Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol I:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Church History of Eusebius.: Chapter V
p. 253 Chapter V.—Potamiæna. 1799
1. Basilides 1800 may be counted the seventh of these. He led to martyrdom the celebrated Potamiæna, who is still famous among the people of the country for the many things which she endured for the preservation of her chastity and virginity. For she was blooming in the perfection of her mind and her physical graces. Having suffered much for the faith of Christ, finally after tortures dreadful and terrible to speak of, she with her mother, Marcella, 1801 was put to death by fire.
2. They say that the judge, Aquila by name, having inflicted severe tortures upon her entire body, at last threatened to hand her over to the gladiators for bodily abuse. After a little consideration, being asked for her decision, she made a reply which was regarded as impious.
3. Thereupon she received sentence immediately, and Basilides, one of the officers of the army, led her to death. But as the people attempted to annoy and insult her with abusive words, he drove back her insulters, showing her much pity and kindness. And perceiving the mans sympathy for her, she exhorted him to be of good courage, for she would supplicate her Lord for him after her departure, and he would soon receive a reward for the kindness he had shown her.
4. Having said this, she nobly sustained the issue, burning pitch being poured little by little, over various parts of her body, from the sole of her feet to the crown of her head. Such was the conflict endured by this famous maiden.
5. Not long after this Basilides, being asked by his fellow-soldiers to swear for a certain reason, declared that it was not lawful for him to swear at all, for he was a Christian, and he confessed this openly. At first they thought that he was jesting, but when he continued to affirm it, he was led to the judge, and, acknowledging his conviction before him, he was imprisoned. But the brethren in God coming to him and inquiring the reason of this sudden and remarkable resolution, he is reported to have said that Potamiæna, for three days after her martyrdom, stood beside him by night and placed a crown on his head and said that she had besought the Lord for him and had obtained what she asked, and that soon she would take him with her.
6. Thereupon the brethren gave him the seal 1802 of the Lord; and on the next day, after giving glorious testimony for the Lord, he was beheaded. And many others in Alexandria are recorded to have accepted speedily the word of Christ in those times.
7. For Potamiæna appeared to them in their dreams and exhorted them. But let this suffice in regard to this matter.
Potamiæna, one of the most celebrated of the martyrs that suffered under Severus, is made by Rufinus a disciple of Origen, but Eusebius does not say that she was, and indeed, in making Basilides the seventh of Origens disciples to suffer, he evidently excludes Potamiæna from the number. Quite a full account of her martyrdom is given by Palladius in his Historia Lausiaca, chap. 3 (Mignes Patr. Gr. XXXIV. 1014), which contains some characteristic details not mentioned by Eusebius. It appears from that account that she was a slave, and that her master, not being able to induce her to yield to his passion, accused her before the judge as a Christian, bribing him, if possible, to break her resolution by tortures and then return her to him, or, if that was not possible, to put her to death as a Christian. We cannot judge as to the exact truth of this and other details related by Palladius, but his history (which was written early in the fifth century) is, in the main at least, reliable, except where it deals with miracles and prodigies (cf. the article on Palladius of Helenopolis, in the Dict. of Christ. Biog.).253:1800
Basilides is clearly reckoned here among the disciples of Origen. The correctness of Eusebius statement has been doubted, but there is no ground for such doubt, for there is no reason to suppose that all of Origens pupils became converted under his instruction.253:1801
Of Marcella, we know only that she was the mother of the more celebrated Potamiæna, and suffered martyrdom by fire.253:1802
The word σφραγίς, “seal,” was very commonly used by the Fathers to signify baptism (see Suicers Thesaurus).
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