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A Dictionary Of Christian Biography And Literature by Henry Wace

Letter U

Ulfilas
Ulfilas (Urphilas in Philostorgius), the apostle of the Goths in the 4th cent. His career is involved in much obscurity. The 5th-cent. church historians were our only source until Waitz, in 1840, discovered a MS. of the Louvre, containing an independent account, written by one of Ulfilas's own pupils, Auxentius, Arian bp. of Silistria, who is thus an original witness. This MS. gives details which shed light on the obscurity. >From these two sources we learn that he was born early in 4th cent., probably in 311. He was consecrated bishop when 30 years of age, possibly by Eusebius of Nicomedia, at the council of the Dedication, held at Antioch 341. In 380 he went to
Constantinople, and died there the same year or early in 381. The circumstances of his life raise the question of the origin of Gothic Christianity. Philostorgius tells us that, under Valerian and Gallienus in the second half of cent. iii., the Goths from N. of the Danube invaded the Roman territory, laid waste the province of Moesia as far as the Black Sea, crossed into Asia and ravaged Cappadocia and Galatia, whence they took a vast number of captives, including many Christian ecclesiastics. |These pious captives, by their intercourse with the barbarians, brought over large numbers to the true faith, and persuaded them to embrace the Christian religion in place of heathen superstitions. Of the number of these captives were the ancestors of Urphilas himself, who were of Cappadocian descent, deriving their origin from a village called Sadagolthina, near the city of Parnassus| (Philost. H. E. ii.5). The Goths carried back these Christian captives into Dacia, where they were settled, and where considerable numbers embraced Christianity through their instrumentality. Ulfilas, the child of one of these Christian captives, was trained in Christian principles. Socrates asserts that he was a disciple of a bishop, Theophilus, who was present at Nicaea and subscribed its creed. He was at first a reader in the church. The king of the Goths then sent him to Constantinople as ambassador to the emperor, c.340, when he was consecrated bishop. He returned to Dacia, laboured there for 7 years, and then migrated into Moesia, driven from his original home by a persecution, probably between 347 and 350. About that period he produced his great literary work, inventing the Gothic character and translating |all the books of Scripture with the exception of the Books of Kings, which he omitted because they are a mere narrative of military exploits, and the Gothic tribes, being especially fond of war, were in more need of restraints to check their military passions than of spurs to urge them on to deeds of war| (Philost. l.c.). We next hear of him as present at the synod of Constantinople a.d.360, when the Acacian party triumphed and issued a creed taking a middle view between those of the orthodox and Arian parties. This was the creed of the Homoean sect, headed by Acacius in the East and Ursacius and Valens in the West. It is important to note its exact words, as it defines the position of Ulfilas. The material part runs thus: |We do not despise the Antiochian formula of the synod in Encoeniis, but because the terms Homoousios and Homoiouuios occasion much confusion, and because some have recently set up the anomoios, we therefore reject homoousios and homoiousios as contrary to the Holy Scriptures; the anomoios, however, we anathematize, and acknowledge that the Son is similar to the Father in accordance with the words of the apostle, who calls Him the image of the invisible God. We believe in our Lord Jesus Christ, His Son, Who was begotten by Him before all ages without change, the only-begotten God, Logos from God, Light, Life, Truth, and Wisdom. . . . And whoever declares anything else outside this faith has no part in the Catholic church| (see Hefele, ii.265, Clark's ed.; and Gwatkin's Studies of Arianism, pp.180-182). The subsequent history of Ulfilas is involved in much obscurity. Sozomen (vi.37) intimates that Ulfilas and his converts suffered much at the hands of Athanaric, a lively picture of whose persecution, a.d.372-375, will be found in the Acts of St. Sabas (Ruinart's Acta Sincera, p.670) and of St. Nicetas, Sept.15 (cf. AA. SS. Boll. Sept.), both of which documents are full of most interesting details concerning the life and manners of the Goths. Mr. C. A. Scott, of Cambridge, published an interesting and full monograph on Ulfilas, in which he discusses his history and that of Gothic Christianity during this period. Arianism seems to have specially flourished during the first half of cent. iv. in the provinces along the Danube. Valens and Ursacius, who lived there, were the leaders of Western Arianism, and Sulpicius Severus expressly asserts (Chron. ii.38) that almost all the bishops of the two Pannonias were Arians. This would sufficiently account for the Arianism of the Goths who were just then accepting Christianity. The literary fame of Ulfilas is connected with his Gothic translation of the Bible, the one great monument of that language now extant. It does not exist in a complete shape. The fragments extant are contained in (1) the Codex Argenteus, now at Upsala; (2) the Codex Carolinus; and (3) the Ambrosian fragments published by Mai. A complete bibliography of these fragments, as known till 1840, will be found in Ceillier (iv.346), and a complete ed. in Migne (Patr. Lat. t. xviii.) with a Life, Gothic grammar, and glossaries. Scott (Ulfilas, the Apostle of the Goths, 1885) gathered together the literature after 1840, and gave a long account of the MS. of Waitz. He also discussed (p.137) some fragments attributed to Ulfilas. The best German works on the life of Ulfilas are those of Waitz (1840), Krafft (1860), and Bessel (1860). Works on the Gothic Bible are by E. Bernhardt (Halle, 1875), and Stamm (Paderborn, 1878); Bosworth's Gothic and Anglo-Saxon Gospels (1874); Skeat, Gospel of St. Mark in Gothic (Oxf.1883); An Introduction, Phonological, Morphological, Syntactic, to the Gothic of Ulfilas, by T. Le Marchant Douse (1886). The chief ancient sources for the life of Ulfilas are Philostorgius, H. E. ii.5 ; Socr. ii.41, iv.33; Soz. vi.37; Theod. iv.37.

