Scythopolis (today's Beit She'an) had a Christian community headed by a bishop even before the Edict of Milan of 313 legalized profession of Christianity in the Roman Empire. Under Emperor Diocletian, Saint Procopius of Scythopolis died as a martyr on 7 July 303.
History of the see
Bishop Patrophilus of Scythopolis was an intimate friend of Arius, whom he welcomed when exiled to Palestine in 323. A supporter of Arianism, he took part in the First Council of Nicaea (325) and various councils of Arians until 360. Sozomen and Socrates Scholasticus say that in 354-5 he acted together with Acacius of Caesarea (Caesarea was then the metropolitan see for both Scythopolis and Jerusalem) to depose Bishop Maximus of Jerusalem, who supported the Nicene Creed, and to replace him with Cyril of Jerusalem, whom they wrongly thought to be an Arian. He also supervised the exile of Eusebius of Vercelli to Scythopolis - Eusebius calls him his "jailer". In 359 he was a member of a delegation sent to Emperor Constantius II to protest against depositions of Arian clergy by Basil of Caesarea. He was deposed by the Council of Seleucia in 359 and died soon after. Philostorgius mentions that in 361 his body was disinterred and his bones scattered during the pagan reaction under Julian.
Other bishops of Scythopolis include Philip and Athanasius, both Arians; Saturninus, present at the First Council of Constantinople in 381; Theodosius, friend of Saint John Chrysostom; Acacius, friend of Saint Cyril of Alexandria; Servianus, killed by Monophysites in 452; John, who wrote in defence of the Council of Chalcedon; Theodore, who in about 553 was compelled to sign an anti-Origenist profession of faith, still preserved (Le Quien, "Oriens christianus." III, 681-94).
Among illustrious Christians of Scythopolis were Asterius, 4th-century commentator of the Psalms, cited with praise by Saint Jerome; and Cyril, charming historian of monastic life in Palestine, who wrote seven lives of saints. In the 6th century there were four churches at Scythopolis, dedicated to St Thomas, St John, St Procopius, and St Basil, another local martyr. Many monks lived in the town and its environs, occupied in making baskets and fans from the palms in the neighbouring forests (Sozomen, "Hist. ecclés.", VIII, 13); with them the four Tall Brothers took refuge when expelled from Egypt by Patriarch Theophilus for so called Origenist ideas.
- Siméon Vailhé, "Scythopolis" in Catholic Encyclopedia (New York 1912)
- Annuario Pontificio 2013 (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2013, ISBN 978-88-209-9070-1), p. 966
- Theophanes, 60B-61B, in Philip Amidon, Philostorgius: Church History p.221
- Philostorgius, book 4, section 10; Amidon p.69.
- Amidon, p.227
- Athanasius, Bishop of Scythopolis
- Saint Severianus, Bishop of Scythopolis, Martyr