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Wednesday, October 17, 2007


VATICAN CITY, OCT 17, 2007 (VIS) - St. Eusebius of Vercelli was the subject of Benedict XVI's catechesis during his general audience, held this morning in St. Peter's Square in the presence of 30,000 people.

  The saint, born in Sardinia at the beginning of the 4th century and educated in Rome, was elected as bishop of Vercelli in the year 345. He showed great commitment and dedication in evangelizing largely-pagan rural areas and founded a priestly community - inspired by the model of the early monastic communities - from which many bishops and saints arose.

  The Pope explained how St. Eusebius was "solidly formed in the Nicene Creed, in the faith in the Trinitarian God." He defended the "full divinity of Jesus Christ" against the pro-Arian politics of the Emperor Constantius for whom Arianism "was more politically useful." This led to the saint being exiled, first in Palestine and later in Cappodocia and Thebaid.

  Despite his exile, the bishop maintained a correspondence with his own community of faithful, said the Holy Father, "asking them in his letters also to greet those who are outside the Church yet who nonetheless ... nourish sentiments of love for us." The Pope added: "It is evident that the bishop's relationship with his city was not limited to the Christians but that it also extended to the people who, ... in some way, recognized his spiritual authority and loved this exemplary man."

  When Constantius was succeeded as emperor by Julian the Apostate, Eusebius was able to return home. There he educated the clergy of his diocese in "the observance of monastic rules even though they lived in the city" because he felt that "the bishop and clergy had to share the problems of citizens in a credible way" at the same time cultivating "a different citizenship, that of heaven." In this manner, said Benedict XVI, they created "a shared solidarity."

  "The pastor and the faithful of the Church are in the world but they are not of the world," said the Pope. "For this reason pastors must exhort the faithful not to consider the cities of the world as their stable home, but to seek the ... definitive celestial Jerusalem. ... This decision enables pastors and faithful to safeguard a correct scale of values without bowing before the fashions of the moment and the unjust impositions of political power."

  "The authentic scale of values," the Holy Father concluded, "does not come from yesterday's emperor, or from today's, but from Jesus Christ, the perfect man, equal to the Father in divinity and a man like us. For this reason, Eusebius recommends the faithful always 'to protect the faith with care, to maintain harmony and to be assiduous in prayer.' From the bottom of my heart, I also recommend these perennial values to you."
AG/EUSEBIUS OF VERCELLI/...                    VIS 20071017 (480)

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