Eusebius of Vercelli

Eusebius of Vercelli

Infobox Saint
name=Saint Eusebius
Bishop of Vercelli
birth_date=ca. 283
death_date=death date|371|8|1|mf=y
feast_day=2 August; 15 December (General Roman Calendar, 1602-1728); 16 December (General Roman Calendar, 1728-1969)
venerated_in=Roman Catholic Church

caption="The Virgin Mary in Glory with Archangel Gabriel, and Saints Eusebius of Vercelli (seated), Saint Sebastian, and Saint Roch", Sebastiano Ricci.
death_place= Vercelli, Piemonte

Eusebius of Vercelli (ca. 283 - 1 August 371) was a bishop and an Italian saint. Along with St Athanasius, he affirmed the divinity of Jesus against the Arian heresy.


Born in Sardinia, he was a lector in Rome before he went to Vercelli (in what is now northern Italy), and when the bishop died in 340 Eusebius was acclaimed bishop of that city by the clergy and the people and received episcopal consecration at the hands of Pope Julius I on 15 December. According to a letter to him from Ambrose ("Epistola lxiii, Ad Vercellenses") he was the first monk in the West who was appointed bishop. He led with the clergy of his city a monastic common life modelled upon that of the Eastern cenobites (Ambrose, "Ep." lxxxi and "Serm." lxxxix). For this reason the Canons Regular of St. Augustine honor him along with Augustine as their founder ("Proprium Canon. Reg.", 16 December).

Possibly in 354, Pope Liberius sent Eusebius and Bishop Lucifer of Cagliari to the Emperor Constantius II at Arles in Gaul, for the purpose of inducing him to convoke a council expected to end the dissentions between the Arian and the Trinitarian Christians. The synod was held in Milan in 355. At first Eusebius refused to attend it because he foresaw that the Arian bishops, with the Emperor's support, would not accept the decrees of the Council of Nicaea and would vote to condemn St. Athanasius. Pressed to attend, he was refused admittance for ten days, until the document condemning St. Athanasius had been drawn up for the signature of the bishops. Eusebius refused to sign and was exiled, first to Scythopolis in Syria, under the watchful eye of the Arian bishop Patrophilus, whom Eusebius calls his jailer (Baronius, "Annales", year 356. n. 97), then to Cappadocia, and lastly to the Thebaid, in Upper Egypt.

On the accession of the last of the pagan Emperors, Julian, the exiled bishops were free to return to their sees, in 362. Eusebius, however, and his brother-exile Lucifer remained in the East for some time, helping to restore peace in the Church by enforcing orthodoxy. Eusebius went to Alexandria to organize with Athanasius the synod of 362 under their joint presidency. Though declaring the divinity of the Holy Ghost and the orthodox doctrine concerning the Incarnation, the synod agreed to deal mildly with the repentant apostate bishops, but to impose severe penalties upon the leaders of several of the Arianizing factions.

Eusebius then went to Antioch to reconcile the adherents of Eustathius of Antioch, who had been deposed and exiled by the Arians in 331, with the Meletians. Since Meletius' election in 361 was brought about chiefly by the Arians, the Eustathians would not recognize him, although he solemnly proclaimed his orthodox faith after his episcopal consecration. The Alexandrian synod had desired that Eusebius should reconcile the Eustathians with Bishop Meletius, by purging his election of whatever might have been irregular in it, but Eusebius, upon arriving at Antioch found that his brother-legate Lucifer had consecrated Paulinus, the leader of the Eustathians, as Bishop of Antioch.

Unable to reconcile the factions at Antioch, he visited other churches of the East in the interest of promulgating and enforcing the orthodox Trinitarian faith, and finally returned to Italy through Illyricum. Having arrived at Vercelli in 363, he assisted the zealous St. Hilary of Poitiers in the suppression of Arianism in the Western Church, and was one of the chief opponents of the Arian bishop Auxentius of Milan. The Roman Catholic Church honors him as a martyr and celebrates his feast on 2 August. ["Calendarium Romanum" (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1969), p. 148] His former feast day of December 16 roughly coincided with his elevation as bishop. His current feast day roughly coincides with the anniversary of his death.


The "Catholic Encyclopedia" gives the following:three short letters of Eusebius are printed in Migne, "Pat.Lat.", XII, 947-54 and X, 713-14. Jerome ("Of Famous Men", c. lvi, and Epstle li, n. 2) ascribes to him a Latin translation of a commentary on the Psalms, written originally in Greek by Eusebius of Caesarea; but this work has been lost. There is preserved in the cathedral at Vercelli the "Codex Vercellensis", the earliest manuscript of the old Latin Gospels ("Codex a"), which is generally believed to have been written by Eusebius. It was published by Irico (Milan 1748) and Bianchini (Rome, 1749), and is reprinted in Migne, "Patrologia Latina" XII, 9-948; a new edition was brought out by Belsheim (Christiania, 1894). Krüger ("Lucifer, Bischof von Calaris", Leipzig, 1886, 118-30) ascribes to Eusebius a baptismal oration by Caspari ("Quellen sur Geschichte des Taufsymbols", Christiania, 1869, II, 132-40). The confession of faith "Des. Trinitate confessio", "P.L.", XII, 959-968, sometimes ascribed to Eusebius, is spurious.

A modern edition of his writings is found in the [ 9th volume of Corpus Christianorum - Series Latina] .


External links

* [ Fourth Century Christianity: Eusebius of Vercelli]
* [ "Catholic Encyclopedia": St. Eusebius (of Vercelli)]
* [ His writings]
*it icon [ Sant' Eusebio di Vercelli]


N. Everett, "Narrating the Life of Eusebius of Vercelli", in R. Balzaretti and E.M. Tyler (eds), "Narrative and History in the Early Medieval West" (Turnhout, 2006: Brepols), pp.133-165.

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