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Ecclesiastical Empire

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    CHAPTER XII - THE PAPAL TEMPORAL POWER ESTABLISHED

    We have seen how that, by the arrogant ministry of Leo, the bishop of Rome was made the fountain of faith, and was elevated to a position of dignity and authority that the aspiring prelacy had never before attained. For Leo, as the typical pope, was one whose “ambition knew no bounds; and to gratify it, he stuck at nothing; made no distinction between right and wrong, between truth and falsehood; as if he had adopted the famous maxim of Julius Caesar,—“Be just, unless a kingdom tempts to break the laws, For sovereign power alone can justify the cause,’ or thought the most criminal actions ceased to be criminal and became meritorious, when any ways subservient to the increase of his power or the exhaltation of his see.”—Bower. 1[Page 184] “History of the Popes,” Leo, last paragraph but one.ECE 184.1

    2. Nor was the force of any single point of his example ever lost upon his successors. His immediate successor,—HILARY, 461-467, was so glad to occupy the place which had been made so large by Leo, that shortly after his election he wrote a letter to the other bishops asking them to exult with him, taking particular care in the letter to tell them that he did not doubt that they all knew what respect and deference was paid “in the Spirit of God to St. Peter and his see.” The bishops of Spain addressed him as “the successor of St. Peter, whose primacy ought to be loved and feared by all.”ECE 184.2

    3. Hilary was succeeded by—SIMPLICIUS, 467-483, in whose pontificate the empire perished when the Heruli, under Odoacer, overran all Italy, deposed the last emperor of the West, appropriated to themselves one third of all the lands, and established the Herulian kingdom, with Odoacer as king of Italy. In fact, the more the imperial power faded, and the nearer the empire approached its fall, the more rapidly and the stronger grew the papal assumptions. Thus the very calamities which rapidly wrought the ruin of the empire, and which were hastened by the union of Church and State, were turned to the advantage of the bishopric of Rome. During the whole period of barbarian invasions from 400 to 476, the Catholic hierarchy everywhere adapted itself to the situation, and reaped power and influence from the calamities that were visited everywhere.ECE 184.3

    4. We have seen that Innocent I, upon whose mind there appears first to have dawned the vast conception of Rome’s universal ecclesiastical supremacy, during the invasion of Italy and the siege of Rome by Alaric, headed an embassy to the emperor to mediate for a treaty of peace between the empire and the invading Goths. We have seen that at the moment of Leo’s election to the papal see, he was absent on a like mission to reconcile the enmity of the two principal Roman officers, which was threatening the safety of the empire. Yet other and far more important occasions of the same kind fell to the lot of Leo during the term of his bishopric. In 453 Leo was made the head of an embassy to meet Attila as he was on his way to Rome, if possible to turn him back. The embassy was successful; a treaty was formed; Attila retired beyond the Danube, where he immediately died; and Italy was delivered. This redounded no less to the glory of Leo than any of the other remarkable things which he had accomplished. He was not so successful with Genseric two years afterward, yet even then he succeeded in mitigating the ravages of the Vandals, which were usually so dreadful.ECE 185.1

    5. Moreover, it was not against religion, as such, that the barbarians made war: as they themselves were religious. It was against that mighty empire of which they had seen much, and suffered much, and heard more, that they warred. It was as nations taking vengeance upon a nation which had been so great, and which had so proudly asserted lordship over all other nations, that they invaded the Roman Empire. And when they could plant themselves and remain, as absolute lords, in the dominions of those who had boasted of absolute and eternal dominion, and thus humble the pride of the mighty Rome, this was their supreme gratification.ECE 185.2

    6. As these invasions were not inflicted everywhere at once, but at intervals through a period of seventy-five years, the Church had ample time to adapt herself to the ways of such of the barbarians as were heathen, which, as ever, she readily did. The heathen barbarians were accustomed to pay the greatest respect to their own priesthood, and were willing to admit the Catholic priesthood to an equal or even a larger place in their estimation. Such of them as were already professedly Christian, were Arians, and not so savage as the Catholics; therefore, they, with the exception of the Vandals, were not so ready to persecute, and were willing to settle and make themselves homes in the territories of the vanished empire.ECE 186.1

    7. At the fall of the empire, the bishopric of Rome was the head and center of a strong and compactly organized power. And by deftly insinuating itself into the place of mediator between the barbarian invaders and the perishing imperial authority, it had attained a position where it was recognized by the invaders as the power which, though it claimed to be not temporal but spiritual was none the less real, had succeeded to the place of the vanished imperial authority of Rome. And in view of the history of the time, it is impossible to escape the conviction that in the bishopric of Rome there was at this time formed the determination to plant itself in the temporal dominion of Rome and Italy. So long had the emperors been absent from Rome, that the bishop of Rome had assumed their place there; and we have seen how the Church had usurped the place of the civil authority. The bishop of Rome was the head of the Church; and now, as the empire was perishing, he would exalt his throne upon its ruins, and out of the anarchy of the times would secure a place and a name among the powers and dominions of the earth.ECE 186.2

    8. The barbarians who took possession of Italy were Arians, which in the sight of the bishop of Rome was worse than all other crimes put together. In addition to this, the Herulian monarch, Odoacer, an Arian, presumed to assert civil authority over the papacy, which, on account of the riotous proceedings in the election of the pope, was necessary, but would not meekly be borne by the proud pontiffs. At the election of the first pope after the fall of the empire, the representative of Odoacer appeared and notified the assembly that without his direction nothing ought to be done; that all they had done was null and void; that the election must begin anew; and “that it belonged to the civil magistrate to prevent the disturbances that might arise on such occasions, lest from the Church they should pass to the State.” And as these elections were carried not only by violence, but by bribery, in which the property of the Church played an important part, Odoacer, by his lieutenant at this same assembly, A. D. 483, “caused a law to be read, forbidding the bishop who should now be chosen, as well as his successors, to alienate any inheritance, possessions, or sacred utensils that now belonged, or should for the future, belong, to the Church; declaring all such bargains void, anathematizing both the seller and the buyer, and obliging the latter and his heirs to restore to the Church all lands and tenements thus purchased, how long soever they might have possessed them.”—Bower. 2[Page 187] “History of the Popes,” Felix II, par. 1.ECE 186.3

