The following translations of Pope Saint Hormisdas’ Letters 77 and 80 are by John Collorafi. They are of a rough, practical nature and the original Latin is below. The topic of the letters is on the “conditions” for receiving those churches who were in schism with Rome due to the Henotikon. The 77th letter is in anticipation of the 80th, the latter giving details as to what Hormisdas expects from those who are to re-enter communion with Patriarch Epiphanius of Constantinople and thereby, with Hormisdas himself.


Epistle 77. He commends Justinian for the reverence shown to himself. He waits for the promised legation. He explains the mysteries of the Most Holy Trinity.

Hormisdas to the illustrious Justinian.

1. Inasmuch as your high mindedness deigns to show its benevolence to me, you do something God pleasing and in accord with a right conscience, but there are no small advantages to me from your purpose. We receive greater fruit from such goodness, nor is the honor shown the bishop given in vain.

2. For it cannot be questioned that the honor shown the minister is tantamount to worship (Cultus) of the Lord, and he who esteems highly the person of the priest shall receive a greater reward from Him whom the priest serves. As the Lord Jesus says, he who gives the prophet an honorable reception is to receive a reward. As for me indeed your favor is of great moment, all the more precious inasmuch as whatever favor you deign to impart to me is shown to be in defense of the churches. But let us address what Your Highness wishes. Although you and the most clement emperor promise that a delegation is coming, and it is reasonable for us to await their presence, yet because we are pleased with the interest you express in religion… (line missing due to solecism or unclear syntax)

3. The Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit is one God; this was Israel commanded to adore, whose inseparable and undivided substance cannot be divided; it cannot be separated by a sacrilegious rending apart (sacrilega distinctione), as what as proper to each person is preserved.  Till then these things are to be commended to your faith, as we consider this appropriate brevity to suffice. A more complete exposition is due when the promised delegation from the most clement emperor arrives, and by God’s favor we are able to receive it, and with the help of our God finding out whatever it would like to know, sending an appropriate answer for the enlightenment of all.


Epistle 80. Hormisdas to Epiphanius. To him a vicarious prefecture of the Apostolic See is given in receiving the lapsed.

1. I am filled with much joy about the efforts of the most holy emperor and your love for the peace of the Church. What you have indicated about this in your letters is also known by the report of my legates. For there is manifest proof of mercy from on high when both human princes combine the interests of the faith with ordering of the realm, and bishops of the churches, for their part, are mindful of their duty.

2. Such were the rulers the Christian religion needed after the whirlwinds of discord, who by a far-seeing policy would overcome the tempest and bring back a peace long absent, and leaving their efforts as an example for future ages, show that they deserved the credit for whatever their posterity, in imitation of them, would do to please God.

3. Let us bless the Lord, dearest brother, that this has been granted in our days, and strive with all manner of prayer and effort so that what was well corrected through the help of our God, may by His help be completed in full. 

4. For it is to be hoped that the remaining members also which still remain divided may hasten to the framework of the body, and that the lesser ones may not differ from the greater. When your love exhorts to this effect in an effort of Christian charity, you must pursue what you urge on others, and embrace what you would persuade others to love.

5. For having a similar care for the faith, through religious patience let us hope for a like reward from the effect of good works, nor can we yield to difficulties. Faith does not grow tired with hardship, nor do we strive for the difficult way to heaven by sliding downhill, nor does one merit remuneration about the exercise of labor.

6. Wherefore, lest we fall away from doing good we are specially admonished: Blessed also, as the psalmist bears witness, are those who keep judgment and do justice always: for it is not the beginning of labor that is accustomed to attain the reward, but the end.

7. Let us therefore, who have one society in communion and belief, take up an equal care for solicitude. As we rejoice equally in the union of the Church of Constantinople with the Apostolic See, let us take care first, (as we admonish you affectionately), for the restoration of the rest as well, and let us keep our faith and integrity pure from all contagion. For you know, most holy brother, what bonds preserve ecclesiastical concord, which ones defend us from the snares of heretics, and by which ones the authority of the canons is also preserved.

8. Once these things have been observed with all circumspection, let remedies be conferred on those who hope for them.

9. For the order of ecclesiastical rules, and the pattern of justice itself, require that spiritual medicine not be denied to those who kindly and faithfully hope for it. Nor is anybody so different from the rest of humanity that an incautious simplicity may not turn him away from the rigor of discretion.