[G.T.S.]

Urbanus, bishop of Rome
Urbanus (1), bp. of Rome under the emperor Alexander Severus, from 223 (or 222) to 230. The Liberian Catalogue gives 8 years 11 months and 11 days as the length of his episcopate. Nothing certain is known of his life. The Acta S. Urbani cannot be relied on.

The discovery by De Rossi in the papal crypt of the cemetery of St. Callistus of a broken stone (apparently once the mensa of an altar-tomb), bearing the imperfect inscription OVRBANOC E . . . has raised an interest in the question of his burial-place and alleged connexion with St. Caecilia. Lipsius inclines to the view that the Urban of the papal crypt was some other Urban, not necessarily a bishop, since the letter E after his name might have begun some other expression than episkopos, e.g. en eirene. De Rossi, however, thinks that the slab in the papal crypt must have been that of the pope, who was actually buried there; and he attributes the contrary tradition to a confusion between him and the earlier Urban, whom he supposes to have been contemporary with St. Caecilia and buried in the cemetery of Praetextatus.

[J.B -- Y.]

Urbanus, bishop of Sicca Veneria
Urbanus (6), bp. of Sicca Veneria, a town of proconsular Africa (Kaff) 22 miles from Musti (Ant. Itin. xli.4; Shaw, Trav. p.95; Aug. Ep.229). Apparently a member of Augustine's monastic society at Hippo (Aug. Ep.139.34), he had occasion to remove from his office for grave misconduct a presbyter named Apiarius. Apiarius appealed to Zosimus, bp. of Rome, who ordered his restoration. In a council which met May 1, 418, the African bishops decreed that no priest, deacon, or inferior clerk should prosecute any appeal beyond sea. Zosimus then sent a commission to Africa, headed by Faustinus, bp. of Potenza, with instructions as to four points they were to impress on the African bishops: (1) That appeals from bishops of other churches should be made to Rome. (2) That bishops should not cross the sea unnecessarily (importune) to visit the seat of government (comitatum). (3) About settling through neighbouring bishops matters relating to priests and deacons excommunicated by their own bishops. Zosimus quotes a decree purporting to be one of the council of Nicaea, enjoining appeal to the bp. of Rome in case of bishops degraded by the bishops of their own province. (4) About excommunicating Urbanus, or at least summoning him to Rome unless he revoked his decision against Apiarius. This was in the latter part of 418. The African bishops were willing to accept provisionally the first and third propositions, until the canons of Nicaea, on which they were said to be founded, should be examined, for they were not aware of the existence among them of such rules. But at the end of 418 Zosimus was succeeded by Boniface, and no further action was taken until May 419, when 217 bishops met in council at Carthage (Hardouin, Conc. vol. i. p.934; Bruns, Conc. i.156, 157 D). Faustinus and his colleagues attended, and stated the conditions proposed by Zosimus. The bishops insisted on seeing them in writing, and the documents were accordingly then produced and read. On this Alypius, bp. of Tagaste, remarked that the decree referred to as one of Nicaea and quoted by Zosimus did not appear in the Greek copies with which the African bishops were acquainted. He proposed that reference should be made by themselves and by Boniface to the bishops of Constantinople, Alexandria, and Antioch, to obtain information as to its genuineness. Pending these consultations, the council determined that Apiarius should be allowed, under a circular letter, to exercise his office in any place except Sicca. No mention is made of any action taken in this matter by Boniface, who died a.d.422, and was succeeded by Celestine I.; but in 426 the question was revived by further misconduct on the part of Apiarius at Tahraca, and, when removed from his office by the African bishops, he again appealed to Rome. At a council summoned for the purpose Faustinus appealed again and behaved with great insolence, demanding on the part of the Roman pontiff that Apiarius should be restored. The bishops refused. A strenuous dispute lasted 3 days, and was ended by Apiarius confessing his guilt. The assembled bishops took the opportunity of requesting the bp. of Rome to be less easy in receiving appeals, and not to admit to communion persons excommunicated by them; all appeals ought to be terminated in the province in which they begin, or in a general council. Rohrbacher says some good theologians thought the whole history of Apiarius a forgery (Hist. de l'Eglise, vol. iv. pp.348-371).

