Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 1693
Pope Hormisdas writes to his legates in Constantinople, Bishops Germanus and John, and the Presbyter Blandus, insisting on the demotion of Bishop Dorotheus of Thessalonica (Macedonia) and his relegation to Rome by the emperor, AD 519. Letter 103 in the collection of the letters of Hormisdas "Graviter nos" (= letter 227 in the Collectio Avellana compiled in the second half of the 6th c.).
227. [in Coll. Avell.]
The Pope says that he is disturbed by the events in Thessalonica and the death of a certain Catholic man, John, lynched by the mob [1685]. Leo has learnt that Bishop Dorotheus, responsible for the riots, had been summoned by the emperor. Leo insists on the demotion of Dorotheus and on his relegation to Rome where he could be judged by the Pope. The legates should take care that his accomplice, the Presbyter Aristides is not elected in his place in the meantime.
He refers to the case of Bishops Thomas and Nicostratos (of unknown sees) who were deposed during the Acacian schism for being Chalcedonian and were not yet reinstated. Bishops who replaced them in their sees, if they are of proper faith, should be transferred to another Churches.
Then Leo informs his legates that he received a letter from the vir illustris Justianian about the Scythian monks (see [1672]). The monks did not want to wait for the return of the legates from Constantinople, and tried to leave secretly Rome. The pope ordered them to be guarded until the legates are back in Rome. The letter is dated to the third day before the Nones of December in the year of consulship of Eutharic (i.e. 3 December 519).
(ed. Guenther 1895: 692-693; summary by M. Szada)


The letter refers to the so-called Theopaschite theology which was promoted by the Scythian monks in the context of the Christological debates of the 5th and 6th century. From AD 513 they advocated the formula that "One of the Trinity suffered in the flesh", which, however, led to the further controversy in Constantinople. In AD 519 the Acacian schism came to an end, and the doctrine of the Scythian monks started to be interpreted as an attack on the Council of Chalcedon and a newly established union between Rome and Constantinople. Among the persons that opposed the monks in Constantinople, were also the papal legates, the addressees of the present letter. The monks proceeded to Rome in 519, but, as is clear from the present letter, Hormisdas did not grant them an audience. They eventually left Rome, and in response Hormisdas in August AD 520 wrote a letter to Bishop Possessor in which he criticized the theology of the Scythian monks (see Grillmeier and Hainthaler 1995: 322-327).
See also [1507].

Place of event:

  • East
  • Rome
  • Constantinople

About the source:

Author: Hormisdas
Title: Collectio Avellana, Epistulae, Letters
Origin: Rome (Rome)
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
Hormisdas was a bishop of Rome from 514 until his death in 523. During his pontificate he managed to resolve the Acacian schism (see the discussion in [1581]) in 519.
Collectio Avellana is a collection containing 244 letters issued by emperors, imperial magistrates and popes. The earliest item is dated to AD 367, the latest to AD 553. Hence, the compilator worked most probably in the second half of the sixth century. Two hundred documents of the Collectio are not known from any other collection. The editor of the Collectio, Günther noticed that it can be divided into five thematic parts (Günther 1896: 3-96; Steinacker 1902: 14-15; Blaudeau 2013: 4) :
1) Nos. 1–40 are an independent collection making use of the records of the prefecture of the city of Rome concerning two episcopal elections;
2) Nos. 41–50 are derived from the records of the bishopric in Carthage, and consist of the letters of Innocentius I and Zosimus;
3) Nos. 51–55 are the late letters of Leo I not known from any other source, regarding the exile of Bishop Timothy II of Alexandria;
4) Nos. 56–104 are the group of letters from the pontificates of Simplicius, Gelasius, Symmachus, John, Agapet, and Vigilius;
5) Nos. 105–243 are the letters from the records of Hormisdas.
The modern name of the collection is derived from the codex Vaticanus Latinus 4961 copied in the monastery Sancti Crucis in fonte Avellana that was considered the oldest by the brothers Ballerini who edited the Collectio in 1787.
O. Guenther ed., Epistolae Imperatorum Pontificum Aliorum Inde ab a. CCCLXVII usque DLIII datae Avellana Quae Dicitur Collectio, Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum 35/1, 35/2, Prague, Vienna, and Leipzig 1895
A. Thiel ed., Epistolae Romanorum Pontificum genuinae et quae ad eos scriptae sunt a s. Hilaro usque ad Pelagium II, vol. 1, Brunsberga 1868
P. Blaudeau, "Un point de contact entre collectio Avellana et collectio Thessalonicensis?”, Millennium Yearbook / Millenium Jahrbuch 10 (2013), 1–12.
A. Grillmeier and T. Hainthaler, Christ in Christian tradition, London 1995.
O. Guenther, Avellana-Studien, Wien 1896.
O. Guenther, "Zu den Gesta de nomine Acacii”, Byzantinische Zeitschrift 3 (1894), 146–149.
D. Moreau, "Les actes pontificaux comme sources des historiens et des chroniqueurs de l'Antiquité tardive", in: L'historiographie tardo-antique et la transmission des savoirs, ed. P. van Nuffelen, P. Blaudeau,  Millenium-Studien 55, Berlin, Boston 2015, 23-54.
H. Steinacker, "Ueber das älteste päpstliche Registerwesen”, Mitteilungen des Instituts für Österreichische Geschichtsforschung 23 (1902), 1–49.
A.A. Vasiliev, Justin the First. An Introduction to the Epoch of Justinian the Great, Cambridge, Mass. 1950.


Writing activity - Correspondence
Travel and change of residence
Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
Impediments or requisits for the office - Improper/Immoral behaviour
    Ecclesiastical administration - Ecclesiastical envoy
    Relation with - Bishop/Monastic superior
    Relation with - Monk/Nun
    Relation with - Heretic/Schismatic
    Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: M. Szada, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER1693,