    9. By the law of Constantine which bestowed upon the Church the privilege of receiving donations, legacies, etc., by will, lands were included; and through nearly two hundred years of the working of this law, the Church of Rome had become enormously enriched in landed estates. And more especially “since the extinction of the Western Empire had emancipated the ecclesiastical potentate from secular control, the first and most abiding object of his schemes and prayers had been the acquisition of territorial wealth in the neighborhood of his capital.”—Bryce. 3[Page 187] “The Holy Roman Empire,” chap 4, par. 7ECE 187.1

    10. The Church of Rome had also other lands, scattered in different parts of Italy, and even in Asia, for Celestine I addressed to Theodosius II a request that he extend his imperial protection over certain estates in Asia, which a woman named Proba had bequeathed to the Church of Rome. As the imperial power faded away in the West, the bishop of Rome, in his growing power, came more and more to assert his own power of protection over his lands in Italy. And when the imperial power was entirely gone, it was naturally held that this power fell absolutely to him. When, therefore, Odoacer, both a barbarian invader and a heretic, issued a decree forbidding the alienation of Church lands and possessions, this was represented as a presumptuous invasion of the rights of the bishop of Rome, not only to do what he would with his own, but above all as protector of the property and estates of the Church.ECE 187.2

    11. For this offense of Odoacer, there was no forgiveness by the bishop of Rome. Nothing short of the utter uprooting of the Herulian power could atone for it. The Catholic ecclesiastics of Italy began to plot for his overthrow, and it was soon accomplished. There were at that time in the dominions of the Eastern Empire, unsettled and wandering about with no certain dwelling place, the people of the Ostrogoths under King Theodoric. Although in the service of the empire, they were dissatisfied with their lot; and they were so savage and so powerful that the emperor was in constant dread of them. Why might not this force be employed to destroy the dominion of the Heruli, and deliver Rome from the interferences and oppression of Odoacer? The suggestion was made to Theodoric by the court, but as he was in the service of the empire, it was necessary that he should have permission to undertake the expedition. He accordingly addressed the emperor as follows:—ECE 188.1

    “Although your servant is maintained in affluence by your liberality, graciously listen to the wishes of my heart. Italy, the inheritance of your predecessors, and Rome itself, the head and mistress of the world, now fluctuates under the violence and oppression of Odoacer the mercenary. Direct me, with my national troops, to march against the tyrant. If I fall, you will be relieved from an expensive and troublesome friend: if, with the divine permission, I succeed, I shall govern in your name, and to your glory, the Roman Senate, and the part of the republic delivered from slavery by my victorious army.” 4[Page 188] “Gibbon, “Decline and Fall,” chap 39, par. 5.ECE 188.2

    12. Zeno, who was at this time emperor, had already “stirred up against Odoacer the nation of the Rugians;” and thus “it is important to note that already in the year 486 the friendly relations between Odoacer and Zeno had been replaced by scarcely veiled enmity; and thus the mind of the emperor was already tuned to harmony with that fierce harangue against the ‘usurped authority of a king of Rugians and Turcilingians’ which, according to Jordanes, Theodoric delivered before him some time in the year 488.”—Hodgkin. 5[Page 188] “Italy and Her Invaders” (The Ostrogothic Invasion), book iv, chap. 4, last paragraph. The proposition which had been suggested was gladly accepted by the emperor Zeno; Theodoric “received a commission to invade Italy,” and in the winter of 489, the whole nation of the Ostrogoths took up its march of seven hundred miles to Italy. “The march of Theodoric must be considered as the emigration of an entire people: the wives and children of the Goths, their aged parents, and most precious effects, were carefully transported; ...and at length surmounting every obstacle by skillful conduct and persevering courage, he descended from the Julian Alps, and displayed his invincible banners on the confines of Italy.”—Gibbon. 6[Page 189] Id., par. 6.ECE 188.3

    13. Theodoric defeated Odoacer in three engagements, A. D. 489-490, and “from the Alps to the extremity of Calabria, Theodoric reigned by right of conquest.” Odoacer shut himself up in Ravenna, where he sustained himself against a close siege for three years. By the offices of the archbishop of Ravenna, and the clamors of the hungry people, Odoacer was brought to sign a treaty of peace: the archbishop himself “acting as mediator.” Before Theodoric entered the surrendered city, by a “prearranged” plan “the archbishop went forth to meet him, ‘with crosses and thuribles and the holy Gospels’ and with a long train of priests and monks. Falling prostrate on the ground, while his followers sang a penitential psalm, he prayed that ‘the new king from the East’ would receive him in peace. The request was granted, not only for himself and the citizens of Ravenna, but for all the Roman inhabitants of Italy .... A ceremony like this, prearranged in all probability between the king and the archbishop, was judged proper, in order to impress vividly on the minds both of Italians and Ostrogoths that Theodoric came as the friend of the Catholic Church and of the vast population which, even in accepting a new master, still clung to the great name of Roman.” Soon afterward at a solemn banquet, Odoacer was slain by the hand of Theodoric himself; and “at the same moment, and without resistance,” his people “were universally massacred,” March 5, 493: “a kind of ‘Sicilian Vespers of the followers of Odoacer all over Italy; and, from the sanctimonious manner in which the bishop [Ennodius, Theodoric’s panegyrist] claims Heaven as an accomplice in the bloody deed, we may perhaps infer that the Roman clergy generally were privy to the plot.”—Hodgkin. 7[Page 189] “Italy and Her Invaders,” book vi, chap. vi pars. 4, 6, 16 from end; Gibbon, Id.ECE 189.1

    14. Thus was destroyed, “plucked up by the roots,” the kingdom of Odoacer and the Heruli. And that it was in no small degree the work of the Catholic Church is certain from the further fact that “throughout the conquest and establishment of the Gothic kingdom, the increasing power and importance of the Catholic ecclesiastics, forces itself upon the attention. They are ambassadors, mediators in treaties; [they] decide the wavering loyalty or instigate the revolt of cities.”—Milman. 8[Page 190] “History of Latin Christianity,” book iii, chap 3, par. 3. The bishop of Pavia bore to Theodoric at Milan the surrender and offer of allegiance of that great city.ECE 190.1

