Pamphilius of Caesarea
The holy, glorious, right-victorious martyr Pamphilius of Caesarea lived in Caesarea at the turn of the third and fourth centuries. There he founded a magnificent library, said to have been second in size to that in Alexandria, that remained the glory of the Church of Caesarea for several centuries. He presided over a school or college for students.
Little is known of his early life. He is believed to have been born about 240. He came from Phoenicia, born in Berytus (now Beirut), and is believed to have been from a prominent and wealthy family, a nobleman, who sold his patrimony and gave the proceeds to the poor and to indigent students. His education included studies under the Christian teacher Pierius in Alexahderia, Egypt. He became a student of the writings of Origen. He came to reside in Caesarea where he presided over his school and began his library.
He was a Christian scholar and a presbyter in the church at Caesarea. His library is said to have contained early versions of the scriptures and an original version of the Gospel according to St. Matthew in Hebrew. Instead of writing he spent his time preparing accurate copies of the Scriptures and other books, especially those of Origen of whom he was a contemporary and a disciple. Origen left his own copy of the Hexapla at Pamphilius’ library, probably deposited there by Origen himself.
By the end of 307 Pamphilius was arrested under the orders of Urbanus, the local Roman governor, tortured cruelly, and placed in prison. Yet, in prison and suffering from his torture wounds, Pamphilius did not remain idle but continued editing the Septuagint and with Eusebius, wrote a Defense of Origen that he sent to the confessors in the mines of Phaeno, Egypt.
After being in prison for two years, Pamphilius was ordered killed by the new governor, Firminius. He was then beheaded on February 16, 309 with several of his disciples. His feast day is February 16. In his memory Eusebius called himself Eusebius Pamphili, to denote his close friendship with Pamphilius.
His irreplaceable library was destroyed during the Muslim invasions of the seventh century.