Papal Forgery used to support the Papacy's claims to temporal political power and dominion.
The Donation of Constantine, Donatio Constantini, is a well-known fraud used by the Papacy for more than 10 centuries to strengthen its position and power. Though it claims to have been granted by Constantine to Sylvester, Bishop of Rome (314 - 335) it is believed to have actually been written between 750 and 800 A.D., at which time Stephen II (or III), bishop of Rome, sought the help of Frankish king Pepin III (the Short) against the Lombards, who were threatening to overtake all Italy. To enlist Pepin's help, Stephen crossed the Alps to Gaul, where he anointed Pepin and his sons, Charlemagne and Carloman, as kings. Pepin came to his aid and subdued the Lombards, taking from them what had previously been Byzantine territory. He then granted Stephen rule over this territory in a document known as the Donation of Pepin. This freed Rome from Byzantine control, and was the beginning of what became known as the Papal States. This rule was granted to Stephen by Pepin, and confirmed by his son Charlemagne, on the basis of the forgery known as the Donation of Constantine.
The Donatio also granted to Rome "supremacy... over the four chief seats Antioch, Alexandria, Constantinople and Jerusalem, as also over all the churches of God in the whole world."
Philip Schaff describes the Donation in this way:
The Donation of Constantine … is an older forgery …. It affirms that Constantine, when he was baptized by Pope Sylvester, A.D. 324 (he was not baptized till 337, by the Arian bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia), presented him with the Lateran palace and all imperial insignia, together with the Roman and Italian territory. The object of this forgery was to antedate by five centuries the temporal power of the Papacy, which rests on the donations of Pepin and Charlemagne. The only foundation in fact is the donation of the Lateran palace, which was originally the palace of the Lateran family, then of the emperors, and last of the popes. The wife of Constantine, Fausta, resided in it, and on the transfer of the seat of empire to Constantinople, he left it to Sylvester, as the chief of the Roman clergy and nobility. Hence it contains to this day the pontifical throne with the inscription: "Haec est papalis sedes et pontificalis." There the pope takes possession of the See of Rome. But the whole history of Constantine and his successors shows conclusively that they had no idea of transferring any part of their temporal sovereignty to the Roman Pontiff.
History of the Christian Church, (1910 edition) Volume IV, Chapter IV, § 60, by Philip Schaff
For centuries the Donation of Constantine was assumed by all to be genuine, and was used by the bishops of Rome to support their papal claims. It was proven false in 1440 by Lorenzo Valla in his Declamatio. Nevertheless, on the basis of the forged document, the Papacy maintained a spiritual dictatorship over most of the Church until the Reformation, and a temporal control of the Papal states until, finally, in 1870, the last of the territory was taken over by Italy. Only in 1929 did the Vatican formally relinquish their temporal claims in the Lateran Treaty, wherein they were granted sovereignty over 44 hectares (109 acres), now known as Vatican City, a miniscule amount of their former domain. They have yet to relinquish their spiritual claims.
Text of the Donation of Constantine: (c. 800 AD?)
In the name of the holy and indivisible Trinity, the Father, namely, and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
The Emperor Caesar Flavius Constantine in Christ Jesus, the Lord God our Saviour, one of that same holy Trinity,—faithful merciful, supreme, beneficent, Alamannic, Gothic, Sarmatic, Germanic, Britannic, Hunic, pious, fortunate, victor and triumpher, always august: to the most holy and blessed father of fathers Sylvester, Bishop of the city of Rome and to all his successors the Pontiffs , who are about to sit upon the chair of St. Peter, and Pope until the end of time—also to all the most reverend and of God beloved Catholic bishops, subjected by this our imperial decree throughout the whole world to this same holy, Roman Church, who have been established now and in all previous times—grace, peace, charity, rejoicing, long-suffering, mercy, be with you all from God the Father almighty and from Jesus Christ his Son and from the Holy Ghost. Our most gracious serenity desires, in clear discourse, through the page of this our imperial decree, to bring to the knowledge of all the people in the whole world what things our Saviour and Redeemer the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the most High Father, has most wonderfully seen fit to bring about through his holy apostles Peter and Paul and by the intervention of our father Sylvester, the highest Pontiff and the universal Pope. First, indeed, putting forth, with the inmost confession of our heart, for the purpose of instructing the mind of all of you, our creed which we have learned from the aforesaid most blessed Father and our confessor, Sylvester the universal Pontiff; and then at length announcing the mercy of God which has been poured upon us.
For we wish you to know, as we have signified through our former imperial decree, that we have gone away, from the worship of idols, from mute and deaf images made by hand, from devilish contrivances and from all the pomps of Satan; and have arrived at the pure faith of the Christians, which is the true light and everlasting life. Believing, according to what he-that same one, our revered supreme Father and teacher, the Pontiff Sylvester—has taught us, in God the Father, the almighty maker of Heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible; and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord God, through whom all things are created; and in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and vivifier of the whole creature. We confess these, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, in such way that, in the perfect Trinity, there shall also be a fulness of divinity and a unity of power. The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God; and these three are one in Jesus Christ.
There are therefore three forms but one power. For God, wise in all previous time, gave forth from himself the word through which all future ages were to be born; and when, by that sole word of His wisdom, He formed the whole creation from nothing, He was with it, arranging all things in His mysterious secret place.
