Sacred Texts  Christianity  Early Church Fathers  Index  Previous  Next 

Chapter VIII.—Of the confiscation of the sacred treasures and taking away of the allowances627

Even when the wicked had become acquainted with these events they set themselves in array against the God of all; and the prince ordered the holy vessels to be handed over to the imperial treasury. Of the great church which Constantine had built he nailed up the doors and declared it closed to the worshippers wont to assemble there. At this time it was in possession of the Arians. In company with Julianus the prefect of the East, Felix the imperial treasurer, and Elpidius, who had charge of the emperor’s private purse and property, an officer whom it is the Roman custom to call “Comes privatarum,” 628 made their way into the sacred edifice. Both Felix and Elpidius, it is said, were Christians, but to please the impious emperor apostatised from the true religion. Julianus committed an act of gross indecency on the Holy Table 629 and, when Euzoius endeavoured to prevent him, gave him a blow on the face, and told him, so the story goes, that it is the fate of the fortunes of Christians to have no protection from the gods. But Felix, as he gazed upon the magnificence of the sacred vessels, furnished with splendour by the munificence of Constantine and Constantius, “Behold,” said he, “with what vessels Mary’s son is served.” But it was not long before they paid the penalty of these deeds of mad and impious daring.



τἠς τῶν σιτηρεσίων ἀφαιρεσεως. This deprivation is not further referred to in the text. Philostorgius (vii. 4) says “He distributed the allowance of the churches among the ministers of the dæmons,” cf. Soz. v. 5. The restitution is recorded in Theod. iv. 4. The σιτομετριον of St. Luke xii. 42. (cf. τὴν τροφήν in Matt. xxiv. 45) is analogous to the σιτηρέσια of the text. Vide Suicer s.v.


By the constitution of Constantine the two great ministers of finance were (i) the Comes sacrarum largitionum, treasurer and paymaster of the public staff of the Empire; (ii) Comes rei privatæ, who managed the privy purse and kept the liber beneficionum, an account of privileges granted by the emperor. cf. Dict. Christ. Ant. i. p. 634.


Τράπεζα is the word commonly employed by the Greek Fathers and in Greek Liturgies to designate the Lord’s Table. Θυσιαστήριον is used by Eusebius H. E. x. 4, for the Altar of the Church of Tyre, but the earlier θυσιαστήριον of Ignatius (Philad. iv.) does not appear to mean the Lord’s Table. cf. Bp. Lightfoot Ap. Fathers. pt. II. ii. p. 258.

Next: Of what befell Julianus, the Emperor's Uncle, and Felix.