Изображения страниц

justly condemned by the Council, as a favourer of heretics, and for his negligence in repressing error. Danæus (30) says the same thing; there is no open heresy in the private letter of Honorius to Sergius, but he is worthy of condemnation for his pusillanimity in using ambiguous words to please and keep on terms with heretics, when it was his duty to oppose them strenuously in the beginning. Hermant says (31), that Honorius was condemned, because he allowed himself to be imposed on by the artifices of Sergius, and did not maintain the interests of the Church with the constancy he should have done. It is dreadful to see the blindness and obstinacy of so many prelates of the Church poisoned by this heresy. Among the rest, Noel Alexander tells us, was Macarias, Patriarch of Antioch, who was present at the Council (32), who, when the Emperor and the Fathers asked him if he confessed two natural wills, and two natural operations in Christ, answered that he would sooner allow himself to be torn limb from limb, and thrown into the sea; he was very properly deposed, and excommunicated by the Synod. The same author informs us (33,) that the heresy continued to flourish among the Chaldeans, even since the Council (but they abandoned it in the Pontificate of Paul V.), and among the Maronites and Armenians, likewise; among these last another sect, called Paulicians, from one Paul of Samosata, took root in 653. They admitted the two principles of the Manicheans, denied that Mary was the Mother of God, and taught several other extravagances enumerated by Noel Alexander (34). Before I conclude this chapter, I wish to make one reflection; we see how it displeases the powers of hell, that mankind should be grateful to our Redeemer, and return him love for love; for the devil is constantly labouring to sow amongst Christians, by means of wicked men, so many heresies, all tending to destroy the belief of the Incarnation of the Son of God, and, in consequence, to diminish our love for Jesus Christ, who, by the assumption of the flesh of man, has constituted himself our Saviour. Such were the heresies of Sabellius, of Photinus, of Arius, of Nestorius, of Eutyches, and of the Monothelites; some of these have made of Christ an imaginary personage, some deprived him of the Divinity, others again of his humanity, but the Church has always been victorious against them.

(30) Danæus Temp. Not. p. 259. (31) Hermant, t. 5, c. 242. (32) Nat. Alexander, t. 12, ar. I, s. 4. (33) Nat. Alexander, t. 12, c. 2, ar. 12, s. 2, in fine. (34) Nat. Alexander, loc. cit. a. 3.




1. Beginning of the Iconoclasts. 2, 3. St. Germanus opposes the Emperor Leo. 4. He

resigns the See of Constantinople. 5. Anastasius is put in his place; Resistance of the Women. 6. Cruelty of Leo. 7. Leo endeavours to put the Pope to Death; Opposition of the Romans. 8. Letter of the Pope. 9. A Council is held in Rome in Support of the Sacred Images, but Leo continues his Persecution. 10. His Hand is miraculously restored to St. John of Damascus. 11. Leo dies, and is succeeded by Constantine Copronymus, a greater Persecutor; Death of the impious Patriarch Anastasius. 12. Council held by Constantine. 13. Martyrs in Honour of the Images. 14. Other tyrannical Acts of Constantine, and his horrible Death. 15. Leo IV. succeeds to the Empire, and is succeeded by his Son, Constantine. 16. The Empress Irene, in her Son's Name, demands a Council. 17. Seditions against the Council. 18. The Council is beld, and the Veneration of Images established. 19. Erroneous Opinion of the Council of Frankfort, regarding the Eighth General Council. 20. Persecution again renewed by the Iconoclasts.

1. The first and fifth Acts of the Eighth General Council attest that the Gentiles, the Jews, the Marcionites, and the Manicheans, had previously declared war against sacred images, and it again broke out in the year 723, in the reign of Leo Isaurus. About this period, a captain of the Jews, called Sarantapechis (or four cubits), induced the Caliph Jezzid to commence a destructive war against the sacred images in the Christian churches, promising him a long and happy reign as his reward. He, accordingly, published an edict, commanding the removal of all images; but the Christians refused to obey him, and six months afterwards God removed him out of the way. Constantius, Bishop of Nacolia, in Phrygia, introduced this Jewish doctrine among Christians. He was expelled from his See, in punishment of his perfidy, by his own diocesans, and ingratiated himself into the Emperor's favour, and induced him to declare war against images (1).

