The Original Christian Nationalism

We desire all people, whom the benign influence of our clemency rules, to turn to the religion which tradition from Peter to the present day declares to have been delivered to the Romans by blessed Peter the Apostle, the religion which it is clear that the Pontiff Damasus and Peter Bishop of Alexandria, a man of apostolic holiness follow; this faith is that we should believe, in accordance with apostolic discipline and Gospel teaching, that there is one Godhead, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, in an equal Majesty and a holy Trinity.1 We order those who follow this doctrine to receive the title of Catholic Christians, but others we judge to be mad and raving and worthy of incurring the disgrace of heretical teaching, nor are their assemblies to receive the name of churches. They are to be punished not only by Divine retribution but also by our own measures which we have decided in accordance with Divine inspiration.2

Given on the 3rd Kalends of March at Thessalonica, Gratianus and Theodosius being Consuls (February 27, 380).

Gratian and Theodosius I | Edict of the Emperors Gratia, Valentinian II, and Theodosius I establishing Christianity and the State Religion | Sidney Z. Ehler, John B. Morrall, ed. Church and State Through the Centuries: A Collection of Historic Documents With Commentaries (London: Burns and Oates, 1954).


1. This translation is revised according to the Latin text published in Phillip Schaff, ed. The Creeds of Christendom (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1983), 3.235. The Ehler and Morrall translation omits the Oxford comma after Son, inadvertently creating a theological problem. Schaff correctly includes a comma after filii, thus distinguishing the person of the Son from the person of the Holy Spirit.

2. The Latin text:


De eo, quinam habendi sint, vel Catholici, vel Hæretici,

Ex Cod. Justin. Imper. et Tripart. Hist. libro nono capite 7.

Impp. Gratianus, Valentinianus et Theodosius, Aug. Populo urbis Constantinopolitanæ. Cunctos populos, quos clementiæ nostrœ regit imperium, in ea volumus religione versari, quam divinum Petrum Apostolum tradidisse Romanis, religio usque nunc ab ipso insinuata declarat, quamque Pontificem Damasum sequi claret, et Petrum Alexandriæ Episcopum, virum Apostolicæ sanctitatis: Hoc est, ut secundum Apostolicam disciplinam Evangelicamque doctrinam, Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti, unam Deitatem sub pari majestate, et sub pia trinitate credamus. Hanc legem sequentes, Christianorum Catholicorum nomen jubemus amplecti: reliquos vero dementes væsanosque judicantes, hæretici dogmatis infamiam sustinere, divina primum vindicta, post etiam motu animi nostri, quem ex cœlesti arbitrio sumpserimus ultione plectendos.

Data 3 Calend. Martias Thessalonicæ, Gratiano 5. Valent. et Theod. Aug. Coss.

Cæterum Evangelica et Apostolica historia una cum 2 Pet. Epistolis docent nos, qualem religionem S. Petrus Apostolus tradiderit omnibus Ecclesiis per Orientem et Occidentem, nedum Romanæ. Fides vero et doctrina Damasi Pontificis, qualis fuerit, colliquescit ex ipsius Symbolo.


Heidelberg Reformation Association
1637 E. Valley Parkway #391
Escondido CA 92027
The HRA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization

Subscribe to the Heidelblog today!