Ursacius of Singidunum

Ursacius (fl. 335–346) was the bishop of Singidunum (the ancient city which was to become Belgrade), during the middle of the 4th century. Ursacius played an important role during the evolving controversies surrounding the legacies of the Council of Nicaea and the theologian Arius, acting frequently in concert with his fellow bishops of the Diocese of Pannonia (or "Illyria"), Germinius of Sirmium and Valens of Mursa. Found at various times during their episcopal careers staking positions on both sides of the developing theological debate and internal Church politicking, Ursacius and his fellows were seen to vacillate according to the political winds.

Early life

Born at the latest in c. 300,[1] little is known of Ursacius' early career, but he appears already to have become bishop of Singidunum by 335, in which capacity he formed part of the group of bishops empanelled at the Synod of Tyre to investigate the veracity of accusations of impropriety made against Athanasius of Alexandria.[2] The endorsement by the group of the fabricated charges made against Athanasius is generally attributed to their partisanship for the theology of Arius.[3] The association of Ursacius (and his fellow Illyrian bishops) with Arius is postulated by Wace to have begun during the period of Arius' exile in Illyria in the period immediately after the Council of Nicaea.[4] Ursacius and Valens next appear in 342 at Constantinople assisting with the consecration of Macedonius as bishop of the metropolis.

On the restoration of Athanasius of Alexandria to his see in 346, Ursacius, along with his confederate Valens, recanted both of their previous hostility to Athanasius and to his Trinitarian theology. Accordingly, they journeyed to Rome, presenting a written recantation to its bishop, Julius, and wrote to Athanasius, expressing their willingness to hold communion with him in the future.[5]

Found at various times during their episcopal careers staking positions on both sides of the developing theological debate and internal Church politicking, Ursacius and his fellows were seen by contemporaneous and later Church history sources (such as Socrates of Constantinople) to vacillate according to the political winds, being 'always inclined to side with the dominant party.'[6]


  1. ^ Wace, Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature to the End of the Sixth Century A.D., with an Account of the Principal Sects and Heresies.
  2. ^ Sozomen, Church History, Book 2.25.
  3. ^ Athanasius, ad Episcopos Aegyptiae 7, p. 218 .
  4. ^ Wace, Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature to the End of the Sixth Century A.D., with an Account of the Principal Sects and Heresies.
  5. ^ Socrates Scholasticus, Church History, Book 2.24.
  6. ^ Socrates Scholasticus, Church History, Book 2. 37.

External links


The Acacians (), also known as the Homoians or Homoeans (), were an Arian sect which first emerged into distinctness as an ecclesiastical party some time before the convocation of the joint synods of Rimini and Seleucia Isauria in 359. The sect owed its name (oi peri Akakion, those of Acacius) and political importance to Acacius, Bishop of Caesarea, whose theory of adherence to scriptural phraseology it adopted and endeavoured to summarize in its various catch words: homoios, homoios kata panta, k.t.l.

Arian controversy

The Arian controversy was a series of Christian theological disputes that arose between Arius and Athanasius of Alexandria, two Christian theologians from Alexandria, Egypt. The most important of these controversies concerned the substantial relationship between God the Father and God the Son.

The deep divisions created by the disputes were an ironic consequence of Emperor Constantine's efforts to unite Christianity and establish a single, imperially approved version of the faith during his reign. These disagreements divided the Church into two opposing theological factions for over 55 years, from the time before the First Council of Nicaea in 325 until after the First Council of Constantinople in 381. There was no formal resolution or formal schism, though the Trinitarian faction ultimately gained the upper hand in the imperial Church; outside the Roman Empire this faction was not immediately so influential. Arianism continued to be preached inside and outside the Empire for some time (without the blessing of the Empire) but eventually it was killed off. The modern Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church, as well as most other modern Christian sects, have generally followed the Trinitarian formulation, though each has its own specific theology on the matter.

Arian creeds

Arian Creeds are the creeds of Arian Christians, developed mostly in the fourth century when Arianism was one of the main varieties of Christianity. A creed is a brief summary of the beliefs of a group of religious practitioners, expressed in a more or less standardized format. Arian creeds are a subset of Christian Creeds.

Christian creeds originate in the genres of the trinitarian formula and the Christological confession. In the mid-2nd century a type of doctrinal formula called the rule of faith emerged. These were seen as demonstrating the correctness of one's beliefs and helping to avoid heretical doctrines. In the third century, more elaborate professions of faith developed combining the influence of baptismal creeds (i.e., trinitarian formulae) and rules of faith. Learning the creeds was part of the process of gaining admission to the Christian religion. Interrogatory creeds were varieties of creeds used to test candidates for baptism, while declaratory creeds allowed the candidate to express their beliefs in the first person. Among the oldest known Christian Creeds are the Roman Creed and the Nicene Creed.