10. But in order that this may be accomplished with care, beyond cavil or the trace of any error, beloved brother, it behooves you to take on my person in this matter, knowing, as has been said, what must be done and what must be avoided in such cases as these. Even so are you to provide for all things as to have no doubt that you are to render an account to God for this dispensation: in such a way that your letters declare to us those who have been joined in communion with you, or with the Apostolic See through you, including the contents of the libelli which they shall have offered.

11. For thus will we absolve the errors of Severus and his accomplices or the like, nor will we allow the loss of those who could have been saved. Which matter, therefore, we believe, ought to be especially imposed upon you, transferring our burdens to your diligence, for you have already shown a respectable record in resisting the heretics, nor is it right to doubt about one who has already proved himself.

12. Take up at the same time the remedies of healing and the authority of righteousness, and show the mildness of human kindness to the petitioners, in such wise as to exclude those who persist in the contagion of heretics, or who feign innocence and agree with us only verbally, from those whose restoration to the Church you are providing for and planning. For it is not expedient to the strictness of the Church for such as those.

13. For the goods of mercy shall not be granted for the need of those who should be taken into account, if they are indiscreetly (granted) in common to the good and the bad. And because your love also mentioned those of Jerusalem in your letter, some of whose professions (of faith) have been brought to us, we have considered it necessary either to review those which were written, or give suitable answers. If they keep the constitutions of the holy fathers, if they venerate those foundations of the faith, they will not go astray from what was defined by them at the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

14. For they are already perfect as they are, and need no addition, or they are valid and therefore should not be changed, when all those poisons of the heretics have been suppressed.

15. Nor did the synod of Chalcedon overlook anything useful that any diligence could have conceived. For it either manifested more clearly the dogmas of earlier synods or confirmed them by repeated authority, having taken up a certain special fight against Nestorius and Eutyches, the former separating the deity of Jesus Christ our God from the flesh, and therefore forbidding that holy Mary be called the Mother of God, the latter refusing the truth of the flesh in the Lord.

16. Since our Lord Jesus Christ is the same Son of God, the same Son of man, one person in the two natures of the divinity and humanity… not like a fourth person added to the Trinity, but the Son of God himself emptying himself, and taking the form of a servant, wherefore we profess one indivisible essence of the Trinity… one (person) of the Son of God with the flesh he took on, one (person) of the Holy Spirit, both designating the persons by properties (proprietatibus) and confirming by the unity of essence the inseparable mystery of the Trinity.

17. For neither may it be doubted that the Word of God in His mother’s womb assumed human nature through the flesh, nor was He divided after the union of the natures effected by Himself within the womb. For as the humanity was not brought forth without God, so on the cross the impassible divinity was not divided from the suffering of the flesh: which is declared both by the birth giving of the virgin, her incorrupt fecundity, his singular resurrection from the dead and ascension into heaven.

18. If they keep to these things as defined by the Fathers, let them believe and not pass beyond what has been defined. If anybody departs from this path, he brings upon himself a cloud of doubting. But for us we must respond to this with that word of the Apostle: “we neither have this custom, nor does the Church of God.”

19. We have therefore written these things briefly, for neither is it fitting to doubt about matters frequently defined in accordance with the faith, and it is almost superfluous to send a legation, which is given to those who are instructed, for regarding this matter I have gone over quite a few things with our son the most clement emperor.

20. And because we are responding about those of Jerusalem, we have considered as well that for the sake of their salvation, this must be properly addressed. If they desire the unity of apostolic communion, let them either send us by their own channels their written profession of faith, which they offered to our legates in Constantinople, or give them to your fraternity, written however in the same tenor, which by all means should be sent us under your direction.

21. For regarding those from Thessalonica, whose legates came to us at the direction of our son the most clement and faithful emperor– lest it be considered that we have omitted anything– we want you to know, in accordance with what our Lord has been pleased to inspire us, that the entire case is to be handled by your disposition. If they have fulfilled what is necessary, these things are to be ordered by our brother and fellow bishop the venerable man John, and our sons the priest Heraclian and the deacon Constantine, most worthy of ecclesiastical honor. Content with having written what is relevant  to the case, we have been gratified in finding in a man of our order an equal measure of merit and religious purpose, and along with the legation enjoined on him, qualities befitting his wisdom and morals.

