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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. VIII:
The Letters.: To the bishops of the Pontic Diocese.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Letter CCLII. 3114

To the bishops of the Pontic Diocese. 3115

The honours of martyrs ought to be very eagerly coveted by all who rest their hopes on the Lord, and more especially by you who seek after virtue.  By your disposition towards the great and good among your fellow servants you are shewing your affection to our common Lord.  Moreover, a special reason for this is to be found in the tie, as it were, of blood, which binds the life of exact discipline to those who have been made perfect through endurance.  Since then Eupsychius and Damas and their company are most illustrious among martyrs, and their memory is yearly kept in our city and all the neighbourhood, the Church, calling on you by my voice, reminds you to keep up your ancient custom of paying a visit.  A great and good work lies before you among the people, who desire to be edified by you, and are anxious for the reward dependent on the honour paid to the martyrs.  Receive, therefore, my supplications, and consent of your kindness to give at the cost of small trouble to yourselves a great boon to me. 3116



Placed in 376.


In the title the word διοίκησις is used in its oldest ecclesiastical sense of a patriarchal jurisdiction commensurate with the civil diocese, which contained several provinces.  cf. the IXth Canon of Chalcedon, which gives an appeal from the metropolitan, the head of the province, to the exarch of the “diocese.”  “The title exarch is here applied to the primate of a group of provincial churches, as it had been used by Ibas, bishop of Edema, at his trial in 448; alluding to the ‘Eastern Council’ which had resisted the council of Ephesus, and condemned Cyril, he said, ‘I followed my exarch,’ meaning John of Antioch (Mansi vii. 237; compare Evagrius iv. 11, using ‘patriarchs’ and ‘exarchs’ synonymously).  Reference is here made not to all such prelates, but to the bishops of Ephesus, Cæsarea in Cappadocia, and Heraclea, if, as seems possible, the see of Heraclea still nominally retained its old relation to the bishop of Thrace.”  Bright, Canons of the First Four Gen. Councils, pp. 156, 157.

The Pontic diocese was one of Constantine’s thirteen civil divisions.


cf. p. 184, n.  cf. Proleg.  Eupsychius, a noble bridegroom of Cæsarea, was martyred under Julian for his share in the demolition of the temple of Fortune.  Soz. v. 11.  cf. Greg. Naz., Ep. ad Bas. lviii.  September 7 was the day of the feast at Cæsarea.

Next: To the presbyters of Antioch.

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