Omelchenko Darya

Letters of Pope Symmachus to the bishops of Gaul and Caesarius of Arles: translation and commentary

Omelchenko Darya (2023) "Letters of Pope Symmachus to the bishops of Gaul and Caesarius of Arles: translation and commentary ", Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia II : Istoriia. Istoriia Russkoy Pravoslavnoy Tserkvi, 2023, vol. 114, pp. 119-143 (in Russian).

DOI of the paper: 10.15382/sturII2023114.119-143


This article publishes a translation of the 513–514 epistles of pope Symmachus (498–514) to the bishops of Gaul and Caesarius of Arles (502–543). The main issues discussed in the epistles are the claims of the see of Arles for regional primacy in Southern Gaul, women's monasticism and church discipline. The conflict between the sees of Arles and Vienne over ecclesiastical primacy dates back to the end of the 4th century and was connected with the fact that Arles became the political capital of Southern Gaul. During the 5th century, the papal position in this dispute was variable and was not accepted as a valid argument by all the bishops of Gaul. Symmachus confirmed the decisions of pope Leo I the Great on the division of ecclesiastical jurisdiction in the province of Vienne, and for the first time granted the bishop of Arles the privilege of wearing the pallium. Although Caesarius became the pope's representative in Southern Gaul, there was no real opportunity for the bishop to exercise this privilege for some time because of the political situation in the region. Regarding the property of the convent at Arles, Symmachus' decision could not satisfy Caesarius because of the vagueness of the pope's wording. As for church discipline, Symmachus could only once again condemn its violations.


church cathedra, church discipline, metropolitan city, bishop, papacy, Symmachus, Caesarius of Arles, Southern Gaul, Arles


