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A History Of The Church In Five Books by Theodoret

AT this period Stephen governed the church of Antioch, and had well nigh effected its destruction; for he employed several audacious tyrants as his ministers, who persecuted all those who maintained orthodox doctrines. The principal of these ministers was a young man of a rash and enterprising temperament, who led a very infamous life. He not only dragged away men from the market-place, and treated them with indignity and insult, but he had the audacity to enter private houses, whence he carried off men and women of irreproachable character. But not to give a detailed relation of his crimes, I shall merely mention his daring conduct towards the bishops; for this circumstance is alone sufficient to give an idea of the unlawful deeds of violence which he perpetrated against the citizens. He went to a courtesan, and told her that some strangers had just arrived, who desired to pass the night with her. He placed fifteen men attached to his faction, in ambush near a hedge close to the bottom of the mountain, He then went for the courtesan. After giving a preconcerted signal, they were admitted through the gate of the courtyard belonging to the inn where the bishops were lodging. The doors were opened by one of the household servants, who had been bribed by him: he conducted the woman into the house, and pointed out to her the door of the room occupied by one of the bishops, and desired her to enter. He then went to summon his accomplices. The door which he had pointed out happened to be that Euphrates the elder bishop, whose room was situated near the vestibule. Vincentius, the other bishop, occupied a chamber more towards the centre of the house. When the courtesan entered the room of Euphratas, he heard the sound of her footsteps, and he asked who was there, for it was then dark. She spoke to him, and Euphratas was much troubled: he thought that it was the devil imitating the voice of a woman, and he called upon Christ the Saviour for aid. Onager, for this was the name of the leader of this wicked band (a name peculiarly appropriate to him, as not only with his hands but with his feet he violently assaulted all the pious), had in the meantime returned with his lawless crew; they loudly denounced as criminal all who expected future benefits from criminal judges. The noise aroused Vincentius and all the servants; they arose, and ran to the spot whence it proceeded. They closed the gate of the courtyard, and captured seven of the adversaries; but Onager with the others escaped by flight. The woman was committed to custody with those who had been seized. At the break of day the bishops apprised the military commander of what had occurred, and they all three proceeded together to the palace, to complain of the violence of Stephen; they stated that his guilt was so evident that no recourse either to law or to torture was requisite to prove it. The military commander loudly demanded of the emperor, that the atrocious act should not be brought before a synod, but that it should be left to the arbitration of the public court of justice. He offered to give up the clergy attached to the bishops to be first examined, provided that the agents of Stephen were subjected to the same course of interrogatories: but to this Stephen insolently objected, alleging that the clergy ought not to be examined by torture. The emperor and the principal persons present, decided that it would be better to judge the cause in the palace. The woman was first of all questioned; she was asked by whom she was conducted to the inn where the bishops were lodging. She replied, that a young man came to her, and told her that some strangers had arrived, who were desirous of her company, and that in the evening he conducted her to the inn; that he summoned his band of soldiers, led her into the house, and desired her to go into the chamber adjoining the vestibule. She added, that the bishop asked who was there, that he was much terrified, and that he began to pray; and that then others ran to the spot.








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