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Letter CLV.25082508    Placed in 373.

Without address.25092509    Supposed by Maran (Vit. Bas.) to be Julius Soranus, a relative of Basil, and dux of Scythia.  Maran supposes that a copyist added these words to the title because Soranus was “a trainer” (αλείπτης) and encourager of martyrs; in Letter clxiv. Basil calls Ascholius “a trainer” of the martyr Sabas.  In the case of a trainer.

I am at a loss how to defend myself against all the complaints contained in the first and only letter which your lordship has been so good as to send me.  It is not that there is any lack of right on my side, but because among so many charges it is hard to select the most vital, and fix on the point at which I ought to begin to apply a remedy.  Perhaps, if I follow the order of your letter, I shall come upon each in turn.  Up to to-day I knew nothing about those who are setting out for Scythia; nor had any one told me even of those who came from your house, so that I might greet you by them, although I am anxious to seize every opportunity of greeting your lordship.  To forget you in my prayers is impossible, unless first I forget the work to which God has called me, for assuredly, faithful as by God’s grace you are, you remember all the prayers25102510    κηρύγματα.  On St. Basil’s use of this word for decree, vide De Sp. S.c. 66.  Here it seems to have the force of an appointed liturgy.  cf. the letter of Firmilianus to Cyprian.  (Ep. Cyp. 75.) of the Church; how we pray also for our brethren when on a journey and offer prayer in the holy church for those who are in the army, and for those who speak for the sake of the Lord’s name, and for those who show the fruits of the Spirit.  In most, or all of these, I reckon your lordship to be included.  How could I ever forget you, as far as I am individually concerned, when I have so many reasons to stir me to recollection, such a sister, such nephews, such kinsfolk, so good, so fond of me, house, household, and friends?  By all these, even against my will, I am perforce reminded of your good disposition.  As to this, however, our brother has brought me no unpleasant news, nor has any decision been come to by me which could do him any injury.  Free, then, the chorepiscopus and myself from all blame, and grieve rather over those who have made false reports.  If our learned friend wishes to bring an action against me, he has law courts and laws.  In this I beg you not to blame me.  In all the good deeds that you do, you are laying up treasure for yourself; you are preparing for yourself in the day of retribution the same refreshment which you are providing for those who are persecuted for the sake of the name of the Lord.  If you send the relics of the martyrs home you will do well; as you write that the persecution there is, even now, causing martyrs to the Lord.25112511    This is one of the earliest references to the preservation of relics.  So late as the case of St. Fructuosus (Acta SS. Fructuosi, etc.), who died at Tarragona in 259, the friends are forbidden to keep the relics.  On St. Basil’s views on the subject, cf. Hom. in Mart. Jul. 2 and Hom. de SS. xl. MM. 8.  So Gregory of Nyssa, Hom. i. in xl. Mar. ii. 935.  As early as the time of St. Augustine (†430) a thriving trade in forged relics had already begun.  (Aug., De Opere Monach. 28.)  cf. Littledale’s Plain Reasons, p. 51.

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