By St. Nikolai Velimirovich
All four were of the royal tribe of Judah. When Nebuchadnezzar destroyed and plundered Jerusalem, Daniel, as a boy, was carried away into slavery together with the Jewish King Jehoiachim and countless other Israelites. An account of his life, sufferings and prophecies can be found in detail in his book.
Completely devoted to God, St. Daniel from his early youth received from God the gift of great discernment. His fame among the Jews in Babylon began when he denounced two lecherous and unrighteous elders, Jewish judges, and saved the chaste Susanna from an unjust death. But his fame among the Babylonians began from the day he deciphered and interpreted the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar. For this, the king made him a prince at his court.
When the king made a golden idol on the Plain of Dura, the Three Children refused to worship it, and for this they were cast into a fiery furnace. But an angel of God appeared in the furnace and cooled the fire so that the children walked around the furnace unharmed by the fire, singing: "Blessed art Thou, Lord God of our fathers" (Daniel 3:26). The king saw this miracle and was amazed. He then brought the children out of the furnace and bestowed upon them great honors.
In the time of King Belshazzar, when the king was eating and drinking with his guests at a banquet from consecrated vessels taken from the Temple in Jerusalem, an invisible hand wrote three words on the wall: "Mene, Tekel, Upharsin" (Daniel 5:25-28). No one was able to interpret these words except Daniel. That night, King Belshazzar was killed.
Daniel was twice thrown into the lions' den because of his faith in the One, Living God, and both times the Lord saved him and he remained alive. Daniel beheld God on a throne with the heavenly hosts; saw angels; discerned the future of certain people, of kingdoms, and of the whole human race; and prophesied the time of the coming of the Savior on earth.
According to St. Cyril of Alexandria, Daniel and the three children lived to old age in Babylon and were beheaded for the true Faith. When they beheaded Ananias, Azarias stretched out his cloak and caught his head; following this, Misael caught Azarias's head and Daniel caught Misael's head. An angel of God translated their bodies to Judea, to Mount Gebal, and placed them under a rock. According to tradition, these four God-pleasers arose at the time of the death of the Lord Christ, appeared to many and again fell asleep.
Daniel is numbered among the four great prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel). He lived and prophesied five hundred years before Christ.
Reflection From the Life of Daniel and the Three Youths
Bodily purity is primarily attained by fasting, and, through bodily purity, spiritual purity is also attained. Abstinence from food, according to the words of that son of grace, St. Ephraim the Syrian, means: "Not to desire or ask for various foods, either sweet or costly; not to eat anything outside the designated time; not to succumb to the spirit of gluttony; not to excite hunger in oneself by looking at good food; and not to desire at one moment one kind of food and at another moment another kind of food." Great is the fallacy that fasting and Lenten food harm the health of the body. It is a known fact that the ascetics lived the longest and were the least prone to illness. St. Daniel and the Three Children in Babylon offer us an example of this. When the king ordered his eunuch to feed these young men food from the royal table and to give them good wine to drink, Daniel told the eunuch that they did not want to accept the royal food and wine but wanted only vegetables for food (for Daniel did not want to eat the food sprinkled with the blood of the idolatrous sacrifices). The eunuch, fearing that the youths would be weakened by the fasting foods, related his fear to Daniel. Then the prophet suggested that he make a test and convince himself that the fasting food would not weaken them: to nourish the other youths at the royal court with food from the king's table, and to feed the four of them only on pulse for the course of ten days, and then make a comparison. The eunuch heeded Daniel and did what he suggested. After ten days, the faces of the four ascetic youths were more radiant and their bodies were stronger than the bodies of the Babylonian youths who ate and drank from the king's table.
Read also: A Homily on the Steadfastness of Daniel the Prophet
HYMN OF PRAISE: The Holy Prophet Daniel and the Three Youths
Whoever fears the true God
Is not afraid of men or demons.
The Lord rewards faithful servants
And guards them from every evil.
Among the lions,
Holy Daniel remained unharmed;
In the fiery furnace,
The Three Youths remained alive;
In the midst of the fire, they glorified God,
With an angel, God's messenger.
Like Noah in the evil world,
Like holy Lot in wild Sodom,
And like Joseph in decadent Egypt,
So Daniel in the middle of Babylon
Remained faithful and righteous
With three of his young friends:
Ananias and Azarias
And the faithful young Misael.
The tortures came and the tortures passed.
The martyred were gloriously glorified
In the Immortal Kingdom of Christ.
Apolytikion in the Second Tone
Great are the achievements of faith! In the fountain of flame, as by the water of rest, the Three Holy Children rejoiced. And the Prophet Daniel proved a shepherd of lions as of sheep. By their prayers, O Christ our God, save our souls.
Kontakion in the Third Tone
Since thy pure and hallowed heart had been made pure by the Spirit, it became His dwelling-place and clearest prophecy's vessel; for thou didst behold things far off as near and present, and when cast into the den, thou didst muzzle lions; for which cause, O blessed Prophet, glorious Daniel, we all revere thee in faith.
Saturday, December 17, 2011
By St. Nikolai Velimirovich
Friday, December 16, 2011
Nazar Stanintsenkov, a young distinguished pianist, described a miracle which occurred for him on a radio interview for the Greek program Peraiki Ekklesia. Below is his personal account:
Seven years ago I went to the beach to spend the summer with my grandmother, and one day I left the house to go play. I wasn't paying attention, so when the door shut it caught my fingers inside. My phalanx bones were cut off. I was crying and screaming: "My fingers are cut off, how will I ever play the piano again?" We went to the hospital and the doctor couldn't do anything, except stitching the wounds. After a few days a grandmother spoke to us about Saint Luke. We went to Simferopol and venerated the relics of the Saint. I took oil from the icon of the Saint and every night prayed: "Saint Luke, I don't know what you will do, but I want to play the piano again. You are the doctor, so you know how." Every night I applied the icon and oil to my hand. After one month my fingers began to grow back, even the nails came out, and I began again to play the piano. In five months I completed my exams in piano and got first prize. I thank Saint Luke for his great gift which he set for my life.
Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos
1: Relations between the Popes, the Emperors and the Franks before 753
Constantine I 708-715:
Constantine was from Syria. (Liber Pontificalis, Monumenta Germaniae Historica, p. 222)
In 710, he went to Constantinople, where he was received by Emperor Justinian. (Liber Pontificalis, Monumenta Germaniae Historica, p. 224)
In 712, he rejected the letter of the new emperor Philippicus, because Philippicus supported monothelism in this letter. (Liber Pontificalis, Monumenta Germaniae Historica, p. 224)
In 713, the people of Rome resolved to reject the letters and effigies of any heretic emperor. They also refused to accept Peter who was newly sent as duke of Rome (the exarchy of Italy was divided into many duchies, one of which was the duchy of Rome). Christopher duke of Rome fought Agatho, one of the men of Peter. After a few days, news came from Sicily that Anastasius replaced Philippicus and that Anastasius was orthodox. Of all the towns of the exarchate of Italy, only the people of Rome acted as such. (Liber Pontificalis, Monumenta Germaniae Historica, p. 225-226)
In all these events, there is no mention of ‘Greek heretics’ or ‘Greek emperor’, any mention that these events involved ‘Romans’ against ‘Greeks’, or any mention of a separation from the ‘Byzantines’.
Gregory II 715-731:
Gregory was from Rome. (Liber Pontificalis, Patrologia Latina 89, p. 453)
In circa 717, he sent a letter to the Lombards asking them to give back the fortress of Cumae. He also sent a letter to John duke of Napoli encouraging him to restore Cumae. John took back the fortress. (Liber Pontificalis, Patrologia Latina 89, p. 466-467; Paulus Diaconus, Historia Langobardorum, 40)
In 727, Paul exarch of Italy tried to murder the Pope by order of Emperor Leo. Paul sent men from Ravenna to achieve the plot; but these were stopped by the Lombards who surrounded the borders of Roman territory (“duces Longobardorum circumdantes Romanorum fines”). Later, the emperor sent a decree to the Pope ordering the destruction of sacred images. The Pope sent letters for the Christians to beware of this new heresy. Consequently, the Pentapolitan and Venetian soldiers resisted the decree of the emperor. The Italians removed Paul their exarch. The Italians then resolved to elect an Emperor and to send him to Constantinople (“cognita vero imperatoris nequitia, omnis Italia consilium iniit ut sibi eligerent imperatorem et Constantinopolim ducerent”). However, the Pope curbed the decision of the Italians to elect an emperor, hoping that Emperor Leo would revert from his opinion. Later, Exhilaratus duke of Napoli, having conspired to murder the Pope, was killed by the Romans. At the same time, Paul the exarch was killed in Ravenna. Then, the Roman towns of Buxo, Pernitecta, Pentapolis and Auximana surrendered themselves to the Lombards. The Emperor sent Eutychius the new exarch to murder the Pope but did not succeed. (Liber Pontificalis, Patrologia Latina 89, p. 476-478; Paulus Diaconus, Historia Langobardorum, 49; Theophanes, Chronographia, year 6221)
In 728-729, he wrote a letter to the Emperor telling him that the doctrines of the Church do not pertain to the emperors but to the pontiffs. He relates to him that because of his acts against icons, the Lombards invaded the Decapolis and occupied Ravenna while the Emperor could defend them very little (Patrologia Latina 89, p. 518-519). The Pope here is referring to the events of 727.
In 729, by request of Liutprand King of the Lombards, the Pope received Eutychius the exarch in peace. (Liber Pontificalis, Patrologia Latina 89, p. 479-480)
In 730, Emperor Leo sent Manes master of the soldiers of the Cibyraeotae against Rome and Italy. Manes transformed the revenues of the patrimony of the Church of Rome in Sicily and Calabria into public revenues. (Theophanes, Chronigraphia, year 6224)
In all these events, the Italians were just reacting against iconoclasm and did not think of separation from the ‘Byzantines’ as it is claimed by modern historians. In fact, the Italians wanted to establish an Emperor and to send him to Constantinople as it is clearly stated in Liber Pontificalis.
Gregory III 731-741:
Gregory was form Syria. (Liber Pontificalis, Patrologia Latina 89, p. 557)
In 739, Liutprand pursued Trasimund, Duke of Spoleto, in the Duchy of Rome, because Trasimund had taken refuge in Rome. Because the Pope and Stephen the patrician and duke of Rome did not hand Trasimund to Liutprand, Liutprand took four towns from the duchy of Rome: America, Hortae, Polimartium and Blera. Consequently, the Pope sent the keys of Saint Peter to Charles Martel and a letter asking him to liberate them from the Lombards. According to the continuator of Fredegarius, an agreement was made between Charles and the Pope that the Pope recedes from the faction of the emperor (“ut a partibus imperatoris recederet”) and that he ordains Charles as Roman Consul (Third Continuation of Fredegarius, 110; Liber Pontificalis, Patrologia Latina 89, p. 573-574, 895). To recede from the faction of the emperor did not mean to rebel against him. In fact, the Romans at that time were divided between those who supported the orders of Emperors Leo and Constantine, and those who were against them. Although the Pope sent a letter to the emperors in circa 733 to restore the holy images, he did not oppose their policies in the manner Gregory II did in 727. So, all what Charles was asking is that the Pope stops supporting the emperors.
