Δευτέρα, 12 Οκτωβρίου 2009

ST. THEODORE THE GREEK
ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY (+ 690)

By Antonios Markou

Published in the magazine “Orthodox Tradition” (No 3/1993, pp 30 - 32).
Δημοσιεύθηκε στό Περιοδικό «Ὀρθόδοξη Παράδοση» (φ. 3/1993, σελ. 30 – 32).

St. Theodore was born in Tarsus (Cilicia, the native place of the Holy Apostle Paul) in 602 or 603. He received an excellent education in Athens and very soon therafter become a monk (in Rome, according to the Benedictine monks of St. Augustine’s Abbey, Ramsgate, Engalan {cf. their Book of the Saints}).
At the age of 66, Divine Provedence found Monk Theodore in Rome. During this time, it happened that the Archbishop-elected of Canterbury, Wighard, reposed, and Pope St. Vitalian (1), who was responsible for the mission territories of the British Isles, was looking for a new candidate for the principal English See. Finalle, the Pope elected the learned African Abbot St. Adrian (2). Adrian declined the appointment, however, and suggested Theodore. The Pope accepted thiw suggestion, but on the condition that Adrian accompany Theodore to England.
St. Theodore was consecrated Archbishop of Canterbury on May 27, 669. The next year, in 670, accompanied by St. Adrian, “the stranger from the East”, arrived in England, established his Diocese in semi-barbarian circumstances, and began with great vigor his 21 year long missionary work.
One of the first problems that confronted him was the refusal of the Celtic Christians of the North and of Western Britain to accept the syandard (Byzantine and the then Roman) method for computing the date of Pascha. Many of the Celts refused to accept the decisions of the Synod of Whitby (664) and remained in schism from the English Church and the rest of Orthodox Christianity. St. Theodore was very strict on this matter and applied the Canons appropriate to schismatics in dealing with it. When Celtic Bishops sought refuge in the Catholic (that is, universal or Orthodox) Church, he corrected their consecrationw before accepting them into the Episcopal ranks. Moreover, he declared that any English Christian who received from the schismatics was subject to excommunication of one year.
St. Theodory is rightly called the second founder of the See of Canterbury and the first Primate of the English Church. In 672 or 673, after two of three years of missionary work, he convened under his presidency the first Synod of the united English Church at Hertford. This Synod degreed in its first Canon: “We all in common keep the Holy Day of Pascha on the Sunday after the fourteenth moon (day) of the first month, and always after the Jewish Passover”.
A second work of great significance was his establishment, together with St. Adrian, of the famous Canterbury School, where Greek, Latin, Literature, Theology, Science and Mathematics were taught. This School became the primary fount of learning for the English Churchmen up to the time of Venerable Bede. (3).
St. Theodore was, indeed, the first Archbishop in England to enjoy the loyality of the native faithful, winning their love and gratitude by convening Synods, consecrating Bishops, and traveling throughout the country, often on horseback.
He reposed in 690, on September 19. He foretold the day of his death, which was revealed to him in a vision or a dream!
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(1). St. Vitalian was Pope of Rome from 657 to 672. According to the Roman Martyrology, hiw memory is celebrated on January 27.
(2). St. Adrian was Abbot at Nerida (Niridan, near Naples), before his election by Pope St. Vitalian to the Archbishopric of Canterbury. After the consecration of St. Theodore, he became the Archbishop’s assistant and advisor and Abbot of the Abbey of Sts. Peter and Paul (later St. Augustine’s) in Canterbury, where he supervised a flourishing school. His cultus was revided in 1091, when his relics were discovered. His memory is celebrated on January 9. (Cf. R. Whyford, “English Martyrology” and R. Starton, “Menology of England and Wales”).
(3). St. Bede (673 - 735) can rightly be called one of greatest figures of English history. Born at Wearmouth, he was offered as a child to the Abbey of Sts. Peter and Paul at Jarrow, under its founder, Bishop St. Benedict (628 - 690), who, Nothumbrian by birth, began his monastic life at Lerins, France. There Bede spent his entire life. He was ordained to the Priesthood by St. John, Bishop of Beverly (a student at Canterbury under Sts. Theodore and Adrian and later Archbishop of York, founder of the Beverly Abbey. His memory is celebrated, according to the Roman Martyrology, on May 7).
Bede was above all a student of the Bible, and then of History. His “History of the English Church and People” earned him the tilte of the “Father of the English History”. He was been the ideal of the Benedictine scholar trough the ages, and is consider a “Doctor of the Church” by Roman Catholics.
His memory, according to the Roman Martyrology
, is celebrated on May 27.
Bibliography:
U. Chevalier, “Repertoire des sources historiques du Moyen Age”, 1907.
F. G. Holweck, “A biographical Dictionary of the Saints”, 1924.
D. Attwater, “A Dictionary of the Saints”, 1933.
P. Alfons M. Zimmermann, “Monch der Abtei Matten - Kalendarium Benedictinum”, 1933 – 1935.
Χριστοφόρου Κομμοδάτου, Ἐπισκόπου Τελμησσοῦ, «Οἱ Ἅγιοι τῶν Βρεττανικῶν Νήσων» (“The Saints of the British Isles”), 1985.

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