22. For it is desirable and a matter full of joy, that those who happen to be joined in communion and their duty are approved by a well earned reputation.

23. And by another hand: may God keep you healthy, venerable brother. Given on the seventh kalends of April, the most excellent man Valerius consul. (year of Christ 521).


The most holy archbishop said: if they have any letters about this case, now let the most venerable notaries of our most holy church show them to us.

The letters were produced through Cosmos, the venerable deacon, notary and chartophylax. The venerable deacon and notary Makarios read both the libellus from the clergy of Theopolis and the report of the synod held in the royal city to Archbishop John of the royal city, who is among the saints.

And Calonymus, the venerable deacon and notary, read from a codex the letter to John of holy memory, archbishop of Jerusalem, and to Epiphanius of pious memory, bishop of Tyre.

He also read the letter sent by Bishop John of Jerusalem and his synod to the holy John.

And Paul, the venerable deacon and notary, read the report and the acts sent by the bishops of Syria Secunda to the most holy John, bishop of the royal city, all of which were inserted…


For original Latin click here. In bold are words that are obscure in the photocopy of the PL.



Commendat Justiniunum de reverentia sibi exhibita.

Promissam legationem se etspectareSanctissimæ Trinitatis mysteria explicat.

Hormisda Justiniano viro illustri.

Quod celsitudo vestra animi circa me sui benevolentiam dignatur ostendere, facitis rem Deo placitam, et rectæ conscientiæ congruentem; sed non parva sunt nobis hujus emolumenta propositi. Major in nos fructus de tali bonitate revertitur, neque enim vacua honorificentia est quæ deferar antistiti.

Indubitatum siquidem est quia honor ministri cultus est domini, et qui personam sacerdotis magni habet, majorem remunerationem ab eo cui sacerdos famulatur accipiet, dicente Domino Jesu iis qui prophetas in honore suscipiunt, suam mercedem esse reddendam: et apud me quidem magni est gratia vestra momenti, eo tamen pretiosior, quia quidquid mihi gratiæ dignanter impenditis, in Ecclesiarum defensione monstratis. Sed it ad id quod celsitudo vestra desiderat noster sermo dirigatur, quanquam et clementissimus imperator, et vos promittatis legatianem esse venturam, et id cum ratione convenerit, ut eorum qui dirigendi sunt super omnibus nos decuerit exspeetare praesentiam; tamen quia gratum nobis est studium quod circa religionem vos habere declaratis, non gravat prælibare dicendo non opus ut stabilitatem fidei vestræ intentionis contentionis potius quam rationis sequaces procaci verborum no vitale confundant. 

Sancia Trinitas Pater, et Filius Spiritus sanctus unus est Deus; hane Israel jussus adorare, cujus inseparabilis et indiscrete substantia non polest dividi, non potest sacrilege distinctione separari, servata tamen proprietate sua unieuique personæ. Hæc interim commendanda fidei vestræ, epistolaris styli terminum cogitantes, congrua credimus brevitate sufficere, plenius disserenda cum florente imperio clementissimi principis, si promissain legationem et nos suscipere Deo propitiante contigerit, et cognitis omnibus cum adjutorio Dei nostri responso reddito pro universitatis informatione remittere.

Epistola LXXX (p. 515)

HORMISDÆ AD Epiphanium

Ipsi vicariam sedis apostolicæ præefecturam in recipiendis lapsis delegate.

Hormisdas Epiphanio episcopo Constantinopolitano

Multo gaudio sum repletus, quod circa Ecclesiæ pacem, et sanctissimi imperatoris, et dilectionis tuæ tale stadium, quale litteris indicasti, legatorum quoque meorum assertione cognovit. Manifesta enim hine supernae misericordiæ documenta produntur, quando et humani principes causam fidei cúm reipublicæ ordinationae conjungunt, Ecclesiarum præsules, quod ad dispensationem suam pertinent, officii memores exsequntur.

Talibus indigebat post discordiæ procellas religio Christiana rectoribus, qui compressis provida dispensatione turbinibus, diu peregrinatam pacem, depulsa tempestate reducerent, et in futura Saecula propositi sui exempla tendentes, sibi ascribendum indubitanter ostenderent, quidquid Deo placitum posteri pro sua imitatione fecissent.

