Chapter XIX.—Death of the Great Athanasius; the Elevation of Lucius, who was Arian-Minded, to the See; the Numerous Calamities he brought upon the Churches in Egypt; Peter, who served after Athanasius, passed over to Rome.
Athanasius, bishop of the church of Alexandria, died about this period, after having completed his high-priesthood in about forty-six years. 1462 The Arians having received early intelligence of his death, Euzoïus, president of the Arians at Antioch, and Magnus, the chief treasurer, were sent by the emperor, and lost no time in seizing and imprisoning Peter, whom Athanasius had appointed to succeed him in the bishopric; and they forthwith transferred the government of the church to Lucius.
Hence those in Egypt suffered more grievously than those in other places, and misfortunes piled upon misfortunes oppressed the members of the Catholic Church; for as soon as Lucius settled in Alexandria, he attempted to take possession of the churches; he met with opposition from the people, and the clergy and holy virgins were accused as originators of the sedition. Some made their escape as if the city had fallen into the hands of an enemy; others were seized and imprisoned. Some of the prisoners were afterwards dragged from the dungeons to be torn with hooks and thongs, while others were burned by means of flaming torches. It seemed wonderful how they could possibly survive the tortures to which they were subjected. Banishment or even death itself would have been preferable to such sufferings. Peter, the bishop, made his escape from prison; and embarking on board a ship, proceeded to Rome, the bishop of which church held the same sentiments as himself. Thus the Arians, although not many in number, remained in possession of the churches. At the same time, an edict was issued by the emperor, enacting that as many of the followers of the Nicene doctrines should be ejected from Alexandria and the rest of Egypt, as might be directed by Lucius. Euzoïus, having thus accomplished all his designs, returned to Antioch.
Ruf. ii. 3; Soc. iv. 20–22. In c. 22 he mentions a letter of Peter to the churches, giving an account of the persecutions; and that Sabinus records none of these things. Cf. Theodoret, H. E. iv. 20–22. In c. 22 a part of Peters letter is given. Hieron. de vir. illust. lxxxvii.; Greg. Naz. Or. xxi. in laudem Magni Athanasii episcopi Alexandrini.