Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Nicopolis (1)

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A titular see, suffragan of Sebasteia, in Armenia Prima. Founded by Pompey after his decisive victory over Mithridates, it was inhabited by veterans of his army and by members of the neighboring peasantry, and was delightfully situated in a beautiful, well-watered plain lying at the base of a thickly-wooded mountain. All the Roman highways intersecting that portion of the country and leading to Comana, Polemonium, Neocaesarea, Sebasteia, etc., radiated from Nicopolis which, even in the time of Strabo (XII, iii, 28), boasted quite a large population. Given to Polemon by Anthony, in 36 B.C., Nicopolis was governed from A.D. 54, by Aristobulus of Chalcis and definitively annexed to the Roman Empire by Nero, A.D. 64. It then became the metropolis of Lesser Armenia and the seat of the provincial diet which elected the Armeniarch. Besides the altar of the Augusti, it raised temples to Zeus Nicephorus and to Victory. Christianity reached Nicopolis at an early date and, under Licinius, about 319, forty-five of the city's inhabitants were martyred; the Church venerates them on 10 July. St. Basil (P.G., XXXII, 896) calls the priests of Nicopolis the sons of confessors and martyrs, and their church (P. G., XXXII, 834) the mother of that of Colonia. About 472, St. John the Silent, who had sold his worldly goods, erected a church there to the Blessed Virgin.

In 499 Nicopolis was destroyed by an earthquake, none save the bishop and his two secretaries escaping death (Bull. Acad. de Belgique, 1905, 557). This disaster was irreparable, and although Justinian rebuilt the walls and erected a monastery in memory of the Forty-five Martyrs (Procopius, "De Ædificiis", III, 4), Nicopolis never regained its former splendour. Under Heraclius it was captured by Chosroes (Sebeos, "Histoire d'Heraclius", tr. Macler, p. 62) and thenceforth was only a mediocre city, a simple see and a suffragan of Sebasteia in Lesser Armenia, remaining such at least until the eleventh century, as may be seen from the various "Notitiae episcopatuum". To-day the site of ancient Nicopolis is occupied by the Armenian village of Purkh, which has a population of 200 families and is near the city of Enderes, in the sanjak of Kara-Hissar and the vilayet of Sivas. Natable among the eight bishops mentioned by Le Quien is St. Gregory who, in the eleventh century, resigned his bishopric and retired to Pithiviers in France. The Church venerates him on 14 March.

LE QUIEN, Oriens christianus (Paris, 1740), I, 427-30; Acta Sanctorum, July, III, 34-45; CUMONT, Studica Pontica (Brussels, 1906), 304-14.

S. VAILHÉ