PERSECUTION OF VALENS, OF GENNERIC, OF HUNNERIC, AND OTHER ARIAN KINGS
Sack Of Rome
PERSECUTION OF VALENS, OF GENNERIC, OF HUNNERIC, AND OTHER ARIAN KINGS.
51. -Julian is made Emperor, and dies. 52.-Jovian Emperor; his Death. 53.-Valentinian and Valens Emperors. 54.-Death of Liberius. 55, 56.-Va- lens puts eighty Ecclesiastics to Death his other Cruelties. 57. -Lucius persecutes the Solitaries. 58.-Dreadful Death of Valens. 59 61 .-Perse cution of Genseric. 62 64. -Persecution of Hunneric. 65.-Persecutioii of Theodoric. 67, 68. -Persecution of Leovigild.
51. On the death of Constantius, the impious Julian the Apostate succeeded to the Empire. At first he restored the Catholic bishops to their sees, but he soon began to persecute not only the bishops but the faithful in general, not because they were Catholics, but because they were Christians, for he declared himself an idolater and an enemy of Christ. He perished in the Persian war in the year 363. He was engaged in the heat of battle, when, beholding the Persians flying before his troops, he raised his arm to cheer on his own soldiers to the pursuit, when just at the moment, as Fleury relates, a Persian horseman let fly an arrow, which went through his arm, his ribs, and deep into the liver ; he tried to pull it out, and even wounded his fingers in the attempt, but could not succeed, and fell over his horse. He was borne off the field and some remedies applied, and he felt himself so much better that he called for his horse and arms again to renew the fight, but his strength failed him, and he died on the same night, the 26th of June, being only thirty-one years and six months old, and having reigned but one year and eight months after the death of Constantius. Thodoret and Sozymen relate that when he felt himself wounded he filled his hand with blood and threw it up towards heaven, exclaiming, " Galilean, thou hast conquered !" Theodoret likewise relates that St. Julian Saba the Solitary, while lamenting the threats uttered by Julian against the Church, suddenly turned to his disciples, with a serene and smiling countenance, and said to them, The wild boar which wasted the vineyard of the Lord is dead ! and when the news of Julian s death afterwards reached them they found that he died at the very hour the holy sage announced the fact to them. Cardinal Orsi quotes the authority of the Chronicle of Alexandria, which says that the horseman who executed the Divine vengeance on Julian was the martyr St. Mercurius, who, a hundred years previously suffered in the persecution of Decius, and that this was revealed in a heavenly vision to St. Basil (1).
(1) Fk ury, t. 2, /. 14 & 15 ; Thcocl. /. 3; Philost. c. 2.
52. On the very day of Julian s death the soldiers assembled and elected Jovian, the first among the Imperial guards, though he was not general of the army ; he was much beloved for his fine appearance and for his great valour, of which he gave frequent proofs during the war. When Jovian was elected Emperor, he said, As I am a Christian I cannot command idolaters, for the army cannot conquer without the assistance of God. Then all the soldiers cried out, Fear not, Emperor, you command Christians. Jovian was delighted with this answer. He accepted the truce for thirty years offered by the Persians, and was most zealous in favouring the Catholics, opposing both the Arians and Semi-Arians. He restored peace to the Church, but it was of but short duration, for he died eight months after his elevation to the Empire, in the 33rd year of his age. The generality of authors, following St. Jerome* attribute his death to want of caution in sleeping in a room in which a large quantity of charcoal was burned, to dry the walls which were newly plastered, and thus died one of the greatest champions of the Church (2).
(2) Orsicit. Theod. Fleury, loc. cit, ; St. Ilicron,Ep. 60.
53. O n the death of Jovian, Valentinian was elected by the army in 364. He was the son of Gratian, Prefect of the Pre- torium, and he was banished by Julian, because, being a Christian, he had struck the minister of the idols, who sprinkled him with lustral water. He was solicited by the army to elect a colleague, as the empire was attacked in various points by- the barbarians, so he chose his brother Yalens, declared him emperor, and divided the empire with him. Valentinian governed the West, when the Church enjoyed a profound peace, and Va- lens governed the East, where he kept up and even increased the dissensions already too rife there, and treated the Catholics with the greatest cruelty, as we shall shortly see.
