Autocephalous Church of Ravenna Resists Early Attempts at Roman Encroachment


“It happened in that time, that the Roman pope sent a legation to [Maurus] telling him to hasten to Rome, wanting to subjugate him to his dominion [i.e. jurisdiction as Patriarch]. Having received the letter, [Maurus] read and folded it, saying to the legates of the apostolic see, “What is this, what do you strive to do? Is there not an agreement and confirmed obligation between us that neither he should raise trouble against me or my Church, or his successors against my successors?! He has my signed pact by him, and I keep his, as well as all things written between us and confirmed by the signatures of my priests and his. In his hands the received document is confirmed; you have written your letters there for yourselves. I do not agree to these orders. Return to him who sent you, and tell him what you have heard!”

“Having returned, they told the sequence of events. Then the indignant pope ordered written a letter of obligation, wound about with the chains of anathema, and he signed it with his own hand; [saying] that if Archbishop Maurus would not come to the apostolic see, he would not have permission to sing Masses, nor might any man approach him for communication, nor might any cleric cling to him nor approach the Sacrosanct Altar with him, nor offer any Oblation with him or for him.

“However [St. Maurus] was bold, he did not accept that he was bound with the chains of the Jews and cast out from the Kingdom of God. The legates of the Roman see brought all these things inserted in a letter, they offered it to Bishop Maurus of the city of Ravenna. Bishop Maurus, accepting it, read the unhappy words. And he was filled with anger, not with outward fury, but like an irrevocable rage, and he wrote a letter similarly sending restrictions of anathema, so that the pope would not have license to sing the Mass, as he did not; he ordered this to be written corresponding to the Roman letter and sent it to Rome to the said pope.

“Having read it [the pope] cast it away from him, and again ordered [St. Maurus] to be brought. After this ]the pope] wanted to send legates to Constantinople to the emperor, that he might coerce Archbishop Maurus to go to the council at Rome, telling how he dared to send a letter of obligation to his master.
“Indeed in such obligation both died. And from that day they did not offer Oblations for [Maurus] at Rome, nor for [the pope] here; but every week, on Thursday after the Office of Vespers were completed, the priests, deacons, subdeacons and clergy gathered, they entered the secretarium and divided among themselves a round loaf of bread and individual sausages, a vial of wine; and the priest or whoever was first in rank said, “May the Lord God give eternal rest to the soul of him in whose commemoration we have eaten this,” and the others said, “May God order it”; and with these words they retired.

“However in the hour of his death he [St. Maurus of Ravenna] called all his priests, weeping before them, seeking their forgiveness, and he said to them, “I am entering the path of death, I call to witness and warn you, do not place yourselves under the Roman yoke. Choose a pastor for yourselves, and let him be consecrated by his bishops. Seek the pallium from the emperor. For on whatever day you are subjugated to Rome, you will not be whole.” And with these words he died; and he was buried in the narthex of Blessed Apollinaris, in a wonderful tomb.” (From “The Book of the Pontiffs of the Church of Ravenna” by Andreas Agnellus [+846], pages 229-231)