St Eusebius

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(18 Apr.–21 Oct. 310)

While there is uncertainty about the year (308 or 309 has also been proposed), the days and months of his accession and death are supplied by the 4th-century Liberian Catalogue. According to LP he was a Greek by extraction (as his name would suggest) who had been a physician; its further attribution of the finding of the Saviour's cross to his pontificate is a patent anachronism. The dissension and rioting in the Roman community over the terms on which Christians who had lapsed in the persecution of Emperor Diocletian (284–305) should be readmitted to communion, which had led to the exile of Marcellus I, continued in Eusebius' brief reign. From the verse tribute which Damasus I composed in his honour, it appears that he allowed those who had apostatized to be restored after due penance, while Heraclius, the leader of an opposing faction who seems to have been a sort of antipope, resisted their readmission. In spite of Eusebius' efforts to maintain peace, the split in the community caused government intervention, and Emperor Maxentius (306–12) had both him and Heraclius deported to Sicily. There he soon died. His body was subsequently brought back to Rome and interred in the cemetery of Callistus. In his eulogy Damasus designated him a martyr, but neither the Roman calendar of 354 nor LP itself suggests that he was one. Feast 17 Aug.

Further Reading

A. Ferrua, Epigrammata Damasiana (Vatican City, 1942),129–36LP i, pp. cvii–cix, 8–10, 74 f., 167 (Davis 1: 14, 100, 108)I. Carini, I lapsi e la deportazione in Sicilia del papa s. Eusebio (Rome, 1886)E. Caspar, ‘Die römische Bischöfe der diokletianischen Verfolgung’, ZKG46 (1927), 330–33DHGE xv. 1433 (H. Marot)EC v. 857 (A. Amore)Caspar i. 99–101, 128 f.Levillain i. 543 (E. Paoli)EThC 34 (G. Schwaiger)

Subjects: Christianity.

Reference entries

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