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Home > Fathers of the Church > Epistles (Cyprian of Carthage) > Epistle 37

Epistle 37

To Caldonius, Herculanus, and Others, About the Excommunication of Felicissimus.

Argument.— Felicissimus, Together with His Companions in Sedition, is to Be Restrained from the Communion of All.

1. Cyprian to Caldonius and Herculanus, his colleagues, also to Rogatianus and Numidicus, his fellow presbyters, greeting. I have been greatly grieved, dearest brethren, at the receipt of your letter, that although I have always proposed to myself and wished to keep all our brotherhood safe, and to preserve the flock unharmed, as charity requires, you tell me now that Felicissimus has been attempting many things with wickedness and craft; so that, besides his old frauds and plundering, of which I had formerly known a good deal, he has now, moreover, tried to divide with the bishop a portion of the people; that is, to separate the sheep from the shepherd, and sons from their parents, and to scatter the members of Christ. And although I sent you as my substitutes to discharge the necessities of our brethren, with funds, and if any, moreover, wished to exercise their crafts, to assist their wishes with such an addition as might be sufficient, and at the same time also to take note of their ages and conditions and deserts,— that I also, upon whom falls the charge of knowing all of them thoroughly, might promote any that were worthy and humble and meek to the offices of the ecclesiastical administration—he has interfered, and directed that no one should be relieved, and that those things which I had desired should not be ascertained by careful examination; he has also threatened our brethren, who had first approached to be relieved, with a wicked exercise of power, and with a violent dread that those who desired to obey me should not communicate with him in death.

2. And since, after all these things, neither moved by the honour of my station, nor shaken by your authority and presence, but of his own impulse, disturbing the peace of the brethren he has rushed forth with many more, and asserted himself as a leader of a faction and chief of a sedition with a hasty madness— in which respect, indeed, I congratulate several of the brethren that they have withdrawn from this boldness, and have rather chosen to consent with you, so that they may remain with the Church, their mother, and receive their stipends from the bishop who dispenses them, which, indeed, I know for certain, that others also will peaceably do, and will quickly withdraw from their rash error—in the meantime, since Felicissimus has threatened that they should not communicate with him in death who had obeyed us, that is, who communicated with us, let him receive the sentence which he first of all declared, that he may know that he is excommunicated by us; inasmuch as he adds to his frauds and rapines, which we have known by the clearest truth, the crime also of adultery, which our brethren, grave men, have declared that they have discovered, and have asseverated that they will prove; all which things we shall then judicially examine, when, with the Lord's permission, we shall assemble in one place with many of our colleagues. But Augendus also, who, considering neither his bishop nor his Church, has equally associated himself with him in this conspiracy and faction, if he should further persevere with him, let him bear the sentence which that factious and impetuous man has provoked on himself. Moreover, whoever shall ally himself with his conspiracy and faction, let him know that he shall not communicate in the Church with us, since of his own accord he has preferred to be separated from the Church. Read this letter of mine to our brethren, and also transmit it to Carthage to the clergy, the names being added of those who have joined themselves with Felicissimus. I bid you, beloved brethren, ever heartily farewell; and remember me. Farewell.

About this page

Source. Translated by Robert Ernest Wallis. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 5. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/050637.htm>.

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