[Greek text of the Creed: De decretis Nicaenae synodi, Athanasius Werke, vol. 2.1 ( De Gruyter, Berlin ,1940  TLG 003 33.8.2-11.  English Translation: Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, ed. Norman P. Tanner S.J.

 Constantine 4th, cent. coin

(1) CREED;   (2) ANATHEMAS;   (3) CANONS;   (4) LETTER to the EGYPTIANS


  1) THE PROFESSION of FAITH of the 318 FATHERS (Expositio fidei CCCXVIII patrum)


[Compare with the CREED of CONSTANTINOPLE ]

1. WE believe in one God the Father all powerful, maker of all things both seen and unseen. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only-begotten begotten from the Father, that is from the substance [Gr. ousias, L. substantia] of the Father,  "Πιστεύομεν εἰς ἕνα θεόν, πατέρα, παντοκράτορα, πάντων ὁρατῶν τε καὶ ἀοράτων ποιητήν, καὶ εἰς ἕνα κύριον Ἰησοῦν  Χριστόν, τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ θεοῦ, γεννηθέντα ἐκ τοῦ πατρὸς μονογενῆ τουτέστιν ἐκ τῆς οὐσίας τοῦ πατρός, 

Credimus in unum deum patrem omnipotentem visibilium et invisibilium factorem. Et in unum dominum Iesum Christum filium dei, natum de patre, hoc est de substantia patris,

God from God,

     light from light,

        true God

            from true God,

θεὸν ἐκ θεοῦ,

φῶς ἐκ φωτός,

θεὸν ἀληθινὸν

   ἐκ θεοῦ  ἀληθινοῦ,

deum de deo,

lumen de lumine,

 deum verum

de deo vero,

begotten [Gr. gennethenta, Lat. natum]

     not made [Gr. poethenta, Lat. factum],


    οὐ ποιηθέντα,


   non factum,

CONSUBSTANTIAL [Gr. homoousion, Lat. unius substantiae] with the Father, 

μοούσιον τῷ πατρί,

unius substantiae cum patre (quod Graeci dicunt homousion)

through whom all things came to be, both those in heaven and those in earth; 

δι' οὗ τὰ πάντα ἐγένετο τά τε ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ καὶ τὰ ἐν τῇ γῇ,   per quem omnia facta sunt sive quae in caelo sive quae in terra;

for us humans and for our salvation he came down and became incarnate, became human,

τὸν δι' ἡμᾶς τοὺς ἀνθρώπους καὶ διὰ τὴν ἡμετέραν σωτηρίαν κατελθόντα καὶ σαρκωθέντα, ἐνανθρωπήσαντα, qui propter nos homines et propter nostram salutem descendit, incarnatus est, homo factus est,

suffered and rose up on the third day, went up into the heavens, is coming to judge the living and the dead. 

 παθόντα καὶ ἀναστάντα τῇ τρίτῃ ἡμέρᾳ, ἀνελθόντα εἰς οὐρανοὺς καὶ ἐρχόμενον κρῖναι ζῶντας καὶ νεκρούς. passus est et resurrexit tertia die, ascendit in caelos venturus iudicare vivos et mortuos.

And in the holy Spirit.

.καὶ εἰς τὸ ἅγιον πνεῦμα.

Et in spiritum sanctum.





And those who say

τοὺς δὲ λέγοντας

Eos autem qui dicunt:

1.“there once was when he was not”, and “before he was begotten he was not”, and that

"ἦν ποτε ὅτε οὐκ ἦν" καὶ "πρὶν γεννηθῆναι οὐκ ἦν" καὶ ὅτι

"erat quando non erat", et: "priusquam nasceretur non erat", et quia

2. he came to be from things that were not, or

"ἐξ οὐκ ὄντων ἐγένετο"

ex nullius extantibus factus est (quod Graeci exeueonton dicunt), vel

from another hypostasis [Gr. hypostaseos] or substance [Gr. ousias, Lat. substantia],

ἐξ ἑτέρας ὑποστάσεως ἢ οὐσίας φάσκοντας εἶναι

alia substantia, dicentes

affirming that the Son of God is [a creature* or] subject to change or alteration

[ἢ κτιστὸν] ἢ τρεπτὸν ἢ ἀλλοιωτὸν τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ θεοῦ

mutabilem et convertibilem filium dei

 - these the catholic and apostolic church anathematises.

