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A History Of The Church In Nine Books by Sozomen

ABOUT this period, the head of John the Baptist, which Herodias had asked of Herod the tetrarch, was removed to Constantinople. It is said that it was discovered by some monks of the Macedonian persuasion, who originally dwelt at Constantinople, and afterwards fixed their abode in Cilicia. Mardonius, the first eunuch of the palace, made known this discovery at Court, during the preceding reign; and Valens commanded that the relic should be removed to Constantinople. The officers appointed to convey it thither, placed it in a public chariot, and proceeded with it as far as Pantichium, a district in the territory of Chalcedonia. Here the mules of the chariot suddenly stopped; and neither the application of the lash, nor any of the other means that were devised, could induce them to advance further. So extraordinary an event was considered by all, and even by the emperor himself, to be of God; and the holy head was therefore deposited at Cosila, a village in the neighbourhood, which belonged to Mardonius. Soon after, the Emperor Theodosius, impelled by an impulse from God, or from the prophet, repaired to the village. He determined upon removing the remains of the Baptist, and it is said met with no opposition, except from a holy virgin, who had been entrusted with the care of the relic. He laid aside all authority and force, and after many entreaties, extorted a reluctant consent from her to remove the head; for she bore in mind what had occurred at the period when Valens commanded its removal. The emperor placed it, with the box in which it was encased, in his purple robe, and conveyed it to a place called Hebdoma, in the suburbs of Constantinople, where he erected a spacious and magnificent church. The woman who had been appointed to the charge of the relic, could not be persuaded by the emperor to renounce her religious sentiments, although he had recourse to entreaty and promises; for she was, it appears, a Macedonian. A presbyter of the same sect, named Vincent, who also took charge of the remains of the prophet, and performed the sacerdotal functions, followed the religious opinions of the emperor, and entered into communion with the Catholic Church. He had taken an oath, as the Macedonians affirm, never to swerve from the doctrines of his religion; but he afterwards openly declared, that if the Baptist would follow the emperor, he also would enter into communion with him. He was a Persian, and had left his country in company with a relative named Abdus, during the reign of Constantius, in order to avoid the persecution which the Christians were then suffering in Persia. On his arrival in the Roman territories he was placed in the ranks of the clergy, and appointed a presbyter. Abdus married, and rendered great services to the church. He left a son named Auxentius, who was noted for his piety, his benevolence, the sanctity of his life, and the greatness of his attainments in Grecian and ecclesiastical literature. He was modest and retiring in deportment, although admitted to familiarity with the emperor and the courtiers, and possessed of a very illustrious appointment. His memory is still revered by the monks and ascetics, who were well acquainted with him. The woman who had been entrusted with the relic, remained during the rest of her life at Cosila. She was greatly distinguished by her piety and wisdom, and instructed many holy virgins, and I have been assured that even at the present day, their virtue reflects honour on their instructress.








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