History of the christian church



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Fill with joy this weary breast,
Turning darkness into day.
Sine tuo numine
Nihil est in homine
Nihil est innoxium,

For without Thee nought we find,


Pure or strong in human kind,
Nought that has not gone astray.
Lava quod est sordidum,
Riga quod est aridum,
Sana quod est saucium.

Wash us from the stains of sin,


Gently soften all within,
Wounded spirits heal and stay.
Flecte quod est rigidum,
Fove quod est languidum,
Rege quod est devium.

What is hard and stubborn bend,


What is feeble soothe and tend,
What is erring gently sway.
Da tuis fidelibus,
In te confitentibus,
Sacrum septenarium;

To Thy faithful servants give,


Taught by Thee to trust and live,
Sevenfold blessing from this day;
Da virtutis meritum,
Da salutis exitum,
Da perenne gaudium
. 488

Make our title clear, we pray,


When we drop this mortal clay;
Then,—O give us joy for aye.
The following is a felicitous version by an American divine.489490
Come, O Spirit! Fount of grace!
From thy heavenly dwelling-place
One bright morning beam impart:

Come, O Father of the poor;


Come, O Source of bounties sure;
Come, O Sunshine of the heart!
O! thrice blessed light divine!
Come, the spirit’s inmost shrine
With Thy holy presence fill;

Of Thy brooding love bereft,


Naught to hopeless man is left;
Naught is his but evil still.
Comforter of man the best!
Making the sad soul thy guest;
Sweet refreshing in our fears,

In our labor a retreat,


Cooling shadow in the heat,
Solace in our falling tears.
Wash away each earthly stain,
Flow o’er this parched waste again,
Real the wounds of conscience sore,

Bind the stubborn will within,


Thaw the icy chains of sin,
Guide us, that we stray no more.
Give to Thy believers, give,
In Thy holy hope who live,
All Thy sevenfold dower of love;
Give the sure reward of faith,

Give the love that conquers death,


Give unfailing joy above.
Notker, surnamed the Older, or Balbulus ("the little Stammerer, "from a slight lisp in his speech), was born about 850 of a noble family in Switzerland, educated in the convent of St. Gall, founded by Irish missionaries, and lived there as an humble monk. He died about 912, and was canonized in 1512.1

He is famous as the reputed author of the Sequences (Sequentiae), a class of hymns in rythmical prose, hence also called Proses (Prosae). They arose from the custom of prolonging the last syllable in singing the Allelu-ia of the Gradual, between the Epistle and the Gospel, while the deacon was ascending from the altar to the rood-loft (organ-loft), that he might thence sing the Gospel. This prolongation was called jubilatio or jubilus, or laudes, on account of its jubilant tone, and sometimes sequentia (Greek ajkolouqiva), because it followed the reading of the Epistle or the Alleluia. Mystical interpreters made this unmeaning prolongation of a mere sound the echo of the jubilant music of heaven. A further development was to set words to these notes in rythmical prose for chanting. The name sequence was then applied to the text and in a wider sense also to regular metrical and rhymed hymns. The book in which Sequences were collected was called Sequentiale.2

Notker marks the transition from the unmeaning musical sequence to the literary or poetic sequence. Over thirty poems bear his name. His first, attempt begins with the line
"Laudes Deo concinat orbis ubique totus."
More widely circulated is his Sequence of the Holy Spirit:
"Sancti Spiritus adsit nobis gratia."

"The grace of the Holy Spirit be present with us."3


The best of all his compositions, which is said to have been inspired by the sight of the builders of a bridge over an abyss in the Martinstobe, is a meditation on death (Antiphona de morte):
"Media vita in morte sumus:

Quem quaerimus adiutorem nisi te, Domine,

Qui pro peccatis nostris juste irasceris?

Sancte Deus, sancte fortis,

Sancte et misericors Salvator:

Amarae morti ne tradas nos."4
This solemn prayer is incorporated in many burial services. In the Book of Common Prayer it is thus enlarged:
"In the midst of life we be in death:
Of whom may we seek for succour, but of Thee,

O Lord, which for our sins justly art moved?


Yet, O Lord God most holy, O Lord most mighty,

O holy and most merciful Saviour,


Deliver us not into the bitter pains of eternal death.

Thou knowest, Lord, the secrets of our hearts.


Shut not up thy merciful eyes to our prayers:

But spare us, Lord most holy,


O God most mighty,

O holy and merciful Saviour,


Thou most worthy Judge eternal,

Suffer us not, at our last hour,


For any pains of death,

To fall from Thee."5


Peter Damiani (d. 1072), a friend of Hildebrand and promoter of his hierarchical refrms, wrote a solemn hymn on the day of death:
"Gravi me terrore pulsas vitae dies ultima,"6
"With what heavy fear thou smitest."
He is perhaps also the author of the better known descriptive poem on the Glory and Delights of Paradise, which is usually assigned to St. Augustin:
"Ad perennis vitae fontem mens sitivit arida,

Claustra carnis praesto frangi clausa quaerit anima:

Gliscit, ambit, eluctatur exsul frui patria."7
The subordinate hymn-writers of our period are the following:8

Isidor of Seville (Isidoris Hispalensis, 560–636). A hymn on St. Agatha: "Festum insigne prodiit."

Cyxilla of Spain. Hymnus de S. Thurso et sociis: Exulta nimium turba fidelium."

Eugenius of Toledo. Oratio S. Eugenii Toletani Episcopi: "Rex Deus."

Paulus Diaconus (720–800), of Monte Casino, chaplain of Charlemagne, historian of the Lombards, and author of a famous collection of homilies. On John the Baptist ("Ut queant laxis),9and on the Miracles of St. Benedict (Fratres alacri pectore).

Odo of Cluny (d. 941). A hymn on St. Mary Magdalene day, "Lauda, Mater Ecclesiae," translated by Neale: "Exalt, O mother Church, to-day, The clemency of Christ, thy Lord." It found its way into the York Breviary.

Godescalcus (Gottschalk, d. about 950, not to be confounded with his predestinarian namesake, who lived in the ninth century), is next to Notker, the best writer of sequences or proses, as "Laus Tibi, Christe" ("Praise be to Thee, O Christ"), and Coeli enarrant ("The heavens declare the glory"), both translated by Neale.
Fulbert Of Chartres (died about 1029) wrote a paschal hymn adopted in several Breviaries: "Chorus novae Jerusalem" ("Ye choirs of New Jerusalem"), translated by Neale.

A few of the choicest hymns of our period, from the sixth to the twelfth century are anonymous. 500 To these belong:

"Hymnum dicat turba fratrum." A morning hymn mentioned by Bede as a fine specimen of the trochaic tetrameter.

"Sancti venite." A communion hymn.

"Urbs beata Jerusalem." 501 It is from the eighth century, and one of those touching New Jerusalem hymns which take their inspiration from the last chapter of St. John’s Apocalypse, and express the Christian’s home-sickness after heaven. The following is the first stanza (with Neale’s translation):
"Urbs beata Jerusalem,
Dicta pacis visio,

Quae construitur in coelo
Vivis ex lapidibus,

Et angelis coronata


Ut sponsata comite."
Blessed City, Heavenly Salem,
Vision dear of Peace and Love,

Who, of living stones upbuilded,


Art the joy of Heav'n above,

And, with angel cohorts circled,


As a bride to earth dost move!"
"Apparebit repentina." An alphabetic and acrostic poem on the Day of Judgment, based on Matt. 25:31–36; from the seventh century; first mentioned by Bede, then long lost sight of; the forerunner of the Dies Irae, more narrative than lyrical, less sublime and terrific, but equally solemn. The following are the first lines in Neale’s admirable translation: 502
"That great Day of wrath and terror,

That last Day of woe and doom,

Like a thief that comes at midnight,

On the sons of men shall come;

When the pride and pomp of ages

All shall utterly have passed,

And they stand in anguish, owning

That the end is here at last;

And the trumpet’s pealing clangor,

Through the earth’s four quarters spread,

Waxing loud and ever louder,

Shall convoke the quick and dead:

And the King of heavenly glory

Shall assume His throne on high,

And the cohorts of His angels

Shall be near Him in the sky:

And the sun shall turn to sackcloth,

And the moon be red as blood,

And the stars shall fall from heaven,

Whelm’d beneath destruction’s flood.

