After the expulsion of Eudoxius from the see of Antioch, the Arians of Antioch,
believing that Meletius of Armenia would uphold their doctrines, petitioned
the Emperor Constantius to appoint Meletius Bishop of Antioch, while
signing a document jointly with the Orthodox of Antioch, unanimously
agreeing to Meletius' appointment; this document was entrusted to Eusebius,
Bishop of Samosata. Meletius, however, after his Orthodoxy became apparent,
was banished, and the Arians persuaded Constantius to demand the document
back from Eusebius, as it convicted their perfidy. Imperial officers
were sent; Eusebius refused to surrender the document without the consent
of all who had signed it; the officers returned to the Emperor, who
furiously sent them back to Eusebius with threats. But so great a zealot
for the true Faith, so staunch an enemy of the Arians, so fearless
a man of valor was Saint Eusebius, that when Constantius' officers
arrived, threatening to cut off his right hand unless he surrendered
the document, Eusebius held out both hands. When Constantius learned of it, he was struck with
astonishment and admiration.
This took place in 361, the last year of the reign of Constantius; he was succeeded
by Julian the Apostate, who was slain in Persia in 363; Jovian succeeded Julian,
and Valentinian succeeded Jovian in 364, making his brother Valens Emperor of
the East. Valens, who supported the Arians, exiled Eusebius to Thrace in 374.
The bearer of the edict of Eusebius' banishment arrived in the evening; Eusebius
bade him keep silence, or else the people, learning why he had come, would drown
him: and Eusebius, though an old man, left his house alone on foot by night.
After Valens was slain at Adrianopole in 378, the holy Eusebius returned from
exile under the Emperor Gratian, and he ordained for the churches of Syria men
known for their virtue and Orthodoxy. About the year 380, as he was entering
a certain village to enthrone its bishop, whom he had consecrated, an Arian woman
threw a clay tile from the roof, and it crushed his head; as he was dying, he
bound the bystanders with oaths that they not take the least
vengeance. Saint Gregory the Theologian addressed several letters to him (PG
37:87, 91, 126-130); he had such reverence for him, that in one letter to him,
commending himself to Saint Eusebius' prayers, he said, "That such a man should deign to be my patron also in his prayers will gain for
me, I am persuaded, as much strength as I should have gained through one of the
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone:
As a sharer of the ways and a successor to the throne of the Apostles, O inspired
of God, thou foundest discipline to be a means of ascent to divine vision.
Wherefore, having rightly divided the word of truth, thou didst also contest
for the Faith even unto blood, O Hieromartyr Eusebius. Intercede with Christ
our God that our souls be saved.
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