example 
whereby man's devotion is excited : for to 
those who are rescued from the prisoner's 
yoke Redemption furt ler procures the power 
of following the way of the cross by imitation. 
For if the world's wisdom so prides itself in its 
error that every one follows the opinions and 



habits and whole manner of life of him whom 
he has chosen as his leader, how shall we share 
in the name of Christ, save by being insepar- 
ably united to Him, Who is, as He Himself 
asserted, " the Way, the Truth, and the Life 9 ?" 
the Way that is of holy living, the Truth of 
Divine doctrine, and the Life of eternal happi- 
ness. 



II. Christ took our nature upon Him for our 
salvation. 

For when the whole body of mankind had 
fallen in our first parents, the merciful God 
purposed so to succour, through His only- 
begotten Jesus Christ, His creatures made 
after His image, that the restoration of our 
nature should not be effected apart from it, 
and that our new estate should be an advance 
upon our original position. Happy, if we had 
not fallen from that which Goo made us ; but 
happier, if we remain that which He has re-made 
us. It was much to have received form from 
Christ ; it is more to have a substance in 
Christ *. For we were taken up into its own 
proper self by that Nature (which conde- 
scended to those limitations which loving 
kindness dictated and which yet incurred no 
sort of change. We were taken up by that 
Nature 2 ), which destroyed not what was His in 
what was ours, nor what was ours in what was 
His ; which made the person of the Godhead 
and of the Manhood so one in Itself that by 
co-ordination of weakness and power, the flesh 
could not be rendered inviolable through the 
Godhead, nor the Godhead passible through 
the flesh. We were taken up by that Nature, 
which did not break off the Branch from the 
common stock of our race, and yet excluded al 
taint of the sin which has passed upon all men. 
That is to say, weakness and mortality, which 
were not sin, but the penalty of sin, were 
undergone by the Redeemer of the World ir 
the way of punishment, that they might b< 
reckoned as the price of redemption. Whal 
therefore in all of us is the heritage of cor 
demnation, is in Christ "the mystery of godli 
ness 3." For being free from debt, He gav 
Himself up to that most cruel creditor, and 
suffered the hands of Jews to be the devil' 
agents in torturing His spotless flesh. Whicl 
flesh He willed to be subject to death, evei 
up to His (speedy) 4 resurrection, to this end 
that believers in Him might find neither perse 






■B.1 












7 Ps. xxxvii. 23, 24. 

8 Cf. Serm. LXIII. 4, above : Salvator noster — et sacra- 
mention condidit et exemplum : ut unum apprchenderent renas- 
cendo, alteram sequerentur imitando. 



9 S. John xiv. 6. 

1 i.e. that both of the two natures in Christ should be our 
as he goes on to show. 

2 The words in brackets are of doubtful genuineness, and seei 
in themselves a media:val imitation of Leo's style. 

3 Sacramentum pietatis, the regular Latin version of 1 Tin 
iii. 16. 

4 Celerrimam. The epithet spoils the argument, and is pr< 
bably an interpolation. Cf. however Serm. LXXI. chap. 2, abov' 



SERMON LXXII. 



185 



cution intolerable, nor death terrible, by the 
remembrance that there was no more doubt 
about their sharing His glory than there was 
about His sharing their nature. 

III. The presence of the risen and ascended Lord 
is still with us. 
And so, dearly-beloved, if we unhesitatingly 
believe with the heart what we profess with 
:he mouth, in Christ we are crucified, we are 
dead, we are buried ; on the very third day, 
:oo, we are raised. Hence the Apostle says, 
' If ye have risen with Christ, seek those things 
jvhich are above, where Christ is, sitting on 
jou's right hand : set your affections on things 
ibove, not on things on the earth For ye are 
lead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 
?or when Christ, your life, shall have appeared, 
hen shall ye also appear with Him in glory 5." 
3ut that the hearts of the faithful may know 
•hat they have that whereby to spurn the lusts 
>f the world and be lifted to the wisdom that 
is above, the Lord promises us His presence, 
aying, " Lo ! I am with you all the days, even 
!ill the end of the age 6 ." For not in vain 
jiad the Holy Ghost said by Isaiah : " Behold ! 
;. virgin shall conceive and shall bear a Son, 
nd they shall call His name Emmanuel, which 
;, being interpreted, God witn us ?." Jesus, 
iherefore, fulfils the proper meaning ot His 
lame, and in ascending into the heavens does 
ot forsake His adopted brethren, though " He 
itteth at the right hand of the Father," yet 
wells in the whole body, and Himself from 
bove strengthens them for patient waiting 
bile He summons them upwards to His 
lory. 

