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Augustine’s Visit to Caesarea in 418

  • Gerald Bonner (a1)

Extract

In discussing the reason for Augustine’s visit to Caesarea in 418, a clear distinction should be made between what we know for a fact and what we can deduce by inference. Furthermore, we should not regard incidents which were a consequence of the visit as constituting its pretext. The episode for which it is best remembered is Augustine’s encounter with the Donatist Bishop Emeritus, and the saint’s unsuccessful attempt to persuade him to return to Catholic unity. But the meeting between the two protagonists of Catholicism and Donatism seems to have been fortuitous. Again, Augustine was able, while at Caesarea, to prevail on the citizens to discontinue the Caterva, the organised local brawl, hallowed by tradition though by nothing else, which came to resemble a miniature civil war. But Augustine had not made a special journey to Caesarea to speak against the Caterva. His own explanation of the visit is that he went to Caesarea on the orders of Pope Zosimus to settle some ‘ecclesiastical necessity’ which had arisen there, and this assertion is echoed by his biographer, Possidius.

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Page 104 of note 1 Retract. Bk. II, cap. lxxvii (51): ‘Aliquanto post conlationem, quam cum hereticis Donatistis habuimus, orta est nobis necessitas pergendi in Mauretaniam Caesariensem. Ibi apud ipsam Caesaream Emeritum, Donatistarum episcopum, uidimus, . . . qui in eadem causa maxime laborauerat.’ CSEL, XXXVI, 187-8.

Page 104 of note 2 De Doctr. Chr. Bk. IV, cap. xxiv (53): ‘Denique cum apud Caesaream Mauretaniae populo dissuaderem pugnam civilem, vel potius plus quam civilem, quam Catervam vocabant ... Et ecce jam ferme octo vel amplius anni sunt, propitio Christo, ex quo illic nihil tale tentatum est.’ PL, XXXIV, 115, 116.

Page 104 of note 3 Ep.190, i, 1: ‘Quamuis tuae sanctitatis nullas ad me ipsum datas acceperim litteras, tamen, quia illae, quas ad Mauretaniam Caesariensem misisti, me apud Caesaream presente uenerunt, quo nos iniuncta nobis a uenerabili papa Zosimo, apostolicac sedis episcopo, ecclesiastica necessitas traxerat . . . .’ CSEL, LVII, 137-8: Ep.193, i, 1: ‘ . . . cum uero inde digressi sumus, perreximus usque ad Mauretaniam Caesariensem, quo nos ecclesiastica necessitas traxit.’ CSEL, LVII, 168.

Page 104 of note 4 Possidius, Vita Augustini, 14.3: ‘. . . quo eum venire cum alus eius coepiscopis sedis apostolicae litterae compulerunt, ob terminandas videlicet alias ecclesiasticas necessitates’ (ed. Pellegrino, p.86).

Page 105 of note 1 Gesta cum Emerito, 1: ‘Gloriosissimis imperatoribus Honorio duodecimo et Theodosio octauo consulibus duodecimo Kalendas Octobres Caesareae in ecclesia maiore cum Deuterius episcopus metropolitanus Caesariensis una cum Alypio Tagastensi, Augustino Hipponiensi, Possidio Calamensi, Rustico Cartenitano, Palladio Tigabitano et ceteris episcopis in exedram processissent....‘ CSEL, LIII, 181.

Page 105 of note 2 DTC. art. ‘Augustin,’ cols. 2295-6. (Eng. trans, 1960, 53).

Page 105 of note 3 Histoire littéraire de l’Afrique chrétienne, VI, 1922, 174.

Page 105 of note 4 Frend, W. H., The Donatisi Church, Oxford 1952, 294 . Cf.Battifol, P., Le Catholicisme de S. Augustin, 5e éd. Paris 1930, 11, 438 : ‘La mission donnée par le pape Zosime à Augustin de se rendre à Césarée de Maurétanie, pour agir là avec les évêques de la province dans l’affaire que nous avons dite, est un indice d’un politique que le Siège apostolique inaugure en Afrique. Au cours du IVe siècle, en effet, on ne trouve pas trace d’une intervention semblable du Siège apostolique en Afrique.’

