After the decease of Julian, the government of the empire was, by the unanimous consent of the troops, tendered to Jovian. When the army was about to proclaim him emperor, he announced himself to be a Christian and refused the sovereignty, nor would he receive the symbols of empire; but when the soldiers discovered the cause of his refusal, they loudly proclaimed that they were themselves Christians.
The dangerous and disturbed condition in which affairs had been left by Julian's strategy, and the sufferings of the army from famine in an enemy's country, compelled Jovian to conclude a peace with the Persians, and to cede to them some territories which had been formerly tributary to the Romans. Having learned from experience that the impiety of his predecessor had excited the wrath of God, and given rise to public calamities, he wrote without delay to the governors of the provinces, directing that the people should assemble together without fear in the churches, that they should serve God with reverence, and that they should receive the Christian faith as the only true religion. He restored to the churches and the clergy, to the widows and the virgins, the same immunities and every former dotation for the advantage and honor of religion, which had been granted by Constantine and his sons, and afterwards withdrawn by Julian. He commanded Secundus, who was then a prætorian prefect, to constitute it a capital crime to marry any of the holy virgins, or even to regard them with unchaste desires and to carry them off.
He enacted this law on account of the wickedness which had prevailed during the reign of Julian; for many had taken wives from among the holy virgins, and, either by force or guile, had completely corrupted them; and thence had proceeded that indulgence of disgraceful lusts with impunity, which always occur when religion is abused.