THE FORMATION OF CHRISTENDOM
THE HOLY SEE AND THE WANDERING OF THE NATIONS
(FROM ST. LEO I TO ST. GREGORY I)
THOMAS W. ALLIES
“Rome’s ending seemed the ending of a world.
If this our earth had in the vast sea sunk,
Save one black ridge whereon I sat alone,
Such wreck had seemed not greater. It was gone,
That empire last, sole heir of all the empires,
Their arms, their arts, their letters, and their laws.
The fountains of the nether deep are burst,
The second deluge comes. And let it come!
The God who sits above the waterspouts
—A. de Vere, Legends and Records
"Death of St. Jerome".
THE LETTERS OF THE POPES AS SOURCES OF HISTORY.
CARDINAL MAI has left recorded his judgment that, "in matter of fact, the whole administration of the Church is learnt in the letters of the Popes ". I draw from this judgment the inference that of all sources for the truths of history none are so precious, instructive, and authoritative as these authentic letters contemporaneous with the persons to whom they are addressed. The first which has been preserved to us is that of Pope St. Clement, the contemporary of St. Peter and St. Paul. It is directed to the Church of Corinth for the purpose of extinguishing a schism which had there broken out. In issuing his decision the Pope appeals to the Three Divine Persons to bear witness that the things which he has written " are written by us through the Holy Spirit," and claims obedience to them from those to whom he sends them as words " spoken by God through us ".
If the decisions of the succeeding Popes in the interval of nearly two hundred and fifty years between this letter of St. Clement, about the year 95, and the great letter of St. Julius to the Eusebianising bishops at Antioch in 342, had been preserved entire, the constitution of the Church in that interval would have shone before us in clear light. In fact, we only possess a few fragments of some of these decisions, for there was a great destruction of such documents in the persecution which occupied the first decade of the fourth century. But from the time of Pope Siricius, in the reign of the great Theodosius, a continuous, though not a perfect, series of these letters stretches through the succeeding ages. There is no other such series of documents existing in the world. They throw light upon all matters and persons of which they treat. This is a
In a former volume I made large use of the letters of Popes from Siricius to St. Leo. I have continued that use for the very important period from St. Leo to St. Gregory. Especially in treating of the Acacian schism I have gone to the letters of the Popes who had to deal with it Simplicius, Felix III, Gelasius, Anastasius II, Symmachus, and Hormisdas. I have done the same for the important reign of Justinian; most of all for the grand pontificate of St. Gregory, which crowns the whole patristic period and sums up its discipline.
I am, therefore, indebted in this volume, first and chiefly, to the letters of the Popes and the letters addressed to them by emperors and bishops, stored up in Mansi's vast collection of Councils (1759, 31 volumes). I am also much indebted to Cardinal Hergenrother's work Photius, sein Leben, und das griechische Schisma, and to his Handbuch der allgemeinen Kirchengeschichte, as the number of quotations from him will show. Again, I may mention the two histories of the city of Rome, by Keumont and Gregorovius, as most valuable. I acknowledge many obligations to Eiffel's Geschichtliche Darstellung des Verhaltnisses zwischen Kirche und Staat, with regard to the legislation of Justinian. The edition of Justinian referred to by me is Heimbach's Authenticum, Leipsic, 1851. I have consulted Hefele's Conciliengeschichte where need was. I have found Kurth's Origines de la Civilisation moderne instructive. I have used the carefully emended and supplemented German edition of Rohrbacher's history, by various writers (Rump and others). St. Gregory is quoted from the Benedictine edition.
As these works are indicated in the notes as they occur with the single name of the author, I have given here their full titles. The present volume is the sixth of the Formation of Christendom, though it has a special title indicating the particular part of that general subject which it treats. I have, therefore, added to the numbering of the
September 11, 1888.