The Council of Serdica in 343 can rightly be considered a disastrous encounter between East and West.  Rather than resolve any differences, the meeting only accentuated the disagreements between the two parties and created further tensions.  At the opening of the Council, the West insisited that certain bishops who had previously been deposed by eastern councils, especially Athanasius, Marcellus, and Asclepas of Gaza be allowed to take part in the deliberations.  The eastern bishops objected and finally abandoned Serdica and departed to Philippopolis.  There they affirmed their decisions from the Council of Antioch in 341 and published their own encyclical letter stating as much.  Meanwhile, the western bishops reaffirmed the decisions of the Council of Rome in 341 and declared Athanasius, Marcellus, etc. to be orthodox.  They likewise published their own canons, letters, and depositions.

Date 343
Summoned by Constans
Key Issue To resolve the disagreements between East and West over the Arian controversy.
West East
Location Serdica (modern Sophia) Philoppopolis
Number of Participants c. 94 c. 76
Key Participants Ossius of Cordova, Protogenes of Serdica, Maximinus of Trier, Marcellus of Ancyra, Athanasius, Asclepas of Gaza Stephen of Antioch, Basil of Ancyra, Ursacius, Valens, Maris of Chalcedon, Narcissus of Neronias
Results Paul and Athanasius restored to their respective sees. Leading Eastern bishops anathematized. Leading Western bishops anathematized.
Ancient Descriptions Ossius of Cordova, CPL 537-539Socrates, Historia Ecclesiastica 2.20, 2.22Sozomen, Historia Ecclesiastica 3.11.3-3.12.7Theodoret, Historia Ecclesiastica 2.7, 2.8Athanasius, Apologia Secunda 36-50, Historia Arianorum 15.3, 18.3, De Synodis 25, Tomus ad Antiochenos 5, 10Hilary Collectanea Antiariana Parisinia B.1-2, Liber ad Constantium 1.1-2.3


Surviving Documents from the West: Surviving Documents from the East:
  • An Encyclical Letter (Hilary, Collectanea Antiariana Parisinia A.4.1-3.) [Wickham, pp. 20-41]aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
  • The above mentioned letter contains a profession of faith (Hilary, Collectanea Antiariana Parisinia A.4.1-3 [Wickham, pp. 37-38]; Turner, Ecclesiae Occidentalis Monumenta Iuris Antiquissima, 1.637-640.)
  • A Paschal Cycle (Turner, Ecclesiae Occidentalis Monumenta Iuris Antiquissima, 1.641-643.)
  • A Synodical Letter to the Churches of the Mareotis (Turner, Ecclesiae Occidentalis Monumenta Iuris Antiquissima, 1.659-62.)
  • Letter of Athanasius from Serdica to the Clergy of Alexandria and the Parembole (Turner, Ecclesiae Occidentalis Monumenta Iuris Antiquissima, 1.654-56.)
  • Letter of Ossius and Protogenes to Pope Julius (C. Turner, Ecclesiae Occidentalis Monumenta Iuris Antiquissima, 1.2.452-544)
  • Synodical Letter to the Emperor Constantius (i.e. Hilary, Liber ad Constantium Imperatorem 1.1-5).
Other Extant Documents:


H. Hess, The Early Development of Canon Law and the Council of Serdica, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002).*

R.P.C Hanson, The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God, (New York: T&T Clark, 1988).

*This work is a second, augmented edition of Hess’ original The Canons of the Council of Sardica AD 343.

Created by MKM, JCB and PSAM

Last updated: 4-24-2013

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