According to the Ecclesiastical History of John of Ephesus, the first Christian missionary to work among the Nubians was a Monophysite priest named Julian. He had earlier accompanied the Coptic patriarch THEODOSIUS I in his exile in Constantinople, and through him had become imbued with a zeal to convert the Nubians. In pursuit of this goal, Julian went to see the Byzantine empress Theodora, who was sympathetic to the Monophysite cause; from her he received an official commission to preach the gospel in the northern Nubian kingdom of NOBATIA.
However, the emperor Justinian, the husband of Theodora, ordered instead that a Melchite mission be dispatched to Nobatia. When Theodora heard of this plan she connived with officials in Egypt to delay the departure of the Melchites, with the result that Julian arrived first on the Nubian scene. According to John of Ephesus, he was ardently received by the Nobatians and soon achieved the conversion of both of the king and of his subjects. Julian remained in Nobatia for two years, after which his missionary efforts were carried on by Theodore, bishop of Philae. The final conversion of Nobatia was completed by LONGINUS between 569 and 575.
[See also: Nubia, Evangelization of.]
- Adams, W. Y. Nubia, Corridor to Africa, pp. 441-42. Princeton, N.J., 1977.
- Gadallah, F. A. “The Egyptian Contribution to Nubian Christianity.” Sudan Notes and Records 40 (1959):38-43.
- Monneret de Villard, U. Storia della Nubia cristiana, pp. 61-64. Orientalia Christiana Analecta 118. Rome, 1938.
- Vantini, G. Christianity in the Sudan, pp. 38-40. Bologna, 1981.