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Chapter XXIX.—Fabianus, who was wonderfully designated Bishop of Rome by God.

1. Gordianus succeeded Maximinus as Roman emperor; 2009 and Pontianus, 2010 who had p. 275 been bishop of the church at Rome for six years, was succeeded by Anteros. 2011 After he had held the office for a month, Fabianus 2012 succeeded him.

2. They say 2013 that Fabianus having come, after the death of Anteros, with others from the country, was staying at Rome, and that while there he was chosen to the office through a most wonderful manifestation of divine and heavenly grace.

3. For when all the brethren had assembled to select by vote him who should succeed to the episcopate of the church, several renowned and honorable men were in the minds of many, but Fabianus, although present, was in the mind of none. But they relate that suddenly a dove flying down lighted on his head, resembling the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Saviour in the form of a dove.

4. Thereupon all the people, as if moved by one Divine Spirit, with all eagerness and unanimity cried out that he was worthy, and without delay they took him and placed him upon the episcopal seat. 2014

5. About that time Zebinus, 2015 bishop of Antioch died, and Babylas 2016 succeeded him. And in Alexandria Heraclas, 2017 having received the episcopal office after Demetrius, 2018 was succeeded in the charge of the catechetical school by Dionysius, 2019 who had also been one of Origen’s pupils.



Gordianus the younger, grandson of Gordianus I., and nephew (or son?) of Gordianus II., became emperor after the murder of Balbinus and Pupienus, in July, 238, at the age of fifteen years, and reigned until early in the year 244, when he was murdered by the soldiers and succeeded by Philip. He is made by Eusebius (both here and in the Chron.) the direct successor of Maximinus, simply because only two or three months elapsed between the death of the latter and his own accession.


On Pontianus, see chap. 23, note 3.


Both here and in the Chron. the accession of Anteros is synchronized with the accession of Gordianus, but as seen in chap. 23, note 3, Pontianus was succeeded by Anteros in the first year of Maximinus, i.e. in 235,—three years earlier, therefore, than the date given by Eusebius. All the authorities agree in assigning only one month and a few days to the episcopate of Anteros, and this is to be accepted as correct. Of the life and character of Anteros we know nothing.


Greek Φαβιανός, though some mss. read Φλαβιανός. The Armenian and Hieronymian Chron. call him Fabianus; the Liberian catalogue, Fabius; Eutychius and the Alex. cat., Flabianus. According to chap. 39, he suffered martyrdom in the persecution of Decius (250–251). Both versions of the Chron. assign thirteen years to his episcopate, and this agrees fairly well with the notices here and in chap. 39 (accession in 238 and death in 250 or 251). But, as already seen, Eusebius is quite wrong in the dates which he gives for the accession of these three bishops, and the statements of the Liberian catalogue are to be accepted, which put Fabian’s accession in January, 236, and his death in January, 250, after an episcopate of fourteen years and ten days. The martyrdom of Fabian rests upon good authority (cf. chap. 39, and Jerome’s de vir. ill. chap. 54, and especially Cyprian’s Epistles, 3, al. 9, and 30). From these epistles we learn that he was a man of ability and virtue. He stands out more clearly in the light of history than most of the early Roman bishops, but tradition has handed down a great many unfounded stories in regard to him (see the article in the Dict. of Christ. Biog.).


φασί. Eusebius is our only authority for the following story. Rufinus (VI. 21) tells a similar tale in connection with Zephyrinus.


τὸν θρόνον τῆς ἐπισκοπῆς


On Zebinus, see chap. 23, note 4.


Babylas occupies an illustrious place in the list of ancient martyrs (cf. Tillemont, Mem. III. 400–409). Chrysostom devoted a festal oration to his memory (In sanctum Babylam contra Julianum et contra Gentiles); while Jerome, Epiphanius, Sozomen, Theodoret, and others make honorable mention of him. There are extant the Acta Babylæ (spurious), which, however, confound him with a martyr who suffered under Numerian. The legends in regard to Babylas and to the miracles performed by his bones are very numerous (see Tillemont, l.c.). He is identified by Chrysostom and others with the bishop mentioned by Eusebius in chap. 34, and there is no good reason to doubt the identification (see Harnack, Zeit des Ignatius, p. 48). The fact of his martyrdom under Decius (see chap. 39) is too well attested to admit of doubt; though upon the manner of it, not all the traditions are agreed, Eusebius reporting that he died in prison, Chrysostom that he died by violence. The account of Eusebius seems the most reliable. The date of his accession is unknown, but there is no reason to doubt that it took place during the reign of Gordian (238–244), as Eusebius here seems to imply; though it is true that he connects it closely with the death of Demetrius, which certainly took place not later than 232 (see above, Bk. V. chap. 22, note 4). There is no warrant for carrying the accession of Babylas back so far as that.


On Heraclas, see chap. 3, note 2.


On the episcopate of Demetrius, see Bk. V. chap. 22, note 4.


On Dionysius, see chap. 40, note 1.

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