Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. II: The Ecclesiastical History of Sozomen.: Acacius, Bishop of Berœa, Zeno, and Ajax, Men Distinguished and Renowned for Virtue.Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Chapter XXVIII.—Acacius, Bishop of Berœa, Zeno, and Ajax, Men Distinguished and Renowned for Virtue.
The following details are also the results of inquiry. 1571 Acacius 1572 was conspicuous among the bishops; he had already previously administered the episcopate of Berœa in Syria. There are of course many actions of his, which are worthy of record. He was from his youth brought up to the profession of ascetic monasticism, and was rigid in observing all the regulations of this mode of life. When he was raised to the bishopric, he gave this evidence of greatest virtue, in that he kept the episcopal residence open at all hours of the day, so that the citizens and strangers were always free to visit him, even when he was at meals or at repose. This course of conduct is, in my opinion, very admirable; for either he was living in such a way as to be always sure of himself, or he devised this as a means of preparation against the evil in ones nature, so that in expecting to be caught by the sudden entrance of persons, it would be necessary for him to be on continuous guard, not to err in his duties, but rather to be engaged in covenanted acts.
Zeno and Ajax, 1573 two celebrated brothers, flourished about the same period. They devoted themselves to a life of philosophy, but did not fix their abode as hermits in the desert, but at Gaza, a maritime city, which was also called Majuma. They both defended the truth of their religion with greatest fidelity, and confessed God with courage, so that they were frequently subjected to very cruel and harsh treatment by the pagans. It is said that Ajax married a very lovely woman, and after he had known her thrice in all that time, had three sons; and that subsequently he held no further intercourse with her, but persevered in the exercises of monasticism. He brought up two of his sons to the divine life and celibacy, and the third he permitted to marry. He governed the church of Botolium with propriety and distinction.
Zeno, who had from his youth renounced the world and marriage, persevered in steadfast adherence to the service of God. It is said, and I myself am witness of the truth of the assertion, that when he was bishop of the church in Majuma, he was never absent at morning or evening hymns, or any other worship of God, unless attacked by some malady; and yet he was at this period an old man, being nearly a hundred years of age. He continued his course of life in the monastic philosophy, but, by pursuing his trade of weaving linen, continued to earn the means of supplying his own wants and of providing for others. He never deviated from this course of conduct till the close of his life, although he exceeded all the other priests of that province in age; and p. 397 although he presided over the people and property of the largest church.
I have mentioned these as examples of those who served as priests at this period. It would be a task to enumerate all where the main part of them were good, and God bore testimony to their lives by readily hearing their prayers and by working many miracles.
Acacius, Soc. vi. 18; and Theodoret, H. E. v. 4, 8.396:1573
Cf. v. 9.
Next: Discovery of the Remains of the Prophets Habakkuk and Micah. Death of the Emperor Theodosius the Great.
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