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Historical Sketches: Volumes 1 To 3 -Blessed John Henry Newman

“I am to set off on July 4 from Nicæa. I send you this letter to urge you, as I never cease to urge, though the storm increase in fury and the waves mount higher, not to fail to do your part in the matter which you originally undertook,—I mean the destruction of the Greek worship, the erection of churches, and the care of souls; and not to let the difficulties of things throw you upon your back. For myself, if I do not take my share of the work, but am remiss, I shall not be able to excuse myself by my present trouble; for Paul in prison and in the stocks fulfilled the office which fell to him, and Jonas inside the monster, and the Three Children in the midst of the furnace. You, then, my lord, remembering this, do not give over your duties towards Phœnicia, Arabia, and the churches of the East, knowing that your reward will only be the greater if, amid so great hindrances, you contribute towards the work.

“And do not be backward in writing to me from time to time, nay, very frequently; for I now know that I am sent, not to Sebaste, but to Cucusus, whither it will be easier for you to get letters to me. Write me word how many churches are built every year, and what holy men have passed into Phœnicia, and what progress they have made. As to Salamis in Cyprus, which is beset by the Marcionite heretics, I should have treated with the proper persons, and set every thing right, but for my banishment. Urge those especially who have familiar speech with God, to use much prayer with much perseverance, for the stilling of the tempest which is at present wrecking the whole world.”—Ep. 221.


Thus he set off into exile. He could not fully realize what was coming upon him; nor was the prospect of things so threatening as to suggest grave apprehension. Cucusus, his destination, was not so bad as Sebaste, much better than Scythia. It was on the high military way into Mesopotamia; it was a place at which two lines of road met from Asia Minor and Armenia, not to say a third from Issus on the Mediterranean. After the junction, the above roads passed on, as it would seem, to Melitene on the Euphrates, which afterwards, if not then, was a principal emporium in the commercial intercourse between Europe and Asia. Moreover, it was the seat of a bishopric; and, what was of more consequence, was in the neighbourhood, and within easy reach, of his friends at Antioch. That city lay about 120 miles due south of Cucusus: those who visited him thence would pass by the high road through the Amanus or Black Mountain to Pagræ, and then, crossing or skirting round the Bay of Issus, to the mouth of the Pyramus, would ascend the valley of that river till they came to Cucusus. Nor was the journey thither from Nicæa at first sight formidable, except that the season was against him. It lay all the way along the great high-road of the Empire, passing from Nicæa to Dadastana or to Dorylæum; thence to Ancyra, the capital of Galatia; then, turning to the south-east, down to Cæsarea, the capital of Cappadocia; then to Comana, the chief city in Cataonia; and thence, over the Taurus, to Cucusus, which was the first town out of Asia Minor, opening upon the valley of the Euphrates.

And, as he would have to pass along a noble road, so would he pass through rich towns in a fertile country. Ancyra was finely situated in the middle of an extensive plain, which, even under the Turkish yoke, is described by Tournefort as beautiful, well watered, and in parts well cultivated. Cæsarea, in the century before St. Chrysostom, had counted 400,000 inhabitants. Comana was placed in the richest of valleys, to which the Turks have given the name of Bostan, or the Garden. Nor was the journey less adapted for spiritual than for mental refreshment. It lay through Cæsarea, the see and tomb of St. Basil; and through Nyssa, the like home in life and death of St. Gregory his brother. Nazianzus lay to the right. The country of Cappadocia and Pontus was classical to an oriental Christian, for the great Saints who had adorned it. Meanwhile he was gaining strength in Nicæa, a magnificent city magnificently placed; and, moreover, as full of religious inspirations as any city in the East. There it was that the Great Council had been held eighty years before, in which Arianism had been condemned, and the faith of the Apostles solemnly proclaimed, for the edification of all faithful souls in the many years of turbulence and temptation which were to follow.

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