Therefore, the virtues of the Heavens and all the material part of the earth having been perfected, by the wise nod of His wisdom first creating man of the clay of the earth in His own image and likeness, He placed him in a paradise of delight. Him the ancient serpent and envious enemy, the devil, through the most bitter taste of the forbidden tree, made an exile from these joys; and, he being expelled, did not cease in many ways to cast his poisonous darts; in order that, turning the human race from the way of truth to the worship of idols, he might persuade it, namely to worship the creature and not the creator; so that, through them (the idols), he might cause those whom he might be able to entrap in his snares to be burned with him in eternal punishment. But our Lord, pitying His creature, sending ahead His holy prophets, announcing through them the light of the future life—the coming,' that is, of His Son our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ—sent that same only begotten Son and Word of wisdom: He descending from Heaven on account of our salvation, being born of the Holy Spirit and of the Virgin Mary,—the word was made flesh and dwelt among us. He did not cease to be what He had been, but began to be what He had not been, perfect God and perfect man: as God, performing miracles; as man, sustaining human sufferings. We so learned Him to be very man and very God by the preaching of our Father Sylvester, the supreme Pontiff, that we can in no wise doubt that He was very God and very man. And, having chosen twelve apostles, He shone with miracles before them and an innumerable multitude of people. We confess that this same Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled the law and the prophets; that He suffered, was crucified, on the third day arose from the dead according to the Scriptures; was received into Heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father. Whence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead, whose kingdom shall have no end. For this is our orthodox creed, placed before us by our most blessed Father Sylvester, the supreme Pontiff.
We exhort, therefore, all people, and all the different nations, to hold, cherish and preach this faith; and, in the name of the Holy Trinity, to obtain the grace of baptism; and, with devaout heart, to adore the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour, who with the Father and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns through infinite ages; whom Sylvester our father, the universal Pontiff, preaches. For He himself, our Lord God, having pit on me a sinner, sent His holy apostles to visit us, and caused the light of his splendour to shine upon us. And do ye rejoice that I, having been withdrawn from the shadow, have come to the true light and to the knowledge of truth. For, at a time when a mighty and filthy leprosy had invaded all the flesh of my body, and the care was administered of many physicians who came together, nor by that of any one of them did I achieve health: there came hither the priests of the Capitol, saying to me that a font should be made on the Capitol, and that I should fill this with the blood of innocent infants; and that, if I bathed in it while it was warm, I might be cleansed. And very many innocent infants having been brought together according to their words, when the sacrilegious priests of the pagans wished them to be slaughtered and the font to be filled with their blood: Our Serenity perceiving the tears of the mothers, I straightway abhorred the deed. And, pitying them, I ordered their own sons to be restored to them; and, giving them vehicles and gifts, sent them off rejoicing to their own. That day having passed therefore—the silence of night having come upon us—when the time of sleep had arrived, the apostles St. Peter and Paul appear, saying to me: "Since thou hast placed a term to thy vices, and hast abhorred the pouring forth of innocent blood, we are sent by Christ the Lord our God to give to thee a plan for recovering thy health. Hear, therefore, our warning, and do what we indicate to thee. Sylvester—the Bishop of the city of Rome—on Mount Serapte, fleeing they persecutions, cherishes the darkness with his clergy in the caverns of the rocks. This one, when thou shalt have led him to thyself, will himself show thee a pool of piety; in which, when he shall have dipped thee for the third time, all that strength of the leprosy will desert thee. And, when this shall have been done, make this return to thy Saviour, that by thy order through the whole world the churches may be restored. Purify thyself, moreover, in this way, that, leaving all the superstition of idols, thou do adore and cherish the living and true God—who is alone and true—and that thou attain to the doing of His will.
Rising, therefore, from sleep, straightway I did according to that which I bad been advised to do by the holy apostles; and, having summoned that excellent and benignant father and our enlightener—Svlvester the universal Pope—I told him all the words that had been taught me by the holy apostles; and asked him who where those gods Peter and Paul. But he said that they where not really called gods, but apostles of our Saviour the Lord God Jesus Christ. And again we began to ask that same most blessed pope whether he had some express image of those apostles; so that, from their likeness, we might learn that they were those whom revelation bad shown to us. Then that same venerable father ordered the images of those same apostles to be shown by his deacon. And, when I had looked at them, and recognized, represented in those images, the countenances of those whom I had seen in my dream: with a great noise, before all my satraps, I confessed that they were those whom I had seen in my dream.
Hereupon that same most blessed Sylvester our father, Bishop of the city of Rome, imposed upon us a time of penance—within our Lateran palace, in the chapel, in a hair garment,—so that I might obtain pardon from our Lord God Jesus Christ our Saviour by vigils, fasts, and tears and prayers, for all things that had been impiously done and unjustly ordered by me. Then through the imposition of the hands of the clergy, I came to the bishop himself; and there, renouncing the pomps of Satan and his works, and all idols made by hands, of my own will before all the people I confessed: that I believed in God the Father almighty, maker of Heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son our Lord, who was born of the Holy Spirit and of the Virgin Mary. And, the font having been blessed, the wave of salvation purified me there with a triple immersion. For there, being placed at the bottom of the font, saw with my own eyes a band from Heaven touching me; whence rising, clean, know that I was cleansed from all the squalor of leprosy. And, I being raised from the venerable font-putting on white raiment, be administered to me the sign of the seven-fold holy Spirit, the unction of the holy oil; and he traced the sign of the holy cross on my brow, saying: God seals thee with the seal of His faith in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, to signalize thy faith. All the clergy replied: "Amen." The bishop added, "peace be with thee."
