Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Asterius
Name of several prominent persons in early Christian history.
(1) Asterius of Petra, a bishop of Arabia, ill-treated by the Arian faction at the Council of Sardica (343) for withdrawing from them his support, and exiled to Upper Libya in Egypt, whence he was recalled in 362 by the edict of Julian that restored all the banished bishops. He took part in the Council of Alexandria (362), called, among other reasons, for the purpose of healing the Meletian schism that was rendering the Church of Antioch. He was one bearers of the letter addressed by the council to the stubborn Lucifer of Cagliari and the other bishops then at Antioch. These peaceful measures were, however, rendered useless by Lucifer's precipitancy in consecrating Paulinus as successor to Meletius of Antioch, whereby the schism gained a new lease of life.
(2) Asterius of Amasea in Pontus (c. 400). The only fact in his life that is known is related by himself, viz. his education by a Scythian or Goth who had been sent in his youth to a schoolmaster of Antioch and thus acquired an excellent education and great fame among both Greeks and Romans. The extant writings of Asterius are twenty-one homilies, scriptural and panegyrical in content. The two on penance and "on the beginning of the fasts' were formerly is ascribed to St. Gregory of Nyssa (Bardenhewer, Patrologie, 1901, 267). A life of his predecessor, St. Basil, is ascribed to Asterius (Acta SS. 26 April). His works (P.G. XL) are described by Tillemont (Mem., X, 409). He was a student of Demosthenes and an orator of repute. Lightfoot says (Dict. of Christ. Biogr., I, 178) that his best sermons display "no inconsiderable skill in rhetoric great power of expression, and great earnestness of moral conviction; some passages are even strikingly eloquent. " The homilies of Asterius, like those of Zeno of Verona, offer no little valuable material to the Christian archaeologist. [De Buck in Acta SS. 30 Oct. (Paris, 1883), XIII, 330-334.]
(3) Asterius of Cappadocia, a Greek sophist, a friend of Arius, and also his fellow student in the school of Lucian of Antioch. St. Athanasius quotes more than once from a pro-Arian work of this writer. He wrote commentaries on the Epistle to the Romans, the Gospels, the Psalms, and "many other works' (Jerome, De Vir. Ill., c. xciv) , all of which have perished ( Zahn, Marcellus von Ancyra, Gotha, l867, 68 sqq.)
(4) Asterius, a Roman senator mentioned by Eusebius (His. Eccl., VII, 16) as a Christian distinguished for faith and charity. Rufinus says that he suffered martyrdom at Caesarea in Palestine in 262 (Baronius, An. Eccl. ad an. 262, sects. 81, 82).
(5) Asterius Urbanus, a Montanist writer of the latter part of the second century, referred to in Eusebius (Hist. Eccl. V, 16, 17); his work was probably a compilation of the pseudo-prophetic utterances of Montanus and his female companions Priscilla and Maximilla.
THOMAS J. SHAHAN