Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. XIV:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The First Ecumenical Council: The First Council of Nice.: Canon VII
Since custom and ancient tradition have prevailed that the Bishop of Ælia [i.e., Jerusalem] should be honoured, let him, saving its due dignity to the Metropolis, have the next place of honour.
Ancient Epitome of Canon VII.
Let the Bishop of Ælia be honoured, the rights of the Metropolis being preserved intact.
There would seem to be a singular fitness in the Holy City Jerusalem holding a very exalted position among the sees of Christendom, and it may appear astonishing that in the earliest times it was only a suffragan see to the great Church of Cæsarea. It must be remembered, however, that only about seventy years after our Lords death the city of Jerusalem was entirely destroyed and ploughed as a field according to the prophet. As a holy city Jerusalem was a thing of the past for long years, and it is only in the beginning of the second century that we find a strong Christian Church growing up in the rapidly increasing city, called no longer Jerusalem, but Ælia Capitolina. Possibly by the end of the second century the idea of the holiness of the site began to lend dignity to the occupant of the see; at all events Eusebius 65 tells us that “at a synod held on the subject of the Easter controversy in the time of Pope Victor, Theophilus of Cæsarea and Narcissus of Jerusalem were presidents.”
It was this feeling of reverence which induced the passing of this seventh canon. It is very hard to determine just what was the “precedence” granted to the Bishop of Ælia, nor is it clear which is the metropolis referred to in the last clause. Most writers, including Hefele, Balsamon, Aristenus and Beveridge consider it to be Cæsarea; while Zonaras thinks Jerusalem to be intended, a view recently adopted and defended by Fuchs; 66 others again suppose it is Antioch that is referred to.
Eusebius: Hist. Eccl. Lib. v., c. 23.17:66
Fuchs: Bib. der Kirchenversammlungen. Bd. i., S. 399.
Next: Excursus on the Rise of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
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