Flame and fire, and desolation

At the Judge’s feet shall go:

Earth and sea, and all abysses

Shall His mighty sentence know."


"Ave, Maris Stella." This is the favorite mediaeval Mary hymn, and perhaps the very best of the large number devoted to the worship of the "Queen of heaven," which entered so deeply into the piety and devotion of the Catholic church both in the East and the West. It is therefore given here in full with the version of Edward Caswall.3

"Ave, Maris Stella,4
Dei Mater alma
Atque semper Virgo,
Felix coeli porta
.

Hail, thou Star-of-Ocean,


Portal of the sky,
Ever-Virgin Mother
Of the Lord Most High!
Sumens illud Ave
Gabrielis ore,
Funda nos in pace,
Mutans nomen Evae
.5

Oh, by Gabriel’s Ave


Uttered long ago
Eva’s name reversing,
’Stablish peace below!
Solve vincla reis
Profer lumen coecis,
Mala nostra pelle,
Bona cuncta posce
.

Break the captive’s fetters,


Light on blindness pour,
All our ills expelling,
Every bliss implore.
Monstra te esse matrem,6
Sumat per te precem,
Qui pro nobis natus
Tulit esse tuus.

Show thyself a mother,


Offer Him our sighs,
Who, for us Incarnate,
Did not thee despise.
Virgo singularis,
Inter omnes mitis,
Nos culpis solutos
Mites facet castos.

Virgin of all virgins!


To thy shelter take us—
Gentlest of the gentle!
Chaste and gentle make us.
Vitam praesta puram
Iter para tutum,
Ut videntes Iesum
Semper collaetemur.

Still as on we journey,


Help our weak endeavor,
Till with thee and Jesus,
We rejoice for ever.
Sit laus Deo Patri,
Summo Christo decus,
Spiritui Sancto
Honor trinus et unus.

Through the highest heaven


To the Almighty Three,
Father, Son, and Spirit,
One same glory be.

The Latin hymnody was only, for priests and monks, and those few who understood the Latin language. The people listened to it as they do to the mass, and responded with the Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, which passed from the Greek church into the Western litanies. As the modern languages of Europe developed themselves out of the Latin, and out of the Teutonic, a popular poetry arose during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, and afterwards received a powerful impulse from the Reformation. Since that time the Protestant churches, especially in Germany and England, have produced the richest hymnody, which speaks to the heart of the people in their own familiar tongue, and is, next to the Psalter, the chief feeder of public and private devotion. In this body of evangelical hymns the choicest Greek and Latin hymns in various translations, reproductions, and transformations occupy an honored place and serve as connecting links between past and modern times in the worship of the same God and Saviour.


§ 97. The Seven Sacraments.
Mediaeval Christianity was intensely sacramental, sacerdotal and hierarchical. The ideas of priest, sacrifice, and altar are closely connected. The sacraments were regarded as the channels of all grace and the chief food of the soul. They accompanied human life from the cradle to the grave. The child was saluted into this world by the sacrament of baptism; the old man was provided with the viaticum on his journey to the other world.

The chief sacraments were baptism and the eucharist. Baptism was regarded as the sacrament of the new birth which opens the door to the kingdom of heaven the eucharist as the sacrament of sanctification which maintains and nourishes the new life.

Beyond these two sacraments several other rites were dignified with that name, but there was no agreement as to the number before the scholastic period. The Latin sacramentum, like the Greek mystery (of which it is the translation in the Vulgate), was long used in a loose and indefinite way for sacred and mysterious doctrines and rites. Rabanus Maurus and Paschasius Radbertus count four sacraments, Dionysius Areopagita, six; Damiani, as many as twelve. By the authority chiefly of Peter the Lombard and Thomas Aquinas the sacred number seven was at last determined upon, and justified by various analogies with the number of virtues, and the number of sins, and the necessities of human life.7

But seven sacraments existed as sacred rites long before the church was agreed on the number. We find them with only slight variations independently among the Greeks under the name of "mysteries" as well as among the Latins. They are, besides baptism and the eucharist (which is a sacrifice as well as a sacrament): confirmation, penance (confession and absolution), marriage, ordination, and extreme unction.

Confirmation was closely connected with baptism as a sort of supplement. It assumed a more independent character in the case of baptized infants and took place later. It may be performed in the Greek church by any priest, in the Latin only by the bishop.8

Penance was deemed necessary for sins after baptism.9

Ordination is the sacrament of the hierarchy and indispensable for the government of the church.

Marriage lies at the basis of the family and society in church and state, and was most closely and jealously guarded by the church against facility of divorce, against mixed marriages, and marriages between near relatives.

Extreme unction with prayer (first mentioned among the sacraments by a synod of Pavia in 850, and by Damiani) was the viaticum for the departure into the other world, and based on the direction of St. James 5:14, 15 (Comp. Mark 6:13; 16:18). At first it was applied in every sickness, by layman as well as priest, as a medical cure and as a substitute for amulets and forms of incantation; but the Latin church afterwards confined it to of extreme danger.

The efficacy of the sacrament was defined by the scholastic term ex opere operato, that is, the sacrament has its intended effect by virtue of its institution and inherent power, independently of the moral character of the priest and of the recipient, provided only that it be performed in the prescribed manner and with the proper intention and provided that the recipient throw no obstacle in the way.0

Three of the Sacraments, namely baptism, confirmation, and ordination, have in addition the effect of conferring an indelible character.1 Once baptized always baptized, though the benefit may be forfeited for ever; once ordained always ordained, though a priest may be deposed and excommunicated.
§ 98. The Organ and the Bell.
To the external auxiliaries of worship were added the organ and the bell.

The Organ, 512in the sense of a particular instrument (which dates from the time of St. Augustin), is a development of the Syrinx or Pandean pipe, and in its earliest form consisted of a small box with a row of pipes in the top, which were inflated by the performer with the mouth through means of a tube at one end. It has in the course of time undergone considerable improvements. The use of organs in churches is ascribed to Pope Vitalian (657–672). Constantine Copronymos sent an organ with other presents to King Pepin of France in 767. Charlemagne received one as a present from the Caliph Haroun al Rashid, and had it put up in the cathedral of Aix-la-Chapelle. The art of organ-building was cultivated chiefly in Germany. Pope John VIII. (872–882) requested Bishop Anno of Freising to send him an organ and an organist.

The attitude of the churches towards the organ varies. It shared to some extent the fate of images, except that it never was an object of worship. The poetic legend which Raphael has immortalized by one of his master-pieces, ascribes its invention to St. Cecilia, the patron of sacred music. The Greek church disapproves the use of organs. The Latin church introduced it pretty generally, but not without the protest of eminent men, so that even in the Council of Trent a motion was made, though not carried, to prohibit the organ at least in the mass. The Lutheran church retained, the Calvinistic churches rejected it, especially in Switzerland and Scotland; but in recent times the opposition has largely ceased. 513

The Bell is said to have been invented by Paulinus of Nola (d. 431) in Campania;4but he never mentions it in his description of churches. Various sonorous instruments were used since the time of Constantine the Great for announcing the commencement of public worship. Gregory of Tours mentions a "signum" for calling monks to prayer. The Irish used chiefly hand-bells from the time of St. Patrick, who himself distributed them freely. St. Columba is reported to have gone to church when the bell rang (pulsante campana) at midnight. Bede mentions the bell for prayer at funerals. St. Sturm of Fulda ordered in his dying hours all the bells of the convent to be rung (779). In the reign of Charlemagne the use of bells was common in the empire. He encouraged the art of bel-founding, and entertained bell-founders at his court. Tancho, a monk of St. Gall, cast a fine bell, weighing from four hundred to five hundred pounds, for the cathedral at Aix-la-Chapelle. In the East, church bells are not mentioned before the end of the ninth century.

