That the diocese of Italy was an independent diocese, till after the midst of the eleventh century.


IN order to the thorough establishing of this truth, I intend to make it appear, that this is not only certain with respect to those times when the Popes were not very considerable, but also with respect to that time when the Popes began to lift up themselves by the favor of Gratian, and after him of Valentinian III.

To this purpose it will be of use to set forth, as well the constitution of the Church, as the manner in which the diocese of Milan did continue independent until the midst of the eleventh century, at which time the Waldenses were obliged more openly to testify their aversion for the Church of Rome as an Antichristian Church. It will be easy enough for me to perform what I have proposed to myself, in following the history of the Church.

Before the Council of Nice, we find the diocese of Italy very distinct from that of Rome, which contained the suburbleafy Churches: of this we have two unquestionable proofs; the one of which we find in the case of Paulus Samosatenus, Bishop of Antioch, where the Emperor Aurelian distinguisheth the Bishops of Italy from those of Rome, by his referring equally to them the decision of Samosatenus’s opinions, whether they were to be looked upon as orthodox or not.

The other we meet with in the business of the Donatists; where Constantine, to put an end to the differences which divided the African Churches, appointed them .judges as well from Rome as from Italy: Meroeles, Bishop of Milan, as head of his diocese, being nominated by the Emperor, as well as Melehiades.

The Council of Nice confirmed this ancient custom of the Metropolitans, who had enjoyed the right of convening the synods of their diocese, and ordaining the Bishops belonging to the same. This we see in the sixth Canon: each diocese then formed a council, which was called by the Metropolitan. Every Metropolitan ordered the affairs of his diocese, all matters were regulated by this council, and there was no appeal from their judgments. So that the Canon of the Council of Nice served instead of a law, as well in the east as the west; and which might have served so still, if the ambition of the Bishops of Constantinople and of Rome had not overthrown this so wise a regulation. Memnon, Bishop of Ephesus, maintains, that this Canon did also constitute every diocese so far independent on any of its neighbours, that they could not take any cognizance of matters that were without their limits. This we find in the Acts of the Council of Ephesus.

We find that since that time, the thing continued on the same foot: many proofs might be given of it, but I shall content myself with these following:

1. St. Athanasius distinguisheth Milan and Rome as two independent Churches.

2. The election of St. Ambrose is related to us by Theodoret, lib. 4. cap. 5, 6. as done without any consent of the Bishop of Rome; which could not have been so, had he been the Patriarch of Italy.

The business of the Priscillianists, who had recourse to St. Ambrose as well as to Damasus, after that they had been rejected by the Spanish Bishops at Coesaraugusta, is a certain proof hereoff

If we read the history of the following centuries, we shall not find that ever any Bishops of Italy’ were ordained by the Popes, or were subject to their councils, till the eleventh century.

We find that the Council of Italy, in which St. Ambrose presided, approve, in their letter sent to Theodosius, the proceedings about the election of Maximus, in opposition to the opinion of Damasus and his council: so far were they from depending on the Pope as their Patriarch. We find the same thing also acknowledged by those of Africa, who sent Legates as well to the Bishop of Milan, as to the Bishop of Rome. We find the same thing in the year 431; Theodoret addressing himself to the Bishops of Milan, Aquileia, and Ravenna, against the Chapters of Cyril, which Pope Celestine had approved.

We find in the year 451. Pope Leo I. so fully owning this truth, that he writes to the Bishop of Milan, that he would be pleased to approve in his synod the letter which the said Pope wrote to Flavilanus, upon the incarnation of the Word, against the errors of Eutyches. We find Flavianus appealing to the Pope and the Bishop of Milan by name, as well as to the rest of the western Metropolitans.

We find in the year 556 that the diocese of Milan, and its Bishops, stood resolutely to the party that rejected the Fifth General Council; and though Pope Pelagius strongly solicited Narses to reduce them to his opinion by violence, yet he could never obtain his desire, as may be seen by St. Gregory’s Epistles: and the Church of Aquileia, and some others of Italy, above an hundred years after, had no communion with the Church of Rome, as Baronius himself ingenuously confesseth.

