Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature to the End of the Sixth Century/Palladius, bp. of Helenopolis
Palladius (7), bp. of Helenopolis, the trusted friend of Chrysostom, whose misfortunes he fully shared, was born c. 367, perhaps in Galatia. He embraced an ascetic life in his 20th year, c. 386. The ascetic career of Palladius can only be conjecturally traced from scattered notices in the Lausiac History (but see infra). He never remained long in one place, but sought the acquaintance of the leading solitaries and ascetics of his day to learn all that could be gathered of their manner of life and miraculous deeds. Tillemont thinks his earliest place of sojourn was with the abbat Elpidius of Cappadocia in the cavernous recesses of the mountains near Jericho (Hist. Laus. c. 106), and that he, c. 387, visited Bethlehem, where he received a very unfavourable impression of Jerome from the solitary Posidonius (ib. c. 78), and passing thence to Jerusalem formed the acquaintance of Melania the elder and Rufinus, the latter of whom he highly commends (ib. c. 5; c. 118). In 388 Palladius paid his first visit to Alexandria (ib. c. 1). Having visited several monasteries near Alexandria, and the famous Didymus, he retired (c. 390) to the Nitrian desert, whence, after a year, he plunged still deeper into the district known, as the Cells, τὰ κελλία, where he mostly remained for 9 years (ib.). Here, for 3 years, he enjoyed the intercourse of Macarius the younger and subsequently of Evagrius of Pontus. Palladius appears during this period to have traversed the whole of Upper Egypt as far as Tabenna and Syene, and to have visited all its leading solitaries. Ill-health led him to return to the purer air of Palestine, whence he soon passed to Bithynia, where he was called to the episcopate (ib. c. 43). Palladius tells us neither when nor where he became bishop. If it is right to identify the author of the Lausiac History with the adherent of Chrysostom, his see was Helenopolis, formerly called Drepanum, in Bithynia. He was consecrated by Chrysostom, and the Origenistic opinions he was charged with having imbibed from Evagrius became a handle of accusation against his consecrator (Phot. Cod. 59, p. 57). This accusation of Origenism is brought against Palladius by Epiphanius (Ep. ad Joann. Jesus. Hieron., Op. i. Col. 252, ed. Vallars.) and Jerome (Proem. in Dial. adv. Pelagianos), though Tillemont argues that this was another Palladius. Palladius was at the synod at Constantinople, May 400, at which Antoninus of Ephesus was accused by Eusebius, and he was one of three bishops deputed by Chrysostom to visit Asia and make a personal investigation into the charges (Pallad. Dial. pp. 131-133). When Chrysostom, at the opening of 401, resolved to go to Ephesus himself, Palladius was one of the bishops to accompany him (ib. p. 134).
Palladius was one of the first to suffer from the persecution which after 404 fell upon the adherents of Chrysostom. The magistrates having decreed that the house of any who harboured bishop, priest, or layman who communicated with Chrysostom should be confiscated, Palladius, with many other ecclesiastics, fled to Rome, arriving about the middle of 405, with a copy of the infamous decree which had driven him from Constantinople (ib. pp. 26, 27). The refugees were hospitably entertained by one Pinianus and his wife and by some noble ladies of Rome, a kindness which Palladius gratefully mentions (Hist. Laus. c. 121), and for which Chrysostom wrote letters of thanks from Cucusus. He was honourably received by pope Innocent, and his testimony gave the pope full knowledge of the transaction (Soz. H. E. viii. 26). On the departure of the Italian deputation sent by Honorius to his brother Arcadius, requesting that the whole matter should be subjected to a general council, Palladius and the other refugees accompanied them (Pallad. Dial. p. 31). On their arrival the whole party were forbidden to land at Constantinople. Palladius and his companions were shut up in separate chambers in the fortress of Athyre on the coast, and loaded with the utmost contumely, in the hope of breaking their spirit and compelling them to renounce communion with Chrysostom, and recognize Atticus (ib. p. 32). All threats and violence proving vain, the bishops were banished to distant and opposite quarters of the empire; Palladius to Syene, on the extreme border of Egypt (ib. pp. 194, 199). Tillemont considers that on the death of Theophilus in 412 Palladius was permitted to leave his place of exile, but not to return to his see. Between 412 and 420 Tillemont places his residence of four years near Antinoopolis in the Thebaid, of which district and its numerous ascetics the Hist. Laus. gives copious details (cc. 96–100; cc. 137, 138), as well as of the three years which the writer spent on the Mount of Olives with Innocent, the presbyter of the church there. During this time he may also have visited Mesopotamia, Syria, and the other portions of the eastern world which he speaks of having traversed. The peace of the church being re-established in 417, Palladius was perhaps restored to his see of Helenopolis. If so, he did not remain there long, for Socrates informs us that he was translated from that see to Aspuna in Galatia Prima (Socr. H. E. vii. 36). He had, however, ceased to be bp. of Aspuna in 431, when Eusebius attended the council of Ephesus as bp. of that see (Labbe, Concil. iii. 450). The Historic Lausiaca was composed c. 420. It is now, however, generally considered (vide works by Preuschen and Butler, u. inf.) that the author of this History is not to be identified with the bp. of Helenopolis, his contemporary. The work takes its name from one Lausus or Lauson, chief chamberlain
in the imperial household, at whose request it was written and to whom it is dedicated. The writer describes Lausus as a very excellent person, employing his power for the glory of God and the good of the church, and devoting his leisure to self-improvement and study. Though the writer is credulous, his work is an honest and, except as regards supposed miraculous acts, trustworthy account of the mode of life of the solitaries of that age, and a faithful picture of the tone of religious thought then prevalent. It preserves many historical and biographical details which later writers have borrowed; Sozomen takes many anecdotes without acknowledgment. Socrates refers to Palladius as a leading authority on the lives of the solitaries, but is wrong in calling him a monk and stating that he lived soon after the death of Valens (H. E. iv. 23). The Historia Lausiaca was repeatedly printed in various Latin versions, from very early times, the first ed. appearing soon after the invention of printing. The latest and best authorities are E. Preuschen, Palladius and Rufinus (Giessen, 1897); C. Butler, The Lausiac History of Palladius (vol. i. critical intro. Camb. 1898; vol. ii. Gk. text with intro. and notes, 1904) in Texts and Studies; see also C. H. Turner, The Lausiac Hist. of Pallad. in Jnl. of Theol. Stud. 1905, vi. p. 321.
The question whether the Dialogue with Theodore the Deacon is correctly assigned to Palladius of Helenopolis has been much debated. It is essentially a literary composition, the characters and framework being alike fictitious. It was undoubtedly written by one who took an active part in the events he describes. No one corresponds so closely in all respects to the ideal presented by the narration as Palladius of Helenopolis, nor is there any really weighty objection to his authorship. For the closing days of Chrysostom's episcopate it is, with all its faults, simply priceless. Tillem. Mém. Eccl. t. xi. pp. 500–530, pp. 638–646; Cave, Hist. Lit. t. i. p. 376; Du Pin, Auteurs eccl. t. iii. p. 296; Cotelerius, Eccl. Graec. Monum. t. iii. p. 563.