And so, on the first day after receiving the mystery of the holy baptism, and after the cure of my body from the squalor of the leprosy, I recognized that there was no other God save the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; whom the most blessed Sylvester the pope doth preach; a trinity in one, a unity in three. For all the gods of the nations, whom I have worshipped up to this time, are proved to be demons; works made by the hand of men; inasmuch as that same venerable father told to us most clearly how much power in Heaven and on earth He, our Saviour, conferred on his apostle St. Peter, when finding him faithful after questioning him He said: "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock (petrani) shall I build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Give heed ye powerful, and incline the ear of your hearts to that which the good Lord and Master added to His disciple, saying: "and I will give thee the keys of the kingdom of Heaven; and whatever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound also in Heaven, and whatever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed also in Heaven." This is very wonderful and glorious, to bind and loose on earth and to have it bound and loosed in Heaven.
And when, the blessed Sylvester preaching them, I perceived these things, and learned that by the kindness of St. Peter himself I had been entirely restored to health: I together with all our satraps and the whole senate and the nobles and all the Roman people, who are subject to the glory of our rule—considered it advisable that, as on earth he (Peter) is seen to have been constituted Vicar of the Son of God, so the Pontiffs, who are the representatives of that same chief of the apostles, should obtain from us and our Empire the power of a supremacy greater than the earthly clemency of our imperial serenity is seen to have had conceded to it,—we choosing that same prince of the apostles, or his vicars, to be our constant intercessors with God. And, to the extent of our earthly imperial power, we decree that his holy Roman Church shall be honoured with veneration; and that, more than our empire and earthly throne, the most sacred seat of St. Peter shall be gloriously exalted; we giving to it the imperial power, and dignity of glory, and vigour and honour.
And we ordain and decree that he shall have the supremacy as well over the four chief seats Antioch, Alexandria, Constantinople and Jerusalem, as also over all the churches of God in the whole world. And he who for the time being shall be pontiff of that holy Roman Church shall be more exalted than, and chief over, all the priests of the whole world; and, according to his judgment, everything which is to be provided for the service of God or the stability of the faith of the Christians is to be administered. It is indeed just, that there the holy law should have the seat of its rule where the founder of holy laws, our Saviour, told St. Peter to take the chair of the apostleship; where also, sustaining the cross, he blissfully took the cup of death and appeared as imitator of his Lord and Master; and that there the people should bend their necks at the confession of Christ's name, where their teacher, St. Paul the apostle, extending his neck for Christ, was crowned with martyrdom. There, until the end, let them seek a teacher, where the holy body of the teacher lies; and there, prone and humiliated, let them perform the service of the heavenly king, God our Saviour Jesus Christ, where the proud were accustomed to serve under the rule of an earthly king.
Meanwhile we wish all the people, of all the races and nations throughout the whole world, to know: that we have constructed within our Lateran palace, to the same Saviour our Lord God Jesus Christ, a church with a baptistry from the foundations. And know that we have carried on our own shoulders from its foundations, twelve baskets weighted with earth, according to the number of the holy apostles. Which holy church we command to be spoken of, cherished, venerated and preached of, as the head and summit of all the churches in the whole world, as we have commanded through our other imperial decrees. We have also constructed the churches of St. Peter and St. Paul, chiefs of the apostles, which we have enriched with gold and silver; where also, placing their most sacred bodies with great honour, we have constructed their caskets of electrum, against which no force of the elements prevails. And we have placed a cross of purest gold and precious gems on each of their caskets, and fastened them with golden keys. And on these churches for the endowing of divine services we have conferred estates, and have enriched them with different objects; and, through our sacred imperial decrees, we have granted them our gift of land in the East as well as in the West; and even on the northern and southern coast;—namely in Judea, Greece, Asia, Thrace, Africa and Italy and the various islands: under this condition indeed, that all shall be administered by the hand of our most blessed father the Pontiff Sylvester and his successors.
For let all the people and the nations of the races in the whole world rejoice with us; we exhorting all of you to give unbounded thanks, together with us, to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. For He is God in Heaven above and on earth below, who, visiting us through His holy apostles, made us worthy to receive the holy sacrament of baptism and health of body. In return for which, to those same holy apostles, my masters, St. Peter and St. Paul; and, through them, also to St. Sylvester, our father, the chief Pontiff and universal Pope of the city of Rome, and to all the pontiffs his successors, who until the end of the world shall be about to sit in the seat of St. Peter: we concede and, by this present, do confer, our imperial Lateran palace, which is preferred to, and ranks above, all the palaces in the whole world; then a diadem, that is, the crown of our head, and at the same time the tiara; and, also, the shoulder band, that is, the collar that usually surrounds our imperial neck; and also the purple mantle, and crimson tunic, and all the imperial raiment; and the same rank as those presiding over the imperial cavalry; conferring also the imperial sceptres, and, at the same time, the spears and standards; also the banners and different imperial ornaments, and all the advantage of our high imperial position, and the glory of our power.
