Meletius of Lycopolis

Meletius Of Lycopolis flourished in the Egyptian district of Thebais in the beginning of the 4th century. He was a prelate in the Church, and the founder of the Meletian sect, or, as they termed themselves, the Church of the Martyrs. During the bitter persecutions which the Christians suffered under the reign of Diocletian, he and his superior, Peter, archbishop of Alexandria, were thrown into prison. Many Christians had abjured their religious belief for the sake of freedom from persecution, and some of these, regretting their faithlessness, repaired to the two imprisoned bishops, desiring to receive absolution, and to become reconciled with the Church. Peter was in favor of granting the request of these lapsi, provided they Would do penance; but Meletius, denouncing them as traitors, refused to have any intercourse with them, until at least all persecution had ceased. A majority of the Christians then in conifinement approved of his course. This gave rise to a schism, which gained some prominence after the release of Meletius, who became the leader of the rebels, and from whom they received their name. After regaining his freedom he ordained some twenty-nine bishops, and even encroached upon the diocese of Peter with ordinations and excommunications. He was finally checked by the Council of Nice, who censured him, but allowed him to retain his title. The council also agreed to confirm his appointments, provided they would receive a new ordination from the proper authorities. The sect to which he gave rise, sometimes called Egyptian Meletians, lasted 'for nearly a century and a half, when its members made common cause with the Arians. See Schaff, Ch. Hist. i,451;

Gieseler, Ecclesiastes Hist. 1:166; Stanley, Hist. of the East. Ch. p. 256; Mosheim, Ecclesiastes Hist. 1:75; Hase, Ch. Hist. p. 690. (H.W.T.)

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