St. Julius

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St. Julius, Pope and Confessor

HE was a Roman, and chosen pope on the 6th of February, in 337. The Arian bishops in the East sent to him three deputies to accuse St. Athanasius, the zealous patriarch of Alexandria. These informations, as the order of justice required, Julius imparted to Athanasius, who thereupon sent his deputies to Rome; when, upon an impartial hearing, the advocates of the heretics were confounded, and silenced, upon every article of their accusation. The Arians then demanded a council, and the pope assembled one in Rome, in 341, at which appeared St. Athanasius, Marcellus of Ancyra, and other orthodox prelates, who entreated the pope that he would cite their adversaries to appear. Julius accordingly sent them an order to repair to Rome within a limited time. They, instead of obeying, held a pretended council at Antioch, in 341, in which they presumed to appoint one Gregory an impious Arian, bishop of Alexandria, detained the pope’s legates beyond the time mentioned for their appearance; and then wrote to his holiness, alleging a pretended impossibility of their appearing, on account of the Persian war and other impediments. The pope easily saw through these pretences, and, in a council at Rome, examined the cause of St. Athanasius, declared him innocent of the things laid to his charge by the Arians, and confirmed him in his see. He also acquitted Marcellus of Ancyra, upon his orthodox profession of faith. “Julius, by virtue of the prerogative of his see, sent the bishops into the East, with letters full of vigour, restoring to each of them his see,” says Socrates. 1 “For, because the care of all belonged to him, by the dignity of his see, he restored to every one his church.” as Sozomen writes. 2 He drew up and sent by Count Gabian, to the Oriental Eusebian bishops, who had first demanded a council, and then refused to appear in it, an excellent letter, which Tillemont calls one of the finest monuments of ecclesiastical antiquity. In it we admire an extraordinary genius, and solid judgment, but, far more, an apostolic vigour and resolution tempered with charity and meekness. “If,” says he, “they (Athanasius and Marcellus) had been guilty, ye should have written to us all, that judgment might have been given by all: for they were bishops and churches that suffered, and these not common churches, but the same that the apostles themselves had governed. Why did they not write to us especially concerning the church of Alexandria? Are you ignorant, that it is the custom to write to us immediately, and that the decision ought to come from hence? In case therefore that the bishop of that see lay under any suspicions, ye ought to have written to our church. But now, without having sent us any information on the subject, and having acted just as ye thought proper, ye require of us to approve your measures, without sending us any account of the reasons of your proceedings. These are not the ordinances of Paul, this is not the tradition of our fathers; this is an unprecedented sort of conduct.—I declare to you what we have learned from the blessed Apostle Peter, and I believe it so well known to every body, that I should not have mentioned it, had not this happened.” 3 Finding the Eusebians still obstinate, he moved Constans, emperor of the West, to demand the concurrence of his brother Constantius in the assembling of a general council at Sardica, in Illyricum. This was opened in May, 347, 4 and was a general synod, as Baronius and Natalis Alexander demonstrate; but is joined as an appendix to the council of Nice, because it only confirmed its decrees of faith. This council declared St. Athanasius and Marcellus of Ancyra orthodox and innocent, deposed certain Arian bishops, and framed twenty-one canons of discipline. The first of these forbids the translation of bishops; for, if frequently made, it opens a door to let ambition and covetousness into the sanctuary, of which Eusebius of Nicomedia was a scandalous instance. The third, fourth, and seventh agree, that any bishop deposed by a synod in his province has a right to appeal to the bishop of Rome. St. Julius sat fifteen years, two months, and six days, dying on the 12th of April, 352. See St. Athanasius, Hist. Arianorum ad Monachos, t. 1, p. 349, et Apolog. contra Arianos, p. 142, 199; Tillemont, t. 7, p. 278; Fleury, t. 3; Ceillier, t. 4, p. 484; see also the letter of Julius to Prosdocius, with remarks; and his letter to the church of Alexandria, with the notes of Muratori, &c., in the second tome of the new complete edition of the Councils, printed at Venice in 1759. 1

Note 1. Socr. b. 2, c. 15.
Note 2. Soz. b. 3, c. 7; Fleury, l. 12, Hist. n. 20, t. 3, p. 310.
Note 3. See this letter inserted entire by St. Athanasius in his Apology, p. 141.
Note 4. See Mansi in Suppl. Concil. t. 1, where he shows, in a particular Dissertation, that the council of Sardica was not held in 347, as most modern historians imagine, but in 344, and rectifies the history of it from three letters which he first published.

Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume IV: April.
The Lives of the Saints. 1866.

St. Hermenegild

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St. Hermenegild, Martyr

A.D. 586.

LEVIGILD, or LEOVIGILD, the Goth, 1 king of Spain, had two sons by his first wife Theodosia, namely, Hermenegild and Recared. These he educated in the Arian heresy, which he himself professed, but married Hermenegild, the eldest, to Ingondes, a zealous Catholic, and daughter to Sigebert, king of Austrasia, in France. The grandees had hitherto disposed of their crown by election, but Levigild, to secure it to his posterity, associated his two sons with him in his sovereignty, and allotted to each a portion of his dominions to inure them to government, and Seville fell to the lot of the elder. Ingondes had much to suffer from Gosvint, a bigoted Arian, whom Levigild had married after the death of Theodosia; but, in spite of all her cruel treatment, she adhered strictly to the Catholic faith. And such was the force of her example, and of the instructions and exhortations of St. Leander, bishop of Seville, that the prince became a convert; and, taking the opportunity of his father’s absence, abjured his heresy, and was received into the church by the imposition of hands, and the unction of chrism on the forehead. Levigild, who was already exasperated against his son, upon the first appearance of his change, being now informed of his open profession of the Catholic faith, in a transport of rage divested him of the title of king, and resolved to deprive him of his possessions, his princess, and even his life, unless he returned to his former sentiments. Hermenegild, looking upon himself as a sovereign prince, resolved to stand upon his defence, and was supported by all the Catholics in Spain; but they were by much too weak to defend him against the Arians. The prince therefore sent St. Leander to Constantinople, to solicit Tiberius for succours. But he dying soon after, and his successor Maurice being obliged to employ all his forces to defend his own dominions against the Persians, who had made many irruptions into the imperial territories, no succours were to be obtained. Hermenegild implored next the assistance of the Roman generals, who were with a small army in that part of Spain, on the coast of the Mediterranean, of which the empire of Constantinople still retained possession. They engaged themselves by oath to protect him, and received his wife Ingondes and infant son for hostages; but, being corrupted by Levigild’s money, they basely betrayed him. Levigild held his son besieged in Seville above a year, till Hermenegild, no longer able to defend himself in his capital, fled secretly to join the Roman camp; but, being informed of their treachery, he went to Cordova, and thence to Osseto, a very strong place, in which there was a church held in particular veneration over all Spain. He shut himself up in this fortress with three hundred chosen men; but the place was taken and burnt by Levigild. The prince sought a refuge in a church at the foot of the altar; and the Arian king not presuming to violate that sacred place, permitted his second son, Recared, then an Arian, to go to him, and to promise him pardon, in case he submitted himself and asked forgiveness. Hermenegild believed his father sincere, and going out threw himself at his feet. Levigild embraced him, and renewed his fair promises, with a thousand caresses, till he had got him into his own camp. He then ordered him to be stripped of his royal robes, loaded with chains, and conducted prisoner to the tower of Seville, in 586, when the saint had reigned two years, as F. Flores proves from one of his coins, and other monuments. 1 Continue reading