Later in 739, the Pope sent another letter asking again help from Charles. In this letter, he calls Charles as ‘Carolus subregulus’ ‘Charles the sub-king’; there is no mention of the title ‘consul’. (Liber Pontificalis, Patrologia Latina 89, p. 583)
In 740, he sent a letter to Charles in which he was afflicted at Charles for letting Liutprand and Hilprand raid the territories of Ravenna and Rome. In this letter, he also calls Charles as ‘Carolus subregulus’. (Liber Pontificalis, Patrologia Latina 89, p. 581-583)
In these events also, there is no indicator of a will to separate from the emperor. The appeal to protection from Charles did not mean that the Pope did not recognize the authority of the emperor. Instead, asking the help of an old ally of the Romans, such as Charles, was a natural response to the threat posed by the Lombards because Charles could attack the Lombard from the north and curb them. The attacks of the Lombards against the Romans in Italy were not a new thing in 739. Surely, continuous appeals to the Franks unintentionally opened the door for Frankish intervention into Roman affairs later. Besides this, in all the sources of this period, there is no mention of ‘heretic Greeks’ or ‘Greek emperors’ or any terms like that.
Zachary was from Athens. (Liber Pontificalis, Patrologia Latina 89, p. 891)
In 741, he sent a letter to Liutprand demanding the restoration of the four towns taken from the duchy of Rome. Liutprand promised him their restoration. When Liutprand went to capture Trasimund, Roman soldiers joined him. Trasimund surrendered himself to Liutprand at Spoleto. The Pope met Liutprand in Interamna. Liutprand restored to the Pope the four towns and made peace with the Duchy of Rome for 20 years. (Liber Pontificalis, Patrologia Latina 89, p. 896-898)
In 742, he sent a letter to Emperor Constantine containing some suggestions. (Liber Pontificalis, Patrologia Latina 89, p. 905-906)
In 743, Liutprand attacked the province of Ravenna. Eutychius patrician and exarch of Italy sent to the Pope asking him to hasten to their liberation. The Pope sent a letter to Liutprand asking him to cease from his attacks and to restore Caesena to the people of Ravenna. Then, the Pope left Rome to meet Liutprand and went to Ravenna. From there he went to Pavia and met Liutprand. Liutprand restored Caesena to Ravenna, and the Pope returned to Rome. (Liber Pontificalis, Patrologia Latina 89, p. 899-902)
In 743, he organized a synod in the Church of Saint Peter concerning the discipline of the priests and monks and concerning marriages. The synod is dated as such: “indictione XII, imperante Arduasto eiusque filio Niceforo” “12th indiction, under Emperor Arduastus and his son Nicephorus”. (Concilia Aevi Karolini I, Monumenta Germaniae Historica, p. 8-32)
In 745, he organized another synod in the Lateran Palace concerning two priests, Adelbert and Clemens. The synod is dated as such: “imperante domino piissimo Augusto Constantino imperatore anno XXVI” “during the rule of the most pious lord August Constantine emperor for the 16th year”. (Concilia Aevi Karolini I, Monumenta Germaniae Historica, p. 37-44)
In 747, he sent a letter to Pippin the majordomo and to the bishops, abbots and princes of the Frankish region concerning ecclesiastical issues. In it, he calls Pippin as “Pippino maiori domus”. (Liber Pontificalis, Patrologia Latina 89, p. 930-938)
In 749, Ratchis King of the Lombards marched to capture Perusia. The Pope went to Perusia and convinced Ratchis to retreat from the siege. (Liber Pontificalis, Patrologia Latina 89, p. 909)
In all these events, the Pope was successful in protecting all the people of Rome and the rest of the Romans of Italy from the Lombards. There are no indications that Rome and the exarchate of Italy were separate from the emperors at that time because of iconoclasm. Rome was under the duke of Rome who was under the exarch of Italy Eutychius. In his turn, Eutychius was under the emperor. In all the synods at Rome, the synods are dated by the years of the emperors. Unlike his predecessor, Zachary did not ask help from the Franks against the Lombards, but through his courage, he was able to hinder their attacks.
2: Divisions of the Exarchate of Italy until 751
To understand events in Italy during the 8th century, one has to have a general view of the administrative divisions of Italy from the Lombardic conquests to 751.
During this period, Italy was governed by the patrician and exarch of Italy (Latin: patricius et exarchus Italiae; Greek: o patrikios kai ecsarhos tis Italias ). The exarch of Italy was sometimes known as the patrician of the Romans by Franks and Lombards .
The exarchate of Italy contained these provinces:
1] Rome (known previously as the province of Urbicaria),
2] Napoli (known previously as the province of Campania),
5] Ravenna (known previously as the province of Annonaria),
Each province was governed by a duke, with the rank of patrician, protospatharius or spatharius. The province of Ravenna was governed directly by the exarch. Towns situated under Ravenna were also governed by dukes, like Perugia and the Pentapolis.
During the late 7th or early 8th century, the Duke of Sicily was made Master of the Soldiers (magister militum; stratigos) with the rank of protospatharius or patrician. Calabria and Napoli were under him.
In 751, Aistulf King of the Lombards took the province of Ravenna, thus isolating the province of Rome whose only contacts with the rest of the Empire were now through Napoli and Sicily.
In 754, Pippin took the province of Ravenna from Aistulf, but gave it to the Pope instead of giving it to the legates of the Emperor. The title of Pippin (‘patrician of the Romans’) reflected the fact that Pippin ruled now the exarchate of Italy.
 To convert to Greek, paste the text in the text box (here:
http://www.bibliothecaberytia.com/BetaGrConv.aspx), then click “Convert Beta Code to Greek”.
 Fredegarius calls Isaac patrician and exarch of Italy in 630 as “patricio Romanorum” (Fredegarius, Chronicum, 69). Paul the Deacon calls Gregory patrician and exarch of Italy as “Gregorius patricius Romanorum” (Paulus Diaconus, Historia Langobardorum, 38).
3: Ethnogeography during the 8th century AD
Ethnogeography is the study of the location of peoples. To understand events
studied in this series of articles, one has to understand the ethnogeography of
During this century, three peoples were mainly behind these studied events:
1] the Romans,
2] the Lombards,
3] the Franks.
The Franks were found in Gaul and Germany. The Franks ruled all Gaul and parts
of Germany. Under the rule of the Franks were these peoples:
1] the Romans of Gaul,
2] the Burgunds of Burgundy in Gaul,
3] the Thuringians,
4] the Alamanns,
5] the Bavars.
The Lombards were found in Italy. They ruled these parts of Italy:
1] Northern Italy (Pavia, Milan, Verona, Tuscany),
2] the Duchy of Spoleto,
3] the Duchy of Benevento.
The Lombards of the Duchy of Spoleto were commonly known as the Spoletans. The Lombards of the Duchy of Benevento were known as the Beneventans. Under the rule of the Lombards were these peoples:
1] the Romans of Italy,
2] some Bulgars, who migrated to Italy, and others.
The Romans were found in the all lands that were Roman lands before the conquests of the Barbarians. There were two types of Romans:
1] Romans living under the rule of other peoples in Gaul, Spain, Africa, Egypt, Syria, Italy, Rhaetia and Illyricum,
2] Romans living under their own rule in Italy, Sicily, Sardinia, Dalmatia, Greece, Epirus, Macedonia, Thrace, Cyprus, and Asia Minor.
Free Romans were divided according to their provinces and to their languages. The main division according to languages was between:
There were many divisions according to provinces, most famous of which are these:
1] Romans: those who lived in Rome or in the Duchy of Rome,
2] Ravennians: those who lived in Ravenna and its province,
3] Pentapolitans: in Pentapolis,
4] Venetians: in Venice,
5] Istrians: in Istria,
6] Dalmatians: in Dalmatia,
7] Neapolitans: in Napoli,
8] Amalfitans: in Amalfi,
9] Gaetans: in Gaeta,
10] Sicilians: in Sicily,
11] Calabrians: in Calabria,
12] Greeks: in Greece. One has to note that at that time Greece (Graecia in Latin; “Graikia” in Greek) included generally Greece, Epirus, Macedonia, Thrace, Cyprus and Asia Minor, and sometimes Sicily and Calabria, i.e. all Greek-speaking lands. Under this category, the Romans of Syria and Egypt, who were subjects to Muslims, were also included.
One should note that Latin was still used in the East, mainly in the study of law books (which were only translated to Greek at the end of the 9th century). The common language of the imperial army has become Greek instead of Latin since the 7th century.
