Today being the memorial St. Athanasius this is my favorite story about him when he was being tried for sorcery and for murder and cutting off their right hand to use in magical rites.
Early in the proceeding, with a truly breath-taking disregard for recently established and documented truth, the "hand of Arsernius" was brought out for the horrified perusal of the council, along with the original tale of murder and sorcery involving him and Athanasius. But Athanasius was as resourceful as his opponents. Arsenius, never quite good enough at hiding himself, was ferreted out again at Tyre. Athanasius brought him to the council, wrapped in a cloak. He asked if those present knew Arsenius. When several answered that they did. Athanasius uncovered Arsenius’s face. "Is this the right Arsenius? Is this the man I murdered? Is this the man those people mutilated after his murder by cutting off his right hand? Then he pulled off the cloak, revealing both of Arsenius’s hands perfectly normal. "Let no one seek for a third hand," Athanasius concluded, with crushing irony "for man has received two hands from the Creator and no more." From the Building of Christendom Vol II by Warren H. Carroll
Warren Carroll series on Christendom is highly recommended. These are not rapid reads or simple overviews of the History of Christendom, but are much more expansive. His writing style is highly readable and while these books are scholarly and footnoted, they are not dry in any way and extremely informative. It really helps you to expand your view of Christian history. We often complain about events in the Church such as weak bishops, etc. Reading Church history really helps to put it all in perspective. Going back to the time of St. Athanasius when the Arian heresy had infected the majority of bishops and considering the fact that this was only a few centuries after the death of Christ you can see how the Holy Spirit has guided the Church. To look at history is to see that the Church has always had spineless clergy and laity. Just how many bishops refused to give in to King Henry VIII in England. Just one – St. John Fisher. Yet despite our own weaknesses and those of the Body of Christ -the Church just keeps chugging along despite us.
Looking at the times of St. Athanasius you see that theology was taken quite seriously even up to fights breaking out in the streets over it. Or the famous case of St. Nicholas punching Arius in the nose. There were many plots, intrigues, and political gambits used to advance a theological view. In comparison what we do today is quite boring. Our modern day dissidents are usually much more subtle and less out in the open about their views or they are made in such a way as to allow plausible deniability that they are actually denying Church teaching. Give me an honest heretic any day.