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Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume V: May. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.

May 26

St. Quadratus, Bishop of Athens, Confessor

HE was a disciple of the apostles, inherited their spirit and gifts, and by his miracles and labours exceedingly propagated the faith, as Eusebius 1 testified; who calls him a divine man, and assures us that he was endued with an eminent gift of prophecy, and was one of those by whom the Holy Ghost continued to work the same miracles as by the apostles. St. Publius, the immediate successor of St. Dionysius the Areopagite, being crowned with martyrdom under Adrian in the year 125, St. Quadratus was placed in that episcopal chair. By his qualifications in polite literature, he was esteemed by the heathens as a great ornament to their city, then the seat of the muses; and by his zeal and piety he assembled the faithful together, whom the terrors of the persecution had scattered, and rekindled the fire of their faith, which had begun in many to be extinguished, says St. Jerom. The Emperor Adrian passed the winter at Athens in 124, and was initiated in the mysteries of the goddess Eleusina. 2 The persecution which then raged grew much sharper on the occasion of this superstitious festival. 3 St. Quadratus thirsting after martyrdom, wrote an apology for our holy faith, which he presented to that emperor some time after the martyrdom of St. Publius, and his own exaltation to the episcopal dignity, consequently in 126. St. Jerom testifies, that this performance procured him the highest applause, even among the heathens, and that it extinguished a violent persecution. 4 He calls it, a very profitable book, and worthy the apostolical doctrine, &c. Eusebius tells us, that it was an excellent monument of the talents and apostolical faith of the author. On which account its loss is much to be regretted. In a fragment of this work, preserved us by Eusebius, St. Quadratus shows the difference between the impostures of magicians, and the true miracles of Christ, and that the former were false, but the latter real, because they were permanent. “But as to the miracles of our Saviour,” says he, “they always remained, because they were real and true. The sick cured, and the dead by him raised did not only appear restored, but they remained so both whilst Christ was on earth and long after he was departed, so that some of them have come down to our time.” See Eusebius, Hist. b. 3, c. 37, b. 4. ch. 3, b. 5, ch. 10. St. Jerom, Catal. c. 19, et ep. 84. Tillemont, t. 2, p. 253. Grabe, Spicileg. Patr. Præf. in fragm. Quadrati.  1
Note 1. Hist. b. 3, c. 37. [back]
Note 2. The Eleusinia were secret rites performed in the night in honour of the goddess Eleusina or Ceres, very ancient at Athens, from whence they were afterwards spread over the whole Roman empire, and beyond its boundaries. Bishop Warburton, by an express dissertation, shows at length that these mysteries were instituted at Athens to propagate among the great men of the republic the doctrines of a providence governing men’s actions and all events, and of a future state of reward and punishment after death, of which these rites contained several remarkable symbols, though blended with idolatrous superstitions. Into these, as into other secret rites of idolatry, wicked men at last introduced the basest crimes of lust and revenge. The Cretans performed these same rites in public, which others held most secret; on which account they were detested by the Athenians, and in execration of their treachery in bringing to light their hidden mysteries, branded with the odious name of eternal liars. When the Emperor Valentinian I. forbade the celebration of all nocturnal rites and sacrifices, Prætextatus, the proconsul of Greece, obtained of him that the Eleusinian mysteries should be excepted by this remonstrance, that without them the people would lead [Greek] comfortless, lifeless life, because these rites were the symbols of a future state; and the life of man is, without the comfort and support of these doctrines, no better than a living death. See also Meursius’s Dissertation on these rites; and Banier, Mythology, Entret. 8, t. 2, p. 44. For a full description of these mysteries of Ceres or Eleusina, which were beyond all contradiction the most eminent of all the ancient Pagan festivals and religious rites, see the Roman history of Catrou and Rouille, by Bundy, vol. 4, p. 10. [back]
Note 3. The Emperor Adrian published no new edicts against the Christians, as appears from St. Melito (apud Eus. l. 4, c. 26,) and Tertullian, (Apol. c. 5,) and though he was moved by suspicion, jealousy, and envy, to commit several acts of cruelty, he affected always to appear generous, mild, open, gentle, and affable. His learning was various and extensive, and he was excessively curious and inquisitive; but betrayed a great weakness and folly in the choice of his studies. He pried into all the magical arts, and was initiated into all the Pagan mysteries of Greece. Julian, in his Cæsars, justly banters him for his pragmatical disposition, little thinking that he was drawing his own picture more than that of his predecessor. If he had no particular hatred against the Christians, at least he suffered the magistrates to persecute them at discretion; and judged with his predecessor Trajan, that their inflexibility in refusing to conform with the established worship of idols deserved chastisement. He himself condemned to death St. Symphorosa, her seven sons, and several others; and Sulpicius Severus and modern ecclesiastical historians reckon his the fourth persecution of the church; which St. Jerom calls exceedingly violent, who adds, that his superstitious initiation in the Eleusinian rites gave occasion to those who hated the faith to redouble their rage against its professors, but that the apology which Quadratus presented to him, moved him to restore peace to the church. (Hierom. in Catal. c. 19.) Adrian accordingly gave a rescript to Minucius Fundanus, proconsul of Asia, in favour of the Christians, though in ambiguous terms, that he might not exasperate the bigoted idolaters. The Christian apologists frequently appealed to it, and it is extant in Eusebius, (l. 4, c. 19,) and at the end of St. Justin’s great Apology. Lampridius, a Pagan historian, says, that “The Emperor Alexander Severus, designed to erect a temple to Christ, and to enrol him among the gods; which Adrian is reported to have formerly intended, who commanded temples without images to be erected in all the cities, which, because they have no gods, are to this day called Adrian’s temples. But he (Alexander) was deterred by those who, consulting the gods, found, that if that project was executed, all would become Christians, and the other temples would be abandoned.” However, this mild prince honoured the image of Christ among his private household gods; yet had not the happiness to attain to his faith. The conversion of princes meets often with great obstacles from their interest and various ties which bind them down to the world. [back]
Note 4. Hieron. ep. 84. [back]