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Chapter XXV.—Christian Benevolence of Atticus Bishop of Constantinople. He registers John’s Name in the Diptychs. His Fore-knowledge of his Own Death.
Meanwhile Atticus the bishop
caused the affairs of the church to flourish in an extraordinary
manner; administering all things with prudence, and inciting the people
to virtue by his instruction. Perceiving that the church was on the
point of being divided inasmuch as the Johannites970970
The adherents of Chrysostom. See VI. 3.
assembled themselves apart, he ordered that mention of John should be
made in the prayers, as was customary to be done of the other deceased971971
He effected this restoration by having the name John
enrolled in the diptychs or registers of those whose names should be
included in the prayers of the liturgy.
bishops; by which means he trusted that many would be induced to return
to the Church. And he was so liberal that he not only provided for the
poor of his own parishes, but transmitted contributions to supply the
wants and promote the comfort of the indigent in the neighboring cities
also. On one occasion as he sent to Calliopius a presbyter of the
church at Nicæa, three hundred pieces972972
with στατῆρας probably
to be supplied; if so the value of these gold pieces was about $5.00,
or £1 s. 9d.
of gold he also dispatched the following letter.
‘Atticus to Calliopius—salutations in the Lord.
‘I have been informed that there are in your city ten thousand necessitous persons whose condition demands the compassion of the pious. 167And I say ten thousand, designating their multitude rather than using the number precisely. As therefore I have received a sum of money from him, who with a bountiful hand is wont to supply faithful stewards; and since it happens that some are pressed by want, that those who have may be proved, who yet do not minister to the needy—take, my friend, these three hundred pieces of gold, and dispose of them as you may think fit. It will be your care, I doubt not, to distribute to such as are ashamed to beg, and not to those who through life have sought to feed themselves at others’ expense. In bestowing these alms make no distinction on religious grounds; but feed the hungry whether they agree with us in sentiment, or not.’
Thus did Atticus consider even the poor who were at a
distance from him. He labored also to abolish the superstitions of
certain persons. For on being informed that those who had separated
themselves from the Novatians, on account of the Jewish Passover, had
transported the body of Sabbatius973973
See above, chaps. 5 and 12.
from the island of Rhodes—for in that island he had died in
exile—and having buried it, were accustomed to pray at his grave,
he caused the body to be disinterred at night, and deposited in a
private sepulchre; and those who had formerly paid their adorations at
that place, on finding his tomb had been opened, ceased honoring that
tomb thenceforth. Moreover he manifested a great deal of taste in the
application of names to places. To a port in the mouth of the Euxine
sea, anciently called Pharmaceus,974974
he gave the appellation of Therapeia;975975
the word occurs in three senses, viz. (1) healing, (2) service, (3)
worship. Probably, and as the sentence following seems to indicate, the
last of these was the one meant to be emphasized; this is also borne
out by the plural number used. If the first sense were the one for
which the word was chosen, it must have been because of its being in
complete contrast to the previous name. The place retains the name thus
given it to this day and constitutes one of the suburbs of
because he would not have a place where religious assemblies were held,
dishonored by an inauspicious name. Another place, a suburb of
Constantinople, he termed Argyropolis,976976
for this reason. Chrysopolis977977
is an ancient port situated at the head of the Bosphorus, and is
mentioned by several of the early writers, especially Strabo, Nicolaus
Damascenus, and the illustrious Xenophon in the sixth book of his
Anabasis of Cyrus;978978
Cf. Xenophon, Anab. VI. 6. 38.
and again in the first of his Hellenica979979
Cf. Xenophon, Hellenica, I. 1, 22. The event
mentioned took place in 411 b.c.
he says concerning it, ‘that Alcibiades having walled it round,
established a toll in it; for all who sailed out of Pontus were
accustomed to pay tithes there.’ Atticus seeing the former place
to be directly opposite to Chrysopolis, and very delightfully situated,
declared that it was most fitting it should be called Argyropolis; and
as soon as this was said it firmly established the name. Some persons
having said to him that the Novatians ought not to be permitted to hold
their assemblies within the cities: ‘Do you not know,’ he
replied, ‘that they were fellow-sufferers with us in the
persecution under Constantius and Valens?980980
Cf. IV. 1–6.
Besides,’ said he, ‘they are witnesses to our creed: for
although they separated from the church a long while ago, they have
never introduced any innovations concerning the faith.’ Being
once at Nicæa on account of the ordination of a bishop, and seeing
there Asclepiades bishop of the Novatians, then very aged, he asked
him, ‘How many years have you been a bishop?’ When he was
answered fifty years: ‘You are a happy man,’ said he,
‘to have had charge of so “good a work”981981
1 Tim. iii.
for such a length of time.’ To the same Asclepiades he observed:
‘I commend Novatus; but can by no means approve of the
Novatians.’ And when Asclepiades, surprised at this strange
remark, said, ‘What is the meaning of your remark, bishop?’
Atticus gave him this reason for the distinction. ‘I approve of
Novatus for refusing to commune with those who had sacrificed, for I
myself would have done the same: but I cannot praise the Novatians,
inasmuch as they exclude laymen from communion for very trivial
offenses.’ Asclepiades answered, ‘There are many other
“sins unto death,”982982
1 John v.
as the Scriptures term them, besides sacrificing to idols; on account
of which even you excommunicate ecclesiastics only, but we laymen also,
reserving to God alone the power of pardoning them.’983983
The Catholic Church was more severe in its
discipline regarding the clergy than the laity, but it does not appear
that excommunication was in any case absolute and reinstatement
impossible. See on this point the liberal views of Chrysostom, VI. 21.
Cf. also Bennett, Christ. Archæology, p. 383.
Atticus had moreover a presentiment of his own death; for at his
departure from Nicæa, he said to Calliopius a presbyter of that
place: ‘Hasten to Constantinople before autumn if you wish to see
me again alive; for if you delay beyond that time, you will not find me
surviving.’ Nor did he err in this prediction; for he died on the
10th of October, in the 21st year of his episcopate, under the eleventh
consulate of Theodosius, and the first of Valentinian Cæsar.984984
The Emperor Theodosius indeed, being then on his way from Thessalonica,
did not reach Constantinople in time for his funeral, for Atticus had
been consigned to the grave one day before the emperor’s arrival.
Not long afterwards, on the 23d of the same month, October, the young
Valentinian was proclaimed Augustus.985985
This was Valentinian III. See chap. 24 above for his
relationship to the reigning Theodosius.
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