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St. Melas

Facts

Death: 4th century

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Melas served as bishop of the small city and monastic settlement of Rhinoclusa (El Arish, Egypt). During the reign of the eastern emperor Valens (364-378), who was an adherent of the Arian heresy that denied the divinity of Christ, a decree was issued ordering the exile of all bishops opposed to Arianism. A contingent of officers charged with carrying out this mandate came to Rhinoclusa to apprehend Melas. Upon entering the cathedral church, they saw a cleric in a worn, oil-stained cloak trimming the church's lamps. When asked by the officers where Melas was, the cleric promised to take them to him. Leading them into the episcopal residence, he served them dinner. Following the meal, he brought them water to wash their hands, after which he disclosed to them that he himself was the bishop Melas. Stunned by this news, the men admitted why they had come, but they were now intent upon letting him escape. Melas, however, insisted upon them proceeding with his arrest and exile, for he did not want to be excluded from suffering in company with his fellow bishops who had taken the same stance against Arianism as he had.

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