ἀναθεματίζει ἡ καθολικὴ ἐκκλησία"

hos anathematizat catholica et apostolica ecclesia.

* [creature] not in Tanner’s text




3. CANONS [Canones]




Eunuchs in the clergy

I De his qui se ipsos abscidunt

1. If anyone in sickness has undergone surgery at the hands of physicians or has been castrated by barbarians, let him remain among the clergy. But if anyone in good health has castrated himself, if he is enrolled among the clergy he should be suspended, and in future no such man should be promoted. But, as it is evident that this refers to those who are responsible for the condition and presume to castrate themselves, so too if any have been made eunuchs by barbarians or by their masters, but have been found worthy, the canon admits such men to the clergy.

Si quis a medicis per languorem desectus est aut abscisus a barbaris, hic in clero permaneat. Si quis autem se sanus abscidit, hunc et in clero constitutum abstinere conveniet et deinceps nullum debere talium promoveri. Sicut autem hoc claret, quod de his qui rem hanc affectant audentque se ipsos abscidere, dictum est, sic eos quos barbari aut domini castraverunt, inveniuntur autem alias dignissimi, ad clerum regula tales admittit.






II De neophytis

2.   Since, either through necessity or through the importunate demands of certain individuals, there have been many breaches of the church’s canon, with the result that men who have recently come from a pagan life to the faith after a short catechumenate have been admitted at once to the spiritual washing, and at the same time as their baptism have been promoted to the episcopate or the presbyterate, it is agreed that it would be well for nothing of the kind to occur in the future. Quoniam plura, aut per necessitatem aut alias cogentibus hominibus adversus ecclesiasticam facta sunt regulam, ut homines ex gentili vita nuper accedentes ad fidem et instructos brevi temporis intervallo mox ad lavacrum spiritale perducerent, simulque ut baptizati sunt, ad episcopatum vel presbiterium promoverent: optime placuit nihil tale de reliquo fieri.
 For a catechumen needs time and further probation after baptism, for the apostle’s words are clear: “Not a recent convert, or he may be puffed up and fall into the condemnation and the snare of the devil” (I Tim.3:6-7). But if with the passage of time some sin of sensuality is discovered with regard to the person and he is convicted by two or three witnesses, such a one will be suspended from the clergy. If anyone contravenes these regulations, he will be liable to forfeit his clerical status for acting in defiance of this great synod.

Nam et tempore opus est ei qui cathecizatur, et post baptismum probatione quam plurima. Manifesta est enim apostolica scriptura, quae dicit: non neophytum, ne in superbiam 5 elatus in iudicium incidat et laqueum diabuli. (I Tim.3:6-7). Si vero processu temporis aliquod animae delictum circa personam reperiatur huiusmodi et a duobus vel tribus testibus arguatur: a clero talis abstineat. Si quis autem praeter haec fecerit, quasi contra magnum concilium sese efferens, ipse de clericatus honore periclitabitur.





Women in Clerical Households

III Quae mulieres cum sacerdotibus commorentur
3. This great synod absolutely forbids a bishop, presbyter, deacon or any of the clergy to keep a woman who has been brought in to live with him, with the exception of course of his mother or sister or aunt, or of any person who is above suspicion.

lnterdixit per omnia magna synodus, nec episcopo nec presbitero nec diacono nec alicui prorsus, qui est in clero, licere subintroductam habere mulierem, nisi forte matrem aut sororem aut amitam vel cas tantum personas quae suspiciones effugiunt.





Episcopal Ordination

IV De ordinatione episcoporum
4. It is by all means desirable that a bishop should be appointed by all the bishops of the province. But if this is difficult because of some pressing necessity or the length of the journey involved, let at least three come together and perform the ordination, but only after the absent bishops have taken part in the vote and given their written consent. But in each province the right of confirming the proceedings belongs to the metropolitan bishop.

Episcopum convenit maxime quidem ab omnibus qui sunt in provincia episcopis ordinari. Si autem hoc difficile fuerit, aut propter instantem necessitatem aut propter iteneris longitudinem: modis omnibus tamen tribus in id ipsum convenientibus et absentibus episcopis pariter decernentibus et per scripta consentientibus tunc ordinatio celebretur. Firmitas autem eorum, quae geruntur per unamquamque provinciam, metropolitano tribuatur episcopo.






