Caesarius (3), St., sometimes called of Châlons (Cabillonensis seu Cabellinensis) from his birthplace Châlons-sur-Saône; but more usually known as Caesarius of Arles (Arelatensis) from his see, which he occupied for forty years. He was certainly the foremost ecclesiastic in the Gaul of his own age. The date of his birth lies between a.d. 468 and 470; the date of his death is Aug. 27, 542.
Authorities.—(1) The biography, written by his admiring disciple, St. Cyprian, bp. of Toulon (Tolonensis) with the aid of other ecclesiastics (ed. by d’Achery and Mabillon in the Acta Sanctorum Ord. S. Benedicti, Venet. 1733, tom. i. p. 636, et sqq., also in the Bollandists' Acta Sanctorum (2) His will, first published by Baronius ( under date of Aug. 27).Annal. tom. vi. ad ann. 508) from archives preserved at Arles; also given by Surius, l.c. (3) Acts of various councils, over all of which Caesarius presided (Labbe, ; a document of some interest for the student of Roman law, but thought by Brugsch (archives of the Society of Ancient History) to be a forgery of Hincmar of Rheims. Concilia, (4) The tom. ii. pp. 995–1098, ed. Parisiis, 1714). Regula ad Monachos and Regula ad Virgines, drawn up by him for a monastery and a convent of his own foundation (ed. by Holstenius in his Codex Regularum; and by P. de Cointe in his Annales Ecclesiastici Francorum (5) His sermons. Of these 40 were pubd. at Basle in 1558; 46 in a ). Trithemius, fixing the date of Caesarius much too late, fell into the error of supposing him to be a Benedictine. Bibliotheca Patrum, ed. at Leyden in 1677; 14 more in another Bibl. Patr. of Gallandi, Venice 1776 (cf. Oudin in Comment. de Script. Eccles. vol. i. p. 1339); and 102, formerly ascribed to St. Augustine, are by the Benedictine editors assigned to Caesarius (Appendix to tom. v. of the works of St. Augustine). Others have been separately pubd. by Baluz; but Neander justly remarks that a complete collection of his sermons, conveying so much important information respecting the character of Caesarius and his times, still remains a desideratum (Church Hist. vol. v. p. 4, note). Cf. also A. Malnory, St. Césaire, évêque d’Arles (Paris, 1894); Arnold, Cesarius von Arelate, (Leipz. 1894).
Life.—Caesarius was born at Châlons of pious parents. His sister Caesaria afterwards presided over the convent which he founded, and to her he addressed his Regula ad Virgines. At the age of thirteen he betook himself to the famous monastery of Lerins (Lerinum), where he rapidly became master of all which the learning and discipline of the place could impart. Having injured his health by austerities, he was sent to Arles (Arelate) to recruit. There the bp. Eonus, having made his acquaintance, ordained him deacon and then presbyter. For three years he presided over a monastery in Arles; but of this building no vestige is now left.
At the death of Eonus the clergy, citizens, and persons in authority proceeded, as Eonus himself had suggested, to elect Caesarius, sincerely against his own wish, to the vacant see. He was consecrated in a.d. 502, being probably about 33 years of age. In the fulfilment of his new duties he was courageous and unworldly, but yet exhibited great power of kindly adaptation. He took great pains to induce the laity to join in the sacred offices, and encouraged inquiry into points not made clear in his sermons. He also bade them study Holy Scripture at home, and treat the word of God with the same reverence as the sacraments. He was specially zealous in redeeming captives, even selling church ornaments for this purpose.
A notary named Licinianus accused Caesarius to Alaric as one who desired to subjugate the civitas of Arles to the Burgundian rule. Caesarius was exiled to Bordeaux, but was speedily, on the discovery of his innocence, allowed to return. He interceded for the life of his calumniator. Later, when Arles was besieged by Theodoric, apparently c. a.d. 512, he was again accused of treachery and imprisoned. An interview with the Ostrogothic king at Ravenna in a.d. 513 speedily dispelled these troubles, and the remainder of his episcopate was passed in peace.
The directions of Caesarius for the conduct of monks and nuns have been censured as pedantic and minute. They certainly yielded to the spread of the rising Benedictine rule, but must be judged by their age and in the light of the whole spirit of monasticism.
As the occupant of an important see, the bishop of Arles exercised considerable influence, official as well as personal. Caesarius was liberal in the loan of sermons, and sent suggestions for discourses to priests and even bishops living in Spain, Italy, Gaul, and France (i.e. the province known as the Isle of France). The great doctrinal question of his age and country was that of semi-Pelagianism. Caesarius, though evidently a disciple of St. Augustine, displayed in this respect considerable independence of thought. His vigorous denial of anything like predestination to evil has caused a difference in the honour paid to his memory, according as writers incline respectively towards the Jesuit or Jansenist views concerning divine grace.