Bells, like other church-furniture, were consecrated for sacred use by liturgical forms of benediction. They were sometimes even baptized; but Charlemagne, in a capitulary of 789, forbids this abuse. 515 The office of bell-ringers 516was so highly esteemed in that age that even abbots and bishops coveted it. Popular superstition ascribed to bells a magical effect in quieting storms and expelling pestilence. Special towers were built for them. 517 The use of church bells is expressed in the old lines which are inscribed in many of them:
"Lauda Deum verum, plebem voco, congrego clerum,

Defunctos ploro, pestem fugo, festaque honoro." 518
§ 99. The Worship of Saints.
Comp. vol. III. §§ 81–87 (p. 409–460).
The Worship of Saints, handed down from the Nicene age, was a Christian substitute for heathen idolatry and hero-worship, and well suited to the taste and antecedents of the barbarian races, but was equally popular among the cultivated Greeks. The scholastics made a distinction between three grades of worship: 1) adoration (latreiva), which belongs to God alone; 2) veneration (douleiva), which is due to the saints as those whom God himself has honored, and who reign with him in heaven; 3) special veneration (uJperdouleiva), which is due to the Virgin Mary as the mother of the Saviour and the queen of all saints. But the people did not always mind this distinction, and the priests rather encouraged the excesses of saint-worship. Prayers were freely addressed to the saints, though not as the givers of the blessings desired, but as intercessors and advocates. Hence the form "Pray for us" (Ora pro nobis).

The number of saints and their festivals multiplied very rapidly. Each nation, country, province or city chose its patron saint, as Peter and Paul in Rome, St. Ambrose in Milan, St. Martin, St. Denys (Dionysius) and St. Germain in France, St. George in England, St. Patrick in Ireland, St. Boniface in Germany, and especially the Virgin Mary, who has innumerable localities and churches under her care and protection. The fact of saintship was at first decided by the voice of the people, which was obeyed as the voice of God. Great and good men and women who lived in the odor of sanctity and did eminent service to the cause of religion as missionaries or martyrs or bishops or monks or nuns, were gratefully remembered after their death; they became patron saints of the country or province of their labors and sufferings, and their worship spread gradually over the entire church. Their relics were held sacred; their tombs were visited by pilgrims. The metropolitans usually decided on the claims of saintship for their province down to a.d. 1153.9 But to check the increase and to prevent mistakes, the popes, since Alexander III. a.d. 1170, claimed the exclusive right of declaring the fact, and prescribing the worship of a saint throughout the whole (Latin) Catholic church. 520 This was done by a solemn act called canonization. From this was afterwards distinguished the act of beatification, which simply declares that a departed Catholic Christian is blessed (beatus) in heaven, and which within certain limits permits (but does not prescribe) his veneration. 521

The first known example of a papal canonization is the canonization of Ulrich, bishop of Augsburg (d. 973), by John XV. who, at a Lateran synod composed of nineteen dignitaries, in 993, declared him a saint at the request of Luitolph (Leuthold), his successor in the see of Augsburg, after hearing his report in person on the life and miracles of Ulrich. His chief merit was the deliverance of Southern Germany from the invasion of the barbarous Magyars, and his devotion to the interests of his large diocese. He used to make tours of visitation on an ox-cart, surrounded by a crowd of beggars and cripples. He made two pilgrimages to Rome, the second in his eighty-first year, and died as an humble penitent on the bare floor. The bull puts the worship of the saints on the ground that it redounds to the glory of Christ who identifies himself with his saints, but it makes no clear distinction between the different degrees of worship. It threatens all who disregard this decree with the anathema of the apostolic see.2

A mild interpretation of the papal prerogative of canonization reduces it to a mere declaration of a fact preceded by a careful examination of the merits of a case before the Congregation of Rites. But nothing short of a divine revelation can make such a fact known to mortal man. The examination is conducted by a regular process of law in which one acts as Advocatus Diaboli or accuser of the candidate for canonization, and another as Advocatus Dei. Success depends on the proof that the candidate must have possessed the highest sanctity and the power of working miracles either during his life, or through his dead bones, or through invocation of his aid. A proverb says that it requires a miracle to prove a miracle. Nevertheless it is done by papal decree on such evidence as is satisfactory to Roman Catholic believers.3

The question, how the saints and the Virgin Mary can hear so many thousands of prayers addressed to them simultaneously in so many different places, without being clothed with the divine attributes of omniscience and omnipresence, did not disturb the faith of the people. The scholastic divines usually tried to solve it by the assumption that the saints read those prayers in the omniscient mind of God. Then why not address God directly?

In addition to the commemoration days of particular saints, two festivals were instituted for the commemoration of all the departed.

The Festival of All Saints4was introduced in the West by Pope Boniface IV. on occasion of the dedication of the Pantheon in Rome, which was originally built by Agrippa in honor of the victory of Augustus at Actium, and dedicated to Jupiter Vindex; it survived the old heathen temples, and was presented to the pope by the Emperor Phocas, a.d. 607; whereupon it was cleansed, restored and dedicated to the service of God in the name of the ever-Virgin Mary and all martyrs. Baronius tells us that at the time of dedication on May 13 the bones of martyrs from the various cemeteries were in solemn procession transferred to the church in twenty-eight carriages. 525 From Rome the festival spread during the ninth century over the West, and Gregory IV. induced Lewis the Pious in 835 to make it general in the Empire. The celebration was fixed on the first of November for the convenience of the people who after harvest had a time of leisure, and were disposed to give thanks to God for all his mercies.

The Festival of All Souls 526is a kind of supplement to that of All Saints, and is celebrated on the day following (Nov. 2). Its introduction is traced to Odilo, Abbot of Cluny, in the tenth century. It spread very soon without a special order, and appealed to the sympathies of that age for the sufferings of the souls in purgatory. The worshippers appear in mourning; the mass for the dead is celebrated with the "Dies irae, Dies illa," and the oft-repeated "Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine." In some places (e.g. in Munich) the custom prevails of covering the graves on that day with the last flowers of the season.

The festival of Michael the Archangel, 527the leader of the angelic host, was dedicated to the worship of angels, 528on the 29th of September. 529 It rests on no doctrine and no fact, but on the sandy foundation of miraculous legends. 530 We find it first in the East. Several churches in and near Constantinople were dedicated to St. Michael, and Justinian rebuilt two which had become dilapidated. In the West it is first mentioned by a Council of Mentz in 813, as the "dedicatio S. Michaelis," among the festivals to be observed; and from that time it spread throughout the Church in spite of the apostolic warning against angelolatry (Col. 2:18; Rev. 19:10; 22:8, 9). 531
§ 100. The Worship of Images. Literature. Different Theories.
Comp. Vol. II., chs. vi. (p.266 sqq.) and vii. (p. 285); Vol. III. §§109–111 (p. 560 sqq.).

(I.) John of Damascus (chief defender of image-worship, about 750): Lovgoi ajpologhtikoi; pro;" tou;" diabavllonta" ta;" aJgiva" eijkovna" (ed. Le Quien I. 305). Nicephorus (Patriarch of Constantinople, d. 828): Breviarium Hist. (to a.d. 769), ed. Petavius, Paris, 1616. Theophanes (Confessor and almost martyr of image-worship, d. c. 820): Chronographia, cum notis Goari et Combefisii, Par., 1655, Ven. 1729, and in the Bonn ed. of the Byzant. historians, 1839, Tom. I. (reprinted in Migne’s "Patrol. Graeca," Tom. 108). The later Byzantine historians, who notice the controversy, draw chiefly from Theophanes; so also Anastasius (Historia Eccles.) and Paulus Diaconus (Historia miscella and Hist. Longobardorum).


The letters of the popes, and the acts of synods, especially the Acta Concilii Nicaeni II. (a.d. 787) in Mansi, Tom. XIII., and Harduin, Tom. IV.

M. H. Goldast: Imperialia Decreta de Cultu Imaginum in utroque imperio promulgata. Frankf., 1608.

The sources are nearly all on the orthodox side. The seventh oecumenical council (787) ordered in the fifth session that all the books against images should be destroyed.
(II.) J. Dalleus (Calvinist): De Imaginibus. Lugd. Bat., 1642.

L. Maimbourg (Jesuit): Histoire de l’hérésie des iconoclastes. Paris, 1679 and 1683, 2 vols. (Hefele, III. 371, calls this work "nicht ganz zuverlässig," not quite reliable).



Fr. Spanheim (Calvinist): Historia Imaginum restituta. Lugd. Bat. 1686 (in Opera, II. 707).