V De excommunicatis
5.  Concerning those, whether of the clergy or the laity, who have been excommunicated, the sentence is to be respected by the bishops of each province according to the canon which forbids those expelled by some to be admitted by others. But let an inquiry be held to ascertain whether anyone has been expelled from the community because of pettiness or quarrelsomeness or any such ill nature on the part of the bishop. Accordingly, in order that there may be proper opportunity for inquiry into the matter, it is agreed that it would be well for synods to be held each year in each province twice a year, so that these inquiries may be conducted by all the bishops of the province assembled together, and in this way by general consent those who have offended against their own bishop may be recognised by all to be reasonably excommunicated, until all the bishops in common may decide to pronounce a more lenient sentence on these persons. The synods shall be held at the following times: one before Lent, so that, all pettiness being set aside, the gift offered to God may be unblemished; the second after the season of autumn.

De his qui communione privantur seu ex clero seu ex laico ordine, ab episcopis per unamquamque provinciam no sententia regularis obtineat, ut hii qui ab aliis abiciuntur, non recipiantur ab aliis. Requiratur autem, ne pusillanimitate aut pertinacia vel alio quolibet episcopi vitio videatur a congregatione seclusus. Ut hoc ergo decentius inquiratur, bene placuit annis singulis per unamquamque provinciam bis in anno concilia celebrari, ut communiter omnibus simul episcopis provincias congregatis quaestiones discutiantur huiusmodi et sic, qui suo peccaverunt evidenter episcopo, rationabiliter excommunicati ab omnibus aestimentur, usquequo vel in communi vel eidem episcopo placeat humaniorem pro talibus ferre sententiam. Concilia vero celebrentur unum quidem ante quadragensimam paschae, ut omni dissensione sublata munus offeratur Deo purissimum, secundum vero circa tempus autumni.





Episcopal Precedence

VI De primatibus episcoporum
6.  The ancient customs of Egypt, Libya and Pentapolis shall be maintained, according to which the bishop of Alexandria has authority over all these places since a similar custom exists with reference to the bishop of Rome. Similarly in Antioch and the other provinces the prerogatives of the churches are to be preserved. Antiqua consuetudo servetur per Aegyptum, Lybiam et Pentapolim, ita ut Alexandrinus episcopus horum omniurn habeat potestatem, quia et urbis Romae episcopo parilis mos est. Simiiter autem et apud Anthiociam ceterasque provincias suis privilegia serventur ecclesiis.

In general the following principle is evident: if anyone is made bishop without the consent of the metropolitan, this great synod determines that such a one shall not be a bishop. If however two or three by reason of personal rivalry dissent from the common vote of all, provided it is reasonable and in accordance with the church’s canon, the vote of the majority shall prevail.

lllud autem generaliter datum est, quod si quis praeter consilium metropolitani fuerit factus episcopus, hunc magna synodus definivit episcopum exsistere non debere. Sin autem communi cunctorum decreto rationabili et secundum ecclesiasticam regulam conprobato duo vel tres propter contentiones proprias contradicunt, obtineat sententia plurimorum.





Privileges of the bishop of Jerusalem

VI De honore episcopi Heliae, id est Hierusolimae

7. Since there prevails a custom and ancient tradition to the effect that the bishop of Aelia [= Jerusalem] is to be honoured, let him be granted everything consequent upon this honour, saving the dignity proper to the metropolitan.

Quia consuetudo praevaluit et antiqua traditio ut Heliae episcopus honoretur, habeat honoris consequentiam, salva metropolitani propria dignitate.



  Canons 8-14


The self-styled "pure ones" (cathars)

