No sooner had they seated him on the episcopal throne than the governor of the province assembled a mob of Greeks and Jews, surrounded the walls of the church, and bade Peter come forth, threatening him with exile if he refused. He thus acted on the plea that he was fulfilling the emperor's good pleasure by bringing those of opposite sentiments into trouble, but the truth was that he was carried away by his impious passion. For he was addicted to the service of the idols, and looked upon the storms which beset the Church as a season of brilliant festivity. The admirable Peter, however, when he beheld the unforeseen conflict, secretly withdrew, and embarked in a vessel bound for Rome.
After a few days Euzoius came from Antioch with Lucius, and handed over the churches to him. This was he of whose impiety and lawlessness Samosata had already had experience. But the people nurtured in the teaching of Athanasius, when they now saw how different was the spiritual food offered them, held aloof from the assemblies of the Church.
Lucius, who employed idolators as his attendants, went on scourging some, imprisoning others; some he drove to take to flight, others' homes he rifled in rude and cruel fashion. But all this is better set forth in the letter of the admirable Peter. After recounting an instance of the impious conduct of Lucius I shall insert the letter in this work.
Certain men in Egypt, of angelic life and conversation, fled from the disquiet of the state and chose to live in solitude in the wilderness. There they made the sandy and barren soil bear fruit; for a fruit right sweet and fair to God was the virtue by whose law they lived. Among many who took the lead in this mode of life was the far-famed Antonius, most excellent master in the school of mortification, who made the desert a training place of virtue for his hermits. He after all his great and glorious labours had reached the haven where the winds of trouble blow no more, and then his followers were persecuted by the wretched and unhappy Lucius. All the leaders of those divine companies, the famous Macarius, his namesake, Isidorus, and the rest were dragged out of their caves and despatched to a certain island inhabited by impious men, and never blessed with any teacher of piety. When the ship drew near to the shore of the island the demon reverenced by its inhabitants departed from the image which had been his time-old home, and filled with frenzy the daughter of the priest. She was driven in her inspired fury to the shore where the rowers were bringing the ship to land. Making the tongue of the girl his instrument, the demon shouted out through her the words uttered at Philippi by the woman possessed with the spirit of Python, and was heard by all, both men and women, saying, |Alas for your power, ye servants of the Christ; everywhere we have been driven forth by you from town and hamlet, from hill and height, from wastes where no men dwell; in yon islet we had hoped to live out of the reach of your shafts, but our hope was vain; hither you have been sent by your persecutors, not to be harmed by them, but to drive us out. We are quitting the island, for we are being wounded by the piercing rays of your virtue.| With these words, and words like these, they dashed the damsel to the ground, and themselves all fled together. But that divine company prayed over the girl and raised her up, and delivered her to her father made whole and in her right mind.
The spectators of the miracle flung themselves at the feet of the new comers and implored to be allowed to participate in the means of salvation. They destroyed the idol's grove, and, illuminated by the bright rays of instruction, received the grace of holy baptism. On these events becoming known in Alexandria all the people met together, reviling Lucius, and saying that wrath from God would fall upon them, were not that divine company of saints to be set free. Then Lucius, apprehensive of a tumult in the city, suffered the holy hermits to go back to their dens. Let this suffice to give a specimen of his impious iniquity. The sinful deeds he dared to do will be more clearly set forth by the letter of the admirable Peter. I hesitate to insert it at full length, and so will only quote some extracts from it.