    15. Another thing which makes this view most certainly true, is the fact that no sooner was order restored in Italy and in Rome, and the Church once more felt itself secure, than a council of eighty bishops, thirty-seven presbyters, and four deacons, was called in Rome by the pope, A. D. 499, the very first act of which was to repeal the law enacted by Odoacer on the subject of the Church possessions. Nor was the law repealed in order to get rid of it; for it was immediately re-enacted by the same council. This was plainly to declare that the estates of the Church were no longer subject in any way to the authority of the civil power, but were to be held under the jurisdiction of the Church alone. In fact, it was tantamount to a declaration of the independence of the papacy and her possessions.ECE 190.2

    16. This transaction also conclusively proves that the resentment of the bishopric of Rome, which had been aroused by the law of Odoacer, was never allayed until Odoacer and the law, so far as it represented the authority of the civil power, were both out of the way. And this is the secret of the destruction of the Herulian kingdom of Italy.ECE 190.3

    17. It is no argument against this to say that the Ostrogoths were Arians too. Because (1) as we shall presently see, Theodoric, though an Arian, did not interfere with Church affairs; and (2) the Church of Rome, in destroying one opponent never hesitates at the prospect that it is to be done by another; nor that another will arise in the place of the one destroyed. Upon the principle that it is better to have one enemy than two, she will use one to destroy another, and will never miss an opportunity to destroy one for fear that another will arise in its place.ECE 190.4

    18. Theodoric ruled Italy thirty-eight years, A. D. 493-526, during which time Italy enjoyed such peace and quietness and absolute security as had never been known there before, and has never been known since until 1870: an “emphatic contrast to the century of creeping paralysis which preceded, and to the ghastly cycle of wars and barbarous revenges which followed that peaceful time.”—Hodgkin. 9[Page 191] Id., chap 8, par. 2. The people of his own nation numbered two hundred thousand men, which with the proportionate number of women and children, formed a population of nearly one million. His troops, formerly so wild and given to plunder, were restored to such discipline that in a battle in Dacia, in which they were completely victorious, “the rich spoils of the enemy lay untouched at their feet,” because their leader had given no signal of pillage. When such discipline prevailed in the excitement of a victory and in an enemy’s country, it is easy to understand the peaceful order that prevailed in their own new-gotten lands which the Herulians had held before them.ECE 190.5

    19. During the ages of violence and revolution which had passed, large tracts of land in Italy had become utterly desolate and uncultivated; almost the whole of the rest was under imperfect culture; but now “agriculture revived under the shadow of peace, and the number of husbandmen multiplied by the redemption of captives;” and Italy, which had so long been fed from other countries, now actually began to export grain. Civil order was so thoroughly maintained that “the city gates were never shut either by day or by night, and the common saying that a purse of gold might be safely left in the fields, was expressive of the conscious security of the inhabitants.”—Gibbon. 10[Page 191] “Decline and Fall,” chap 39, par. 14; and Milman’s “History of Latin Christianity,” book iii, chap 3, par. 5. Merchants and other lovers of the blessings of peace thronged from all parts. This they could easily do, because his protective power reached even the Burgundians, the Visigoths, and the Alemanni; for “the Gothic sovereignty was established from Sicily to the Danube, from Sirmium or Belgrade to the Atlantic Ocean; and the Greeks themselves have acknowledged that Theodoric reigned over the fairest portion of the Western Empire.” 11[Page 191] Id., par. 11.ECE 191.1

    20. But not alone did civil peace reign. Above all, there was perfect freedom in the exercise of religion. In fact, the measure of civil liberty and peace always depends upon that of religious liberty. Theodoric and his people were Arians, yet at the close of a fifty-years’ rule of Italy, the Ostrogoths could safely challenge their enemies to present a single authentic case in which they had ever persecuted the Catholics. Even the mother of Theodoric and some of his favorite Goths had embraced the Catholic faith with perfect freedom from any molestation whatever. The separation between Church and State, between civil and religious powers, was clear and distinct. Church property was protected in common with other property, while at the same time it was taxed in common with all other property. The clergy were protected in common with all other people, and they were likewise, in common with all other people, cited before the civil courts to answer for all civil offenses. In all ecclesiastical matters they were left entirely to themselves. Even the papal elections Theodoric left entirely to themselves, and though often solicited by both parties to interfere, he refused to have anything at all to do with them, except to keep the peace, which in fact was of itself no small task. He declined even to confirm the papal elections, an office which had been exercised by Odoacer.ECE 191.2

    21. Nor was this merely a matter of toleration; it was in genuine recognition of the rights of conscience. In a letter to the emperor Justin, A. D. 524, Theodoric announced the genuine principle of the rights of conscience, and the relationship that should exist between religion and the State, in the following words, worthy to be graven in letters of gold:—ECE 192.1

    “To pretend to a dominion over the conscience, is to usurp the prerogative of God. By the nature of things, the power of sovereigns is confined to political government. They have no right of punishment but over those who disturb the public peace. The most dangerous heresy is that of a sovereign who separates himself from part of his subjects, because they believe not according to his belief.” 12[Page 192] Milman’s “History of Latin Christianity,” book iii, chap 3, par. 8 from end.ECE 192.2

    22. Similar pleas had before been made by the parties oppressed, but never before had the principle been announced by the party in power. The enunciation and defense of a principle by the party who holds the power to violate it, is the surest pledge that the principle is held in genuine sincerity.ECE 192.3

    23. The description of the state of peace and quietness in Italy above given, applies to Italy, but not to Rome; to the dominions of Theodoric and the Ostrogoths, but not to the city of the pope and the Catholics. In A. D. 499, there was a papal election. As there were as usual rival candidates—Symmachus and Laurentius—there was a civil war. “The two factions encountered with the fiercest hostility; the clergy, the Senate, and the populace were divided;” the streets of the city “ran with blood, as in the days of republican strife.”—Milman. 13[Page 193] Id., par. 11.ECE 192.4

    24. The contestants were so evenly matched, and the violent strife continued so long, that the leading men of both parties persuaded the candidates to go to Theodoric at Ravenna, and submit to his judgment their claims. Theodoric’s love of justice and of the rights of the people, readily and simply enough decided that the candidate who had the most votes should be counted elected; and if the votes were evenly divided, then the candidate who had been first ordained. Symmachus secured the office. A council was held by Symmachus, which met the first of March, 499, and passed a decree “almost in the terms of the old Roman law, severely condemning all ecclesiastical ambition, all canvassing either to obtain subscriptions, or administration of oaths, or promises, for the papacy” during the lifetime of a pope. But such election methods as these were now so prevalent that this law was of as little value in controlling the methods of the aspiring candidates for the bishopric, as in the days of the republic the same kind of laws were for the candidates to the consulship.ECE 193.1