Chr. W. Fr. Walch (Lutheran): Ketzerhistorie. Leipz., 1762 sqq., vol. X. (1782) p. 65–828, and the whole of vol. XI. (ed. by Spittler, 1785). Very thorough, impartial, and tedious.

F. Ch. Schlosser: Geschichte der bilderstürmenden Kaiser des oströmischen Reichs. Frankf. a. M., 1812.

J. Marx (R.C.): Der Bilderstreit der Byzant. Kaiser. Trier, 1839.

Bishop Hefele: Conciliengesch. vol III. 366–490; 694–716 (revised ed., Freib. i. B. 1877).

R. Schenk: Kaiser Leo III. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte des Bilderstreites. Halle, 1880.

General Church Histories: 1) R. Cath.: Baronius, Pagi, Natalis Alexander, Alzog, Hergenröther (I. 121–143; 152–168). 2) Protest.: Basnage, Gibbon (ch. 49), Schröckh (vol. XX.), Neander (III. 197–243; 532–553, Bost. ed.; fall and fair); Gieseler (II. 13–19, too short).

The literature on the image-controversy is much colored by the doctrinal stand-point of the writers. Gibbon treats it with cold philosophical indifference, and chiefly in its bearing on the political fortunes of the Byzantine empire.
With the worship of saints is closely, connected a subordinate worship of their images and relics. The latter is the legitimate application of the former. But while the mediaeval churches of the East and West—with the exception of a few protesting voices—were agreed on the worship of saints, there was a violent controversy about the images which kept the Eastern church in commotion for more than a century (a.d. 724–842), and hastened the decline of the Byzantine empire.

The abstract question of the use of images is connected with the general subject of the relation of art to worship. Christianity claims to be the perfect and universal religion; it pervades with its leavening power all the faculties of man and all departments of life. It is foreign to nothing which God has made. It is in harmony with all that is true, and beautiful, and good. It is friendly to philosophy, science, and art, and takes them into its service. Poetry, music, and architecture achieve their highest mission as handmaids of religion, and have derived the inspiration for their noblest works from the Bible. Why then should painting or sculpture or any other art which comes from God, be excluded from the use of the Church? Why should not Bible history as well as all other history admit of pictorial and sculptured representation for the instruction and enjoyment of children and adults who have a taste for beauty? Whatever proceeds from God must return to God and spread his glory.

But from the use of images for ornament, instruction and enjoyment there is a vast step to the worship of images, and experience proves that the former can exist without a trace of the latter. In the middle ages, however, owing to the prevailing saint-worship, the two were inseparable. The pictures were introduced into churches not as works of art, but as aids and objects of devotion. The image-controversy was therefore a, purely practical question of worship, and not a philosophical or artistic question. To a rude imagination an ugly and revolting picture served the devotional purpose even better than one of beauty and grace. It was only towards the close of the middle ages that the art of Christian painting began to produce works of high merit. Moreover the image-controversy was complicated with the second commandment of the decalogue which clearly and wisely forbids, if not all kinds of figurative representations of the Deity, at all events every idolatrous and superstitious use of pictures. It was also beset by the difficulty that we have no authentic pictures of Christ, the Madonna and the Apostles or any other biblical character.

We have traced in previous volumes the gradual introduction of sacred images from the Roman Catacombs to the close of the sixth century. The use of symbols and pictures was at first quite innocent and spread imperceptibly with the growth of the worship of saints. The East which inherited a love for art from the old Greeks, was chiefly devoted to images, the Western barbarians who could not appreciate works of art, cared more for relics.

We may distinguish three theories, of which two came into open conflict and disputed the ground till the year 842.

1. The theory of Image-Worship. It is the orthodox theory, denounced by the opponents as a species of idolatry,2but strongly supported by the people, the monks, the poets, the women, the Empresses Irene and Theodora, sanctioned by the seventh oecumenical Council (787) and by the popes (Gregory II., Gregory III. and Hadrian I). It maintained the right and duty of using and worshipping images of Christ, the Virgin, and the saints, but indignantly rejected the charge of idolatry, and made a distinction (often disregarded in practice) between a limited worship due to pictures, 533and adoration proper due to God alone. 534 Images are a pictorial Bible, and speak to the eye even more eloquently than the word speaks to the ear. They are of special value to the common people who cannot read the Holy Scriptures. The honors of the living originals in heaven were gradually transferred to their wooden pictures on earth; the pictures were reverently kissed and surrounded by the pagan rites of genuflexion, luminaries, and incense; and prayers were thought to be more effective if said before them. Enthusiasm for pictures went hand in hand with the worship of saints, and was almost inseparable from it. It kindled a poetic inspiration which enriched the service books of the Greek church. The chief hymnists, John of Damascus, Cosmas of Jerusalem, Germanus, Theophanes, Theodore of the Studium, were all patrons of images, and some of them suffered deposition, imprisonment, and mutilation for their zeal; but the Iconoclasts did not furnish a single poet. 535

The chief argument against this theory was the second commandment. It was answered in various ways. The prohibition was understood to be merely temporary till the appearance of Christ, or to apply only to graven images, or to the making of images for idolatrous purposes.

On the other hand, the cherubim over the ark, and the brazen serpent in the wilderness were appealed to as examples of visible symbols in the Mosaic worship. The incarnation of the Son of God furnished the divine warrant for pictures of Christ. Since Christ revealed himself in human form it can be no sin to represent him in that form. The significant silence of the Gospels concerning his personal appearance was supplied by fictitious pictures ascribed to St. Luke, and St. Veronica, and that of Edessa. A superstitious fancy even invented stories of wonder-working pictures, and ascribed to them motion, speech, and action.

It should be added that the Eastern church confines images to colored representations on a plane surface, and mosaics, but excludes sculptures and statues from objects of worship. The Roman church makes no such restriction.

2. The Iconoclastic theory occupies the opposite extreme. Its advocates were called image-breakers.6 It was maintained by the energetic Greek emperors, Leo III. and his son Constantine, who saved the tottering empire against the invasion of the Saracens; it was popular in the army, and received the sanction of the Constantinopolitan Synod of 754. It appealed first and last to the second commandment in the decalogue in its strict sense as understood by the Jews and the primitive Christians. It was considerably strengthened by the successes of the Mohammedans who, like the Jews, charged the Christians with the great sin of idolatry, and conquered the cities of Syria, Palestine, and Egypt in spite of the sacred images which were relied on for protection and miraculous interposition. The iconoclastic Synod of 754 denounced image-worship as a relapse into heathen idolatry, which the devil had smuggled into the church in the place of the worship of God alone in spirit and in truth.

The iconoclastic party, however, was not consistent; for it adhered to saint-worship which is the root of image-worship, and instead of sweeping away all religious symbols, it retained the sign of the cross with all its superstitious uses, and justified this exception by the Scripture passages on the efficacy of the cross, though these refer to the sacrifice of the cross, and not to the sign.

The chief defect of iconoclasm and the cause of its failure was its negative character. It furnished no substitute for image-worship, and left nothing but empty walls which could not satisfy the religious wants of the Greek race. It was very different from the iconoclasm of the evangelical Reformation, which put in the place of images the richer intellectual and spiritual instruction from the Word of God.

3. The Moderate theory sought a via media between image-worship and image-hatred, by distinguishing between the sign and the thing, the use and the abuse. It allowed the representation of Christ and the saints as aids to devotion by calling to remembrance the persons and facts set forth to the eye. Pope Gregory I. presented to a hermit at his wish a picture of Christ, of Mary, and of St. Peter and St. Paul, with a letter in which he approves of the natural desire to have a visible reminder of an object of reverence and love, but at the same time warned him against superstitious use. "We do not," he says, "kneel down before the picture as a divinity, but we adore Him whose birth or passion or sitting on the throne of majesty is brought to our remembrance by the picture." The same pope commended Serenus, bishop of Marseilles, for his zeal against the adoration of pictures, but disapproved of his excess in that direction, and reminded him of the usefulness of such aids for the people who had just emerged from pagan barbarism and could not instruct themselves out of the Holy Scriptures. The Frankish church in the eighth and ninth centuries took a more decided stand against the abuse, without, however, going to the extent of the iconoclasts in the East.