Most Arian creeds were written in the fourth century during the Arian controversy. Arian creeds generally represent the beliefs of those Christians opposed to the Nicene Creed. The Arian controversy began when Alexander of Alexandria accused a local presbyter, Arius, of heresy, in the late 310s and early 320s. It lasted until the proclamation of the Creed of Constantinople in 381. The opponents of Arius expressed their beliefs in the Nicene Creed. Arians expressed their beliefs in their own, Arian creeds. Advocates of Nicene Christianity and Arian Christianity debated and competed throughout the fourth century, each claiming to be the orthodox variant. Nicene Christians called their opponents, as a group, Arians although many of them differed significantly from the original doctrines of Arius, and many opponents of the Nicene Creed did not identify as Arians.The oldest known Arian creed is the Profession of Faith of Arius. Many more creeds were produced after the rise of the Homoian Arian group in the 350s, by theologians who were either Homoian Arian or at one time had been. These include the Second Sirmian Creed (357), the Creed of Nike (360), the Creed of Acacius (359), the Rule of Faith and the Creed of Ulfilas (383), Eudoxius' Rule of Faith, the Creed of Auxentius (364), and the Creed of Germinius.


Arianism is a nontrinitarian Christological doctrine which asserts the belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who was begotten by God the Father at a point in time, a creature distinct from the Father and is therefore subordinate to him, but the Son is also God (i.e. God the Son). Arian teachings were first attributed to Arius (c. AD 256–336), a Christian presbyter in Alexandria of Egypt. The term "Arian" is derived from the name Arius; and like "Christian", it was not a self-chosen designation but bestowed by hostile opponents—and never accepted by those on whom it had been imposed. The nature of Arius's teaching and his supporters were opposed to the theological views held by Homoousian Christians, regarding the nature of the Trinity and the nature of Christ. The Arian concept of Christ is based on the belief that the Son of God did not always exist but was begotten within time by God the Father.There was a dispute between two interpretations of Jesus' divinity (Homoousianism and Arianism) based upon the theological orthodoxy of the time, one trinitarian and the other non-trinitarian, and both of them attempted to solve its respective theological dilemmas. So there were, initially, two equally orthodox interpretations which initiated a conflict in order to attract adepts and define the new orthodoxy. The two interpretations initiated a broader conflict as to which belief was the successor of Christian theology from its inception. The former was formally affirmed by the first two Ecumenical Councils, and in the past several centuries, Arianism has continued to be viewed as "the heresy or sect of Arius". As such, all mainstream branches of Christianity now consider Arianism to be heterodox and heretical. The trinitarianism, or homoousianism viewpoint, was promulgated by Athanasius of Alexandria, who insisted that Homoousianism theology was both the true nature of God and the teaching of Jesus. Arius stated: "If the Father begat the Son, then he who was begotten had a beginning in existence, and from this it follows there was a time when the Son was not." Nonetheless, the Ecumenical First Council of Nicaea of 325, convened by Emperor Constantine to ensure Church unity, deemed Arianism to be a heresy." According to Everett Ferguson, "The great majority of Christians had no clear views about the nature of the Trinity and they did not understand what was at stake in the issues that surrounded it."Ten years later, however, Constantine the Great, who was himself baptized by the Arian bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia, convened another gathering of Church leaders at the regional First Synod of Tyre in 335 (attended by 310 bishops), to address various charges mounted against Athanasius by his pro-Arius detractors, such as "murder, illegal taxation, sorcery, and treason", following his refusal to readmit Arius into fellowship. Athanasius was exiled to Trier (in modern Germany) following his conviction at Tyre of conspiracy, and Arius was, effectively, exonerated. Athanasius eventually returned to Alexandria in 346 A.D., two years after the deaths of both Arius and Constantine; though Arianism had spread, Athanasius and other trinitarian Church leaders crusaded against the theology, and Arius was again anathemised and pronounced a heretic once more at the Ecumenical First Council of Constantinople of 381 (attended by 150 bishops). The Roman Emperors Constantius II (337–361) and Valens (364–378) were Arians or Semi-Arians, as was the first King of Italy, Odoacer (433?–493), and the Lombards were also Arians or Semi-Arians until the 7th century. Visigothic Spain was Arian until 581. Many Goths when they converted to Christianity adopted Arian beliefs. The Vandal regime in North Africa actively imposed Arianism.

Arianism is also used to refer to other nontrinitarian theological systems of the 4th century, which regarded Jesus Christ—the Son of God, the Logos—as either a begotten creature (as in Arianism proper and Anomoeanism) or as neither uncreated nor created in the sense other beings are created (as in Semi-Arianism).

Council of Ariminum

The Council of Ariminum, also known after the city's modern name as the Council of Rimini, was an early Christian church synod.