54. Pope Liberius died in the year 366, and before his death had the consolation of receiving a deputation in Rome of several Oriental bishops, who were anxious to return to the unity of the Church. Liberius sat for fourteen years, and notwith standing the error he fell into by signing the formula of Sirmium, he is called a pontiff whose memory is in benediction by St. Basil, St. Epiphanius, and St. Ambrose. Orsi says that his name is found in some Greek Martyrologies, and that he was venerated by that Church as a saint, and Sandinus says that his name is still in the Martyrologies of Bede and of Wandelbert. St. Damasus, a man of great learning and sanctity, was elected Pope, at his death, but he was troubled for many years by the schism of Ursinus, commonly called Ursicinus, who sacri legiously got himself elected Pope at the same time (3).
(3) Sulpicius, 1. 5 ; Fleury & Orsi,
55. We now come to the reign of Valens, who was even a greater persecutor of the Church than Constantius. Eudosius, an Arian bishop, had a great influence over him, and, from his extraordinary anxiety to protect this bishop, he became a perse cutor of the Catholics. Before he set out to undertake the war against the Goths, he was baptized by Eudosius, and, just as he was receiving the Sacrament, the bishop made him swear that he would persecute and banish from the country all the defenders of the Catholic faith ; and Valens fulfilled this impious oath with dreadful exactness. The Arians, now strong in the Em peror s favour, began to maltreat the Catholics, and these, not being able to endure any longer the persecutions they were subjected to, deputed eighty ecclesiastics of great piety to go to Nicomedia, and implore Valens to put a stop to the violent measures of their enemies. Valens was outrageous at this pro ceeding, and commanded Modestes, Prefect of the Pretorium, to put them all privately to death. This impious order was barbarously obeyed by Modestes. He gave out that he was only sending them into banishment, lest the people should be incited to break out ; and he had them all put on board a ship, and the sailors were ordered, when they were a good distance from the land, so that no one could observe them, to set fire to the vessel, and leave them to perish. The order, cruel as it was, was obeyed the vessel was fired ; but the Almighty deranged all their plans, for a strong wind immediately sprung up, and blew the vessel on shore while it was still burning, and it was then finally consumed (4).
(4) Fleury, ibid ; Theod. /. 4, c. 24 ; cit. ; Sandinus; Vit, Pon. t. 1. Soz. L 6, c. 14; Soc. /. 4, c. 15.
56. Valens next sent many ecclesiastics of the Church of Edessa into exile. It is well known how he strove to banish St. Basil ; but the hand of the Lord miraculously prevented it, for when he was about to sign the sentence, the pen was broken in his hand, and his arm was paralyzed. He, likewise, persecuted the Catholic followers of St. Meletius, and banished them from the churches ; but these faithful Christians used to assemble at the foot of a mountain, and there, exposed to the winter s snow and rain, and the summer s sun, they praised God ; but even then he dispersed them, and few cities in the empire but had to deplore the tyranny of Valens, and the loss of their pastors. St. Gregory of Nyssa gives a sad description of the desolation caused by the tyrant in many provinces. When he came to Antioch he put a great many to the torture, and ordered a great many to be drowned, and sent off a very great multitude into exile, into Palestine, Arabia, Lybia, and many other pro vinces (5).
(5) Anctor. cit.
