Arius and the Arian Heresy

Arius, a priest from Alexandria in Egypt, denied the divinity of Jesus Christ. He said: he is not eternal as the Father; he was not begotten, but made. Jesus Christ, according to Arius, is not the incarnate Word of God, true God and true Man, as it has been taught by the Church since the beginning of the evangelization of the Apostles and the texts inspired on the Sacred Scriptures.

The heresy didn’t take long to spread throughout the East, causing strong reactions in the hierarchy, in the church, in the monasteries and among the people of God.

In 325 A.D., the Council of Nicaea defined authoritatively the Catholic doctrine on the controversial issues and reaffirmed the faith in Jesus Christ, the only-begotten, not made, son of God, consubstantial with the Father; through Him all things were made in heaven and on earth.

Later some bishops expressed their disagreement with the Council document, thereby giving rise to a vast movement of heretical currents, supported by the Emperor Costantius who regarded himself as bishop of bishops even though he was a simple catechumen.

In the West the name of Eusebius of Vercelli was well known by those staunch defenders of the Catholic doctrine against the Arians.

In 353 A.D.,
Pope Liberius considered it necessary to convene a council to be held in the West; the emperor consented the celebration to be held in the city of Arles, France, where he lived. There the bishops of the emperor’s court prevented the discussions and imposed the condemnation of Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria in Egypt, indomitable confessor of the doctrine defined in Nicaea, contradicted by the emperor who considered him a personal enemy. Saint Paulinus was the only one who did not accept that imposition and was soon sent to exile in Phrygia, where he died.

A crowd of the emperor’s officials spread through the provinces of Italy to impose the bishops who had been absent in Arles, to subscribe the condemnation of Athanasius.

Eusebius left immediately the city of Vercelli to take refuge, with some disciples, on the hills of Crea in order to avoid the imperial imposition, and when the threat was over, he returned home.

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