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JULIAN (361 - 363).

Constantius was succeeded by Julian, who reigned for eighteen months. Julian was brought up as a Christian and baptised in childhood. But the type of Christianity that Julian came into contact with was far removed from the true spirit of the faith and Julian renounced Christianity altogether and declared himself a pagan.

A man of considerable ability, he lived the life of an ascetic philosopher, despised all luxuries and patronised learning. He set himself to discredit Christianity and to restore or reconstruct the old heathen religion along Neo-Platonic lines. He ordered the heathen temples to be reopened and sacrifices restored.

He ordered the return of all religious exiles, hoping thereby to create confusion in the Church by the activity of the rival groups. Among the returning exiles was Athanasius, but it was not long before the prominence and influence of this doughty defender of the Faith attracted Julian`s notice the end of 362, he was again banished as "an enemy of the gods".

Julian abolished the civil honours and privileges of the clergy, removed Christians from the imperial household, cast ridicule on the Christian Faith and dubbed its adherents "Galileans". He forbade Christians to act as teachers of Classics and encouraged philosophers to write against the Faith, also writing against it himself.

He organised a pagan priesthood, urging that the priests should be characterised by holiness, strictness of life and good works, but his priests did not rise to these standards. He attempted to discredit the Lord's prophecy by rebuilding the Temple at Jerusalem, but flames burst forth from the foundations, the workmen fled and the work was not resumed. Julian`s efforts to replace Christianity by pagan religion were short lived and ended in failure. Julian himself met his death when fighting against the Persians in 363.


The death of Constantius marked the turning-point in the Arian controversy. After his death the Western bishops returned to their old allegiance and the Nicene Creed became firmly established in the West. The Christians in Egypt remained faithful to the orthodox cause. In Gaul Hilary of Poitiers was the great champion of the Nicene faith and was called "the Athanasius of the West".

The brief reign of Julian was followed by the accession of Jovian, who restored the Cross as the standard of the armies, destroyed temples and built churches. He recalled Athanasius, but he, Jovian, died suddenly in 364. After the death of Jovian, the Empire was again divided into two. The new Emperor Valentinian (364 - 375) gave the Eastern provinces to his brother Valens (364 - 378).

The latter favoured the Arians and sent Athanasius into exile again, but early in 366 he was allowed to return and spent the last seven years of his life in peace in Alexandria. He died in 373. Athanasius was the outstanding man of the fourth century. It was due to the power of his personality, his resolute refusal to compromise, his unwavering courage and his sincerity and devotion that the final triumph of the Nicene Creed was assured. He was Bishop of Alexandria for 45 years, 16 of which were spent in his five exiles.

By the time of Athanasius' death, other great men had emerged to champion the cause of the orthodox faith. In the East, the three Cappadocians, Basil, Gregory of Nyssa and Gregory of Nazianzus took up the Nicene cause, and in the West Ambrose was consecrated Bishop of Milan in the same year in which Athanasius died.


Basil came from a wealthy Christian family in Cappadocia. His grandparents had been confessors in the great persecution; his father was a teacher of rhetoric noted for his Christian life. Basil studied at Athens and had the highest education of the days being a lover of the classics. He had a great future open to him as a teacher and professor of rhetoric.

But, influenced by the life of his sister Macrina, he decided to dedicate himself completely to Christ. He was attracted by monastic life and established himself in a monastic retreat among the mountains of Pontus. He is usually regarded as the founder of the community life, the monasticism of the future. A scholar and a theologian, he saved monasticism from degenerating into a profitless ascetism, and the numerous settlements which sprang up in Asia Minor, based on his model, were all strongholds of the Nicene faith.

In 360 Basil emerged from his retreat to attend the Council at Constantinople, and in 364 he was ordained to the priesthood. In this capacity he organised Christian work and became recognised as the champion of orthodoxy. In 370 he was consecrated as Bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia.

His first great objective as bishop was to reunite and consolidate the churches of the East so as to present a united front against Arianism. In this task he persisted, although it soon brought him into conflict with the Emperor Valens. With a deep sense of the dignity and importance of Christian worship Basil reorganised the services of the Church. He also carried out reforms and reorganisation in his diocese and province.

Around the cathedral and bishop's house in Caesarea he built a hospital containing hostels and workshops and an asylum for lepers. He was a prolific writer, brilliantly defending the Church in his correspondence, and producing commentaries on the Scriptures. His most original and valuable work was a treatise on the Holy Spirit, the first on this subject produced in the Church. Basil constantly suffered from ill-health and died in 379.


Gregory, the brother of Basil, was also influenced by his sister Macrina. He was appointed Bishop of Nyssa in 372; three years later he was falsely accused of embezzling money by Arian opponents and banished to Seleucia. After suffering great miseries there, he was restored after the death of Valens in 378. After the death of Basil in the following year he was generally recognised as the leading defender of the Nicene faith in the East.

A synod at Antioch entrusted him with the task of visiting and reforming the Church in Arabia and Babylon; he also visited Jerusalem. He took a prominent part in the triumph of the Nicene faith in the Council of Constantinople in 381.


It was the task of Gregory of Nazianzus to refute Arianism in Constantinople; this city was now the stronghold of Arianism; here it had reigned for 40 years. Commencing his work in 378, Gregory delivered five great theological orations for this purpose and his great eloquence and moral earnestness gained him many adherents.

The devoted circle of hearers he gathered round him included Jerome. Gregory became a mark for Arian spite and was mobbed and stoned and narrowly escaped assassination. But in 380 the Emperor Theodosius entered Constantinople and restored all the churches to the Catholics. In the following year an imperial decree ordered the expulsion of all Arians from the churches of the East.


This council was summoned by the Emperor Theodosius to bring the Arian controversy to an end. It was attended by 150 bishops, all from the East. It decreed that the Nicene Creed was to be the only legal religion in the empire. This council marks the end of Arianism in the East. The Catholics had won the day, not only by their deeper theological learning and eloquence, but also by their sufferings, their personal devotion to Christ and by the spirituality and sincerity of their religion.


The Council of Constantinople also dealt with the heresy of Apollinarianism. Apollinaris, Bishop of Laodicea, taking the usual division of human nature into body, soul and spirit, declared that in the case of Jesus Christ the divine Logos took the place of the human spirit, the rational and religious part of man`s being. This would mean that Christ was not fully man, that God the Son clothed Himself with only part of our human nature, It was therefore condemned by the Council of Constantinople.

GRATIAN(375 -383).

Valentinian was succeeded in 375 by his elder son, Gratian, a sincere supporter of the Nicene faith. Anxious to put down pagan worship and customs, he dropped the title of Pontifex Maximus, a bold step, and further had the Altar of Victory removed from the Senate-house.

But in 383 the army in Britain proclaimed its commander, Maximus as emperor and Gratian was assassinated in Gaul at the early age of 25. Meanwhile, in the East, Valens was killed in 378 in a great defeat of the Romans by the Goths at Adrianople, the biggest defeat of Roman armies since Cannae. Gratian appointed in his place a Spaniard named Theodosius.

THEODOSIUS (378 - 395).

The new emperor in the East was a true Spaniard, a born soldier, capable of great deeds, but also a man of violent passion, liable to outbursts of cruelty. He quickly settled the Gothic menace in the East and restored strength to the empire. In 389 he defeated the usurper Maximus.

During his reign the Roman empire held its own and its threatened disintegration was delayed for several years. Theodosius embraced the Nicene faith and made it the one legal religion in the Roman empire. He said the title 'Catholic' was to be reserved for those who adored the Father, Son and holy Spirit with equal reverence.

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