Saint Epiphanius, a father of the church, born near Eleutheropolis in Palestine about 310, died at sea in 402 or 403. He was of Jewish parentage, but having become a Christian retired to an Egyptian monastery, where he mastered the Hebrew, Coptic, Syriac, Greek, and Latin languages. At the age of 20 he returned to Palestine, founded a monastery which he governed for 30 years, and wrote several books for the instruction of his monks. In 367 he was made bishop of Salamis in Cyprus, as a reward for the zeal with which he had combated the heresy of Arius and the errors attributed to Origen. After the persecution of Valens he made a journey to Antioch to convert the Apollinarian patriarch Vitalis; thence went to Rome, where he met St. Jerome; and some time afterward proceeded to Jerusalem to warn its bishop against the poison of Origenism. Not succeeding in this, he withdrew to the solitude of Bethlehem, and conferred the order of priesthood on Paulinian, brother of St. Jerome, a violation of the canons which drew on him the censure of the diocesan bishop.
Theophilus of Alexandria, at one time a violent partisan of the Origenist doctrines, had openly accused Epiphanius of heresy; but since the elevation of Chrysostom to the see of Constantinople Theophilus had become a violent opponent of Origen, and involved Epiphanius in his hostility to Chrysostom. By his persuasion a council was assembled in Cyprus, at which the writings of Origen were condemned; and when Theophilus was cited by the emperor to appear in the capital and answer for the burning of the Egyptian monasteries and the murder of the Origenist monks, he sent Epiphanius before him to plead his cause. Epiphanius not only refused to communicate with Chrysostom, but conferred holy orders in one of the city churches, assembled a council of bishops, asked of them to subscribe the decrees of the council of Salamis, and pronounced in the church of the Apostles a sentence of excommunication against the adherents of Origen. Reproved for this by Chrysostom, and unable to obtain the approbation of the emperor, he assumed a milder tone toward his opponent, departed for Cyprus, and died during the voyage. His most important work is his Pana-rion, directed against heresies. His style is uncouth, and his matter thrown together without order or connection.
A standard edition of his works is that of Petavius (2 vols. fol., Paris, 1622); his works are also published in Migne's Patrologia Groeca (Paris, 1856-'61).