Mandeville, LA – In the 4th century the Arian Heresy was born and ascendent. Like today’s struggle of the Faithful carrying on The Faith and the lukewarm ninnies, led in too many occasions by the Holy Father, Papa Francis, Eusebius was ordered to jettison 300 years of Sacred Tradition and instead follow Arias to heresy and ruin. Eusebius’ role in the defense of Saint Athanasius is not well known and celebrated, I offer a chance to change that.
ST. EUSEBIUS was born of a noble family in the isle of Sardinia, where his father is said to have died in chains for the faith. Eusebius was ordained lector by St. Sylvester. He is the first bishop of Vercelli whose name we know.
In Butler’s Lives ofThe Saints we learn a very detailed account of Eusebius heroic defense of The Faith and support for the Nicene Creed and Saint Athanasius. Note bene, in this account the Pope, Liberius, is actually on the right side of the heresy.
The Arians governed all things by violence under the authority of the Arian Emperor Constantius. In 354 Pope Liberius deputed St. Eusebius with Lucifer of Cagliari to beg leave of that emperor, who passed the winter at Arles in Gaul, to assemble a free council. 2 Constantius agreed to a council, which met at Milan in 355, whilst the emperor resided in that city. Eusebius seeing all things would be there carried on by violence through the power of the Arians, though the Catholic prelates were more numerous, refused to go to it till he was pressed by Liberius himself, and by his legates Lucifer of Cagliari, Pancratius, and Hilary, in order to resist the Arians, as St. Peter had done Simon the magician. When he was come to Milan the Arians excluded him the council for the ten first days.
When he was admitted, he laid the Nicene Creed on the table, and insisted on all signing that rule of faith before the cause of St. Athanasius should be brought to a hearing; for the chief drift of the heretics was to procure if possible the condemnation of that most formidable champion of the faith. St. Dionysius of Milan offered to subscribe his name to the creed; but Valens bishop of Mursia, the most furious of the Arians, tore the paper out of his hands, and broke his pen. The Arians, to set aside the motion for the previous signing of the Nicene Creed, procured the removal of the synod to the emperor’s palace, where the subscription to the Catholic faith was superseded, and the condemnation of St. Athanasius immediately brought upon the carpet.
Many were gained by the artifices of the Arians, or intimidated by the threats of the emperor, and signed the sentence which was pronounced against him. St. Dionysius of Milan had once given his subscription, only exacting a promise that the Arians would receive the Nicene faith. But St. Eusebius of Vercelli discovered the snare to him, and in order to withdraw his friend’s subscription, objected that he could not sign the sentence after Dionysius, who was younger, and his son. Upon which the Arians consented to blot out the name of Dionysius; and both afterwards peremptorily refused to subscribe a decree which was injurious to an innocent and holy prelate.
The emperor sent for St. Eusebius, St. Dionysius, and Lucifer of Cagliari, and pressed them to condemn Athanasius. They insisted upon his innocence, and that he could not be condemned without being heard.
“I am his accuser,” said Constantius: “believe upon my word the charge brought against him.” The bishops answered: “This is not a secular affair, that requires your opinion as emperor.” Constantius took them up in anger, saying: “My will ought to pass for a rule. The bishops of Syria are satisfied that it should be so. Obey, or you shall be banished.”
The bishops represented to him, that he must one day give an account to God of his administration. The prince, in the transport of his rage, thought once of putting them to death; but was content to banish them. The officers entered the sanctuary, tore the holy prelates from the altar, and conducted them to different places. Dionysius was sent into Cappadocia, where he died. He is commemorated in the Roman Martyrology on the 25th of May. Lucifer was banished to Germanicia in Syria, of which city Eudoxus, a celebrated Arian, was bishop; and our saint to Scythopolis, in Palestine, there to be treated at the discretion of the Arian bishop Patrophilus.
Their chains did not hinder them from serving the church, and they confounded the heretics wherever they went. Pope Liberius wrote to them a letter of congratulation, exhorting them to courage and constancy.
After his banishment expired he arrived at Vercelli in 363, there he assisted the zealous St. Hilary of Poitiers in the suppression of Arianism in the Western Church, and was one of the chief opponents of the Arian Bishop Auxientius of Milan. The church honours Saint Eusebius as a martyr and celebrates his feast as a semi-double on 16 December.