Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 1781
In the letter directed to the Council of Nicaea (which would soon move to Chalcedon), Pope Leo the Great excuses his absence and asks the council to accept Bishops Paschasinus of Lilybaeum (Sicily) and Lucentius of Ascoli, and the Presbyters Basil of Naples and Boniface of Rome as his representatives. Letter 93 of Pope Leo the Great, written in Rome, AD 451.
Letter 93 [inc. "Optaveram quidem"]
Leo episcopus S. Synodo apud Nicaeam constitutae. Dilectissimis fratribus in Domino salutem.
1. Optaveram quidem, dilectissimi, pro nostri charitate collegii, omnes Domini sacerdotes in una catholicae fidei devotione persistere, nec quemquam gratia aut formidine potestatum saecularium depravari, ut a via veritatis abscederet. Sed quia multa saepe, quae poenitudinem possint generare, proveniunt, et superat culpas delinquentium misericordia Dei, atque ideo suspenditur ultio, ut possit locum habere correctio, amplectendum est clementissimi principis plenum religione consilium, quo sanctam fraternitatem vestram ad destruendas insidias diaboli, et ad reformandam ecclesiasticam pacem voluit convenire, beatissimi Petri apostoli jure atque honore servato, adeo ut nos quoque suis ad hoc litteris invitaret, ut venerabili synodo nostram praesentiam praeberemus: quod quidem nec necessitas temporis, nec ulla poterat consuetudo permittere. Tamen in his fratribus, hoc est Paschasino et Lucentio episcopis, Bonifacio et Basilio presbyteris, qui ab apostolica sede directi sunt, me synodo vestra fraternitatis aestimet praesidere, non abjuncta a vobis praesentia mea, qui nun in vicaris meis adsum, et jamdudum in fidei catholicae praedicatione non desum: ut qui non potestis ignorare quid antiqua traditione credamus, non possitis dubitare quid cupiamus.
Greek version:
1. Ἐμοὶ μὲν ἦν εὐκταῖον, ἀγαπητοὶ, κατὰ τὴν προσοῦσαν διάθεσιν τῷ ἡμετέρῳ συστηματι, τοὺς τοῦ κυρίου πάντας ἱερέας ἐν ἑνὶ ζήλῳ τῆς καθολικῆς πίστεως συνιστάναι, καὶ μηδένα πρὸς χάριν, ἤ φόβον βιωτικῆς δυναστείας τὸ φαῦλον αἱρούμενον, τῆς ὁδοῦ τῆς ἀληθείας ἐκτρέπεσθαι. Ἀλλ᾽ἐπειδὴ πολλὰ συμβαίνει πολλάκις τὰ δυνάμενα μετάνοιαν ἐμποιεῖν, καὶ ὁ ἔλεος τοῦ Θεοῦ νικᾷ τῶν ἁμαρτανόντων τὰ πλημμελήμματα, καὶ διὰ τοῦτο τὰ τῆς τιμωρίας ἐν ἀναρτήσει καθίσταται. ὅπως ἄν χώραν σχεῖν ἡ διόρθωσις δυνηθῇ, περιπτύσσεσθαι δίκαιον πλῆρες εὐσεβείας ὑπάρχον τοῦ γαληνοτάτου βασιλέως τὸ βούλεμα δὲ οὗ τὴν ἁγίαν ὑμῶν ἀδελφότητα πρὸς ἀνατροπὴν μὲν τῶν ἐπιβουλῶν τοῦ διαβόλου, τῆς δὲ ἐκκλησιαστικῆς εἰρήνης ἀνάκτησιν συνελθεῖν ἐβουλήθη, φυλαττομένων τῷ θρόνῳ τοῦ μακαριωτάτου Πέτρου τοῦ ἀποστόλου τῶν τε δικαίων, καὶ τῆς τιμῆς ἐπὶ τοσοῦτον, ὡς καὶ ἡμᾶς ὑπ᾽αὐτοῦ πρὸς τοῦτο δι᾽οἰκείων προτραπῆναι γραμμάτων, ἐφ᾽ᾧ τε τὴν οἰκείαν παρουσίαν ἡμᾶς παρασχεῖν τῇ ἁγίᾳ συνόδῳ · ὄπερ μὲν οὖν μήν τις ἐπιτρέψαι συνήθεια. Πλὴν ἐν τούτοις τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς, τουτέστι Πασχασίνῳ, καὶ Λουκηνσίῳ τοῖς ἐπισκόποις, καὶ Βονιφατιίῳ, καὶ Βασιλείῳ τοῖς πρεσβυτέροις, τοῖς ἀπεσταλμένοις ὑπὸ τοῦ θρόνου τῶν ἀποστόλων, ἐμὲ τῆς συνόδου προεδρεύειν, ἡ ὑμῶν ἀδελφότης ἡγείσθω · μὴ κεχωρισμένης ὑμῶν τῆς ἐμῆς παρουσίας · ὅς τις διὰ τῶν τοποτηρητῶν ὑμῖν πάρειμι τῶν ἐμῶν καὶ διὰ τοῦ κηρύττειν τὴν καθολικὴν πίστιν οὐκ ἀπολείπομαι · ὡς ὑμᾶς τοὺς ἀγνοεῖν μὴ δυναμένους, τί περὶ τῆς ἀρχαίας πιστεύομεν παραδόσεως. ἀμφιβάλλειν μὴ δύνασθαι, ποία τίς ἐπιθυμία ἡμῖν καθέστηκεν.
