In the whole history of the Church there is no council which bristles with such astonishing facts as the First Council of Constantinople. It is one of the "undisputed General Councils," one of the four which St. Gregory said he revered as he did the four holy Gospels, and he would be rash indeed who denied its right to the position it has so long occupied; and yet
1. It was not intended to be an Ecumenical Synod at all.
2. It was a local gathering of only one hundred and fifty bishops.
3. It was not summoned by the Pope, nor was he invited to it.
4. No diocese of the West was present either by representation or in the person of its bishop; neither the see of Rome, nor any other see.
5. It was a council of Saints, Cardinal Orsi, the Roman Historian, says: "Besides St. Gregory of Nyssa, and St. Peter of Sebaste, there were also at Constantinople on account of the Synod many other Bishops, remarkable either for the holiness of their life, or for their zeal for the faith, or for their learning, or for the eminence of their Sees, as St. Amphilochius of Iconium, Helladius of Cesarea in Cappadocia, Optimus of Antioch in Pisidia, Diodorus of Tarsus, St. Pelagius of Laodicea, St. Eulogius of Edessa, Acacius of Berea, Isidorus of Cyrus, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Gelasius of Cesarea in Palestine, Vitus of Carres, Dionysius of Diospolis, Abram of Bathes, and Antiochus of Samosata, all three Confessors, Bosphorus of Colonia, and Otreius of Melitina, and various others whose names appear with honour in history. So that perhaps there has not been a council, in which has been found a greater number of Confessors and of Saints."(2)
6. It was presided over at first by St. Meletius, the bishop of Antioch who was bishop not in communion with Rome,(3) who died during its session and was styled a Saint in the panegyric delivered over him and who has since been canonized as a Saint of the Roman Church by the Pope.
7. Its second president was St. Gregory Nazianzen, who was at that time liable to censure for a breach of the canons which forbade his translation to Constantinople.
8. Its action in continuing the Meletian Schism was condemned at Rome, and its Canons rejected for a thousand years.
9. Its canons were not placed in their natural position after those of Nice in the codex which was used at the Council of Chalcedon, although this was an Eastern codex.
10. Its Creed was not read nor mentioned, so far as the acts record, at the Council of Ephesus, fifty years afterwards.
11. Its title to being (as it undoubtedly is) the Second of the Ecumenical Synods rests upon its Creed having found a reception in the whole world. And now-mirabile dictu-an English scholar comes forward, ready to defend the proposition that the First Council of Constantinople never set forth any creed at all!(4)