Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series II/Volume II/Sozomen/Book V/Chapter 21
Chapter XXI.— Of the Statue of Christ in Paneas which Julian overthrew and made Valueless; he erected his own Statue; this was overthrown by a Thunder-Bolt and destroyed. Fountain of Emmaus in which Christ washed his Feet. Concerning the Tree Persis, which worshiped Christ in Egypt, and the Wonders wrought through it.
Among so many remarkable events which occurred during the reign of Julian, I must not omit to mention one which affords a sign of the power of Christ, and proof of the Divine wrath against the emperor.
Having heard that at Cæsarea Philippi, otherwise called Paneas, a city of Phœnicia, there was a celebrated statue of Christ which had been erected by a woman whom the Lord had cured of a flow of blood,
Julian commanded it to be taken down and a statue of himself erected in its place; but a violent fire from heaven fell upon it and broke off the parts contiguous to the breast; the head and neck were thrown prostrate, and it was transfixed to the ground with the face downwards at the point where the fracture of the bust was; and it has stood in that fashion from that day until now, full of the rust of the lightning. The statue of Christ was dragged around the city and mutilated by the pagans; but the Christians recovered the fragments, and deposited the statue in the church in which it is still preserved. Eusebius relates, that at the base of this statue grew an herb which was unknown to the physicians and empirics, but was efficacious in the cure of all disorders. It does not appear a matter of astonishment to me, that, after God had vouchsafed to dwell with men, he should condescend to bestow benefits upon them.
It appears that innumerable other miracles were wrought in different cities and villages; accounts have been accurately preserved by the inhabitants of these places only, because they learned them from ancestral tradition; and how true this is, I will at once show. There is a city now called Nicopolis, in Palestine, which was formerly only a village, and which was mentioned by the divine book of the Gospel under the name of Emmaus.
The name of Nicopolis was given to this place by the Romans after the conquest of Jerusalem and the victory over the Jews. Just beyond the city where three roads meet, is the spot where Christ, after His resurrection, said farewell to Cleopas and his companion, as if he were going to another village; and here is a healing fountain in which men and other living creatures afflicted with different diseases wash away their sufferings; for it is said that when Christ together with His disciples came from a journey to this fountain, they bathed their feet therein, and, from that time the water became a cure for disorders.
At Hermopolis, in the Thebaïs, is a tree called Persis, of which the branches, the leaves, and the least portion of the bark, are said to heal diseases, when touched by the sick; for it is related by the Egyptians that when Joseph fled with Christ and Mary, the holy mother of God, from the wrath of Herod, they went to Hermopolis; when entering at the gate, this largest tree, as if not enduring the advent of Christ, inclined to the ground and worshiped Him. I relate precisely what I have heard from many sources concerning this tree. I think that this phenomenon was a sign of the presence of God in the city; or perhaps, as seems most probable, the tree, which had been worshiped by the inhabitants, after the pagan custom, was shaken, because the demon, who had been an object of worship, started up at sight of Him who was manifested for purification from such agencies. It was moved of its own accord; for at the presence of Christ the idols of Egypt were shaken, even as Isaiah
the prophet had foretold. On the expulsion of the demon, the tree was permitted to remain as a monument of what had occurred, and was endued with the property of healing those who believed.
The inhabitants of Egypt and of Palestine testify to the truth of these events, which took place among themselves.
- Philost. vii. 3, who was eyewitness.
- Eus. H. E. vii. 18.
- Luke xxiv. 13.
- Ch. xix. 1.