(Patrologia Latina 54, 936 = Ballerini 1753: 1066-1067)
Letter 93 [inc. "Optaveram quidem"]
Leo, the bishop of the city of Rome, to the holy Synod, assembled at Nicaea.
1. I had indeed prayed, dearly beloved, on behalf of my dear colleagues that all the Lord's priests would persist in united devotion to the catholic Faith, and that no one would be misled by favour or fear of secular powers into departure from the way of Truth; but because many things often occur to produce penitence and God's mercy transcends the faults of delinquents, and vengeance is postponed in order that reformation may have place, we must make much of our most merciful prince's piously intentioned Council, in which he has desired your holy brotherhood to assemble for the purpose of destroying the snares of the devil and restoring the peace of the Church, so far respecting the rights and dignity of the most blessed Apostle Peter as to invite us too by letter to vouchsafe our presence at your venerable Synod. That indeed is not permitted either by the needs of the times or by any precedent.  Yet in these brethren, that is Paschasinus and Lucentius, bishops, Boniface and Basil, presbyters, who have been deputed by the Apostolic See, let your brotherhood reckon that I am presiding at the Synod; for my presence is not withdrawn from you, who am now represented by my vicars, and have this long time been really with you in the proclaiming of the catholic Faith: so that you who cannot help knowing what we believe in accordance with ancient tradition, cannot doubt what we desire.
(transl. from Latin by Feltoe 1895: 70)


Leo addressed his letter to the Council of Nicaea because in this location initially the council was supposed to convene. The emperor chose Nicaea to symbolically emphasises the link of the present council with the previous one in 325. However, at the very last moment, the location was changed to Chalcedon, city close to Constantinople. The proceedings started on October 8, 451 in the church of saint Euphemia (Price 2011: 73).

Place of event:

  • Rome
  • East
  • Rome
  • Constantinople
  • Cos

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.
P. and G. Ballerini eds., Sancti Leoni Magni Romani pontificis opera, vol. 1, Venice 1753
Patrologia Latina, vol. 54
R. Price, "The Council of Chalcedon (451): A Narrative”, [in :] Chalcedon in Context: Church Councils 400–700, ed. R. Price, M. Whitby, Liverpool 2011, 70–91.
S. Wessel, Leo the Great and the spiritual rebuilding of a universal Rome, Leiden ; Boston 2008.


Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
Ecclesiastical administration - Participation in councils and ecclesiastical courts
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, ER1781,