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343CE

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§Roman Empire

Emperor Constans travels to Britain, possibly for a military expedition against pirates.

Emperor Constantius II invades Adiabene (Mesopotamia).

§Modern Bulgaria

The Council of Sardica was held in the city of Sofia, in a church located where the current 6th century Church of Saint Sofia was later built.

Pope Julius I was represented by the priests Archidamus and Philoxenus, and the deacon Leo. Athanasius reported that bishops attended from Italy, Spain, Gaul, Africa, Britain, Egypt, Syria, Thrace and Pannonia. Ninety-six Western bishops presented themselves at Sardica, those from the East were less numerous.

Being in the minority, the Eastern bishops decided to act as a body, and, fearing defections, they all lodged in the same place. On the ground of being unwilling to recognize Athanasius, Marcellus of Ancyra and Asclepas, who had been excommunicated in Eastern synods, refused to sit in council with the Western bishops. Hosius of Cordova attempted to effect a compromise by inviting them to present privately to him their complaints against Athanasius, and by promising, in case Athanasius should be acquitted, to take him to Spain. These overtures failed. The Eastern bishops—although the council had been called expressly for the purpose of reopening the case in regard to those who had been excommunicated—defended their conduct on the plea that one council could not revise the decisions of another. Fearing domination of the council by Western bishops, many Eastern bishops left the council to hold another council in Philippopolis where they composed an encyclical and a new creed, which was dated from Sardica.

The Western bishops, thus abandoned, examined the cases of Athanasius, Marcellus, and Asclepas. No fresh investigation of charges against Athanasius was considered necessary, as these had already been rejected, and he and the other two bishops, who were permitted to present exculpatory documents, were declared innocent. In addition to this, censure was passed on the Eastern bishops for having abandoned the council, and several of them were deposed and excommunicated.

The question of a new creed containing some additions to that of Nicea was discussed, but although the forum had been drawn up, the bishops decided to add nothing to the accepted creed, and thus gave the Arians no pretext for saying that hitherto they had not been explicitly condemned. Though the form of the proposed creed was presented to the council, it was inserted in the encyclical addressed by the council to "all the bishops of the Catholic Church". Canons

Before separating, the bishops enacted several important canons, especially concerning the transfer and trial of bishops and appeals. These canons, with the other documents of the council, were sent to Pope Julius with a letter signed by the majority of the attending bishops.

Sardica produced 21 Canons. In addition to the attempt to resolve the Arian issue, other major points were:

  • Bishops should not attempt to recruit from diocese other than their own
  • Bishops should be permanent residents of their own diocese
  • Bishops should spend most of their time in their own diocese (not at the court in Rome)
  • Bishops should not be transferred to another diocese

"At this great gathering of prelates the case of Athanasius was taken up and once more his innocence reaffirmed. Two conciliar letters were prepared, one to the clergy and faithful of Alexandria, the other to the bishops of Egypt and Libya, in which the will of the Council was made known. The persecution against the orthodox party broke out with renewed vigor, and Constantius II was induced to prepare drastic measures against Athanasius and the priests who were devoted to him. Orders were given that if the Saint attempted to re-enter his Episcopal see, he should be put to death".

§Religion

Cyril, already a deacon, slowly rose through the ranks next becoming a presbyster by 343.

§Deaths

  • Saint Nicholas - Catholic Bishop known for his generosity and the origin of Santa Claus. He was interred at the Church in Demre, formerly known as Myra.

§Sources

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