Pope Leo I's letters on the "The Manichean Perversity"

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In January 444, Leo the Great informed the bishops of Italy of the outcome of his investigations into the activities and beliefs of the Manicheans in Rome. His sole surviving letter on the subject gives a detailed account of the senate tribunal over which Leo presided. Three years later, Leo again attacked Manicheism in his lengthy letter to Turibius of Astorga against Priscillianism. Leo’s accusations of sexual immorality against certain members of the Manichean Elect find confirmation in contemporary North African sources and in two later Manichean letters from Turfan, Central Asia. The connection between the Turfan letters and the immoral practices of North African Manicheans is demonstrated. These disparate sources, when considered in combination, force us to reassess and take seriously Leo’s claims that ritual sexual intercourse, perhaps involving children, was practised by the Manichean Elect in Rome as part of their liturgy.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe discoveries of manuscripts from late antiquity
Subtitle of host publicationtheir impact on Patristic Studies and the contemporary world: conference proceedings: 2nd International Conference on Patristic Studies
EditorsPatricia Ciner, Alyson Nunez
Place of PublicationTurnhout, Belgium
PublisherBrepols Publishers
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9782503591506
ISBN (Print)9782503591490
Publication statusPublished - 2021
EventInternational Conference on Patristic Studies (2nd: 2017) - San Juan, Argentina
Duration: 28 Mar 201731 Mar 2017


ConferenceInternational Conference on Patristic Studies (2nd: 2017)
CitySan Juan


  • manuscripts
  • letters - papal
  • Manichaean studies
  • Pope Leo I


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