We find in the year 679 a Council of Italy assembled upon occasion of the Monothelites, wherein the Bishops of this diocese alone writ to Constantine the Emperor; which showeth their independence on the Pope, who wrote also in particular with his Council.

And last of all, we do not find that since the seventh century the Church of Rome has had that authority over the diocese of Italy, which she arrogated to herself over other Churches, where she had already gained some preeminence by means of her Vicars.

We have an unquestionable proof of what I here allege in the Diurnus Romanus. All the Bishops that belonged to the Pope’s jurisdiction, by reason of their being in his diocese, were obliged to swear, at their ordination, that they would follow the rites and the divine service of the Church of Rome. Now we know that the Church of Milan had its own peculiar Liturgy, called the Ambrosian. It is true, they pretend that after Charles the Great had made himself master of the kingdom of the Lombards, he endeavored to abolish the same; and some think it received a great change at that time: but this is only conjecture without ground; for, excepting some slight alterations caused by time, at a juncture when Popery had well nigh got the mastery there, that Liturgy continued much the same as it was before.

We find the same independence of the Church of Milan in the ninth and tenth century acknowledged by Ughellus in the Life of Angilbertus: Angilbertus Pustrella ejusdem nominis superiori successit 827. Hic ille Angilbertus est, quem tantae dignitatis corrupit foelicitas, cum aliquamdiu moderatione antea usus, prudenter Mediolanensem administrasset Ecclesiam: suffultus enim (ut quidam narrant) Magni Caroli privilegiis et gratiis, charusque Ludovico Pio Imperatori, Lotharioque ijusdem filio, a Romana Ecclesia ita defecit, ut, perinauditam superbiam, cum Romano Pontifice de potestate deque dignatate decertare non verecundaretur. Pessimum exemplum ita ad succerssores pertransiit, ut per ducentos ipsos annos ea contumacia illos abduxrit infeceritque.

“Angilbertus Pustrella succeeded his predecessor, of the same name, in the year 827. This is that Angilbert, whom the splendor of so high a dignity corrupted after having used moderation for some time, he had prudently governed that Church: for being upheld (as some tell us)by the privileges and favors of Charles the Great, and being dear to the Emperor Ludovicus Pius, and Lotharius his son he made a defection from the Roman Church, as not being ashamed to contend with the Pope of Rome about power and dignity. This bad example of his passed over to his successor: so that for two hundred years together they were led astray and infected by this contumacy.”

We are not to admit that which Ughellus would fain insinuate, that this was a rebelling against his Patriarch. This is a mere illusion. It was only a resistance of the enterprises of the Popes, who, being encouraged by the easiness and ignorance of divers western Prelates, did boldly invade those rights which did not at all belong unto them. For we find that, eight years after his election, Angilbert assisted at the Council of Mantua with the Pope’s Legates, without their preferring any complaint against him, which they would not have failed to have done, especially being supported by the authority of Lotharius the Emperor, if Angilbert’s right had not been evident.

And indeed it was not till the year 1059, that Nicolas II. under pretense of putting a stop to the simony in that diocese, and to condemn the Nicolaitanism, (for this was the name which at that time was bestowed on the marriage of Priests,) sent Petrus Damianus, and Anselre, Bishop of Lucca, to Milan, who subjected that diocese, obliging them to receive the laws of the Pope’s synod, whereas before they had only owned the laws of the (Ecumenical Councils, wherein they had assisted by their deputies, according to the protestation of Maurus, Bishop of Ravenna.

We have a certain proof hereof in the discourse of the Clergy of Milan with Petrus Damianus; for they maintain, “That the Ambrosian Church, according to the ancient institutions of the Fathers, was always free, without being subject to the laws of Rome; and that the Pope of Rome had no jurisdiction over their Church, as to the government or constitution of it.”

We may here take notice how Claudius, Bishop of Turin, behaved himself with respect to Pope Pasohal, with whose being offended at him Theodemirus had reproached him, willing to recommend to him the Pope’s authority.