iV. We must have the same mind as was in 
Christ Jesus. 

We must not, therefore, indulge in folly 

mid vain pursuits, nor give way to fear in the 

lidst of adversities. On the one side, no 

oubt, we are flattered by deceits, and on the 

ther weighed down by troubles ; but becau.se 

the earth is full of the mercy of the Lord 8 ," 

hrist's victory is assuredly ours, that what He 

tys may be fulfilled, " Fear not, for I have 

|/ercome the worlds" Whether, then, we 

;ht against the ambition of the world, or 

;ainst the lusts of the flesh, or against the 

irts of heresy, let us arm ourselves always 

ith the Lord's cross. For our Paschal feast 

11 never end, if we abstain from the leaven 

the old wickedness (in the sincerity of 

ith '). For amid all the changes of this life, 

lich is full of various afflictions, we ought to 



remember the Apostle's exhortation, whereby 



us, saying, " Let this mind be in 
which was also in Christ Jesus : Who 
the form of God counted it not rob- 



in 



he instructs 
you 
being 

bery to be equal with God, but emptied Himself, 
taking the form of a bondservant, being made 
in the likeness of men and found in fashion as 
a man. Wherefore God also exalted Him, 
and gave Him a name which is above every 
name, that in the name of Jesus every knee 
should bow of things in heaven, of things on 
earth, and of things below, and that every 
tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus 
Christ is in the glory of God the Father 2 ." If, 
he says, you understand " the mystery of great 
godliness," and remember what the Only-be- 
gotten Son of God did for the salvation of 
mankind, "have that mind in you which was 
also in Christ Jesus," Whose humility is not to 
be scorned by any of the rich, not to be thought 
shame of by any of the high-born. For no 
human happiness whatever can reach so great 
a height as to reckon it a source of shame to 
himself that God, abiding in the form of God, 
thought it not unworthy of Himself to take the 
form of a slave. 

V. Only he who holds the truth on the Incarna- 
tion can keep Easter properly. 

Imitate what He wrought: love what H^ 
loved, and finding in you the Grace of God, 
love in Him your nature in return, since as He 
was not dispossessed of riches in poverty, 
lessened not glory in humility, lost not eternity 



in death, so do ye. 



too, treading in His foot- 



5 Col. iii. 1 — , 
S Watt, i. 23. 
' Cf. 1 Cor. 

8 'ority. 



6 S. Matt, xxviii. 20. 7 Is. vii. 14; 

8 Ps. xxxiii. 5. 9 S. John xvi. 33. 

8 : the words in brackets are of doubtful 



steps, despise earthly things that ye may gain 
heavenly : for the taking up of the cross means 
the slaying of lusts, the killing of vices, the 
turning away from vanity, and the renunciation 
of all error. For, though the Lord's Passover 
can be kept by no immodest, self-indulgent, 
proud, or miserly person, yet none are held so 
far aloof from this festival as heretics, and 
especially those who have wrong views on the 
Incarnation of the Word, either disparaging what 
belongs to the Godhead or treating what is of 
the flesh as unreal. For the Son of God is true 
God, having from the Father all that the 
Father is, with no beginning in time, subject 
to no sort of change, undivided from the One 
God, not different from the Almighty, the 
eternal Only-begotten of the eternal Father ; so 
that the faithful intellect believing in the 
Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost in 
the same essence of the one Godhead, neither 
divides the Unity by suggesting degrees of dig- 
nity, nor confounds the Trinity by 
the Persons in one. But it is 
know the Son of God in the Father's natur 



merging 
not enough to 



a Phil. ii. 