    25. Laurentius, though defeated at this time, did not discontinue his efforts to obtain the office. For four years he watched for opportunities, and carried on an intrigue to displace Symmachus, and in 503 brought a series of heavy charges against him. “The accusation was brought before the judgment-seat of Theodoric, supported by certain Roman females of rank, who had been suborned, it was said, by the enemies of Symmachus. Symmachus was summoned to Ravenna and confined at Rimini,” but escaped and returned to Rome. Meantime, Laurentius had entered the city, and when Symmachus returned, “the sanguinary tumults between the two parties broke out with greater fury;” priests were slain, monasteries set on fire, and nuns treated with the utmost indignity.ECE 193.2

    26. The Senate petitioned Theodoric to send a visitor to judge the cause of Symmachus in the crimes laid against him. The king finding that the matter was only a Church quarrel, appointed one of their own number, the bishop of Altimo, who so clearly favored Laurentius that his partisanship only made the contention worse. Again Theodoric was petitioned to interfere, but he declined to assume any jurisdiction, and told them to settle it among themselves; but as there was so much disturbance of the peace, and it was so long continued, Theodoric commanded them to reach some sort of settlement that would stop their fighting, and restore public order. A council was therefore called. As Symmachus was on his way to the council, “he was attacked by the adverse party; showers of stones fell around him; many presbyters and others of his followers were severely wounded; the pontiff himself only escaped under the protection of the Gothic guard” (Milman 14[Page 194] Id., par. 14.), and took refuge in the church of St. Peter. The danger to which he was then exposed he made an excuse for not appearing at the council.ECE 194.1

    27. The most of the council were favorable to Symmachus and to the pretensions of the bishop of Rome at this time, and therefore were glad of any excuse that would relieve them from judging him. However, they went through the form of summoning him three times; all of which he declined. Then the council sent deputies to state to Theodoric the condition of affairs, “saying to him that the authority of the king might compel Symmachus to appear, but that the council had not such authority.” Theodoric replied: “That is your affair, not mine. Had it been my business, I and my good chiefs would have settled it long ago.” 15[Page 194] Hodgkin’s “Italy and Her Invaders,” book iv, chap 11, par. 22. Further “with respect to the cause of Symmachus, he had assembled them to judge him, but yet left them at full liberty to judge him or not, providing they could by any other means put a stop to the present calamities, and restore the wished-for tranquillity to the city of Rome.”ECE 194.2

    28. The majority of the council declared Symmachus “absolved in the sight of men, whether guilty or innocent in the sight of God,” for the reason that “no assembly of bishops has power to judge the pope; he is accountable for his actions to God alone.”—Bower. 16[Page 194] “History of the Popes,” Symmachus pars. 9, 10. They then commanded all, under penalty of excommunication, to accept this judgment, and submit to the authority of Symmachus, and acknowledge him “for lawful bishop of the holy city of Rome.” Symmachus was not slow to assert all the merit that the council had thus recognized in the bishop of Rome. He wrote to the emperor of the East that “a bishop is as much above an emperor as heavenly things, which the bishop administers and dispenses, are above all the trash of the earth, which alone the greatest among the emperors have the power to dispose of.”—Bower. 17[Page 195] Id., par. 16. He declared that the higher powers referred to in Romans 13:1, mean the spiritual powers, and that to these it is that every soul must be subject.ECE 194.3

    29. At another council held in Rome in 504, at the direction of Symmachus, a decree was enacted “anathematizing and excluding from the communion of the faithful, all who had seized or in the future should seize, hold, or appropriate to themselves, the goods or estates of the Church; and this decree was declared to extend even to those who held such estates by grants from the crown.”—Bower. 18[Page 195] Id., par. 18. This was explicitly to put the authority of the Church of Rome above that of any State.ECE 195.1

    30. Justin was emperor of the East A. D. 518-527. He was violently orthodox, and was supported by his nephew, the more violently orthodox Justinian. It was the ambition of both, together and in succession, to make the Catholic religion alone prevalent everywhere. They therefore entered with genuine Catholic zeal upon the pious work of clearing their dominions of heretics. The first edict, issued in 523, commanded all Manichaeans to leave the empire under penalty of death; and all other heretics were to be ranked with pagans and Jews, and excluded from all public offices. This edict was no sooner learned of in the West, than mutterings were heard in Rome, of hopes of liberty from the “Gothic yoke.” The next step was violence.ECE 195.2

    31. Under the just administration of Theodoric, and the safety assured by the Gothic power, many Jews had established themselves in Rome, Genoa, Milan, and other cities, for the purposes of trade. They were permitted by express laws to dwell there. As soon as the imperial edict was known, which commanded all remaining heretics to be ranked as pagans and Jews, as the Catholics did not dare to attack the Gothic heretics, they, at Rome and Ravenna especially, riotously attacked the Jews, abused them, robbed them, and burnt their synagogues. A legal investigation was attempted, but the leaders in the riots could not be discovered. Then Theodoric levied a tax upon the whole community of the guilty cities, with which to settle the damages. Some of the Catholics refused to pay the tax. They were punished. This at once brought a cry from the Catholics everywhere, that they were persecuted. Those who had been punished were glorified as confessors of the faith, and “three hundred pulpits deplored the persecution of the Church.”—Gibbon. 19[Page 196] “Decline and Fall,” chap 39, par. 17; Milman’s “History of Latin Christianity,” book iii, chap 3, par. 23.ECE 195.3

    32. The edict of 523 was followed in 524 by another, this time commanding the Arians of the East to deliver up to the Catholic bishops all their churches, which the Catholic bishops were commanded to consecrate anew. Theodoric addressed an earnest letter to Justin, in which he pleaded for toleration for the Arians from the Eastern Empire. This was the letter in which was stated the principle of the rights of conscience, which we have already quoted on page 192. To this noble plea, however, “Justin coolly answered:—ECE 196.1

    “I pretend to no authority over men’s consciences, but it is my prerogative to intrust the public offices to those in whom I have confidence; and public order demanding uniformity of worship, I have full right to command the churches to be open to those alone who shall conform to the religion of the State.” 20[Page 196] Milman’s “History of Latin Christianity,” book iii, chap 3, par. 30.ECE 196.2

