Larger font
Smaller font
  • Results
  • Related
  • Featured
No results found for: "".
  • Weighted Relevancy
  • Content Sequence
  • Relevancy
  • Earliest First
  • Latest First
    Larger font
    Smaller font

    September 9, 1897

    “How the Catholic Creed Was Made. Mary Is Made the ‘Mother of God’” The Present Truth 13, 36, pp. 564-566.


    THE council called to settle the controversy about the nature of Mary, met, as we stated last week, in the year 431, at Ephesus.PTUK September 9, 1897, page 564.1

    Of all places in the world, Ephesus was the very one where it would be the nearest to an impossibility to obtain anything like a fair examination of the question. Like Diana of old, the Virgin Mary was now the patroness of Ephesus; and the worse than heathen Catholics were more fanatically devoted to her than even the heathen Ephesians had been to Diana. But a fair examination of the question, or in fact any real examination, was not intended by Celestine and Cyril. Their only intention was either the unconditional surrender or the condemnation of Nestorius. Cyril was appointed by Celestine to preside at the council.PTUK September 9, 1897, page 564.2

    Neither of the emperors was present at the council, but they jointly appointed Count Candidian, captain of the imperial bodyguard, as the “Protector of the Council.” Nestorius came with sixteen bishops, accompanied by an armed guard composed of bathmen of Constantinople and a horde of peasants. In addition to this, by the special favour of the Emperor, an officer, Ireneus, with a body of soldiers, was appointed to protect him.PTUK September 9, 1897, page 564.3

    Cyril came with fifty Egyptian bishops, and a number of bathmen, and “a multitude of women” from Alexandria, and such sailors in his fleet as he could depend upon. Arrived at Ephesus, he was joined by Memnon, bishop of that city, with fifty-two bishops, and a crowd of peasants whom he had drawn into the city. All told, 198 bishops were present at the opening of the council.PTUK September 9, 1897, page 564.4

    The council was to have met June 7, 431, but owing to delays on the part of the bishops of Jerusalem, Thessalonica, and Antioch, it did not open until June 22, and even then the bishops of Antioch had not arrived. But all the time was spent in preliminary disputes, winning partisans, and working up the populace. As Cyril had the great majority of the bishops on his side, and as the city was already devoted to the “Mother of God,” Nestorius was at great disadvantage, and his enemies did not hesitate to let him know it, and to make him feel it. Cyril preached a sermon in which he paid the following idolatrous tribute to Mary:—PTUK September 9, 1897, page 564.5

    Blessed be thou, O Mother of God! Thou rich treasure of the world, inextinguishable lamp, crown of virginity, scepter of true doctrine, imperishable temple, habitation of Him whom no space can contain, mother and virgin, through whom He is, who comes in the name of the Lord. Blessed be thou, O Mary, ... through whom the precious cross is adored throughout the world, through whom heaven rejoices and angels and archangels are glad, through whom the devil is disarmed and banished, through whom the fallen creature is restored to heaven, through whom every believing soul is saved.PTUK September 9, 1897, page 564.6


    Cyril and his party urged that the council should be opened without any more delay. As the emperor had particularly required the presence of John of Antioch, Nestorius insisted on waiting till he came; and Candidian sustained Nestorius. Cyril refused, and he and his partisans assembled in the church of the Virgin Mary to proceed with the council. As soon as Count Candidian learned of this, he hastened to the church to forbid it, and there he fell into an ecclesiastical trap. He declared that they were acting in defiance of the imperial rescript which was to guide the council. They answered that as they had not seen the rescript, they did not know what it required of them. The Count read it to them. This was just what they wanted. They declared that the reading of the rescript legalised their meeting! They greeted it with “loud and loyal clamours,” pronounced the council begun, and commanded the count to withdraw from an assembly in which he had no longer any legal place.PTUK September 9, 1897, page 564.7

    Candidian protested against the unfairness of the proceedings; and then, he himself says, they “injuriously and ignominiously ejected” him. They next expelled all the bishops, sixty-eight in number, who were known to favor Nestorius, “and then commenced their proceedings as the legitimate Senate of Christendom.”PTUK September 9, 1897, page 565.1

    One of Cyril’s presbyters was secretary, and he formally opened the business of the council by reading a statement of the dispute that had brought them together. Then the Emperor’s letter calling the council was read. They sent four bishops to notify Nestorius to appear. He courteously refused to acknowledge the legality of their assembly, and the council, after further attempts to get him before it, went on without him. His propositions in opposition to Cyril’s views were condemned with curses. Then when the list was completed, they all arose, and with one mighty roar that made the arches of the great church echo and re-echo, they bawled, “Anathema! Anathema! The whole world unites in the excommunication! Anathema on him who holds communion with Nestorius!PTUK September 9, 1897, page 565.2

