Felicissimus

Felicissimus the author of a schism in the Church of Carthage in the 3d century, was appointed deacon in Carthage by the presbyter Novatus, without a previous understanding with Cyprian, who, a short time before, had been elected bishop. Cyprian declared his appointment to be an encroachment upon his episcopal prerogatives, but did not depose him. During the Decian persecution Cyprian was for some time absent from Carthage, and some of the presbyters, who claimed greater rights than Cyprian was willing to concede to them, began to readmit the lapsi to the communion of the Church in consequence of the libelli pacis given by the martyrs, without having an understanding on the subject with Cyprian. The latter reproached the presbyters with too great laxity, and sent a commission to Carthage which was to investigate the conduct of the lapsi, and to regulate the support which the treasury of the Church granted in certain cases. Felicissimus denounced the conduct of Cyprian as an encroachment upon his rights as deacon, among which belonged, in the Church of Africa, t-he administration of the treasury of the Church; and he even went so far as to exclude from the communion of his church those who should appear before the episcopal commission. He was joined in his opposition by five - Presbyters and a number of confessors, and his church became the centre of all the lapsi who wished to have their cases decided before the return of Cyprian. After the return of Cyprian to Carthage in 251, a synod regulated the affair of the lapsi, and excluded Felicissimus and the presbyters acting with him from -the Church. Felicissimus, however, not only persisted in his opposition, but- his party, strengthened by the accession of several African bishops, elected Fortunatus, one of the five presbyters siding with Felicissimus, bishop of Carthage, and sent Felicissimus himself to Rome- where, in the mean while, the Novatian controversy had broken out-for the purpose of gaining the 'Roman bishop Cornelius over to their side. The mission was, however, unsuccessful, and the schism of Felicissimus seems soon after to have become extinct.-Herzog, Real-Encyklop. 4:349; Schaf, Church History. (A. J. S.)

 
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