4: Relations between Pope Stephen III, the Emperors and the Franks 753-757
In 752, because of the attacks of Aistulf King of the Lombards against Rome and its neighboring towns, the Pope sent Paul the Deacon and Ambrosius the Primicerius to Aistulf to confirm the pacts of peace. They confirmed with him a pact of peace for 40 years. After 4 months, Aistulf disrupted the treaty of peace because he wanted to subject Rome and its province. The Pope sent to him the abbots of the monasteries of Vincent and Benedict to confirm again the pacts of peace. Aistulf rejected their gifts and sent them back to their monasteries. At that time, John the imperial silentiarius came to Rome carrying an order from the Emperor to the Pope and another order to Aistulf to restore the places that he has occupied. The Pope sent John and Paul the Deacon to Aistulf in Ravenna. Aistulf discharged them with an empty answer. The Pope then sent his envoys to Constantinople with John, carrying a speech to the Emperor to come with an army to protect these parts of Italy and to liberate Rome and all the province of Italy from Aistulf. (LibPon. II p. 88-93)
In 753, the Pope saw that his pleas to Aistulf did not work and that no help was coming from the Emperor. Thus, as Gregory, Gregory and Zachary sent to Charles asking for help, he also secretly sent letters to Pippin King of the Franks explaining the great suffering of his province and asking him to send his envoys to Rome to bring him to him. While the Lombards were oppressing the towns and province of Rome, John the Silentiarius arrived to Rome carrying an order from the Emperor that the Pope should hasten to the King of the Lombards to take back the town of Ravenna and its dependent towns. Then, Bishop Rotdigang and Duke Autchari, envoys of Pippin, arrived to Rome. The envoys found the Pope prepared to go to Aistulf to fulfill the order of the Emperor. In October, the Pope left Rome with the envoys of Pippin and came to Pavia, the seat of Aistulf. There, the Pope and the imperial envoy asked Aistulf to return Ravenna and the other towns, but Aistulf did not answer their pleas. The envoys of Pippin asked Aistulf to let the Pope go to France. In 15 November, he left Pavia with the envoys of Pippin to go to France. (LibPon. II p. 97-102; FredChrCont4. 119; AnnLaur. 753; AnnEg. 753)
In 6 January 754, the Pope came to the palace of Pontyon and met Pippin. The Pope prayed Pippin to set in order the pacts of peace and the cause of Saint Peter and of the Romans (“causam beati Petri et reipublicae Romanorum”). Pippin promised the Pope to return the exarchate of Ravenna by any means to the control of the Romans (“iuri reipublicae”). In 28 July, at the Monastery of Saint Denis in Paris, the Pope anointed Pippin and his two sons as Kings of the Franks. (LibPon. II p. 104-105; FredChrCont4. 119; AnnLaur. 754; AnnEg. 754)
Meanwhile, between February and August, Emperor Constantine made a synod in Constantinople against sacred images. (Theoph.Chr. 6245)
Pippin sent envoys to Aistulf asking the restitution of the pacts of peace and of the properties of the Church of the Romans. However, Aistulf did not respond to any of these demands. Consequently, Pippin decided to move against Aistulf, but the Pope convinced him to send other envoys to Aistulf. Pippin sent other envoys, but Aistulf showed disdain for the Pope, Pippin and the Franks. Thus, Pippin moved against him with the Pope. Aistulf attacked some of the Franks at the border, but he was defeated and took refuge in Pavia. Pippin and the Pope came to Pavia and besieged it. Then, Aistulf swore under heavy oath to return Ravenna and the other towns and peace was made between the Romans, the Franks and the Lombards. Pippin sent Jerome his brother and Abbot Fulrad to conduct the Pope to Rome, then returned to his territory. Pippin and his sons Charles and Carlomann acquired the title ‘Patricians of the Romans’ before or directly after the submission of Aistulf. After the departure of Pippin, Aistulf delayed in returning the towns. Thus, the Pope sent a letter to Pippin relating that Aistulf did not return any of the lands back to Saint Peter and the Romans (“nec unius palmi terrae spatium Beato Petro aut reipublicae Romanorum redder passum est”). (LibPon. II p. 108-114; PL 89 p. 1011-1013; FredChrCont4. 120; AnnLaur. 755; AnnEg. 755)
In 755, Aistulf came with his army and besieged Rome for three months. The Pope sent envoys to Pippin telling him about the raids of Aistulf and about the suffering of the Romans. Consequently, Pippin marched against the Lombards. By that time, the imperial envoys George the Protoasecretes and John the Silentiarius came to Rome, being sent by the Emperor to Pippin. The envoys traveled with the envoy of the Pope from Rome to Marseilles, but Pippin was already in Lombardy. George hastened before the Papal envoy to meet Pippin, whom he found not far from Pavia. George prayed Pippin to concede Ravenna and the other towns and castles to the control of the emperor. However, Pippin refused saying that he could not bear transferring these towns from the control of Saint Peter and from the possessions of the Roman Church and the Pontiffs. Thus, the imperial envoy went back to Rome. After being besieged by Pippin, Aistulf restored Ravenna and the other towns. Pippin sent Abbot Fulrad to
receive these towns and returned to France. Fulrad went to the region of Ravenna and entered the towns of Pentapolis and Aemilia, then returned to Rome carrying the keys of these towns, which he handed to the Pope. The towns were: Ravenna, Ariminum, Pisaurum, Conca, Fanus, Caesenae, Senogalliae, Esium, Forum Pompilii, Forum Livii, Narnia and others. (LibPon. II p. 115-119; PL 89 p. 999-1004; FredChrCont4. 121; AnnLaur. 756; AnnEg. 756)
In 756, Aistulf died. Desiderius attempted to take the government of the Lombards but was opposed by Radchis. Desiderius sought the help of the Pope in exchange of giving back the towns of Faventia, Imola, Auximum, Ferrara, Ancona and Bononia. The Pope sent his envoys and Fulrad to Desiderius. Desiderius vowed to them to do what he promised. Then, the Pope sent his envoys to Radchis and the Lombards with letters of exhortation. Fulrad hastened with some Franks and many Roman soldiers to help Desiderius. The Lombards accepted the prayers of the Pope and Desiderius became King. The Pope then sent his envoy to receive these towns. (LibPon. II p. 122-124; PL 89 p. 1007-1011; FredChrCont4. 122)
In 756, the Pope sent a letter to Pippin thanking him for protecting the Roman Church, mother and head of all the churches of God, and relating events concerning Desiderius. In this letter, he asks Pippin to order the Greeks that they arrange that the catholic and apostolic creed stays in eternity and that the Church of God be liberated from their “destructive malice” (“ita disponere iubeas de parte Graecorum ut fides sancta catholica et apostolica per te integra et inconcussa permaneat in aeternum et sancta Dei Ecclesia sicut et ab aliis et ab eorum perstifera liberetur et secura reddatur”). (PL 89 p. 1007-1011)
The following conclusions can be deduced from these events:
1] The Pope did not revolt from the Emperor, even after Ravenna and its towns were put under his direct control.
2] His appeal to protection from Pippin was an element of last resort against the threat of Aistulf. In fact, in 753, before leaving Pavia to France, he met Aistulf with the imperial envoy. We don’t know if the appeal to protection from Pippin was not approved by the Emperor himself.
3] In 754, Pippin promised the Pope to give back Ravenna to the control of the Romans (“iuri reipublicae”). In the same year, after Aistulf delayed in returning Ravenna, the Pope wrote to Pippin that Aistulf did not return any piece of land to Saint Peter (i.e. the Pope indirectly) and to the Romans. However, in 755, when the imperial envoys asked Pippin to return Ravenna and the other towns to the control of the Emperor, he refused saying that he did not dare to transfer them from the control of the Pope. The reasons of this change in Pippin’s policy are not clear. The Pope might have asked Pippin secretly to give these towns only to him, because of the Council of Constantinople in 754.
4] What happened in 755 was that the Pope became the direct ruler of Rome and its province and Ravenna and its province, while Pippin was the indirect governor with the title of ‘Patrician of the Romans’. This did not mean that the rule of the Emperor was rejected, but it meant that Pippin was now introduced as new factor of influence among all Romans, Easterners or Westerners.
5] By having Rome and the other towns under his control, the Pope could collect the revenues of these lands to himself and probably to Pippin, as Patrician of the Romans. One should note that of all the provinces of Italy, only the provinces of Rome and Ravenna were under the Pope’s control.
6] When the Pope asked Pippin in 756 to order the Greeks to keep the catholic and apostolic creed (under the pretext of the Council of Constantinople), he was in fact introducing a foreign factor of influence among the Romans. When Pippin became Patrician of the Romans, he also became Roman. This was the pretext that the Pope used when he allowed Pippin to interfere in internal issues of the Romans. However, what the Pope was doing in reality was letting the Franks interfere in Roman issues and create discord among the Romans themselves. This was something unprecedented before this Pope. Nevertheless, the Franks could only interfere later in the provinces of Rome and Ravenna.
AnnEg. = Annales Eginhardi.
AnnLaur. = Annales Laurissenses.
Egin.VC. = Eginhard, Vita Caroli.
FredChrCont4. = Fredegarii Chronici Continuatio Quarta.
LibPon. II = Liber Pontificalis II (Vignoli edition, Rome: 1752).
PL = Patrologia Latina.
Theoph.Chr. = Theophanes, Chronographia.
5: The Patrimony of Saint Peter, the Secular Authority of the Pope and the Innovation of the Year 755
The Patrimony of Saint Peter (Patrimonium Sancti Petri in Latin) included all the possessions of the Church of Rome. Revenues from these possessions went directly to the Pope, because he was the head of the Church of Rome. In 730, Emperor Leo transformed the Patrimony in Sicily and Calabria into public lands, thus their revenues were transferred to the Emperor.
Prior to 755, the only secular authority of the Pope was over the Patrimony of Saint Peter. The Pope did not rule any province, because all provinces belonged to all Romans and, as such, were all ruled by the Emperor, who was the head of all Romans.
When Ravenna was taken in 751, the Pope did not become the governor of the province of Rome, which was still governed by a duke.
When in 754 the Pope was in France, he asked Pippin to restore Ravenna and its province to Saint Peter and to the Romans. In fact, Aistulf usurped also the Patrimony of Saint Peter that was situated in the province of Ravenna and prevented the Pope from collecting its revenues. So what the Pope was first asking Pippin was to restore:
1] the Patrimony to Saint Peter, i.e. the Pope, and
2] the rest of the province of Ravenna to the Romans, i.e. all Romans and not just the inhabitants of Rome.
In other terms, the Pope did not claim any secular rule over the province of
Ravenna in 754.
However, in 755, Pippin made an innovation. For unknown reasons, Pippin claimed that the province of Ravenna belonged to Saint Peter and, under the pretext of the fear of God and of Saint Peter, he refused to give this province back to the Emperor. We don’t know if the Pope was behind the decision of Pippin. In any case, by receiving the keys of the towns of the province of Ravenna, the Pope became the de-facto secular governor of the provinces of Rome and Ravenna. This situation was unprecedented.
The fact that the Pope became the direct governor of these two provinces meant that the revenues of the two provinces went to him and not to the Emperor. Before 754, the Pope collected the revenues of the Patrimony of Saint Peter only. After 755, the Pope started collecting the revenues of these two provinces too. It is probable that part of the revenues of these provinces went to Pippin, who, as Patrician of the Romans, was the indirect ruler of these provinces.
Having acquired their new secular authority and the revenues of two provinces, the Popes were less than willing to abandon any of them from now on. Later, they used all means to preserve their authority, even at the expense of their own Roman people. As a result, the Popes were able to preserve their secular rule over the provinces of Rome and Ravenna, known later as the Papal State, even until the 19th century.
6: Relations Between Pope Paul I, the Emperors and the Franks 757-767
Paul was the brother of Stephen III. (LibPon. II p. 126)
In 757, the Pope sent a letter to Pippin telling that he was elected as Pope and promising to stay with his people in the alliance that Pippin made with Pope Stephen III. (PL 89 p. 1175-1177)
In 758, the Pope sent a letter to Pippin relating recent acts of Desiderius King of the Lombards. Desiderius passed through the towns of Pentapolis and devastated them, then devastated the duchies of Spoleto and Benevento. Then approaching Benevento, the Duke of Benevento took refuge in Otranto. Then heading to Napoli, Desiderius met there George the imperial envoy, who was sent to Pippin. Desiderius gave George letters directed to the Emperor encouraging him to send his imperial armies to Italy and promising that all the Lombards will help the imperial army in taking Ravenna. Desiderius also arranged with George to direct the fleet of Sicily to Otranto so that the Greeks and the Lombards besiege it and take it, promising to cede Otranto to the Emperor. Then Desiderius went to Rome where the Pope made him swear to return the towns of Imola, Bononia, Auximum and Ancona. (PL 89 p. 1177-1180)
Later in 758, the Pope sent a letter to Pippin telling him that Marinus, one of the priests of the Pope staying at the court of Pippin, has conspired with George the imperial envoy “against the Holy Church of God and the orthodox faith” (“contra Sanctam Dei Ecclesiam fidemque orthodoxam”). The Pope asked Pippin to order Bishop Wulchari to ordain Marinus as bishop in one of the towns of his kingdom. (PL 89 p. 1173-1174) The Pope’s request was intended to keep Marinus under control. The details of the talks between Marinus and the imperial envoy are unknown. The talks may be about the Council of Constantinople in 754. But, the formula “against the Holy Church of God” is often used by the Popes at that time to refer indirectly to themselves, since they were the heads of the Church of God.
In 761, the Pope issued a document concerning the Monastery of Saint Stephen and Saint Sylvester, dated by the 43rd year of Emperor Constantine (“imperante domno Constantino Augusto a Deo coronato magno imperatore anno XLIIIo”). This formula indicates that Pope Paul I was still loyal to the Emperor. (CAK I p. 64-71)
In 761, he sent a letter to Pippin telling that news had come to him that “the impious Greeks, enemies of the Holy Church of God and violators of the orthodox faith,” were preparing to attack the Pope and the regions of Ravenna (“quod nefandi Graeci inimici Sanctae Ecclesiae Dei et orthodoxae fidei expugnatores”). The Pope asks Pippin to order Desiderius to help the Pope against the enemies if necessary. He also tells Pippin that the “most impious” Greeks were persecuting him because of the orthodox faith and of the pious and venerable tradition of the fathers, which they wanted to destroy (“non ob aliud ipsi nefandissimi nos persequuntur Graeci, nisi propter sanctam et orthodoxam fidem et venerandam Patrum piam traditionem, et quam cupiunt destruere atque conculcare”). (PL 89 p. 1184-1185) Although in 758 the Pope was complaining to Pippin about Desiderius, here he is asking Pippin for Desiderius’ help. The Pope’s main pretext against the Greeks was iconoclasm, which was not approved by all Greeks however. However, this pretext could be just a cover for the Pope’s fear from having the provinces of Rome and Ravenna transferred from his direct rule to the rule of the Emperor.
