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Florence, Council of

(1438–45). 1. Tried to reunite Gk. and Lat. chs. The Gk. Ch. was seeking support against Turks, who were approaching Constantinople. The council began January 8, 1438, at Ferrara, It., with a session of W representatives, Cardinal Niccolò Albergati presiding. The combined E-W council opened April 9 with over 500 dignitaries present. Important Gk. representatives included E Roman Emp. John* VIII Palaeologus, his brother Demetrius, Joseph* II (patriarch of Constantinople), Mark Eugenicus* (metropolitan of Ephesus), Isidore* of Kiev, G. Scholarios (see Gennadius II), and J. Bessarion.* Roman representatives included J. Cesarini,* J. de Torquemada,* Giovanni di Montenero (John of Montenero; Dominican provincial of Lombardy; scholastic), and Ambrogio* Traversari.

2. Discussions about purgatory, begun in June, were unresolved when interrupted by the plague. Debate about filioque (see Filioque Controversy), begun October 8, raged partly around legitimacy of adding the term to the Nicene Creed. Little was accomplished in sessions October 8–December 13. Various factors, including financial and military, brought about the 1439 move to Florence. It was agreed that the Holy Spirit is eternally from the Father and the Son, that the essence and being of the Holy Spirit have existence from the Father together with the Son, and that the Holy Spirit proceeds from both Father and Son eternally as from one principle (principium) and by a single spiration; but differences in expression (e.g., “from the Father through the Son”) were also allowed. Other agreements included: that both leavened and unleavened bread are valid in the Lord's Supper; that some souls go to purgatory after death and that they might be aided by prayers and gifts of the pious. The Gks. accepted the supremacy of the Roman pope; that this pope is a successor of Peter, true vicar of Christ, head of the whole ch., father and teacher of all Christians; that his rule does not infringe on the rights of patriarchs, with the Gk. patriarch of Constantinople 2d after the pope, followed in order by the patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem. The agreement was signed July 5, promulgated July 6 in the decree Laetentur caeli by Eugenius* IV. Mark* of Ephesus refused to sign.

3. The council also made agreements with other non-Lat. chs. On November 22, 1439, the bull Exultate Deo (often called Decretum pro Armenis) announced agreement bet. the Armenians (see Armenian Churches) and the Latins. On February 4, 1442, the bull Cantate Domino expressed agreement with Copts (see Coptic Church). In 1443 the council began sessions at the Lateran,* Rome. Union with Mesopotamian Syrians was proclaimed September 30, 1444, and with Cypriots August 7, 1445 (the last known session of the council). In Constantinople there was hostility to union with the W But continuing Turkish threat led to continued pressure for support from the W The decree of E-W union was officially promulgated in Constantinople December 12, 1452, by lsidore of Kiev as papal legate. On May 29, 1453, the Turks captured Constantinople; that nullified the union. The Council of Florence did not achieve the aim of E-W union. But it gained a victory for the pope in the struggle bet. pope and council over primacy. CSM

See also Basel, Council of.

Concilium Florentinum: Documenta et scriptores (Rome, 1940– ); Sacrorum conciliorum nova, et amplissima collectio, ed. J. D. Mansi et al. (Venice [1767]); Conciliorum collectio, ed. J. Hardouin, IX (Paris, 1715); The Cambridge Medieval History, ed. J. R. Tanner et al., IV, VII, VIII (Cambridge, 1923, 1932, 1936); L. Pastor, History of the Popes, I–II, 5th ed. F. I. Antrobus (St. Louis, Missouri, 1923); J. Gill, The Council of Florence (Cambridge, 1959) and Personalities of the Council of Florence (New York, 1964).

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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