Fathers of the Church
Personal Letter L: First Letter to Lucifer
by Athanasius in Unknown | translated by Payne-Smith
To our lord, and most beloved brother the Bishop and Confessor Lucifer. Athanasius greeting in the Lord.
Being well in body by God's favour, we have now sent our most beloved deacon Eutyches, that your most pious holiness, as is much desired by us, may be pleased to inform us of the safety of yourself and those with you. For we believe it is by the life of you Confessors and servants of God that the state of the Catholic Church is renewed; and that what heretics have assayed to rend in pieces, our Lord Jesus Christ by your means restores whole.
For although the forerunners of Antichrist have by the power of this world done everything to put out the lantern of truth, yet the Deity by your confession shews its light all the clearer, so that none can fail to see their deceit. Heretofore perhaps they were able to dissimulate: now they are called Antichrists. For who can but execrate them, and fly from their communion like a taint, or the poison of a serpent? The whole Church everywhere is mourning, every city groans, aged bishops are suffering in exile, and heretics dissembling, who while denying Christ have made themselves publicans, sitting in the Churches and exacting revenue. O new kind of men and of persecution which the devil has devised, namely to use such cruelty, and even ministers as the agents of evil. But although they act thus, and have gone all lengths in pride and blasphemy, yet your confession, your piety and wisdom, will be the very greatest comfort and solace to the brotherhood. For it has been reported to us that your holiness has written to Constantius Augustus; and we wonder more and more that dwelling as it were among scorpions you yet preserve freedom of spirit, in order, by advice or teaching or correction, to bring those in error to the light of truth. I ask then, and all confessors join me in asking, that you will be good enough to send us a copy; so that all may perceive, not by hearsay only but by letters, the valour of your spirit, and the confidence and firmness of your faith. Those who are with me salute your holiness. I salute all those who are with you. May the deity ever keep you safe and sound and mindful of us, most beloved lord, and true man of God.
Upon receiving this letter, blessed Lucifer sent the books which he had addressed to Constantius; and when he had read them Athanasius sent the second letter.
Taken from "The Early Church Fathers and Other Works" originally published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. in English in Edinburgh, Scotland, beginning in 1867. (NPNF II/IV, Schaff and Wace). The digital version is by The Electronic Bible Society, P.O. Box 701356, Dallas, TX 75370, 214-407-WORD.