Benedicamus Deum, frater carissime, nostris hoc diebus fuisse concessum, et totis orationum et curarum viribus annitamur, ut quæ per Dei nostri opem bene correcta sunt, ipso adjuvante per omnia compleantur.

Sperandum enim est ut ad compagem corporis sui reliqua quoque quæ adhuc divisa sunt membra festinent, et a potioribus minora non discrepent: ad quod cum dilectio tua Christianæ studio caritatis hortetur, debet id ad quod incitat segue, et quod amandum suadet amplecti.

Sperandum enim est ut ad compagem corporis sui reliqua quoque quæ adhuc divisa sunt membra festinent, et a potioribus minora non discrepent: ad quod cum dilectio tua Christianæ studio caritatis hortetur, debet id ad quod incitat segue, et quod amandum suadet amplecti.

Unde ne facientes bona, deficiamus specialiter admonemur: Beati etiam, teste Psalmista, qui custodiunt judicium, et faciunt justitiam in omni tempore: quia non initium laboris remunerationem præmii consuevit invenire, sed terminus.

Ergo par studium sollicitudinis assumentes, quibus est una in communione et credulitate societas, quemadmodum de adunata sedi apostolicae Constantinopolitana Ecclesia pariter exsulamus in Domino: ita de reliquarium quoque (sicut affectuose admones) reintegratione curemus primum, et fidem integritatemque nostram immaculatam ab omni contagione servemus. Nosti enim, frater sanctissime, quæ ecclesiasticam servent vincula concordiam, quæ nos ab hæreticorum tueantur insidiis, per quæ etiam canonum custodiatur auctoritas.

His in robore suo omni circumspectione servatis, remedia sperantibus conferentur.

Habet enim et ecclesiasticarum ordo regularum, et ipsius forma justitiae, ut medicina rationabilis benigne et fideliter sperantibus non negetur: nec quisquam ita est ab humanitate discretus, quem non a rigore discretionis inclinet incauta simplicitas.

Sed ut caute hoc citra querelam, aut erroris alicujus nævum valeat expediri, dilectissime frater, personam meam te in hoc oportet induere, scientem in hujusmodi causis, sicut prædictum est, quid faciendum sit, quid cavendum: ita omnia providenda, ut non ambigas rationem dispensationis hujus Deo esse reddendam: ita tamen ut eos qui vobis fuerunt communione sociati, vel per vos sedi apostolicæ vestra nobis scripta declarant, quibus etiam continentia libellorum, quos obtulerint, inseratur.

Sic enim et Severi, et complicum ejus, aut similium absolvemus errores, nec eorum qui sanari potuerint, dispendia patiemur. Quod ideo vobis specialiter credimus imponendum, ad diligentiam vestram nostra onera transferentes, quia non prava jam documenta resistentes hæreticis edidistis, nec debet de eo ambigi quem bene contigerit explorari.

Simul assume remedia medicinæ, simul accingere auctoritate justitiæ, et sic circa supplices humanitate mollire, ut in haereticorum contagione perdurantes, aut eos qui innocentiam simulant, et cum nostris sola voce consentiunt ab bis quibus pro Ecclesiæ redintegratione consulitur et providetur, excludes: nec enim expedit circa hos ecclesiasticum temperare censuram.

Non enim erunt miserationis bona pro eorum, quibus consuli oportet, necessitate collate, si indiscrete fuerint bonis malisque communia. Et quia Hierosolymitanorum quoque faciebat in tuis litteris tua dilectio mentionem, quorum etiam ad nos quedam delata profession, necessarium duximus vel recensere quæ scripta sunt, vel respondere quæ congrua. Qui si sanctorum Patrum constituta custodiunt, si illa fidei fundamenta venerantur ab his quæ per eos sancto Spiritu compungente definita sunt, non recedent.

Aut enim perfecta sunt, ita ut sunt, et adjectione non indigent: aut bene valida, et ideo non mutanda: quando ea omnia haereticorum venena compressa sunt.

Nec quidquam Chalcedonensis synodus, quod utile quaelibet diligentia potuisset excogitare, præteriit: quae præcedentium quoque dogmata vel clarius manifstavit, vel repetita auctoritate firmavit, speciale quoddam adversus Nestorium et Eutychem aggressa certamen, alterum deitatem Dei nostri Jesu Christi a carne separantem, et ideo sanctam Mariam Dei genitricem pronuntiare vitantem: alterum veritatem carnis in Domino renuentem.

