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Chapter XXXVII.—Miracle performed by Silvanus Bishop of Troas formerly of Philippopolis.

Silvanus was formerly a rhetorician, and had been brought up in the school of Troïlus the sophist; but aiming at perfection in his Chris174tian course, he entered on the ascetic mode of life, and set aside the rhetorician’s pallium. Atticus bishop of Constantinople having taken notice of him afterwards ordained him bishop of Philippopolis.10211021    Another indication that the patriarchal functions of the bishop of Constantinople were at this time exercised and recognized. The Council of Chalcedon somewhat later (in 451 a.d.) formally ordered in its twenty-eighth canon that the metropolitans of the Thracian Pontic, and Asian dioceses should be ordained by the bishop of Constantinople, their election being first secured by the clergy and laity of the dioceses, and referred to the patriarch afterwards. Thus he resided three years in Thrace; but being unable to endure the cold of that region—for his constitution was delicate and sickly—he begged Atticus to appoint some one else in his place, alleging that it was for no other reason but the cold that he resigned residence in Thrace. This having been done, Silvanus resided at Constantinople, where he practiced so great austerities that, despising the luxurious refinements of the age, he often appeared in the crowded streets of that populous city shod with sandals made of hay. Some time having elapsed, the bishop of Troas died; on which account the inhabitants of that city came to Atticus concerning the appointment of a successor. While he was deliberating whom he should ordain for them, Silvanus happened to pay him a visit, which at once relieved him from further anxiety; for addressing Silvanus, he said: ‘You have now no longer any excuse for avoiding the pastoral administration of a church; for Troas is not a cold place: so that God has considered your infirmity of body, and provided you a suitable residence. Go thither then, my brother, without delay.’ Silvanus therefore removed to that city.

Here a miracle was performed by his instrumentality, which I shall now relate. An immense ship for carrying burdens, such as they term ‘float,’10221022    πλατήν, a sort of raft; the word is incorrectly spelled πλατή according to Sophocles (Greek Lexic., &c.), and should be πλωτή. intended for the conveyance of enormous pillars, had been recently constructed on the shore at Troas. This vessel it was necessary to launch. But although many strong ropes were attached to it, and the power of a vast number of persons was applied, the vessel was in no way moved. When these attempts had been repeated several days successively with the like result, the people began to think that a devil detained the ship; they therefore went to the bishop Silvanus, and entreated him to go and offer a prayer in that place. For thus only they thought it could be launched. He replied with his characteristic lowliness of mind that he was but a sinner, and that the work pertained to some one who was just and not to himself. Being at length prevailed on by their continued entreaties, he approached the shore, where after having prayed, he touched one of the ropes, and exhorting the rest to vigorous exertion, the ship was by the first pull instantly set in motion, and ran swiftly into the sea. This miracle wrought by the hands of Silvanus, stirred up the whole population of the province to piety. But the uncommon worth of Silvanus was manifested in various other ways. Perceiving that the ecclesiastics made a merchandise of the contentions of those engaged in law-suits, he would never nominate any one of the clergy as judge: but causing the documents of the litigants to be delivered to himself, he summoned to him some pious layman in whose integrity he had confidence; and committing to him the adjudication of the case, he soon equitably settled all the differences of the litigants; and by this procedure Silvanus acquired for himself great reputation from all classes of persons.

We have indeed digressed pretty much from the course of our history in giving this account of Silvanus; but yet it will not, we imagine, be unprofitable. Let us now however return to the place from which we departed. Maximian, having been ordained on the 25th of October, under the consulate of Bassus and Antiochus,10231023    431 a.d. the affairs of the church were reduced to a better ordered and more tranquil condition.


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