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Historical region of Country

DIONYSIUS of Alexandria d. ca. 265. We know almost nothing of Dionysius’s life prior to his election as bishop of Alexandria in 248. A phrase from one of his letters seems to indicate that he was well off and had a brilliant civil career before entering the clergy Euseb., HE 7, 11,18; his writings also show that he was educated. Eusebius says HE 6, 29,47 that he was a disciple of Origen, and that before succeeding Heraclas as bishop, he had succeeded him as head of the city’s catechetical school. Whereas Eusebius artificially reconstructs a succession of teachers for the period before Origen, Angola Subway Map for the period after him, given the multiple attestations concerning the catechetical school and its teachers, a skepticism in principle does not seem to be warranted; the school therefore continued at least until Dionysius.

Events become clearer after his promotion to the episcopate. During the same year a persecution broke out against the Christians in the city, followed in 249 by a civil war and an epidemic; Dionysius, hidden within the city, described the events in various letters. Decius became emperor shortly thereafter September 249 and issued an edict ordering all citizens to sacrifice to the empire’s gods. Dionysius then left Alexandria to hide in Mareotis, then in the Libyan desert.

This flight would cost him like Cyprian an attack by the martyrs, a fact which explains his position in the subsequent controversies. In March 251 two rival bishops were elected at Rome: Cornelius, accused of having bought a certificate of sacrifice libellus instead of confessing the faith, and Novatian, who preached severity against those who had been weak in confessing the faith during the persecution; Dionysius declared at once for Cornelius. Another controversy broke out between Cornelius’s second successor Stephen 254 257 and Cyprian of Carthage over the way of readmitting Christians baptized by the Novatianists to the church: Stephen, more benevolent toward the Novatianists, was content with the imposition of hands, whereas Cyprian considered their baptism null, rebaptizing them. Informed by Cyprian, Dionysius took his side in the many letters he sent to Rome under Stephen and his successor Sixtus II 257 258.

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