The most important local council over which Caesarius presided was that of Orange. Its statements on the subject of grace and free agency have been justly eulogized by modern historians (see, e.g., Canon Bright's Church History, ch. xi. ad fin.). The following propositions are laid down in canon 25: "This also do we believe, in accordance with the Catholic faith, that after grace received through baptism, all the baptized are able and ought, with the aid and co-operation of Christ, to fulfil all duties needful for salvation, provided they are willing to labour faithfully. But that some men have been predestinated to evil by divine power, we not only do not believe, but if there be those who are willing to believe so evil a thing, we say to them with all abhorrence anathema. This also do we profess and believe to our soul's health, that in every good work, it is not we who begin, and are afterwards assisted by Divine mercy, but that God Himself, with no preceding merits on our part, first inspires within us faith and love." On the express ground that these doctrines are as needful for the laity as for the clergy, certain distinguished laymen (illustres ac magnifci viri) were invited to sign these canons. They are accordingly subscribed by 8 laymen, and at least 12 bishops, including Caesarius. [Pelagianism.]
As a preacher, Caesarius displayed great knowledge of Holy Scripture, and was eminently practical in his exhortations. Besides reproving ordinary vices of humanity, he had often to contend against lingering pagan superstitions, as auguries, heathen rites on the calends, etc. His sermons on O.T. are not critical, but dwell on its typical aspects.
Some rivalry appears to have existed in the 6th cent. between the sees of Arles and Vienne, but was adjusted by pope Leo, whose adjustment was confirmed by Symmachus. Caesarius was in favour at Rome. A book he wrote against the semi-Pelagians, entitled de Gratiâ et Libero Arbitrio, was sanctioned by pope Felix; and the canons passed at Orange were approved by Boniface II. The learned antiquary Thomassin believed him to have been the first Western bishop who received a pall from the pope. Guizot, in his Civilisation en France, cites part of one of his sermons as that of a representative man; while Neander has nothing but eulogy for his "unwearied, active, and pious zeal, ready for every sacrifice in the spirit of love," and his moderation on the controversy concerning semi-Pelagianism. This is indeed the great glory of Caesarius. He more than anticipates the famous picture drawn by Chaucer of a teacher, earnest, sincere, and humble, but never sparing reproof where needed.
—Dictionary of Christian Biography
Commodus, A.D. 180–193. The monstrous vices of this degenerate son of Marcus Aurelius brought at least one counterbalancing advantage. The persecutions of his father's reign ceased for a time in his. The popular feeling against the Christians, though it still continued, was no longer heightened and directed by the action of the Imperial government, and the result was a marked increase of numbers. Many rich and noble, with their households and kindred, professed themselves Christians (Eus. H. E. v. 21), even in the emperor's palace, but it is uncertain whether they were officers, freedmen, or slaves (Iren. adv. Haer. iv. 30). Marcia, the favourite mistress of the emperor, is said by Dio Cassius (Ixxii. 4) or Xiphilinus writing in his name, to have used her influence with Commodus in their favour and to have done them much good service. The strange history of CALLISTUS In the Refutation of all Heresies attributed to Hippolytus (ix. 6) throws fresh light on Marcia's connexion with the Christian church at Rome. The epithet by which he describes her as a "God-loving woman" may be, as Dr. Wordsworth suggested, ironical; but it is clear that she was in frequent communication with the officers of the church. Callistus had been brought before Fuscianus, the city prefect, charged with disturbing a synagogue of the Jews, and was sentenced to hard labour in the mines of Sardinia. Marcia sent for Victor, a bishop of the church, asked what Christians were suffering for their faith in Sardinia, and obtained from Commodus an order of release. The order was given to an eunuch, Hyacinthus, who carried it to Sardinia, and obtained the liberation of Callistus and others, alleging his own influence with Marcia as his warrant, though the name of Callistus had not been included in the list. The narrative clearly implies that Hyacinthus was a Christian.
Thus some Christians had, as such, been condemned to exile; and persecutions, though less frequent, had not altogether ceased. One sufferer of the time takes his place in the list of martyrs. Apollonius, a Roman citizen of distinction, perhaps a senator, of high repute for philosophical culture, was accused before Perennius, the prefect of the city, by one of his own slaves. In accordance with an imperial edict sentencing informers, in such cases, to death even when the accused was found guilty, the slave had his legs broken. Apollonius delivered before the senate an elaborate Apologia for his faith. By what Eusebius speaks of as an ancient law (possibly the edict of Trajan) he was beheaded (H. E. v. 21).
