The Papacy and Eastern Christian Traditions Working Group: Edith Lagarde, "Sons of the Apostolic See? The Question of Union in Innocent III’s Letters to the Armenian Church"


Location: 715J Hesburgh Library (Medieval Institute Seminar Room) AND Zoom (View on

Apostolic See Event Image

Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) is perhaps most infamously remembered in the East for his role in the Fourth Crusade and its aftermath, but his engagement with Eastern Christianity was not limited only to his interactions with the Greek Church of Constantinople. Among his other communications to the Levant, Innocent III exchanged a series of letters
with the Armenians of Cilicia, with whom he sought reunion – or indeed, with whom he thought reunion had already been established. In this presentation I will look at the language of union and church which Innocent III presents in his letters, as well as the corresponding Armenian letters to the papacy. Despite similar language used in speaking about the Roman church in both, the ecclesiological views of each church were radically different. This misunderstanding, and the political alliance with the Armenians, led Innocent III, I argue, to assume a full ecclesiological reunion with the Armenian Church and the political and spiritual authority that followed from such a reunion.


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Edith Lagarde is a Ph.D. Candidate in the History Department at Notre Dame, and this topic is part of her dissertation project. Please email Andrij Hlabse with any questions that you have about this event.