And we decree, as to those most reverend men, the clergy who serve, in different orders, that same holy Roman Church, that they shall have the same advantage, distinction, power and excellence by the glory of which our most illustrious senate is adorned; that is, that they shall be made patricians and consuls, we commanding that they shall also be decorated with the other imperial dignities. And even as the imperial soldiery, so, we decree, shall the clergy of the holy Roman Church be adorned. And even as the imperial power is adorned by different offices by the distinction, that is, of chamberlains, and door keepers, and all the guards, so we wish the holy Roman Church to be adorned. And, in order that the pontifical glory may shine forth more fully, we decree this also: that the clergy of this same holy Roman Church may use saddle cloths of linen of the whitest colour; namely that their horses may be adorned and so be ridden, and that, as our senate uses shoes with goats' hair, so they may be distinguished by gleaming linen; in order that, as the celestial beings, so the terrestrial may be adorned to the glory of God. Above all things, moreover, we give permission to that same most holy one our father Sylvester, Bishop of the city of Rome and Pope, and to all the most blessed pontiffs who shall come after him and succeed him in all future times, for the honour and glory of Jesus Christ our Lord, to receive into that great Catholic and apostolic church of God, even into the number of the monastic clergy, any one from our senate, who, in free choice, of his own accord, may wish to become—a cleric; no one at all presuming thereby to act in a haughty manner.
We also decreed this, that this same venerable one our father Sylvester, the supreme Pontiff, and all the pontiffs his successors, might use and bear upon their heads—to the Praise of God and for the honour of St. Peter—the diadem; that is, the crown which we have granted him from our own head, of purest gold and precious gems. But he, the most holy Pope, did not at all allow that crown of gold to be used over the clerical crown which he wears to the glory of St. Peter; but we placed upon his most holy head, with our own hands, a tiara of gleaming splendour representing the glorious resurrection of our Lord. And, holding the bridle of his horse, out of reverence for St. Peter we performed for him the duty of groom; decreeing that all the pontiffs his successors, and they alone, may use that tiara in processions.
In imitation of our own power, in order that for that cause the supreme pontificate may not deteriorate, but may rather be adorned with power and glory even more than is the dignity of an earthly rule: behold we—giving over to the oft-mentioned most blessed Pontiff, our father Sylvester the universal Pope, as well our palace, as has been said, as also the city of Rome and all the provinces, districts and cities of Italy or of the western regions; and relinquishing them, by our inviolable gift, to the power and sway of himself or the pontiffs his successors—do decree, by this our godlike charter and imperial constitution, that it shall be (so) arranged; and do concede that they (the palaces, provinces etc.) shall lawfully remain with the holy Roman Church.
Wherefore we have perceived it to be fitting that our empire and the power of our kingdom should be transferred and changed to the regions of the East; and that, in the province of Byzantium, in a most fitting place, a city should be built in our name; and that our empire should there be established. For, where the supremacy of priests and the head of the Christian religion has been established by a heavenly ruler, it is not just that there an earthly ruler should have jurisdiction.
We decree, moreover, that all these things which, through this our imperial charter and through other godlike commands, we have established and confirmed, shall remain uninjured and unshaken until the end of the world. Wherefore, before the living God, who commanded us to reign, and in the face of his terrible judgment, we conjure, through this our imperial decree, all the emperors our successors, and all our nobles, the satraps also and the most glorious senate, and all the people in the whole world now and in all times previously subject to our rule: that no one of them, in any way allow himself to oppose or disregard, or in any way seize, these things which, by our imperial sanction, have been conceded to the holy Roman Church and to all its pontiffs. If anyone, moreover, which we do not believe, prove a scorner or despiser in this matter, he shall be subject and bound over to eternal damnation; and shall feel that the holy chiefs of the apostles of God, Peter and Paul, will be opposed to him in the present and in the future life. And, being burned in the nethermost hell, he shall perish with the devil and all the impious.
The page, moreover, of this our imperial decree, we, confirming it with our own hands, did place above the venerable body of St. Peter chief of the apostles; and there, promising to that same apostle of God that we would preserve inviolably all its provisions, and would leave in our commands to all the emperors our successors to preserve them, we did hand it over, to be enduringly and happily possessed, to our most blessed father Sylvester the supreme Pontiff and universal pope, and, through him, to all the pontiffs his successors, God our Lord and our Saviour Jesus Christ consenting.
And the imperial subscription: May the Divinity preserve you for many years, oh most holy and blessed fathers.
Given at Rome on the third day before the Kalends of April, our master the august Flavius Constantine, for the fourth time, and Galligano, most illustrious men, being consuls.
From Zeumer's edition, published in Berlin in 1888, v. Brunner-Zeumer: "Die Constantinische Schenkungsurkunde"
translated in Ernest F. Henderson, Select Historical Documents of the Middle Ages, (London: George Bell, 1910), pp. 319-329
The Latin version follows below.
(ca. 750-800 AD)
In nomine sanctae et individuae trinitatis patris scilicet et filii et spiritus sancti.