Quando Dominus noster Jesus Christus idem Filius Dei, idem filius hominis, una in duabus persona naturis divinitatis et humanitatis carnis nec naturis adunatione confuses, non velut quarta persona addita Trinitati, sed ipse Filius Dei exinaniens semetipsum, et formam servi accipiens, propter quod et unam nec divisibilem profitemur essentiam Trinitatis, et proprietatem tamen suam scimus inesse personis, unam Filii Dei cum assumpta carne, unam Spiritus sancti: et personas proprietatibus designantes, et per unitatem essentiae inseparabile Trinitatis mysterium confirmantes.

Neque enim ambigi potest Verbum Dei intramatris viscera per carnem, humanam assumpsisse naturam, nec post a se factam intra vulvam naturarum unitionem divisum. Nam ut humanitas sine Deo non est edita, sic in cruce non est impassibilis divinitas a carnis passione divisa: quod virginis partus et intemerata fecunditas, et singularis a mortuis resurrection, et ad cælos declarat ascension.

Hæc si quemadmodum a Patribus constituta sunt servant, credant, nec definita transcendant: a quo qui tramite qui declinant, ipsi sibi nebulam dubitationis offundunt. Nobis autem illud apostolicum contentionis respondere necesse est, “nos hanc consuetudinem non habemus, nec Ecclesia Dei.”

Hæc ideo breviter, quia nec ambigi convenit de rebus iuxta fidem sæpius definitis: et pene supervacua est allegation, quæ adhibetur instructis, cum super hac re et ad clementissimum principem filium nostrum non pauca perstrinxerim.

 Et quia de Hierosolymitanorum propositione respondimus, hoc quoque æstimavimus, salutis eorum causa competenter ad endum, ut si communionis apostolicæ desiderant unitatem, professionem suam scripto inditam, quam legatis no stris apud Constantinopolim positis obtulerunt aut, per suos ad nos dirigant, aut fraternitati vestrae tradant, eodem tamen, sicut diximus, tenore conscriptam, quæ ad nos modis omnibus sub vestra ordinatore deferatur.

Nam de Thessalonicensibus, quorum ad nos legati sub clementissimi et fidei ssimi principis filii nostri ordinatione venerunt, ne quid omisisse credamur, nosse vos volumus, secundum hoc quod Domino nostro inspirante placuerit causam omnem nostro (vestra) dispositione tractandam, et si quod oportet impleverint, ordinanda hæc per fratrem nostrum et coepiscopum venerabilem virum Joannem, sed et filios nostros Heraclianumn presbyterum el Constantinum diaconum, ecclesiastico honore dignissimos; ad causam pertinentia conscripsisse contenti, gratulati sumus in viro ordinis nostri par meritum et religiosum nos invenisse propositum, et cum legatione mandata sapientiae et moribus congruential.

Votiva enim res et plena guadii est, ut sint justa aestimatione probabiles, quos communionis et officii contigerit esse consortes.

Et alia manu: Deus t e sanum custodiat, frater venerabilis. (Data septimo calendas Aprilis, Valerio viro clarissimo consule [anno Christi 521].)


Sanctissimus archiepiscopus dixit: Nunc venerabilissimi notarii sanctissimæ. Ecclesiae nostrae, si que sunt chartae apud eos præsentem causam concernentes, ipsas nobis manifestas faciant.

Εt productis chartis per venerabilem Cosmam diaconum, notarium et chartophylacem, Macarius venerabitis diaconus et nolarius, libellum ex persona clericorum Theopolis, et relationem synodi ibidem in regia urbe congregatae, utrumque ad Joannem inter sanctos archiepiscopum ipsius regiae Urbis, legit. 

Εt Calonymus, venerabilis diaconus et notarius, ex codice epistolam ad Joannem sanctae memoriae archiepiscopum Hierosolymnorum, et ad Epiphanium pæ memorie Tyriorum episcopum, legit. 

Insuper etiam epistolam missam ab ipso Joanne Hierosolymorum episcopo et synodo sua ad sanctum Joannem legit. Et Paulus venerabilis notarius et diaconus relationem cum gestis destinatam ab episcopis secundae Syriae ad sanctissimum Joannem archiepiscopum regiæ Urbis; que oinnia inserta tu re.