Facundus of Hermiane

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Sixth-century African bishop and theologian. Although nothing is known of the origins or early career of Facundus, he belonged to a group of African theologians whose knowledge of the history of the Church and whose theological method, based on the Scriptures and doctrines of the Church Fathers, enabled them to give a clear and logical explanation of the truths of the faith, characteristic of the finest patristic tradition. He likewise stood forth as a champion of the liberty of the Church, asserting its independence of the civil power: "Since civil affairs are not subject to the church, how can the affairs of the church be subject to the palace?" (Pro def. Trium Cap. 12.4).

Facundus was present in Constantinople when the acephali, or semi-Eutychians, as he called the party of theodore ascidas, persuaded justinian i that by condemning the three chapters he could regain the Monophysites to union with the Catholics; and Facundus maintained that this stratagem was a means of seeking vengeance for the condemnation of origenism by the Emperor's Edict of 543, brought about by the Roman deacon, later Pope, pelagius i (ibid. 1.2; 4.4). Facundus appears to have been present at a synod under Mennas in 546 that discussed the results of the Edict of 544 against the Three Chapters and to have begun writing his 12 books In Defense of the Three Chapters. He was one of the 70 bishops who participated in a synod with Pope vigilius i in Constantinople (autumn 547) to discuss the Three Chapters; and in the third session, by his offer to prove that the Council of Chalcedon had accepted the Letter of Ibas of Edessa, caused the Pope to prorogue discussion and ask for the opinions of the bishops in writing. Not yielding to the pressure of the imperial agents, Facundus obtained a seven-day delay in submitting his vote, contrary to the desire of the Emperor.

On later completing his Defense, which was addressed and submitted to Justinian, Facundus had to leave the capital. He took part in the general council of Africa (550) that condemned Pope Vigilius until he should rescind the Judicatum I. From hiding in exile, he followed the events leading to the Council of constantinople ii (553) and the Pope's submission to the Emperor's pressure (Feb. 23, 554). He directed his Liber contra Mocianum against the Pope's turnabout and the intrigue of the government represented by the civil official Mocianus (553 or 558). In 568 he wrote an Epistola fidei catholicae summing up his defense of the Three Chapters and attacking Popes Vigilius and Pelagius and the Council of Constantinople II.

The theological argumentation of Facundus's Defense of the Three Chapters had been taken into consideration by Justinian in preparing his Rectae fidei confessio (July 551), and it was used as the basis for Pope Vigilius's Constitutum of May 14, 553, as well as for the In defensione fensione Trium Capitulorum of Pelagius. The historical information he supplied for the events leading to the Council of Constantinople and its aftermath is invaluable.

Bibliography: Patrologia Latina 67:527878. g. bardenhewer, Geschichte der altkirchlichen Literatur 5:320324. e. caspar, Geschichte de Papsttums von der Anfängen bis zur Höhe der Weltherrschaft (Tübingen 193033) 2:259261. h. gelzer, Ausgewählte Kleine Schriften, ed. h. gelzer, jr. (Leipzig 1907) 7376. Histoire du Bas-Empire, ed. j. r. palanque 2:643645, 670, 679, 691692, 824826, date of Contra Mocianum. r. devreesse, Essai sur Théodore de Mopsueste (Studi e Testi 141; 1948) 210, 221222. f. tollu, Catholicisme 4:1053. l. duchesne, L'Église au VI e siècle (Paris 1925).

[f. x. murphy]