2. Leo had already reigned ten years, when, in the year 727, he declared publicly to the people, that it was not right to venerate images. The people, however, all cried out against him; and he then said, he did not mean (2) to say that images should be done away with altogether, but that they should be placed high up, out of the reach, that they should not be soiled by the people kissing them. It was manifest his intention was to do away with them altogether; but he met the most determined resistance from St. Germanus, Patriarch of Constantinople, who proclaimed his wil. lingness to lay down his life for the sacred images, which were always venerated in the Church.

The holy pontiff wrote many

(1) Nat. Alex. t. 12, sec. 8, c. 2, a. 1; Hermant, t. 1, p. 283; Fleury, t. 6, 1. 42, n. 1; Baron. Ann. 723, n. 17, & vide Ann. 726, n. 3. (2) Nat. Alex. loc. cit.; Fleury, loc. cit.


letters to those bishops who held on to the Emperor's opinion, to turn them from their evil ways, and he also wrote to Pope Gregory II., who answered him in a long letter, approving of his zeal, and stating what was the doctrine of the Catholic Church in the veneration of the sacred images which he was contending for (3).

3. The Emperor continued his rage against images, and the displeasure of the people of Continental Greece and the islands of the Cyclades at length broke out into open rebellion. Zeal for religion was the motive assigned for this outbreak, and one Cosimus was elected as their Emperor, and they marched to Constantinople to have him crowned. They fought a battle near Constantinople, under the leadership of Cosimus, Agallianus, and Stephanus, but were totally defeated; so Agallianus threw himself into the sea, and Stephanus and Cosimus were taken and beheaded. Leo was emboldened by this victory to persecute the Catholics with greater violence. He sent for the Patriarch, St. Germanus, and strove to bring him over to his way of thinking; but (4) the saint told him openly, that whoever would strive to abolish the veneration of images was a precursor of Antichrist, and that such doctrine had a tendency to upset the mystery of the Incarnation; and he reminded him of his coronation oath, not to make any change in the traditions of the Church. All this had no effect on the Emperor; he continued to press the Patriarch, and strove to entrap him into some unguarded expression, which he might consider seditious, and thus have a reason for deposing him. He was urged on to adopt this course by Anastasius, a disciple of the Patriarch, but who joined the Emperor's party, and was promised the See of Constantinople, on the deposition of St. Germanus. The saint, knowing the evil designs of Anastasius, gave him many friendly admonitions. One day, in particular, he was going in to see the Emperor, and Anastasius followed him so closely that he trod on his robe: “Do not be in a hurry," said the saint; “ you will be soon enough in the hyppodrome” (the public circus), alluding to his disgrace fifteen years afterwards, when the Emperor Constantine, who placed him in the See of Constantinople, had his eyes plucked out, and conducted round the hyppodrome, riding on an ass, with his face to the tail; but, for all that, kept him in the See, because he was an enemy to the sacred images. The Emperor, in the meanwhile, continued a bitter enemy of the Patriarch St. Germanus, and persecuted, not alone the Catholics who venerated the sacred images, but those also who honoured the relics of the saints, and invoked their intercession, not knowing, or, perhaps, not wishing to learn, the difference between the supreme worship, which we

(3) Fleury, t. 6, 1. 42, n. 3.

(4) Fleury, loc. cit. n. 4, ex Theophil.


Catholics pay to God, and that veneration which we pay to relics and holy images (5).

4. The Emperor convoked a Council in the early part of the year 730 (6), in which he made a decree against sacred images, and wanted the Patriarch to subscribe it, but he firmly refused, and preferred resigning his dignity; he threw off his pallium, and said: . It is impossible, my Lord, that I can sanction any novelty against the Faith; I can do nothing without a General Council;" and he left the meeting. The Emperor was enraged, and sent some armed officials to eject him from the archiepiscopal palace, which they did with blows and outrages, not even respecting his venerable age of eighty years. He went to the house of his family, and lived there as a monk, and left the See of Constantinople, which he had governed for fourteen years, in a state of the greatest desolation. He then died a holy death, and the Church venerates his memory on the 12th of May (7).

