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Sebastia

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(SIVAS). An Armenian Catholic diocese.

The city, which existed perhaps under another name in pre-Roman times, was called Sebastia and enlarged by Augustus (Babelon and Reinach, "Monnaies d'Asie Mineure", I, 101); under Diocletian it became the capital of Armenia Prima and after Justinian who rebuilt its walls, the capital of Armenia Secunda (Procopius, "De Ædificiis", III, 4; Justin., "Nov.", xxxi, 1). Towards 640 Sebastia numbered five suffragan bishoprics and only four in the tenth century (Gelzer, "Ungedruckte . . . Texte der Notitiae episcopatuum", 538, 553). In 1347 the diocese still existed, and as late, perhaps, as 1371 (Miklosich and Muller, "Acta patriarchatus Constantinopolitani", I, 257, 558; II, 65, 78); in the fifteenth century it had become merely a titular see . Among its bishops, of whom Le Quien mentions fifteen (Oriens christ., I, 419-26), were: St. Blasius, whose feast is celebrated 3 February; Eulalius, present at the Council of Nicaea in 325; Eustathius, who was several times condemned, and who played a considerable part in the establishment of monasticism ; St. Meletius, who later became Bishop of Antioch ; St. Peter, brother of St. Basil the Great of Caesarea (feast 9 January).

This city produced many martyrs : St. Antiochus, feast 16 July; Saint Irenarchus under Diocletian, 29 November; Sts. Atticus, Eudoxius, and their companions, martyrs under the Emperor Licinius, 2 November; St. Severian, 9 September; and especially the Forty Martyrs , soldiers who were plunged into a frozen lake and suffered martyrdom in 320, and whose feast occurs 9 March. In the beginning of the eleventh century the city was governed under the suzerainty of the Greek emperors, by an Armenian dynasty which disappeared about 1080; in the twelfth century it became the residence of the Turcoman emirs; in the thirteenth century, of the Seljuk princes, one of whom, Ala-ed-Din, rebuilt the city in 1224. To this epoch may be traced several very beautiful medrissas, or schools, still in a state of preservation. Another Turkish dynasty was there exterminated in 1392 by Sultan Bajazet. Taken and destroyed in 1400 by Timur, who, it is said, caused the massacre of its 100,000 inhabitants, Sebastia passed anew under the sway of the Osmanlis. Sivas is the chief city of a vilayet and numbers 45,000 inhabitants, of whom 10,000 are Armenian Gregorians, 2000 schismatic Greeks, 200 Catholics and the remainder Turks. The Catholic Armenian diocese comprises 3000 faithful, 18 priests, 7 churches, 4 chapels, a large college conducted by the French Jesuits, and a school taught by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Lyons. At Tokat, a dependency of this diocese, are also a Jesuit house, Sisters of St. Joseph, and Armenian Sisters.

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