Eusebius of Nicomedia

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Eusebius of Nicomedia (died 341) was the man who baptised Constantine. He was a bishop of Berytus (modern-day Beirut) in Phoenicia, then of Nicomedia where the imperial court resided in Bithynia, and finally of Constantinople from 338 up to his death.


Influence in the Imperial family and the Imperial court

Distantly related to the imperial family of Constantine, he not only owed his removal from an insignificant to the most important episcopal see to his influence at court, but the great power he wielded in the Church was derived from that source. In fact, during his time in the Imperial court, the Eastern court and the major positions in the Eastern Church were held by Arians or Arian sympathizers.[1] With the exception of a short period of eclipse, he enjoyed the complete confidence both of Constantine and Constantius II and was the tutor of the later Emperor Julian the Apostate; and it was he who baptized Constantine the Great on May 22, 337.[2] Also during his time in the Imperial court, Arianism became more popular with the Royal family.[3] It can be logically surmised that Eusebius had a huge hand in the acceptance of Arianism in the Constantinian household. The Arian influence grew so strong during his tenure in the Imperial court that it wasn't until the end of the Constantinian dynasty and the appointment of Theodosius I that Arianism lost its influence in the Empire.[4]

It was of particular interest that Eusebius was nearly persecuted because of his close relationship to the Emperor Licinius while serving as Bishop of Nicomedia during Licinius' reign.

Relations with Arius

Like Arius, he was a pupil of Lucian of Antioch, and it is probable that he held the same views as Arius from the very beginning; he was also one of Arius' most fervent supporters who encouraged Arius.[5] It was also because of this relationship that he was the first person whom Arius contacted after the latter was excommunicated from Alexandria by Alexander.[6] Apparently, Arius and Eusebius were close enough and Eusebius powerful enough that Arius was able to put his theology down in writing.[7] He afterward modified his ideas somewhat, or perhaps he only yielded to the pressure of circumstances; but he was, if not the teacher, at all events the leader and organizer, of the Arian party.

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