This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

August 2 -- Feast of Saint Eusebius of Vercelli

In posting about Saint Athanasius of Alexandria, I noted that he was called Athanasius Contra Mundum, Athanasius Against the World.  He stubbornly held out against the Arian heresy, even though both the Emperor and the prevailing clergy adhered to it.  And yet, a closer look shows he had allies like Eusebius of Vercelli. 
The Arians were less gentle with Eusebius than he with them
Born on Sardinia, Eusebius was a deacon in Rome at the time of his appointment to be the first bishop of Vercelli.  He wasn't a local boy, but the Vercellians welcomed him anyway.  That was helpful, since a solid base of support allowed him to enter the doctrinal fray consuming the whole Mediterranean basin.  The fundamental question whether Jesus is eternal and "one in being with the Father" or rather a creation of the Father.  Those who held that he was consubstantial and eternal eventually won, but they were losing ground while Emperor Constantius II ruled.  He was an ardent Arian who summoned the Council of Milan to uphold and ratify his view. 

Eusebius in exile
Eusebius showed up there, staying only long enough to remind them all that the question before them had been settled at Nicea, that they were stubbornly adhering to heresy, and that he was right and they were wrong. Perhaps he said it a little more diplomatically, but I doubt it.  Constantius exiled him to Scythopolis (Syria), then to Cappadocia (Turkey), and finally to Thebaid (Egypt).  He was carefully watched by Arian bishops to make sure that he didn't raise any ruckus about consubstantial trinitarianism. 

At length, Julian the Apostate came to the throne and reversed the exile of orthodox bishops.  I'm not a big fan of Julian, but this order suggests I ought to know more about him. Eusebius took the long road home, trying to heal the breaches in the Church all along the way.  He was a big advocate of re-admitting those who embraced Arianism -- forgive-and-forget style Christianity.  Once home, he put in about eight more years as bishop, fighting Arianism and re-affirming the Incarnation, right up until he died at age 88 in 371. 

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