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A titular metropolitan see of Thracia Secunda. The city was founded by Philip of Macedon in 342 B. C. on the site of the legendary Eumolpins. As he sent thither 2000 culprits in addition to the colony of veterans, the town was for some time known as Poniropolis as well as by its official designation. During Alexander's expedition, the entire country fell again under the sway of Seuthes III, King of the Odrysians, and it was only in 313 that the Hellenic supremacy was re-established by Lysimachus. In 200 B. C. the Thracians, for a brief interval it is true, drove back the Macedonian garrisons; later they passed under the protectorate and afterwards the domination of Rome in the time of Tiberius, The city was now called Trimontium, but only for a very short time (Pliny, "Hist. Nat.", IV, xviii). From the reign of Septimius Severus, Philippopolis bears the title of metropolis on coins and in inscriptions. It was there that the conventus of Thrace assembled. In 172 Marcus Aurelius fortified the city with walls; in 248 Philip granted it the title of colony, two years before its destruction by the Goths, who slaughtered 100,000 men there (Ammianus Marcellinus, XXVI, x). Restored again, it became the metropolis of Thracia Secunda.
The exact date of the establishment of Christianity in this town is unknown; the oldest testimony, quite open to criticism, however, is in connexion with thirty-seven martyrs, whose feast is celebrated on 20 August, and who are said to have been natives of Philippopolis, though other towns of Thrace are frequently given as their native place. In 344 was held at Philippopolis the conciliabulum of the Eusebians, which brought together 76 bishops separated from their colleagues of Sardica, or Sofia, and adversaries of St. Athanasius and his friends. Among its most celebrated ancient metropolitans is Silvanus, who asked the Patriarch Proclus to transfer him to Troas on account of the severity of the climate, and whose name was inserted by Baronius in the Roman Martyrology for 2 December. Philippopolis, which from the fifth century at the latest was the ecclesiastical metropolis of Thracia Secunda and dependent on the Patriarchate of Constantinople, had three suffragan bishoprics in the middle of the seventh century (Gelzer, "Ungedruckte . . . Texte der Notitiæ episcopatuum", 542); in the tenth century it had ten (ibid., 577); towards the end of the fifteenth century it had none (ibid.). The Greek metropolitan see has continued to exist, in spite of the occupation of the Bulgarians. The latter, however, have erected there an orthodox metropolitan see of their own. Though generally held by the Byzantines Philippopolis was often captured by other peoples - Huns, Avars, Slavs, Bulgarians, and the Franks who retained it from 1204 till 1235. It was taken by the Turks in 1370 and finally came under the sway of the Bulgarians in 1885. By transporting thither on several occasions Armenian and Syrian colonists, the Byzantines made it an advanced fortress to oppose the Bulgarians; unfortunately these colonists were nearly all Monophysites and especially Paulicians, so the city became the great centre of Manichæism in the Middle Ages. These heretics converted by the Capuchins in the seventeenth century have become fervent Catholics of the Latin rite. The city called Plovdif in Bulgarian contains at present 47,000 inhabitants, of whom about 4000 are Catholics. The Greeks and Turks are fairly numerous; the Catholic parish is in charge of secular priests; there is a seminary, which however has only from 20 to 25 students. The Assumptionists, who number about 30, have had since 1884 a college with a commercial department, attended by 250 pupils; the primary school for boys was established in 1863 by the Assumptionist Sisters; the Sisters of St. Joseph have a boarding-school and a primary school for girls; the Sisters of Charity of Agram have an hospital.
LE QUIEN, Oriens. christ., I, 1155-62; TSOUKALAS, Description historico-géographique de l'éparchie de Philippopolis (Vienna, 1851), in Greek; MÜLLER, Ptolemœi Geographia, I (Paris), 483; JIRECEK, Das Fürstenthum Bulgarien (Prague, 1891), 378-87; DUPUY-PÉYOU, La Bulgarie aux Bulgares (Paris, 1896), 142-8, 291-8; Revue franco-bulgare (1910), 10-18.