2.37.1 “To the catholic church of the Alexandrians and of all the orthodox, from Constantinus Augustus: Greetings, dear brothers. We have received perfect grace by God’s providence. Freed from all error, we now approve the exact same faith.

2.37.2 No longer can the devil do anything against us. Every wicked scheme he has attempted has been razed to the ground. By God’s command, brilliant truth conquered quarrels, divisions, confusions, and the deadly poison of discord, as I would call it. So we all worship one by name and believe that he exists.

2.37.3 That this might happen, I by the will of God summoned very many bishops to Nicaea, with whom I myself undertook an examination of the truth, though I, like any of you, rejoice exceedingly to be your fellow servant.

2.37.4 We tested and carefully examined everything which seemed to give cause for doubt and disagreement. Let God’s Majesty have mercy on those who spoke so many awful indecent blasphemies about our Savior, about our hope and life, as they proclaimed what is contrary to inspired Scripture and to the holy faith and confessed that they believe such things.

2.37.5 More than three hundred bishops, who are admirable for their wisdom and discernment, confirmed the exact same faith, which is, in truth, the very faith of God’s law. It so happened that Arius alone had been defeated by the devil’s work and had spread this evil with ungodly intent among you first, and then among others.

2.37.6 Let us therefore accept the faith God Almighty has given us. Let us return to our dear brothers, from whom the devil’s shameless servant has separated us. Let us together return to the body of our true members; let us go with all zeal.

2.37.7 This befits your wisdom, faith, and piety: Now that the error of him who continues to be an enemy of truth has been refuted, return to God’s grace.

2.37.8 For the resolution of the three hundred holy bishops is nothing other than the judgment of the Son of God alone, especially since the Holy Spirit has cast light on the will of God by dwelling in the thoughts of these great men.

2.37.9 For this reason, no one should doubt nor hesitate. Instead, you should all eagerly return to the true path so that when I come to you soon, I may with you express due thanks to God, who oversees everything, because he has restored to us the love which we prayed for by showing the pure faith. May God protect you, beloved brothers.”1

2.37.10 “To the churches and bishops who were unrepresented at the holy great council at Nicaea, from Constantinus Augustus: Greetings. From the prosperity of the state I have learned the extent of God’s powerful grace. I therefore decided that the most fitting goal for me would be the preservation of one faith, of pure love, and of unanimous piety toward God Almighty among the blessed multitudes of the catholic church.

2.37.11 But this could not become steadfast and secure unless all or most of the bishops would gather in the same place and make a decision on every matter pertaining to holy religion. For this reason, very many God-loving bishops assembled in this city, Nicaea (including myself, for I happened to be there just like one of you, and I confess that I am thrilled to be your fellow servant) and carefully examined every pertinent matter until the opinion of God, who oversees all things, came to light, resulting in harmonious unity and leaving nothing which could cause division or religious controversy.

2.37.12 When a debate arose here about the holy day of Easter, we unanimously thought it appropriate that all Christians everywhere celebrate the saving festival of holy Easter on one day. For what could be more appropriate, more sacred for us all than to unerringly observe this festival, from which we have received true hope, with uniform order by a clear principle? Above all, it seemed inappropriate to follow the custom of the Jews in observing the holy festival. They defile their hands with unlawful sin and are spiritually blind, unclean as they are. Now that we have rejected their custom, we can establish the celebration of this festival, which we have observed from the first day of the passion up to the present, in more legitimate order for ages to come.

2.37.13 Let us therefore have nothing in common with the hostile Jewish people. We have received another way from the Savior; the path and proper law for our holy religion lies ahead. Let us with one accord cling to it and tear ourselves away from that shameful complicity, honorable brothers.

2.37.14 It is indeed horrendous that they boast over us, as if we would be incapable of observing this festival were it not for their instruction. What could they rightly comprehend now that they have lost their minds after killing the Lord? They are not led by rational thought any longer, but rather by uncontrollable impulses, wherever their inborn madness carries them. Thus they fail to see the truth even in this matter so that they constantly err severely and celebrate the Passover twice in the same year instead of making a proper improvement.

2.37.15 Why then do we follow these people who are admittedly in terrible error? We would never allow two celebrations of Easter in one year. But even if this were not prescribed, we by our intellect ought [to be able through effort and prayer]2 to always keep our pure souls from seeming to appear similar to those utterly evil people.

2.37.16 Furthermore, it is obvious that disagreement is unlawful in so great a matter as this festival of our great religion.

2.37.17 Our Savior granted to us a singular day of freedom, the day of his holy suffering. He has willed that his catholic church be one. Although its members gather in many different places, one Spirit nevertheless comforts it, namely, the will of God.

2.37.18 Now let your pious wisdom consider how terrible and improper it is that on the same days some devote themselves to fasting while others celebrate feasts and that after Easter some are found feasting and relaxing while others surrender themselves to the appointed fasts. This is why God’s providence wants us to make appropriate improvement and establish a uniform regulation, as I think everyone sees.

