By Socrates Scholasticus
(Ecclesiastical History, Bk. 7, Chs. 40-45, 48)
Chapter 40. Proclus succeeds Maximian as Bishop of Constantinople.
Maximian, having peacefully governed the church during two years and five months, died on the 12th of April, in the consulate of Areobindus and Aspar. This happened to be on the fifth day of the week of fasts which immediately precedes Easter. The day of the week was Thursday. Then the Emperor Theodosius wishing to prevent the disturbances in the church which usually attend the election of a bishop, made a wise provision for this affair; for in order that there might be no dispute again about the choice of a bishop and tumult thus arise, without delaying, before the body of Maximian was interred, he directed the bishops who were then in the city to place Proclus in the episcopal chair. For he had received already letters from Caelestinus bishop of Rome approving of this election, which he had forwarded to Cyril of Alexandria, John of Antioch, and Rufus of Thessalonica; in which he assured them that there was no impediment to the translation to another see, of a person who had been nominated and really was the bishop of some one church. Proclus, being thus invested with the bishopric, performed the funeral obsequies of Maximian: but it is now time briefly to give some account of him also.
Chapter 41. Excellent Qualities of Proclus.
Proclus was a reader at a very early age, and assiduously frequenting the schools, became devoted to the study of rhetoric. On attaining manhood he was in the habit of constant intercourse with Atticus the bishop, having been constituted his secretary. When he had made great progress, his patron promoted him to the rank of deacon; subsequently being elevated to the presbyterate, as we have before stated, he was ordained by Sisinnius to be bishop of Cyzicus. But all these things were done long before. At this time he was allotted the episcopal chair of Constantinople. He was a man of moral excellence equal to any other; for having been trained by Atticus, he was a zealous imitator of all that bishop's virtues. Patience, however, he exercised to a greater degree than his master, who occasionally practiced severities upon the heretics; for Proclus was gentle towards everybody, being convinced that kindness is far more effective than violence in advancing the cause of truth. Resolving therefore to vexatiously interfere with no heresy whatever, he restored in his own person to the church that mild and benign dignity of character, which had so often before been unhappily violated. In this respect he followed the example of the Emperor Theodosius; for as the latter had determined never to exercise his imperial authority against criminals, so had Proclus likewise purposed not to disquiet those who entertained other sentiments on divine subjects than those which he cherished himself.
Chapter 42. Panegyric of the Emperor Theodosius Younger.
For these reasons the emperor had the highest esteem for Proclus. For in fact he himself was a pattern to all true clergymen, and never approved of those who attempted to persecute others. Nay I may venture to affirm, that in meekness he surpassed all those who have ever faithfully borne the sacerdotal office. And what is recorded of Moses in the book of Numbers, Numbers 12:3 'Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth' — may most justly be applied at this day; for the Emperor Theodosius is 'meek above all the men which are upon the face of the earth.' It is because of this meekness that God subdued his enemies without martial conflicts, as the capture of the usurper John, and the subsequent discomfiture of the barbarians clearly demonstrate. For the God of the universe has afforded this most devout emperor in our times supernatural aid of a similar kind to what was vouchsafed to the righteous heretofore. I write not these things from adulation, but truthfully narrate facts such as everybody can attest.
Chapter 43. Calamities of the Barbarians who had been the Usurper John's Allies.
After the death of the usurper, the barbarians whom he had called to his assistance against the Romans, made preparations for ravaging the Roman provinces. The emperor being informed of this, immediately, as his custom was, committed the management of the matter to God; and continuing in earnest prayer, he speedily obtained what he sought; for it is worth while to give attention to disasters which befell the barbarians. For their chief, whose name was Rougas, was struck dead with a thunderbolt. Then a plague followed which destroyed most of the men who were under him: and as if this was not sufficient, fire came down from heaven, and consumed many of the survivors. This filled the barbarians with the utmost terror; not so much because they had dared to take up arms against a nation of such valor as the Romans possessed, as that they perceived them to be assisted by a mighty God. On this occasion, Proclus the bishop preached a sermon in the church in which he applied a prophecy out of Ezekiel to the deliverance effected by God in the late emergency, and was in consequence much admired. This is the language of the prophecy:
'And thou, son of man, prophesy against Gog the prince of Rhos, Mosoch, and Thobel. For I will judge him with death, and with blood, and with overflowing rain, and with hail-stones. I will also rain fire and brimstone upon him, and upon all his bands, and upon many nations that are with him. And I will be magnified, and glorified, and I will be known in the eyes of many nations: and they shall know that I am the Lord.'
This application of the prophecy was received with great applause, as I have said, and enhanced the estimation in which Proclus was held. Moreover the providence of God rewarded the meekness of the emperor in various other ways, one of which was the following.
Chapter 44. Marriage of the Emperor Valentinian with Eudoxia the Daughter of Theodosius.
He had by the empress Eudocia, his wife, a daughter named Eudoxia. Her his cousin Valentinian, appointed by him emperor of the West, demanded for himself in marriage. When the emperor Theodosius had given his assent to this proposal, and they had consulted with each other as to the place on the frontiers of both empires, where it would be desirable that the marriage should be celebrated, it was decided that both parties should go to Thessalonica (which is about half-way) for this purpose. But Valentinian sent a message to the effect that he would not give him the trouble of coming, for that he himself would go to Constantinople. Accordingly, having secured the Western parts with a sufficient guard, he proceeded there on account of his nuptials, which were celebrated in the consulate of Isidore and Sinator; after which he returned with his wife into the West. This auspicious event took place at that time.
Chapter 45. The Body of John Chrysostom transferred to Constantinople, and placed in the Church of the Apostles by the Emperor at the Instigation of Proclus.
Not long after this, Proclus the bishop brought back to the Church those who had separated themselves from it on account of Bishop John's deposition, he having soothed the irritation by a prudent expedient. What this was we must now recount. Having obtained the emperor's permission, he removed the body of John from Comana, where it was buried, to Constantinople, in the thirty-fifth year after his deposition. And when he had carried it in solemn procession through the city, he deposited it with much honor in the church termed The Apostles. By this means the admirers of that prelate were conciliated, and again associated in communion with the [catholic] Church. This happened on the 27th of January, in the sixteenth consulate of the Emperor Theodosius. But it astonishes me that envy, which has been vented against Origen since his death, has spared John. For the former was excommunicated by Theophilus about two hundred years after his decease; while the latter was restored to communion by Proclus in the thirty-fifth year after his death! So different was Proclus from Theophilus. And men of observation and intelligence cannot be deceived in reference to how these things were done and are continually being done.
Chapter 48. Thalassius is ordained Bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia.
About this same time, under the seventeenth consulate of Theodosius, Proclus the bishop undertook the performance of an act, such as no one among the ancients had done. Firmus bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia being dead, the inhabitants of that place came to Constantinople to consult Proclus about the appointment of a bishop. While Proclus was considering whom he should prefer to that see, it so happened that all the senators came to the church to visit him on the sabbath day; among whom was Thalassius also, a man who had administered the government of the nations and cities of Illyricum. And as it was reported that the emperor was about to entrust the government of the Eastern parts to him, Proclus laid his hands on him, and ordained him bishop of Caesarea, instead of Praetorian Prefect.