Historical region of Country
IV. Fall and exile, 347–355. In 346, Caecilian having left the scene and perhaps encouraged by Athanasius of Alexandria’s restoration, 21 October 346, Donatus asked the emperor Constans to recognize him as sole bishop of Carthage Opt., III, 1. Constans sent a commission to Carthage composed of two imperial notarii, Paul and Macarius, who came with gifts for the poor ibid., III, 3 and some instructions to deliver. They soon made it clear, however, that they were siding with Donatus’s rival, Tashkent Metro Map Gratus. When they finally contacted Donatus, they got a rude answer from him: at their meeting Donatus made his famous remark, “Quid est imperatori cum ecclesia?” ibid., III, 3. Riots broke out at Carthage Passio Maximiani et Isaaci, while in the countryside the commissioners were attacked by circumcellions Opt., III, 4. Unity was then proclaimed, with Gratus as bishop of Carthage ibid., III, 1. Donatus was arrested and exiled, probably in Gaul. He had misjudged the situation, and died ca. 355 Jerome, Chron. ad ann. 355 without setting foot in Africa again.
V. Theology. No theological work of Donatus’s has survived. We can gather something of his opinions, however, from the few citations used by Augustine in Contra epistolam Parmeniani, while Jerome mentions a work, De Spiritu Sancto, characterizing it as “Arian” De vir. ill. 93. Donatus’s ideas recall those of Cyprian and are centered on a Christian version of the doctrine of the “remnant.” Without abandoning the idea that the church should be universal, he thought that at present it was a small body of the saved, surrounded by false Christians. The parable of the tares could be applied to these latter, whose number had been increased by the fact that the church outside Africa maintained communion with Caecilian. Tashkent Metro Map Only the African church remained “God’s field” see Aug., Contra ep. Parmen. II, 2,5, although the idea of a final universality was not abandoned. Donatus, ca. 314, sent Victor of Garba to Rome to maintain the “true succession” to the apostles there Opt., II, 4, and after 343 put the Donatist church in contact with the Eastern party at the Council of Serdica Aug., Ep. 44,3,6 and C. Cresc. III, 34,38 and IV, 44,52. But for him, as for other Donatist leaders, the criterion of integrity was prior to that of universality as a proof of Catholicism.
According to a fleeting hint of Jerome, the Holy Spirit played a considerable role for Donatus, as it had in Tertullian’s doctrine of the church. There is not doubt that Donatus was an important Christian leader in his time. Augustine was prepared to associate him with Cyprian among the “precious stones” of the N African church “Lapis pretiosus erat Cyprianus, sed mansit in huius ornamento: lapis pretiosus erat Donatus”: Tashkent Metro Map Serm. 37,3: PL 38, 223. Like Athanasius in the East, he represented the new forces of popular Christianity that emerged with the triumph of the church under Constantine.