Imperator Caesar Flavius Constantinus in Christo Iesu, uno ex eadem sancta trinitate salvatore domino deo nostro, fidelis mansuetus, maximus, beneficus, Alamannicus, Gothicus, Sarmaticus, Germanicus, Britannicus, Hunnicus, pius, felix, victor ac triumphator, semper augustus, sanctissimo ac beatissimo patri patrum Silvestrio, urbis Romae episcopo et papae, atque omnibus eius successoribus, qui in sede beati Petri usque in finem saeculi sessuri sunt, pontificibus nec non et omnibus reverentissimis et deo amabilibus catholicis episcopis eidem sacrosanctae Romanae ecclesiae per hanc nostram imperialem constitutionem subiectis in universo orbe terrarum, nunc et in posteris cunctis retro temporibus constitutis, gratia, pax, caritas, gaudium, longanimitas, misericordia a deo patre omnipotente et Iesu Christo filio eius et spiritu sancto cum omnibus vobis.
Ea quae salvator et redemptor noster dominus deus Iesus Christus, altissimi patris filius, per suos sanctos apostolos Petrum et Paulum, interveniente patre nostro Silvestrio summo pontifice et universali papa, mirabiliter operari dignatus est, liquida enarratione per huius nostrae imperialis institutionis paginam ad agnitionem omnium populorum in universo orbe terrarum nostra studuit propagare mansuetissima serenitas. Primum quidem fidem nostram, quam a praelato beatissimo patre et oratore nostro Silvestrio universali pontifice edocti sumus, intima cordis confessione ad instruendas omnium vestrum mentes proferentes et ita demum misericordiam dei super nos diffusam annuritiantes.
Nosse enim vos volumus, sicut per anteriorem nostram sacram pragmaticam iussionem significavimus, nos a culturis idolorum, simulacria mutis et surdis manufactis, diabolicis compositionibus atque ab omnibus Satanae pompis recessisse et ad integram Christianorum fidem, quae est vera lux et vita perpetua, pervenisse credentes iuxta id, quod nos isdem almificus summus pater et doctor noster Silvester instruxit pontifex, in deum patrem omnipotentem, factorem caeli et terrae, visibilium omnium et invisibilium, et in Iesum Christum, filium eius unicum, dominum deum nostrum, per quem creata sunt omnia, et in spiritum sanctum, dominum et vivificatorem universae creaturae. Hos patrem et filium et spiritum sanctum confitemur, ita ut in trinitate perfecta et plenitudo sit divinitatis et unitas potestatis: pater deus, filius deus et spiritus sanctus deus, et tres unum sunt in Iesu Christo. Tres itaque formae, sed una potestas.
Nam sapiens retro semper deus edidit ex se, per quod semper erant gignenda saecula, verbum, et quando eodem solo suae sapientiae verbo universam ex nihilo formavit creaturam, cum eo erat, cuncta suo arcano componens mysterio. Igitur perfectis caelorum virtutibus et universis terrae materiis, pio sapientiae suae nutu ad imaginem et similitudinem suam primum de Iimo terrae fingens hominem, hunc in paradiso posuit voluptatis; quem antiquus serpens et hostis invidens, diabolus, per amarissimum ligni vetiti gustum exulem ab eisdem effecit gaudiis, eoque expulso non desinit sua venenosa multis modis protelare iacula, ut a via veritatis humanum abstrahens genus idolorum culturae, videlicet creaturae et non creatori, deservire suadeat, quatenus per hos eos, quos suis valuerit irretire insidiis, secum aeterno efficiat concremandos supplicio. Sed deus noster, misertus plasmae suae, dirigens sanctos suos prophetas, per quos lumen futurae vitae, adventum videlicet filii sui, domini dei et salvatoris nostri Iesu Christi, annuntians, misit eundem unigenitum suum filium et sapientiae verbum. Qui descendens de caelis propter nostram salutem natus de spiritu sancto et Maria virgine, verbum caro factum est et habitavit in nobis. Non amisit, quod fuerat, sed coepit esse, quod non erat, deum perfectum et hominem perfectum, ut deus mirabilia perficiens et ut homo humanas passiones sustinens. Ita verum hominem et verum deum praedicante patre nostro Silvestrio summo pontifice intellegimus, ut verum deum verum hominem fuisse nullo modo ambigamus; electisque duodecim apostolis, miraculis coram eis et innumerabilis populi multitudine coruscavit. Confitemur eundem dominum Iesum Christum adimplesse legem et prophetas, passum, crucifixum, secundum scripturas tertia die a mortuis resurrexisse, assumptum in caelis atque sedentem ad dexteram patris, inde venturum iudicare vivos et mortuos, cuius regni non erit finis.
Haec est enim fides nostra orthodoxa a beatissimo patre nostro Silvestrio summo pontifice nobis prolata; exhortantes idcirco omnem populum et diversas gentium nationes hanc fidem tenere, colere ac praedicare et in sanctae trinitatis nomine baptismi gratiam consequi et dominum Iesum Christum salvatorem nostrum, qui cum patre et spiritu sancto per infinita vivit et regnat saecula, quem Silvester beatissimis pater noster universalis praedicat pontifex, corde devoto adorare.
