Celestinus Of Rome


A bishop of Rome (422-432) and the authority to whom NESTORIUS, bishop of Constantinople, and CYRIL I, bishop of Alexandria, appealed during their controversy over the term THEOTOKOS (430). Celestinus sided with Cyril, and thus caused the condemnation of Nestorius at a council held in Rome. The subsequent Council of EPHESUS later deposed him.

Even though the Coptic Historia ecclesiastica and, consequently, the Arabic History of the Patriarchs make absolutely no mention of Celestinus’ decision against Nestorius, in the Coptic tradition he is noted precisely for this action.

From him we possess a collection of eighteen in Greek or Latin concerning the Nestorian question. Among the Coptic manuscripts are two homilies, as follows:

  1. Discourse of the Honored and Residence of the Holy Ghost, Apa Celestinus, Archbishop of the Metropolis of Rome, in Honor of the Messenger of the Ages of Light, the Archangel Gabriel was meant to be read at the Feast of GABRIEL, 22 Kiyahk. There is a single manuscript, divided between the Library, London (Or. 7028 and Or. 6780), and the Oriental Institute, Chicago (ed. Worrell, 1923). The text comprises four sections: (1) a homiletic prologue; (2) a treatise in encomiastic form about Gabriel, who is seen as a prefiguration of Christ (here is inserted an invective against Nestorius), and who as such was chosen to announce the conception by Mary; then follows an enumeration of his appearances in the Old Testament (this section may be an elaboration of a preexisting text); (3) the narration of five miracles wrought by Gabriel; and (4) a traditional
  2. The only manuscript of the Encomium Pronounced by the Honored and True Master, Apa Celestinus, Archbishop of the City of Rome, in Honor of the Martyr . . . Saint Victor is in the Library (Or. 7022.26-59; ed. Budge, 1914). The text contains a homiletic and a traditional epilogue, between which are inserted three parts: (1) a series of postmortem miracles attributed to the saint, rich in pseudo-historical episodes referring to the emperors Honorius and Constantine; (2) a moral excerpt about the wretchedness of the human condition, which is no more than an excursus extracted from the homily De anima et corpore (cf. Alexander of Alexandria), and possibly added as an afterthought; and (3) the account of one last miracle. It appears that this particular homily was supposed to accompany as a sequel a true and proper encomium of Victor, such as the surviving one ascribed to Theopemptos of Antioch and JOHN CHRYSOSTOM.

In any event, whether these manuscripts contain original versions or later enlargements thereof, they go back to the late period in Coptic literature (seventh to eighth centuries), and were composed directly in Coptic.


  • Budge, E. A. W. Coptic Martyrdoms, pp. 46-101. London, 1914. Worrell, W. H. The Coptic Manuscripts in the Freer Collection, pp. 129-247. New York and London, 1923.