The Priestmartyr Eusebios, Bishop of Samosata,
Commemorated on June 22
Eusebios, Bishop of Samosata, stood firmly for the Orthodox confession of
faith confirmed at the Ist OEcumenical Council at Nicea in the year 325. For
this he underwent persecution by the Arians, being repeatedly deprived of his
cathedra and banished into exile. The emperor Constantius (337-361), patron of
the Arians, having learned that Saint Eusebios kept a conciliar decree about
the election to the Antioch cathedra of the Orthodox Archbishop Meletios, sent
him a command to give up the decree. The saint boldly refused to do as ordered.
The enraged emperor sent a message, that if he did not give up the decree, then
his right hand would be cut off. Saint Eusebios stretched out both hands to the
emissary with the words: "Cut them off, but the Decree of the Council,
which doth denounce the wickedness and iniquity of the Arians, I will not give
up". The emperor Constantius marveled at the audacity of the bishop, but
did him no harm.
After Constantius, there reigned Justin the Apostate (361-363). Even more difficult times ensued – there began an open persecution against Christians. Sainted Eusebios, having concealed his dignity, went about in the garb of a soldier across the whole of Syria, Phoenicia and Palestine, urging Christians to the Orthodox faith. He established priests and deacons in desolated churches, he put hands upon bishops renouncing the Arian heresy. After Julian the Apostate perished, there ruled the pious emperor Jovian (363-364), during which time the persecutions stopped. Having returned from exile, Archbishop Meletios upon the advice of Saint Eusebios convened a Local Council at Antioch in the year 379. In it participated 27 bishops, and it re-affirmed the Orthodox teaching of faith accepted at the Ist OEcumenical Council. The Arians, fearing the steadfast defenders of Orthodoxy – Sainted-hierarchs Meletios, Eusebios and Pelagios, who had great influence with the emperor, put their signatures under the conciliar definition. After the death of the emperor Jovian began the rule of the Arian Vanlentus (364-378). The Orthodox were again subjected to persecution. Saint Meletios was banished to Armenia, Saint Pelagios – to Arabia, and Saint Eusebios was condemned to exile in Thrace. Having received the imperial decree, Saint Eusebios left Samosata by night so as to prevent tumult among the people that esteemed him. Having learned about the departure of the bishop, believers followed after him and with tears entreated him to return. The saint refused to fulfill the entreaty of those who had come, saying that it was necessary to obey the existing authorities. The saint urged his flock to hold firm to Orthodoxy, blessed them and set off to the place of exile. The Arian Eunomios was put upon the Samosata cathedra, but the people did not accept the heretic. The Orthodox would not go to the church and avoided meeting with him. The heretic Arian perceived, that it was impossible to entice the independent flock to him.
The emperor Gracian (375-383) came upon the throne, and there were brought back from exile all the Orthodox hierarchs banished under the Arians. Saint Eusebios also returned to Samosata and continued with the task of building up the church. Together with Saint Meletios he supplied Orthodox hierarchs and clergy to Arian places. In about the year 380, he arrived in the Arian city of Dolikhina to establish there the Orthodox bishop Marinos. An Arian woman flung a roof tile which struck the head of the sainted-bishop. In dying, he on the example of the Saviour asked her for wine and requested those around not to do her any harm. The body of Sainted Eusebios was taken to Samosata and with lamantation he was buried by his flock. In place of the saint was raised up his nephew, Blessed Antiokhos, and the Samosata Church continued to steadfastly confess the Orthodox faith, firmly spread through the efforts of the holy Priestmartyr Eusebios.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.