The matter was so clear and evident, that Pope Honorius II. being desirous to make Anselm, Archbishop of Milan, own his authority, who was chosen in the year 1123, and to give him the pail, he refused it, in the year 11:25, for fear of subjecting his Church to that of Rome. See how Landulphus, c. 38, relates the matter, as we find it set down by Ughellus: Anselmus Pustrella, hujus nominis quintus Archiepiscopus, adlectus est anno 1123. De profectione ejusdem Roman ad Honorium II. Anno 1125, ac de iis quae ibi peregit, haec Landulphus, capitulo 38: Sed cum idem Archiepiscopus, sectus consilium quorundam Capellanorum et Primicerii, Petri vero Terdonesis Episcopi, contra publicum interdictum Cleri et populi Medialanesis, Romam ivit: mihi quidem non sedit…Veruntamen ipse, ceu vir prudens et sapiens, cum papa Honorio et Cardinalibus ejus multa contulit, et conferendo ecclesiasticas consuetudienes Ambrosianae Ecclesiae, et honores ejus archiepiscopatus et urbis, vivis et bonis rationibus defendit. Unde ipse Papa huic prudenti viro dixit, Frater, mediatatus et Episcopus venisti: sed si vis frui authoritate Archiepiscopi in temporibus meis, necesse est ut stolam suscipias e manibus meis, aut, sicut dgo suscepi, ad altare Sancti Petri. Hinc dominus iste Mediolanensis Roboaldum Albensem adjuravit, ut sibi consuleret. Tunc Roboaldus ille Albensis sic ait, quod prius sustineret nasum suum scindi usque ad oculos, quam daret sibi consilium ut susciperet Romae stolam, et Ecclesiae Mediolanesi praeparet hanc novam et gravissimam, quam Honorius Papa dicebat sibi, imponere mensuram. Mediolanum igitur ipse Archiepiscopus sine stola rediit, et eundem Albensem Episcopum secum reduxit. Verum Archiepiscopalem sedem non ascendit, donec Ubertus de Meregnano, ejus scriba, juravit quod ipse dominus suus Anselmus nulli minuimento honoris Ecclesiae Mediolanesis consensit, et quod ipsum Albensis ille Episcopus Roboaldus auctoriatate sua confiremavit. Diende Pontifex iste Anselmus sedem et castella archiepiscopatus in beneficio Cleri et populi recuperavit.

“Anselmus Pustrella, the fifth of that name, was chosen Archbishop in the year 1123. Concerning whose journey to Rome, to Honorius II. in the year 1125, and what he did there, Landulfus gives us this account, chapter 38: But when the said Archbishop, following the counsel of some of his chaplains, and of his Primicerius, and of Peter, Bishop of Terdon contrary to the public prohibition of the Clergy and people of Milan, was gone to Rome.... However he, as a prudent and wise man, conferred at large with Pope Honorius II. and his Cardinals in which conference he with brisk and good arguments asserted the customs of the Ambrosian Church, with the prerogatives of that archbishopric and city. Whereupon the Pope said to this prudent man, Brother, you that are a Bishop come hither well provided with arguments; but if you have a mind to enjoy the archiepiscopal dignity during my time, it is needful that you receive the pall from my hands, or, as I myself have received it, at the altar of St. Peter. Then the Bishop of Milan conjured Roboaldus, Bishop of Alba, to advise him in this ease; whereupon the Bishop answered, that he would rather suffer his nose to be slit up to his eyes, than advise him to receive his pall at Rome, and thereby subject the Church of Milan to that new and hard measure which Pope Honorius designed to impose upon her. Wherefore the Archbishop Anselm returned to Milan without his pall, and brought the Bishop of Alba back with him.

Nevertheless he did not place himself in the archiepiscopal scat, until Ubertus de Meregnano, his secretary, had sworn that his lord Anselruns had not consented to the least diminution of the prerogatives of the Church of Milan; and the same also Roboaldus, Bishop of Alba, confirmed by his authority. And after this Archbishop Anselm recovered his seat, and the castles of his archbishopric, which were at the disposal of the Clergy and people.”

