Saint Dionysius of Corinth
|Bishop and Confessor|
|Born||Late 1st or early-mid 2nd century AD|
|Venerated in||Catholic Church; Eastern Orthodox Church|
The date is established by the fact that he wrote to Pope St Soter. Eusebius in his Chronicle placed his "floruit" in the eleventh year of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius (171). When Hegesippus was at Corinth in the time of Pope Anicetus, Primus was bishop (about 150-5), while Bacchyllus was Bishop of Corinth at the time of the Paschal controversy (about 190-8). Dionysius is only known to us through Eusebius. Eusebius knew a collection of seven of the Catholic Letters to the Churches of Dionysius, together with a letter to him from Pinytus, Bishop of Knossus, and a private letter of spiritual advice to a lady named Chrysophora.
Eusebius mentions (1) a letter to the Lacedaemonians, teaching orthodoxy, and enjoining peace and union. (2) Another letter was to the Athenians, stirring up their faith exhorting them to live according to the Gospel, since they were not far from apostasy. Dionysius spoke of the recent martyrdom of their bishop, Publius (in the persecution of Marcus Aurelius), and says that Dionysius the Areopagite was the first Bishop of Athens. (3) To the Nicomedians he wrote against Marcionism. (4) Writing to Gortyna and the other dioceses of Crete, he praised their bishop, Philip, for efforts on behalf of the church then warned him of the distortions of heretics. (5) To the Church of Amastris in Pontus he wrote at the instance of Bacchylides and Elpistus (otherwise unknown), mentioning the bishop's name as Palmas; he wrote in this letter of marriage and celibacy, and recommended the charitable treatment of those who had fallen away into sin or heresy. (6) In a letter to Pinytus, bishop of Knossus, he recommended that he should not lay the yoke of celibacy too heavily on his brethren, but consider the weakness most of them have. Pinytus replied, after polite words, that he hoped Dionysius would send strong meat next time so his people might not grow up on the milk of babes.
But the most important letter is the seventh one, addressed to the Romans, and the only one from which extracts have been preserved. Pope Soter had sent alms and a letter to the Corinthians, and in response Dionysius wrote:
The witness to the martyrdom of Sts. Peter and Paul, kata ton auton kairon, is of importance, and so is the mention of the Epistle of Clement and the public reading of it. The letter of the pope was written "as a father to his children". Dionysius's own letters were evidently much prized, for in the last extract from this letter he writes that he wrote them by request, and that they have been falsified "by the apostles of the devil". "Small wonder then", he observes, "if some have dared to tamper even with the word of the Lord himself, when they have conspired to mutilate my own humble efforts."