Dionysius, Exiguus

, surnamed Exiguus, or Little, on account of his stature, was a monk by profession, and born in Scythia, where he is supposed to have died about the year 540, as Dupin reckons, or 556, according to Cave. He understood Greek and Latin, and was well acquainted with the holy scriptures. Cassiodorus, who was intimate with him, wrote his panegyric in the 23d chapter of his book on divine learning. At the desire of Stephen, bishop of Salone, he made a collection of canons, which contains, besides those which were in the code of the universal church, the fifty first canons of the apostles, those of the council of Sardica, and 138 canons of the council of Africa. This code of canons was approved and received by the church of Rome, and France, and by the Latin churches; and was printed by Justel in 1628, with a version of the letter of St. Cyril, and of the council of Alexandria against Nestorius, which is also the translation of Dionysius Exiguus. He afterwards joined these with the decretals of the popes from Syricius to Anastasius, to which have been, since added those of Hilary, Simplicius, and other popes, to St. Gregory. This second collection was printed by Justel in his Bibliotheca of Canon law. Dionysius was the first who introduced the way of counting the years from the birth of Jesus Christ, and who fixed it according to the epocha of the vulgar sera. He wrote also two letters upon Easter in the years 525 and 526, which were published by Petavius and Buchevius; and made a cycle of 95 years. Father Mabillon published a letter of his written to Eugippius, about the translation which he made of a work of | Gregory Nyssen, concerning the creation of man. With respect to the epoch which he invented, he began his account from the conception or incarnation, usually called the Annunciation, or Lady-day which method obtained in the dominions of Great Britain till 1752, before which time the Dionysian was the same as the English epoch but in that year the Gregorian calendar having been admitted by act of parliament, they now reckon from the first of January, as in the other parts of Europe, except in the court of Rome, where the epoch of the Incarnation still obtains for the date of their bulls. 1

1 Dupin. Cave. Fabric. Bibl. Lat. Med, Saxii. Onomast.