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He becomes Bishop of Alexandria

7. Sixteen years later, in 247, upon the death of Heraclas, Dionysius succeeded to the bishopric as the fourteenth occupant of the see, possibly, as has already been suggested, without at once resigning his post at the School. Philip the Arabian (of Bostra) had then been Emperor for three years, a position he was destined to retain for two years longer. Like Alexander Severus before him, he was known to favour the Christians, and Dionysius himself bears witness to the comparative mildness of his rule (p. 37). For a short time, therefore, the new Bishop and his flock were left in peace, though even before the death of Philip signs of the coming storm appeared. In the last year of his reign Dionysius tells Fabius, Bishop of Antioch (p. 35), that “the prophet and poet of evil to this city, whoever he was,” stirred up the populace against the Christians in Alexandria, and several persons were 13 cruelly martyred. This reign of terror lasted some time, but was interrupted in the autumn of 249 by the revolution which caused the deposition and death of Philip, and which set Decius on the throne in his stead. The respite was only too brief, for by the beginning of the new year the edict which Decius had issued was being actively carried into effect. The Bishops were at first singled out for attack. Origen, though not one of them, was included among the earlier victims—on account, no doubt, of his prominence as a scholar and a teacher—being imprisoned at Tyre and cruelly tortured, though not actually martyred.

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