Anashkin Anton

Epistle of Pope Zosimus to bishops of Galliae and Septem provinciae

Anashkin Anton (2023) "Epistle of Pope Zosimus to bishops of Galliae and Septem provinciae ", Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia II : Istoriia. Istoriia Russkoy Pravoslavnoy Tserkvi, 2023, vol. 114, pp. 107-118 (in Russian).

DOI of the paper: 10.15382/sturII2023114.107-118


The paper includes a publication of a Latin translation of the Epistle Placuit apostolicae of Pope Zosimus to the bishops appointed in the dioceses of Galliae (Northern Gaul) and of Septem Provinciae (Southern Gaul), as well as a historical commentary and an introductory article. At the beginning of the paper, the historical context of the Epistle is described, then its content is considered. The Epistle sheds light on the relationship between the see of Rome and the sees of churches of Gaul (primarily, the Church of Arelate). Placuit apostolicae was written in the early days of the pontificate of Pope Zosimus (March 22, 417), probably as a reaction to the appeal of Patroclus of Arles who wanted to expand his influence and jurisdiction over the province of Viennensis and neighboring provinces of the South Gallic diocese, which contradicted the decisions of the synod of Turin in 398. In his letter to the Gallic bishops, Pope Zosimus expresses support for Patroclus and confirms special rights of the see of Arles: the right of the metropolitan bishop of Arles to ordinate bishops in the provinces of Viennensis, Narbonnensis I and Narbonnensis II; the privilege of issuing to Gallic bishops special cover letters (formatae) and recognition of primacy of the metropolitan bishop of Arles in Gaul (although the latter is not said expressiss verbis, but is implied); transfer of some controversial parishes in favor of Arles. With the help of these decisions, Zosimus was able to strengthen the influence of the Roman see in Gaul. Realizing that administrative decisions alone are not enough to fulfill these aspirations, Zosimus substantiates the rights of the see of Arles by appealing to the authority of Saint Trophimus, who, according to the legend first set forth in the letter, founded the first episcopal see in the Gallic lands and became the first bishop of Arles. It follows from this that the bishop of Arles enjoys the advantage of power in the region as Trophimus' heir. Through this narrative, Zosimus defended the interests of the see of Rome, which had sent Trophimus to christianize Gaul, and in the letter he actually constituted a hierarchical connection between the Churches of Gaul and Rome, asserting for Patroclus the right to issue formatae. Trying to change the ecclesiastical and administrative structure of Southern Gaul, Zosimus delegitimizes the decisions of the synod of Gallic Bishops in Turin.


Pope Zosimus, Patroclus of Arles, Apostle Trophimus, Synod of Turin, Church of Gaul, Roman Gaul, Arles, Church organization


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Information about the author

Anashkin Anton

Academic Degree: Candidate of Sciences* in Philology;
Place of work: St.Tikhon's Orthodox University;
ORCID: 0000-0002-5246-2210;
Email: miles-an@rambler.ru.

*According to the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) 2011, the degree of Candidate of Sciences (Cand.Sc.) belongs to ISCED level 8 — "doctoral or equivalent", together with PhD, DPhil, D.Lit, D.Sc, LL.D, Doctorate or similar.


The study was supported by the grant of Russian Science Foundation № 23-28-00165 «The Correlation of Territorial and Ethnopolitical Principles of Church Organization in Late Antique Gaul»