In 761, he sent another letter to Pippin praying him to remain as a defender and protector of the Pope (“supplici deprecatione, te bone orthodoxe rex, quaesumus postulantes, ut sis nobis post Deum firmus protector atque defensor”). He informs him that “the impious malice of the heretic Greeks” has reached the extent that they can humiliate the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church and destroy the orthodox faith and the tradition of the fathers (“optime enim praecellenti vestrae Christianitati compertum existit quanta qualisque sit impia haereticorum Graecorum malitia, inhianter meditantes atque insidiantes, qualiter Deo illis contrario Sanctam Catholicam et Apostolicam Ecclesiam humiliare atque conculcare, et fidem orthodoxam atque sanctorum patrum traditionem destruere possint”). (PL 89 p. 1170-1172)
In circa 763, in a document concerning John Bishop of Tivoli and Anastasius Abbot of the Monastery of Saint Erasmus in Rome, the two swore by Emperors Constantine and Leo “governors of the Romans” (“iurantes dicunt utrasque partes per Dominum omnipotentem Sancteque Sedis Apostolice principatum a Deo coronatorum dominorum virorum Constantini et Leoni magni imperatoribus Romanorum gubernatores”). (CDL 5 p. 228-230) This formula indicates that Rome and Tivoli were still loyal to the Emperor.
In 766, Pippin sent a letter to the Pope telling him that he has received the envoys of the Pope and the envoys of the Greeks and asking him what he should respond to them. The Pope then sent a letter to Pippin telling him that he should not respond with anything except with whatever exalts the Roman Church, mother of all Churches of God. In this letter, the Pope thanks him for reminding Desiderius to pressure the Neapolitans and the Gaetans to restore the patrimony of Saint Peter situated in Napoli. (PL 89 p. 1157-1160) Here it can be clearly seen that the Pope was using Desiderius, through Pippin, against his own people (Gaetan and Neapolitan Romans) for his own profit (the revenues of the Patrimony). The Gaetans and the Neapolitans at that time were under the rule of the Master of the Soldiers of Sicily; Gaeta was on the borders of the province of Rome.
In 767, Pippin organized a synod in France between the envoys of the Greeks and the envoys of the Pope, mentioned in the previous letter of the Pope, concerning the Holy Trinity and sacred images. (AnnLaur. 767; AnnEg. 767) The Annales Laurissenses mention that this synod was between Romans and Greeks (“inter Romanos et Graecos”). Eginhard explains that it was between the Eastern Church and the Western Church, i.e. between the Greeks and the Romans (“inter Orientalem et Occidentalem Ecclesiam, id est Romanos et Graecos”). As it is obvious, ‘Greeks’ and ‘Romans’ are used here in an ecclesiastical context only and not in a secular context.
During his rule, the Pope also sent many envoys to Emperors Constantine and Leo for the restoration of the veneration of sacred images. (LibPon. II p. 128)
The following conclusions can be deduced from these events:
1] Paul became Pope two years after the province of Ravenna passed under the control of the Popes.
2] Although he still recognized Emperor Constantine as his emperor, he did not refrain from defaming the Emperor and the Easterners in front of Pippin to serve his own interest under the pretexts of preserving the orthodox faith. His main interest was keeping the revenues of the Patrimony and of the provinces of Rome and Ravenna. In 761, when rumors came to the Pope that the Emperor was preparing to take back Ravenna and Rome from the Pope, the Pope started defaming the Greeks, including the Emperor, under the pretext of faith, by expressions like “the heretic Greeks” or “the impious Greeks”.
3] Although the previous Popes used Pippin to save the Romans from the Lombards, this Pope used the Lombards (Desiderius) against those Romans who were not under his rule (the Gaetans and the Neapolitans) for his own interest (the revenues of the Patrimony situated in Napoli).
4] Although this Pope did not cut his ties with the Emperor and kept sending envoys to Constantinople, most of his requests were sent to Pippin as he was the only one who could serve his interest in Italy by pressuring Desiderius to do the Pope’s interest.
5] Charles was a young man at that time. He also had the position of Patrician of the Romans. Charles must have been acquainted with whatever was communicated by the Pope to Pippin, including expressions like “the heretic Greeks” or “the impious Greeks”. This influence on Charles led to related consequences in the later deeds of Charles. One can only understand the later acts of Charles by knowing what happened at that time.
AnnEg. = Annales Eginhardi.
AnnLaur. = Annales Laurissenses.
CAK I = Concilia Aevi Karolini I, Monumenta Germaniae Historica.
CDL 5 = Carlo Troya, Codice Diplomatico Longobardo, vol. 5, Napoli, 1855.
LibPon. II = Liber Pontificalis II (Vignoli edition, Rome: 1752).
PL = Patrologia Latina.
7: Relations Between Pope Stephen IV, the Emperors and the Franks 768-772
Stephen was from Sicily. (LibPon. II p. 131)
In 768, he sent envoys to Pippin, Charles and Carlomann Kings of the Franks and Patricians of the Romans asking them to send bishops to Rome to make a council concerning Constantine who was made pope before Stephen. The Kings sent twelve bishops from the territory of the Franks. In April 769, the council was made in the Lateran Palace concerning Constantine and concerning the synod that was made in Greece against sacred images. At the council, monks from Latin and Greek monasteries were also present (“et cunctis religiosis Dei famulis tam Latinorum monasteriorum vel Grecorum cynoviorum”). As mentioned before, the division between ‘Greeks’ and ‘Latins’ is an internal division among the Romans based on language. The presence of Greeks at this council shows that the defamation of the Greeks by Paul I was not based on reasons related to doctrine. (LibPon. II p. 146-151; CAK I p. 74-92)
In 770, Maurice Duke of Rimini entered Ravenna and appointed Michaelius the Scriniarius as Bishop of Ravenna by force. The Pope refused the forced appointment of Michaelius. Meanwhile, envoys of Charles arrived to Rome. The Pope sent his envoys and the envoys of Charles to Ravenna to admonish the Ravennians. Thus, the Ravennians removed Michaelius. (LibPon. II p. 153-155) The Pope here was obviously using Charles against his Ravennian subjects.
In 771, the Pope sent his envoys with letters to Charles and Carlomann to claim from Desiderius the possessions of Saint Peter. When Desiderius knew this, he resolved to march to Rome. When Christopher the Primicerius and Serge the Secundicerius knew of Desiderius’ move, they gathered a multitude of men from Tuscany, Campania and Perusia to defend Rome. Desiderius came to Rome. The Pope met him twice to discuss about the possessions of Saint Peter. (LibPon. II p. 156-161; PL 89 p. 1249-1251)
CAK I = Concilia Aevi Karolini I, Monumenta Germaniae Historica.
LibPon. II = Liber Pontificalis II (Vignoli edition, Rome: 1752).
PL = Patrologia Latina.
Theoph.Chr. = Theophanes, Chronographia.
Part 8: Relations Between Pope Hadrian I, the Emperors and the Franks 772-795
Hadrian was from Rome. (LibPon. II p. 161)
In 772, Desiderius sent him his envoys. The Pope responded to them that he intended to abide by the peace made between the Romans, the Franks and the Lombards. They vowed to him that Desiderius will return the lawful possessions of Saint Peter. However, Desiderius took away Faventia and the duchy of Ferrara from the exarchate of Ravenna. The Ravennians sent envoys to the Pope deploring the situation. (LibPon. II p. 164-167)
Later, the Pope started an inquiry about the death of Serge the Secundicerius. Calvulus the Cubicularius, priest Lunisso the Campanian and tribune Leonatius the Campanian were captured and judged for the murder. The two Campanians were exiled to Constantinople. Although Paul the Cubicularius, who was in Ravenna at that time, was also accused of the murder, the Pope ordered the archbishop of Ravenna to release him. However, the archbishop handed him to the Consular of Ravenna . To save Paul, the Pope sent a suggestion to Emperors Constantine and Leo (“Constantino et Leoni Augustis magnisque Imperatoribus”) praying them to hold Paul in exile in those parts of Greece (“in ipsis Graeciae partibus”). The Pope sent also a suggestion to Leo Archbishop of Ravenna to send Paul into Constantinople through Venice. However, Leo responded that if Paul was sent to Venice, Maurice Duke of the Venetians might hand him to Desiderius in exchange of his son. Thus, the Pope consented to execute Paul. (LibPon. II p. 169-174)
After this, Desiderius sent his armies to raid the borders of the towns of the Romans, like Senogalliae, Urbinum and others. The Pope sent him pleas to refrain from these acts and to return the captured towns, but Desiderius refused. Then, Desiderius prepared to march to Rome. Knowing this, the Pope sent his envoys to Charles to hasten to the aid of the Church of the Romans and of the exarchate of the province of Ravenna. (LibPon. II p. 175-179)
In 773, before the coming of Desiderius to Rome, the Pope sent for the people of Tuscany, Campania, Perusia and Pentapolis to secure Rome. The Pope then wrote an anathema and sent it to Desiderius warning him not to cross the frontiers of the Romans without his acquittal. Thus, Desiderius returned to his place. Later, the envoys of Charles came to Rome enquiring if Desiderius returned the captured towns and the possessions of Saint Peter. The Pope sent with them his envoys to Charles with letters asking him to make Desiderius return the captured towns and the possessions of Saint Peter. After their arrival, Charles sent envoys to Desiderius asking him to return the captured towns and to make justice to the Romans, but Desiderius did not obey. Thus, Charles marched with his army to the borders of his kingdom. Desiderius took refuge in Pavia. Charles besieged Pavia. In April 774, Charles visited Rome. There, Charles vowed to concede to Saint Peter the territories that were conceded to the Pope by Pippin at Quierzy, according to what Charles claimed. These territories were: Corsica, the territory extending from Luna to Surianum to Bercetum to Parma to Regium to Mantua, the exarchate of Ravenna, the provinces of Venice and Istria, and the duchies of Benevento and Spoleto. In reality, there is no evidence for such a donation by Pippin to the Pope; this was rather a claim made by Charles at that time. In 774, after returning from Rome, Charles captured Pavia and Desiderius. Adalgis (known in Greek as Theodotus), son of Desiderius, fled to Constantinople. Then, Charles returned to France. (LibPon. II p. 180-195; Egin.VC. 6; AnnLaur. 773-774; AnnEg. 773-774; Theoph.Chr. 6267)
In this manner, Charles became King of the Lombards. Before 774, he was also Patrician of Rome, i.e. governor of the provinces of Rome and Ravenna, but his rule over these provinces was indirect. After 774, he became the direct ruler of these provinces. The Pope governed these provinces under him. Although previously, the Popes kept working on preventing the Kings of the Lombards from dominating Rome and Ravenna, at the end the King of the Lombards, i.e. Charles in this case, became the true ruler of these provinces. In practice, in 774, the provinces of Rome and Ravenna fell under the rule of the Franks and were definitely separated from the rest of the Republic of the Romans, although documents were still dated by the names of the emperors until 781.
