Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. IV:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Encyclical Letter. (Epistola Encyclica.): Outrages on Good Friday and Easter Day, 339.
§4. Outrages on Good Friday and Easter Day, 339.
In addition to all this, after such a notable and illustrious entry into the city, the Arian Gregory, taking pleasure in these calamities, and as if desirous to secure to the heathens and Jews, and those who had wrought these evils upon us, a prize and price of their iniquitous success, gave up the church to be plundered by them. Upon this license of iniquity and disorder, their deeds were worse than in time of war, and more cruel than those of robbers. Some of them were plundering whatever fell in their way; others dividing among themselves the sums which some had laid up there 458 ; the wine, of which there was a large quantity, they either drank or emptied out or carried away; they plundered the store of oil, and every one took as his spoil the doors and chancel rails; the candlesticks they forthwith laid aside in the wall 459 , and lighted the candles of the Church before their idols: in a word, rapine and death pervaded the Church. And the impious Arians, so far from feeling shame that such things should be done, added yet further outrages and cruelty. Presbyters and laymen had their flesh torn, virgins were stript of their veils 460 , and led away to the tribunal of the governor, and then cast into prison; others had their goods confiscated, and were scourged; the bread of the ministers and virgins was intercepted. And these things were done even during the holy season of Lent 461 , about the time of Easter; a time when the brethren were keeping fast, while this notable Gregory exhibited the disposition of a Caiaphas, and, together with Pilate the Governor, furiously raged against the pious worshippers of Christ. Going into one of the churches on the Preparation 462 , in company with the Governor and the heathen multitude, when he saw that the people regarded with abhorrence his forcible entry among them, he caused that most cruel person, the Governor, publicly to scourge in one hour, four and thirty virgins and married women, and men of rank, and to cast them into prison. Among them there was one virgin, who, being fond of study, had the Psalter in her hands, at the time when he caused her to be publicly scourged: the book was torn in pieces by the officers, and the virgin herself shut up in prison.
Churches, as heathen temples before them, were used for deposits. At the sack of Rome, Alaric spared the Churches and their possessions; nay, he himself transported the costly vessels of St. Peter into his Church.94:459
ἐν τῷ τοιχί& 251·. [Reference uncertain.]94:460
ἀπομαφοριζόμεναι; see Sophocles Lexicon under μαφόριον94:461
Lent and Passion Week was the season during which Justinas persecution of St. Ambrose took place, and the proceedings against St. Chrysostom at Constantinople. On the Paschal Vigils, vid. Tertull. ad Uxor. ii. 4. [Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. iv. p. 46] p. 426, note n. Oxf. Tr.94:462
παρασκευὴ, i.e., Good Friday. [Apr. 13, 339,] The word was used for Friday generally as early as S. Clem. Alex. Strom. vii. p. 877. ed. Pott. vid. Constit. Apostol. v. 13. Pseudo-Ign. ad Philipp. 13.
Next: Retirement of Athanasius, and tyranny of Gregory and Philagrius.
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