2.37.19 It was therefore proper to improve this in such a way that we would have nothing in common with those parricides and dominicides. There is a proper arrangement which all the churches in the western, southern, and northern parts of the world observe but which some in the eastern regions do not accept. All therefore now found it good (and I myself maintained that it would be satisfactory to your wisdom) that you also, wise as you are, should gladly accept what is observed in Rome, Italy, all Africa, Spain, Gaul, the Britains, Egypt, both Libyas, all Greece, the district of Asia, Pontus, and Cilicia with one entirely harmonious mind, recognizing not only that the majority of churches are in the aforementioned regions, but also that it is most pious that all decide by common consent not to share in the perjury of the Jews, as careful reasoning also seems to demand.

2.37.20 To briefly summarize the most important point: It pleased the common judgment of all to celebrate the holy festival of Easter on the same day. Disagreement is not proper in such a holy matter, and it is better to follow the opinion in which foreign deceit and sin are not mingled.

2.37.21 Since God’s decision has taken this form through so many great holy bishops, gladly accept heavenly grace and the genuine command of God. Everything which the holy meetings of bishops decided, they decided with God’s will as their standard. You should therefore announce what was written above to all our dear brothers. Then you should also take up the previously mentioned statement of the catholic faith and the observance of the holy day of Easter and make the necessary arrangements. I will come to check on your condition, as I have long desired.

2.37.22 Then I can celebrate the holy festival with you on the same day and will rejoice with you in every respect, seeing that God’s power has destroyed the devil’s cruelty through our deeds. Because our faith, peace, and harmony flourish everywhere, I will offer up hymns of thanksgiving with you to God, the omnibenevolent Savior. May God watch over you, dear brothers.”

2.37.23 This is what he wrote to those absent from the council. He favored those who gathered with words and gifts, and, after having many couches prepared, he entertained them all there, seating the more prominent ones at his table and spreading the rest among the other tables.

2.37.24 When he saw some who had no right eyes because they had been gouged out and learned that their steadfast devotion to Christ had caused their suffering, he kissed their wounds, for he believed that by kissing them he would be blessed. After the feast, he gave them other gifts.

2.37.25 He also gave them letters to the provincial governors with orders to provide yearly pensions to the perpetual virgins, the widows, and those consecrated for divine service in each city. He did this more in keeping with generosity than with need.

2.37.26 Eusebius Pamphili also treats of this: “The praiseworthy faithful Emperor Constantine thus refreshed the holy bishops with great reverence. He bade them farewell and dismissed them all to return home, which they did with much joy. One unanimous mindset finally prevailed before the emperor himself when those long divided joined together like one body.

2.37.27 Because the emperor rejoiced at his success, he shared this abundant fruit with the bishops not present at the council through letters, and he had bountiful quantities of goods distributed to all the people in the countryside and around the cities. Thus he festively celebrated the twentieth year of his reign.”

2.37.28 In the sixth month of the sixteenth year of his reign, as this book explained earlier using the ancient accounts,3 Constantine assembled the holy council of bishops. In his twentieth year they dissolved the council meeting,4 and each returned to his parish, as we said before.

2.37.29 Now that I have included in this ecclesiastical history, according to my ability, the decisions and determinations of the holy council concerning the catholic orthodox faith, the venerable festival of holy Easter, the regulations of the church’s divine liturgy, and the church laws for good order, I will end this book here for the full security of future readers of this book.

2.37.30 I have resolved to present the praiseworthy faithful emperor’s remaining pious acts on behalf of the faith in a third book, to the glory of Christ, the Savior of us all, clearly demonstrating the faithful emperor’s piety.

2.37.31 I must add here only the following, which in my mind is not merely incidental but really quite relevant: the names of the bishops whom all the bishops jointly dispatched to the provinces throughout the world, who sent out letters from the council and the praiseworthy emperor to all the holy churches of God under heaven detailing the decisions of the council, to the glory of God the Father, his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.


Next Chapter – 2.38 A catalogue of the holy bishops through whom the holy and great and ecumenical synod sent out the things decreed in it through them by the Holy Spirit to all the churches of God throughout the entire world

Previous Chapter – 2.36 The great Victor August Constantine to the bishops and people

Click here to read Book 1 in its entirety.


Created by RR 9-29-21

  1. The following letter (CPG 8518) is also preserved in Eusebius, Vita Const. 3.17-20; Socrates 1.9.32-46; Theodoret 1.10.
  2. One manuscript adds the text enclosed in brackets, following the parallel sources.
  3. Cf. 2.5.1 and the footnote there.
  4. This summary of the dates of the council repeats the start date reckoned from Constantine’s accession as Augustus but gives Eusebius’s end date reckoned from Constantine’s accession as Caesar. This could potentially confuse the reader by giving the impression that the council lasted four years (when in fact it lasted about eight weeks).

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