Sirmium, Councils of

Sirmium, Councils Of (Concilium Sirmiense).

I. The first Synod of Sirmium was held in 351 against Photinus, bishop of that see. His heresy was similar to that of Paul of Samosata. He denied the existence of our Lord before his birth of the Virgin, and maintained that he was merely man; but admitted that the Holy Spirit descended into him, and that he might in a subordinate sense be called the Son of God. After having been condemned in the Council of Milan in 347, he betook himself to Constantius, and demanded a fresh hearing before judges to be appointed by the emperor. This was granted to him; and he pleaded his cause against Basil of Ancyra in the presence of certain judges, all laymen, nominated by the emperor. He was, however, again condemned in the Synod of Rome (A.D. 349), in which Valens and Ursaces embraced the communion of Athanasius. An information of the decree against him having been forwarded to the East, the Oriental bishops met at Sirmium this year to confirm the act of condemnation, and to pass sentence of deposition upon Photinus, which was accordingly done. There seems to be some question about the orthodoxy of the bishops who composed this council, as they drew up a formulary of faith which is denounced by Athanasius as erroneous. Hilary, however, commends it as Catholic. It is not to be confounded with the confession which Hosius of Cordova was, by threats and violence, compelled to sign in a subsequent council, held in 357, from which the words οὐσία, ὁμούσιον, were rejected. See Mansi, 2, 729; Pagi, in Baronii Ann. (A.D. 351), note 12; Cave, Apostolici, P. 406.

II. The second Council of Sirmium was held by order of the emperor Constantius, who was at the time in Sirmium, at the instigation of the Arian bishops, who, having drawn up a new formulary of faith, rejecting the words οὐσία, ὁμοουσία, and ὁμοιουσία, in which the Father was declared to be greater than the Son, endeavored to force the Catholic bishops to subscribe it, and especially Hosius of Cordova. The old man, yielding to torture and imprisonment, at last consented, and signed the confession of faith; but Athanasius testifies that before his death he anathematized the Arian heresy (Cave, Apostolici).

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