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Chapter XV.—After the Synod, on the Death of Alexander, Athanasius is constituted Bishop of Alexandria.

A little after this, Alexander bishop of Alexandria having died,203203    Socrates and Sozomen are both mistaken in putting the death of Alexander and ordination of Athanasius after the return of Eusebius and Theognis from exile. According to Theodoret (H. E. I. 26), Alexander died a few months after the Council of Nicæa, hence in 325 a.d., and Athanasius succeeded him at the end of the same year, or at the beginning of the next. Athanasius was set over that church. Rufinus relates, that this [Athanasius] when quite a boy, played with others of his own age at a sacred game: this was an imitation of the priesthood and the order of consecrated persons. In this game therefore Athanasius was allotted the episcopal chair, and each of the other lads personated either a presbyter or a deacon. The children engaged in this sport on the day in which the memory of the martyr and bishop Peter was celebrated. Now at that time Alexander bishop of Alexandria happening to pass by, observed the play in which they were engaged, and having sent for the children, enquired from them the part each had been assigned in the game, conceiving that something might be portended by that which had been done. He then gave directions that the children should be taken to the church, and instructed in learning, but especially Athanasius; and having afterwards ordained him deacon on his becoming of adult age, he brought him to Nicæa to assist him in the disputations there when the Synod was convened. This account of Athanasius Rufinus has given in his own writings; nor is it improbable that it took place, for many transactions of this kind have often occurred. Concerning this matter it will suffice to have said the above.204204    See, for additional features of the story not reproduced by Socrates, Rufinus, H. E. I. 14.


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