Commemorated on October 28
Born to a noble family of Caesarea in Cappadocia, he studied
under Origen with his friend St Gregory the Wonderworker (November 17). He
became Bishop of Caesarea around 230. In 252 he took part in the Council of
Antioch, which condemned the schismatic Novatian and his followers, who denied
all hope of repentance and restoration to the Church for those who had denied
the Faith to avoid persecution.
Firmilian devoted much energy to defending the churches of Asia and Africa
from unlawful domination by Pope Stephen of Rome. The Asian and African churches
baptized heretics who returned to the Church; Rome reconciled them simply by the
laying on of hands. Firmilian did not condemn the Roman practice, but zealously
opposed the local churches' right to keep their practice, rather than have the
Pope dictate the practices of the entire Church.
The holy Bishop was then called upon to combat the heresy of Paul of Samosata,
Bishop of Antioch. Paul taught that the Word of God is not one in essence with
the Father, but is only a word of divine inspiration sent to the man Jesus.
(This is undoubtedly the belief of many 'Christians' today!) Seeing in this
teaching a complete denial of our salvation in Christ, fully man and fully God,
Firmilian called three successive Councils (in 263, 266 and 268) to deal with
the heresy. The first two were undermined by Paul and his party; but at the
third the heresy was finally condemned and Paul of Samosata excommunicated.
Saint Firmilian died in the city of Tarsus while traveling to this Council.