  1. Jones A. H. M. (1997) Gibel; antichnogo mira. Rostov-on-Don (Russian translation).
  2. Ferreiro А. (2006) “Petrine Primacy and Episcopal Authority in Caesarius of Arles”. Studia Patristica, 2006, vol. 43, pp. 367–372.
  3. Gaudemet J. (ed.) (1977) Conciles gaulois du IVe siècle (Sources Chrétiennes. 241). Paris.
  4. Gratsianskii M. (2014) “Vozniknovenie i razvitie kontseptsii papskogo primata v I–V vv.”. Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia I: Bogoslovie. Filosofiia, 2014, vol. 2 (52), pp. 9–29 (in Russian).
  5. Gratsianskii M. (2022) “Popytka tserkovno-administrativnoi reorganizatsii Iuzhnoi Gallii v pontifikat papy Zosima (417–418): motivy i posledstviia”, in Vizantiiskie ocherki: Trudy rossiiskih uchenykh k XXIV Mezhdunarodnomu kongressu vizantinistov, St. Petersburg, рр. 24–52 (in Russian).
  6. Gratsianskii M. (2021) “Rimskie episkopy i razvitie tserkovno-administrativnykh struktur sverkhprovintsialnogo″ urovnia v nachale V veka”. Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia II: Istoriia. Istoriia Russkoi Pravoslavnoi Tserkvi, 2021, vol. 101, рр. 9–33 (in Russian).
  7. Gratsianskii M. (2019) “Haeres Petri sive vicarius Petri: Obosnovanie iskliuchitelnykh vlastnykh prerogativ rimskogo episkopa papoi Lvom Velikim”. Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia II: Istoriia. Istoriia Russkoi Pravoslavnoi Tserkvi, 2019, vol. 89, рр. 27–48 (in Russian).
  8. Griffе É. (1947). La Gaule chrétienne à ľépoque romaine. 1: Des origines chrétiennes à la fin du IVе siècle. Paris; Toulouse.
  9. Hess H. (2002) The Early Development of Canon Law and the Council of Serdica. Oxford.
  10. Jourjon M. (1983) “À propos du conflit entre le pape Léon et Hilaire, évêque d´Arles”, in La patrie Gauloise d´Agrippa au VIème siècle. Actes du colloque. Lyon, 1981, Paris, pp. 267–271.
  11. Klingshirn W. (2004) Caesarius of Arles. The Making of a Christian Community in Late Antique Gaul. Cambridge.
  12. Kopylov I. (2012) “Arianskaia tserkov¢ v Korolevstve vestgotov”, in Vestgotskaia pravda (Kniga prigovorov). Latinskii tekst. Perevod. Issledovanie, Moscow, рр. 173–187 (in Russian).
  13. Lebedev A. (2006) Dukhovenstvo drevnei Vselenskoi Tserkvi ot vremion apostol;skih do Х veka. St. Petersburg (in Russian).
  14. Marcus R. A. (1974) Christianity in the Roman World. New York.
  15. Martindale J. R. (1980) The Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire. Vol. II: А.D. 395–527. Cambridge.
  16. Mathisen R. W. (2008) “D’Aire-sur-l’Adour à Agde: Les relations entre la loi séculière et la loi canonique à la fi n du royaume de Toulouse”, in Le Bréviaire d’Alaric. Aux origines du Code civil (Cultures et civilisations médiévales 44), Paris, pp. 41–52.
  17. Mejendorff J. (2012) Edinstvo imperii i razdeleniia khristian: tserkov; v 450–680 gody. Moscow (Russian translation).
  18. Morin G., Delage M.-J., Heijmans M. (eds) (2010) Vie de Césaire d’Arles. (Sources Chrétiennes.536). Paris.
  19. Munier Ch. (ed.) (1963) Concilia Galliae 314–506 (Corpus Christianorum. Series Latina, 148). Turnhout.
  20. Norkin K. (2019) “Stanovlenie tserkovnogo pervenstva Arlia v Gallii i rimskie papy (398–432 gody)”. Vizantiiskii vremennik, 2019, vol. 103, рр. 53–71 (in Russian).
  21. Omelchenko D. (2009) “Tsezarii Arelatskii i ego §Zaveshchanie″”, in Cursor Mundi: Chelovek antichnosti, srednevekov;ia i Vozrozhdeniya, Ivanovo, vol. 2, рр. 204–212 (in Russian).
  22. Ozoline A. (2008) Trésors de la Gaule chrétienne: histoire et restauration des reliques textiles de saint Césaire d’Arles, 470–542. Arles; Marseille.
  23. Pietri Ch. (1976) Roma Christiana. Recherches sur l’Église de Rome, son organisation, sa politique, son idéologie de Miltiade à Sixte III (311–440). Rome.
  24. Pontal O. (1989) Histoire des conciles mérovingiens. Paris.
  25. Sterk A. (2004) Renouncing the World Yet Leading the Church. The Monk-Bishop in Late Antiquity. London.
  26. Tamás H. (2022) “Practice and Function of Ecclesiastical Recommendation in Late Antiquity (Fourth — Fifth Centuries AD)”, in New Europe College Yearbook. Ștefan Odobleja Program 2021–2022, Bucharest, pp. 285–316.
  27. Tkachenko A. (2005) “Gallikanskii obriad”, in Pravoslavnaia entsiklopediia, Moscow, vol. 10, рр. 358–368 (in Russian).
  28. Tyulenev V. (2014) “Ennodii i Tsezarii Arelatskii”, in Cursor Mundi: Chelovek antichnosti, srednevekov;ia i Vozrozhdeniia, Ivanovo, vol. 6, рр. 60–65 (in Russian).
  29. Vogué A., de, Courreau J. (eds) (1988) “Testamentum sancti Caesarii”, in Césaire d’Arles. Oeuvres monastiques, Paris, vol. 1, pp. 381–397.
  30. Zaikov A. (2012) Rimskoe chastnoe pravo v sistematicheskom izlozhenii. Moscow (in Russian).
  31. Zaitsev D. (2005) “Arelatskie sobory”, in Pravoslavnaia entsiklopediia, Moscow, vol. 3, рр. 193–194 (in Russian).

Information about the author

Omelchenko Darya

Academic Degree: Candidate of Sciences* in History;
Place of work: St. Petersburg Institute of History, Russian Academy of Sciences;
Post: Researcher;
ORCID: 0000-0003-3242-2315;
Email: dorothy_om@mail.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 funded by the Russian Science Foundation as part of the project no. 23-28-00165 “The Correlation of Territorial and Ethno-Political Principles of Church Organisation in Late Ancient Gaul”.