Saint Theodosius of Antioch
January 11 was the Commemoration of Saint Theodosius of Antioch.
“Saint Theodosius of Antioch in his early years left the rich home of his illustrious parents and entered upon the straight and arduous path of asceticism. He settled into a small cell on the shore of the Gulf of Isska, near the city of Ossos. The saint weakened his body with prostrations and by lying upon the bare ground. He also wore a hairshirt and heavy iron chains. His hair grew so long that it covered his feet.
By continuous feats of fasting and prayer he conquered his fleshly and spiritual passions, he quieted his temper, and drove away unclean thoughts. He labored much, tilling his garden and occupying himself with plaiting ropes. In his native land St Theodosius founded a monastery (Skupela). He imparted to the monks a love for physical toil and for spiritual deeds. St Theodosius had a special concern for strangers.
The sublime life of the saint was known even beyond the confines of the monastery. Both Christians and pagans knew him. Seafarers in time of peril called out for help to “the God of Theodosius.” It happened that at the mere mention of St Theodosius, the waves of the sea were calmed. Brigands feared and respected him, and sought his prayers. Fleeing the praise of people, the saint settled near the village of Maraton, founding here the Maratonia monastery. There the great ascetic peacefully finished the days of his God-pleasing life (412).”
“The Venerable Saint Theodosius the Great, also Theodosius the Cenobiarch lived during the fifth-sixth centuries (423 AD – 529 AD), and was the founder and organizer of the cenobitic way of monastic life. The monastery that he founded in 476 AD became known as the “Monastery of St. Theodosius”, and includes his tomb. His feast day is on January 11.
Saint Theodosius was born in the province of Cappadocia in the village of Mogarissus. His parents Proheresius and Eulogia were very devout.
Endowed with a splendid voice, he zealously toiled at church reading and singing. St Theodosius prayed fervently that the Lord would guide him on the way to salvation. In his early years he visited the Holy Land and met with St Symeon the Stylite (September 1), who blessed him and predicted future pastoral service for him.
Yearning for the solitary life, Saint Theodosius settled in Palestine into a desolate cave, in which, according to Tradition, the three Magi had spent the night, having come to worship the Savior after His Nativity. He lived there for thirty years in great abstinence and unceasing prayer. People flocked to the ascetic, wishing to live under his guidance.
When the cave could no longer hold all the monks, St Theodosius prayed that the Lord Himself would indicate a place for the monks to live. Taking a censer with cold charcoal and incense, the monk started walking into the desert. At a certain spot the charcoal ignited by itself and the incense smoke began to rise. Here the monk established the first cenobitic monastery, or Lavra (meaning “broad” or “populous”).
It was around this time that Theodosius’ friend and countryman Sabbas the Sanctified was appointed Archimandrite of all the isolated monks in Palestine, by Patriarch Sallustius of Jerusalem (486-493). Therefore Theodosius was made the leader of all those monks who lived in community, and this was the origin of his being called “the Cenobiarch”, which translates as chief of those living a life in common.
Soon the Lavra of St Theodosius became renowned, and up to 700 monks gathered at it. According to the final testament of St Theodosius, the Lavra rendered service to neighbor, gave aid to the poor and provided shelter for wanderers. There was a communal table for all, communal property, communal penance, communal labor, communal patience and, not too rare, communal hunger. Theodosius was an exalted model of life to all the monks; an example in labor, prayer, fasting, watchfulness and in all Christian virtues.
St Theodosius was extremely compassionate. Once, when there was a famine in Palestine and a multitude of people gathered at the monastery, he gave orders to allow everyone into the monastery enclosure. His disciples were annoyed, knowing that the monastery did not have the means to feed all those who had come. But when they went into the bakery, they saw that through the prayers of the abba, it was filled with bread. This miracle was repeated every time St Theodosius wanted to help the destitute.
At the monastery, St Theodosius built a home for taking in strangers, separate infirmaries for monks and laymen, and also a shelter for the dying.
Seeing that people from various lands gathered at the Lavra, the saint arranged for services and hymns to be offered to God in the various languages: Greek, Georgian and Armenian. However when all were gathered to receive the Holy Mysteries in the large church, the divine services were chanted in Greek.”