57. The holy solitaries of Syria and Egypt, by their lives and miracles, were the great upholders of the faith of the people, and were, on that account, particularly odious to Yalens. He, therefore, issued a decree, directed against those champions of the faith, obliging them to enrol themselves among his troops, intending to punish them severely in case of disobedience, and knowing well that they would not do as he ordained. Full scope was given by this to the Arians, to gratify their malignity, at the expense of these innocent men, and especially against the monks of St. Basil. Phontonius, who usurped the see of Nico- media, exercised horrible cruelties against the Catholics ; but even he was surpassed by Lucius, the pretended Bishop of Alexandria, who obtained possession of that see by cruelty, and retained it by the same means. When the law of Valens that the monks should bear arms was promulgated, Lucius left Alexandria, and, accompanied by the commander of the troops in Egypt, placed himself at the head of three thousand soldiers, and went to the deserts of Nitria, where he found the monks, not, indeed, prepared to fight, but to die for the love of Jesus Christ, and he put whole companies of them to death, but five thousand of them escaped his fury, and fled to a place of safety, and concealed themselves. Wearied out with killing and tor turing these holy men, Lucius now seized on their chiefs, Isidore, Heraclides, Macarius of Alexandria, and Macarius of Egypt, and banished them to a marshy island in Egypt, where all the inha bitants were idolaters ; but when they arrived at the shore, a child possessed by the devil was thrown at their feet, and the devil cried out " O, servants of the true God, why do you come to drive us from this place, which we have possessed so long." They prayed over the child, cast forth the devil, and restored the infant to his parents, and were received with the greatest joy hy the people, who threw down the old temple of the idols they previously adored, and hegan to build a church in honour of the true God. When the news of this transaction was told in Alexandria, the people all cried out against their impious bishop, Lucius, who, they said, was warring, not against man, but against God, and he was so terrified with the popular excitement, that he gave the solitaries permission to return again to their deserts (6).
(6) St. Hieron. Chron. ; St. Taulin. Ep. 29; Auetor. antea. cit.
58. Valens was overtaken by the Divine vengeance in 378. The Goths extended their ravages to the very gates of Constan tinople, and he was so lost to shame, that he thought of nothing all the while but enjoying himself in his capital. The people began to murmur loudly at this state of inaction, and he, at last, roused himself, and marched against the enemy. Theodoret relates, that, as he was leaving the city, a holy monk, called Isaac, who lived in the neighbourhood, thus addressed him : " Where are you going to, Emperor, after having made war against God ? Cease to war with the Almighty, and he will put an end to the war raging against you ; but should you not do so, mark my words, you will go to battle, but the vengeance of God will pursue you you will lose your army, and never return here again." "I will return," said Valens, in a rage, " and your life shall pay for your audacity ;" and he imme diately ordered that he should be sent to prison. The hermit s prophecy turned out too true. When Valens arrived in presence of the Goths, their king, Fritigern, sent him an embassy, asking for peace, and leave to establish himself and his people in Thraee. The Emperor rejected his offer ; and, on the 9th of August, 378, both armies were drawn up in front of each other, and Fritigern again made proposals of peace. But while the Romans were deliberating on their answer, the division of Bacurius, Prince of the Iberians, was attacked, and the battle became general ; and never, since the slaughter at Canne, did the Romans suffer such losses as on that day. When the night closed, Yalens mixed himself up with some of his soldiers and fled, thinking thus to conceal himself ; but he was wounded with an arrow, and fell from his horse, and was brought by his soldiers into the hut of a peasant by the way-side. He was scarcely there when a troop of Goths, looking for plunder, arrived, and, without knowing who was inside, endeavoured to break open the door ; but when they could not succeed at once in doing so, they set fire to the hut, and went away, and the unhappy Valens was burned alive in the fifteenth year of his reign and the fiftieth of his age. This was, as Orosius writes, a just judgment of God : the Goths asked Valens for some bishops, to instruct them in the Christian religion, and he sent them Arians, to infect the poor people with their impious heresy ; and so they were justly appointed afterwards, as ministers of the Divine justice, to punish him. On the death of Yalens, Gratian became master of the whole empire, and this good prince gave liberty to the Catholics of the East, and peace to the Church (7).
(7) Orsi, cit. ; St. Pros, in Chron.
