Council of Rome

Not to be confused with the Easter Council held at Rome in 1099.

The Council of Rome was a meeting of Catholic Church officials and theologians which took place in 382 under the authority of Pope Damasus I, the current bishop of Rome. The previous year, the Emperor Theodosius I had appointed the "dark horse" candidate Nectarius Archbishop of Constantinople. The bishops of the West opposed the election result and asked for a common synod of East and West to settle the succession of the see of Constantinople, and so the Emperor Theodosius, soon after the close of the First Council of Constantinople in 381, summoned the Imperial bishops to a fresh synod at Constantinople; nearly all of the same bishops who had attended the earlier second re assembled again in early summer of 382. On arrival they received a letter from the synod of Milan, inviting them to a great general council at Rome; they indicated that they must remain where they were, because they had not made any preparations for such long a journey; however, they sent threeSyriacus, Eusebius, and Priscianwith a joint synodal letter to Pope Damasus, Ambrose, archbishop of Milan, and the other bishops assembled in the council at Rome.

The Roman synod to which this letter was addressed was the fifth under Damasus. No formal account remains of its proceedings, nor of how its members treated the question of Nectarius. Theodosius did, however, send commissioners to Rome in support of his synod.

Decretum Gelasianum and damasine list

This historical synod at Rome gained additional importance long afterwards. According to a document appended to some manuscripts of the so-called Decretum Gelasianum or "Gelasian Decretal" and given separately in others, at this council the authority of the Old and New Testament canon would have been affirmed in a decretal, sometimes referred to as the damasine list. The document was first connected to this council of Rome in 1794, when Fr. Faustino Arevalo (1747–1824), the editor of Coelius Sedulius, expressed his theory that the first three chapters of the five found in the Decretum were really the decrees of a Roman council held a century earlier than Gelasius, under Damasus, in 382.

Arevalo's conclusions were widely accepted until the early 20th century. A study led by Ernst von Dobschütz concluded this decretal to be a forgery, probably from a scholar of the 6th century. Von Dobschütz cited the inclusion of a quote by Augustine, textual variations in a later Spanish version, and the decree's obscurity as decisive evidence that the document is the product of an anonymous 6th century author.[1] However, many scholars such as William Jurgens hold that the decretal originated with Pope Damasus and was later edited by Pope Gelasius near the end of the fifth century.[2] Others have expanded upon this hypothesis by speculating that Gelasius inserted the quote from Augustine while editing the original decree.[3]


  1. Reviewed by F. C. Burkitt in Journal of Theological Studies vol. 14 (1913) pp. 469–471.
  2. Jurgens, William. Faith of the Early Fathers, Vol. 1. Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1978, p. 404.
  3. The canon of scripture, Damasus, and the "Gelasian Decree", by Sam Entile. Webpage:

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