I know only of two or three objections about this matter, which deserve to be considered. The one is, the prejudice the Popes have endeavored to foment, some ages since, as if they were the Patriarchs of all the West; in consequence whereof their flatterers have endeavored to make the world believe, that the suburbicary Churches, whereof mention is made in the sixth Canon of the Council of Nice, do signify the Churches of all the West. But this is so foolish an imagination, that it is strange that men of any learning should suffer themselves to be imposed upon by it. The second is, that we find that sometimes the Bishops of the diocese of Milan have met in synods with the Pope and his council, as if they had belonged to his patriarchate. The third is, that Ughellus relates, from time to time, in the catalogue he has given us of the Bishops of Milan, that such and such a one were confirmed by the Pope, and received the pall at his hands. But it will be easy to refute all these objections fully. First, as for that conceit, that the Pope was Patriarch of the West; it is a thing unheard of by all antiquity: and indeed, if Leo the First, on the one hand, had known himself invested with this right, he would never have ingenuously confessed, as he has done in his Epistles, that he did not pretend to ordain the Bishops that were amongst the Gauls, which notwithstanding would have belonged to his jurisdiction, in case he had been Patriarch of the West; and on the other hand he would have made use of this prerogative, in his request to the younger Valentinian, when he endeavored to procure for himself the right of appeals, which was contested with him, as being an unjust and novel right.

As for what concerns the union which sometimes has been made between the Synod of Italy and that of Rome, this cannot be made use of as an argument in this case; for the Prelates of Italy have assisted at the synods that have been held amongst the Gauls, without subjecting themselves to the Gauls in the least thereby, or without subjecting the Gauls to Italy. We have an example hereof in the Synod of Turin, in the year 397, where the Gauls assisted, because the business of that synod was to remedy the common disorders, which equally reigned in the neighboring dioceses, which maintained ecclesiastical communion one with another.

And as for that which Ughellus saith, that several Bishops of Milan have received the pall, and been confirmed by the Popes of Rome; I confess that Ripamontius cites a letter of St. Gregory’s to Lawrence, Bishop of Milan, by which he sends the pall to him. But without entering into the examination of what this concession did import, we are to observe, first, that this pall was no more than a politic subtilty of the Court of Rome, to establish amongst the barbarous and stupid western people the edict of Valentinian the Third, in favor of appealing to the see of Rome; an edict which could be no longer of force after the dissipation of the Roman empire. Secondly, that at the bottom, this concession signifies little else, as Hinemar has very well observed with respect to all the Pope’s privileges, save that the Pope did not take away a right, whereof those to whom he granted the privilege were already in full possession. Thirdly, that though the thing should be really so, yet it took place so little, by reason of the condition wherein that diocese has been since the Popes have made use of this snare, that the ecclesiastical liberty of that diocese has been little or nothing concerned in it. We know, in the fourth place, that this granting of the pall has not taken place, save only with some ambitious Bishops, and not with all, as Ughellus assures us, but without any proof; as likewise when he asserts, that it was Gregory the First who granted to them the right of crowning the kings of Italy. This Ughellus was indeed nothing else but a relater of fables, who does not deserve any credit amongst learned men, though the pains he has taken may be, in other things, of very good use.

Last of all, That which I here assert concerning the independence of the diocese of Italy is so clear, that after a hundred treatises of the learned of the Church of Rome, who have maintained, that by the suburbleafy Churches (whereof mention is made in the sixth Canon of the Council of Nice) all the western Churches were to be understood; M. Dupin, Doctor of the Sorbonne, has laid down the cudgels; confessing that the diocese of the Pope consisted only of the ten provinces about Rome, and that Italy, composed of seven provinces, was not in the least subject to it.

To conclude, Christianus Lupus owns, with all his reasons, that the diocese of Milan, in the midst of the ninth century, pretended to be independent, as we find it in his notes upon the Council of Pavia, under Leo IX. He very expressly observes, that this diocese did not own the laws which the Popes published in their councils, as pretending not to depend upon their regulations.


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