1 86 



SERMONS OF LEO THE GREAT. 



only, unless we acknowledge Him in what is 
ours without withdrawal of what is His own. 
For that self-emptying, which He underwent 
for man's restoration, was the dispensation of 
compassion, not the loss of powers. For, 
though by the eternal purpose of God there 
was " no other name under heaven given to 
men whereby they must be saved*," the In- 
visible made His substance visible, the Intem- 
poral temporal, the Impassible passible : not 
that power might sink into weakness, but 
that weakness might pass into indestructible 
power. 

VI. A mystical application of the term "Pass- 

over" is given. 

For which reason the very feast which by 
us is named Pasc/ia, among the Hebrews is 
called Phase, that is Pass-over 5, as the evan- 
gelist attests, saying, " Before the feast of 
Pascha, Jesus knowing that His hour was 
come that He should pass out of this world 
unto the Father 6 ." But what was the nature 
in which He thus passed out unless it was 
ours, since the Father was in the Son and the 
Son in the Father inseparably? But because 
the Word and the Flesh is one Person, the 
Assumed is not separated from the Assuming 
nature, and the honour of being promoted is 
spoken of as accruing to Him that promotes, 
as the Apostle savs in a passage we have 
already quoted, " Wherefore also God exalted 
Him and gave Him a name which is above 
every name." Where the exaltation of His 
assumed Manhood is no doubt spoken of, 
so that He in Whose sufferings the Godhead 
remains indivisible is likewise coeternal in the 
glory of the Godhead. And to share in this un- 
speakable gift the Lord Himself was preparing 
a blessed " passing over " for His faithful ones, 
when on the very threshhold of His Passion 
he interceded not only for His Apostles and 
disciples but also for the whole Church, saying, 
" But not for these only I pray, but for those also 
who shall believe on Me through their word, that 
they.all may be one, as Thou also, Father, art 
in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be 
one in us ?.'' 

VII. Only true believers can keep the Paster 

Festival 

In this union they can have no share who 

3 Much the s:ime language is used in Lett. XXVIII. (Tome) 
3 and Serni. XXII I. 2. 4 Acts iv. 12. 

5 Phase id est transitus dicitur, cf. the Vulgate, Exod. xii. 11, 
est enim Phase (id est trans tus) Domini. The form of the word 
is due to defective transliteration, the correct Hebrew form being 
Pesach, which " is derived from a root which means to step over or 
to overleap, and thus points back to the historical origin of the 
festival (Exod. xii.)." — Eaerslieim's Temp e, p. 179. 

6 S. John xiii. 1 ; the word for "pass" here in the Gk. is 
fi.cTa.fij), in the Lat. transeat. 

7 S. John xvii. 20, 21. 



deny that in the Son of God, Himself true God, 
man's nature abides, assailing the health-giving 
mystery and shutting themselves out from the 
Easter festival. For, as they dissent from the 
Gospel and gainsay the creed, they cannot keep 
it with us, because although they dare to take 
to themselves the Christian name, yet they are 
repelled by every creature who has Christ for 
his Head : for you rightly exult and devoutly 
rejoice in this sacred season as those who, 
admitting no falsehood into the Truth, have no 
doubt about Christ's Birth according to the 
flesh, His Passion and Death, and the Resur- 
rection of His body : inasmuch as without any 
separation of the Godhead you acknowledge a 
Christ, Who was truly born of a Virgin's womb, 
truly hung on the wood of the cross, truly laid 
in an earthly tomb, truly raised in glory, truly 
set on the right hand of the Father's majesty; 
" whence also," as the Apostle savs, "we look 
for a Saviour our Lord Jesus Christ. Who 
shall refashion the body of our humility to be- 
come conformed to the body of His glory 8 ." 
Who livcth and reigneth, &c. 

SERMON LXXIII. 

(On the Lord's Ascension, I.) 