In 774, after the departure of Charles to France, the Pope sent him a letter complaining about Leo Archbishop of Ravenna who had taken control of the cities of the province of Aemilia, i.e. Faventia, Forum Populi, Forum Livii, Caesenae, Bobium, Comiadum and Ferraria, claiming that Charles has conceded these cities and the Pentapolis to him. The Pope calls Leo as “the nefarious archbishop” (“nefarius archiepiscopus”). The Pope then tells Charles that his own enemies were now reproaching him asking “What did you profit from the abolition of the Lombards and their subjugation to the rule of the Franks?” (“quid vobis profuit, quod Langobardorum gens est abolita et regno Francorum subiugata?”). (PL 98 p. 283-285)
In October 775, the Pope sent a letter to Charles informing him that Leo Archbishop of Ravenna was corresponding with Arghis and other enemies of Charles. (PL 98 p. 287-289) In November, he sent another letter to Charles relating that Leo was still holding the cities that he put his hand on before, but that the cities of the Pentapolis, from Ariminum to Egubium were still obedient to the Pope. (PL 98 p. 292-295)
In 776, the Pope sent a letter to Charles relating that Hiltibrand Duke of Spoleto, Arigis Duke of Benevento, Rodgaus Duke of Friuli and Reginbald Duke of Chiusi have conspired to march with Greeks and Adalgis son of Desiderius and to take Rome in the coming month of March. The Pope entrusts Charles with the souls of the Romans that he doesn’t abandon them (“quoniam post Deum in tuis manibus nostras omnium Romanorum commisimus animas, ne nos derelinquas”). He also entrusts him to protect the Holy Church of God and the people of the republic of the Romans (“Sanctam Dei Ecclesiam et nostrum Romanorum reipublicae populum commisimus protegendum”). (PL 98 p. 300-302)
In 777, in a letter sent to Charles, the Pope states that the Franks were Charles' own people (“cunctumque praeclarae gentis vestrae Francorum populus”). (PL 98 p. 304) Later in this year, he sent him another letter informing him that the Beneventans have agreed with the Patrician of Sicily and the inhabitants of Gaeta and Terracina to remove Campania from the rule of the Pope and transfer it to the rule of the Patrician of Sicily. (PL 98 p. 307-311) Terracina was under the rule of the Pope.
In 778, the Pope sent a letter to Charles informing him that his Romans (“nostros Romanos”) were not selling slaves to the Saracens, but that the Lombards were selling them to some Greeks. The Pope adds that he ordered Duke Allo to prepare some ships and to capture those Greeks, but Allo did not obey him. (PL 98 p. 317-320) Later in that year, he sent to Charles informing him that the Istrians and some “most impious” Greeks (“nefandissimi Graeci”), residing in Istria, have blinded Maurice Bishop of Istria, who was collecting the revenues of Saint Peter from this territory, on the suspicion that he was trying to transfer Istria to the domination of Charles. (PL 98 p. 320-321) This act shows that the Romans (Istrians, Greeks and others) saw the Pope as Charles’ follower. In addition, Istria was included in the donation made by Charles to the Pope in 774.
In 780, the Pope sent a letter to Charles informing him that the “most impious” Neapolitans and the “God hated” Greeks (“qualiter nefandissimi Neapolitani et Deo odibiles Graeci”) invaded Terracina, which the Pope before has subdued to rule of Saint Peter, the Pope and Charles (“Terracinensem civitatem quam servitio Beati Petri apostolorum principis et vestro atque nostro antea subiugavimus”). The Pope asks Charles to send Wulfrid to him and to order him to march with the Spoletans and the “most impious” Beneventans to capture Terracina, Napoli and Gaeta. (PL 98 p. 322-324) This letter shows clearly that Charles was the ruler of the lands situated under the Pope.
In April 781, Charles went to Rome. There, the Pope baptized Pippin son of Charles, then anointed Pippin as King of Italy and Louis son of Charles as King of Aquitaine. There, Charles received Constans the Sacellarius and Mamalus the Primicerius, envoys of Irene, and betrothed through them his daughter Hrothrud to Constantine son of Irene. Charles returned to France after that. (AnnLaur. 781; AnnEg. 781; AnnLauresh. 781; ChrMois. 781; Theoph.Chr. 6274)
Later in 781, the Pope sent Charles a request to transfer Sabine territory to him. (PL 98 p. 329-331) As such, the Pope was asking from Charles for more revenues.
Starting with 1 December 781, the Pope changed the style of dating in documents. Previously, documents were dated by the dates of the emperors. Starting with this date, Hadrian omitted the names and dates of the emperors and put this formula “under the rule of our Lord, God and Saviour Jesus Christ” (“regnante domino deo et salvatore nostro Iesu Christo”) with the dates of his pontificate. This formula implies that the Pope derived his rule directly from God, as God was the true ruler. This is an indirect manner to say that, whoever opposes the Pope, opposes God. The removal of the names of the emperors was also a sign that Charles was the true ruler of the lands of the Pope.
In 25 December 784, Tarasius became Patriarch of Constantinople, then sent his synodical letters to the Pope. (Theoph.Chr. 6277)
In 785, the Pope sent a letter to Charles informing him that he sent to Ravenna his royal orders to expel the Venetians from the parts of Ravenna and Pentapolis. (PL 98 p. 386-387) From this, it is clear that the Pope was executing the orders of Charles.
In 785, the Pope sent Archpriest Peter and Peter Abbot of Saint Saba to Emperors Constantine and Irene with letters to the Emperors and to Tarasius. In the letter to the Emperors, he calls the Emperors as “dominis piissimis et serenissimis imperatoribus ac triumphatoribus filiis diligendis in Deo et Domino nostro Iesu Christo Constantino et Irenae Augustis”. In the letter, he tells Constantine that because of his great-grandfather the great error augmented in those parts of Greece (“en tois autois meresi tis Graikias” in the Greek translation of the letter). (Theoph.Chr. 6277; LibPon. II p. 229-230; PL 89 p. 1215-1242)
In 787, Charles went to Rome and was received by the Pope. Then he conquered the duchy of Benevento. There, he received the envoys of Emperor Constantine who have come to betroth his daughter to Constantine. Later, Charles returned to Rome in April. (AnnLaur. 787; AnnEg. 786; AnnLauresh. 787; AnnPet. 786; ChrMois. 786; EgFuldAnn. 787) Later, the Pope sent Charles a letter asking him to transfer to him Rosellae and Populonium (in Tuscany) and the duchy of Benevento following the donation (of the year 774). (PL 98 p. 396-398)
In October-November 787, the Emperors organized a council in Nicaea supporting the veneration of sacred images in the presence of the envoys of the Pope. (Theoph.Chr. 6280; LibPon. II p. 229-230)
In 788, because Charles refused to marry his daughter to Constantine, Irene broke the agreement with Charles and sent John the Sacellarius with Adalgis son of Desiderius to Italy against Charles. Meanwhile, the Pope sent a letter to Charles informing him about the coming of the “most impious” Adalgis to Calabria. Later, John and Adalgis, together with Theodore Patrician and Master of the Soldiers of Sicily, fought the Lombards of Benevento and Spoleto and the Franks but were defeated in Calabria. (PL 98 p. 398-402; Theoph.Chr. 6281; AnnLaur. 788; AnnEg. 788; ChrMois. 789; EgFuldAnn. 788)
In 794, Charles organized a council in Frankfurt, in the presence of the envoys of the Pope, bishops Theophylact and Stephen. The council condemned the worship of images and the recent Council of Nicaea. (CAK I p. 110-171; AnnLaur. 794; AnnEg. 794; AnnLauresh. 794) In a letter sent by Charles to Elipand Metropolitan of Toledo concerning the council, Charles declares “we also believe in the Holy Spirit, true God, vivifier of all, proceeding from the Father and the Son” (“credimus et in Spiritum Sanctum, Deum verum, vivificatorem omnium, a Patre et Filio procedentem”). (CAK I p. 163) Charles wrote or commissioned to write a book against the synod made in Greece known as the capitular on images (capitulare de imagnibus), and sent it to the Pope. (PL 98 p. 999-1247) Later, the Pope sent a letter to Charles responding in it to the capitular. He responds to the capitular’s claim that Tarasius was wrong in stating the creed as “proceeding from the Father through the Son”, by declaring that Tarasius was confessing the doctrine of the holy fathers. In the letter, he responds to the capitular by supporting the adoration of sacred images. He also responds to the capitular’s claim that no woman should be present in a synod by presenting precedents concerning Helen mother of Constantine and Pulcheria wife of Marcian. (PL 98 p. 1247-1292)
Hadrian died in 795.
The following conclusions can be noted from these events:
1] Although the Popes worked hard to prevent Rome and Ravenna from falling at the hand of the Lombards, at the end they fell in the hand of the Franks, under the pretext that Charles was Patrician of Rome. 774 is the date when Rome and Ravenna ceased to belong to the Romans and became subject to the Franks.
2] The Pope was subject to Charles. The other Romans, who were not subject to Charles or to the Pope, considered Papal rule as equivalent to Charles’ rule. That is why Mauricius Bishop of Istria was blinded by the Istrians and Greeks as he was collecting the revenues due to the Pope.
3] This situation was supported by the Pope because Charles confirmed his rule over the provinces of Rome and Ravenna and added other territories to his rule. The Popes collected the revenues of those territories.
4] Anybody opposing the Pope’s rule was described as impious by the Pope. This is the case of Greek and Neapolitan Romans and Beneventan Lombards. Doctrine was not the criteria to being impious or not.
5] Although all Greeks were first described as heretics by the Pope because some of them were against the veneration of images, in 794, they were anathematized by Charles because they supported the veneration of images.
6] In 794, the Pope and Charles had contrary opinions concerning doctrine. Despite that, Charles was the true ruler. Therefore, his doctrine became dominant after.
7] Nothing in those events shows that the Greeks were considered as non-Romans by the Pope or Charles. In fact, in 778, the Pope says “my Romans” (“nostros Romanos”) to refer to the Romans that were under his rule, which means that there were other Romans.
 The Consular of Ravenna was the governor of the exarchate of Ravenna. During the 5th century, Ravenna was situated in the province of Flaminia and Picenum Annonarium which was governed by a consular (NotDig.). After the Lombardic conquests, the province of Flaminia and Picenum Annonarium became the province of Annonaria. This province was known as the exarchate of Ravenna after 751. In a similar manner, during the 5th century, the province of Campania, which contained the region of Rome, was governed by a consular (NotDig.). After the Lombardic conquests, what remained of the provinces of Campania, Tuscany and Umbria became known as the province of Urbicaria, also known as the duchy of Rome. The duchy of Rome was governed by a duke. The duke of Rome had also the position of consular or consul, like the consular of Campania and the consular of Tuscany and Umbria. Under Pope Hadrian, Leoninus (LibPon. II p. 210) and Theodorus (PL 98 p. 330) were consuls and dukes of Rome. After the Lombardic conquests, another part of the province of Campania became known as the province of Campania or Napoli and was governed by the consul and duke of Napoli.
 During this period, the Roman Empire was also known as the Republic of the Romans ‘respublica Romanorum’ in Latin. ‘Respublica’ means ‘the public thing, the thing of the people’. It might refer to the general affairs of a people as well as to whatever belongs to the people. In this case, ‘respublica Romanorum’ refers in a specific sense to the land belonging to the Romans. Therefore, ‘respublica Romanorum’, ‘imperium Romanum’, ‘imperium Romanorum’ and ‘Romania’ may be used interchangeably.
