Lives of Illustrious Men – Dionysius the bishop


Dionysius, bishop of Alexandria, as presbyter had charge of the catechetical school under Heraclas, and was the most distinguished pupil of Origen. Consenting to the doctrine of Cyprian and the African synod, on the rebaptizing of heretics, he sent many letters to different people, which are yet extant; He wrote one to Fabius, bishop of the church at Antioch, On penitence, another To the Romans, by the hand of Hippolytus, two letters To Xystus, who had succeeded Stephen, two also To Philemon and Dionysius, presbyters of the church at Rome, and another To the same Dionysius, afterwards bishop of Rome; and To Novatian, treating of their claim that Novatian had been ordained bishop of Rome, against his will. The beginning of this epistle is as follows:

“Dionysius to Novatian, his brother greeting. If you have been ordained unwillingly, as you say, you will prove it, when yon shall willingly retire.”

There is another epistle of his also To Dionysius and Didymus, and many Festal epistles on the passover, written in a declamatory style, also one to the church of Alexandria On exile, one To Hierax, bishop in Egypt, and vet others On mortality, On the Sabbath, and On the gymnasium, also one To Hermammon and others On the persecution of Decius, and two books Against Nepos the bishop, who asserted in his writings a thousand years reign in the body. Among other things he diligently discussed the Apocalypse of John, and wrote Against Sabellius and To Ammon, bishop of Bernice, and To Telesphorus, also To Euphranor, also four books To Dionysius, bishop of Rome, to the Laodiceans On penitence, to Origen On martyrdom, to the Armenians On penitence, also On the order of transgression, to Timothy On nature, to Euphranor On temptation, many letters also To Basilides, in one of which he asserts that he also began to write commentaries on Ecclesiastes. The notable epistle which he wrote against Paul of Samosta, a few days before his death is also current. He died in the twelfth year of Gallienus.

MLA Citation

  • Saint Jerome. “Dionysius the bishop”. Lives of Illustrious Men, with the Authors whom Gennadius Added after the Death of the Blessed Jerome, translated by Ernest Cushing Richardson. CatholicSaints.Info. November 2012. Web. 17 June 2021. <>