59. We now have to treat of the persecution of the Catholics of Africa by Genseric, the Arian King of the Vandals. He com menced persecuting the Catholics in the year 437, with the intention of making Arianism the religion of all Africa, as St. Prosper writes. Immediately after conquering Carthage, he commenced a most cruel war against the Catholics, plundered the churches, and gave them as habitations to his vassals, after banishing the priests, and taking away the sacred vessels ; and, intending to have no religion but Arianism, he drove the bishops, not alone out of their churches, but out of the cities, and put many to death. He would not permit the Catholics, on the death of St. Deogratias, to elect another Bishop of Carthage, and he prohibited all ordinations in the province of Zeugitania, and in the Pro-consulate, where there were sixty -four bishoprics ; the effect of this order was, that, at the end of thirty years, there were only three bishops in the province, and two of these were banished, and the third fled to Edessa. Cardinal Orsi, following the historian of the Vandalic persecution, says that the number of martyrs was very great. The history of four brothers, in particular, slaves of one of Genseric s officers, is very interesting : These martyrs, finding it impossible to serve God according to their wishes in the house of their Vandal master, fled, and took refuge in a monastery near the city of Trabacca ; but their master never ceased till he found them out, and brought them back to his house, where he loaded them with chains, put them in prison, and never ceased to torture them. When Genseric heard of it, instead of blaming the master for his cruelty, he only encouraged him to continue it, and the tyrant beat them with branches of the palm tree to that pitch, that their bones and entrails were laid bare ; but, though this was done many days in succession, the following days they were always found miraculously healed. He next shut them up in a narrow prison, with their feet in stocks made of heavy timber ; but the beams of the instrument were broken in pieces, like twigs, the next day. When this was told to Genseric, he banished them to the territories of a Pagan king, in the deserts of Africa. The inhabitants of their place of exile were all Pagans, but these holy brothers became apostles among them, and converted a great number ; but, as they had no priest, some of them made their way to Rome, and the Pope yielded to their wishes, and sent a priest among them, who baptized a great number. When Genseric heard this, he ordered that each of the brothers should be tied to a car by the feet, and dragged through the woods till dead, and the barbarous sentence was executed. The very barbarians wept when they saw these innocent men thus torn to pieces, but they expired praying and praising God in the midst of their torments. They are commemorated in the Roman Martyrology, on the 14th of October (8).
(8) Fleury, /. 4; Baron. An. 437 & 456 ; Orsi, cit.
60. Genseric was daily becoming more inimical to the Church, and he sent a person called Proculus into the province of Zeugitania, to force the bishops to deliver up the holy Books and all the sacred vessels, with the intention of more easily under mining their faith, when deprived, as it were, of their arms. The bishops refused to give them up, and so the Vandals took every thing by force, and even stripped the cloths off the altars, and made shirts of them, but the Divine vengeance soon overtook Proculus, for he died raving mad, after eating away his own tongue. The Arians even frequently trampled the Holy Sacrament under their feet in the Catholic Church. When the Catholics were deprived of their church they secretly opened another in a retired place, but the Arians soon heard of it, and collecting a body of armed men under the leadership of one of their priests, they attacked the faithful in their church; some rushed in at the door, sword in hand, others mounted up to the roof with arrows, and killed a great many before the altar ; a great many took to flight, but they were afterwards put to death in various ways by order of Genseric. 61. Genseric next issued a decree, that no one should be admitted into his palace, or that of his son, unless he was an Arian, and then, as Victor Vitensis informs us, a person called Armogastes, who was in the court of Theodoric, one of the sons of Genseric, signalized himself for his constancy in the faith. Theodoric tried every means to make him apostatize, but in vain ; he first made him promises of preferment; he next threatened him, and he then subjected him to the most cruel torments. He had his head and legs bound with cords twisted with the greatest possible force; he then was hung up in the air by one leg, with his head down, and when all this could not shake his constancy, he ordered him to be beheaded. He knew, however, that Armogastes would be venerated as a martyr by the Catholics, if this sentence were carried into execution, so he changed the sentence, and compelled him to dig the earth, and tend a herd of cows. While Armogastes was one day engaged in this humble employment under a tree, he begged a friend, a Christian of the name of Felix, to bury him after his death at the foot of that tree ; he died in a few days after ; and when his friend, in compliance with his request, set about digging his grave, he found in the spot a marble tomb, beautifully finished, and there he buried him. The name of St. Armogastes is marked in the Roman Martyrology on the 29th of March, and Archiminus and Saturus, who suffered likewise, are commemorated with him. Genseric used every artifice with Archiminus to cause him to apostatize, but when he could not shake his faith, he gave orders that he should be beheaded; but there was a private condition annexed ; that was, that if he showed any symptoms of fear, the sentence should be executed ; but if no terror could be remarked on him at the moment, that his life should be spared, lest he should be venerated as a martyr by the Catholics. He awaited death with the greatest intrepidity, and he was, consequently, spared. Saturus was in thejservice of Hunneric, the king s eldest son, and he was threatened with confiscation of his entire property, if he did not become an Arian; he yielded neither to the threats of the tyrant, or to the tears of his wife, who came to see him one day with his four children, and threw herself weeping at his feet, and embracing his knees, besought him to have pity on her and her poor children; but Saturus, unmoved, said; my "dear wife, if you loved me you would not tempt me to send myself to hell ; they may do with me as they please, but I will never forget the words of my Divine Master, that no one can be his disciple, unless he leaves all things to follow him. He thus remained firm, and he was despoiled of every thing. Genseric died at length, in the year 477, the fiftieth of his reign over the Vandals, 1 ; and forty- nine years after his landing in Africa. He made Hunneric heir to his kingdom, and settled the succession so that the oldest decendant of his, in the male line, should always be king.