    33. Accordingly, while pretending to no authority over men’s consciences, the Arians of his dominions were by Justin “stripped of all offices of honor or emolument, were not only expelled from the Catholic churches, but their own were closed against them; and they were exposed to all insults, vexations, and persecutions of their adversaries, who were not likely to enjoy their triumph with moderation, or to repress their conscientiously intolerant zeal.”—Milman. 21[Page 196] Id. Many of them conformed to the State religion; but those of firm faith sent to Theodoric earnest appeals for protection.ECE 196.3

    34. Theodoric did all that he could, but without avail. He was urged to retaliate by persecuting the Catholics in Italy, but he steadfastly refused. He determined to send an embassy to Justin, and most singularly sent the pope as his ambassador! “No two pieces on the political chessboard ought, for the safety of his kingdom, to have been kept farther apart from one another than the pope and the emperor: and now, by his own act, he brings these pieces close together.”—Hodgkin. 22[Page 197] “Italy and Her Invaders,” book iv, chap 11, par. 5 from end. “The pope, attended by five other bishops and four senators, set forth on a mission of which it was the ostensible object to obtain indulgence for heretics—heretics under the ban of his Church—heretics looked upon with the most profound detestation.”—Milman. 23[Page 197] Id. This arrangement gave to the bishop of Rome the most perfect opportunity he could have asked, to form a compact with the imperial authority of the East, for the further destruction of the Ostrogothic kingdom.ECE 196.4

    35. The pope, John I, “was received in Constantinople with the most flattering honors, as though he had been St. Peter himself. The whole city, with the emperor at its head, came forth to meet him with tapers and torches, as far as ten miles beyond the gates. The emperor knelt at his feet, and implored his benediction. On Easter day, March 30, 525, he performed the service in the great church, Epiphanius, the bishop, ceding the first place to the holy stranger.” 24[Page 197] Id., par. 32. Such an embassy could have no other result than more than ever to endanger the kingdom of Theodoric. Before John’s return, the conspiracy became more manifest; some senators and leading men were arrested. One of them, Boethius, though denying his guilt, boldly confessed, “Had there been any hopes of liberty, I should have freely indulged them; had I known of a conspiracy against the king, I should have answered in the words of a noble Roman to the frantic Caligula, You would not have known it from me.” 25[Page 197] Id., par. 20. Such a confession as that was almost a confession of the guilt which he denied. He and his father-in-law were executed. When the pope returned, he was received as a traitor, and put in prison, where he died, May 18, 526.ECE 197.1

    36. He was no sooner dead than violent commotion and disturbances again arose amongst rival candidates for the vacant chair. “Many candidates appeared for the vacant see, and the whole city, the Senate as well as the people and clergy, were divided into parties and factions, the papal dignity being now as eagerly sought for, and often obtained by the same methods and arts as the consular was in the times of the heathen.”—Bower. 26[Page 198] “History of the Popes,” Felix III, par. 1 Theodoric, now seventy-four years old, fearing that these contentions would end in murder and bloodshed again, as they had at the election of Symmachus, suffered his authority to transcend his principles, and presumed, himself, to name a bishop of Rome. The whole people of the city, Senate, clergy, and all, united in opposition. But a compromise was effected, by which it was agreed that in future the election of the pope should be by the clergy and people, but must be confirmed by the sovereign. Upon this understanding, the people accepted Theodoric’s nominee; and July 12, 526, Felix III was installed in the papal office.ECE 197.2

    37. The noble Theodoric died Aug. 30, 526, and was succeeded by his grandson Athalaric, about ten years old, under the regency of his mother Amalasontha. Justin died, and was succeeded by—JUSTINIAN, AUG. 1, 527, TO NOV. 14, 565.ECE 198.1

    38. In the establishment of the Ecclesiastical Empire, Justinian holds the like place that Constantine and Theodosius occupy in the establishment of the Catholic Church. “Among the titles of greatness, the name ‘Pious’ was most pleasing to his ears; to promote the temporal and spiritual interests of the Church was the serious business of his life; and the duty of father of his country was often sacrificed to that of defender of the faith.”—Gibbon. 27[Page 198] “Decline and Fall,” chap 47, par. 23. “The emperor Justinian unites in himself the most opposite vices,—insatiable rapacity and lavish prodigality, intense pride and contemptible weakness, unmeasured ambition and dastardly cowardice.... In the Christian emperor, seem to meet the crimes of those who won or secured their empire by assassination of all whom they feared, the passion for public diversions, without the accomplishments of Nero or the brute strength of Commodus, the dotage of Claudius.”—Milman. 28[Page 198] “History of Latin Christianity,” book iii, chap 4, par. 2.ECE 198.2

    39. Pope Felix was succeeded by Boniface II, A. D. 530-532, who was chosen amidst the now customary scenes of disturbance and strife, which in this case were brought to an end, and the election of Boniface secured, by the death of his rival, who after his death was excommunicated by Boniface. On account of the shameful briberies and other methods of competition employed in the election of the popes, the Roman Senate now enacted a law “declaring null and execrable all promises, bargains, and contracts, by whomsoever or for whomsoever made, with a view to engage suffrages in the election of the pope; and excluding forever from having any share in the election, such as should be found to have been directly or indirectly concerned either for themselves or others, in contracts or bargains of that nature.”—Bower. 29[Page 199] “History of the Popes,” Boniface II, par. 8.ECE 198.3

    40. Laws of the same import had already been enacted more than once, but they amounted to nothing; because, as in the days of Caesar, everybody was ready to bribe or be bribed. Accordingly, at the very next election, in 532, “Votes were publicly bought and sold; and notwithstanding the decree lately issued by the Senate, money was offered to the senators themselves, nay, the lands of the Church were mortgaged by some, and the sacred utensils pawned by others or publicly sold for ready money.” 30[Page 199] Id., John II, par. 1. As the result of seventy-five days of this kind of work, a certain John Mercurius was made pope, and took the title of John II, Dec. 31, 532.ECE 199.1

    41. In the year 532, Justinian issued an edict declaring his intention “to unite all men in one faith.” Whether they were Jews, Gentiles, or Christians, all who did not within three months profess and embrace the Catholic faith, were by the edict “declared infamous, and as such excluded from all employments both civil and military; rendered incapable of leaving anything by will; and all their estates confiscated, whether real or personal.” As a result of this cruel edict, “Great numbers were driven from their habitations with their wives and children, stripped and naked. Others betook themselves to flight, carrying with them what they could conceal, for their support and maintenance; but they were plundered of what little they had, and many of them inhumanly massacred.”—Bower. 31[Page 199] Id., par. 2.ECE 199.2