I. The events recorded as happening after the 
Resurrection were intended to convince us of 
its truth. • 

Since the blessed and glorious Resurrection 
of our Lord Jesus Christ, whereby the Divine 
power in three days raised the true Temple of 
God, which the wickedness of the Jews had 
overthrown, the sacred forty days, dearly-be- 
loved, are to-day ended, which by most holy 
appointment were devoted to our most profit- 
able instruction, so that, during the period that 
the Lord thus protracted the lingering of His 
bodily presence, our faith in the Resurrection 
might be fortified by needful proofs. For 
Christ's Death had much disturbed the dis- 
ciples' hearts, and a kind of torpor of distrust 
had crept over their grief-laden minds at His 
torture on the cross, at His giving up the ghost, 
at His lifeless body's burial. For, when the 
holy women, as the Gospel-story has revealed, 
brought word of the stone rolled away from the 
tomb, the sepulchre emptied of the body, and 
the angels bearing witness to the living Lord, 
their words seemed like ravings to the Apostles 
and other disciples. Which doubtfulness, the 
result of human weakness, the Spirit of Truth 
would most assuredly not have permitted to 
exist in His own preacher's breasts, had not 
their trembling anxiety and careful hesitation 
laid the foundations of our faith. It was our _ 

8 Phil. iii. 20, 21. 



I htf.3 



SERMON LXXIV. 



187 



perplexities and our dangers that were provided 
ifor in the Apostles: it was ourselves who in 
these men were taught how to meet the cavil- 
lings of the ungouly and the arguments of 
earthly wisdom. We are instructed by their 
lookings, we are taught by their hearings, we 
are convinced by their handlings. Let us give 
thanks to the Divine management and the holy 
Fathers' necessary slowness of belief. Others 
doubted, that we might not doubt. 

II. And therefore they are in the highest degree 
instructive. 
Those days, therefore, dearly-beloved, which 
intervened between the Lord's Resurrection 
and Ascension did not pass by in uneventful 
leisure, but great mysteries 9 were ratified in 
them, deep truths 9 revealed. In them the fear 
of awful death was removed, and the immor- 
tality not only of the soul but also of the flesh 
established. In them, through the Lord's breath- 
ing upon them, the Holy Ghost is poured upon 
all the Apostles, and to the blessed Apostle 
Peter beyond the rest the care of the Lord's 
flock is entrusted, in addition to the keys of 
the kingdom. Then it was that the Lord 
joined the two disciples as a companion on 
Jie way, and, to the sweeping away of all the 
:louds of our uncertainty, upbraided them with 
:he slowness of their timorous hearts. Their 
enlightened hearts catch the flame of faith, 
ind lukewarm as they have been, are made to 
jurn while the Lord unfolds the Scriptures. 
In the breaking of bread also their eyes are 
jpened as they eat with Him : how far more 
blessed is the opening of their eyes, to whom 
he glorification of their nature is revealed than 
hat of our first parents, on whom fell the dis- 
istrous consequences of their transgression. 

III. They prove the Resurrection of the flesh. 

And in the course of these and other 
jniracles, when the disciples were harassed 
>y bewildering thoughts, and the Lord had 
ppeared in their midst and said, " Peace be 
nto you V that what was passing through 
heir hearts might not be their fixed opinion 
for they thought they saw a spirit not flesh), 
ie refutes their thoughts so discordant with 
he Truth, offers to the doubters' eyes the marks 
f the cross that remained in His hands and 
2et, and invites them to handle Him with 
areful scrutiny, because the traces of the nails 
nd spear had been retained to heal the 
.'ounds of unbelieving hearts, so that not with 
■avering faith, but with most stedfast know- 
edge they might comprehend that the Nature 



9 Sacramenta — mysteria. 

1 S. Luke xxiv. 36 : S. John xx. 19. 



which had been lain in the sepulchre was to si) 
on God the Father's throne. 

IV. Christ's Ascension has given us greater 
privileges and joys than the devil had taken 
from us. 

Accordingly, dearly-beloved, throughout this 
time which elapsed between the Lord's Resur- 
rection and Ascension, God's Providence had 
this in view, to teach and impress upon both 
the eyes and hearts of His own people that the 
Lord Jesus Christ might be acknowledged to 
have as truly risen, as He was truly born