The Council of Ephesus, of more than 200 bishops, presided over by St. Cyril of Alexandria representing Pope Celestine I, defined the true personal unity of Christ, declared Mary the Mother of God (theotokos) against Nestorius, Bishop of Constantinople, and renewed the condemnation of Pelagius.Preview This Lesson
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The Council of Ephesus was scheduled to begin on June 7, 431. Nestorius was the first to arrive with 16 of his bishops, clergy and a group of Imperial guards led by Count Candidian. The Imperial guards had been sent by the Emperor who was sympathetic towards Nestorius. Despite the Emperor’s favor, Nestorius and his followers were not liked in Ephesus. Indeed, Memnon, the Bishop of Ephesus had closed the churches to them. Patriarch Cyril arrived just before Pentecost with 50 Bishops and other clergy. On June 12, the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Juvenal, arrived with 15 Bishops and allied himself to Cyril. By June 22, 431, the three papal legates and the Patriarch of Antioch, John, with his 42 bishops had still not arrived. John’s absence was problematic in two ways — the Emperor had assigned John as the leader of the Council and, since Nestorius himself had been from Antioch, the Antiochian delegation might be more sympathetic towards him. Having spent 16 days waiting, however, Cyril had enough. He convened the Council, calling on Nestorius to appear before them. Nestorius refused and his writings were condemned and he himself was excommunicated and deposed from his office.
The Patriarch John and his group arrived on June 24th but refused to join the Council. They excommunicated Cyril and Memnon and declared that Nestorius was reinstated.
The papal legates from Pope Celestine I arrived on July 10th and joined Cyril. They approved the actions of this Council, including the excommunication of Nestorius and the condemnation of Nestorius’ and Celestius’ teachings. The condemnation of Nestorius by Pope Celestine was read into the records. John of Antioch was asked to appear before the Council but refused to do so and was excommunicated.
The legitimate Council ended on July 31, 431. Each of the factions sent letters or representatives to the Emperor for his approval. Nestorius’ followers tried to intercept the letters from the Council but were tricked by a clever subterfuge. The Council’s courier posed as a beggar and concealed letters in his hollow walking stick. Eventually Nestorius was deposed and excommunicated. John of Antioch was re-instated as Patriarch of Antioch while Maximian was selected as the new Patriarch of Constantinople.
The Council of Ephesus was recognized as an ecumenical council at the Council of Chalcedon in 451.
What is the importance of this Council? As we saw, the main discussions of the Council concerned t... Please purchase this lesson to continue learning.
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