Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. XII:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Letters and Sermons of Leo the Great.: To the Catholic Bishops of Egypt Sojourning in Constantinople.
Letter CLVIII 586 .
To the Catholic Bishops of Egypt Sojourning in Constantinople.
Leo to the catholic Egyptian bishops sojourning in Constantinople.
He encourages them in their sufferings for the Faith, and in their entreaties for redress to the Emperor.
I have before now been so saddened by tidings of the crimes committed in Alexandria, and my spirit has been so wounded by the atrocity of the deed itself, that I know not what tears to show and what lamentation to utter over it, and am fain to use the prophets language, “who will give waters to my head and a fountain of tears to my eyes 587 ?” Yet anticipating your complaint, beloved, I have entreated our most clement and Christian Emperor for a remedy of these great evils, and by our sons and assistants Gerontius and Olympius have at a different time demanded that he should make haste to purge of a heresy already condemned the church of that city, in which so many Catholic teachers have flourished, and not allow murderous spirits whom no reverence for place or time 588 could deter from shedding their rulers blood, to gain anything from his clemency, more particularly when they desire to reconsider the council of Chalcedon to the overthrow of the Faith. Accordingly the same reason, beloved, which drove you from your own Sees, ought to console you for your sufferings; for it is certain that afflicted souls, that suffer adversity for His name, are in no wise deprived of the Lords protection. Bear it therefore bravely, and mindful of that country which is yours, rejoice over your present sojourn in a strange land. Abstain from grieving over your exile and indulge not in sorrow for your present weariness, ye who know that the Apostle glories even in his many perils on behalf of the Lords Faith. You have One who knows your conflicts and has prepared the rewards of recompense. Let no one shrink from this labour, whose guerdon is to reign and 589 live for ever. Let the feet of all who fight be fixed in the halls of Jerusalem; for in the hope of that retribution they will have no cause to fear the camp nor the onsets of the enemy. Victory is never hard nor triumph difficult over the remnants of an abject foe who has been routed by the whole world alike, especially over those whose ringleaders you see already prostrate. With unceasing prayers, therefore (even as I also have not failed to do), entreat the favour of the most Christian Emperor, who in Gods mercy is ready to hear: that in accordance with the letter I have sent 590 , he may strengthen the cause of the common Faith with that devotion of mind, which we are well assured he possesses, and in his piety may remove all the harmful charges which the madness of heretics has invented, and arrange for your return, beloved, and so may cause each several province and all the churches with their priests to rejoice in the unshaken peace of Christ. Dated the 1st of Dec. in the consulship of Constantine and Rufus (457).
One of three Letters, the other two being CLIV. and CLX., first printed by Quesnel on the authority apparently of a single ms. (Codex Grimanicus), and addressed to the bishops (and clergy) who had fled out of Egypt to Constantinople in consequence of the recent disturbances. Letter CLX. mentions fifteen of them by name but is not otherwise so interesting as CLVIII., the one selected for translation.102:587
Jer. ix. 1 (Vulg.).102:588
Proterius had been slain in the baptistery die Cænæ Domini (? Thursday in Holy Week).102:589
The ms. reads vel here, but I think the Ball. are right in maintaining that Leo does at times use vel for et.102:590
Viz. Lett. CLVI q.v.
Next: To Nicætas, Bishop of Aquileia.
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