Bishop Basilica

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A mosaic floor detail from the Bishop Basilica, Plovdiv Archaeological MuseumA mosaic floor detail from the Bishop Basilica, Plovdiv Archaeological Museum

When: the 5-6th centuries

Length: 86 meters

Width: 39 meters

Where: Between Maria Louisa Boulevard and St Ludwig Catholic Cathedral

Bishop Silvanus was leaving and every man, woman and child who did not have something more important to do, was on the streets, trying to catch one final glimpse of him. They had known him for three years only, but they knew well that he was an extraordinary man.

Silvanus, as his contemporary Socrates Scholasticus reported in his Historia Ecclesiastica, or Church History, was a philosopher, but his religious fever proved to be stronger. Silvanus embraced monastic life with such devotion that within a few years he caught the attention of Atticus (406-425/426), the bishop of Constantinople. So he was sent to Philippopolis, to be the city bishop and metropolitan for several neighboring church communities.

Exhausted by the strict ascetic life, Silvanus could not bear the harsh Thracian climate for long. He asked Bishop Atticus for a new appointment, and he got it. Silvanus was sent to Troas, in Asia Minor, where he performed so many miracles that he was beatified after his death.

Socrates Scholasticus does not mention of any miracles done by Silvanus while in Philippopolis. His three years there, however, were probably very busy. The city had for centuries been a strong centre of Christianity. There had been a community in it, presided by a bishop named Hermes or Erm, as early as the 1st Century. Under Emperor Diocletian (284-305), 37 Christians from Philippopolis were killed because of their faith.

But even after Christianity became the official religion in 313, the local community was troubled.



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