[H.W.P.]

Ursacius, bp. of Singidunum
Ursacius (1), bp. of Singidunum (Belgrade). He and Valens, bp. of Mursa, appear at every synod and council from 330 till c.370, as leaders of the Arian party both in the East and West. They seem to have imbibed their Arian views from Arius himself during the period of his exile into Illyricum immediately after the council of Nicaea. They are described by Athanasius (ad Episc. Aegypt.7, p.218) as the disciples of Arius. This could scarcely have been at Alexandria, but they may easily have come in contact with him during his exile, which seems to have been very fruitful in spreading his views, as almost all the bishops of the Danubian provinces, together with Ulfilas and the Gothic converts, appear as Arians immediately afterwards (cf. Sulp. Sever. Chron. ii.38). Ursacius must have been born, at latest, c.300, as we find him a bishop, actively engaged in conspiracy against Athanasius, when Arius was recalled, c.332. From Socrates we gather the leading events of his life. In H. E. i.27 we find him united with Eusebius of Nicomedia, Theognis of Nicaea, Maris of Chalcedon, and Valens, in getting up a case against Athanasius and fabricating the scandalous charges of theft, sacrilege, and murder, investigated at the council of Tyre in 335, Ursacius and Valens being present there. They must have been very active and influential members of the party even at that early period, for they were sent to Egypt, as deputies of the synod, to investigate the charge on the spot, notwithstanding the protests of Athanasius (l.c. i.31). In 342 they assisted at Constantinople at the consecration of Macedonius as patriarch. Upon the triumph of Athanasius in 346 they made their peace with Julius, bp. of Rome, accepted the Nicene formula, and wrote to Athanasius, professing their readiness to hold communion with him. At the synod of Sirmium in 359 they were again active members of the Homoean party, who drew up the Dated Creed, May 22, 359. They duly presented this creed to the council of Ariminum a few weeks later, which promptly rejected it, deposing Ursacius and Valens from their sees, |as well for their present conspiracy to introduce heresy, as for the confusion they had caused in all the churches by their repeated changes of faith.| Ursacius and Valens at once sought the emperor's presence and gained him over to their side. The council also sent a long epistle to the emperor, which Socrates (ii.37) inserts. The emperor refused to see the deputies of the council, and sent them to wait his leisure at Hadrianople first, and then at Nice in Thrace; where Ursacius and Valens induced these same deputies to sign, on Oct.10, 359, a revised version of the creed, which the council had rejected. Socrates tells us that Nice in Thrace was chosen in order that it might impress the ignorant, who would confound it with Nicaea in Bithynia, where the orthodox symbol had been framed. Cf. Soz. H. E. iv.19; Hieron. adv. Lucif. p.189; Sulp. Sev. Chron. ii.44; and Gwatkin's Studies of Arianism, pp.157-178, for the history of this period. Ursacius and Valens seem to have remained influential with the court till the end of life, for the last notice of either of them in history tells how Valens obtained the recall of the Arian Eunomius from exile in 367 (Philostorg. H. E. ix.8). The writings of Athanasius and Hilary frequently mention them. Gwatkin's Studies is very full of information, and Hefele's Councils (t. ii. Clark's trans. s.nn.) gives abundant references to the synods in which they took part; see also Tillem. Mém. vi.