    42. There now occurred a transaction which meant much in the supremacy of the papacy. It was brought about in this way: Ever since the Council of Chalcedon had “settled” the question of the two natures in Christ, there had been more, and more violent, contentions over it than ever before; “for everywhere monks were at the head of the religious revolution which threw off the yoke of the Council of Chalcedon.” In Jerusalem a certain Theodosius was at the head of the army of monks, who made him bishop, and in acts of violence, pillage, and murder, he fairly outdid the perfectly lawless bandits of the country. “The very scenes of the Saviour’s mercies ran with blood shed in His name by his ferocious self-called disciples.”—Milman. 32[Page 200] “History of Latin Christianity,” book iii, chap. 1, par. 5.ECE 199.3

    43. In Alexandria, “the bishop was not only murdered in the baptistery, but his body was treated with shameless indignities, and other enormities were perpetrated which might have appalled a cannibal.” And the monkish horde then elected as bishop one of their own number, Timothy the Weasel, a disciple of Dioscorus.—Milman. 33[Page 200] Id. Bower calls him Timothy the Cat; but whether “weasel” or “cat,” the distinction is not material, as either fitly describes his disposition, though both would not exaggerate it.ECE 200.1

    44. Soon there was added to all this another point which increased the fearful warfare. In the Catholic churches it was customary to sing what was called the Trisagion, or Thrice-Holy. It was, originally, the “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts” of Isaiah 6:3; but at the time of the Council of Chalcedon, it had been changed, and was used by the council thus: “Holy God, Holy Almighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us.” At Antioch, in 477, a third monk, Peter the Fuller, “led a procession, chiefly of monastics, through the streets,” loudly singing the Thrice-Holy, with the addition, “Who wast crucified for us.” It was orthodox to sing it as the Council of Chalcedon had used it, with the understanding that the three “Holies” referred respectively to the three persons of the Trinity. It was heresy to sing it with the later addition.ECE 200.2

    45. In A. D. 511, two hordes of monks on the two sides of the question met in Constantinople. “The two black-cowled armies watched each other for several months, working in secret on their respective partisans. At length they came to a rupture.... The Monophysite monks in the church of the Archangel within the palace, broke out after the ‘Thrice-Holy’ with the burden added at Antioch by Peter the Fuller, ‘who wast crucified for us.’ The orthodox monks, backed by the rabble of Constantinople, endeavored to expel them from the church; they were not content with hurling curses against each other, sticks and stones began their work. There was a wild, fierce fray; the divine presence of the emperor lost its awe; he could not maintain the peace. The bishop Macedonius either took the lead, or was compelled to lead the tumult. Men, women, and children poured out from all quarters; the monks with their archimandrites at the head of the raging multitude, echoed back their religious war cry.”—Milman. 34[Page 201] Id. par. 31.ECE 200.3

    46. These are but samples of the repeated—it might almost be said the continuous—occurrences in the cities of the East. “Throughout Asiatic Christendom it was the same wild struggle. Bishops deposed quietly; or where resistance was made, the two factions fighting in the streets, in the churches: cities, even the holiest places, ran with blood.... The hymn of the angels in heaven was the battle cry on earth, the signal of human bloodshed.” 35[Page 201] Id., pars. 21, 22.ECE 201.1

    47. In A. D. 512 one of these Trisagion riots broke out in Constantinople, because the emperor proposed to use the added clause. “Many palaces of the nobles were set on fire, the officers of the crown insulted, pillage, conflagration, violence, raged through the city.” In the house of the favorite minister of the emperor there was found a monk from the country. He was accused of having suggested the use of the addition. His head was cut off and raised high on a pole, and the whole orthodox populace marched through the streets singing the orthodox Trisagion, and shouting, “Behold the enemy of the Trinity!” 36[Page 201] Id.ECE 201.2

    48. In A. D. 519, another dispute was raised, growing out of the addition to the Trisagion. That was, “Did one of the Trinity suffer in the flesh? or did one person of the Trinity suffer in the flesh?” The monks of Scythia affirmed that “one of the Trinity” suffered in the flesh, and declared that to say that “one person of the Trinity suffered in the flesh,” was absolute heresy. The question was brought before Pope Hormisdas, who decided that to say that “one person of the Trinity suffered in the flesh” was the orthodox view; and denounced the monks as proud, arrogant, obstinate, enemies to the Church, disturbers of the public peace, slanderers, liars, and instruments employed by the enemy of truth to banish all truth, to establish error in its room, and to sow among the wheat the poisonous seeds of diabolical tares.ECE 201.3

    49. Now, in 533, this question was raised again, and Justinian became involved in the dispute: this time one set of monks argued that “if one of the Trinity did not suffer on the cross, then one of the Trinity was not born of the Virgin Mary, and therefore she ought no longer to be called the mother of God.” Others argued: “If one of the Trinity did not suffer on the cross, then Christ who suffered was not one of the Trinity.” Justinian entered the lists against both, and declared that Mary was “truly the mother of God;” that Christ was “in the strictest sense one of the Trinity;” and that whosoever denied either the one or the other, was a heretic. This frightened the monks, because they knew Justinian’s opinions on the subject of heretics were exceedingly forcible. They therefore sent off two of their number to lay the question before the pope. As soon as Justinian learned this, he, too, decided to apply to the pope. He therefore drew up a confession of faith that “one of the Trinity suffered in the flesh,” and sent it by two bishops to the bishop of Rome.ECE 202.1

    50. To make his side of the question appear as favorable as possible to the pope, Justinian sent a rich present of chalices and other vessels of gold, enriched with precious stones; and the following flattering letter:—ECE 202.2

    “Justinian, pious, fortunate, renowned, triumphant; emperor, consul, etc., to John, the most holy archbishop of our city of Rome, and patriarch:—ECE 202.3

    “Rendering honor to the apostolic chair, and to your Holiness, as has been always and is our wish, and honoring your Blessedness as a father, we have hastened to bring to the knowledge of your Holiness all matters relating to the state of the churches. It having been at all times our great desire to preserve the unity of your apostolic chair, and the constitution of the holy churches of God which has obtained hitherto, and still obtains.ECE 202.4

