Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. IV:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Encyclical Letter. (Epistola Encyclica.): Retirement of Athanasius, and tyranny of Gregory and Philagrius.
p. 95 §5. Retirement of Athanasius, and tyranny of Gregory and Philagrius.
When all this was done, they did not stop even here; but consulted how they might act the same part in the other church 463 , where I was mostly living during those days; and they were eager to extend their fury to this church also, in order that they might hunt out and dispatch me. And this would have been my fate, had not the grace of Christ assisted me, if it were only that I might escape to relate these few particulars concerning their conduct. For seeing that they were exceedingly mad against me, and being anxious that the church should not be injured, nor the virgins that were in it suffer, nor additional murders be committed, nor the people again outraged, I withdrew myself from among them, remembering the words of our Saviour, If they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another 464 . For I knew, from the evil they had done against the first-named church, that they would forbear no outrage against the other also. And there in fact they reverenced not even the Lords day 465 of the holy Feast, but in that church also they imprisoned the persons who belonged to it, at a time when the Lord delivered all from the bonds of death, whereas Gregory and his associates, as if fighting against our Saviour, and depending upon the patronage of the Governor, have turned into mourning this day of liberty to the servants of Christ. The heathens were rejoicing to do this, for they abhor that day; and Gregory perhaps did but fulfil the commands of Eusebius and his fellows in forcing the Christians to mourn under the infliction of bonds.
With these acts of violence has the Governor seized upon the churches, and has given them up to Gregory and the Arian madmen. Thus, those persons who were excommunicated by us for their impiety, now glory in the plunder of our churches; while the people of God, and the Clergy of the Catholic Church are compelled either to have communion with the impiety of the Arian heretics, or else to forbear entering into them. Moreover, by means of the Governor, Gregory has exercised no small violence towards the captains of ships and others who pass over sea, torturing and scourging some, putting others in bonds, and casting them into prison, in order to oblige them not to resist his iniquities, and to take letters 466 from him. And not satisfied with all this, that he may glut himself with our blood, he has caused his savage associate, the Governor, to prefer an indictment against me, as in the name of the people, before the most religious Emperor Constantius, which contains odious charges, from which one may expect not only to be banished, but even ten thousand deaths. The person who drew it up is an apostate from Christianity, and a shameless worshipper of idols, and they who subscribed it are heathens, and keepers of idol temples, and others of them Arians. In short, not to make my letter tedious to you, a persecution rages here, and such a persecution as was never before raised against the Church. For in former instances a man at least might pray while he fled from his persecutors, and be baptized while he lay in concealment. But now their extreme cruelty has imitated the godless conduct of the Babylonians. For as they falsely accused Daniel 467 , so does the notable Gregory now accuse before the Governor those who pray in their houses, and watches every opportunity to insult their ministers, so that through his violent conduct, many are endangered from missing baptism, and many who are in sickness and sorrow have no one to visit them, a calamity which they bitterly lament, accounting it worse than their sickness. For while the ministers of the Church are under persecution, the people who condemn the impiety of the Arian heretics choose rather thus to be sick and to run the risk, than that a hand of the Arians should come upon their heads.
[On the difficulties of this part of the history, see Prolegg. ch. ii. §6 (1) ad fin., and ch. v. §3, c. It must be noted that according to the following passage Ath. had left the other church before Easter Day. It was probably that of Quirinus, Hist. Ar. 10.]95:464
Cf. Ap. Fug. 11, and Matt. x. 23.95:465
Easter Day [Apr. 15].95:466
i.e. letters of communion.95:467
Dan. vi. 13.
Next: All the above illegalities were carried on in the interest of Arianism.
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