VIII De his qui se catharos, id est mundos, appellant
8.  Concerning those who designate themselves the pure ones [cathari], and who from time to time come over publicly to the catholic and apostolic church, this holy and great synod decrees that they may remain among the clergy after receiving an imposition of hands. 8, De his qui se cognominant catharos, id est mundos, si quando venerint ad ecclesiam catholicam, placuit sancto et magno concilio, ut impositionem manus accipientes sic in clero permaneant.
But before all this it is fitting that they give a written undertaking that they will accept and follow the decrees of the catholic church, namely that they will be in communion with those who have entered into a second marriage and with those who have lapsed in time of persecution and for whom a period [of penance] has been fixed and an occasion [for reconciliation] allotted, so as in all things to follow the decrees of the catholic and apostolic church. Haec autem eos prae omnibus scriptis convenit profiteri, quod catholicae et apostolicae ecclesiae dogmata suscipiant et sequantur, id est bigamis se communicare et his, qui in persequutione prolapsi sunt, erga quos et spatia constituta sunt et tempora definita, ita ut ecclesiae catholicae et apostolicae placita sequantur in omnibus.
Accordingly, where all the ordained in villages or cities have been found to be men of this kind alone, those who are so found will remain in the clergy in the same rank; Ubicumque vero sive in municipiis sive in civitatibus ipsi soli repperti fuerunt ordinati: qui inveniuntur in clero, in eodem habitu perseverent.
but when some come over in places where there is a bishop or presbyter belonging to the catholic church, it is evident that the bishop of the church will hold the bishop’s dignity, and that the one given the title and name of bishop among the so-called Cathars will have the rank of presbyter, unless the bishop thinks fit to let him share in the honour of the title.

Ubi autem catholicae ecclesiae episcopo vel presbytero constituto quidam ex illis adveniunt, certum est quod episcopus ecclesiae habebit ecclesiae dignitatem.

Is autem, qui nominatur apud eos episcopus, honorem presbyterii possidebit, nisi forte placuerit episcopo nominis eum honore censeri.

But if this does not meet with his approval, the bishop will provide for him a place as chorepiscopus or presbyter, so as to make his ordinary clerical status evident and so prevent there being two bishops in the city.

 Si vero hoc ei minime placuerit, providebit ei aut corepiscopi aut presbyteri locum, ut in clero prorsus videatur, ne in una civitate duo episcopi probentur exsistere.





Unexamined candidates for ordination

IX De his qui ad sacerdotium sine examine promoventur

9. If any have been promoted presbyters without examination, and then upon investigation have confessed their sins, and if after their confession men have imposed hands upon such people, being moved to act against the canon, the canon does not admit these people, for the catholic church vindicates only what is above reproach.

9. Si qui presbyteri sine examinatione sunt promoti vel cum discuterentur, sua peccata confessi sunt et homines moti contra canones confessis manus imponere temptaverunt, tales regula non admittit, quia quod inreprehensibile est, catholica defendit ecclesia.





Those who apostatized during persecution and were later ordained

X De his qui in persecutionihus negaverunt et post rnodum ad clericatum promoti .sunt

10. If any of those who lapsed have been promoted to ordination through the ignorance of their promoters or even with their connivance, this fact does not prejudice the church’s canon; for once discovered they are to be deposed.

10.  Quicumque de lapsis dudum per ignorantiam vel ordinantium dissimulationem in ordinem sunt provecti, hoc ecclesiasticae non praeiudicat regulae, nam cogniti deponuntur.





Those who apostatized without compulsion

Xi De his qui praeter necessitatem aliquam negaverunt
11. Concerning those who have transgressed without necessity or the confiscation of their property or without danger or anything of this nature, as happened under the tyranny of Licinius, this holy synod decrees that, though they do not deserve leniency, nevertheless they should be treated mercifully. 11. De his praeter necessitatem praevaricati sunt aut praeter ablationem facultatum aut praeter periculum vel aliquid huiusmodi, quod factum est sub tirannide Licinii, placuit synodo, quamquam humanitate probentur indigni, tamen eis benevolentiam commodari.

Those therefore among the faithful who genuinely repent shall spend three years among the hearers, for seven years they shall be prostrators, and for two years they shall take part with the people in the prayers, though not in the offering.

Quo quod enim veraciter paenitudinem gerunt, fideles tribus annis inter audientes habeantur et sex annis omni humilitati succumbant, duobus autem annis praeter oblationem populo in oratione communicent.





Those who renounce the world,
but then return to it.

XII De his qui renuntiaverunt et iterum ad saeculum sunt regressi
12. Those who have been called by grace, have given evidence of first fervour and have cast off their [military] belts, and afterwards have run back like dogs to their own vomit, so that some have even paid money and recovered their military status by bribes -- such persons shall spend ten years as prostrators after a period of three years as hearers. 12. Quicumque vocati per gratiam primum quidem impetum demonstrarunt deponentes militiae cingulum, postmodum vero ad proprium vomitum sunt relapsi, ita ut quidam et pecunias tribuerent et beneficiis militiam separarent, hi decem annis post trienni tempus, quod inter audientes erunt, in afflictione permaneant.
In every case, however, their disposition and the nature of their penitence should be examined. Sed in his omnibus propositum et speciem paenitentiae convenit explorare.
For those who through their fear and tears and perseverance and good works give evidence of their conversion by deeds and not by outward show, when they have completed their appointed term as hearers, may properly take part in the prayers, and the bishop is competent to decide even more favourably in their regard.  Quotquot enim metu et lacrimis ac patientia vel bonis operibus re ipsa conversionem, non simulatione, demonstrant, hi definitum tempus auditionis implentes, tum demum fidelibus in oratione communicent, postmodum vero licebit episcopo, de his aliquid humanius cogitare.

