Tarsus was the birthplace of Saint Paul (Acts 9:11; 21:39; 22:3), who returned here after his conversion (Acts 9:30). From here Barnabas retrieved him to help with the work in Syrian Antioch (Acts 11:25). Already by this time a Christian community probably existed, although the first recorded bishop, Helenus, dates only from the third century; Helenus visited Antioch several times in connection with the dispute concerning Paul of Samosata. Later bishops of Tarsus included Lupus, present at the Council of Ancyra in 314; Theodorus, at the Council of Nicaea in 325; Helladius, who was condemned at the Council of Ephesus and who appealed to the bishop of Rome in 433; above all the celebrated exegete Diodorus, teacher of Theodore of Mopsuestia and consequently one of the fathers of Nestorianism. From the sixth century the metropolitan see of Tarsus had seven suffragan bishoprics; the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople archdiocese is again mentioned in the tenth century), and has existed down to the present day, part of the Patriarchate of Antioch.
At about the end of the tenth century, the Armenians established a diocese of their rite, which still exists; Saint Nerses of Lambroun was its most distinguished representative in the twelfth century.
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