The Paschal controversy is wearisome enough to the student of Church history, whether he


is occupied with Quartodecimanism, with the diversity of cycles, or with the peculiarities of the Celtic Easter in Bede. But one starts, so to speak, with a scene which can repeatedly be looked back upon with refreshment, when Anicetus of Rome, unable to convince St. Polycarp, agrees with him to differ, and invites him to take his place in the celebration of the Eucharist. [1] Some forty years later, bishop Victor takes a less tolerant line; but his action has often been somewhat unfairly described, and Roman controversialists have adopted that description in order to extract from the case a witness for Papal supremacy. We must distinguish between what Victor did, and what he "attempted" to do. [2] He did withdraw the communion of his own Church from the Quartodecimans of Asia Minor; this act was within his competency, the consent of his clergy and people being supposed. He "attempted" to induce other Churches to act in the same manner, and so to effect a general exclusion of the Quartodecimans from Church fellowship.


In this he failed, and drew forth some "rather sharp rebukes" from Irenaeus and other bishops. The circumstance that Eusebius first mentions what he attempted, and afterwards his "announcement that the brethren in Asia were out of communion," must not mislead us into thinking that the circular in which this announcement was made was professedly a ban which should take effect throughout the Church, instead of being, as it clearly was, a notification that Rome had suspended ecclesiastical intercourse with Ephesus, and a request that the bishops receiving it should do likewise. As far as we can judge, Irenaeus, for himself and the Gallic Church, not only declined to act thus, but exhorted Victor to reconsider his own action.


[1] Iren. ap. Euseb. v. 24.

[2] Euseb. v. 24. Dr. Salmon observes that he might be excused for feeling strongly when Blastus was attempting to introduce Quartodecimanism at Rome (cp. App. to Tert. de Praescr. 53; Infallibility of the Church, pp. 283, 374).