Ipse enim dominus deus noster, misertus mihi peccatori, misit sanctos suos apostolos ad visitandum nos et lumen sui splendoris infulsit nobis et abstracto a tenebris ad veram lucem et agnitionem veritatis me pervenisse gratulamini. Nam dum valida squaloris lepra totam mei corporis invasisset carnem, et multorum medicorum convenientium cura adhiberetur, nec unius quidem promerui saluti; ad haec advenerunt sacerdotes Capitolii, dicentes mihi debere fontem fieri in Capitolio et compleri hunc innocentium infantum sanguine et calente in eo loto me posse mundari. Et secundum eorum dicta aggregatis plurimis innocentibus infantibus, dum vellent sacrilegi paganorum sacerdotes eos mactari et ex eorum sanguine fontem repleri, cernens serenitas nostra lacrimas matrum eorum, ilico exhorrui facinus, misertusque eis proprios illis restitui praecepimus filios, datisque vehiculis et donis concessis gaudentes ad propria relaxavimus.
Eadem igitur transacta die, nocturna nobis facta silentia, dum somni tempus advenisset, adsunt apostoli sanctus Petrus et Paulus dicentes mihi: «Quoniam flagitiis posuisti terminum et effusionem sanguinis innocentis horruisti, missi sumus a Christo domino deo nostro, dare tibi sanitatis recuperandae consilium. Audi ergo monita nostra et fac quodcumque indicamus tibi. Silvester episcopus civitatis Romae ad montem Seraptem persecutiones tuas fugiens in cavernis petrarum cum suis clericis latebram fovet. Hunc cum ad te adduxeris, ipse tibi piscinam pietatis ostendet, in qua dum te tertio merserit, omnis te valitudo ista deseret leprae. Quod dum factum fuerit, hanc vicissitudinem tuo salvatori compensa, ut omnes iussu tuo per totum orbem ecclesiae restaurentur, te autem ipsum in hac parte purifica, ut relicta omni superstitione idolorum deum vivum et verum, qui solus est et verus, adores et excolas, ut ad eius voluntatem adtingas.»
Exsurgens igitur a somno protinus iuxta id, quod a sanctis apostolis admonitus sum, peregi, advocatoque eodem praecipuo et almifico patre et illuminatore nostro Silvestrio universali papa, omnia a sanctis apostolis mihi praecepta edixi verba, percunctatique eum sumus, qui isti dii essent: Petrus et Paulus? Ille vero non eos deos debere dici, sed apostolos salvatoris nostri domini dei Iesu Christi. Et rursum interrogare coepimus eundem beatissimum papam, utrum istorum apostolorum imaginem expressam haberet, ut ex pictura disceremus hos esse, quos revelatio docuerat. Tunc isdem venerabilis pater imagines eorundem apostolorum per diaconem suum exhiberi praecepit. Quas dum aspicerem et eorum, quos in somno videram figuratos, in ipsis imaginibus cognovissem vultus, ingenti clamore coram omnibus satrapibus meis confessus sum eos esse, quos in somno videram.
Ad haec beatissimus isdem Silvester pater noster, urbis Romae episcopus, indixit nobis poenitentiae tempus intro palatium nostrum Lateranense in uno cubiculo in cilicio, ut omnia, quae a nobis impie [peracta atque] iniuste disposita fuerant, vigiliis, ieiuniis atque lacrimis et orationibus apud dominum deum nostrum Iesum Christum salvatorem impetraremus. Deinde per manus impositionem clericorum usque ad ipsum praesulem veni, ibique abrenuntians Satanae pompis et operibus eius vel universis idolis manufactis, credere me in deum patrem omnipotentem, factorem caeli et terrae, visibilium et invisibilium, et in Iesum Christum, filium eius unicum, dominum nostrum, qui natus est de spiritu sancto et Maria Virgine, spontanea voluntate coram omni populo professus sum; benedictoque fonte illic me trina mersione unda salutis purificavit. Ibi enim, me posito in fontis gremio, manu de caelo me contingente propriis vidi oculis; de qua mundus exsurgens, ab omni me leprae squalore mundatum agnoscite. Levatoque me de venerabili fonte, indutus vestibus candidis, septemformis sancti spiritus in me consignatione adhibuit beati chrismatis unctionem et vexillum sanctae Crucis in mea fronte linivit dicens: «Signat te deus sigillo fidei suae in nomine patris et filii et spiritus sancti in consignatione fidei.» Cunctus clerus respondit: «Amen.» Adiecit praesul: «Pax tibi.»
Prima itaque die post perceptum sacri baptismatis mysterium et post curationem corporis mei a leprae squalore agnovi, non esse alium deum nisi patrem et filium et spiritum sanctum, quem beatissimus Silvester papa praedicat, trinitatem in unitate, unitatem in trinitate. Nam omnes dii gentium, quos usque hactenus colui, daemonia, opera homiritim manufacta comprobantur etenim, quantam potestatem isdem salvator noster suo apostolo beato Petro contulerit in caelo ae terra, lucidissime nobis isdem venerabilis pater edixit, dum fidelem eum in sua interrogatione inveniens ait: «Tu es Petrus, et super hanc petram aedificabo ecclesiam meam, et portae inferi non praevalebunt adversus eam.» Advertite potentes et aurem cordis intendite, quid bonus magister et dominus suo discipulo adiunxit inquiens: «Et tibi dabo claves regni caelorum; quodcumque ligaveris super terram, erit ligatum et in caelis et quodcumque solveris super terram, erit solutum et in caelis.» Mirum est hoc valde et gloriosum, in terra ligare et solvere et in caelo ligatum et solutum esse.