    All signed the sentence, depriving Nestorius of office, and then it was sent to him addressed “To Nestorius, a second Judas.” All these proceedings, from the visit and protest of Candidian to the notice to Nestorius, were carried through in a single day and one prolonged sitting.PTUK September 9, 1897, page 565.3


    IT was now right. Cries were sent all through the city to post up the decrees of the council, and to announce the joyful news that Mary was indeed the Mother of God. Everywhere they were met with loudest shouts of joy. The multitude rushed into the streets and poured toward the church. With lighted torches they escorted the bishops to their abodes, the women marching before and burning incense. The whole city was illuminated, and the songs and exultations continued far into the night. The demonstrations far outdid that of their lineal ancestors, who, when they tried to kill the apostle Paul, “all with one voice about the space of two hours cried out, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.”PTUK September 9, 1897, page 565.4


    Fdays afterward John of Antioch with his bishops, arrived, and was greatly surprised to learn that the council was over. He got together about fifty bishops, who unanimously condemned the doctrines of Cyril and the proceedings of the council, and declared accursed all the bishops who had taken part in it. Cyril and Memnon answered with counter-curses.PTUK September 9, 1897, page 565.5

    Cyril’s council sent messengers with overtures to John, who refused to see them. Then the council declared annulled all the acts of John’s council, and deposed and excommunicated him and all the bishops of his party. John threatened to elect a new bishop of Ephesus in the place of Memnon, whom his council had deposed. A party tried to force their way into the cathedral; but finding it defended by Memnon with a strong garrison, they retreated. Memnon’s forces made a strong sally, and drove them through the streets with clubs and stones, dangerously wounding many.PTUK September 9, 1897, page 565.6

    On learning that the council had been held, and Nestorius deposed before the arrival of John of Antioch, a letter had been sent down from the court, but was not received till this point in the contest. This letter annulled all the proceedings of the council, and commanded a reconsideration of the question by the whole assembly of the bishops now present. The letter also announced the appointment of another imperial officer, one of the highest officials of the State, to assist Count Candidian.PTUK September 9, 1897, page 565.7

    The court had not made known in Constantinople the proceedings of the council, and the deposition of Nestorius. Cyril sent away a secret message to the monks of Constantinople, announcing that Nestorius had been deposed and excommunicated. The object of this was by stirring up those fanatics to influence the court. The weak-minded Theodosius II stood in great awe of the holiness of the monks. “His palace was so regulated that it differed little from a monastery.” In 422 there died one of these who was noted for that kind of holiness that attaches to a monk, and Theodosius secured “his cassock of sackcloth of hair, which, although it was excessively filthy, he wore as a cloak, hoping that thus he should become a partaker, in some degree, of the sanctity of the deceased.” (Socrates.) And now, on receipt of Cyril’s message, a certain Dalmatius, who was famous for his filthy sanctity, left his cell, and put himself at the head of the whole herd of monks and archimandrites in and about Constantinople. They marched solemnly through the streets, and about everywhere as they passed, the populace burst into curses against Nestorius. They marched to the palace and lounged about the gates; but the chief influence at court was yet favorable to Nestorius, and their demonstrations had no immediate effect.PTUK September 9, 1897, page 565.8


    BY this time the reports of both parties had reached the court. Theodosius, after examining both accounts, approved both, and pronounced Nestorius, Cyril, and Memnon, all three deposed. As for their faith, he pronounced them “all three alike orthodox,” but deposed them as a punishment which he said they all three alike deserved as being the chief authors of continual disturbances.PTUK September 9, 1897, page 565.9

    The new imperial commissioner was sent down to Ephesus with the letter announcing the Emperor’s decision. As soon as he arrived, he summoned the bishops before him. Memnon refused to appear. Those who did come, however, had no sooner arrived than each party began to denounce the other. Cyril and his party pronounced the presence of Nestorius unendurable, and demanded that he be driven out. The party of Nestorius and John of Antioch, just as sternly demanded that Cyril should be expelled.PTUK September 9, 1897, page 565.10

