a deacon of the church at Carthage, was chosen bishop of the see in A. D. 311, upon the death of the African primate, Mensurius.
The validity of this appointment was impugned by Donatus, stimulated, it is said, by the malicious intrigues of a woman named Lucilla, upon three grounds: 1.
That the election had been irregular. 2.
That the ordination was null and void, having been performed by Felix, bishop of Apthunga, a traditor,
that is, one of those who, in obedience to the edicts of Diocletian, had yielded to the civil power, and delivered up the sacred vessels used in places of worship, and even the Holy Scriptures. 3. That Caecilian had displayed marked hostility towards the victims of the late persecution.
These charges were brought under the consideration of an assembly of seventy Numidian bishops, who declared the see vacant, and, proceeding to a new election, made choice of Majorinus. Both parties called upon the praefect Anulinus to interfere, but were referred by him to the emperor, and accordingly the rival prelates repaired to Rome, each attended by ten leading ecclesiastics of his own faction.
The cause was judged by a council composed of three Gallic and fifteen Italian bishops, who met on the 2nd of October, 313, and gave their decree in favour of Caecilian and Felix.
An appeal was lodged with Constantine, who agreed to summon a second and more numerous council, which was held at Arles on the 1st of August, 314, when the decision of the council of Rome was confirmed.
The struggle was, however, obstinately prolonged by fresh complaints on the part of the Donatists, who, after having been defeated before various tribunals and commissions to which the determination of the dispute was delegated by the supreme government, at length openly refused to submit, or to acknowledge any authority whatever, if hostile to their claims.
The formidable schism which was the result of these proceedings is spoken of more fully under DONATUS. (Optatus, 1.19, &c.)