    “Therefore we have made no delay in subjecting and uniting to your Holiness all the priests of the whole East.ECE 202.5

    “For this reason we have thought fit to bring to your notice the present matters of disturbance; though they are manifest and unquestionable, and always firmly held and declared by the whole priesthood according to the doctrine of your apostolic chair. For we can not suffer that anything which relates to the state of the Church, however manifest and unquestionable, should be moved, without the knowledge of your Holiness, who are THE HEAD OF ALL THE HOLY CHURCHES; for in all things, we have already declared, we are anxious to increase the honor and authority of your apostolic chair.” 37[Page 203] Croly’s “Apocalypse,” chap 11, “History,” under verses 3-10.ECE 202.6

    51. All things were now ready for the complete deliverance of the Catholic Church from Arian dominion. Since the death of Theodoric, divided councils had crept in amongst the Ostrogoths, and the Catholic Church had been more and more cementing to its interests the powers of the Eastern throne. “Constant amicable intercourse was still taking place between the Catholic clergy of the East and the West; between Constantinople and Rome; between Justinian and the rapid succession of pontiffs who occupied the throne during the ten years between the death of Theodoric and the invasion of Italy.”—Milman. 38[Page 203] “History of Latin Christianity,” book iii, chap 4, par. 5.ECE 203.1

    52. The crusade began with the invasion of the Arian kingdom of the Vandals in Africa, of whom Gelimer was the king, and was openly and avowedly in the interests of the Catholic religion and Church. For in a council of his ministers, nobles, and bishops, Justinian was dissuaded from undertaking the African War. He hesitated, and was about to relinquish his design, when he was rallied by a fanatical bishop, who exclaimed: “I have seen a vision! It is the will of heaven, O emperor, that you should not abandon your holy enterprise for the deliverance of the African Church. The God of battle will march before your standard and disperse your enemies, who are the enemies of His Son.” 39[Page 203] Gibbon’s “Decline and Fall,” chap 12, par. 3.ECE 203.2

    53. This persuasion was sufficient for the “pious” emperor, and in June, 533, “the whole fleet of six hundred ships was ranged in martial pomp before the gardens of the palace,” laden and equipped with thirty-five thousand troops and sailors, and five thousand horses, all under the command of Belisarius. He landed on the coast of Africa in September; Carthage was captured on the 18th of the same month; Gelimer was disastrously defeated in November; and the conquest of Africa, and the destruction of the Vandal kingdom, were completed by the capture of Gelimer in the spring of 534. 40[Page 203] Id., pars. 7-12. During the rest of the year, Belisarius “reduced the islands of Corsica, Sardinia, Majorica, Minorica, and whatever else belonged to the Vandals, either on the continent or in the islands.”—Bower. 41[Page 204] “History of the Popes,” Agapetus, par. 5, note a.ECE 203.3

    54. Belisarius dispatched to Justinian the news of his victory. “He received the messengers of victory at the time when he was preparing to publish the Pandects of the Roman law; and the devout or jealous emperor celebrated the divine goodness and confessed, in silence, the merit of his successful general. Impatient to abolish the temporal and spiritual tyranny of the Vandals, he proceeded, without delay, to the full establishment of the Catholic Church. Her jurisdiction, wealth, and immunities, perhaps the most essential part of episcopal religion, were restored and amplified with a liberal hand; the Arian worship was suppressed, the Donatist meetings were proscribed; and the Synod of Carthage, by the voice of two hundred and seventeen bishops, applauded the just measure of pious retaliation.”—Gibbon. 42[Page 204] “Decline and Fall,” chap 12, par. 11.ECE 204.1

    55. In the summer of 534 Belisarius returned to Constantinople, taking with him the captive Gelimer and the small remnant of Vandals who remained yet alive. He was awarded a triumph, “which for near six hundred years had never been enjoyed by any but an emperor.” As Gelimer followed in the train of his captor, and “came into the Hippodrome and saw Justinian sitting on his throne and the ranks and orders of the Roman people standing on either side of him,” he “repeated again and again the words of the kingly Hebrew preacher: ‘Vanity of vanities: all is vanity.’” He was suffered to live, and was given “large estates in the Galatian province, and lived there in peace with his exiled kinsfolk.”ECE 204.2

    56. Also among the spoils of Vandal conquest carried that day in grand triumphal procession, were the golden candlestick and other sacred vessels of the temple of God, which had been carried to Rome by Titus and had graced his triumph after the destruction of Jerusalem in A. D. 70. They had been taken by Genseric in his sack of Rome in 455, and were carried by him to Carthage, where they remained till the capture of that city by Belisarius and his return in triumph to Constantinople. There that day a Jew seeing them, said to a friend of the emperor’s: “If those vessels are brought into the palace, they will cause the ruin of this empire. They have already brought the Vandal to Rome, and Belisarius to Carthage: nor will Constantinople long wait for her conqueror, if they remain here.” This word coming to Justinian, he took warning and sent the sacred vessels to Jerusalem, whence they had been carried more than six hundred years before, and where they were now “stored up in one of the Christian churches.” 43[Page 205] Hodgkin, “Italy and Her Invaders,” book iv, chap 15, par. 3 from end; and book iii, chap 2, par. 5 from end.ECE 204.3

    57. As soon as this pious work of uprooting the Vandal kingdom had been fully accomplished, the arms of Justinian were turned against Italy and the Arian Ostrogoths. In 534 Amalasontha had been supplanted in her rule over the Ostrogoths by her cousin Theodotus. And “during the short and troubled reign of Theodotus—534-536—Justinian received petitions from all parts of Italy, and from all persons, lay as well as clerical, with the air and tone of its sovereign.”—Milman. 44[Page 205] “History of Latin Christianity,” book iii, chap 4, par. 7.ECE 205.1

    58. Belisarius subdued Sicily in 535, and invaded Italy and captured Naples in 536. As it was now about the first of December, the Gothic warriors decided to postpone, until the following spring, their resistance to the invaders. A garrison of four thousand soldiers was left in Rome, a feeble number to defend such a city at such a time in any case, but these troops proved to be even more feeble in faith than they were in numbers. They threw over all care of the city, and “furiously exclaimed that the apostolic throne should no longer be profaned by the triumph or toleration of Arianism; that the tombs of the Caesars should no longer be trampled by the savages of the North; and, without reflecting that Italy must sink into a province of Constantinople, they fondly hailed the restoration of a Roman emperor as a new era of freedom and prosperity. The deputies of the pope and clergy, of the Senate and people, invited the lieutenant of Justinian to accept their voluntary allegiance, and to enter into the city, whose gates would be thrown open to his reception.”—Gibbon. 45[Page 205] “Decline and Fall,” chap 12, par. 23.ECE 205.2