62. Hunneric, in the beginning of his reign, reigned with clemency, but he soon showed the innate cruelty of his disposition, and he commenced with his own relatives. He put to death his brother Theodoric, and his young child, and he would likewise have put his other brother, Genton, out of the way, only he:had the good fortune to be forewarned, and saved himself. He now began to persecute the Catholics ; he commanded the holy bishop Eugenius, that he should not preach any more, and that he should allow no one, either man or woman, into the church. The saint answered that the church was open for all, and that he had no power to prohibit any one from entering. Hunneric then placed executioners at the door of the church, with clubs stuck over with spikes, and these tore off not only the hair but even the scalp of the persons who went in, and such violence was used that some lost their sight, and even some lost their lives. He sent away noblemen into the fields to reap the corn ; one of these had a withered hand, so that he could not work, but he was still obliged to go, and by the prayers of his companions, the Almighty restored him the use of it. He published a decree that no one should be allowed to serve in the palace, or hold any public employment, if he were not an Arian ; and those who refused obedience to this iniquitous order, were despoiled of their properties, and banished into Italy and Sardinia; he likewise ordered that all the property of the Catholic bishops should go to the Crown after their death, and that no successor could be consecrated to any deceased bishop, until he paid five hundred golden crowns. He had all the nuns collected together, and caused them to be tormented with burning plates of iron, and to be be hung up with great weights to their feet, to force them to accuse the bishops and priests of having had criminal intercourse with them ; many of them died in these torments, and those who survived, having their skin burned up, were crooked all their lives after.
63. He banished to the desert, between bishops, priests, deacons, and lay people, altogether four thousand nine hundred and seventy-six Catholics, and many among them were afflicted with gout, and many blind with age ; Felix, of Abbitirus, a bishop, was for forty-four years paralyzed, and deprived of all power of moving, and even speechless. The Catholic bishops, not knowing how to bring him along with them, begged of the King to allow him to wear out the few days he had to live, in Carthage ; but the barbarian answered : if he cannot go on horseback let him be tied with a rope, and dragged on by oxen ; and they were obliged to carry him, thrown across a mule, like a log of wood. In the com mencement of their journey they had some little liberty, but in a little while they were treated with the greatest cruelty ; they were shut up together in a very narrow prison, no one allowed to visit them, crowded together one almost over the other, and no egress allowed for a moment, so that the state of the prison soon became horribly infectious; and, as Victor the historian relates, no torment could equal what they suffered up to their knees in the most horrible filth, and there alone could they sit down, sleep, and eat the little quantity of barley given to them for food, without any preparation, as if they were horses. At length they were taken out of that prison, or rather sink, and conveyed to their destination ; the aged, and those who were too weak to walk, were driven on with blows of stones, and prodded with lances, and when nature failed them, and they could not move on any longer, the Moors tied them by the feet, and dragged them on through stones and briars, as if they were carcases of beasts, and thus an immense number of them died, leaving the road covered with their blood.
