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Proterius [1]

(also called Bertares-probably his name, but euphonized into the name by which he is better known), an Eastern prelate of some note because he provoked a schism which continues to the present day in the sects known as the Jacobites (q.v.) and Melchites (q.v.). He flourished about the middle of the 6th century, and suffered martyrdom for the Church. He had been made a priest by Cyril, bishop of Alexandria, who was well acquainted with his virtues. On the death of Cyril, the see of Alexandria was filled by Dioscorus knowing the reputation of Proterius, did all in his power to gain his confidence and interest, that he might, through him, accomplish his designs. But Proterius was not to be corrupted; the welfare of the Church was next his heart, and no worldly preferment could bribe him to forego his duty. Dioscorus, being condemned by the Council of Chalcedon for having embraced the errors of Eutyches, was deposed, and Proterius was chosen to fill the vacant see. and approved by the emperor. This occasioned a dangerous insurrection, and the city was divided into two factions. Much mischief was done on both sides, and Proterius was brought into the most imminent danger. The civil authority was set at naught, violence was resorted to, nor was peace restored until a detachment of two thousand men was despatched by the emperor to quell the sedition. The discontented party, however, still beheld Proterius with an eye of resentment; the attendance of a guard became necessary; and, although of a mild temper, he was compelled to procure the banishment of several from the city. Upon the emperor Marcian's death, the exiles returned to Alexandria, and seemed resolved to be revenged for what they had suffered in the last reign. Timothy, the head of the conspirators against him, in the absence of Dionysius, seized on the great Church, and was uncanonically consecrated to the see by two bishops of his faction, who had been deposed for heresy. On the return of Dionysius, the incendiary Timothy was driven from the city, which so enraged the Eutychians that they assaulted the house of Proterius, who fled to the neighboring church and took refuge in the baptistery, thinking that the holiness of the place and of the season (for it was Good-Friday) would protect him. But he was pursued to the church, treated with every indignity, murdered in cold blood, and his body was dragged about the city, torn in pieces, burned, and the ashes scattered in the sea. Proterius was so highly esteemed that his writings were collected at once and recommended as profitable for study to the clergy. His memory is celebrated on Feb. 28; possibly on that day, says Neale, because his name was then restored to the diptychs. See Neale, Hist. of the East. Ch. (Patriarchate of Alex.), ii, 5-13; Fox, Book (of Martyrs, p. 77. (J. H. W.)