In the course of time the Latin church went just as far if not further in practical image-worship as the Eastern church after the seventh oecumenical council. Gregory II. stoutly resisted the iconoclastic decrees of the Emperor Leo, and made capital out of the controversy for the independence of the papal throne. Gregory III. followed in the same steps, and Hadrian sanctioned the decree of the second council of Nicaea. Image-worship cannot be consistently opposed without surrendering the worship of saints.

The same theories and parties reappeared again in the age of the Reformation: the Roman as well as the Greek church adhered to image-worship with an occasional feeble protest against its abuses, and encouraged the development of fine arts, especially in Italy; the radical Reformers (Carlstadt, Zwingli, Calvin, Knox) renewed the iconoclastic theory and removed, in an orderly way, the pictures from the churches, as favoring a refined species of idolatry and hindering a spiritual worship; the Lutheran church (after the example set by Luther and his friend Lucas Kranach), retained the old pictures, or replaced them by new and better ones, but freed from former superstition. The modern progress of art, and the increased mechanical facilities for the multiplication of pictures have produced a change in Protestant countries. Sunday School books and other works for old and young abound in pictorial illustrations from Bible history for instruction; and the masterpieces of the great religious painters have become household ornaments, but will never be again objects of worship, which is due to God alone.
Notes.
The Council of Trent, Sess. XXV. held Dec. 1563, sanctions, together with the worship of saints and relics, also the "legitimate use of images" in the following terms: "Moreover, that the images of Christ, of the Virgin Mother of God, and of the other saints, are to be had and retained particularly in temples, and that due honor and veneration are to be given them; not that any divinity, or virtue, is believed to be in them, on account of which they are to be worshiped; or that anything is to be asked of them; or that trust is to be reposed in images, as was of old done by the Gentiles, who placed their hope in idols; but because the honor which is shown them is referred to the prototypes which those images represent; in such wise that by the images which we kiss, and before which we uncover the head, and prostrate ourselves, we adore Christ, and we venerate the saints, whose similitude they bear: as, by the decrees of Councils, and especially of the second Synod of Nicaea, has been defined against the opponents of images." The Profession of the Tridentine Faith teaches the same in art. IX. (See Schaff, Creeds, II. p. 201, 209).

The modern standards of the Eastern Church reiterate the decision of the seventh (Ecumenical Council. The Synod of Jerusalem, or the Confession of Dositheus, includes pictures of Christ, the mother of God, the saints and the holy angels who appeared to some of the patriarchs and prophets, also the symbolic representation of the Holy Spirit under the form of a dove, among the objects of worship (proskunou'men kai; timw'men kai; ajspazovmeqa). See Schaff, l.c. II. 436. The Longer Russian Catechism, in the exposition of the second commandment (Schaff, II. 527), thus speaks of this subject:

"What is an icon (eijkwvn)?

"The word is Greek, and means an image or representation. In the Orthodox Church this name designates sacred representations of our Lord Jesus Christ, God incarnate, his immaculate Mother, and his saints.

"Is the use of holy icons agreeable to the second commandment?

It would then, and then only, be otherwise, if any one were to make gods of them; but it is not in the least contrary to this commandment to honor icons as sacred representations, and to use them for the religious remembrance of God’s works and of his saints; for when thus used icons are books, writen(sic) with the forms of persons and things instead of letters. (See Greg. Magn. lib. ix. Ep. 9, ad Seren. Epis.).

"What disposition of mind should we have when we reverence icons?

"While we look on them with our eyes, we should mentally look to God and to the saints, who are represented on them."


§ 101. The Iconoclastic War, and the Synod of 754.
The history of the image-controversy embraces three periods: 1) The war upon images and the abolition of image-worship by the Council of Constantinople, a.d. 726–754. 2) The reaction in favor of image-worship, and its solemn sanction by the second Council of Nicaea, a.d. 754–787. 3) The renewed conflict of the two parties and the final triumph of image-worship, a.d. 842.

Image-worship had spread with the worship of saints, and become a general habit among the people in the Eastern church to such an extent that the Christian apologists had great difficulty to maintain their ground against the charge of idolatry constantly raised against them, not only by the Jews, but also by the followers of Islam, who could point to their rapid successes in support of their abhorrence of every species of idolatry. Churches and church-books, palaces and private houses, dresses and articles of furniture were adorned with religious pictures. They took among the artistic Greeks the place of the relics among the rude Western nations. Images were made to do service as sponsors in the name of the saints whom they represented. Fabulous stories of their wonder-working power were circulated and readily believed. Such excesses naturally called forth a reaction.

Leo III., called the Isaurian (716–741), a sober and energetic, but illiterate and despotic emperor, who by his military talents and successes had risen from the condition of a peasant in the mountains of Isauria to the throne of the Caesars, and delivered his subjects from the fear of the Arabs by the new invention of the "Greek fire," felt himself called, as a second Josiah, to use his authority for the destruction of idolatry. The Byzantine emperors did not scruple to interfere with the internal affairs of the church, and to use their despotic power for the purpose. Leo was influenced by a certain bishop Constantinus 537of Nakolia in Phrygia, and by a desire to break the force of the Mohammedan charge against the Christians. In the sixth year of his reign he ordered the forcible baptism of Jews and Montanists (or Manichaeans); the former submitted hypocritically and mocked at the ceremony; the latter preferred to set fire to their meeting-houses and to perish in the flames. Then, in the tenth year (726), 538he began his war upon the images. At first he only prohibited their worship, and declared in the face of the rising opposition that he intended to protect the images against profanation by removing them beyond the reach of touch and kiss. But in a second edict (730), he commanded the removal or destruction of all the images. The pictured walls were to be whitewashed. He replaced the magnificent picture of Christ over the gate of the imperial palace by a plain cross. He removed the aged Germanus, patriarch of Constantinople, and put the iconoclastic Anastasius in his place.

These edicts roused the violent opposition of the clergy, the monks, and the people, who saw in it an attack upon religion itself. The servants who took down the picture from the palace gate were killed by the mob. John of Damascus and Germanus, already known to us as hymnists, were the chief opponents. The former was beyond the reach of Leo, and wrote three eloquent orations, one before, two after the forced resignation of Germanus, in defence of image-worship, and exhausted the argument. 539 The islanders of the Archipelago under the control of monks rose in open rebellion, and set up a pretender to the throne; but they were defeated, and their leaders put to death. Leo enforced obedience within the limits of the Eastern empire, but had no power among the Christian subjects of the Saracens, nor in Rome and Ravenna, where his authority was openly set at defiance. Pope Gregory II. told him, in an insulting letter (about 729), that the children of the grammar-school would throw their tablets at his head if he avowed himself a destroyer of images, and the unwise would teach him what he refused to learn from the wise 540. Seventy years afterwards the West set up an empire of its own in close connection with the bishop of Rome.

Constantine V., surnamed Copronymos,1during his long reign of thirty-four years (741–775), kept up his father’s policy with great ability, vigor and cruelty, against popular clamor, sedition and conspiracy. His character is very differently judged according to the doctrinal views of the writers. His enemies charge him with monstrous vices, heretical opinions, and the practice of magical arts; while the iconoclasts praise him highly for his virtues, and forty years after his death still prayed at his tomb. His administrative and military talents and successes against the Saracens, Bulgarians, and other enemies, as well as his despotism and cruelty (which he shares with other Byzantine emperors) are beyond dispute.

