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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [1]

After the death of Maximus, the emperor Theodosius ordered a synod to be held in 389, to settle the difficulties that had arisen among the bishops of Gaul Spain, and Italy on account of Ithacius. The latter and bishop Idacius were deposed by that assembly. But the disputes which had been called up by them continued in some parts of Spain, fostered especially by the Priscillianists, who were still numerous. In the year 400 the sect appears in a decaying condition. At the synod held in that year at Toledo, several Priscillianist bishops, among others Symphosius and Dictinnlius, returned to the Church. The latter wrote a work entitled the Scules, in which the principles of the Priscillianists are expounded, but as he was an apostate he can hardly be regarded as a safe expositor of Priscillianism. The sect revived iu the middle of the 5th century, especially in Gallicia. The active exertions of bishop Turibius, of Astorga, succeeded in extinguishing it gradually. He punished and imprisoned heretics, etc., but he was also busy in their instruction, both orally and by his writings. The same bishop sent to Leo the Great a refutation of Priscillianism, which Leo honored with an answer, praising his zeal and recommending the holding of a Spanish synod, which he consequently convened in Gallicia in 448. Leo's letter is important for the refutation of Priscillianism contained in it. Among the most noteworthy literary attacks upon Priscillianism in the first half of the 5th century, we may mention here, besides, Ad Paulum Orsium contra Priscillinistas et Origenistas (411); Costra mendacium, addressed to Consentius (420); and in part the 190th Epistle (alias Ep. 157), to the bishop Optatus, on the origin of the soul (418), and two other letters, in which he refutes erroneous views on the nature of the soul, the limitation of future punishments, and the lawfulness of fraud for supposed good purposes. The Priscillianists, notwithstanding the severest measures inaugurated against them and the polemics that were written against them, continued to exist, and at all times during the mediaeval period we find their traces under various names and forms, especially in the north of Spain, Languedoc (France), and Northern Italy. The Synod of Braga, in 563, condemned several Priscillian errors, about which we owe to this assembly most interesting information. See Sulp. Severus, Hist. Sacra, 2, 46-51; Dial. 3, 11 sq.; Orosius Comumitorium de Errore Priscillianistarum, etc.; Leonis Magni Ep. 15, ad Turibium; Walch, Ketzerhistorie, 3. 378 sq.; Alex. Natalis, Hist. Ecclesiastes; Fleury, Hist. Eccl.; Van Fries, Dissertatio Critica de Priscill. (Ultraj. 1745); L Ü bkert, De Haeresi Priscill. (Havn. 1840); Mandernach, Gesch. des Priscillianismus (Treves, 1851); Hefele, Conciliengesch. 1, 719; 2, 27 sq.; 3, 13 sq.; Milman, Lat. Christianity, 1, 276-78; Pusey, Hist. of the Councils A.D. 51-381 (1875); Alzog, Kirchengesch. 1, 372 sq.; Neander, Ch. Hist. 2, 710, 718.

The Nuttall Encyclopedia [2]

A Spaniard of noble birth, who introduced a Gnostic and Manichæan heresy into Spain, and founded a sect called after him, and was put to death by the Emperor Maximius in 385; his followers were an idly speculative sect, who practised a rigidly ascetic style of life, and after being much calumniated did not survive him over 60 years.