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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

June 314 A.D. Remembering the Council of Arles, France

 June 314 A.D.  Remembering the Council of Arles, France

Of note, a senior clerk from northern England at a very early period attended a Council or Synod in southern France, an ancient Franco-Roman city.

No author.  “Council of Arles: History of York.” History of York.  N.d.  Accessed 15 May 2014.

Fourth century bishop Athanasius

314AD - 314AD

Emperor Constantine called this meeting of 30-40 Catholic bishops in order to settle a dispute that had been running for three years, concerning the appointment of an African bishop.  It was very unusual for an Emperor to become involved in matters of the Christian church in this way.

According to Constantine's own letter, the bishops came from "a great many different places" to the palace in Arles, France.  This included York's bishop, whose name was recorded by one chronicler as 'Eborius'. 

Not much more is known about Christianity in Romany York, but this one record proves that the religion was followed by some in the city in the 4th century. 

The Council settled the dispute by confirming the appointment of the bishop of Carthage.  The assembled bishops took the opportunity to lay down a mixed bag of new church laws, or “canons,” including: 

  • Easter should be celebrated on the same day throughout the Christian world.
  • Clergy who lent money at interest should be excluded from the church.
  • Those who drove in chariot races should also be excluded.
  • Similarly, actors were to be excluded so long as they carried on that occupation.
  • Young women who married unbelievers should be excluded.
  • Deacons should be discouraged from conducting services in too many places.

June 314 A.D.  Remembering Varied Councils of Arles, France

Wiki offers more here than is offered in standard Church History courses in graduate schools.

Arles (ancient Arelate) in the south of Roman Gaul (modern France) hosted several councils or synods referred to as Concilium Arelatense in the history of the early Christian church.


Council of Arles in 314

The first council of Arles in 314[1] formally condemned the heresy of Donatism. It began as an appeal by the Donatists to Constantine the Great against the decision of the Council of Rome in 313 at the Lateran under Pope Miltiades. This is the first instance of an appeal of a Christian party to the secular power, and it turned out unfavorably to the Donatists who afterwards became enemies of the Roman authorities. The Council of Arles was the first called by Constantine and is the forerunner of the First Council of Nicaea. Augustine of Hippo called it an Ecumenical Council.

It excommunicated Donatus and passed twenty-two canons concerning Easter (which should be held on the same day throughout the world, rather than being set by each local church), against the non-residence of clergy, against participation in races and gladiatorial fights (to be punished by excommunication), against the rebaptism of heretics, and on other matters of discipline. Clergymen who could be proven to have delivered sacred books in persecution (the traditores) should be deposed, but their official acts were to be held valid. The assistance of at least three bishops was required at ordination.

Council of Arles in 353

Called in support of Arianism. It was attended, among others, by two papal legates. The legates were tempted into rejecting communion with Athanasius and refused to condemn Arius, an act which filled Pope Liberius with grief. A council was held on New Year's Day of 435, to settle the differences that had arisen between the Abbot of Lérins and the Bishop of Fréjus.

Councils of Arles in 443 and 452

In the synod of 443 (452), attended also by bishops of neighbouring provinces, fifty-six canons were formulated, mostly repetitions of earlier disciplinary decrees. Neophytes were excluded from major orders; married men aspiring to the priesthood were required to promise a life of continency, and it was forbidden to consecrate a bishop without the assistance of three other bishops and the consent of the Metropolitan.

Council of 451

A council of 451 held after the close of the Council of Chalcedon in that year, sent its adhesion to the "Epistola dogmatica" of Pope Leo I, written by Flavian of Constantinople (see Eutyches)

Council of 463

Apropos of the conflict between the archiepiscopal See of Vienne and Arles a council was held in the latter city in 463, which called forth a famous letter from St. Leo I.[2]

Council of 475

In 475 (though some scholars say it was 480) another council was called, attended by thirty bishops, in which the predestinationist teachings of the priest Lucidus were condemned.

Council of Arles in 506

Exemplified the close connection between the church and the Merovingian dynasty.[3]

Council of Arles in 524

A regional council was held in 524, with 14 bishops and 4 presbyters present.[4] This council was held under the presidency of St. Caesarius of Arles; its canons deal chiefly with the conferring of orders. A number of Caesarius of Arles' works have been published in Sources Chrétiennes.

Little is known of the councils of 554 and 682.

Council of Arles in 648/60

Possibly a provincial council, at which Theudorius of Arles was to be judged.[4]

Council of 813

An important council was held in 813, at the instigation of Charlemagne, for the correction of abuses and the reestablishment of ecclesiastical discipline. Its decrees insist on a sufficient ecclesiastical education of bishops and priests, on the duty of both to preach frequently to the people and to instruct them in the Catholic Faith, on the obligation of parents to instruct their children, etc.

Council of 1034

In 1034 a council was held at Arles for the re-establishment of peace, the restoration of Christian Faith, the awakening in the popular heart of a sense of divine goodness and of salutary fear by the consideration of past evils.

Council of Arles in 1234/1236

The 1234 Council opposed the Albigensian heresy. In 1236 a further council was held under the presidency of Jean Baussan, Archbishop of Arles, which issued twenty-four canons, mostly against the prevalent Albigensian heresy, and for the observance of the decrees of the Lateran Council of 1215 and that of Toulouse in 1229. Close inspection of their dioceses is urged on the bishops, as a remedy against the spread of heresy; testaments are declared invalid unless made in the presence of the parish priest. This measure, met with in other councils, was meant to prevent testamentary dispositions in favour of known heretics.

Council of 1251 (Avignon)

In 1251, Jean, Archbishop of Arles, held a council near Avignon (Concilium Insculanum), among whose thirteen canons is one providing that the sponsor at baptism is bound to give only the white robe in which the infant is baptized.

Councils of 1260 and 1263 and 1275

In 1260 a council held by Florentin, Archbishop of Arles, decreed that confirmation must be received fasting, and that on Sundays and feast days the religious should not open their churches to the faithful, nor preach at the hour of the parish Mass. The laity should be instructed by their parish priests. The religious should also frequent the parochial service, for the sake of good example. This council also condemned the doctrines spread abroad under the name of Joachim of Fiore, a 12th-century monk and mystic. He was further condemned at a Council held in 1263

In 1275, twenty-two earlier observances were promulgated anew at a Council of Arles.

See also


1.       Jump up ^ "Arles, Synod of" in Chambers's Encyclopædia. London: George Newnes, 1961, Vol. 1, p. 597.

2.       Jump up ^ Leonis I, Opp., ed. Ballerini, I, 998; Hefele, Conciliengeschichte, II, 590.

3.       Jump up ^ Rahner, Karl (1975). Encyclopedia of theology: a concise Sacramentum mundi. Freiburg: Herder. pp. 301–302. ISBN 978-0-86012-006-3. 

4.       ^ Jump up to: a b Halfond, Gregory I. (2009). "Appendix A: Frankish Councils, 511-768". Archaeology of Frankish Church Councils, AD 511-768. Brill. pp. 223–46. ISBN 978-90-04-17976-9. 

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