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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [1]

Roman emperor, son of Theodosius I, was born in 384. He was named Augustus Nov. 20, 393, and succeeded his father Jan. 17, 395, as first emperor of the Western empire, with Rome as its capital, while the Eastern fell to the lot of his brother Arcadius. Honorius was at this time only ten years of age, and he was therefore put under the guardianship of Stilicho, a Vandal, who had aided him in ascending the throne, and whose daughter Maria he married. Honorius, soon after his accession, renewed and even rendered more stringent his father's enactments against heathenism; but the weakness of his government, together with the fears or heathenish tendencies of some of the governors, rendered these regulations almost of no effect in several provinces. It having been represented to Honorius that the continued existence of heathen temples kept up the heathen spirit among the people, he ordered (399) that all such temples should be quickly destroyed, so that the people should no longer have this temptation before them. As the heathen laid great stress on a prediction that Christianity would disappear in its 365th year, the destruction of their own temples at that time made great impression on them. Yet in some districts of Northern Africa the heathen still remained numerous enough not only to resist, but even to oppress the Christians. After the death of Stilicho, Honorius modified his severe course against heathenism: a law was promulgated for the Western empire in A.D. 410 "ut libera voluntate quis cultum Christianitatis exciperet" by which the penalties pronounced by preceding laws against all who participated in any but Christian worship were suspended. This law, however, remained in force but a short time, and the old enactments came again into use. An edict of 416 excluded the heathen from civil and military offices, yet we are told by Zozimus (5, 46) that such was the weakness of Honorius that at the request of a heathen general, who declined continuing in his service on any other terms, the edict was at once taken back. This vacillating, irresolute prince was also led to take part in discussions on the points of doctrine then agitating the Church.

In 418 he promulgated an edict against Pelagius and the Pelagians and Caelicolae, which was framed more in a theological than an imperial style. He acted in the same manner towards the Donatists. The envoys of the North African Church succeeded in obtaining from the emperor a rule that the penalty of ten pounds of gold to which his father Theodosius had condemned heretic priests, or the owners of the places where heretics assembled to worship, should only be enforced against those Donatist bishops and priests in whose dioceses violence had been offered to the orthodox priests. In an edict Honorius issued against the Donatists (405), he condemned them as heretics, and this with more severity even than the Council of Carthage demanded. Later he appointed a council, to be held at Carthage (411), to decide the difficulty between the Donatists and the orthodox party. The imperial commissioners, of course, decided for the latter, and new edicts were published exiling Donatist priests, and condemning their followers to be fined. The fanaticism of the oppressed party was excited by these measures, and the heresy only spread the more rapidly. While the reign of Honorius is thus of great importance in the history of the Church, the emperor himself showed the greatest want of energy in all his dealings, and his death, which occurred in August, 423, cannot be said to have been a loss to either the State or the Church. Herzog, Real-Encyklop. 6, 251; Mosheim, Ch. History, vol. 1; Gibbon, Decline and Fall, chap. 29-33; Sozomen, Hist. Eccles, chap. 8-10; Schaff, Ch. Hist. 2, 66 sq.; Lea, Sacerdotal Celibacy, p. 54, 72, 83; Christ. Remembrancer, July 1868, p. 237. (See Donatists).

The Nuttall Encyclopedia [2]

The name of four Popes:

he most famous, Pope from 626 to 638;

ope from 1124 to 1130;

ope from 1216 to 1227; and

ope from 1286 to 1287.