AnnEg. = Annales Eginhardi, Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores 1.
AnnLaur. = Annales Laurissenses, Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores 1.
AnnLauresh. = Annales Laureshamenses, Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores 1.
AnnPet. = Annales Petaviani, Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores 1.
CAK I = Concilia Aevi Karolini I, Monumenta Germaniae Historica.
ChrMois. = Chronicon Moissiacense, Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores 1.
EgFuldAnn. = Enhardi Fuldensis Annales, Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores 1.
Egin.VC. = Eginhard, Vita Caroli.
LibPon. II = Liber Pontificalis II (Vignoli edition, Rome: 1752).
NotDig. = Notitia Dignitatum
PL = Patrologia Latina.
Theoph.Chr. = Theophanes, Chronographia.
Thursday, December 15, 2011
By Alexandros Hourani
Louis was the son of Lothair, son of Louis, son of Charlemagne. In 844, he became King of Italy. In 850, he was crowned as Emperor (of Rome) by Pope Leo IV. In 871, Emperor Basil reprehended him for using the title ‘Emperor of the Romans’. Consequently, Louis sent him a letter giving pretexts for holding the title. Here are excerpts from the letter showing how the Carolingians manipulated the definition of ‘Romans’ for their own interest. The consequences of this manipulation are still in effect nowadays.
“Lodoguicus divina ordinante providentia imperator augustus Romanorum dilectissimo spiritualique fratri nostro Basilio gloriosissimo et piissimo atque imperatori novae Romae.”
“Louis, ordained by divine providence August Emperor of the Romans, to our most beloved and spiritual brother Basil, the most glorious and the most pious Emperor of New Rome.”
‘Emperor of the Romans’ means ‘Emperor of Rome’. Louis puts this title in opposition to ‘Emperor of New Rome’.
“Praeterea mirari se dilecta fraternitas tua significat, quod non Francorum set Romanorum imperatores appellemus set scire te convenit, quia nisi Romanorum imperatores essemus, utique nec Francorum.”
“Besides, your beloved brotherhood signified your wondering why we call ourselves not Emperors of the Franks but Emperors of the Romans. However, it is convenient that you know that, unless we were Emperors of the Romans, certainly we would not be Emperors of the Franks.”
Basil understood by ‘Romans’ all the Romans of the East and West, and not just the inhabitants of Rome. Thus, for Basil, ruling Rome was not sufficient for Louis to carry this title because the majority of the Romans were under Basil’s rule. On the other hand, Louis understood (intentionally or unintentionally) by ‘Romans’ only the inhabitants of Rome, hence the misunderstanding and the two different perceptions. The definition upheld by Louis, be it intentional or unintentional, served his own interest. If Louis were to recognize the Romans of Basil as Romans not as Greeks, then he would be recognizing that Rome should be under Basil not under him. Obviously, this was not in his interest.
“A Romanis enim hoc nomen et dignitatem assumpsimus, apud quos profecto primum tantae culmen sublimitatis et appellationis effulsit, quorumque gentem et urbem divinitus gubernandam et matrem omnium ecclesiarum Dei defendendam atque sublimandam suscepimus, a qua et regnandi prius et postmodum imperandi auctoritatem prosapiae nostrae seminarium sumpsit. Nam Francorum principes primo reges, deinde vero imperatores dicti sunt, hii dumtaxat qui a Romano pontifice ad hoc oleo sancto perfusi sunt. In qua etiam Karolus Magnus, abavus noster, unctione huiusmodi per summum pontificem delibutus primus ex gente ac genealogia nostra pietate in eo habundante et imperator dictus et christus Domini factus est, praesertim cum saepe tales ad imperium sint asciti, qui nulla divina operatione per pontificum ministerium proposita solum a senatu et populo nichil horum curantibus imperatoria dignitate positi sunt; nonnulli vero nec sic, set tantum a militibus sunt clamati et in imperio stabiliti sunt, ita ut etiam horum quidam a feminis, quidam autem hoc atque alio modo ad imperii Romani sceptra promoti sunt. Porro si calumpniaris Romanum pontificem, quod gesserit, calumpniari poteris et Samuel, quod spreto Saule, quem ipse unxerat, David in regem ungere non renuerit.”
“In fact, we took this name and dignity from the Romans, among whom certainly at first the summit of such a height and appellation shined out, whose nation and town we received from God to govern, and whose mother of all the churches of God we received from God to defend and to elevate. From this church also, the seed-planter of our family received the ability to be king first and, a little after, to be emperor. For the chiefs of the Franks were first called kings. Then those who were moistened with the sacred oil by the Roman pontiff were called emperors truly. Being anointed in this unction through this manner by the High Pontiff, Charlemagne, our great-grandfather, because of the piety abounding in him, was the first of our tribe who was called emperor and who was made christ of the Lord. Especially that, many times before, such persons have attained the empire as those who were posed in the imperatorial dignity by no divine operation set forth by pontifical ministry but only by the senate and the people without taking care of any of these. Some were acclaimed and put in the empire by soldiers very often indeed. Others arrived to the scepters of the Roman Empire through women or through other means. So, if you accuse the Roman Pontiff for what he did, you can accuse Samuel who did not refuse to anoint David as king after the rejection of Saul whom he anointed by himself.”
Here Louis is giving the pretext for holding the title. He says that he holds the title and dignity because he took the title from the Romans themselves, i.e. the people of Rome. He argues that this title and dignity appeared first in Rome and that he received from God Rome, the people of Rome and the Church of Rome. From this Church, his ancestor, Charlemagne, received the title of king, then of emperor, when the Pope anointed him as emperor. Because he was anointed by the Pope, Charlemagne became christ of the Lord, i.e. anointed by the Lord. Christ here means anointed. Louis says that the manner by which he and Charlemagne became emperors was different from the manner by which previous emperors attained this dignity. He says that most of those emperors came to power though the senate and the people, through soldiers, through women (here implying Irene), or through other means. On the contrary, he and Charlemagne were anointed by the Pope, hence by God. In this manner, by claiming that God made him Emperor of the Romans, while previous emperors were made emperors through non-divine manners, he is asserting the lawfulness of his title and dignity.
“Ergo cum ita sit, cur nos satagis reprehendere, quoniam ex Francis oriundi Romani moderamur habenas imperii, cum in omni gente qui timet Deum acceptus sit illi? Et certe Theodosius maior et filii eius, Arcadius et Honorius, atque Theodosius minor, Arcadii filius, ex Hispanis ad imperii Romani culmen assumpti sunt, nec tamen invenimus quod aliqui clamaverint vel reprehenderint, quod non Romanus, sed Hispanus existeret, vel restiterint aut prohibuerint filios eius in loco patris et honore succedere.”
“Since this is how things are, why are you always busy reprehending us that, while we originate from the Franks, we are holding the reins of the Roman Empire, while among all the nations that fear God this thing is accepted? In fact, Theodosius senior and his sons, Arcadius and Honorius, and Theodosius junior, son of Arcadius, originating all from the Spaniards, rose to the height of the Roman Empire, but we did not find anyone who claimed or reprehended him that he was Spaniard not Roman or anyone who prohibited his sons from succeeding to their father’s position and honor.”
According to Basil and to Roman custom, non-Romans could not become emperors. All Roman emperors until Basil were Romans. This is what Basil implied when he reprehended Louis for holding this title although he was a Frank. However, the definition of ‘Romans’ by Louis was different from the definition of Basil. That is why Louis wonders about why Basil was reprehending him. He proceeds to give a justification of his title based on an erroneous understanding of history. He says that although Theodosius was a Spaniard, nobody claimed that he was not Roman, and nobody prohibited his sons from succeeding to their father’s position. Here, he is comparing Theodosius with Charlemagne and the sons of Theodosius with himself. This passage shows that Louis did not know the historic meaning of ‘Romans’, which was still preserved by Basil and his Romans, and that he did not know the situation during the time of Theodosius. The pretext of Louis makes sense only if ‘Romans’ is defined as ‘the people of Rome’. Had Louis known that ‘Romans’ did not mean only this, his pretext would have been useless. By projecting his own definition and perception onto earlier times, he was providing a pretext that served his interest in preserving his rule. Thus, intentionally or unintentionally, his definition of ‘Romans’ served his interest, which meant that he would never adopt the full definition of ‘Romans’ because that would threaten his rule.
“Sicut ergo potuit Deus de lapidibus suscitare filios Abrahae, ita potuit de Francorum duritia Romani suscitare successores imperii; et sicut si Christi sumus, secundum apostolum Abrahae semen existimus, ita si sumus Christi, omnia possumus per gratiam ipsius, quae possunt illi, qui videntur existere Christi; et sicut nos per fidem Christi Habrahae semen existimus Iudaeique propter perfidiam Abrahae filii esse desierunt, ita quoque nobis propter bonam opinionem, orthodosiam, regimen imperii Romani suscepimus; Graeci propter kacodosiam, id est malam opinionem, Romanorum imperatores existere cessaverunt, deserentes videlicet non solum urbem et sedes imperii, set et gentem Romanam et ipsam quoque linguam penitus amittentes atque ad aliam urbem, sedem, gentem et linguam per omnia transmigrantes.”
“As God was able to raise up children of Abraham from stones, thus he was able to raise up the successors of the Roman Empire from the hardness of the Franks. And since, if we are from Christ, according to the apostle, we are the seed of Abraham; thus, if we are from Christ, by his grace we have power of everything that those, who are seen to be from Christ, have power of. And as we, for our faith in Christ, are the seed of Abraham, and the Jews, for their faithlessness, ceased to be the children of Abraham, thus, for our good opinion, that is orthodoxy, we took the command of the Roman Empire, while, for their cacodoxy, that is bad opinion, the Greeks ceased to be Emperors of the Romans. The Greeks have abandoned not only the town and the seat of the empire, but also have lost the Roman nation and that language itself, having transmigrated in everything into another town, seat, nation and language.”
Here Louis gives more justifications for his position from the Bible and Gospel. He is saying that because he was anointed by the Pope, the successor of Christ, his position is derived from Christ. He gives an analogy between Christians and Jews, on the one hand, and Franks and Greeks, on the other hand. In the same manner as the Christians have become the children of Abraham for their faith while the Jews ceased to be for their faithlessness, thus the Franks have become Emperors of the Romans for their orthodoxy while the Greeks ceased to be because of their cacodoxy. He recognizes that the Greeks were Romans before but that they abandoned the town and the seat of the empire, Rome, and transferred it to Constantinople, that they ceased to be Romans and became Greeks, and that they abandoned Latin and adopted Greek. However, at no time before 871 did part of the Romans suddenly become Greeks, as he is claiming. All these justifications are not based on any historic event, but on his own imagination and explanation of events that suited his interest.
The following conclusions can be deduced from this text:
1) The prime interest of the Carolingians, since Charlemagne, was to keep Rome and the Pope under their rule. Controlling the Pope meant controlling all Western Christians.
2) To keep Rome under their rule, they had to manipulate the definition of ‘Romans’ by defining it as the people of Rome only and by excluding the other Romans from this definition.
