Shortly after the First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea in the East (325) , the reaction of the Arians and semi-Aryans arose. Politically strong Arianism came on the scene, in the role of sworn enemy of everything that defined the Nicene Creed. Councils are convened against councils, symbols of faith are drawn up against other symbols of faith, counter-anathemas are opposed to anathemas. The pagan historian Ammianus Marcelinus writes, “The roads of the empire were overcrowded with galloping bishops.” The anti-Nicene reaction was a significant power, led by Eusebius of Caesarea4 /+ 340/, who is involved in all Arian endeavors and fights for a unifying formula of the Christian faith, for the pacification of the two warring groups; he refuses to condemn Arius. The leader of the pro-Arianists and anti-Sabellians was Eusebius. Nicomedian5, known for his militant temperament and uncompromisingness /+ 341/.
After the exile of Arius at Nicaea, Constantius, the sister of Emperor Constantine, intervened to alleviate the sentence of the heresiarch, whom he allowed to return from exile. And to perform the Sacrament of St. Baptism of the emperor before his death in 337, was sought by Eusebius of Nicomedia. His position was even stronger in the court of Emperor Constantius II /337-361/, when in 338, he was transferred to the ministry in Constantinople. The empire was divided between the sons of Constantine I: Constantine II the Younger /Claudius Flavius Julius, 337-340/, Constant I /Flavius Julius Constans, 337-350/ and Constantius II /Flavius Julius Constantinius, son of Constantine the Great by Faust and grandson of Constantius I Chlorus/. The empire became even more agitated by the relentless religious controversy. Constantius took the side of Arianism against Athanasius, the great bishop of Alexandria, which explains the unfavorable comments of this son of the emperor Constantine the Great. The pro-Arian coalition soon went on the offensive and attacked in order to eliminate everywhere in the Orient those for whom Orthodoxy remained in the symbol of faith defined at the Council of Nicaea.
From Palestine to Thrace, a dozen episcopal centers saw their Orthodox bishops removed from office after a series of ecclesiastical councils between 326 and 335. Synods in the fourth century annulled each other, fiercely defending their positions, with bishops in the East leading their churches with a zeal which they should apply to prevent the division of the Body of Christ-Christ Church.
Pretoria prefecture officials assisted in the convening of church councils. In certain cases, they organized the transportation of bishops by imperial mail /cursus publicus/. Practice introduced by Emperor Constantine I when organizing the council in Arles in 314. St. Melania, for example, covered the distance from Constantinople to Jerusalem in 44 days. The distance was 1164 miles, i.e. approx. 1730 km. The individual stages did not exceed 40 km. daily intensified course of “Roman public transport,” as Hilary of Poitiers testifies, in his work Against Constantius (SC № 334, Paris, 1987, p. 14).
The intervention of state officials in church affairs from the middle of the 4th century became a common practice. They served as couriers between the imperial court and the bishops; assisted in the councils themselves to be the emperor’s spokesmen in them, because the ecumenical councils are an extremely respected body of the Church by the imperial administration, which is the main reason why Constantine the Great finally gained enormous (= synodal) power and authority, importance for the entire life of the empire. On the other hand, the local /provincial/ councils played an important role in the life of the local churches, as well as for the functioning of the Ecumenical Councils. That obligation fell within the remit of the agentes in rebus, in their capacity as curiosi of the cursus publicus.
323-337 Constantine I, the only emperor.
325 Council of Nicaea, Athanasius /b. 295 – + May 2, 373/ participated in the First Ecumenical Council as a deacon of Alexandria.
328 On June 8, Athanasius was ordained bishop of Alexandria.
330 The Council of Antioch /against Eustatius of Antioch/. The Council of Tire-Jerusalem. First exile of Athanasius, July 11 to November 22, 337; stay in Trev.
337-340 Emperors: Constantine II. Constant I. Constantius II.
339 Second exile of Athanasius, from April 16, 339 to October 21, 346; stay in Rome; bishop of Alexandria at that time the illegitimate bishop /intrus/ Gregory.
340-350 Emperors: Constant I. Constantius II.
341 Council of Sanctification at Antioch.
343-344 The Councils of Serdica and Philippopolis.
346 Cologne Council /May 12/. Return of Athanasius to Alexandria.
350-361 Constantius, autocratic emperor.
350 Catechisms of St. Cyril of Jerusalem.
351 First Council of Sirmium.
353 Council of Arles, dominated by the Arians.
355 Council in Milan / Milan /.
356 Council of Béziers. Third exile of Athanasius, from February 9, 356 to Feb 21, 362; stay in the Egyptian desert.
357 Second Council of Sirmium.
358 Omiusian Council in Ancyra. Third Council of Sirmium. Council of Antioch.
359 Council of Seleucia-Rimini.
360 Council of Constantinople. Caesar Julian was proclaimed emperor of his troops.
369/361 Council of Paris. Gallic bishops cancel their participation in support for the Nicene position.
362 Council of Alexandria. Fourth exile of Athanasius, Oct 24 362 to 5 Sept. 363; stay in the Egyptian desert.
365 Emp. Valens: Fifth Exile of Athanasius, Oct. 5 to Jan 31, 366.