ACEPHALI. Monophysite heretics. In 482 the emperor Zeno issued the Henoticon (Evagr., HE III 14) to end the controversies among Catholics and monophysites with a dogmatic formula which—by its lack of precision, recourse to the christological formulas of Nicaea and Constantinople, and implicit condemnation of the Council of Chalcedon— was intended to unite all of Christianity in a single profession of christological faith. The document, though a political masterpiece, rather than encouraging Christian unity increased division: the Eastern episcopate accepted the imperial decree under the threat of exile, while the orthodox did not tolerate the implicit condemnation of the Council of Chalcedon, nor the silence concerning the Tome of Leo. The monophysites rebelled against Peter Mongus himself—also a monophysite, whom Zeno and Acacius, patriarch of Constantinople, intended to install as bishop of Alexandria after the death of the orthodox Timothy Salofaciolus (June 482)—thus forming a separate party. These more rigid monophysites who, rejecting the acceptance of the Henoticon by Peter Mongus (patriarch of Alexandria, 482-490), were not in communion with any of the five patriarchates, were called avke,faloi, “without a patriarch” (though not without bishops, as there were always bishops in their ranks), and originated the first notable break among the opponents to the Council of Chalcedon. The principal representative of the acephali was the monk Severus, who was able to win the favor of Anastasius (491-518), Zeno’s successor, for his companions in heresy, to the point where in 511 Timothy, a priest belonging to the acephali, was given the cathedra of Constantinople after the deposition of Macedonius, who had adhered to the Henoticon. In 512 Severus himself was elected patriarch of Antioch. Despite having won patriarchal cathedrae, the acephali continued to be called by this name. Their heresy united the autonomous monophysites of Egypt, Syria and Palestine, where the great majority of monks and their archimandrites were acephali. There was a multiplication of monophysite sects that remained in existence until the 9th c.: these are discussed by Ephrem of Antioch (6th c.), Eulogius of Alexandria (7th c.), John of Damascus and Theodore the Studite (8th-9th c.). Hfl–Lecl II, 857-870, 915-926, 1151; DIP 1, 82; DHGE 1, 282-288; LTK 1, 288; J. Lebon, Le monophysisme sévérien: étude historique, littéraire et théologique sur la résistance monophysite au Concile de Chalcédonie, Louvain 1909; P. van Cauwenbergh, Études sur les moines d’Égypte depuis le Concile de Chalcédonie jusqu’à l’invasion arabe (640), Paris 1914; J. Maspéro, Histoire des patriarches d’Alexandrie, Paris 1923; M. Jugie, Theologia dogmatica Christianorum orientalium dissidentium, V, Paris 1935, 420-437; J.J. Arry, Hérésies et factions dans l’Empire byzantin du IVe au VIIe siècle, Cairo 1968; A. Cameron, Heresies and Factions: Byzantion 44 (1974) 92-120; A. Grillmeier, Jesus der Christus im Glauben der Kirche, Bd. 2/1, Freiburg 1986, 293-294; Bd. 2/2, Freiburg-Basel-Vienna 1989, 193, 203, 209, 347, 354; Bd. 2/4, Freiburg- Basel-Vienna 1990, 81; E. Suttner, Ostkirchliche Studien 41 (1992) 3-21.
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