In 358, the Roman Emperor Constantius II requested two councils, one of the western bishops at Ariminum and one of the eastern bishops (planned for Nicomedia but actually held at Seleucia Isauria) to resolve the Arian controversy over the nature of the divinity of Jesus Christ, which divided the 4th-century church.In July 359, the western council (of about 300 or over 400 bishops) met. Ursacius of Singidunum and Valens of Mursa soon proposed a new creed, drafted at the Council of Sirmium of 359 but not presented there, holding that the Son was similar to the Father "according to the scriptures," and avoiding the controversial terms "same substance" and "similar substance." Others favored the creed of Nicaea.The opponents of Sirmium wrote a letter to the emperor Constantius, praising Nicaea and condemning any reconsideration of it, before many of them left the council. The supporters of Sirmium then issued the new creed and sent it through Italy.The council was considered a defeat for trinitarianism, and Saint Jerome wrote: "The whole world groaned, and was astonished to find itself Arian."Pope Liberius of Rome rejected the new creed, prompting Phaebadius of Agen and Servatus of Tongeren to withdraw their support from the homoian. The supporters of Sirmium deposed Liberius and reappointed Felix of Rome in his place.Two councils at Nike (southeast of Adrianople) and Constantinople followed.Those favoring the Creed drafted at Sirmium included:

Ursacius of Singidunum

Valens of Mursa

Germinius of Sirmium

Auxentius of Milan

Demophilus of Beroe

GaiusThose favoring the Creed of Nicaea included:

Phaebadius of Agen (died c. 392)

Servatus of Tongeren (died May 13, 384)

Gaudentius of Ariminum (died October 14, 360)

Mercurialis of Forlì

Restitutus of Carthage

Councils of Alexandria

The Councils of Alexandria started in 231 AD as a council of bishops and priests met at Alexandria, Egypt, called by Bishop Demetrius for the purpose of declaring Origen of Alexandria unworthy of the office of teacher, and of excommunicating him.

Germinius of Sirmium

Germinius, born in Cyzicus, was bishop of Sirmium, (today the town Sremska Mitrovica, in the territory of Srem in Serbia) and a supporter of Homoian theology, which is often labelled as a form of Arianism. Along with Valens of Mursa and Ursacius of Singidunum he was responsible for drafting the theological statement known as the Blasphemy of Sirmium in 357. He also appears in the Altercatio Heracliani laici cum Germinio episcopo Sirmiensi, which purports to be the minutes of a public disputation between Germinius and a Nicene layman called Heraclianus in January 366. He is believed to have died in 375 or 376.

Gregory of Elvira

Gregory Bæticus (died c. 392) was bishop of Elvira, in the province of Baetica, Spain, from which he derived his surname.

Hilary of Poitiers

Hilary of Poitiers (Latin: Hilarius; c. 310 – c. 367) was Bishop of Poitiers and is a Doctor of the Church. He was sometimes referred to as the "Hammer of the Arians" (Latin: Malleus Arianorum) and the "Athanasius of the West." His name comes from the Latin word for happy or cheerful. In addition to his important work as Bishop, Hilary was the father of Abra of Poitiers (a nun and saint who became known for her charity) and was married. His optional memorial in the General Roman Calendar is 13 January. In the past, when this date was occupied by the Octave Day of the Epiphany, his feast day was moved to 14 January.


Semi-Arianism was a position regarding the relationship between God the Father and the Son of God, adopted by some 4th century Christians. Though the doctrine modified the teachings of Arianism, it still rejected the doctrine that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are co-eternal, and of the same substance, or consubstantial, and was therefore considered to be heretical by many contemporary Christians. Semi-Arianism is a name frequently given to the Trinitarian position of the conservative majority of the Eastern Orthodox Church in the 4th century, to distinguish it from strict Arianism.

Arius held that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were three separate essences or substances (ousia or hypostases) and that the Son and Spirit derived their divinity from the Father, were created, and were inferior to the Godhead of the Father. Semi-Arians asserted that the Son was “of a similar substance” (homoiousios) as the Father but not "of the same substance" (homoousios). This doctrinal controversy revolved around two words that in writing differed only by a single letter but whose difference in meaning gave rise to furious contests.

Serbian Orthodox Church

The Serbian Orthodox Church (Serbian: Српска православна црква, romanized: Srpska pravoslavna crkva) is one of the autocephalous Eastern Orthodox Christian Churches. It is the second-oldest Slavic Orthodox Church in the world (after the Bulgarian Orthodox Church).

The Serbian Orthodox Church comprises the majority of the population in Serbia, Montenegro, and the Republika Srpska entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is organized into metropolises and eparchies located primarily in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Croatia, but also all over the world where Serb diaspora lives.

The Serbian Orthodox Church is an autocephalous, or ecclesiastically independent, member of the Eastern Orthodox communion. Serbian Patriarch serves as first among equals in his church; the current patriarch is Irinej. The Church achieved autocephalous status in 1219 under the leadership of St. Sava, becoming independent Archbishopric of Žiča. Its status was elevated to that of a Patriarchate in 1346 and was known afterward as the Serbian Patriarchate of Peć. This patriarchate was abolished by the Ottoman Turks in 1766, though the Serbian Church continued to exist with its exarchs in Serbian territories in the Ottoman Empire, the Habsburg Monarchy, the Republic of Venice and the First French Empire. Finally, the modern Serbian Orthodox Church was re-established in 1920 after the unification of the Patriarchate of Karlovci, the Metropolitanate of Belgrade and the Metropolitanate of Montenegro.

Valens of Mursa

Valens of Mursa was bishop of Mursa (Osijek in modern Croatia) and a supporter of Homoian theology, which is often labelled as a form of Arianism, although semi-arianism is probably more accurate.


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