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legally, the income from their estates supplemented the revenues from individual offerings and the government subsidies that sometimes included grain. Not surprisingly, Constantine was very generous to various churches. At Rome he endowed the churches with estates located throughout the empire that produced over 400 pounds of gold annually in rents, and he brightened their interiors with silverware, gold chandeliers and porphyry columns. Some private benefactors, including bishops themselves, were almost as bountiful. Gregory of Nazianzus left most of his possessions to his family's hometown church in Cappadocia; the heiress Melania the Younger donated an enormous estate to Thagaste in North Africa. This accumulation of property was of course a gradual process, and during the fourth century most sees still had limited resources. Bishop Gregory of Nyssa once apologised for having to haggle over the wages of workmen hired to construct a new shrine by pleading poverty. But unlike wealthy families, whose assets were dispersed over a few generations, churches kept on acquiring more property through legacies and gifts. At the large sees the annual revenues were considerable, and much of this income went to bishops to be spent at their discretion. Even at Anastasiopolis, a small city in Galatia, the bishop received an annual income of five pounds of gold during the late sixth century. His income surpassed the salaries of grammarians, rhetoricians and doctors, and matched those of provincial governors.24

Bishops used their resources for the good of their cities. One conspicuous benefit was care for the poor. Many bishops acquired reputations as nour-ishers of the poor who founded or supervised almshouses and hospitals and distributed subsidies of cash and food. On his deathbed Paulinus, bishop of Nola, still remembered to pay for clothing to be donated to the poor. This relief work was so successful that even non-Christians were impressed. In the mid-fourth century the emperor Julian once suggested that pagan priests should imitate Christians by establishing hostels for strangers, and he offered to contribute grain and wine. But his justification of such open-handed generosity by citing a proof text from his pagan scriptures, the epic poems of Homer, could no longer compete with biblical injunctions to charity and mercy for the helpless. Christian charity expanded as ecclesiastical resources increased. In the early fifth century Porphyry, bishop of Gaza, offered daily maintenance to all poor people, whether citizens or strangers. In Gaul churchmen kept

24 Constantine's gifts to churches at Rome: Liber pontificalis 34. Gregory of Nazianzus' will: ed. Beaucamp. Melania's gift: VitaMelaniae iunioris (Latin) 21. Poverty at Nyssa: Gregory of Nyssa, Epistulae 25.16. Salary at Anastasiopolis: Georgius of Sykeon, Vita Theodori Syceotae 78.

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