 But those who have taken the matter lightly, and have thought that the outward form of entering the church is all that is required for their conversion, must complete their term to the full.

  Quicumque vero indifferenter tulerunt et formam introeundi in ecclesiam sibi arbitrati sunt ad conversionem posse sufficere, hi definitum tempus modis omnibus implebunt.





Deathbed reconciliation and communion

XIII De his qui in obitu positi communionem deposcunt

13. Concerning those departing from this life, the ancient canon law is still to be maintained namely that those who are departing are not to be deprived of their last, most necessary viaticum. But if one whose life has been despaired of has been admitted to communion and has shared in the offering and is found to be numbered again among the living, he shall be among those who take part in prayer only [here a variant reading in Les canons des conciles oecumeniques adds “until the term fixed by this great ecumenical synod has been completed”]. But as a general rule, in the case of anyone whatsoever who is departing and seeks to share in the eucharist, the bishop upon examining the matter shall give him a share in the offering.

13. De his qui ad exitum vitae veniunt, etiam nunc lex antiqua regularis que servabitur ita, ut, si quis egreditur e corpore, ultimo et necessario viatico minime privetur.

Quod si desperatus et consecutus communionem oblationis que particeps factus iterum convaluerit, sit inter eos, qui communionem orationis tantummodo consequuntur.

  Generaliter autem omni cuilibet in exitu posito et poscenti sibi communionis gratiam tribui, episcopus probabiliter ex oblatione dare debebit.





Lapsed catechumens

XIV De cathecuminis lapsis

14. Concerning catechumens who have lapsed, this holy and great synod decrees that, after they have spent three years as hearers only, they shall then be allowed to pray with the catechumens.

14.   De catechuminis sancto et magno concilio placuit, ut tribus annis sint inter audientes tantummodo, post haec autem cum catechuminis orent.





Non-transfer of clergy

XV Quod non oporteat demigrari
15.  On account of the great disturbance and the factions which are caused, it is decreed that the custom, if it is found to exist in some parts contrary to the canon, shall be totally suppressed, so that neither bishops nor presbyters nor deacons shall transfer from city to city. If after this decision of this holy and great synod anyone shall attempt such a thing, or shall lend himself to such a proceeding, the arrangement shall be totally annulled, and he shall be restored to the church of which he was ordained bishop or presbyter or deacon.

Propter multam perturbationem et seditiones quae fiunt placuit consuetudinem omnimodis amputari, quae praeter regulam in quibusdam partibus videtur admissa: ita ut de civitate ad civitatem non episcopus, non presbiter, non diaconus transferatur. Si quis vero post definitionem sancti et magni concilii tale quid agere temptaverit et se huiuscemodi negotio mancipaverit, hoc factum prorsus in irritum deducatur et restituatur ecclesiae, cui fuit episcopus, presbiter aut diaconus ordinatus





Non-Reception of Clergy from elsewhere

XVI De his qui in quibus promoti sunt ecclesiis non morantur
16.  Any presbyters or deacons or in general anyone enrolled in any rank of the clergy who depart from their church recklessly and without the fear of God before their eyes or in ignorance of the church’s canon, ought not by any means to be received in another church, but all pressure must be applied to them to induce them to return to their own dioceses, or if they remain it is right that they should be excommunicated. Quicumque temere ac periculosae neque timorem Dei prae oculis habentes nec agnoscentes ecclesiasticam regulam discedunt ab ecclesia presbiteri aut diaconi vel quicumque sub regula modis omnibus adprobantur, huiusmodi nequaquam debent in alia ecclesia recipi, sed omnem necessitatem convenit illis inferri, ut ad suas paroecias revertantur, aut si non fecerint oportet eos communione privari.
 But if anyone dares to steal away one who belongs to another and to ordain him in his church without the consent of the other’s own bishop among whose clergy he was enrolled before he departed, the ordination is to be null. Si quis autem ad alium pertinentem audaciter invadere et in sua ecclesia ordinare pracsumserit non consentiente episcopo, a quo discessit is, qui regulae mancipatur: ordinatio talis irrita conprobetur.





