Cirta, Councils of

Cirta, Councils Of

(Concilium Cirtense). This was a town in Numidia where two provincial synods were head:

I. In 305 (or 303), to fill up the vacant bishopric of Cirta. Secundus, the primate of Numidia, presided, and drew from eleven or twelve of the bishops had been. guilty of betraying the sacred books during the persecution. The better to understand their crime, it must be borne in mind that, during the Diocletian persecution, an edict was promulgated, ordering the destruction of the churches, and obliging the magistrates everywhere to take from the bishops and priests of the Church their copies of the Holy Scriptures. This edict was executed with the greatest rigor in Numidia; the magistrates themselves entered into the churches, and into the houses of the bishops and clergy, to search for the Scriptures, that they might burn them, threatening with the penalty of, death all who refused to discover them. Many of the Christians were content to suffer any torment, and death itself, rather than betray them; but there were some, not merely among the lower orders of ecclesiastics, but also among the priests, and even bishops, who, through fear of death, were guilty of delivering up the sacred volumes: such were styled "Traditores." At Cirta there were, unhappily, many bishops and others of the clergy who had shown a miserable example of cowardice. After the bishops had confessed their sin in the council, Secundus gave them absolution. Silvanus a subdeacon, who had also been a traditor, was elected to the bishopric. See Labbe, Concil. 1:936.

II. In 412, in the month of June, under Silvanus, primate of Numidia, assisted by several bishops of the province and Augustine, upon the subject of the Donatists, who, finding themselves entirely worsted in the conference of Carthage, spread abroad a report, to cover the shame of their defeat, that Marcellinus, the judge of the conference, had been bribed by the Catholics, and that the Donatists had not been permitted a fair hearing. The fathers wrote a letter, dictated by Augustine, in which these calumnies are refuted. See Labbe, Concil. 2:1518.

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