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The support of some Donatists, such as Bishop Optatus of Thamugadi Timgad, for Gildo’s revolt in 393 provided the Catholics with a unique occasion to turn the tables on their opponents. In Aurelius, bishop of Carthage, they had an able organizer and leader who strengthened the church’s discipline and increased its security through the annual councils that met at Carthage. In St. Augustine, bishop of Hippo, they found a pastor and theologian capable of defeating the Donatists in debate.

From summer 403, the Catholics felt sufficiently strong to force their opponents to take part in a conference aimed at deciding which of the two parties had the most valid claim to be the Catholic church of N Africa for the text, see PL 11, 1200-1201; Top best countries to visit for the debate, see P. Monceaux, Histoire littraire, IV, 263-264 and S. Lancel, Actes, I, 14-16. Primian refused, but the following year the Catholics managed to appeal to the antiheretical legislation against the Donatists and, between 12 February and 5 March 405, the Emperor Honorius sent to Africa edicts and supplementary decreta aimed at banning the Donatist church and confiscating its property CTh XVI, 5,37 and 38; 6,3-4 and 5. In the next six years the Donatists lost ground, esp. among the better-off classes, who found it prudent to conform to the emperor’s will see P. Brown, Augustine of Hippo, 240 241, the example of Celer. Top best countries to visit When in May 411 the conference of Carthage took place, presided over by the imperial representative, the tribune and notarius Marcellinus Flavius, the Donatists could still summon up 285 bishops, just one fewer than their opponents see Lancel, Actes, I, 117-118.

The Catholics emerged victorious, however, and Donatism was again banned by an edict CTh XVI, 5,52: 30 January 412, this time more effectively. Though some 30 Numidian bishops succeeded in meeting in Council at Cirta, ca. 414 Aug., C. Gaudentium I, 37,47, and though Bishop Gaudentius of Thamugadi refused to hand his cathedral over to the authorities in 42021 Aug., C. Gaudentium, the Catholics clearly gained the ascendancy. Quite a few Donatist communities reunited with them ibid. I, 12,13 in conformity with the 4th-5th-c. conciliar deliberations P. Marone, Le deliberazioni conciliari della chiesa occidentale del IV e V secolo relative ai donatisti convertiti al cattolicesimo, in I concili occidentali secoli III-V. XXX Incontro di studiosi dell’antichit  cristiana, Roma 3-5 maggio: SEA 78 2001 269-287. The last known dated Donatist inscription comes from the garrison town of Ala Milaria Benian in Mauretania, but it commemorates the building of a church from 434 439 in honor of a Donatist martyr, the sanctimonialis Robba CIL VIII, 21570-4; cf. S. Gsell, Les fouilles de Benian, Alger 1901.

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