St Eusebius of Vercelli

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Bishop. Born in Sardina in the fourth century, to a Christian family who had suffered persecution for their faith, St Eusebius grew up in Rome, became a priest there and was named bishop of Vercelli in Piedmont in 340. During the early years of his episcopate he lived with his priests in an organised community - possibly the first bishop to do so.

His troubles began when he refused to condemn the great theologian Athanasius, who stood up against the Arian heresy that claimed Jesus could not have been God and man. The Emperor Constantius banished him for refusing to sign a document condemning Athanasius. For the next six years Eusebius lived in exile in Palestine, Asia Minor and Egypt, suffering much ill-treatment from those in charge of him. On one occasion he went on a four day hunger strike in protest.

After his release in 361 he visited Alexandria and Antioch in an attempt to reconcile opposing groups there. He then returned to Italy where he joined St Hilary of Poitier in the fight against Arianism. His last years were spent peacefully and he died at Vercelli in 370.

Several of his letters survive. Many scholars think he helped to write the Athanasian Creed which had a great influence on Christianity for many centuries.

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