He called an iconoclastic council in Constantinople in 754, which was to be the seventh oecumenical, but was afterwards disowned as a pseudo-synod of heretics. It numbered three hundred and thirty subservient bishops under the presidency of Archbishop Theodosius of Ephesus (the son of a former emperor), and lasted six months (from Feb. 10th to Aug. 27th); but the patriarchs of Jerusalem, Antioch, and Alexandria, being under Moslem rule, could not attend, the see of Constantinople was vacant, and Pope Stephen III. disregarded the imperial summons. The council, appealing to the second commandment and other Scripture passages denouncing idolatry (Rom. 1:23, 25; John 4:24), and opinions of the Fathers (Epiphanius, Eusebius, Gregory Nazianzen, Chrysostom, etc.), condemned and forbade the public and private worship of sacred images on pain of deposition and excommunication, but (inconsistently) ordered at the same time that no one should deface or meddle with sacred vessels or vestments ornamented with figures, and formally declared its agreement with the six oecumenical councils, and the lawfulness of invoking the blessed Virgin and saints. It denounced all religious representations by painter or sculptor as presumptuous, pagan and idolatrous. Those who make pictures of the Saviour, who is God as well as man in one inseparable person, either limit the incomprehensible Godhead to the bounds of created flesh, or confound his two natures, like Eutyches, or separate them, like Nestorius, or deny his Godhead, like Arius; and those who worship such a picture are guilty of the same heresy and blasphemy. The eucharist alone is the proper image of Christ. A three-fold anathema was pronounced on the advocates of image-worship, even the great John of Damascus under the name of Mansur, who is called a traitor of Christ, an enemy of the empire, a teacher of impiety, and a perverter of the Scriptures. The acts of the Synod were destroyed except the decision (o{ro") and a brief introduction, which are embodied and condemned in the acts of the second Nicene Council. 542

The emperor carried out the decree with great rigor as far as his power extended. The sacred images were ruthlessly destroyed and replaced by white-wash or pictures of trees, birds, and animals. The bishops and clergy submitted; but the monks who manufactured the pictures, denounced the emperor as a second Mohammed and heresiarch, and all the iconoclasts as heretics, atheists and blasphemers, and were subjected to imprisonment, flagellation, mutilation, and all sorts of indignities, even death. The principal martyrs of images during this reign (from 761–775) are Petrus Kalabites (i.e. the inhabitant of a hut, kaluvbh), Johannes, Abbot of Monagria, and Stephanus, Abbot of Auxentius, opposite Constantinople (called "the new Stephanus," to distinguish him from the proto-martyr). The emperor made even an attempt to abolish the convents.3
§ 102. The Restoration of Image-Worship by the Seventh Oecumenical Council, 787.
Leo IV., called Chazarus (775–780), kept up the laws against images, though with more moderation. But his wife Irene of Athens distinguished for beauty, talent, ambition and intrigue, was at heart devoted to image-worship, and after his death and during the minority of her son Constantine VI. Porphyrogenitus, labored with shrewdness and perseverance for its restoration (780–802). At first she proclaimed toleration to both parties, which she afterwards denied to the iconoclasts. She raised the persecuted monks to the highest dignities, and her secretary, Tarasius, to the patriarchal throne of Constantinople, with the consent of Pope Hadrian, who was willing to overlook the irregularity of the sudden election of a layman in prospect of his services to orthodoxy. She removed the iconoclastic imperial guard, and replaced it by one friendly to her views.

But the crowning measure was an oecumenical council, which alone could set aside the authority of the iconoclastic council of 754. Her first attempt to hold such a council at Constantinople in 786 completely failed. The second attempt, owing to more careful preparations, succeeded.

Irene convened the seventh oecumenical council in the year 787, at Nicaea, which was less liable to iconoclastic disturbances than Constantinople, yet within easy reach of the court, and famous as the seat of the first and weightiest oecumenical council. It was attended by about three hundred and fifty bishops,4under the presidency of Tarasius, and held only eight sessions from September 24 to October 23, the last in the imperial palace of Constantinople. Pope Hadrian I. sent two priests, both called Peter, whose names stand first in the Acts. The three Eastern patriarchs, who were subject to the despotic rule of the Saracens, could not safely leave their homes; but two Eastern monks, John, and Thomas, who professed to be syncelli of two of these patriarchs and to have an accurate knowledge of the prevailing orthodoxy of Egypt and Syria, were allowed to sit and vote in the place of those dignitaries, although they had no authority from them, and were sent simply by a number of their fellow-monks. 545

The Nicene Council nullified the decrees of the iconoclastic Synod of Constantinople, and solemnly sanctioned a limited worship (proskynesis) of images.6

Under images were understood the sign of the cross, and pictures of Christ, of the Virgin Mary, of angels and saints. They may be drawn in color or composed of Mosaic or formed of other suitable materials, and placed in churches, in houses, and in the street, or made on walls and tables, sacred vessels and vestments. Homage may be paid to them by kissing, bowing, strewing of incense, burning of lights, saying prayers before them; such honor to be intended for the living objects in heaven which the images represented. The Gospel book and the relics of martyrs were also mentioned among the objects of veneration.

The decree was fortified by a few Scripture passages about the Cherubim (Ex. 25:17–22; Ezek. 41:1, 15, 19; Heb. 9:1–5), and a large number of patristic testimonies, genuine and forged, and alleged miracles performed by images.7 A presbyter testified that he was cured from a severe sickness by a picture of Christ. Bishop after bishop, even those who had been members of the Synod of 754, renounced his iconoclastic opinions, and large numbers exclaimed together: "We all have sinned, we all have erred, we all beg forgiveness." Some professed conscientious scruples, but were quieted when the Synod resolved that the violation of an oath which was contrary to the law of God, was no perjury. At the request of one of the Roman delegates, an image was brought into the assembly, and reverently kissed by all. At the conclusion, the assembled bishops exclaimed unanimously: "Thus we believe. This is the doctrine of the apostles. Anathema upon all who do not adhere to it, who do not salute the images, who call them idols, and who charge the Christians with idolatry. Long life to the emperors! Eternal memory to the new Constantine and the new Helena! God protect their reign! Anathema upon all heretics! Anathema especially upon Theodosius, the false bishop of Ephesus, as also upon Sisinnius and Basilius! The Holy Trinity has rejected their doctrines." Then follows an anathema upon other distinguished iconoclasts, and all who do not confess that Christ’s humanity has a circumscribed form, who do not greet the images, who reject the ecclesiastical traditions, written or unwritten; while eternal memory is given to the chief champions of image-worship, Germanus of Constantinople, John of Damascus, and George of Cyprus, the heralds of truth. 548

The decrees of the Synod were publicly proclaimed in an eighth session at Constantinople in the presence of Irene and her son, and, signed by them; whereupon the bishops, with the people and soldiers, shouted in the usual form: "Long live the Orthodox queen-regent." The empress sent the bishops home with rich presents.

The second Council of Nicaea stands far below the first in moral dignity and doctrinal importance, and occupies the lowest grade among the seven oecumenical synods; but it determined the character of worship in the oriental church for all time to come, and herein lies its significance. Its decision is binding also upon the Roman church, which took part in it by two papal legates, and defended it by a letter of Pope Hadrian to Charlemagne in answer to the Libri Carolini. Protestant churches disregard the council because they condemn image-worship as a refined form of idolatry and as a fruitful source of superstition; and this theory is supported by the plain sense of the second commandment, the views of the primitive Christians, and, negatively, by the superstitions which have accompanied the history of image-worship down to the miracle-working Madonnas of the nineteenth century. At the same time it may be readily conceded that the decree of Nicaea has furnished aid and comfort to a low and crude order of piety which needs visible supports, and has stimulated the development of Christian art. Iconoclasm would have killed it. It is, however, a remarkable fact that the Catholic Raphael and Michael Angelo, and the Protestant Lucas Kranach and Albrecht Dürer, were contemporaries of the Reformers, and that the art of painting reached its highest perfection at the period when image-worship for a great part of Christendom was superseded by the spiritual worship of God alone.

