Priscillian and the Council of Toledo - 400 AD

Steven Avery

Witness of God
The first synod of Toledo (ca. 400) issued anathemas dealing with Priscillianism, including a strong condemnation of its Sabellian views on the Trinity. (La Due, The Trinity Guide to the Trinity, 2003, p. 61-62)

Trinity Guide to the Trinity (2003)
William La Due

The first synod of Toledo (ca. 400) issued anathemas dealing with Priscillianism, including a strong condemnation of its Sabellian views on the Trinity.

First Council of Toledo

The First Council of Toledo was held at Toledo, Spain, in September of 400.[1][2] The council was assembled under Archbishop Patronus with its primary purpose to condemn the Priscillian heresy, to receive back Priscillians, and uphold the Nicene Creed.[1][2] Eighteen other Hispanic bishops participated,[2] including Lampius, bishop of Barcelona.[3] Many Priscillians were readmitted into the Catholic Church, notably Priscillian bishop Dictinnius.[4] The council also reformed the clergy.[5] Twenty canons were published by this council.[1][2]


at the Council of Toledo in 400, fifteen years after Priscillian's death, when his case was reviewed, the most serious charge that could be brought was the error of language involved in a misrendering of the word innascibilis ("unbegettable")
Grieve 1911, p. 361.
Grieve, Alexander James (1911). "Priscillian" . In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. 22 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 360–361.

The Bishop of Rome in Late Antiquity

The Retractions (The Fathers of the Church, Volume 60) (2010)
M. Inez Bogan
Good info, but does not mention 400 AD Council.

Actas del I Concilio de Toledo 397- 400

It does look like there are various anathemas.
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Steven Avery

Patrology: The Lives and Works of the Fathers of the Church (1908)
Otto Bardenhewer -

Religious thought and heresy in the Middle Ages (1918)
Frederick William Bussel

The Civil Arm and Condign Penalty for Heresiarch
.—Emperor Gratian at first threatened to banish the sectaries (380), but on Priscillian's appeal withdrew the ban : his murderer and successor Maximus III (383-388) became the first imperial persecutor to the death. Appealing against the sentence of the Synod of Bordeaux (384) the leader of the sect was suddenly seized and with six companions burnt alive at Treves (355). The terrible precedent of the stake for heresy had now been set. Though the founder suffered condign punishment (to the grief of Ambrose and Martin of Tours), his views spread in the south of France where the later cathars became dominant :

The Retractions (The Fathers of the Church, Volume 60) (1968)
M. Inez Bogan

The heresy had before it a full two centuries of life. A creed composed by Bishop Pastor of Palencia in 447 and approved by a synod of Toledo of that year is directed against Priscillianist errors. However, the heresy fell into decline only after a synod of Braga (561) drew up seventeen canons against the Priscillianists. (Cf. K. Bihlmeyer and H. Tuchle, op. cit. 262.)

Ancient Magic and Ritual Power (1995)
edited by Paul Mirecki, Meyer
Todd Breyfogle
p. 453 discusses mysticism

It is significant that none of our sources attributes malicious “black magic” to Priscillian, and he probably did not practice “magic” in any way that we usually understand the term. The crucial point is that, to many of his contemporaries, he appeared to practice magic, for the reasons we have discussed. Any one of the Priscillianist practices—most of which were practiced singly by other prominent bishops—would have been insignificant on its own. It was the conjunction of these practices—fasting, going barefoot, meeting with women—with high Christian holy days, particularly in secret and at night, that was viewed as problematic. Imbedded in a theology directed towards a life of earthly denial and heavenly encounter, the Priscillianists were too close, when viewed from a distance by unsympathetic eyes, to abominable heresy and the abhorrent practice of pagan magic.

Was Priscillian a Modalist Monarchian? (2014)
Tarmo Toom

Class, Power and Influence: Who Killed Priscillian? (2017)
Steven Tammen

The Making of a Heretic: Gender, Authority, and the Priscillianist Controversy (2018)
Virginia Burrus

Severus reports that Martin of Tours, who was present in Trier during the early stages of Maximus' investigation, immediately feared that bloodshed would result from the civil process the emperor had initiated:

He did not cease to rebuke Ithacius, urging that he cease from his accusation, or to beg Maximus to refrain from shedding the blood of the unfortunate ones; he said that it was enough and more than enough that, judged heretical by episcopal decision, they should be thrown out of the churches, and that it was a new and unheard of evil for a secular judge to judge an ecclesial case.[93]

As noted, no emperor since Diocletian had threatened to punish Manichaeism with death, whereas death was commonly the penalty for various practices of sorcery. Martin must, then, have known or suspected that sorcery accusations would surface in the investigation at Trier, although he himself insisted that the question about Priscillian was essentially a question of orthodoxy and heresy, appropriately judged by bishops. According to Severus, his protests had some effect on Maximus. The emperor hesitated, neither canceling the civil investigation and convening a new council, as Martin seems to have urged, nor proceeding with the investigation. Finally, Martin left Trier with a promise from Maximus that he would shed no blood. Severus reports, however, that bishops by the names of Magnus and Rufus "corrupted" Maximus after Martin had left.[94]


Then to the Council of Toledo
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