Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 1750
Pope Leo the Great sends a letter to Bishop Anatolius of Constantinople in which he informs about his legates, Bishop Lucentius and the Presbyter Basilius sent to Constantinople in order to reconciliate the lapsed during the schism. Letter 85 of Pope Leo the Great, written in Rome, AD 451.
Letter 85 [inc. "Religiosam pietatis"]
1. Licet sperem dilectionem tuam ad omne opus bonum esse devotam, ut tamen efficacior tua fieri possit industria, necessarium et congruum fuit fratres meos Lucentium episcopum, et Basilium presbyterum, ut promisimus, destinare; quibus tua dilectio societur, ut nihil in his quae ad universalis Ecclesiae statum pertinent, aut dubie agatur aut segniter cum, residentibus vobis, quibus exsecutionem nostrae dispositionis iniunximus, ea possint agi cuncta moderatione, ut nec benevolentiae partes nec iustitiae negligantur, sed absque personarum acceptione divinum in omnibus iudicium cogitetur. Quod ut recta observantia valeat custodiri, catholicae primitus fidei servetur integritas; et quia per omnia angusta et ardua via est, quae ducit ad vitam [Matt. 7:14]; neque in sinistram neque ad dexteram ab eius tramite devietur. Et quia evangelica et apostolica fides omnes expugnat errores, et ab uno latere Nestorium deiicit, ab alio Eutychen et participes eius elidit hanc regulam mementote servandam, ut quicumque in illa synodo, quae nomen synodi nec habere poterit nec meretur, et in qua malevolentiam suam Dioscorus, imperitiam autem Iuvenalis ostendit, dolent, ut dilectionis tuae relatione comperimus, se metu victos et terrore superatos ad consensum scelestissimi iudicii potuisse compelli, et communionem catholicam obtinere desiderant, satisfactioni eorum pax fraterna praestetur; ita ut non dubiis professionibus Eutychen cum suo dogmate, cumque consortibus suis anathematis exsecratione condemnent.
Further on, Leo recommends the cases of more serious offenders should be deferred.
3. De commonitorio vero, a clericis dilectionis tuae nobis oblato, necessarium non fuit epistolis quid videretur inserere cum sufficeret legatis cuncta committi, quorum sermone ex omnibus diligentius instrueris. Annitere itaque, frater charissime, ut quae Ecclesiae Dei congruunt, fideliter et efficaciter cum his fratribus, quos tantae rei idoneos auctores elegimus, exsequaris; praesertim cum ipsa vos causae ratio, spesque divini auxilii cohortentur, et clementissimorum principum tam sancta sit fides, tam religiosa devotio, ut in eis non solum Christianum, sed etiam sacerdotalem experiamur affectum. Qui utique pro ea pietate qua se esse Dei famulos gloriantur, omnes suggestiones vestras fidei catholicae profuturas, dignanter accipient, ut ipsorum quoque opere et pax Christiana reparari, et error impius possit aboleri. Ac si de aliquibus amplius fuerit deliberandum, celeriter ad nos relatio dirigatur: ut pertractata qualitate causarum, nostra, quid observari debeat, sollicitudo constituat. Data V idus Iunii, Adelfio viro clarissimo consule.
(Patrologia Latina 54, 921-922 = Ballerini 1753: 1048-1050)
Letter 85
1. Although I hope, beloved, you are devoted to every good work, yet that your activity may be rendered the more effective, it was needful and fitting to despatch my brothers Lucentius the bishop and Basil the presbyter, as we promised, to ally themselves with you, beloved, that nothing may be done either indecisively or lazily in matters, which concern the welfare of the universal Church; for as long as you are on the spot, to whom we have entrusted the carrying out of our will, all things can be conducted with such moderation that the claims of neither kindness nor justice may be neglected, but without the accepting of persons, the Divine judgment may be considered in everything.  But that this may be properly observed and guarded, the integrity of the catholic Faith must first of all be preserved, and, because in all cases "narrow" and steep "is the way that leadeth unto life," there must be no deviation from its track, either to the right hand or to the left.  And because the evangelical and Apostolic Faith has to combat all errors, on the one side casting down Nestorius, on the other crushing Eutyches and his accomplices, remember the need of observing this rule, that all those who in that synod, which cannot, and does not deserve to have the name of Synod, and in which Dioscorus displayed his bad feeling, and Juvenal his ignorance, grieve as we learn from your account, beloved, that they were conquered by fear, and being overcome with terror, were able to be forced to assent to that iniquitous judgment, and who now desire to obtain catholic communion, are to receive the peace of the brethren after due assurance of repentance, on condition that in no doubtful terms they anathematize, execrate and condemn Eutyches and his dogma and his adherents.
Further on, Leo recommends the cases of more serious offenders should be deferred.
3. But concerning the address presented to us by your clergy, beloved, there is no need to put my sentiments into a letter: it is sufficient to entrust all to my delegates, whose words shall carefully instruct you on every point.  And so, dearest brother, do you endeavour with these brethren whom we have chosen as suitable agents in so great a matter faithfully and effectually to carry out what is agreeable to the Church of God:  especially as the very nature of the case, and the promise of Divine aid incite you, and our most gracious princes show such holy faith, such religious devotion, that we find in them not only the general sympathy of Christians, but even that of the priesthood.  Who assuredly in accordance with that piety, whereby they boast themselves to be servants of God, will receive all your suggestions for the benefit of the catholic Faith in a worthy spirit, so that by their aid also the peace of Christendom can be restored and wicked error destroyed.  And if on any points more advice is needed, let word be quickly sent to us, that after investigating the nature of the case, we may carefully prescribe the rightful measures. Dated 5th day before the Ides of June in the consulship of the illustrious Adelfius [= 9 VI 451].
(trans. Ch. Lett Feltoe 1894: 67-68; slightly adapted by M. Szada)


Lucentius (or Lucensius) was the bishop of Ascoli (PCBE, Italie, v. 2, Lucensius).

Place of event:

  • Rome
  • East
  • Rome
  • Constantinople

About the source:

Author: Leo the Great
Title: Letters, Epistulae
Origin: Rome (Rome)
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
Leo the Great was the bishop of Rome from AD 440 to his death in AD 461. We have the collection of 173 letters of Leo.
Anatolius succeeded in the see of Constantinople Flavianus, deposed by the Second Council of Ephesus in AD 449. Leo the Great considered the decisions of the council void, but after the death of Flavianus in AD 449, he informed the Emperor that he could accept Anatolius as the Bishop of Constantinople if he confessed the faith as defined by the councils of Nicea and Ephesus I, the letter of Cyril of Alexandria and the Tome to Flavianus. Anatolius complied to that, and in AD 451 he presided over the Council of Chalcedon. He died in AD 458. See Wessel 2008: 42-43.
P. and G. Ballerini eds., Sancti Leoni Magni Romani pontificis opera, vol. 1, Venice 1753
Patrologia Latina, vol. 54
S. Wessel, Leo the Great and the spiritual rebuilding of a universal Rome, Leiden ; Boston 2008.


Travel and change of residence
Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
Ritual activity - Reconciliation/Administering penance
Ecclesiastical administration - Ecclesiastical envoy
Relation with - Bishop/Monastic superior
Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: M. Szada, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER1750,