Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature to the End of the Sixth Century/Severianus, bp. of Gabala
Severianus (2), bp. of Gabala on the seaboard of Syria, c. 400; described by Gennadius (Ill. Eccl. Scriptt. c. 21) as "in Divinis Scripturis eruditus, et in Homiliis declamator admirabilis." He repaired to Constantinople, and was kindly received by Chrysostom, who often selected him to preach on important occasions. In spite of a rough provincial accent, he obtained considerable popularity with the people in general and with the emperor and empress, who often appointed him to preach (Gennad. u.s.). When early in 401 Chrysostom left Constantinople for the visitation of Asia Minor, he deputed his official authority to Severian as commissary, all real power being invested in his archdeacon Serapion. Severian, in Chrysostom's absence undermined his influence with the court, and fostered the dislike of the worldly and luxurious clergy of Constantinople, whom Chrysostom's severity had greatly alienated. His conduct was reported in the darkest colours to Chrysostom by his jealous and artful rival Serapion. For the events which compelled Severian to leave for his own diocese see SERAPION. Severian had barely crossed the Bosphorus when the imperious Eudoxia compelled Chrysostom to allow his return. But Chrysostom steadily refused to readmit the offender to friendly intercourse. The empress carried her infant son, the future emperor Theodosius, in her arms, into the church of the Apostles, and casting him in Chrysostom's lap, conjured him with solemn imprecations to be reconciled with Severian. Chrysostom consented, and exhorted his congregation to submit, as loyal subjects and good Christians, to the wishes of those in authority (Homil. de recipiend. Severian. t. iii. p. 422, ed. Migne). The request was acceded to with applause. Severian next day delivered a short rhetorical eulogy on the blessings of peace (Sermo ipsius Severiani de Pace, ib. p. 493). The hollowness of the reconciliation was soon proved. Severian joined in a plot, under the inspiration of the empress and the powerful female influence of the court, for Chrysostom's humiliation, which ultimately proved only too successful (Pallad. Dial. pp. 35, 48, 72). At the assembly of the Oak, Severian took a leading part (Pallad. p. 72 ; Phot. Cod. 59, p. 53), and on Chrysostom's deposition, mounted the pulpit and publicly expressed approbation of the act, which he said Chrysostom had well merited for his haughtiness alone. This "barefaced attempt to justify injustice" rendered the people furious, and they were only restrained from summary measures by Chrysostom's speedy recall. Severian and his brother-intriguers fled (Socr. H. E. vi. 16, 17; Soz. H. E. viii. 19; Pallad. Dial. p. 16). We find them at Constantinople seconding new designs for the destruction of Chrysostom set on foot by Eudoxia and the court party, and securing his final condemnation (Pallad. Dial. pp. 79, 88; Soz. H. E. viii. 22). Severian's malice did not cease with Chrysostom's expulsion. He is charged by Palladius with using his influence to obtain the removal of the aged invalid from Cucusus, where the climate had not proved so fatal as the malice of his enemies desired, to the more bleak and inaccessible town of Pityus (Dial. 97). Severian's death may be placed under Theodosius II. between 408 and 430.
Very few of his numerous writings are extant. Some homilies printed in Chrysostom's works have been attributed to him with more or less probability. The following are regarded on satisfactory grounds as his: de Creatione Mundi, de Nativitate Christi, de Sigillis Librorum, de Serpente Aeneo, de Nativitate. We may add de Morte Innocentium, and de Cruce Homilia, pub. by Combefis with some of Chrysostom's. Du Pin attributes to Severian, from internal evidence, a large number of homilies which pass under Chrysostom's name. Severian is said to have composed a large number of commentaries on Holy Scripture, the whole being lost except for fragments in the Catenae. Gennadius read with pleasure treatises of his on Baptism and the Epiphany. A work contra Novatum is quoted by Gelasius, de Duabus Christi Naturis; and one contra Judaeos by Cosmas Indicopleustes, vii. 292. According to Mabillon (Mus. Ital. i. pp. 13, 124), 88 homilies bearing his name exist in MS. in the Ambrosian library and others in the Coislinian. Fabr. Bibl. Graec. ix. 267; Cave, Hist. Lit. i. 37; Dupin, H. E.