    As neither party could have its way, they began to fight. The imperial commissioner had to command his soldiers to separate the pugilistic bishops, and stop the fight. When order had thus been enforced, the imperial letters were read. As soon as the sentence of deposition against Cyril and Memnon was read, the uproar began again, and another fight was prevented only by the arrest of the three chiefs. Nestorius and John of Antioch submitted, Memnon was hunted up, and also taken into custody, but Cyril escaped, and with his body-guard of bathmen, women, and sailors, sailed away to Alexandria.PTUK September 9, 1897, page 565.11

    The Emperor next commanded that eight bishops of each party should appear in his presence at Constantinople. They were sent, but, on account of the desperate temper of the monks of Constantinople, it was counted unsafe for them to enter the city, and therefore they were stopped at Chalcedon, on the opposite side of the Bosphorus. There the Emperor met them.PTUK September 9, 1897, page 565.12


    HE appeared so decidedly to favor the party of Nestorius, that they thought the victory was already won. So certain were they of this that they even sent off letters to their party at Ephesus, instructing them to send up a message of thanks to him for his kindness. But at the fifth meeting all their brilliant prospects were blasted. Cyril, from his post in Alexandria, had sent up thousands of pounds of gold, with instructions to Maximian, Bishop of Constantinople, to add to it, not only the wealth of that Church, but his utmost personal effort to arouse “the languid zeal of the princess Pulcheria in the cause of Cyril, to propitiate all the courtiers, and, if possible, to satisfy their rapacity.” (Milman.)PTUK September 9, 1897, page 566.1

    As avarice was one of the ruling passions of the eunuchs and women who ruled Theodosius II, as Gibbon says:—PTUK September 9, 1897, page 566.2

    Every avenue of the throne was assaulted with gold. Under the decent names of eulogies and benedictions, the courtiers of both sexes were bribed according to the measure of their rapaciousness. But their incessant demands despoiled the sanctuaries of Constantinople and Alexandria; and the authority of the patriarch was unable to silence the just murmur of his clergy, that a debt of sixty thousand pounds had already been contracted to support the expense of this scandalous corruption.PTUK September 9, 1897, page 566.3

    The efforts of Cyril were at last effective. The eunuch Scholasticus, one of the chief ministers of the emperor and the supporter of the cause of Nestorius at court, was bought; and it was this that caused the sudden revolution in the Emperor’s conduct toward the party of Nestorius. In the fifth and last audience that he gave the deputies, the emperor told them at once that they had better abandon Nestorius, and admit both Cyril and Memnon to their communion. They remonstrated, but he would listen to nothing.PTUK September 9, 1897, page 566.4

    Shortly afterward an imperial edict was issued declaring Nestorius justly deposed, reinstating Cyril and Memnon in their respective sees, pronouncing all the other bishops alike orthodox, and giving them all leave to return to their homes. This dissolved the council.PTUK September 9, 1897, page 566.5

    Even before the dissolution of the council the emperor had sent an order to Nestorius, commanding him to leave Ephesus and return to the monastery whence he had been called to the archbishopric of Constantinople. By the persistent efforts of Celestine, bishop of Rome, and others, the emperor was induced—A.D. 436—to banish him and two of his friends to Petra in Arabia. July 30, in the same year, an imperial edict was issued, commanding all who believed with Nestorius, to be called Simonians; that all the books by Nestorius should be sought for and publicly burnt; forbidding the Nestorius to hold any meetings anywhere, in city, in village, or in field; and if any such meeting was held, then the place where it was held should be confiscated, as also the estates of all who should attend the meeting. Nestorius was not allowed to remain long at Petra. He was taken from there to a place away in the desert between Egypt and Libya, and from there dragged about from place to place till he died of the hardships inflicted, at what date is not certainly known, but about A.D. 440.PTUK September 9, 1897, page 566.6

    Such was the cause and such the conduct of the first Council of Ephesus, the third general council of the Catholic Church. And thus was established the Catholic doctrine that the Virgin Mary was the Mother of God.PTUK September 9, 1897, page 566.7

    The controversy went on, however, nor did it ever logically stop until December 8, A.D. 1854, when Pope Pius IX. established the actual divinity of the Virgin Mary, by announcing the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, which reads as follows:—PTUK September 9, 1897, page 566.8

    By the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ and of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul, as well as by our own, we declare, promulgate, and define that the doctrine which teaches that the most blessed Virgin Mary, at the very instant of her conception, was kept free from every stain of original sin solely by the grace and prerogative of the omnipotent God, in consideration of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of mankind, was revealed by God, and must on that account be believed firmly and continually by all the faithful ones.PTUK September 9, 1897, page 566.9

    A. T. JONES.

    Larger font
    Smaller font