    59. Belisarius at once marched to Rome. “Vitiges, the king of the Goths, not thinking himself in a condition to defend the city against his victorious army, left four thousand chosen troops in it, and withdrew with the rest to Ravenna; having first exhorted pope Silverius and the Senate, says Procopius, to continue steady in their allegiance to the Goths, who had deserved so well of them and their city. But he was no sooner gone than the Senate, at the persuasion of the pope, invited Belisarius to come and take possession of the city; which he did accordingly: the Goths, who could not make head at the same time against the enemy without, and the citizens within, the walls, retiring by the Flaminian, while the Romans entered by the Asinarian, gate. Thus was the city of Rome reunited to the empire, on the 10th of December of the present year, 536, after it had been separated from it threescore years.”—Bower. 46[Page 206] “Lives of the Popes,” Silverius, par. 2.ECE 205.3

    60. But the taking of Rome was not the destruction of the nation of the Ostrogoths: it was not the uprooting of the Ostrogothic kingdom. “From their rustic habitations, from their different garrisons, the Goths assembled at Ravenna for the defense of their country: and such were their numbers that, after an army had been detached for the relief of Dalmatia, one hundred and fifty thousand fighting men marched under the royal standard” in the spring, A. D. 537; and the Gothic nation returned to the siege of Rome and the defense of Italy against the invaders. “The whole nation of the Ostrogoths had been assembled for the attack, and was almost entirely consumed in the siege of Rome,” which continued above a year, 537-538. “One year and nine days after the commencement of the siege, an army so lately strong and triumphant, burnt their tents, and tumultuously repassed the Milvian bridge,” and Rome was delivered, March 12, 538. “With heavy hearts the barbarians must have thought, as they turned them northward, upon the many graves of gallant men which they were leaving on that fatal plain. Some of them must have suspected the melancholy truth that they had dug one grave, deeper and wider than all: the grave of the Gothic monarchy in Italy.”—Hodgkin. 47[Page 206] “Italy and Her Invaders,” book v. chap 9, last paragraph The remains of the kingdom were soon afterward destroyed. “They had lost their king (an inconsiderable loss), their capital, their treasures, the provinces from Sicily to the Alps, and the military force of two hundred thousand barbarians, magnificently equipped with horses and arms.”—Gibbon. 48[Page 207] Id., pars. 23, 28, and chap 43, par. 4. Afterward, from 541 till 553, there was carried on what had been called the “Gothic” War; but those who made the war were not Goths. They were “a new people,” made up of Roman captives, slaves, deserters, and whoever else might choose to join them, with but a thousand Goths to begin with. See Gibbon, Id., chap 43, pars. 4, 6. And thus was the kingdom of the Ostrogoths destroyed before the vengeful arrogance of the papacy.ECE 206.1

    61. This completely opened the way for the bishop of Rome to assert his sole authority over the estates of the Church. The district immediately surrounding Rome was called the Roman duchy, and it was so largely occupied by the estates of the Church that the bishop of Rome claimed exclusive authority over it. “The emperor, indeed, continued to control the elections and to enforce the payment of tribute for the territory protected by the imperial arms; but, on the other hand, the pontiff exercised a definite authority within the Roman duchy, and claimed to have a voice in the appointment of the civil officers who administered the local government.” 49[Page 207] Encyclopedia Britannica, art. Popedom, par. 25.ECE 207.1

    62. Under the protectorate of the armies of the East which soon merged in the exarch of Ravenna, the papacy enlarged its aspirations, confirmed its powers, and strengthened its situation both spiritually and temporally. Being by the decrees of the councils, and the homage of the emperor, made the head of all ecclesiastical and spiritual dominion on earth, and being now in possession of territory, and exerting a measure of civil authority therein, the opportunity that now fell to the ambition of the bishopric of Rome was to assert, to gain, and to exercise, supreme authority in all things temporal as well as spiritual. And the sanction of this aspiration was made to accrue from Justinian’s letter, in which he rendered such distinctive honor to the apostolic see. It is true that Justinian wrote these words with no such far-reaching meaning, but that made no difference; the words were written, and like all other words of similar import, they could be, and were, made to bear whatever meaning the bishop of Rome should choose to find in them.ECE 207.2

    63. Therefore, the year A. D. 538, which marks the conquest of Italy, the deliverance of Rome, and the destruction of the kingdom of the Ostrogoths, is the true date which marks the establishment of the temporal authority of the papacy, and the exercise of that authority as a world-power. All that was ever done later in this connection was but to enlarge by additional usurpations and donations, the territories which the bishop of Rome at this point possessed, and over which he asserted civil jurisdiction. This view is fully sustained by the following excellent statement of the case:—ECE 207.3

    “The conquest of Italy by the Greeks was, to a great extent at least, the work of the Catholic clergy.... The overthrow of the Gothic kingdom was to Italy an unmitigated evil. A monarch like Witiges or Totila would soon have repaired the mischiefs caused by the degenerate successors of Theodoric, Athalaric, and Theodotus. In their overthrow began the fatal policy of the Roman see, ...which never would permit a powerful native kingdom to unite Italy, or a very large part of it, under one dominion. Whatever it may have been to Christendom, the papacy has been the eternal, implacable foe of Italian independence and Italian unity; and so (as far as independence and unity might have given dignity, political weight, and prosperity) to the welfare of Italy.”—Milman. 50[Page 208] “History of Latin Christianity,” book iii, chap 4, last paragraph but one.ECE 208.1

    64. Then “began that fatal policy of the Roman see,” because she was then herself a world-power, possessing temporalities over which she both claimed and exercised dominion, and by virtue of which she could contend with other dominions, and upon the same level. And that which made the papacy so much the more domineering in this fatal policy, was the fact of Justinian’s having so fully committed himself. When the mightiest emperor who had ever sat on the Eastern throne had not only under his own hand rendered such decided homage to the papacy, but had rooted out the last power that stood in her way, this to her was strongly justifiable ground for her assertion of dominion over all other dominions, and her disputing dominion with the powers of the earth.ECE 208.2

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