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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Narcissus, st.

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bishop of Jerusalem, was born about the year 98. One of the most worthy priests belonging to the clergy of Jerusalem, he was over eighty years old when he was elected to succeed Dolichianus, twentyninth bishop from the apostles. Notwithstanding his advanced age, he governed his Church with the zeal and vigor of youth. He presided in 197 at the Council of Caesarea, in Palestine, where it was decided that the Passover should be celebrated on Sunday. Three evildisposed Christians accused him of an atrocious crime, and sustained their false slanders by oaths. Although the Church placed no faith in their affirmations, Narcissus profited by this circumstance to follow a long-cherished desire to live in the desert. He left Jerusalem about 199, and no one could discover the place of his retreat. Divine justice, the story goes, soon overtook his persecutors: the first died with his family by the burning of his house; leprosy attacked the second, and the third became blind. Feeling himself called of God to resume the care of his Church, Narcissus left his solitude in 207; and on arriving at Jerusalem he found his see occupied by another bishop, named Gordius, who had been elected during his absence. Both governed this diocese, it is said, until the death of Gordius again left Narcissus sole possessor of the see. Extreme age having at last rendered him unfit for episcopal duties, he took as coadjutor Alexander, bishop of Flaviade, who about 212, with the approval of the clergy and of the people, consented to take charge of the Church at Jerusalem. This is the first example of a bishop being transferred from one see to another, and given as coadjutor to a living bishop, although it is true Alexander was rather the successor of Narcissus, who had simply the honor of the episcopate. He is universally spoken of as a man of austere piety, verging on asceticism. A great number of miracles are attributed to St. Narcissus. He died in the year 216, Oct. 29, which day is kept in his memory by the Roman Catholics. See Butler, Lives of the Saints, 4:309- 311; Jerome, De viris Illustribus, c. 73; Eusebius, Hist. Ecclesiastes 6, 10; Pressense, Hist. of the Martyrs and Apologists, pages 263, 264; Burton, Eccles. Hist. pages 449, 464, 479, 480. (J.H.W.)

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McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Narcissus, st.'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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