Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature to the End of the Sixth Century/Ursacius, bp. of Singidunum
Ursacius (1), bp. of Singidunum (Belgrade). He and Valens, bp. of Mursa, appear at every synod and council from 330 till c. 370, as leaders of the Arian party both in the East and West. They seem to have imbibed their Arian views from Arius himself during the period of his exile into Illyricum immediately after the council of Nicaea. They are described by Athanasius (ad Episc. Aegypt. 7, p. 218) as the disciples of Arius. This could scarcely have been at Alexandria, but they may easily have come in contact with him during his exile, which seems to have been very fruitful in spreading his views, as almost all the bishops of the Danubian provinces, together with Ulfilas and the Gothic converts, appear as Arians immediately afterwards (cf. Sulp. Sever. Chron. ii. 38). Ursacius must have been born, at latest, c. 300, as we find him a bishop, actively engaged in conspiracy against Athanasius, when Arius was recalled, c. 332. From Socrates we gather the leading events of his life. In H. E. i. 27 we find him united with Eusebius of Nicomedia, Theognis of Nicaea, Maris of Chalcedon, and Valens, in getting up a case against Athanasius and fabricating the scandalous charges of theft, sacrilege, and murder, investigated at the council of Tyre in 335, Ursacius and Valens being present there. They must have been very active and influential members of the party even at that early period, for they were sent to Egypt, as deputies of the synod, to investigate the charge on the spot, notwithstanding the protests of Athanasius (l.c. i. 31). In 342 they assisted at Constantinople at the consecration of Macedonius as patriarch. Upon the triumph of Athanasius in 346 they made their peace with Julius, bp. of Rome, accepted the Nicene formula, and wrote to Athanasius, professing their readiness to hold communion with him. At the synod of Sirmium in 359 they were again active members of the Homoean party, who drew up the Dated Creed, May 22, 359. They duly presented this creed to the council of Ariminum a few weeks later, which promptly rejected it, deposing Ursacius and Valens from their sees, "as well for their present conspiracy to introduce heresy, as for the confusion they had caused in all the churches by their repeated changes of faith." Ursacius and Valens at once sought the emperor's presence and gained him over to their side. The council also sent a long epistle to the emperor, which Socrates (ii. 37) inserts. The emperor refused to see the deputies of the council, and sent them to wait his leisure at Hadrianople first, and then at Nice in Thrace; where Ursacius and Valens induced these same deputies to sign, on Oct. 10, 359, a revised version of the creed, which the council had rejected. Socrates tells us that Nice in Thrace was chosen in order that it might impress the ignorant, who would confound it with Nicaea in Bithynia, where the orthodox symbol had been framed. Cf. Soz. H. E. iv. 19; Hieron. adv. Lucif. p. 189; Sulp. Sev. Chron. ii. 44; and Gwatkin's Studies of Arianism, pp. 157–178, for the history of this period. Ursacius and Valens seem to have remained influential with the court till the end of life, for the last notice of either of them in history tells how Valens obtained the recall of the Arian Eunomius from exile in 367 (Philostorg. H. E. ix. 8). The writings of Athanasius and Hilary frequently mention them. Gwatkin's Studies is very full of information, and Hefele's Councils (t. ii. Clark's trans. s.nn.) gives abundant references to the synods in which they took part; see also Tillem. Mém. vi.