64. In the year 483, according to Floury and N. Alexander, Hunneric, wishing to destroy Catholicity altogether in Africa, commanded that there should be a conference held in Carthage between the Catholics and the Arians. The bishops, not alone of Africa, but of the Islands subject to the Vandals, assembled there, but as Cyril, the Arian Patriarch, dreaded that his sect would be ruined by the conference, it did not take place. The King was now highly incensed against the Catholics, and he privately sent an edict to all the provinces, while he had the bishops in Carthage, and on one and the same day all the churches of Africa were closed, and all the property belonging both to the churches and the Catholic bishops was given over to the Arians, following in that the decree, laid down for the punishment of heretics in the laws of the Emperors. This barbarous decree was put into execution, and the bishops, despoiled of all they possessed, were driven out of Carthage, and all persons were ordered to give them neither food nor shelter, under pain of being burned themselves, and their houses along with them. Uunneric, at last, in the year 484, after committing so many acts of tyranny, and killing so many Catholics, closed his reign and his life by a most horrible death he died rotten, and eaten up alive by a swarm of worms ; all his entrails fell out, and he tore his own flesh in a rage with his teeth, so that he was even buried in pieces. He was not altogether eight years on the throne when he died, and he had not even the satisfaction to leave the throne to his son Hilderic, for whom he had committed such slaughter in his family, because, according to the will of his father, Genseric, the crown descended to Guntamond, the son of his brother Genton ; and he was succeeded, in 496, by Trasamond, who endeavoured to extirpate Catholicity totally in Africa, about the year 504. Among his other acts, he banished two hundred and twenty-four bishops, and among them was the glorious St. Fulgentius. On the death of Trasamond, in 523, he was succeeded by Hilderic, a prince, as Procopius writes, affable to his subjects, and of a mild disposition. This good King, Graveson tells us, was favourable to the Catholic Religion, and he recalled St. Fulgentius and the other exiled bishops, and granted the free exercise of their religion to all the Catholics of his kingdom ; but in the year 530, he was driven out of his kingdom by Glimere, an Arian, and then it was that the Emperor Justinian, to revenge his intimate friend, Hilderic, declared war against Glimere ; and his general, Belisarius, having conquered Carthage and the principal cities, and subjected all Africa once more to the Roman Emperor, the Arians were banished, and the churches restored to the Catholics (10).
(10) Fleury, Orsi, Nal. /. con; Graveson, His. Eccles. t. 3, Procopius, /. 1, cle Bellow. Vand.
65. There were other persecutions by the Arians, after the death of Hunneric. Theodoric, King of Italy, and son of Theo- domire, King of the Ostrogoths, was also an Arian, and persecuted the Catholics till his death, in the year 526. He ought, however, to be lauded for always keeping in his employment honest and learned ministers. One of them was the great Boetius, a man of profound learning, and a true Christian ; but through the envy of his calumniators, he was cast into prison by his sovereign, and after being kept there a long time, was, at last, without being given an opportunity of defending himself, put to death in horrible torments, his head being tied round with a cord, and that twisted till his eyes leaped out of their sockets. Thus died Boetius, the great prop of the faith in that age, in the year 524, and the fifty-fifth of his age. Theodoric likewise put to death Symmachus, a man of the highest character, in a most barbarous manner ; and his crime was, that he was son-in-law to Boetius, and the tyrant dreaded that he would conspire against his kingdom. He also caused the death of the holy Pope John, in prison, by privations and starvation, and this holy man is venerated since in the Church as a martyr. Some inculpate this pontiff, for having induced the pious Emperor, Justin, to restore the churches to the Arians, but others deny his having done so. Cardinal Orsi says, that a great deal of obscurity hangs over the transactions of this age ; but, taking the anonymous commentator on Valesius as a guide, he does not think that the Pope obtained the restitution to the Arians of all their churches, but only of such as they were already in possession of, or such as were deserted, and not consecrated ; and that he did this only that Theodoric might rest satisfied with this arrangement, and leave the Catholics in possession of their churches, and not turn them out, and give them up to the Arians, as it was feared he would. But Noel Alexander, Baronius, and Orsi himself and with these Berti agrees say, with more likelihood, that St. John refused to solicit the Emperor, at all, for the restitution of the churches to the Arians, and that this is proved from his second epistle to the Italian Bishops, in which he tells them, that he consecrated, and caused to be restored to the Catholics in the East, all the churches in possession of the Arians ; and, it was on that account that he was put into prison by Theodoric, on his return to Italy, and died there on the 27th of May, 526, worn out with sufferings.