3) Their definition of ‘Romans’ meant the destruction of Western Romans who were living under the Carolingians. The reason is the following. If the Romans were just the people of Rome, then the Romans of Gaul and northern Italy would not be Romans because they did not inhabit Rome. In this manner, any solidarity between the Romans of the Carolingian Empire was dissolved and the threat they were posing to the Franks was eliminated. Any solidarity between the Romans of Rome and the Romans of Gaul and northern Italy was also eliminated in this manner.
4) Excluding the Romans of southern Italy and the East from this definition, by calling them only Greeks, was meant to prevent them from claiming Rome. Recognizing the Greeks as Romans meant that the Carolingians were giving the Greeks pretexts to recover Rome. Obviously, this was not in the interest of the Carolingians.
In brief, the Carolingians changed the definition of ‘Romans’ in Latin in order to preserve their interest in keeping Rome under their rule. Their manipulation of the definition is seen in all history books written by the historians of the Carolingians like Paul the Deacon or Eginhard. The historians of the Carolingians are the direct predecessors of all modern historians like Mommsen, Gibbon and others who have dealt with Roman history. The Carolingian point of view is still seen among those historians until now.
Since the Carolingians manipulated definitions and historic events back then in order to suit their interests, why is it that modern historians are still holding to the erroneous Carolingian point of view?
From G. K. Chesterton, an early twentieth century Catholic writer, both anti-materialist and anti-Darwinist, in his Orthodoxy:
As an explanation of the world, materialism has a sort of insane simplicity. It has just the quality of the madman’s argument; we have at once the sense of it covering everything and the sense of it leaving everything out… You can explain a man’s detention at Hanwell by an indifferent public by saying that it is the crucifixion of a god of whom the world is not worthy. The explanation does explain. Similarly you may explain the order in the universe by saying that all things, even the souls of men, are leaves inevitably unfolding on a utterly unconscious tree—the blind destiny of matter. The explanation does explain, though not, of course, so completely as the madman’s. But the point here is that the normal human mind not only objects to both, but feels to both the same objection. Its approximate statement is that if the man in Hanwell is the real God, he is not much of a god. And, similarly, if the cosmos of the materialist is the real cosmos, it is not much of a cosmos. The thing has shrunk. The deity is less divine than many men…
For we must remember that the materialist philosophy… is certainly more limiting than any religion. In one sense, of course, all intelligent ideas are narrow. They cannot be broader than themselves. A Christian is only restricted in the same sense that an atheist is restricted. He cannot think Christianity false and continue to be a Christian; and the atheist cannot think atheism false and continue to be an atheist. But as it happens, there is a very special sense in which materialism has more restriction than spiritualism. Mr McCabe thinks me a slave because I am not allowed to believe in determinism. I think Mr McCabe a slave because he is not allowed to believe in fairies… The sane man knows that he has a touch of the beast, a touch of the devil, a touch of the saint, a touch of the citizen. Nay, the really sane man knows that he has a touch of the madman. But the materialist’s world is quite simple and solid, just as the madman is quite sure he is sane. The materialist is sure that history has been simply and solely a chain of causation, just as the interesting person before mentioned is quite sure that he is simply and solely a chicken. Materialists and madmen never have doubts.
Spiritual doctrines do not actually limit the mind as do materialistic denials. Even if I believe in immortality I need not think about it. But if I disbelieve in immortality I must not think about it… [W]hen materialism leads men to complete fatalism (as it generally does), it is quite idle to pretend that it is in any sense a liberating force. It is absurd to say that you are advancing freedom when you only use free thought to destroy free will… You may say, if you like, that the man is free to think himself a poached egg. But it is surely a more massive and important fact that if he is a poached egg he is not free to eat, drink, sleep, walk, or smoke a cigarette. Similarly, you may say, if you like, that the bold determinist speculator is free to disbelieve in the reality of the will. But it is a much more massive and important fact that he is not free to praise, to curse, to thank, to justify, to urge, to punish, to resist temptations, to incite mobs, to make New Year resolutions, to pardon sinners, to rebuke tyrants, or even to say ‘thank you’ for the mustard. 
 The Middlesex County Lunatic Asylum
 Joseph McCabe (1867-1955) a lapsed Catholic, was ordained a priest in the Franciscan Order in 1890 but left the Order and forsook his religion in favour first of agnosticism and then atheism. He is mentioned in Chesterton’s Heretics. He took Chesterton to task for including humour in his serious writings. Chesterton responded: “Mr McCabe thinks that I am not serious but only funny, because Mr McCabe thinks that funny is the opposite of serious. Funny is the opposite of not-funny and of nothing else.” Cf http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_McCabe
 G K Chesterton, Orthodoxy, The Bodley Head, London, 1908; Fontana Books , 1963, pp. 22-5.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
By Archimandrite Ephraim of Vatopaidi
Man has been trying to make sense of the creation ever since antiquity as it is manifested in the teachings of many religions and philosophies. Generally, we may say that ancient Greek philosophers have offered three explanations as to the creation of the world: a) the Stoics and the Epicureans advocated that the world was self-existent, autonomous and eternal, b) The Pythagoreans argued that the physical elements and laws were divine and c) The Aristotelians attributed the cause of the creation to a god “who was the first mover, unmoved”. We may also argue that all subsequent theories, whether hailing from scientific or philosophical/religious circles, are divided into the following three main categories: the materialists, the pantheists and the theocrats.
However, we derive from the Scriptures definite proof that God created the entire physical and non-material world not from previously existent matter but “from what was not” (2 Maccabees 7:28) and that the Lord lives in the world (see Psalms 138:7-10) and He is not an unmoved being. These are the basic dogmas of our Church. God the Word created every living being: “All things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:3). The creation of the world from nothing does not mean that that which was created subsequently becomes autonomous and independent. It means that God and the world are two different entities which are connected with unbreakable bonds. The uncreated Lord is the only uncreated cause and the world is the created outcome. When the Lord said “Let there be light” and “it was so” or when He said “let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens” and “it was so” or when He finally created everything that was made “and it was very good” He did not withdraw from the world (see Genesis 1:3-31).
The Triune God created the world in His infinite goodness and wisdom. The word ‘kosmos’ (world) means ‘kosmima’ (jewel); a jewel is an artefact which causes pleasure even to the artist. Of course the self-sufficient Lord does not need such gratification, but He wished and became Creator in an outward expression of His excessive love (which is other than the love which exists among the Persons of the Trinity).
The Lord’s presence is continuous throughout the universe; just as with His creative energy He brought all beings into being ‘from what was not’, through His ‘cohesive and observational’ energy He maintains all beings ‘into existence’ (St Gregory Palamas: Writings). The Lord’s cohesive and observational or providential uncreated energy determines all physical and spiritual laws which govern the material and the spiritual worlds. The Lord’s uncreated energy as a cause becomes created as an outcome and is ‘altered’ into various kinds of created powers like physical force, motion, heat, chemical and nuclear power.
The creation is the result of the divine will - which for the Triune God is the same for all three Persons - and not the product of divine substance, otherwise pantheism would govern the universe (St John of Damascus: On the Orthodox Faith). The Triune God through His uncreated energies is connected to the entire creation. As St Gregory Palamas says, the simple beings (the non-living) participate in the substance-creating energy of the Lord; living beings (animals, plants) also participate in His life-giving energy; additionally, rational beings participate in His wisdom-giving energy. Only angels and men, who attain deification, participate in His deifying energy (St Gregory Palamas: Writings).
The Lord first created the spiritual, invisible world, which includes the myriads of angels and then the material world, which became visible through His Word. Finally, He created man, the crown of creation, who as St John of Damascus says, is made of visible and invisible substance. For this reason St Gregory Palamas describes man as “the major in a small world”.
Human nature was not created by command like the rest of the visible and invisible creation where the Lord “spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm” (Psalm 33:9). In order to create man all three Persons of the Holy Trinity came together and said: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). Thus the Lord and Creator Himself took dust from the ground and created the body and breathed into his nostrils ‘the breath of life’, namely divine Grace, His uncreated deifying energies. Thus man has acquired “an abundance of life” (John 10:10) more than any other being; namely, his adoption. St Gregory Palamas says that "'the image' of man is higher than ‘the image’ of angels. Man’s soul is the only one with intellect, word and life-giving spirit. Because the angels do not possess a material body they do not have a life-giving spirit which would give life to the attached body, like humans have” (St Gregory Palamas: Writings, Chapters 38-39).
The creation is a mystery for man; a mystery which encompasses the creative and providential presence of the Lord in the world and at the same time proves His divine greatness. Man has the ability to penetrate this mystery and comprehend the love, all-wise and special providence the Lord has for His creatures. Thus, he may choose to live in constant communion with the Lord by giving thanks and glory to the One, who because of His excessive love, gives him everything and especially his deification, namely his ‘likeness’.
According to Christian anthropology, Adam, the first man, having been placed in Paradise, was given the command to ‘work and keep it’ and govern over the entire material creation ‘freely’. In order to preserve the necessary reliance on the Lord- Creator, man was issued with a prohibition; namely not to eat from a certain fruit, in order to test his free will. Adam, being free, did not keep this command and as theology says ‘the forefathers sinned' or 'fell’.
Many explanations are given as to what caused man’s fall. One of the most distinctive, which is harmonized with patristic tradition, is the explanation given by St Irenaias of Lyon. He argues that Adam was like an infant, who was placed in Paradise in order to grow into adulthood by exercising his free will. After his creation, man had to be raised, grow up, multiply and gain spiritual strength before being glorified through his deification. However, he was deceived and acted wrongly. For this reason repentance was given to him as an opportunity to return to Paradise. This was something which was not given to the ‘fallen angels’, who became demons; namely specific evil and crafty beings.
After the fall, the forefathers, Adam and Eve, ‘were clothed with garments of skins’ (Genesis 3:21); namely with corruption, mortality and with the blameless passions: hunger, thirst, sleep and pain. The powers of their soul were also diffused. ‘The image’ was blackened and man’s spiritual energy, with which he was united with the uncreated deifying energy, was hidden. Thus, divine Grace, as a deifying gift, withdrew until the time man was to recall it through repentance. Repentance is an act of man’s free will; the latter remained intact.
Let us cite here the Catholic and Protestant views of the fall. The Catholics believe that after the fall, man was left with ‘the image’ untarnished but lost the special supra-natural (created) Grace he had acquired from God to attain ‘the likeness’. It is from this point onwards that logic prevails in the western theological and social circles. The Protestants on the other hand believe that human nature was totally perverted after the fall, even as to ‘the image’. Thus they advocate the premise on the ‘absolute predestination’.
The fall of man, who was the ‘crown of creation’, has caused the fall of the entire creation which “has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth” (Romans 8"22). This explains the main teaching of our Church, which views the creation as a whole, which is being guided towards perfection and deification; man and nature together. Man and nature are not distinct in the design of the creation. Therefore man has a duty to maintain a good relationship with the rest of the creation. The fact that man remains in the fallen condition perilously prolongs the world enduring in the same condition. Thus man contributes to the perversion and degradation of nature. Therefore, the fall has not only distorted man existentially and morally but also his very same environment.
Thus the person who has an unclean heart relates towards other human beings in a way which serves his passions and acts wrongly towards nature, by abusing it. Christ himself reveals: “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness” (Mark 7:21-22). Man’s heart is full of passions because he does not strive for virtue, neither does he obey the Lord’s commands. St Gregory Palamas stresses: “The mind which has rebelled against God either becomes beastly or diabolical; having rebelled against the laws of nature man does not put a limit to his pleasure” (St Gregory Palamas: Homilies). Abba Dorotheos says that a proper conscience defines a person’s relationship with others, but also with the rest of the creation. Thus in his Homily on the Conscience he says: “To have a proper conscience towards material things means that one does not abuse anything, neither does he let it perish nor throws it away” (Abba Dorotheos: Ascetic Works, Teaching 3).
