Ulfila by Faye Huntington

Long, long ago, about two centuries after our Saviour ascended into Heaven from the midst of the wondering disciples, a calamity befell a Christian family living in Cappadocia. You will find if you turn to the second chapter of Acts, that among those who listened to Peter's first sermon were men who dwelt in Cappadocia; and again Peter addresses his first epistle to the Christians in Cappadocia, or, as the revision has it, "To the elect who are sojourners" in various places, this one among others.

So you will see that the Christian religion had already, even in Peter's time, spread thus far.

Upon the occasion of an invasion of the Goths, the family of which I write was carried away into captivity. Among these pagans our hero Ulfila was born, in the year 313. His early home was upon the northern bank of the Danube. Belonging to a Christian family he was educated in the principles of the Christian religion, and became a bishop. He taught the Goths the truths of the Bible, and many embraced Christianity. Indeed, so successful were the good bishop's labors among the people, that their chief showed his displeasure by persecuting the Christians. Then Ulfila and many of his followers, those whom he had shown the way of life, left the Goths, and, securing the permission of the Roman emperor, they settled upon Roman territory.

These were afterwards called Moesogoths, from the name of the district in which they settled—Moesia. They gave up their warlike life, and became an agricultural people. And the colony increased through the immigration of others of their own people. For it seems that though Ulfila had left, the influence of his preaching did not cease, and others embraced Christianity, and as the persecutions continued these determined to join Ulfila, so it came about that through the efforts of this one man large numbers were taught the truths of the Bible. He translated the Bible into the language of the Goths. This was an immense labor, for he was obliged to invent a new alphabet.

In a public library in Upsal, Sweden, there is a curious volume known as the Codex Argenteus, or, silvered book. It is a translation of the four Gospels, and its letters are in silver, on leaves of purple vellum. This is a fragment of Ulfila's translation. The whole work was lost for about five centuries, but was discovered, at least parts of it found, by a man named Mercator, in an old abbey of Werden, in the sixteenth century. Other parts of the New Testament have been found, but only some fragments of Ezra and Nehemiah have been discovered of the Old Testament.

We have had handed down to us very few particulars of Ulfila's life. He died at Constantinople, in 383.