66. Theodoric, not satisfied with those acts of tyranny, as the above-mentioned anonymous writer informs us, published an edict on the 26th of August, giving to the Arians all the Catholic churches ; but God, at length, had pity on the faithful, and he removed him by a sudden death. A dreadful flux brought him to death s door in three days ; and on the very Sunday in which his decree was to be put into execution, he lost his power and his life. A cotemporaneous historian gives a curious account of the beginning of his sickness. He was going to supper, and the head of a big fish was placed before him ; he immediately imagined that he saw the head of Symmachus, whom he had a little before put to death, and that it threatened him with eyes of fury. He was dreadfully alarmed ; and, seized with sudden terror, he took to his bed, and told his physician, Elpidius, what he imagined ; he then regretted sincerely his cruelty to Boetius and Symmachus, and between agitation of mind, and the racking of his bowels, he was soon dead. St. Gregory writes, that a certain hermit, in the island of Lipari, saw him in a vision after his death, bare footed, and stripped of all his ornaments, between St. John and Symmachus, and that they brought him to the neighbouring Volcano, and cast him into the burning crater.
67. Leovigild, king of the Visigoths, in Spain, was likewise an Arian ; he had two sons by his first wife, Ilermcngild and Rcccarede, and he married a second time, Goswind, the widow of another King of the Visigoths. He married his son Hermengild to Ingonda, who was a Catholic, and refused to allow herself to be baptized by the Arians, as her mother-in-law Goswind, herself an Arian, wished. Not being able to induce her, by fair means, to consent, Goswind seized her one day by the hair, threw her on the ground, kicked her, and covered her over with blood, and then stripped her violently, and threw her into a fountain of water, to re-baptize her by force ; but nothing could induce her to change her faith, and she even converted her husband Hermengild. When Leovigild heard this, he commenced a perse cution against the Catholics ; many were exiled, and their pro perties confiscated ; others were beaten, imprisoned, and stoned to death, or put out of the way by other cruelties. Seven bishops were also banished, and the churches were deprived of their possessions. Hermengild was cast into prison by his father, and, at the festival of Easter, an Arian bishop came to give him communion, but he refused to receive it from his hand, and sent him off as a heretic ; his father then sent the executioners to put him to death, and one of them split open his head with a hatchet. This took place in the year 586, and this holy prince has been since venerated as a martyr.
68. The impious Leovigild did not long survive his son ; he deeply regretted having put him to death ; and, as St. Gregory tells us, was convinced of the truth of the Catholic religion, but had not the grace to embrace it, as he dreaded the vengeance of his people. Fleury, nevertheless, quotes many authorities to prove that Leovigild spent a week before his death, deploring the crimes he committed, and that he died a Catholic in the year 587, the eighteenth of his reign. He left the kingdom to his son Reccarede, who became a Catholic, and received the sacrament of Confirmation in the Catholic church; and such was his zeal for the faith, that he induced the Arian bishops, and the whole nation of the Visigoths, to embrace it, and deposed from his employment, and cashiered from his army, all heretics. The beginning of his reign was thus the end of the Arian heresy in Spain, where it reigned from the conquest of that country by the barbarians, an hundred and eighty years before, in the beginning of the fifth century ; and when the Emperor Justinian, by the victories of Belisarius, became master of Africa, about the year 535 (chap. 4, No. 64), the Catholic faith was also re-established. The Burgundians, in Gaul, forsook the Arian heresy under the reign of Sigismund, the son and successor of King Gontaband, who died in 516. Sigismund was converted to the faith in 515, by St. Avitus, Bishop of Vienne. The Lombards in Italy abandoned Arianism, and embraced the Catholic faith under their King, Bimbert, in 660, and have since remained faithful to the Church. Danaeus thus concludes his essay on the heresy of the Arians : " This dreadful hydra, the fruitful parent of so many evils, was then extinguished, but after the lapse of about nine hundred years, in about the year 1530, was again revived in Poland and Transylvania, by modern Arians and Antitrinitarians, who, falling from bad to worse, have become far worse than the ancient Arians, and are confounded with Deists and Socinians "(11).
THE HISTORY OF HERESIES, AND THEIR REFUTATION.ST. ALPHONSUS M. LIGUORI