Et dum haec praedicante beato Silvestrio agnoscerem et beneficiis ipsius beati Petri integre me sanitati comperi restitutum, utile iudicavimus una cum omnibus nostris satrapibus et universo senatu, optimatibus etiam et cuncto populo Romano, gloriae imperii nostri subiacenti, ut, sicut in terris Vicarius Filii Dei esse videtur constitutus, etiam et pontifices, qui ipsius principis apostolorum gerunt vices, principatus potestatem amplius, quam terrena imperialis nostrae serenitatis mansuetudo habere videtur concessam, a nobis nostroque imperio obtineant; eligentes nobis ipsum principem apostolorum vel eius vicarios firmos apud deum adesse patronos. Et sicut nostra est terrena imperialis potentia, eius sacrosanctam Romanam ecclesiam decrevimus veneranter honorare et amplius, quam nostrum imperium et terrenum thronum sedem sacratissimam beati Petri gloriose exaltari, tribuentes ei potestatem et gloriae dignitatem atque vigorem et honorificentiam imperialem.
Atque decernentes sancimus, ut principatum teneat tam super quattuor praecipuas sedes Antiochenam, Alexandrinam, Constantinopolitanam et Hierosolymitanam, quamque etiam super omnes in universo orbe terrarum dei ecclesias; et pontifex, qui pro tempore ipsius sacrosanctae Romanae ecclesiae extiterit, celsior et princeps cunctis sacerdotibus totius mundi existat et eius iudicio, quaeque ad cultum dei vel fidei Christianorum stabilitate procuranda fuerint, disponantur. iustum quippe est, ut ibi lex sancta caput teneat principatus, ubi sanctarum legum institutor, salvator noster, beatum Petrum apostolatus obtinere praecepit cathedram, ubi et crucis patibulum sustinens beatae mortis sumpsit poculum suique magistri et domini imitator apparuit, et ibi gentes pro Christi nominis confessione colla flectant, ubi eorum doctor beatus Paulus apostolus pro Christo extenso collo martyrio coronatus est; illic usque in finem quaerant doctorem, ubi sanctum doctoris quiescit corpus, et ibi proni ac humiliati caelestis regis, die salvatoris nostri Iesu Christi, famulentur officio, ubi superbi terreni regis serviebant imperio.
Interea nosse volumus omnem populum universarum gentium ac nationum per totum orbem terrarum, construxisse nos intro palatinium nostrum Lateranense eidem salvatori nostro domino deo Iesu Christo ecclesiam a fundamentis cum baptisterio, et duodecim nos sciatis de eius fundamentis secundum numerum duodecim apostolorum cophinos terra onustatos propriis asportasse humeris; quam sacrosanctam ecclesiam caput et verticem omnium ecclesiarum in universo orbe terrarum dici, coli, venerari ac praedicari sancimus, sicut per alia nostra imperialia decreta statuimus. Construximus itaque et ecclesias beatorum Petri et Pauli, principum apostolorum, quas auro et argento locupletavimus, ubi et sacratissima eorum corpora cum magno honore recondentes, thecas ipsorum ex electro, cui nulla fortitudo praevalet elementorum, construximus et crucem ex auro purissimo et gemmis pretiosis per singulas eorum thecas posuimus et elavis aureis oonfiximus, quibus pro concinnatione luminariorum possessionum praedia contulimus, et rebus diversis eas ditavimus, et per nostras imperialium iussionum sacras tam in oriente quam in occidente vel etiam septentrionali et meridiana plaga, videlicet in Iudaea, Graecia, Asia, Thracia, Africa et Italia vel diversis insulis nostram largitatem eis concessimus, ea prorsus ratione, ut per manus beatissimi patris nostri Silvestrii pontificis successorumque eius omnia disponantur.
Gaudeat enim una nobiscum omnis populus et gentium nationes in universo orbe terrarum; exhortantes omnes, ut deo nostro et salvatori Iesu Christo immensas una nobiscum referatis grates, quoniam ipse deus in caelis desuper et in terra deorsum, qui nos per suos sanctos visitans apostolos sanctum baptismatis sacramentum percipere et corporis sanitatem dignos effecit. Pro quo concedimus ipsis sanctis apostolis, dominis meis, beatissimis Petro et Paulo et per eos etiam beato Silvestrio patri nostro, summo pontifici et universali urbis Romae papae, et omnibus eius successoribus pontificibus, qui usque in finem mundi in sede beati Petri erunt sessuri atque de praesenti contradimus palatium imperii nostri Lateranense, quod omnibus in toto orbe terrarum praefertur atque praecellet palatiis, deinde diademam videlicet coronam capitis nostri simulque frygium nec non et superhumerale, videlicet lorum, qui imperiale circumdare assolet collum, verum etiam et clamidem purpuream atque tunicam coccineam et omnia imperialia indumenta seu et dignitatem imperialium praesidentium equitum, conferentes etiam et imperialia sceptra simulque et conta atque signa, banda etiam et diversa ornamenta imperialia et omnem processionem imperialis culminis et gloriam potestatis nostrae.
