Saint Brigid Religious Education
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St. Eusebius of Vercelli
Feast day: August 2
Someone has said that if there had been no Arian heresy it would be very
difficult to write the lives of many early saints. Eusebius is another
of the defenders of the Church during one of its most trying periods.
Born on the isle of Sardinia, he became a member of the Roman clergy and
is the first recorded bishop of Vercelli in Piedmont. He is also the
first to link the monastic life with that of the clergy, establishing a
community of his diocesan clergy on the principle that the best way to
sanctify his people was to have them see a clergy formed in solid virtue
and living in community.
He was sent by Pope Liberius to persuade the emperor to call a council
to settle Catholic-Arian troubles. When the council was called at Milan, Eusebius
went reluctantly, sensing that the Arian block would have its way,
although the Catholics were more numerous. He refused to go along with
the condemnation of Athanasius. Instead he laid the Nicene Creed on the
table and insisted that all sign it before taking up any other matter.
The emperor put pressure on him, but Eusebius insisted on Athanasiusí
innocence and reminded the emperor that secular force should not be used
to influence Church decisions. At first the emperor threatened to kill
him, but later sent him into exile in Palestine. There the Arians
dragged him through the streets and shut him up in a little room,
releasing him only after his four-day hunger strike. They resumed their
harassment shortly after.
His exile continued in Asia Minor and Egypt, until the new emperor
permitted him to be welcomed back to his see in Vercelli. He attended
the Council of Alexandria with Athanasius and approved the leniency
shown to bishops who had wavered. He also worked with St. Hilary of
Poitiers against the Arians.
He died peacefully in his own diocese at an advanced age.