BRONZE STATUE of CHRIST ERECTED by ST. BERNICE
According to five early ecclesiastical historians:
Eusebius of Caesarea:
But since I have come to mention this city, I do not think it right to omit a story that is worthy to be recorded also from those that come after us. For they say that the woman who had a haemorrhage, and who, as we learn from the sacred Gospels, found at the hands of our Saviour relief from her affliction, came to this place, and that her house was pointed out in the city, and that marvelous memorials of the good deed, which the Savior wrought upon her, still remained. For that there stood on a lofty stone at the gates of her house a bronze figure of a woman, bending on her knee and stretching forth her hands like a suppliant, while opposite to this there was another of the same material, an upright figure of a man, clothed in comely fashion in a double cloak and stretching out his hand to the woman; at his feet on the monument itself a strange species of herb was growing, which climbed up to the double cloak of bronze, and acted as an antidote to all kinds of diseases. This statue, they said, bore the likeness of the Lord Jesus. And it was in existence even to our day, so that we saw it with out own eyes when we stayed in the city.
Berenice, who once was mistress of a famous place, and honoured ruler of the great city of Edessa, having been delivered from an unclean issue of blood and speedily healed from a painful affection, whom many physicians tormented at many times, but increased the affection to the worst of maladies with no betterment at all, He made to be celebrated and famous in story till the present day in Mesopotamia, or rather in all the world - so great was her experience - for she was made whole by a touch of the saving hem of His garment. For the woman, having had the record of the deed itself nobly represented in bronze, gave it to her son, as something done recently, not long before.
In his grief King Herod, the son of Philip, came from Judea, and a certain wealthy woman, living in the city of Paneas, called Bernice, approached him, wishing to set up a statue to Jesus, for she had been healed by him. As she did not dare to do this without imperial permission, she addressed a petition to King Herod, asking to set up a golden statue to the Saviour Christ in that city.
The petition ran as follows: To the august toparch Herod, lawgiver to Jews and Hellenes, king of Trachonitis, a petition and request from Bernice, a dignitary of the city of Paneas. Justice and benevolence and all other virtues crown your highness's sacred head. Thus, since I know this, I have come with every good hope that I shall obtain my requests. My words as they progress will reveal to you what foundation there is for this present preamble. From my childhood I have been smitten with the affliction of an internal haemorrhage; I spent all my livelihood and wealth on doctors but found no cure. When I heard of the cures that Christ performs with His miracles, He who raises the dead, restores the blind to sight, drives demons out of mortals, and heals with a word all those wasting away from disease, I too ran to Him as to God. I noticed the crowd surrounding him and I was afraid to tell Him of my incurable disease in case he should recoil from the pollution of my affliction and be angry with me and the violence of the disease should strike me even more. I reasoned to myself that, if I were able to touch the fringe of His garment, I would certainly be healed. I touched Him, and the flow of blood was stopped and immediately I was healed. He, however, as though He knew in advance my heart's purpose, cried out, Who touched Me? For power has gone out of Me. I went white with terror and lamented, thinking that the disease would return to me with greater force, and I fell before Him covering the ground with tears. I told Him of my boldness. Out of His goodness He took pity on me and confirmed my cure, saying, Be of good courage, My daughter, your faith has saved you. Go your way in peace. So, your august highness, grant your suppliant this worthy petition.
When King Herod heard the contents of this petition, he was amazed by the miracle and, fearing the mystery of the cure, said, This cure, woman, which was worked on you, is worthy of a greater statue. Go then and set up whatever kind of statue you wish to Him, honouring by the offering Him who healed you. Immediately, Bernice, who had formerly suffered from a haemorrhage, set up in the middle of her city of Paneas a statue of beaten bronze, mixing it with gold and silver, to the Lord God. This statue remains in the city of Paneas to the present day, having been moved not many years ago from the place where it stood in the middle of the city to a holy place, a house of prayer. This document was found in the city of Paneas in the house of a man called Bassus, a Jew who had become a Christian.
Among so many remarkable events which occurred during the reign of Julian, I must not omit to mention one which affords a sign of the power of Christ, and proof of the Divine wrath against the emperor.
Having heard that at Caesarea Philippi, otherwise called Paneas, a city of Phonicia, there was a celebrated statue of Christ which had been erected by a woman whom the Lord had cured of a flow of blood, Julian commanded it to be taken down and a statue of himself erected in its place; but a violent fire from heaven fell upon it and broke off the parts contiguous to the breast; the head and neck were thrown prostrate, and it was transfixed to the ground with the face downwards at the point where the fracture of the bust was; and it has stood in that fashion from that day until now, full of the rust of the lightning. The statue of Christ was dragged around the city and mutilated by the pagans; but the Christians recovered the fragments, and deposited the statue in the church in which it is still preserved. Eusebius relates, that at the base of this statue grew an herb which was unknown to the physicians and empirics, but was efficacious in the cure of all disorders. It does not appear a matter of astonishment to me, that, after God had vouchsafed to dwell with men, he should condescend to bestow benefits upon them.
There is also the statue of the Saviour in the city of Paneas, a work of magnificent execution put up by the woman with the haemorrhage whom Christ healed, and erected on a notable site in the city... Now an herb grew up by the feet of our Saviour's image and the reason for this was sought, for in the passage of time both the person portrayed and the reason for the monument had been forgotten; it stood in the open with nothing to cover it, and much of the body was buried in the dirt that kept falling upon it from highter ground especially in times of rain, the dirt covering the writing that explained each of the matters. An inquiry was therefore instituted, the buried part was dug out, and the writing was found that told the whole story... The Christians removed it and put it in the sacristy of the church. The pagans pulled it down, fastened ropes to the feet, and dragged it through the public square until it was broken up bit by bit and so destroyed. Only the head was left; that was seized by someone while the pagans were raising their clamor and speaking blasphemies and utterly disgraceful words against our Lord Jesus Christ, words such as no one had ever heard.