Meanwhile Atticus the bishop caused the affairs of the church to flourish in an extraordinary manner; administering all things with prudence, and inciting the people to virtue by his instruction. Perceiving that the church was on the point of being divided inasmuch as the Johannites assembled themselves apart, he ordered that mention of John should be made in the prayers, as was customary to be done of the other deceased bishops; by which means he trusted that many would be induced to return to the Church. And he was so liberal that he not only provided for the poor of his own parishes, but transmitted contributions to supply the wants and promote the comfort of the indigent in the neighboring cities also. On one occasion as he sent to Calliopius a presbyter of the church at Nicæa, three hundred pieces of gold he also dispatched the following letter.
Atticus to Calliopius -- salutations in the Lord.
I have been informed that there are in your city ten thousand necessitous persons whose condition demands the compassion of the pious. And I say ten thousand, designating their multitude rather than using the number precisely. As therefore I have received a sum of money from him, who with a bountiful hand is wont to supply faithful stewards; and since it happens that some are pressed by want, that those who have may be proved, who yet do not minister to the needy -- take, my friend, these three hundred pieces of gold, and dispose of them as you may think fit. It will be your care, I doubt not, to distribute to such as are ashamed to beg, and not to those who through life have sought to feed themselves at others' expense. In bestowing these alms make no distinction on religious grounds; but feed the hungry whether they agree with us in sentiment, or not.'
Thus did Atticus consider even the poor who were at a distance from him. He labored also to abolish the superstitions of certain persons. For on being informed that those who had separated themselves from the Novatians, on account of the Jewish Passover, had transported the body of Sabbatius from the island of Rhodes -- for in that island he had died in exile -- and having buried it, were accustomed to pray at his grave, he caused the body to be disinterred at night, and deposited in a private sepulchre; and those who had formerly paid their adorations at that place, on finding his tomb had been opened, ceased honoring that tomb thenceforth. Moreover he manifested a great deal of taste in the application of names to places. To a port in the mouth of the Euxine sea, anciently called Pharmaceus, he gave the appellation of Therapeia; because he would not have a place where religious assemblies were held, dishonored by an inauspicious name. Another place, a suburb of Constantinople, he termed Argyropolis, for this reason. Chrysopolis is an ancient port situated at the head of the Bosphorus, and is mentioned by several of the early writers, especially Strabo, Nicolaus Damascenus, and the illustrious Xenophon in the sixth book of his Anabasis of Cyrus; and again in the first of his Hellenica he says concerning it, that Alcibiades having walled it round, established a toll in it; for all who sailed out of Pontus were accustomed to pay tithes there.' Atticus seeing the former place to be directly opposite to Chrysopolis, and very delightfully situated, declared that it was most fitting it should be called Argyropolis; and as soon as this was said it firmly established the name. Some persons having said to him that the Novatians ought not to be permitted to hold their assemblies within the cities: Do you not know,' he replied, that they were fellow-sufferers with us in the persecution under Constantius and Valens? Besides,' said he, they are witnesses to our creed: for although they separated from the church a long while ago, they have never introduced any innovations concerning the faith.' Being once at Nicæa on account of the ordination of a bishop, and seeing there Asclepiades bishop of the Novatians, then very aged, he asked him, How many years have you been a bishop?' When he was answered fifty years: You are a happy man,' said he, to have had charge of so |good a work| for such a length of time.' To the same Asclepiades he observed: I commend Novatus; but can by no means approve of the Novatians.' And when Asclepiades, surprised at this strange remark, said, What is the meaning of your remark, bishop?' Atticus gave him this reason for the distinction. I approve of Novatus for refusing to commune with those who had sacrificed, for I myself would have done the same: but I cannot praise the Novatians, inasmuch as they exclude laymen from communion for very trivial offenses.' Asclepiades answered, There are many other |sins unto death,| as the Scriptures term them, besides sacrificing to idols; on account of which even you excommunicate ecclesiastics only, but we laymen also, reserving to God alone the power of pardoning them.' Atticus had moreover a presentiment of his own death; for at his departure from Nicæa, he said to Calliopius a presbyter of that place: Hasten to Constantinople before autumn if you wish to see me again alive; for if you delay beyond that time, you will not find me surviving.' Nor did he err in this prediction; for he died on the 10th of October, in the 21st year of his episcopate, under the eleventh consulate of Theodosius, and the first of Valentinian Cæsar. The Emperor Theodosius indeed, being then on his way from Thessalonica, did not reach Constantinople in time for his funeral, for Atticus had been consigned to the grave one day before the emperor's arrival. Not long afterwards, on the 23d of the same month, October, the young Valentinian was proclaimed Augustus.