The Councils of Estinnes and Friuli
by Kelly McDonald, Jr.
In last month’s blog on Sabbath history, we looked at the Roman Church councils from 506 to 796 AD. Many of these councils imposed Sunday observance and sometimes discouraged Sabbath observance. Fellowship with Jewish people was banned by several of them as a way to keep Christians from being influenced by some Biblical practices (such as the Sabbath).
Of the councils during this period, two of them especially targeted Sabbath keeping: Estinnes and Friuli. In today’s blog, we will take an in-depth look at these councils.
Estinnes (743) – This council is also called Liftinae, Liptina, Liptinese, Lestinna, Lestinnes, and other names. It was held in the heart of Frankish territory in what we would currently call Belgium. It was attended by both Frankish nobility and clergy in the Catholic Church.
This council was the completion of an earlier council in 742 where the Frankish nobility formally submitted to Rome. Estinnes established the order of the Frankish church. Among its canons, Sunday rest was enforced. It also condemned those Christians who were still honoring the seventh-day Sabbath. In its rebuke of them, it evoked the council of Laodicea (Mansi, 12:378, Landon, vol 1:343). We reviewed the Council of Laodicea in an earlier article. CLICK HERE to read that article.
Friuli (796) – (Also called Friaul) Friuli is in northeastern Italy. It had been in Arian control for hundreds of years. In other articles, we reviewed the Sabbath keeping tendencies among Arian believers (We have two articles on this subject; click HERE for article 1 and CLICK HERE for article 2).
In the 770s, Charlemagne finally subdued the Lombards in Italy. In the 790s, Charlemagne sought to conquer the Avars who inhabited Eastern Europe. He entrusted this task to his son Pepin and the Margrave of Friuli, named Eric. They eventually defeated the Avars in 796. This same year they held the Council of Friuli. In this council, Christians were forced to keep Sunday. It condemned the peasants and Jewish people that still kept the seventh-day Sabbath (Landon, vol 1:285; Mansi, 13:873).
These two councils are significant. They demonstrate that even in the heartland of Roman Catholicism, Sabbatarians still existed. These people were marked and persecuted for their practices.
Were these believers in Belgium and Italy the remnants of the old Arian system? We cannot be for certain, as we do not know much more about them. One thing is certain – Sabbatarianism did not die out in Europe. Other groups were carrying the torch of truth once delivered to the saints.
Kelly McDonald, JR.