Nowadays we have reached such a level of irrationality, such a degree of lack of conscience and such an extensive state of rebellion that the entire human race is threatened with partial or total extinction from a nuclear disaster as a result of war or nuclear accident; from the depletion of the ozone layer as a result of the increase of harmful substances in the air and from the increased desertification and the pollution of waters.
For example, it is said that the constantly increasing average temperature of the earth causes the melting of the ice in the poles. If the polar ice melts the average level of the oceans will rise by 70 meters and areas which are inhabited by a quarter of the earth’s population will be submerged in water. It is estimated that every year, 24 billion tons of soil is lost from all continents. During the last few decades the volume of soil lost was equal to the farming land of the entire United States. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) estimates that desertification costs some 40 billion dollars a year. Almost all subsoil waters in Europe have been polluted by substances harmful to man, making them undrinkable. This is the direct result of the over fertilization of farmlands because of intensive farming. The ongoing successes in Genetics which may culminate in human cloning will cause terrible moral and social consequences. Nuclear waste is increasing so much that the United States alone has massed seven hundred thousand tons of depleted uranium, which has become very costly to store and thus it is being used in the creation of bombs. However, these issues will be more extensively dealt with by the scientists who will speak at the conference tomorrow.
Throughout history, mankind has experienced ecological disasters which have been described in the Holy Scriptures. It is worth turning our attention to the causes of these disasters and not to the historical events themselves. In the God inspired passages of the Holy Scriptures, the incarnate Word-God and the Fathers of the Church refer to the various causes and their effects and not to the precise way they took place and progressed; they talk about the causation of beings and not their substance. The latter is something immaterial for the Holy Scriptures and the Patristic Tradition but not for science which treats it as its main subject. Scientific method, relying on the rational faculties of man, contributes towards the development of the material knowledge of substances. Theology, however, which relies on the experiences of the saints and especially on the perception of God exclusively through the mind - as defined by the Patristic writings -, leads man to experience the Uncreated One.
The greatest ecological disaster described in the Scriptures is the flood during Noah’s times; it took place because “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). Man rebelled absolutely against God and against anything which had to do with his spiritual existence. Because of the prevailing wickedness those days, which was the result of man abusing his freedom, the Lord is forced to say: “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh” (Genesis 6:3).
By ‘flesh’ it is meant ‘man’s carnal attitude, his beastly and full of passions life’. Thus the flood was not imposed by the Lord as a punishment but was caused by the comprehensive rebellion of mankind. There is a similar situation in the case of Sodom and Gomorrah. In the conversation between Abraham and God, it is revealed that not even ten righteous people could be found in these cities, which would have aborted their destruction (Genesis 18:20-33). However, in the case of Nineveh, peoples’ repentance annulled the city’s destruction (Jonah 3:10). That is, man’s good intention cooperates with God’s will to shape history. The Lord is not the Judge, the Critic. We must not view the Lord through the prism of legal justice.
In the Old Testament we have many passages regarding the end of ages, describing the signs of those times in the writings of the prophets: Amos, Joel, Nahum, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel. However, Jesus, the only Savior of mankind, gives an account of the hardships and the destruction which will precede the end of ages. This has been handed over to us by the Evangelist Matthew, and the Evangelists Marc and Luke, the Lord’s disciples. Similarly Peter and Paul, the Apostles, inform the faithful about the circumstances which will prevail during the end of ages and Christ’s Second Coming.
If one studies the passages in the Old and the New Testament which we have mentioned, he will recognize that during those days there will be a general apostasy similar but greater than Noah’s times, since the ‘son of lawlessness’, Antichrist, will reign for a short time. The last book of the New Testament, the Revelation, describes the events which will take place during the end of ages. However, because it is a prophetic book, it remains indecipherable to the many, sealed with ‘seven seals’ (Revelation 5:1). Only those who themselves possess the prophetic charisma are able to comprehend other prophets; therefore, the only authentic explanation of the Revelation is given by the Fathers of our Church.
We will not give an explanation of the Revelation, here; neither will we refer to the specific events mentioned, whether they have already taken place, or determine the time they will happen, since this does not have such significance for theology, neither does it affect our salvation. Because of its contents, this book attracts the interest of both the faithful and the heathen and intrigues them to examine it. For instance, from 1970 to 1987, 700 papers were presented on the issue. One can only imagine how many more presentations were written after the Gulf War in 1991. We, however, will only focus on the main figure of the Revelation, Christ, ‘the Alpha and the Omega’ (Rev. 22:11) and the main event which is the establishment of God’s kingdom, namely the regeneration whereby ‘a new heaven and a new earth’ (Rev. 21:1) will be established.
The forthcoming ecological disasters will take place not because God will inflict them but because man is abusing his freedom. The human race will become perfectly irrational and there will be a general apostasy. The cause of such irrationality, partly seen today, is man’s unclean mind. St Maximus the Confessor stresses that the misuse of thoughts causes the abuse of things (St Maximus the Confessor: Chapters on Love 2, 78). Indeed, man during the end of ages will be constantly abusing things as well as the world itself.
God will not inflict punishment. We must abandon the notion of a vindictive God. “God is love” (1 John 4:8). “The Word became flesh” (John 1:14) so “that through death He might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14). The purpose and the cause of the divine incarnation, as well as Christ’s emptying Himself on the Cross, was to abolish death, corruption and the Devil, who is the father of deceit and of all sin. According to Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109) Christ, through His sacrifice on the Cross, does not gratify divine justice but “saves the sheep that went astray” (Matthew 18:11), reconciles man with God and grants him deification. St John Chrysostom says that the Lord was never vindictive but it is us, humans, who are spiteful. The Lord does not need anything. He does not offer salvation in order to gain something. He offers salvation because he loves man; and He loves him because He wants to. He saves man by the free and operative love of the body of Christ. In other words, He saves us through His Church.
In the Church one experiences the end of ages as time at hand. He experiences the Kingdom of God through the Grace of the Holy Spirit. Particularly during the Holy Eucharist, the entire creation participates and is being offered to the loving Lord for ‘the unity of all’ and not just the faithful, the saints or the angels. The Divine Liturgy is not only about the salvation of the soul. The priest or the congregation does not supplicate for the Lord’s grace in order to sanctify his soul alone but he also prays for his material needs and for the rest of the creation. “For favorable weather, an abundance of the fruits of the earth and temperate seasons. For travelers by land, sea, and air, for the sick, the suffering, the captives, and for their salvation. For peace of the whole world." By praying for the whole world during the Divine Liturgy and by giving thanks for the creation, it is demonstrated that the world has never stopped being God’s world. It also indicates that who we are, what we do, the natural environment in which we live in, can and must go through the hands of the priest as ‘anaphora’ ('offering') to the Lord, so that it does not remain deformed by sin but is regenerated into ‘being good always’, as St Maximus the Confessor says.
Whoever has been initiated into the mystery of the Divine Liturgy experiences it with awareness and full consciousness and comprehends that eternal life will be an incessant Divine Liturgy, a feast of the resurrection. After His Second Coming, Christ, ‘the Lamb’ according to the Revelation, will reign jointly with all the saints and all those saved. According to St Nicholas Cabasilas: “He will be a God amongst gods; beautiful amongst the beautiful, leading the chorus” (St Nicholas Cabasilas: The Life In Christ). Man, as a person, can never become a non-being or be led into a non-existence. St Symeon the New Theologian says that the Second Coming will take place primarily for the people who gratify their passions and live in sin and not for the saints who already experience the presence of Christ (St Symeon the New Theologian: Moral Issues).
Hell and Paradise do not exist because of God but because of man. Indeed, Hell and Paradise exist as two ways of living but God did not cause their creation. God Himself is paradise for the saints and those saved; the same God is hell for the sinners. That is, both the righteous and the sinners will perceive God and will have their nature regenerated as an eternal entity, but the sinners will not be able to participate in the bliss and glory of the Lord. In other words, human will and freedom will not be restored; the Lord will not infringe upon man’s freedom. Righteousness indicates that the soul is healthy; sin is a sign of disease. Therefore, it is not God who punishes; rather, man has not been healed during his abode on earth.
In His Second Coming, Christ will not only restore human nature but the entire creation. Since the rest of the creation fell because of man, it will be regenerated by the sanctified man. When man attains sanctification, his surrounding environment is also sanctified. We find many such examples in the lives of the saints. A lion was attending the needs of St Gerasimos of Jordan; St Seraphim of Sarov was feeding a bear as if it was a tame lamb; Elder Paisios the Hagiorite was known to be keeping company with snakes and other wild animals.
Along with the resurrection and regeneration of man, nature will also be absolved of corruption. According to St Symeon the New Theologian, nature will become non-material and eternal. “During the regeneration, nature will become a non-material abode, beyond human perception” (St Symeon The New Theologian: Moral Issues, 1, 5).
God has created time, space and substance “from what was not”; these will be regenerated into eternity “beyond perception” in the kingdom of God; they will be eternal, immaterial and incorruptible. All these gifts are granted to man by the love of the Lord. However, if man is to receive the Lord’s love, his heart must be open to Him. And that which will open a person’s heart is humility. The more humble one becomes, the closer he comes to the Lord. The more one comprehends the Lord, the more humble he becomes. At the same time, the more selfish one is the further away from God he turns. “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). If man properly appreciates the love of the Lord, he will be enthused to fight “the good fight” (1 Timothy 6:12) so that not only will he attain eternal life in the kingdom of God, but he will also show his love for his brethren and his respect for the environment while still alive.
The righteous always respect the environment. St Silouan the Athonite writes: “Our heart must sympathize and not only love our brethren but also ache for every being, for everything the Lord has created. Behold! this is a green leaf and you have cut it off for no reason. Even though it is not a sin, how can I say it, it causes an ache; the heart which has learnt to love, feels even for the leaf and for the entire creation” (Arch. Sophrony: St Silouan the Athonite). Blessed Elder Joseph the Hesychast viewed nature as an instrument which gives thanks to the Lord. He wrote: “It is nice here after spring, that is, from Easter up to the Feast of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos in August. The pretty rocks and the rest of the creation carry on theologizing, as theologians without voice - each with its own voice or its lack of it. If you touch a small twig, it immediately cries out very loudly with its natural fragrance: ‘Ouch! You don’t see me, but you’ve hurt me!’ And so on … Everything has its own voice. As soon as there is a breeze, everything moves in harmony with each other and offer melodic praises to the Lord” (Elder Joseph: An Expression of Monastic Experience).
He who has been cleansed from passions through divine Grace and has attained illumination “is watchful and somber in every circumstance”. He becomes a perfect person and is able to deal successfully with the issues of our times, especially with that of the environment. However, reading from the Scriptures and the Holy Fathers, he recognizes that one day this world will end when Christ will regenerate it during His Second Coming. According to the Revelation, He will regenerate it into the city of the Lord, where the temple and the light will be the Lamb Himself (Revelation 21:22-23).
Let us, therefore, be spiritually prepared at every moment of our lives; so that we are be able to cry along with St John the Theologian and the writer of the Revelation: “Come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).
Source: Translated by Olga Konari Kokkinou and edited by John Sanidopoulos.