Clerical usury

XVII De clericis qui usuras accipiunt
17.  Since many enrolled [among the clergy] have been induced by greed and avarice to forget the sacred text, “who does not put out his money at interest”, (Ps. 14:5) and to charge one per cent [a month] on loans, Quoniam multi sub regula constituti avaritiam et turpia lucra sectantur, oblitique divinae scripturae, dicentis qui pecuniam suam non dedit ad usuram (Ps. 14:5), cum mutuum dederint, centesimas exigunt:
this holy and great synod judges that if any are found after this decision to receive interest by contract or to transact the business in any other way or to charge [a flat rate of] fifty per cent or in general to devise any other contrivance for the sake of dishonourable gain, they shall be deposed from the clergy and their names struck from the roll. iuste constituit sancta et magna synodus, ut, si quis inventus fuerit post hanc definitionem usuras accipiens aut per adinventionem aliquam vel quolibet modo negotium transigens aut hemiolia, id est sescupla, exigens vel aliquid tale prorsus excogitans turpis lucri gratia: deiciatur a clero et alienus existat a regula.





Presbyteral Privileges

XVIII De privilegiis presbiterorum
18.  It has come to the attention of this holy and great synod that in some places and cities deacons give communion to presbyters, although neither canon nor custom allows this, namely that those who have no authority to offer should give the body of Christ to those who do offer. Pervenit ad sanctum magnumque concilium, quod in quibusdam locis et civitatibus presbiteris gratiam sacrae commulionis diaconi porrigant. Quod nec regula nec: consuctudo permittit, ut ab his qui potestatem non habent offerendi illi qui offerunt Christi corpus accipiant.
Moreover it has become known that some of the deacons now receive the eucharist even before the bishops. Necnon et illud innotuit, quod nonnulli diaconorum ante episcopos sacras oblationes attingunt.
All these practices must be suppressed. Deacons must remain within their own limits, knowing that they are the ministers of the bishop and subordinate to the presbyters.   Haec igitur omnia resecentur et in sua diaconi mensura  permaneant, scientes, quod episcoporum quidem ministri sunt, presbiteris autem inferiores probentur.
 Let them receive the eucharist according to their order after the presbyters from the hands of the bishop or the presbyter. Nor shall permission be given for the deacons to sit among the presbyters, for such an arrangement is contrary to the canon and to rank. If anyone refuses to comply even after these decrees, he is to be suspended from the diaconate.

Per ordinem ergo post presbiteros gratiam communionis accipiant aut episcopo eis aut presbitero porrigente. Sed nec sedere in medio presbiterorum diaconis liceat, quia, si hoc fiat, praeter regulam et ordinem probatur existere. Si quis autem etiam post has definitiones oboedire noluerit, a ministerio cessare debebit.





Rebaptism of Paulinist* clergy and deaconesses

XIX De his qui ab errore Pauli Samosateni refugiunt, et de diaconissis
19. Concerning the former Paulinists who seek refuge in the catholic church, it is determined that they must be rebaptised unconditionally. Those who in the past have been enrolled among the clergy, if they appear to be blameless and irreproachable, are to be rebaptised and ordained by the bishop of the catholic church. But if on inquiry they are shown to be unsuitable, it is right that they should be deposed. Similarly with regard to deaconesses and all in general whose names have been included in the roll, the same form shall be observed. We refer to deaconesses who have been granted this status, for they do not receive any imposition of hands, so that they are in all respects to be numbered among the laity. De paulianistis ad ecclesiam catholicam confugientibus prolata definitio est, ut rebaptizentur omnimodis. Si qui vero ex his praeterito tempore in clero fuerunt, si quidem inmaculati et inrepraehensibiles apparuerint, rebaptizati ordinentur ab episcopo ecclesiae catholicae. Quod si discussio repperit eos incongruos, abici tales conveniet. Similiter autem et de diaconissis et omnino de his, qui in eadem regula versantur, haec forma servabitur. Meminimus autem de diaconissis quac in eodem habitu esse probantur, quod non habeant aliquam manus impositionem, et ideo modis omnibus eas inter laicos deputari.
* Paulinists were followers of Paul of Samosata, the anti-Trinitarian bishop of Antioch, condemned and deposed by two (or three) Synods in Antioch  in 269.  






