Part Three: The Pelagian Crisis (411–430)
Edited By Frederick Van Fleteren
Article 213: Pelagius (2)
In Augustine and other ancients Pelagius is usually given the title monk. This title indicates his profession of monastic life and his lack of clerical rank.1 According to Augustine his heresy did not originate with bishops, priests, or clerics, but with certain purported monks.2 According to Orosius he was a layman. He complains Pelagius was forced to sit with priests in the assembly in Diospolis.3
During the time Pope Zosimus believed Pelagius to be orthodox, he described him as a layman.4 Whether he was a monk in Ireland or England in the monastery of Bangor is of little consequence.5 English historians, for example Usserius, claim uncertain legends concerning Pelagius.6 Some believe he was a monk, living in his own house, and renouncing pretension and secular employment, such as Paulinus, Pammachus, and others. He certainly possessed no private property and carried renunciation of material goods to excess.7
At the beginning of the fifth century Pelagius lived in the East if he is the one (as is nearly universally supposed) of whom Chrysostom speaks in a letter written apparently in 407. “The monk Pelagius has caused me grief. Consider how many crowns those are worthy who persist with generosity in the service of God since they have lived precisely according to authority, and have not allowed themselves to defect, as others.”8 Doubtless Pelagius had left Chrysostom’s communion and defended his own innocence and this fall had caused Chrysostom grief....