THE COUNCIL
of
NICEA and
the
ARIAN
CONTROVERSY

 

 

Constantine,
4th Cent. Coin

 

Arius among the Heretics
Lippi, Rome, 1490


 

 


A CHRONOLOGY of THE ARIAN CONTROVERSY 
 

 

 

325: Council of Nicea, leadership uncertain; young deacon Athanasius in attendance. Council condemns Arius; Arian bishops forced to submit.

328: Athanasius named bishop of Alexandria, but exiled Arian bishops are returned from exile at the instigation of the emperor Constantine's sister, Constantia, an Arian sympathizer.

330: The Nicene bishop of Antioch is deposed and banished.

336: Athanasius exiled to Trier. Arius invited to return to the Church, but dies suddenly before his reinstatement.

337: Constantine dies. Athanasius and other Nicene bishops are returned to their dioceses. However, new emperor of the East, Constantius, favors Arianism. He is restrained only by his brother, Constans, ruler of the West, who is pro-Nicea and a protector of Nicene Catholics.

339: Athanasius again deposed from his diocese and flees to Rome.

341: A council in Rome affirms Athanasius's orthodoxy. The same year, however, a council of Eastern, pro-Arian bishops meets in Antioch where a majority subscribed to a vague and ambiguous statement.

343: In order to restore peace to the Empire, both emperors convoked another council at Sardica, but the pro-Arian bishops left it for fear of being defeated. At Sardica Athanasius was once again recognized as the rightful bishop of Alexandria and several Arian bishops were deposed.

346: Athanasius returns to Alexandria. A short period of peace follows.

350: Constans (Nicene emperor of the West) dies. Constantius, a pro-Arian, is sole ruler. New persecutions of Nicene Catholics follow.

351: Pro-Arians hold a council at Sirmium and promulgate a new, vague formula that was supposed to replace the Nicene teaching.

353: Western bishops meet in council at Arles and reject the formula of Sirmium.

355: Western bishops meet again in Milan and again reject the Sirmium formula. Athanasius, Pope Liberius, and others are exiled. But Arians are by now split into three different groups.

357: The most moderate of the pro-Arian bishops meet again in council at Sirmium and draft a document that comes close to Nicene orthodoxy.

359: Both Eastern and Western bishops hold a double council, one at Seleucia and the other at Ariminum, and accept the moderate formula of Sirmium. St. Jerome writes his famous comment: "The whole world groaned and marvelled to find itself Arian."

361: This victory of the pro-Arians, however, frightened others into the ranks of the Nicene Catholics. Constantius dies. Athanasius returns yet again to Alexandria.

362: He holds a council there to reconcile the moderate Arians with Nicea. The West, under Valentinian, is restored to orthodoxy. In the East Valens retards Nicene orthodoxy.

373: Athanasius dies.

381: Council of Constantinople, under Theodosius. Arianism disappears except among Teutonic tribes.

496: Conversion of Franks to Catholicism. Gradual disappearance of Arianism from the Teutonic tribes.

 

 


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