XX De flectendo genua
20.  Since there are some who kneel on Sunday and during the season of Pentecost, this holy synod decrees that, so that the same observances may be maintained in every diocese, one should offer one’s prayers to the Lord standing. Quoniam sunt quidam in die dominico genu flectentes et in diebus pentecostes: ut omnia in universis locis consonanter observentur, placuit sancto concilio stantes domino vota persolvere.


  4. LEtter to the Egyptians




Epistula Nicaeni concilii ad Aegyptios

The bishops assembled at Nicaea, who constitute the great and holy synod, greet the church of the Alexandrians, by the grace of God holy and great, and the beloved brethren in Egypt, Libya and Pentapolis. Sancta et magna synodus per dei gratiam ecclesiae Alexandriae, dilectissimis fratribus per Aegyptum, Libyam et Pentapolim apud Nicaeam civitatem collecti sanctum et magnum concilium constituerunt in deo salutem.

Since the grace of God and the most pious emperor Constantine have called us together from different provinces and cities to constitute the great and holy synod in Nicaea, it seemed absolutely necessary that the holy synod should send you a letter so that you may know what was proposed and discussed, and what was decided and enacted.

Quoniam per gratiam dei piissimo imperatore Constantino nos congregante ex diversis ac multis provinciis sancta ac magna synodus apud Nicaeam convenit, omni modo necessarium visum est a sacro concilio etiam ad vos litteras dare, ut cognoscatis, quae sunt mota, quae ventilata, quae vero placita.
First of all the affair of the impiety and lawlessness of Arius and his followers was discussed in the presence of the most pious emperor Constantine. Primum quidem examinatum est de impietate ac scelere Arrii et eius sociorum sub praesentia piissimi imperatoris Constantini.
It was unanimously agreed that anathemas should be pronounced against his impious opinion and his blasphemous terms and expressions which he has blasphemously applied to the Son of God,  saying Et ex omnium sententia definiimus anathematizare glorificationem eius impiam et verba maledicta ac sensus, quibus utebatur blasphemans dei filium et dicens

“he is from things that are not”, and

 “before he was begotten he was not”, and

 “there once was when he was not”,

saying too that by his own power the Son of God is capable of evil and  goodness, and calling him

a creature and a work.

ex nihilo esse
et antequam nasceretur non fuisse
et fuisse tempus, quando non erat,
et propria potestate virtutis ac malitiae esse capacem filium dei, asserens creaturam esse et facturam.
Against all this the holy synod pronounced anathemas, and did not allow this impious and abandoned opinion and these blasphemous words even to be heard. Haec omnia posuit anathema sanctum concilium, sed nec audire glorificationem impiam et inmanitatem ac maledica verba sustinuit.
Of that man and the fate which befell him, you have doubtless heard or will hear, lest we should seem to trample upon one who has already received a fitting reward because of his own sin. Such indeed was the power of his impiety that Theonas of Marmarica and Secundus of Ptolemais shared in the consequences, for they too suffered the same fate. Et ille quidem quem exitum vel finem habuerit meritorum forsitan audistis vel audietis, ne insultare homini videamur obprobrium peccato dignum perpesso. Tantum autem praevaluit eius impietas, ut etiam cum eo pateretur Theonas de Marmarica et Secundus de Ptolemaide, nam et ipsi quoque eadem meruerunt.
But since, when the grace of God had freed Egypt from this evil and blasphemous opinion, and from the persons who had dared to create a schism and a separation in a people which up to now had lived in peace, there remained the question of the presumption of Meletius and the men whom he had ordained, we shall explain to you, beloved brethren, the synod’s decisions on this subject too. Sed quoniam dei gratia illa mala glorificatione et blasphemiis ac personis praesumentibus sibi separationem et heresim facere pacifico ab initio populo Aegyptum liberavit, de temeritate Meletii et ordinatorum ab eo quae statuta sunt vobis indicamus, dilectissimi fratres.
The synod was moved to incline towards mildness in its treatment of Meletius for strictly speaking he deserved no mercy. It decreed that that he might remain in his own city without any authority to nominate or ordain, and that he was not to show himself for this purpose in the country or in another city, and that he was to retain the bare name of his office.