A few months after the Nicene Council, Irene dissolved the betrothal of her son, the Emperor Constantine, to Rotrude, a daughter of Charlemagne, which she herself had brought about, and forced him to marry an Armenian lady whom he afterward cast off and sent to a convent.9 From this time dates her rupture with Constantine. In her ambition for despotic power, she rendered him odious by encouraging his bad habits, and at last incapable of the throne by causing his eyes to be plucked out, while he was asleep, with such violence that he died of it (797). It is a humiliating fact that Constantine the Great, the convener of the first Nicene Council, and Irene, the convener of the second and last, are alike stained with the blood of their own offspring, and yet honored as saints in the Eastern church, in whose estimate orthodoxy covers a multitude of sins. 550 She enjoyed for five years the fruit of unnatural cruelty to her only child. As she passed through the streets of Constantinople, four patricians marched on foot before her golden chariot, holding the reins of four milk-white steeds. But these patricians conspired against their queen and raised the treasurer Nicephorus to the throne, who was crowned at St. Sophia by the venal patriarch. Irene was sent into exile on the Isle of Lesbos, and had to earn her bread by the labors of her distaff as she had done in the days of her youth as an Athenian virgin. She died of grief in 803. With her perished the Isaurian dynasty. Startling changes of fortune were not uncommon among princes and patriarchs of the Byzantine empire.
§ 103. Iconoclastic Reaction, and Final Triumph of Image-Worship, a.d. 842.
Walch, X. 592–828. Hefele, IV. 1–6; 38–47; 104–109.
During the five reigns which succeeded that of Irene, a period of thirty-eight years, the image-war was continued with varying fortunes. The soldiers were largely iconoclastic, the monks and the people in favor of image-worship. Among these Theodore of the Studium was distinguished by his fearless advocacy and cruel sufferings under Leo V., the Armenian (813–820), who was slain at the foot of the altar. Theophilus (829–842) was the last and the most cruel of the iconoclastic emperors. He persecuted the monks by imprisonment, corporal punishment, and mutilation. 551

But his widow, Theodora, a second Irene, without her vices,2in the thirteenth year of her regency during the minority of Michael the Drunkard, achieved by prudent and decisive measures the final and permanent victory of image-worship. She secured absolution for her deceased husband by the fiction of a death-bed repentance, although she had promised him to make no change. The iconoclastic patriarch, John the Grammarian, was banished and condemned to two hundred lashes; the monk Methodius of opposite tendency (honored as a confessor and saint) was put in his place; the bishops trembled and changed or were deposed; the monks and the people were delighted. A Synod at Constantinople (the acts of it are lost) reënacted the decrees of the seven oecumenical Councils, restored the worship of images, pronounced the anathema upon all iconoclasts, and decided that the event should be hereafter commemorated on the first Sunday in Lent by a solemn procession and a renewal of the anathema on the iconoclastic heretics.

On the 19th of February, 842, the images were again introduced into the churches of Constantinople. It was the first celebration of the "Sunday of Orthodoxy," 553which afterwards assumed a wider meaning, as a celebration of victory over all heresies. It is one of the most characteristic festivals of the Eastern church. The old oecumenical Councils are dramatically represented, and a threefold anathema is pronounced upon all sorts of heretics such as atheists, antitrinitarians, upon those who deny the virginity of Mary before or after the birth of Christ, the inspiration of the Scriptures, or the immortality of the soul, who reject the mysteries (sacraments), the traditions and councils, who deny that orthodox princes rule by divine appointment and receive at their unction the Holy Ghost, and upon all iconoclasts. After this anathema follows the grateful commemoration of the orthodox confessors and "all who have fought for the orthodox faith by their words, writings, teaching, sufferings, and godly example, as also of all the protectors and defenders of the Church of Christ." In conclusion the bishops, archimandrites and priests kiss the sacred icons. 554
§ 104. The Caroline Books and the Frankish Church on Image-Worship.
I. Libri Carolini, first ed. by Elias Philyra (i.e., Jean du Tillet, or Tilius, who was suspected of Calvinism, but afterwards became bishop of Meaux), from a French (Paris) MS., Paris, 1549; then by Melchior Goldast in his collection of imperial decrees on the image-controversy, Francof., 1608 (67 sqq.), and in the first vol. of his Collection of Constitutiones imperiales, with the addition of the last ch. (lib. IV., c. 29), which was omitted by Tilius; best ed. by Ch. A. Heumann, Hanover, 1731, under the title: Augusta Concilii Nicaeni II. Censura, h. e., Caroli Magni de impio imaginum cultu libri IV., with prolegomena and notes. The ed. of Abbé Migne, in his "Patrol. Lat.," Tom. 98, f. 990–1248 (in vol. II. of Opera Caroli M.), is a reprint of the ed. of Tilius, and inferior to Heumann’s ed. ("Es ist zu bedauern," says Hefele, III. 696, "dass Migne, statt Besseres, entschieden Geringeres geboten hat, als man bisher schon besass".)

II. Walch devotes the greater part of the eleventh vol. to the history of image-worship in the Frankish Church from Pepin to Louis the Pious. Neander, III. 233–243; Gieseler, II. 66–73; Hefele, III 694–716; Hergenröther, I. 553–557. Floss: De suspecta librorum Carolinorum fide. Bonn, 1860. Reifferscheid: Narratio de Vaticano librorum Carolinorum Codice. Breslau, 1873.


The church of Rome, under the lead of the popes, accepted and supported the seventh oecumenical council, and ultimately even went further than the Eastern church in allowing the worship of graven as well as painted images. But the church in the empire of Charlemagne, who was not on good terms with the Empress Irene, took a position between image-worship and iconoclasm.

The question of images was first discussed in France under Pepin in a synod at Gentilly near Paris, 767, but we do not know with what result.5 Pope Hadrian sent to Charlemagne a Latin version of the acts of the Nicene Council; but it was so incorrect and unintelligible that a few decades later the Roman librarian Anastasius charged the translator with ignorance of both Greek and Latin, and superseded it by a better one.

Charlemagne, with the aid of his chaplains, especially Alcuin, prepared and published, three years after the Nicene Council, an important work on image-worship under the title Quatuor Libri Carolini (790). 556 He dissents both from the iconoclastic synod of 754 and the anti-iconoclastic synod of 787, but more from the latter, which he treats very disrespectfully. 557 He decidedly rejects image-worship, but allows the use of images for ornament and devotion, and supports his view with Scripture passages and patristic quotations. The spirit and aim of the book is almost Protestant. The chief thoughts are these: God alone is the object of worship and adoration (colondus et adorandus). Saints are only to be revered (venerandi). Images can in no sense be worshipped. To bow or kneel before them, to salute or kiss them, to strew incense and to light candles before them, is idolatrous and superstitious. It is far better to search the Scriptures, which know nothing of such practices. The tales of miracles wrought by images are inventions of the imagination, or deceptions of the evil spirit. On the other hand, the iconoclasts, in their honest zeal against idolatry, went too far in rejecting the images altogether. The legitimate and proper use of images is to adorn the churches and to perpetuate and popularize the memory of the persons and events which they represent. Yet even this is not necessary; for a Christian should be able without sensual means to rise to the contemplation of the virtues of the saints and to ascend to the fountain of eternal light. Man is made in the image of God, and hence capable of receiving Christ into his soul. God should ever be present and adored in our hearts. O unfortunate memory, which can realize the presence of Christ only by means of a picture drawn in sensuous colors. The Council of Nicaea committed a great wrong in condemning those who do not worship images.

The author of the Caroline books, however, falls into the same inconsistency as the Eastern iconoclasts, by making an exception in favor of the sign of the cross and the relics of saints. The cross is called a banner which puts the enemy to flight, and the honoring of the relics is declared to be a great means of promoting piety, since the saints reign with Christ in heaven, and their bones will be raised to glory; while images are made by men’s hands and return to dust.

A Synod in Frankfort, a.d. 794, the most important held during the reign of Charlemagne, and representing the churches of France and Germany, in the presence of two papal legates (Theophylactus and Stephanus), endorsed the doctrine of the Libri Carolini, unanimously condemned the worship of images in any form, and rejected the seventh oecumenical council. 558 According to an old tradition, the English church agreed with this decision. 559

Charlemagne sent a copy of his book, or more probably an extract from it (85 Capitula or Capitulare de Imaginibus) through Angilbert, his son-in-law, to his friend Pope Hadrian, who in a long answer tried to defend the Eastern orthodoxy of Nicaea with due respect for his Western protector, but failed to satisfy the Frankish church, and died soon afterwards (Dec. 25, 795).0

