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A History Of The Church In Nine Books by Sozomen

THERE were at this period many other bishops in various parts of the empire highly celebrated for their sanctity and high qualifications, of whom Donatus, bishop of Eurœa in Epirus, deserves to be particularly instanced. The inhabitants of the country relate many extraordinary miracles which he performed, of which the most remarkable seems to have been the destruction of a dragon of enormous size. It had stationed itself on the high road, at a place called Chamaigephyra, and devoured sheep, goats, oxen, horses, and men. Donatus attacked it unarmed, without sword, lance or javelin: it raised its head, and was about to dart upon him, when Donatus made the sign of the cross with his finger in the air, and spat upon the dragon. The saliva entered its mouth, and it immediately expired. As it lay extended on the earth, it did not appear inferior in size to the noted serpent of India. I have been informed, that the people of the country yoked eight pair of oxen to transport the body to a neighbouring field, where they burnt it, that it might not during the process of decomposition corrupt the air, and generate disease. The tomb of this bishop is deposited in a magnificent house of prayer which bears his name. It is situated near a stream of water which God caused to rise from the ground in answer to his prayer, in an arid spot where no water had previously existed. For it is said that one day, when on a journey, he had to pass through this locality, and perceiving that his companions were suffering from thirst, he moved the soil with his hand and engaged in prayer; before his prayer was concluded, a spring of water arose from the ground which has never since been dried up. The inhabitants of Isoria, a village in the territory of Eurœa, bear testimony to the truth of this narration.

The church of Tomis, and indeed all the churches of Scythia, were at this period under the government of Theotimus. He had been brought up in the practice of philosophical asceticism, and his virtues had so won the admiration of the Huns who dwelt on the banks of the Danube, that they called him the god of the Romans. It is said that one day, when travelling towards their country, he perceived at a distance some of these barbarous tribes advancing towards Tomis: his attendants burst forth into lamentations, and gave themselves up for lost; but he merely descended from horseback and prayed. The consequence was that the barbarians passed by without seeing him, his attendants, or the horses. As these tribes frequently devastated Scythia by their predatory incursions, he tried to subdue the ferocity of their disposition by presenting them with food and gifts. One of the barbarians hence concluded that he was a man of wealth, and, determining to take him prisoner, leaned upon his shield, as was his custom when parleying with his enemies, and raised up his right hand in order to throw a rope which he firmly grasped over the bishop, for he intended to drag him away to his own country; but his arm, while extended in this position, became fixed and perfectly immoveable, until his companions had implored Theotimus to intercede with God for the removal of the invisible bonds.

It is said that Theotimus always retained the long hair which he wore when he first devoted himself to the practice of philosophy. He was very temperate, had no stated hours for his repasts, but ate and drank when compelled to do so by the calls of hunger and of thirst. I consider it to be the part of a philosopher to yield to the demands of these appetites from necessity, and not from the love of sensual gratification.








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