Page 106 of note 1 van der Meer, F. G. L., Augustinus de zielzorger, Utrecht-Brussels 1947, 24 (Fr. trans. Saint Augustin: Pasteur d’ames, 1959, i, 42; Eng. trans. Augustine the Bishop, 1961, 13). See also 210 (Fr. trans., 1 363; Eng. trans., 236). Elsewhere (362), van der Meer speaks of Augustine going to Caesarea at the bidding of the pope and of a provincial synod: ‘Toen hij—nu acht jaar geleden, zegt hij, dus in 418—met een opdracht van den paus en eene van der synode naar Caesarea van Mauretanië was gereisd . . . .’ (Fr. trans. 11, 202; Eng. trans., 410 does not mention the provincial synod). Van der Meer does not specify the synod, but presumably has in mind a canon of the Council of Carthage of 1 May 418: ‘Item piacuit, ne diutius universi episcopi qui ad concilium congregati sunt tenerentur, ab universo concilio judices temos de singulis provinciis eligi, et electi sunt de provincia Carthaginiensi, Vincentius, Fortunatianus, et Clarus; de provincia Numidia Alypius, Augustinus, et Restitutus; de provincia Byzacena, cum sancto Donatiano primate Cresconius, Jocundus, et Æmilianus; de Mauretania Sitifensi Severianus, Asiaticus, et Donatus; de provincia Tripolitana Plautius, qui ex more legatus unus est missus, qui omnes cum sancto sene Aurelio universa cognoscant.’ Codex Canonum Ecclesiasticorum, canon 127: PL, LXVII, 221D-222A. It is tempting to regard this sub-committee as being appointed in response to Zosimus’s request to re-hear the disputed ecclesiastical cases in Mauretania; but it may be observed that the list does not include Possidius of Calama, Rusticus of Cartenna or Palladius of Tigava, who were at Caesarea with Augustine in September (Gesta c. Emerito, 1, cited above, 105 n. 1).

Page 106 of note 2 E.g. P. Battifol, Le Catholicisme de S. Augustin, 5e éd. 435, 436: ‘Cette mission d’Augustin en Maurétanie Césarienne est étrange: la Maurétanie Césarienne, en effet, est une province régulièrement constituée, elle a son concile provincial, elle a son primat, et on sait qu’Augustin est très attentif au droit de chacun en ces matières ... On ne sait rien de plus de l’affaire pour laquelle Zosime a envoyé Augustin à Césarée. On voit seulement que l’évêque d’Hippone n’a pas refusé à Zošime de marcher, et aussi bien qu’en cette occurrence il a la confiance du Siège apostolique’; Bardy, G., Saint Augustin: L’homme et l’oeuvre, 7e ed. Paris 1948, 408 : ‘Zosime lui témoigna sa reconnaissance en le chargeant d’une mission, dont nous ignorons la véritable nature, à Césarée’; Michele, Pellegrino (ed.), Possidio: Vita di S. Agostino, Edizione Paoline 1955, 210, cap. xiv n.3: ‘Agostino parla di questo viaggio, intrapreso per incario di papa Zosimo, senza dire di quali affari dovesse trattare.’

Page 106 of note 3 John, Chapman, Studies on the Early Papacy, London, 1928, 189 n.1.

Page 108 of note 1 van Espen, Z.B., ‘In Synodos Africanas’ in Opera Omnia, 111, Louvain 1753, 273-4.

Page 108 of note 2 William, Bright, The Roman See in the Early Church, London 1896, 142 n.1: ‘It is in his Dissertatio in Synodos Africanas that van Espen treats of these councils. The council of which he says “Sat obscurum est cuius loci” is the first held on the affair of Apiarius; but he thinks it was at Caesarea in Mauretania, where we know that Augustine took part in a meeting of bishops.’

Page 108 of note 3 Kidd, B.J., A History of the Church to A.D. 461, Oxford 1922, 11, 164 ; idem, The Roman Primacy to 461, London 1936, 98.

Page 108 of note 4 Cross, F. L., JTS, XII (1961), 241 .

Page 108 of note 5 Chapman, loc. cit.

Page 108 of note 6 Cf.Jalland, T.G., The Church and the Papacy, London 1944, 288 : ‘In attempting to evaluate the evidence [for the Apiarian affair], let us constantly bear in mind the fact that our documents are scarcely adequate as a basis for a complete reconstruction of the affair. On the Roman side there is actually nothing beyond the fragments of a commonitorium delivered by Zosimus to his legates and a short letter of Boniface I to the same; while on the side of the Africans, besides some local canons of uncertain date, we have to make what we can of the corrupt and incomplete acts of the plenary African council of May 25, 419, its synodical letter to Pope Boniface, letters to Carthage from Cyril of Alexandria and Atticus of Constantinople, and finally a synodical letter to Celestine I of uncertain date.’

Page 109 of note 1 Eccl. Occid. Mon. Iur. Ant., ed. Turner, C. H., 1, 600 : ‘... Commonitorium... in quo eis quatuor quaedam nobiscum gerenda mandata sunt: unum, de appellationibus episcoporum ad Romanae ecclesiae sacerdotem; alterum, ne ad comitatum importune episcopi nauigent; tertium, de tractandis presbyterorum et diaconorum causis aput finitimos episcopos, si a suis excommunicati perperam fuerint; quartum, de Vrbano episcopo excommunicando, uel etiam Romae uocando, nisi ea quae uidebantur corrigenda corrigeret.’

Page 109 of note 2 So Kidd, The Roman Primacy, 99: ’... and who was nearer neighbour to a bishop of Africa than the bishop of Rome?’ but see contra Hamilton, Hess, The Canons of the Council ofSardica, Oxford 1958, 65 : ‘It must be observed that the canons which were quoted by Pope Zosimus actually gave more support to the claims of Carthage than to those of Rome. As Apiarius was not a bishop, but a presbyter, canon 7 would clearly have no application to his case. Canon 17 directs that clerical appeals should be made to neighbouring bishops (finitimos), into which category the Roman bishop would hardly fall.’

Page 110 of note 1 See de Plinval, G., Pélage: ses écrits, sa vie et sa réforme, Lausanne 1943, 320 ; Ferguson, J., Pelagius: a Historical and Theological Study, Cambridge 1956, 110 .

Page 110 of note 2 Puller, F.W., Primitive Saints and the See of Rome, 3rd ed. London 1900, 491-2: ‘By that condemnation [of Pelagius and Coelestius] the state of tension between Rome and Africa had been brought to an end, and the African bishops would be full of joy and gratitude, and would be anxious to oblige their Roman colleague.’

Page 111 of note 1 Puller remarks, op. cit. 492: [The African bishops] ‘seem also to have felt it to be necessary to guard against such appeals in the future by pointing out to Zosimus that appeals of bishops from African decisions to Rome were forbidden by the African canons.’

It is possible that there is a reference to this intimation to Zosimus in the synodical letter of the Council of Carthage to Boniface, dated 26 May 419: ‘Quorum omnium [capitulorum Commonitorii] de primo et tertio (id est, ut Romam liceat episcopo prouoeare, et ut clericorum causae aput suorum prouinciarum episcopis finiantur) iam priori anno etiam nos litteris nostris ad eundem uenerabilis memoriae episcopum Zosimum datis insinuare curauimus ut ea seruari sine ulla eius iniuria paulisper sineremus, usque ad inquisitione statutorum Nicaeni concilii’: Eccl. Occid. Mon. Iur. Ant. 1, 601); but the general tone of the language seems to suggest that the communication was of later date, after the first interview with the Roman legates.

Page 111 of note 2 Codex Canonum Ecclesiasticorum, canon 125: ‘Item piacuit, ut prebyteri, diaconi, vel caeteri inferiores clerici, in causis, quas habuerint, si de judiciis episcoporum suorum questi fuerint, vicini episcopi eos audiant, et inter eos quidquid est finiant, adhibiti ab eis ex consensu episcoporum suorum. Quod si et ab eis provocandum putaverint, non provocent nisi ad Africana concilia, vel ad primates provinciarum suarum; ad trans-marina autem qui putaverit appellandum, a nullo intra Africani in communionem suscipiatur.’ PL, LXVII, 221C.

Page 112 of note 1 See the statement of Faustinus of Potentia at the Council of Carthage of 419: ‘Iniuncta nobis sunt a sede apostolica aliqua per scriptura, aliqua etiam in mandatas cum uestra Beatitudine tractanda.’ Eccl. Occid. Mon. Iur. Ant., I, 569.

Page 112 of note 2 Cf. Augustine’s remark in Gesta c. Emerito, 2: ‘. . . quidam uidentur de ipsa, ut paulo ante dixi, catholica ueritate dubitare, quidam uero non saltem dubitant, sed adhuc corde positi in parte Donati praesentiam nobis exhibent corporalem, siue uiri siue feminae carne intus, spiritu foris....‘ CSEL, LIII, 182.

Page 112 of note 3 Van der Meer, op. cit. 23-4: ‘wellicht was hij minder juridisch ingesteld; in elk geval was hij wel een mystisch doch geen politiek ultramontaan—of, in dit geval, ultramarijn.’ (Fr. trans., 1,40; Eng. trans., 12).

Augustine’s Visit to Caesarea in 418

  • Gerald Bonner (a1)

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