next year, Priscillianbecame bishop of Avila. His metropolitanbishop, Hydatius of Emerita, sought Ambrose's help in securing an imperial rescript banning Priscillian as a heretic. Priscillian's requests for a hearing from Ambrose and Pope Damasus failed, but he did get Gratian's rescript rescinded.
One of Priscillian's enemies, Bishop Ithacius of Ossonuba, fled to Trier after the proconsul of Lusitania started proceedings against him for calumny. Influenced by Ithacius, the usurper Maximus ordered a synod in Bordeaux to investigate the charges against Priscillian. But before the synod finished its work, Priscillian appealed to Maximus. Maximus had Priscillian and four of his supporters tried, convicted and executed on charges of sorcery,133 making him the first Christian heretic publicly executed in late antiquity. In Spain, two of Priscillian's followers were also executed, while others were exiled or had their property confiscated. A split developed. Some Gallic bishops refused to commune with Felix, bishop of Trier, because Ithacius took part in his ordination. The charismatic Martin of Tours criticised Priscillian's execution and regretted reversing his initial decision to shun Felix. Pope Siricius and Ambrose of Milan were likewise critical.134 Meanwhile, in Spain (particularly in Galicia), Priscillian was honoured as a martyr. Even so, a council in Toledo anathematised Priscillian and his writings (400). All but four of the bishops present subscribed to the anathema. The leading bishop of Galicia, Symposius of Astorga, and his son and coadjutor Dictinnius, who propagated the cult of Priscillian, yielded under pressure, but they and the bishops they had ordained were allowed to retain their offices.135 But even after Toledo, the Priscillianist schism persisted, particularly in the south. For instance, the first council of Braga in 561 issued seventeen chapters against the Priscillianist heresy, most of which repeated or developed earlier accusations,136 and there were still Priscillianists in the seventh century.
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