[G.T.S.]

Ursinus, antipope
Ursinus (2) (Ursicinus), antipope, elected after the death of Liberius in Sept.366, in opposition to Damasus. For the conflicts during the life of Liberius between his adherents and those of Felix, who had been intruded into the see by the emperor Constantius, see Liberius (4) and Felix (2); Damasus being set up by the party of Felix, Ursinus by that of Liberius. Conflicting evidence exists as to the circumstances. St. Jerome (Chron.), Rufinus (ii.10), and Socrates (iv.24), agree that Damasus was elected first, and lay the blame on Ursinus, who after this election is said to have got hold with his followers of the church of Sicinus (or Sicininus), and to have been ordained. Sozomen (vi.22) and Nicephorus (xi.30) give similar accounts. A council at Rome twelve years afterwards, and an influential one at Aquileia, a.d.381, in which St. Ambrose took a prominent part, both declared Ursinus to be a usurper, and addressed letters to the emperors Gratian and Valentinian against him (Epist. Concil. Roman. ad Grat. et Valentin., Labbe, t. ii. p.1187; Ep. I. Conc. Aquil. ad Grat. Imp. ib. p.1183). St. Ambrose (Ep.11) speaks of Damasus having been elected by the judgment of God. The emperors also, and the civil authorities at Rome, throughout the contest supported Damasus as the lawful pope.

But a different account is given by Marcellinus and Faustinus, two Luciferian priests, who, being expelled from Rome under Damasus, presented a petition (Libellus Precum) to the emperors Valentinian, Theodosius, and Arcadius (c.383). They had been supporters of Ursinus, and in the preface to their petition assert that he was elected before Damasus by the people who had been in communion with Liberius in the church of Julius beyond the Tiber, and was ordained by Paul, bp. of Tivoli; and that Damasus had subsequently, with a mob of charioteers and other low fellows, broken into the church of Julius, massacred many persons there, and after seven days had, with his bribed followers, got possession of the Lateran Basilica, and been there ordained. The balance of evidence appears decidedly in favour of Damasus, the only witnesses against him, the two Luciferian presbyters, being partisans whose veracity we have no means of testing. After the two elections all accounts agree that the rival parties disturbed Rome by continual conflicts, in which lives were lost. At length Juventius, the praefectus urbi, and Julianus, the praefectus annonae, concurred in banishing Ursinus, but the disturbances continued. Ammianus Marcellinus, the historian, throws light on the Roman church at this time from the point of view of an intelligent and impartial heathen. |The ardour of Damasus and Ursinus to seize the episcopal seat surpassed the ordinary measure of human ambition. They contended with the rage of party; the quarrel was maintained by the wounds and death of their followers, the prefect . . . being constrained by superior violence to retire into the suburbs. Damasus prevailed: . . .137 dead bodies were found in the basilica of Sicininus, where the Christians hold their religious assemblies; and it was long before the angry minds of the people resumed their accustomed tranquillity. When I consider the splendour of the capital, I am not astonished that so valuable a prize should inflame the desires of ambitious men and produce the fiercest contests. The successful candidate is secure that he will be enriched by the offerings of matrons; that as soon as his dress is composed with becoming care and elegance, he may proceed in his chariot through the streets of Rome; and that the sumptuousness of the imperial table will not equal the profuse and delicate entertainment provided by the taste and at the expense of the Roman pontiffs. How much more rationally would those pontiffs consult their true happiness if, instead of alleging the greatness of the city as an excuse for their manners, they would imitate the exemplary life of some provincial bishops, whose temperance and sobriety, mean apparel and downcast looks, recommended their pure and modest virtue to the Deity and His true worshippers!| (Ammian.27, 3, Gibbon's trans. c. xxv.).