A Synod of Paris, held under the reign of Charlemagne’s son and successor, Louis the Pious, in the year 825, renewed the protest of the Frankfort Synod against image-worship and the authority of the second council of Nicaea, in reply to an embassy of the Emperor Michael Balbus, and added a slight rebuke to the pope.1
Notes.
The Caroline Books, if not written by Charlemagne, are at all events issued in his name; for the author repeatedly calls Pepin his father, and speaks of having undertaken the work with the consent of the priests in his dominion (conniventia sacerdotum in regno a Deo nobis concesso). The book is first mentioned by Archbishop Hincmar of Rheims in the ninth century as directed against the pseudo-Synodus Graecorum (the second Nicene Council), and he quotes a passage from a copy which he saw in the royal palace. The second mention and quotation was made by the papal librarian Augustin Steuchus (d. 1550) from a very old copy in the Bibliotheca Palatina. As soon as it appeared in print, Flavius and other Protestant polemics used it against Rome. Baronius, Bellarmin, and other Romanists denied the genuineness, and ascribed the book to certain heretics in the age of Charlemagne, who sent it to Rome to be condemned; some declared it even a fabrication of the radical reformer Carlstadt! But Sirmond and Natalis Alexander convincingly proved the genuineness. More recently Dr. Floss (R.C.) of Bonn, revived the doubts (1860), but they are permanently removed since Professor Reifferscheid (1866) discovered a new MS. from the tenth century in the Vatican library which differs from the one of Steuchus, and was probably made in the Cistercian Convent at Marienfeld in Westphalia. "Therefore," writes Bishop Hefele in 1877 (III. 698), "the genuineness of the Libri Carolini is hereafter no longer to be questioned (nicht mehr zu beanstanden)."
§ 105. Evangelical Reformers. Agobardus of Lyons, and Claudius of Turin.
I. Agobardus: Contra eorum superstitionem qui picturis et imaginibus SS. adorationis obsequium deferendum putant. Opera ed. Baluzius Par. 1666, 2 vols., and Migne, "Patrol. Lat." vol. 104, fol. 29–351. Histoire litter. de la France, IV. 567 sqq. C. B. Hundeshagen: De Agobardi vita et scriptis. Pars I. Giessae 1831; and his article in Herzog2 I. 212 sq. Bähr: Gesch. der röm. Lit. in Karoliny. Zeitalter, p. 383–393. Bluegel: De Agobardi archiep. Lugd. vita et scriptis. Hal. 1865. Simson: Jahrbücher des fränkischen Reichs unter Ludwig dem Frommen. Leipz. 1874 and ’76. C. Deedes in Smith and Wace, I. 63–64. Lichtenberger, I. 119.

II. Claudius: Opera in Migne’s "Patrol. Lat." vol. 104, fol. 609–927. Commentaries on Kings, Gal., Ephes., etc., Eulogium Augustini, and Apologeticum. Some of his works are still unpublished. Rudelbach: Claudii Tur. Ep. ineditorum operum specimina, praemissa de ejus doctrina scriptisque dissert. Havniae 1824. C. Schmidt: Claudius v. Turin in Illgen’s "Zeitschrift f. die Hist. Theol." 1843. II. 39; and his art. in Herzog2, III. 243–245.

III. Neander, III. 428–439 (very full and discriminating on Claudius); Gieseler, II. 69–73 (with judicious extracts); Reuter: Geschichte der Aufklärung im Mittelalter, vol. I. (Berlin 1875), 16–20 and 24–41.
The opposition to image-worship and other superstitious practices continued in the Frankish church during the ninth century.

Two eminent bishops took the lead in the advocacy of a more spiritual and evangelical type of religion. In this they differed from the rationalistic and destructive iconoclasts of the East. They were influenced by the writings of Paul and Augustin, those inspirers of all evangelical movements in church history; with this difference, however, that Paul stands high above parties and schools, and that Augustin, with all his anti-Pelagian principles, was a strong advocate of the Catholic theory of the church and church-order.



Agobard (in Lyonese dialect Agobaud or Aguebaud), a native of Spain, but of Gallic parents, and archbishop of Lyons (816–841), figures prominently in the political and ecclesiastical history of France during the reign of Louis the Pious. He is known to us already as an opponent of the ordeal, the judicial duel and other heathen customs.2 His character presents singular contrasts. He was a rigid ecclesiastic and sacerdotalist, and thoroughly orthodox in dogma (except that he denied the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures); but, on the other hand, a sworn enemy of all superstition, and advocate of liberal views in matters of worship. 563 He took part in the rebellion of Lothaire against his father Louis in 833, which deprived him of his bishopric and left a serious stain on his character, but he was afterwards reconciled to Louis and recovered the bishopric. He opposed Adoptionism as a milder form of the Nestorian heresy. He attacked the Jews, who flocked to Lyons in large numbers, and charges them with insolent conduct towards the Christians. In this he shared the intolerance of his age. But, on the other hand, he wrote a book against image-worship. 564 He goes back to the root of the difficulty, the worship of saints. He can find no authority for such worship. The saints themselves decline it. It is a cunning device of Satan to smuggle heathen idolatry, into the church under pretext of showing honor to saints. He thus draws men away from a spiritual to a sensual worship. God alone should be adored; to him alone must we present the sacrifice of a broken and contrite heart. Angels and holy men who are crowned with victory, and help us by their intercessions, may be loved and honored, but not worshiped. "Cursed be the man that trusteth in man" (Jer. 17:5). We may look with pleasure on their pictures, but it is better to be satisfied with the simple symbol of the cross (as if this were not liable to the same abuse). Agobart approves the canon of Elvira, which forbade images altogether. He says in conclusion: "Since no man is essentially God, save Jesus our Saviour, so we, as the Scripture commands, shall bow our knees to his name alone, lest by giving this honor to another we may be estranged from God, and left to follow the doctrines and traditions of men according to the inclinations of our hearts." 565

Agobard was not disturbed in his position, and even honored as a saint in Lyons after his death, though his saintship is disputed.6 His works were lost, until Papirius Masson discovered a MS. copy and rescued it from a bookbinder’s hands in Lyons (1605).



Claudius, bishop of Turin (814–839), was a native of Spain, but spent three years as chaplain at the court of Louis the Pious and was sent by him to the diocese of Turin. He wrote practical commentaries on nearly all the books of the Bible, at the request of the emperor, for the education of the clergy. They were mostly extracted from the writings of Augustin, Jerome, and other Latin fathers. Only fragments remain. He was a great admirer of Augustin, but destitute of his wisdom and moderation. 567

He found the Italian churches full of pictures and picture-worshipers. He was told that the people did not mean to worship the images, but the saints. He replied that the heathen on the same ground defend the worship of their idols, and may become Christians by merely changing the name. He traced image-worship and saint-worship to a Pelagian tendency, and met it with the Augustinian view of the sovereignty of divine grace. Paul, he says, overthrows human merits, in which the monks now most glory, and exalts the grace of God. We are saved by grace, not by works. We must worship the Creator, not the creature. "Whoever seeks from any creature in heaven or on earth the salvation which he should seek from God alone, is an idolater." The departed saints themselves do not wish to be worshipped by us, and cannot help us. While we live, we may aid each other by prayers, but not after death. He attacked also the superstitious use of the sign of the cross, going beyond Charlemagne and Agobard. He met the defence by carrying it to absurd conclusions. If we worship the cross, he says, because Christ suffered on it, we might also worship every virgin because he was born of a virgin, every manger because he was laid in a manger, every ship because he taught from a ship, yea, every ass because he rode on an ass into Jerusalem. We should bear the cross, not adore it. He banished the pictures, crosses and crucifixes from the churches, as the only way to kill superstition. He also strongly opposed the pilgrimages. He had no appreciation of religious symbolism, and went in his Puritanic zeal to a fanatical extreme.

Claudius was not disturbed in his seat; but, as he says himself, he found no sympathy with the people, and became "an object of scorn to his neighbors," who pointed at him as "a frightful spectre." He was censured by Pope Paschalis I. (817–824), and opposed by his old friend, the Abbot Theodemir of the diocese of Nismes, to whom he had dedicated his lost commentary on Leviticus (823), by Dungal (of Scotland or Ireland, about 827), and by Bishop Jonas of Orleans (840), who unjustly charged him with the Adoptionist and even the Arian heresy. Some writers have endeavored, without proof, to trace a connection between him and the Waldenses in Piedmont, who are of much later date.8

Jonas of Orleans, Hincmar of Rheims, and Wallafrid Strabo still maintained substantially the moderate attitude of the Caroline books between the extremes of iconoclasm and image-worship. But the all-powerful influence of the popes, the sensuous tendency and credulity of the age, the ignorance of the clergy, and the grosser ignorance of the people combined to secure the ultimate triumph of image-worship even in France. The rising sun of the Carolingian age was obscured by the darkness of the tenth century.



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