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Titular see of Asia Minor, suffragan of Amasea in the Helenopontus. In pagan times the city, which was situated on the Seylax, belonged to priests, equal in dignity to the princes of Pontus, lords of the territory. On the eminence which rises in the middle of the city stood a famous temple, consecrated by the Persian kings to their national divinities, Anahita, Vohu-Mano, and Anadates. Zela is famous for the victory of Mithridates Eupator over Valerius Trianus, lieutenant of Lucullus (67 B.C.), also for that of Caesar over Pharnaces (47 B.C.), after which he wrote his famous letter, "Veni, Vidi, Vici" (I came, I saw, I conquered). At first a mere hamlet, Zela obtained from Pompeii the title of city, and became the capital of a district allotted to Queen Pythadoris (Strabo, XI, viii, 4; XII, iii, 37; Pliny, "Hist. Nat.", VI, 8). It was finally ceded to Nero, with all Pontus Polemoniacus, by its last king, and remained part of the Greco-Roman empire until 1397, when the Turks seized it. According to a letter (72) of St. Basil, a council was held there by the Arians in the fourth century. Le Quien (Oriens christ., I, 541) mentions several bishops: Heraclius, at Nice (325); Atticus, at Chalcedon (451); Hyperechius (458), Georgius (692); Constantine (787); Paul (879). According to the "Acta Patriarchatus Constantinopolitani" of Miklosich and Muller (I, 69), there was a bishop at Zela in 1315; he was then named Metropolitan of Amasea; later the see was suppressed. Zela (now Zilch) is caza in the sandjak of Tokat and the vilayet of Silvas; the city numbers 20,000 inhabitants, 5000 of whom are Christians, the rest being nearly all schismatic Armenians.
SMITH, Dict, Greek and Roman Geog., s.v.; TEXIER, Asie-Mineure (Paris, 1862), 602; CUINET, La Turquie d'Asie, I, 729-32; BABELEON AND REINACH, Monnaires d'Asie-Mineure, I, 117; CUMONT, Studia pontica (Brussels, 1906), 188-94; PERROT, Exploration archeologique de la Galatie et de la Bithynie (Paris, 1872), 377-80.