5. A few days after the banishment of St. Germanus, Anastasius was appointed Patriarch of Constantinople, and, by force of arms, was put in possession of the See. The impious usurper at once gave up all power over the churches to the Emperor, and he having now no one to contradict him, began vigorously to enforce his decree against the holy images. In the vestibule of the imperial palace at Constantinople, there was an image of our Redeemer crucified, held in extraordinary veneration by the people, as it was believed to have been erected by Constantine, in memory of the cross that appeared to him in the heavens. Leo intended to begin with this most sacred image, and he ordered Jovinus, one of his

guards, to throw it down; a number of women, who were present, endeavoured to dissuade him from the sacrilegious attempt, but he despised their supplications, mounted on a ladder, and gave three blows with an axe on the face of it. When the women saw this, they dragged back the ladder, threw him on the ground, killed him, and tore him in pieces. Withal, the holy image was cast to the earth and burned, and the Emperor put in its place a plain cross, with an inscription telling that the image was removed, for the Iconoclasts venerated the cross, and only did away with images representing the human figure. The women, after killing Jovinus, ran off to the bishop's palace, hurled stones against it, and poured out all sorts of abuse on Anastasius: “ Wretch that you are," said they, “ you have usurped the priesthood only to destroy everything sacred." Anastasius, outrageous at the insult, went at once to the Emperor, and had the women all put to death; ten more suffered along with them, and the Greek Church honours them as martyrs on the 9th of August (8).

6. The Emperor Leo, a man of no learning himself, was a bitter (5) Fleury, t. 6, l. 42, n. 4. (6) Theoph. Ann. 10, p. 340, ap. Fleury, loc. cit. Baron. Ann. 754, n. 42. (7) Fleury, loc. cit. (8) Fleury, t. 6, l. 42, n. 5.

persecutor of learned men, and abolished the schools of sacred literature, which flourished from the time of Constantine. There was a library founded by the ancient Emperors near the imperial palace of Constantine, containing over three thousand volumes. The librarian, Lecumenicus, was a man of great merit, and he superintended the labours of twelve professors, who taught gratuitously both the sacred and the profane sciences. This learned corporation had so high a character, that even the Emperor himself could not make any unusual ordinance without consulting them. Leo used every means in his power, both threats and promises, to induce these professors to give their sanction to his proceedings; but when he found it was all in vain, he surrounded the library with faggots and dry wood, and burned both the professors and the literary treasures together. Partly by threat, and partly by seduction, he got all the inhabitants of Constantinople to bring together into the middle of the city all the images of the Redeemer, the Blessed Virgin, and the saints, and burn them, and the paintings in the churches were all destroyed and covered over with whitewash. Many refused obedience, and he beheaded some, and mutilated others, so that many clergy, monks, and even lay people suffered martyrdom (9).

7. When the news of this persecution reached Italy, the images of the Emperor were thrown down and trampled (10), and when he sent his impious decree against holy images to Rome, and threatened Pope Gregory II. to depose him, if he resisted its execution, the Pontiff rejected the impious command, and prepared to resist him as an enemy to the Church, and wrote to the faithful in all parts, to put them on their guard against this new error. The people of the Pentapolis, and the army quartered in the Venetian territory, refused obedience to the Imperial decree, and proclaimed that they would fight in defence of the Pope Paul the Exarch of Ravenna, the Emperor, who sent him his orders, and all who would obey them, were anathematized, and Chiefs were elected. All Italy, at last, in a general agreement, resolved to elect another Emperor, and conduct him to Constantinople; but the Pope having still some hopes of the conversion of Leo, used all his influence to prevent this plan being put into execution. While things were in this state, Exilaratus, Duke of Naples, and his son Adrian, Lord of Campania, persuaded the people of that province to obey the Emperor, and kill the Pope, but both father and son were taken by the Romans, and killed by them, and as it was reported that Peter, the Duke of Rome, had written to the Emperor against the Pope, he was driven out of the city by the people. The people of Ravenna were divided into two factions, one party for the Pope, another for the Emperor; they broke out at last into open warfare, and the

(9) Baron. An. 754, n. 37; Fleury, loc. cit. n. 5, con. Anas. in Greg. II. & Theophil. 15, p. 543, &c. (10) Fleury, loc. cit. n. 6.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »