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Letter CXX. 2397

To Meletius, bishop of Antioch2398

I have received a letter from the very God-beloved bishop Eusebius, in which he enjoins that a second letter be written to the Westerns about certain Church matters.  He has expressed a wish that the letter should be drawn up by me, and signed by all those who are in communion.  Having no means of writing a letter about these wishes of his, I have sent on his minute to your holiness, in order that, when you have read it and can give heed to the information given by the very dear brother Sanctissimus, our fellow presbyter, you may yourself be so good as to indite a letter on these points as seems best to you.  We are prepared to agree to it and to lose no time in having it conveyed to those in communion with us, so that, when all have signed it may be carried by the messenger, who is on the point of starting on his journey to visit the bishops of the West.  Give orders for the decision of your holiness to be communicated to me as quickly as possible, that I may not be ignorant of your intentions.

As to the intrigue which is now being devised, or has already been devised against p. 193 me, in Antioch, the same brother will convey intimation to your holiness, unless indeed the report of what has been done does not anticipate him and make the position clear.  There is ground for hope that the threats are coming to an end.

I wish your reverence to know that our brother Anthimus has ordained Faustus, who is living with the pope 2399 as bishop, without having received the votes, and in place of our right reverend brother Cyril.  Thus he has filled Armenia with schisms.  I have thought it right to tell your reverence this, lest they should lie against me, and I be responsible for these disorderly proceedings.  You will of course deem it right to make this known to the rest.  I think such irregularity will distress many.



Placed in 373.


Basil keeps up his support of the claims of Meletius, now in exile in Armenia, to be recognised as Catholic bishop of Antioch, and complains of the irregular ordination of Faustus as bishop of an Armenian see by Basil’s opponent, Anthimus of Tyana.  Sanctissimus, the bearer of the letter, is supposed by Tillemont (vol. ix. p. 219) to be a Western on account of his Latin name.  Maran (Vit. Bas. 26) points out that Orientals not infrequently bore Latin names, and supposes him to be a presbyter of Antioch.


The title was not even at this time confined to bishops, and who this papa is is quite uncertain.  The title is not generally limited to the bishop of Rome until the eighth century.  So late as 680 Cyrus is called pope of Alexandria at the Sixth Council.  (Mansi xi. 214.)  It was not till 1073 that Gregory VII. asserted an exclusive right to the name.  (Gieseler, vol. 1, 2, 405.)

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