Date 359
Council Ariminum
Ancient Sources Sozomen, HE 4.18; Socrates, HE 2.37; Theodoret, HE 2.19-1-13; Athanasius, De Synodis 10

We believe that what was formerly decreed was brought about both by God’s command and by order of your piety. For we the bishops, from all the Western cities, assembled together at Ariminum, both that the faith of the catholic church might be made known, and that gainsayers might be detected. For, as we have found after long deliberation, it appeared desirable to adhere to and maintain to the end, that faith which, enduring from antiquity, we have received as preached by the prophets, the Gospels, and the Apostles through our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is Keeper of your Kingdom and Patron of your power. For it appeared wrong and unlawful to make any change in what was rightly and justly defined, and what was resolved upon in common at Nicæa along with the Emperor your father, the most glorious Constantine,—the doctrine and spirit of which [definition] went abroad and was proclaimed in the hearing and understanding of all men. For it alone was the conqueror and destroyer of the heresy of Arius, by which not that only but the other heresies also were destroyed, to which of a truth it is perilous to add, and full of danger to subtract anything from it, since if either be done, our enemies will be able with impunity to do whatever they will. Accordingly Ursacius and Valens, since they had been from of old abettors and sympathizers of the Arian dogma, were properly declared separate from our communion, to be admitted to which they asked to be allowed a place of repentance and pardon for the transgressions of which they were conscious, as the documents drawn up by them testify. By which means forgiveness and pardon on all charges has been obtained. Now the time of these transactions was when the council was assembled at Milan, the presbyters of the Roman Church being also present. But knowing at the same time that Constantine of worthy memory had with all accuracy and deliberation published the faith then drawn up; when he had been baptized by the hands of men, and had departed to the place which was his due, [we think it] unseemly to make a subsequent innovation and to despise so many saints, confessors, martyrs, who compiled and drew up this decree; who moreover have continued to hold in all matters according to the ancient law of the Church; whose faith God has imparted even to the times of your reign through our Master Jesus Christ, through whom also it is yours to reign and rule over the world in our day. Once more then the pitiful men of wretched mind with lawless daring have announced themselves as the heralds of an impious opinion, and are attempting to upset every summary of truth. For when according to your command the synod met, those men laid bare the design of their own deceitfulness. For they attempted in a certain unscrupulous and disorderly manner to propose to us an innovation, having found as accomplices in this plot Germinius, Auxentius, and Gaius, the stirrers up of strife and discord, whose teaching by itself has gone beyond every pitch of blasphemy. But when they perceived that we did not share their purpose, nor agree with their evil mind, they transferred themselves to our council, alleging that it might be advisable to compile something instead. But a short time was enough to expose their plans. And lest the Churches should have a recurrence of these disturbances, and a whirl of discord and confusion throw everything into disorder, it seemed good to keep undisturbed the ancient and reasonable institutions, and that the above persons should be separated from our communion. For the information therefore of your clemency, we have instructed our legates to acquaint you with the judgment of the Council by our letter, to whom we have given this special direction, to establish the truth by resting their case upon the ancient and just decrees; and they will also assure your piety that peace would not be accomplished by the removal of those decrees as Valens and Ursacius alleged. For how is it possible for peace-breakers to bring peace? On the contrary, by their means strife and confusion will arise not only in the other cities, but also in the Church of the Romans. On this account we ask your clemency to regard our legates with favorable ears and a serene countenance and not to suffer anything to be abrogated to the dishonor of the dead; but allow us to abide by what has been defined and laid down by our forefathers, who, we venture to say, we trust in all things acted with prudence and wisdom and the Holy Spirit; because by these novelties not only are the faithful made to disbelieve, but the infidels also are embittered. We pray also that you would give orders that so many bishops who are detained abroad, among whom are numbers who are broken with age and poverty, may be enabled to return to their own country, lest the churches suffer, as being deprived of their bishops. This, however, we ask with earnestness, that nothing be innovated upon existing creeds, nothing withdrawn; but that all remain incorrupt which has continued in the times of your Father’s piety and to the present time; and that you will not permit us to be harassed, and estranged from our sees; but that the Bishops may in quiet give themselves always to prayers and worship, which they do always offer for your own safety and for your reign, and for peace, which may the Divinity bestow on you for ever. But our legates are conveying the subscriptions and titles of the bishops, and will also inform your piety from the Holy Scriptures themselves.

Translation from Athanasius, De Synodis 10 (NPNF2 vol. 4, pp. 454-5)

Adapted by SMT

Last updated: 4-17-2011

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