‘Without detriment therefore to the properties of either nature and substance which then came together in one person, majesty took on humility, strength weakness, eternity mortality: and for the paying off of the debt belonging to our condition inviolable nature was united with passible nature, so that, as suited the needs of our case, one and the same Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, could both die with the one and not die with the other. Thus in the whole and perfect nature of true man was true God born, complete in what was His own, complete in what was ours. And by ours we mean what the Creator formed in us from the beginning and what He undertook to repair. For what the Deceiver brought in and deceived man committed had no trace in the Saviour. Nor, because He partook of man’s weaknesses, did He therefore share our faults. He took the form of a slave without stain of sin, increasing the human and not diminishing the divine: because that emptying of Himself whereby the Invisible made Himself visible and, Creator and Lord of all things though He be, wished to be a mortal, was the bending down of pity, not the failing of power.’
Today the Church commemorates our father among the saints, Leo the Great, Pope of Rome. He was elected bishop of Rome in A.D. 440 and gave up his soul to God in 461. During his papacy, the western half of the Roman Empire was being overwhelmed by Vandals and Huns, and the church there was in disarray. Leo reformed the church and saved what could be saved from the barbarian hordes.
But what concerns us is his role in the Fourth Œcumenical Council, the Council of Chalcedon in 451, which clarified the natures of Christ. His story is a part of the same story as St Flavian, commemorated two days before, and of St Anatolius, commemorated on 3 July. As I suggested for St Flavian, you should go to my blog entry of 3 July 2017 for an account of the controversy.
What follows is a passage from the famous Tome of Leo, a key document in the history of Christian doctrine. St Leo himself was unable to attend the Council of Chalcedon but his letter, the Tome, was read out and greeted by the assembled bishops with the cry, ‘This is the faith of the fathers, this is the faith of the Apostles. So we all believe, thus the orthodox believe. Anathema to him who does not thus believe. Peter has spoken thus through Leo.’
(Leo of Rome to Flavian of Constantinople, Letter XXVIII, cap. 3: trans. Charles Lett Feltoe in Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 2nd Series, XII, 1895. From the New Advent website, ed. Kevin Knight)
Today the Church commemorates our father among the saints Flavian, Patriarch of Constantinople. The date commemorates the translation of his relics to the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople in A.D. 451 by the Empress Pulcheria. He had died of the injuries he received in the riot terminating the ‘Robber Synod’ of 449, where he was unjustly condemned for heresy.
His story is one part of the struggle over the natures of Christ, whether two or one, which racked the Church until it was finally resolved at the Fourth Œcumenical Council held at Chalcedon in October 451. The story is told in my blog entry of 3 July 2017 for St Anatolius of Constantinople, which see.
Occasional comments by a convert to Orthodoxy.