Viris enim reverentissimis, clericis diversis ordinibus eidem sacrosanctae Romanas ecclesiae servientibus illud culmen, singularitatem, potentiam et praecellentiam habere sancimus, cuius amplissimus noster senatus videtur gloria adornari, id est patricios atque consules effici, nec non et ceteris dignitatibus imperialibus eos promulgantes decorari; et sicut imperialis militia, ita et clerum sacrosanctae Romanae ecelesiae ornari decernimus; et quemadmodum imperialis potentia officiis diversis, cubiculariorum nempe et ostiariorum atque omnium excubiorum ornatu decoratur, ita et sanctam Romanam ecclesiam decorari volumus; et ut amplissime pontificalis decus praefulgeat, decernimus et hoc, ut clerici eiusdem sanctae Romanae ecclesiae mappulis ex linteaminibus, id est candidissimo colore, eorum decorari equos et ita equitari, et sicut noster senatus calciamenta uti cum udonibus, id est candido linteamine illustrari: ut sicut caelestia ita et terrena ad laudem dei decorentur; prae omnibus autem licentiam tribuentes ipso sanctissimo patri nostro Silvestrio, urbis Romae episcopo et papae, et omnibus, qui post eum in successum et perpetuis temporibus advenerint, beatissimis pontificibus, pro honore et gloria Christi dei nostri in eadem magna dei catholica et apostolica ecclesia ex nostra synclitu, quem placatus proprio consilio clericare voluerit et in numero religiosorum clericorum connumerare, nullum ex omnibus praesurnentem superbe agere.
Decrevimus itaque et hoc, ut isdem venerabilis pater noster Silvester, summus pontifex, vel omnes eius successores pontifices diademam videlicet coronam, quam ex capite nostro illi concessimus, ex auro purissimo et gemmis pretiosis uti debeant et eorum capite ad laudem dei pro honore beati Petri gestare; ipse vero sanctissimus papa super coronam clericatus, quam gerit ad gloriam beati Petri, omnino ipsam ex auro non est passus uti coronam, frygium vero candido nitore splendidam resurrectionem dominicam designans eius sacratissimo vertici manibus nostris posuimus, et tenentes frenum equi ipsius pro reverentia beati Petri stratoris officium illi exhibuimus; statuentes, eundem frygium omnes eius successores pontifices singulariter uti in processionibus ad imitationem imperii nostri.
Unde ut non pontificalis apex vilescat, sed magis amplius quam terreni imperii dignitas et gloriae potentia decoretur, ecce tam palatium nostrum, ut praelatum est, quamque Romae urbis et omnes Italias seu occidentalium regionum provincias, loca et civitates saepefato beatissimo pontifici, patri nostro Silvestrio, universali papae, contradentes atque relinquentes eius vel successorum ipsius pontificum potestati et ditioni firma imperiali censura per hanc nostram divalem sacram et pragmaticum constitutum decernimus disponenda atque iuri sanctae Romanae ecclesiae concedimus permanenda.
Unde congruum prospeximus, nostrum imperium et regni potestatem orientalibus transferri ac transmutari regionibus et in Byzantias provincia in optimo loco nomini nostro civitatem aedificari et nostrum illic constitui imperium; quoniam, ubi principatus sacerdotum et christianae religionis caput ab imperatore caelesti constitutum est, iustum non est, ut illic imperator terrenus habeat potestatem.
Haec vero omnia, quas per hanc nostram imperialem sacram et per alia divalia decreta statuimus atque confirmavimus, usque in finem mundi illibata et inconcussa permanenda decernimus; unde coram deo vivo, qui nos regnare praecepit, et coram terribili eius iudicio obtestamus per hoc nostrum imperialem constitutum omnes nostros successores imperatores vel cunctos optimates, satrapes etiam, amplissimum senatum et universum populum in toto orbe terrarum nunc et in posterum cunctis retro temporibus imperio nostro subiacenti, nulli eorum quoquo modo licere, haec, quae a nobis imperiali sanctione sacrosanctae Romanae ecclesiae vel eius omnibus pontificibus concessa sunt, refragare aut confringere vel in quoquam convelli. Si quis autem, quod non credimus, in hoc temerator aut contemptor extiterit, aeternis condemnationibus subiaceat innodatus, et sanctos dei principes apostolorum Petrum et Paulum sibi in praesenti et futura vita sentiat contrarios, atque in inferno inferiori concrematus, cum diabolo et omnibus deficiat impiis.
Huius vero imperialis decreti nostri paginam propriis manibus roborantes super venerandum corpus beati Petri, principis apostolorum, posuimus, ibique eidem dei apostolo spondentes, nos cuncta inviolabiliter conservare et nostris successoribus imperatoribus conservanda in mandatis relinqui, beatissimo patri nostro Silvestrio summo pontifici et universali papae eiusque per eum cunctis successoribus pontificibus, domino deo et salvatore nostro Iesu Christo annuente, tradidimus perenniter atque feliciter possidenda.
Et subscriptio imperialis:
Divinitas vos conservet per multos annos, sanctissimi ac beatissimi patres.
Datum Roma sub die tertio Kalendarum Aprilium, domino nostro Flavio Constantino
augusto quater et Gallicano viris clarissimis consulibus.
ed. Horst Fuhrmann,
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