—Dictionary of Christian Biography
Eusebius (126), eunuch, and grand chamberlain under Constantius II. Socrates (ii. 2, 16) relates that, after the death of Constantine in 337, Eusebius of Nicomedia and Theognis of Nicaea, bestirring themselves on behalf of the Arians, made use of a certain presbyter in high favour with Constantius, who had before been instrumental in recalling Arius from exile. He persuaded Eusebius the head chamberlain to adopt Arian opinions, and the rest of the chamberlains followed, and prevailed on the empress also. In 359 Eusebius was the mainspring of the plan of Eudoxius and others for dividing the council to be held on the subject of Arianism, making the Western bishops sit at Rimini, the Eastern at Seleucia; part of those in the secret were to sit at each council, and try to gain over their opponents to Arian views. Laymen of influence favoured the plan in order to please the chamberlain (Soz. H. E. iv. 16). On the death of Constantius in 361 Eusebius tried to curry favour with Julian by assuring him of the loyalty of the East (Amm. xxi. 15, § 4); but was unable to avert what Ammianus and Philostorgius represent as the just reward of his deeds. One of the first acts of Julian was to condemn him to death (ib. xxii. 3, § 12). Ammianus describes him as the prime mover of all the court intrigues of his day, and sarcastically calls the emperor one of his favourites (ib. xviii. 4, § 33).
[W.M.S. AND M.F.A.]
—Dictionary of Christian Biography
Philo (2), deacon. Among the proofs of the genuineness of the Ignatian letters [IGNATIUS] is the fact that we obtain a thoroughly consistent story on piecing together scattered notices about obscure persons. Thus two deacons are mentioned, Philo from Cilicia and Rheius Agathopus from Syria (Philadelph. ii., Smyrn. 10, 13). We find that these deacons had not started with Ignatius, but had followed afterwards, taking the same route; that at Philadelphia, where Ignatius himself had encountered heretical opposition, some had treated them also with contumely; that they had been too late to overtake the saint at Smyrna, but had been kindly entertained by the church there. Finally, they were with Ignatius at Troas, and from them doubtless he received the joyful news of the peace which the church of Syria had obtained since his departure. The clearness with which the whole story comes out from oblique inferences is evidence that we have here a true history (Lightfoot's Ignatius, i. 334, ii. 279).
It was no doubt the mention in the genuine epistles of this Philo from Cilicia that suggested to Pseudo-Ignatius to forge a letter in the name of the martyr to the church of Tarsus, and to specify that city as the place where Philo served as deacon.
—Dictionary of Christian Biography
Vespasianus, Titus Flavius, emperor July 1, 69, to June 24, 79, and his son Titus, emperor June 24, 79, to Sept. 13, 81. As a great part of the imperial power was exercised by Titus during his father's reign, of which his own short reign may be regarded as the continuation, it seems convenient to treat them together. The influences of these princes on Christianity was wholly indirect. The destruction of Jerusalem and the temple tended to hasten the complete separation of Judaism and Christianity. This distinction, however, had not as yet become apparent to the Roman authorities, and as far as they had any knowledge of the existence of Christians, they regarded them as merely a Jewish sect. A long and almost unbroken chain of Christian authorities bear witness to the favourable condition of Christianity under these emperors. Melito of Sardis, writing in the reign of M. Aurelius (Eus. H. E. iv. 26), knows of no imperial persecutors except Nero and Domitian. Tertullian (Apol. 5) expressly denies that Vespasian was a persecutor. Lactantius (Mortes 2, 3) knows of no persecution between Nero and Domitian. Eusebius (H. E. iii. 17) expressly asserts that Vespasian did no harm to the Christians. Hilary of Poictiers, writing after 360, is the first to make any charge of persecution against Vespasian. In a rhetorical passage (contra Arianos, 3, in Migne, Patr. Lat. x. 611), contrary to all previous Christian testimony, he couples Vespasian with Nero and Decius. Sulpicius Severus (H. E. ii. 30 in Patr. Lat. xx. 146), in a passage whose style suggests it was borrowed from one of the lost books of Tacitus, states that the motive of Titus in destroying the temple was to abolish not only Judaism but Christianity, but he does not mention any hostile act on the part of Vespasian or his son against the Christians.
We may consider that the reigns of these first two Flavian emperors were a period of tranquillity for the church. For their relation to the church see Tillemont, Mém. eccl. ii. 102, 152, 555; Aubé, Hist. des persec. c. 4; Görres, Zeitsch. für wissent. Theol. xxi. 492. M. Double (L’Empereur Titus) ingeniously that maintains, contrary to the usual opinion, he was a monster of wickedness.
—Dictionary of Christian Biography