To the honorable lords, our reverend brothers and colleagues: Damasus, Ambrose, Britton, Valerian, Ascholius, Anemius, Basil and the rest of the holy bishops assembled in the great city of Rome. The holy council of the orthodox bishops assembled at the great city of Constantinople sends greetings in the Lord.

It would be redundant to retell all the misfortunes the Arians caused us through their power, since you are already aware of our trials. Because of your piety, we do not assume that you would have placed our pitiable troubles on a secondary level and would need information about them. Our trouble were not small enough to escape notice, and our persecutions are very recent. The sound of the persecutions still rings in the ears of those who suffered them. Recently, some finally returned from foreign lands to their churches, and the relics of others who died in exile were brought home as well. Others, after returning from exile, found the heretics still in power and were stoned like the blessed Stephen, finding more persecution at home than in a foreign land.

Others, worn away with various cruelties, still bear the scars of their wounds and the marks of Christ. Who could tell the tales of fines, of disenfranchisement, of individual confiscations, of intrigues, of outrages, or of prisons? In truth, we experienced all kinds of tribulation in great number, perhaps because we were paying the penalty of sins or perhaps because the merciful God was testing us with the multitude of our sufferings. For these all thanks be to God, who with such afflictions trains his servants and, according to the multitude of his mercies, brings us again to refreshment. Like physicians healing the body after long sickness and expelling its disease by gradual treatment, we indeed needed a broad license, time and toil to restore the church once more to her ancient health and true faith. It is true that overall we seem to have been delivered from the violence of our persecutions and are just now recovering the churches which for a long time have been the prey of heretics. Though they have been driven from the fold, the wolves are still troublesome to us. They harass the flock up and down the fields, daring to hold rival assemblies, stirring sedition among the people and shrinking from nothing which can do damage to the churches. As we have already said therefore, we must labor all the longer. You showed your brotherly love to us (as though we were your own body) by inviting us in the letters of our most religious emperor to the council that you are gathering by divine permission at Rome. Since we alone were condemned to suffer persecution, you should not now, when our emperors are at one with us in the true faith, reign apart from us. Rather, we, to use the Apostle’s phrase, should reign with you.1 Our prayer was, if it were possible, to leave our churches and gratify our longing to see you. “For who will give us the wings of a dove so we may fly and be at rest?”2 This plan, however, seemed likely to leave the churches who were just recovering quite undefended, and the undertaking was to most of us impossible. In accordance with the letters sent a year ago after the Council of Aquileia from your holiness to the most pious emperor Theodosius, we had journeyed to Constantinople, equipped only for traveling that far, and bringing only the consent of the bishops remaining in the provinces of this council alone. We had not been expecting any longer journey and had not heard a word about it before our arrival at Constantinople. Because the narrow time frame did not allow enough time to prepare for a longer journey or communicate with the bishops of our fellowship in the provinces and obtain their consent, the journey to Rome was for the majority impossible. We have therefore adopted the next best course open to us under the circumstances, both for the better administration of the church, and for manifesting our love towards you, by strongly urging our most venerated and honored colleagues and brothers Bishops Cyriacus, Eusebius, and Priscianus to agree to travel to you.

Through them we wish to make it plain that we desire peace and unity and that we are full of zeal for the true faith. For we, whether we suffered persecutions, afflictions, the threats of emperors, the cruelties of princes, or any other trial at the hands of heretics, have undergone everything for the sake of the evangelical faith, ratified by the 318 fathers at Nicæa in Bithynia. This is the faith that ought to be sufficient for you, for us, for all who believe the true faith because it is the ancient faith. It is the faith of our baptism; it is the faith that teaches us to believe in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. According to this faith, there is one Godhead, one power and substance of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Their dignity is equal, and their majesty is equal in three perfect hypostases, that is three perfect persons. There is no room for the heresy of Sabellius with its confusion of the hypostases, that is the destruction of the personalities. The blasphemy of the Eunomians, of the Arians, and of the Pneumatomachi divides the substance, the nature, and the Godhead and imposes on the uncreated, consubstantial and co-eternal Trinity a different, created nature. This blasphemy too is rejected. We preserve uncorrupted the doctrine of the incarnation of the Lord. We uphold the tradition that Christ took on flesh and as a man was neither soulless nor mindless nor imperfect, and we know full well that the Word was perfect before the ages and became a perfect man in these last days for our salvation.

Let this suffice as a summary of the doctrine we fearlessly and openly preach. If you desire to know more, read the treatise of the Council of Antioch, as well as the treatise issued last year by the Ecumenical Council held at Constantinople, in which we have set forth our confession of the faith at greater length and have appended an anathema against the heresies innovators have recently proposed.

As to the particular administration of individual churches, we retain the ancient custom confirmed by the enactment of the holy fathers of Nicæa. In every province, the bishops of the province and, with their consent, the neighboring bishops with them may perform ordinations as expediency may require. In conforming to these customs note that we and the priests of the most famous churches have administered other churches publicly appointed.  The newly formed (if the expression is allowed) church at Constantinople we have recently snatched by God’s mercy from the blasphemy of the heretics as though from a lion’s mouth.  Furthermore, we have ordained as bishop the reverend and most religious Nectarius in the presence of the Ecumenical Council before the most religious emperor Theodosius and with the consent of all the clergy and the whole city. As though with one voice of consent and respect, the bishops of the province and of the eastern diocese have met together and canonically ordained the reverend and most religious Flavian as bishop over the most ancient and truly apostolic church in Syria, where first the noble name “Christian” was given. This rightful ordination also received the sanction of the General Council. Concerning the church at Jerusalem, mother of all the churches, we make known that the reverend and most religious Cyril (who was some time ago canonically ordained by the bishops of the province and fought a good fight against the Arians in several places) is bishop. We request your Reverence to rejoice at what has been justly and canonically settled by us, by the intervention of spiritual love and by the influence of the fear of the Lord. This compels the feelings of men and makes the edification of churches more important than individual grace or favor. Thus since among us there is agreement in the faith and Christian charity, we shall cease to use the phrase condemned by the apostles,  “I am of Paul and I of Apollos and I of Cephas.”3 Since all of us are of Christ (who is not divided), we will by God’s grace keep the body of the church undivided and will boldly stand at the judgment seat of the Lord.

1 2 Timothy 2.12

2 Psalm 55.6

3 1 Corinthians 1.12

Revision of NPNF, series 2, vol. 14, pp. 188-190 by SM

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