In 367 the emperor Valentinian permitted those who had been banished to return, but threatened severe punishment in case of renewed disturbance. (Baronius, ad ann.368, ii., iii. iv., gives extracts from these rescripts.) Ursinus returned, and is said to have been received by his followers on Sept.15, 367, with great joy (Lib. Precum), but was again banished by order of the emperor (Nov.16), with seven of his adherents, into Gaul. Yet peace was not at once restored. His followers continued to assemble in cemeteries, and got possession of the church of St. Agnes without the walls. Thence they were dislodged; Marcellinus and Faustinus say by Damasus himself with his satellites, and with great slaughter. We may doubt the pope's personal complicity. After this the prefect Praetextatus banished more of the party, and the two presbyters allege cruel persecution, having been themselves among the sufferers. Rescripts of the emperors Valentinian, Valens, and Gratian (a.d.371) again release Ursinus and his friends from their confinement in Gaul, allowing them to live at large, but away from Rome and the suburbicarian regions (Baron. ad ann.371, i. ii. iii.). A Roman council (a.d.378) addressed a letter to the emperors Gratian and Valentinian II., representing that Ursinus and his followers continued their machinations secretly (Labbe, t. ii. pp.1187-1192).

After this we find Ursinus at Milan, where he is said to have joined the Arian party, who promised him their support (Ambrose, Ep.4). But St. Ambrose, bp. of Milan, having informed the emperor Gratian of what was going on, the latter banished Ursinus from Italy, and confined him to Cologne (Ep. I. Conc. Aquil. u.s.). No more is heard of Ursinus till after the death of Damasus (Dec.384), when he opposed Siricius, who, having been a supporter of Damasus against him, was elected with the general consent of the Roman people. Ursinus appears not to have then had sufficient support in Rome to cause conflict and disturbance.

[J.B -- Y.]

Ursula
Ursula, a famous British virgin and martyr, celebrated as having suffered with 11,000 other virgins at Cologne. Her notice in the Roman Martyrology is simple: |At Cologne, the natal day of SS. Ursula and her companions, who, being slain by the Huns for their Christianity and their virginal constancy, terminated their life by martyrdom. Very many of their bodies were discovered at Cologne.| On this foundation the new Bollandists have raised a prodigious edifice of 230 folio pages, where they discuss (AA. SS. Boll. Oct. t. ix. pp.73-303) every conceivable fact, topic, or hypothesis concerning these problematical martyrs. Their story, which is purely medieval, is briefly this. Ursula, the daughter of Dionoc, king of Cornwall, was sent by him with her numerous companions to Conan, a British prince, who had followed the tyrant Maximus into Gaul, c.383. They were somehow carried up the Rhine to Cologne by mistake, where the Huns murdered them all. The enormous number of her companions has been explained as a mistake of the early copyists, who found some such entry as |Ursula et xi. M. V.|, which, taking M. for millia, not for martyrs, they read Ursula and 11,000 virgins instead of 11 martyr virgins. Such mistakes frequently occurred in the ancient martyrologies. [[599]Maximus (2).]

[G.T.S.]

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