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A titular see in Palestina Secunda

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Diocaesarea (I), a titular see in Palestina Secunda. Diocasarea is a later name of the town known to the Rabbis as Sippori, “the bird”, also called Sepphoris (Gr. Sepphoris). Though not mentioned in the Bible, it was in its time one of the largest towns of Galilee.

Gabinius established there (56 B.C.) one of the five provincial sanhedrins (Josephus, Ant. Jud., XIV, v, 4). Herod the Great easily retook it from Antigonus, 39 B.C. (Ant. Jud., XIV, xv, 4). In A.D. 3, it was captured by a rebel, Judas, and his banditti, but was retaken by Aretas, the Arab King of Petra and ally of the Romans. He destroyed it completely, and sold the inhabitants as slaves. In the following year Herod Antipas, Tetrarch of Galilee, rebuilt the town and dedicated it to the emperor (Ant. Jud., XVIII, ii, 1), at which time it must have been called Diocaesarea. When, in A.D. 66, the great Jewish revolt broke out, the inhabitants would have no share in it, sent away their governor, the celebrated historian Flavius Josephus, and invited Cestius Gallus, Prefect of Syria, to occupy their town with his troops. About 180 the Great Sanhedrin left the neighboring village of Shefr Amar and resided at Sepphoris till it was removed to Tiberias. When Count Joseph, a converted Jew, built a church at Sepphoris (323-37) it was not yet an episcopal see (St. Epiph., Adversus haeres., in Migne, P.G., XLI, 409). In 353 the Jews rebelled again, and the town was destroyed by Emperor Gallus (Socrates, Hist. eccl., II, xxxiii; Sozomen, Hist. eccl., IV, vii). It was soon rebuilt (Theodoret, Hist. eccl., IV, xxii). It served as a place of exile for many bishops and monks during the persecution of Valens. When Sepphoris became an episcopal see and suffragan of Scythopolis, is unknown. Only two bishops are known, Marcellinus in 518 and Cyriacus in 536 (Lequien, Or. christ., III, 713). During the Crusades Sepphoris played an important role, though only the necropolis was occupied by a Frankish garrison. The springs, at half an hour’s distance southwest of the town, were naturally the site where the Christian armies awaited the coming of the Saracens from beyond the Jordan; thus King Guy of Lusignan encamped there before the battle of Hattin, which caused the loss of Palestine (July, 1187). There also in April, 1799, Kleber and Junot rested their troops before the battle of Mount Thabor. Today Sefourieh, as it is now called, is inhabited by 3000 fanatic Mussulmans; there are preserved the ruins of the former acropolis, a high tower, two synagogues, the beautiful church of Sts. Joachim and Anna, who, according to a medieval tradition, were born at Sepphoris. This church, which has been partly demolished, has three naves and is 115 by 65 feet in dimensions. It belongs to the Franciscans, who say Mass there from time to time. (See Guerin, “Description de la Palestine: Galilee“, Paris, 1880, I, 369-79.)

Another Dioewsarea, the native name of which was Prakana, site unknown (Ramsay, Asia Minor, 364 and 454), was situated in Cilicia and a suffragan of Seleucia. Five Greek bishops are known from 381 to 787 (Lequien, II, 1019); for Succensus, about 433, see Vailhe, in “Ethos d’Orient” (IX, 221). Three Latin titular bishops are known in the fifteenth century (Lequien, III, 1239; Eubel, II, 160).

Finally, in the fourth century, Nazianzus was also called Diocaesarea (Lequien, I, 409).


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