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St Athanasius the Great TO THE BISHOPS OF AFRICA, Complete

Translated by Cardinal Newman.

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Letter of Ninety Bishops of Egypt and Libya, including Athanasius.

1. Pre-Eminence of the Council of Nicaea. Efforts to exalt that of Ariminum at its expense.

The letters are sufficient which were written by our beloved fellow-minister Damasus, bishop of the Great Rome, and the large number of bishops who assembled along with him; and equally so are those of the other synods which were held, both in Gaul and in Italy, concerning the sound Faith which Christ gave us, the Apostles preached, and the Fathers, who met at Nicaea from all this world of ours, have handed down. For so great a stir was made at that time about the Arian heresy, in order that they who had fallen into it might be reclaimed, while its inventors might be made manifest. To that council, accordingly, the whole world has long ago agreed, and now, many synods having been held, all men have been put in mind, both in Dalmatia and Dardania, Macedonia, Epirus and Greece, Crete, and the other islands, Sicily, Cyprus, Pamphylia, Lycia, and Isauria, all Egypt and the Libyas, and most of the Arabians have come to know it, and marvelled at those who signed it, inasmuch as even if there were left among them any bitterness springing up from the root of the Arians; we mean Auxentius, Ursacius, Valens and their fellows, by these letters they have been cut off and isolated. The confession arrived at at Nicaea was, we say once more, sufficient and enough by itself, for the subversion of all irreligious heresy, and for the security and furtherance of the doctrine of the Church. But since we have heard that certain wishing to oppose it are attempting to cite a synod supposed to have been held at Ariminum, and are eagerly striving that it should prevail rather than the other, we think it right to write and put you in mind, not to endure anything of the sort: for this is nothing else but a second growth of the Arian heresy. For what else do they wish for who reject the synod held against it, namely the Nicene, if not that the cause of Arius should prevail? What then do such men deserve, but to be called Arians, and to share the punishment of the Arians? For they were not afraid of God, who says, 'Remove not the eternal boundaries which thy fathers placed [3714] ,' and 'He that speaketh against father or mother, let him die the death [3715] :' they were not in awe of their fathers, who enjoined that they who hold the opposite of their confession should be anathema.

[3714] Prov. xxii. 28.

[3715] Ex. xxi. 17.

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