Placuit igitur Meletium quidem, humanius agere sancto concilio benignius commoto - pro enim certa ratione nullam indulgentiam merebatur - manere in civitate sua nullam que habere potestatem neque provehendi nec ordinandi episcopos sive in territoriis sive in aliqua civitate huius rei causa apparere.

It was further decreed that those whom he had ordained, when they had been validated by a more spiritual ordination, were to be admitted to communion on condition that they would retain their rank and exercise their ministry, but in every respect were to be second to all the clergy in each diocese and church who had been nominated under our most honoured brother and fellow minister Alexander; they were to have no authority to appoint candidates of their choice or to put forward names or to do anything at all without the consent of the bishop of the catholic church, namely the bishop of those who are under Alexander.

Ordinatos sane ab ipso in archana ordinatione firmatos communicare sub hac videlicet conditione, ut <clerum> teneant quidem et ministrent, secundos autem esse sine dubio omnium, qui sunt in parociis et in ecclesiis sub carissimo et conministro Alexandro, quibus ne liceat quos voluerint ordinare aut pro nomine alicuius suggerere vel omnino quid facere sine voluntate episcopi catholicae et apostolicae ecclesiae.

But those who by the grace of God and by our prayers have not been detected in any schism, and are spotless in the catholic and apostolic church, are to have authority to appoint and to put forward the names of men of the clergy who are worthy, and in general to do everything according to the law and rule of the church. Qui vero sub Alexandro sunt qui per dei gratiam et vestras orationes in nullo delicto repperti sunt, sed sunt inmaculati in catholica et apostolica ecclesia constituti, habeant potestatem provehendi, nominandi et eligendi dignos cleros <et> omnia denique facere secundum legem et ordinem ecclesiasticum.
In the event of the death of any in the church, those who have recently been accepted are thereupon to succeed to the office of the deceased, provided that they appear worthy and are chosen by the people; the bishop of Alexandria is to take part in the vote and confirm the election. Si autem evenerit quosdam quiescere in ecclesiis, tunc ad honorem accedere mortui nunc susceptos, tantum si quis dignus videatur et populus voluerit consentiente et confirmante catholicae et apostolicae episcopo Alexandriae ecclesiae.
This privilege, which has been granted to all others, does not apply to the person of Meletius because of his inveterate seditiousness and his mercurial and rash disposition, lest any authority or responsibility should be given to one who is capable of returning to his seditious practices. Hoc autem omnibus aliis concessum est, nam in Meletii persona non placuit propter insitam eius insaniam et morum procacitatem atque temeritatem, quo nulla potestas auctoritatis concedatur homini praevalenti ad easdem insolentias reppedare.
These are the chief and most important decrees as far as concerns Egypt and the most holy church of the Alexandrians. Haec sunt praecipua et pertinentia ad Aegyptum et sanctam ecclesiam Alexandriae.
Whatever other canons and decrees were enacted in the presence of our lord and most honoured fellow minister and brother Alexander, he will himself report them to you in greater detail when he comes, for he was himself a leader as well as a participant in the events. Si quid vero aliud est redactum ad regulam vel decretum praesentibus nobis cum carissimo et conministro nostro Alexandro, praesens ipse refert, ut potest dominus ac socius actitarum <rerum>.
The following is found only in the Greek, not in the Latin text:  

We also send you the good news of the settlement concerning the holy pasch, namely that in answer to your prayers this question also has been resolved. All the brethren in the East who have hitherto followed the Jewish practice will henceforth observe the custom of the Romans and of yourselves and of all of us who from ancient times have kept Easter together with you. Rejoicing then in these successes and in the common peace and harmony and in the cutting off of all heresy, welcome our fellow minister, your bishop Alexander, with all the greater honour and love. He has made us happy by his presence, and despite his advanced age has undertaken such great labour in order that you too may enjoy peace.

Pray for us all that our decisions may remain secure through almighty God and our lord Jesus Christ in the holy Spirit, to whom is the glory for ever and ever. Amen.  

The council opened on 19 June in the presence of the emperor, but it is uncertain who presided over the sessions. In the extant lists of bishops present, Ossius of Cordova, and the presbyters Vitus and Vincentius are listed before the other names, but it is more likely that Eustathius of Antioch or Alexander of Alexandria presided.

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