Date: 313
Ancient source: Optatus, Against the Donatists, 1.22
English translation: Vassall-Phillips, O.R., The Work of St. Optatus, Bishop of Melvis: Against the Donatists (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1917), 42-3.

I hear that some of your party, in their love of disputation, produce documents. But we have to ask which of these are worthy of trust, which are in accordance with reason, which agree with the truth? It may be that your documents – if indeed you have any – will be found to be stained with falsehoods. Out documents are proved to be true by the rival arguments and pleadings of the parties, by the final judgments, and by the letters of Constantine.

With regard to that which you ask of us: “What have Christians to do with kings, or Bishops with the palace?”

If it be a crime to be acquainted with kings, the whole of the odium falls upon you, for your fathers Lucianus, Dignus, Nasutius, Capito, Fidentius and the rest, when the Emperor Constantine was still without any knowledge of these affairs, addressed a petition to him, of which I will transcribe a copy:

“O Constantine, most excellent Emperor, since you come of a just stock, and your father (unlike other Emperors) did not persecute Christians, and Gaul is free from this wickedness, we beseech you that your piety may command that we be granted judges from Gaul; for between us and other Bishops in Africa disputes have arisen; Given by Lucianus, Dignus, Nasutius, Capito, Didentius and the rest of the Bishops who adhere to Donatus.”

Adapted by SMT

Last updated: 3-29-2011

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