Chapter XXIX.—Damasus ordained Bishop of Rome. Sedition and Loss of Life caused by the Rivalry of Ursinus.
While the emperor Valentinian governed in peace, and interfered with no sect, Damasus after Liberius undertook the administration of the bishopric at Rome; 658 whereupon a great disturbance was caused on the following account. 659 A certain Ursinus, a deacon of that church, had been nominated among others when the election of a bishop took place; as Damasus 660 was preferred, this Ursinus, unable to bear the disappointment of his hopes, held schismatic assemblies apart from the church, and even induced certain bishops of little distinction to ordain him in secret. This ordination was made, not in a church, 661 but in a retired place called the Palace of Sicine, whereupon dissension arose among the people; their disagreement being not about any article of faith or heresy, but simply as to who should be bishop. Hence frequent conflicts arose, insomuch that many lives were sacrificed in this contention; and many of the clergy as well as laity were punished on that account by Maximin, the prefect of the city. Thus was Ursinus obliged to desist from his pretensions at that time, and those who were minded to follow him were reduced to order.
Socrates follows Rufinus here (cf. Rufin. H. E. II. 10; but Jerome, Chronicon, puts the consecration of Damasus as bishop of Rome in the third year of Valentinians reign, i.e. in 367. Cf. also Clinton, Fasti Rom. Ann. 367.113:659
Am. Marcellinus (Rerum Gestarum, XXVII. 3. 12, 13) says that during the disturbance one hundred and thirty-seven citizens were killed in the course of a single day.113:660
Damusus was a Spaniard by race, native of Mantua, patron of Jerome in his biblical researches. Cf. Jerome, ad Damas. Smith & Wace, Dict. of Christ. Biog.113:661
On the illegality of ordination without a church, see Bingham, Christ. Antiq. IV. 6. 8. Cf. Gregory Nazianz. Carm. de Vita.