« Musonius Narcissus, bp. of Jerusalem Nebridius, a friend of St. Augustine »

Narcissus, bp. of Jerusalem

Narcissus (1), bp. of Jerusalem. Clinton (Fasti Romani) accepts the date a.d. 190 for the commencement of his episcopate. He was the 15th of the Gentile bishops of Jerusalem, reckoning from Marcus, a.d. 136, and the 30th in succession from the apostles (Eus. H. E. v. 12). According to the Synodicon, Narcissus presided over a council of 14 bishops of Palestine held at Jerusalem a.d. 198, on the Paschal controversy, and took part in that at Caesarea on the same subject under the presidency of Theophilus, bp. of the city (Labbe, Concil. i. 600). Eusebius speaks of the synodical letter of these bishops as still extant in his time (Eus. H. E. v. 23). Narcissus was conspicuous in the church of his day (Neale, Patriarch. of Antioch, p. 34; Eus. H. E. v. 12). Eusebius records a miracle traditionally ascribed to him, whereby water was converted into oil one Easter Eve, when the oil required for the great illumination had failed (Eus. H. E. vi. 9). The sanctity of his life raised against him a band of slanderers. Narcissus, stung by their calumny, abdicated his bishopric, and retired to the remotest part of the desert, where for several years he lived the ascetic life he had long coveted, no one knowing the place of his concealment.

Having been sought for in vain, the neighbouring bishops declared the see vacant, and ordained Dius as his successor, who was succeeded by Germanicus, and he by Gordius. During the episcopate of Gordius, Narcissus reappeared. Shortly after his disappearance the falsity of the charges against him, Eusebius tells us, had been proved by the curses imprecated by the false accusers having been fearfully made good. This, having eventually reached Narcissus's ears, probably led to his return. He at once resumed the oversight of his see at the earnest request of all (ib. 9, 10). In the 2nd year of Caracalla, a.d. 212 (Eus. Chronicon), Alexander, a Cappadocian bishop, a confessor in the persecution of Severus, visiting the holy city in fulfilment of a vow, was selected by the aged Narcissus as his coadjutor and eventual successor. Eusebius preserves a fragment of a letter written by Alexander to the people of Antinous, in which he speaks of Narcissus as being then in his 116th year, and as having virtually retired from his episcopal office (Eus. H. E. vi. 11). Epiphanius states that he lived ten years after Alexander became his coadjutor, to the reign of Alexander Severus, a.d. 222 (Epiph. Haer. lxvi. 20). This, however, is very improbable. Tillem. Mém. eccl. iii. 177 ff.

[E.V.]

« Musonius Narcissus, bp. of Jerusalem Nebridius, a friend of St. Augustine »





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