Sainted Betranes and Theotimos

Commemorated on April 20

      Sainted Betranes and Theotimos were bishops of Lesser Skythia, where the mouth of the Dunaj (Danube) flows into Thrace. Their diocesan cathedral was situated in the city of Toma (Kiustendji). They were Skythians.
      The Church historian Sozomenes gives an account about Sainted Betranes. When the emperor Valens (364-378) stayed in Toma, he began in church to urge the saint to enter into communion with Arian heretics. Saint Betranes boldly answered, that he adhered to the teaching of the holy Nicean fathers and, in order to avoid bantering, he went off to another of the city churches. And all the people followed after him. There remained in the deserted church only the emperor with his retinue. For such audacity the emperor condemned the saint to exile, but he feared the grumbling of the crowd and let him go free. The Skyths loved their archpastor and they cared about him as a good and saintly man.
      Another historian, Theodorit, writes about the sainted-bishop: "And Betranes, radiant with every virtue and archpastoral power, governing the cities of all the Skythians, was enflamed with zeal of spirit and denounced the heretics for their dogmatic deficiency and their iniquitous attitude towards the saints. He said with the Divine-inspiration of David: "I shall speak Thy testimonies before the king and not be shy" (Ps. 18:46).
      Sainted Betranes died, probably soon after the denunciation of emperor Valens. His commemoration in the "Acts of the Saints" indicates 25 January. At the II OEcumenical Council in 381 it mentions already the successor to Sainted Betranes, the Toma bishop Gerontios, and after him the cathedra was occupied by Sainted Theotimos.
      In the year 392 Sainted Theotimos was already known to Blessed Jerome (Comm. 15 June) as a writer and bishop. Sainted Theotimos participated in the Council of 399, where Sainted John Chrysostom (Comm. 13 November) examined the acts of the bishop of Ephesus. In the year 403, when Sainted Epiphanios of Cyprus (+ 403, Comm. 12 May) insistently demanded of Saint John Chrysostom and the other bishops to carry out a condemnation of Origen, Sainted Theotimos wrote: "It is impious to further offend the dead and to rise up in judgement against the ancients and re-question their sanction". He took out one of the works of Origen, read from it and, pointing out that which was read was of good purpose to the Church, added: "Those who condemn this book, slander also that which it says here".
      Sainted Theotimos journeyed much throughout his diocese. His Christian love flowed even upon the Huns, then as yet unenlightened by the light of the Gospel. By means of beneficence and gentleness the sainted-bishop strove to win them over to the true faith. The impressive miracles, worked by the saint in the Name of Jesus Christ, so astonished the pagans, that they called him a Roman god.
      Once, when during the time of a journey the saint and his companions were under the threat of deadly peril from the Huns, the sainted-bishop began to pray intensely, and all were left invisible to them. Another time, when a certain Hun tried to catch the saint with a rope, his hand froze in the air and only then was it released from its invisible hold, when Sainted Theotimos at the request of other Huns prayed to God for him.
      Sainted Theotimos kept to a simple form of life: he partook of nourishment not at this or that time, but only when he experienced hunger or thirst. Blessed Jerome wrote about him: "Theotimos, Skythian bishop of Tomum, produced in dialogues in the form of ancient rhetoric powerfully fine tracts and, as I have heard, he wrote other works". It is known, that Sainted Theotimos wrote: "About the Teachings of the Saviour", "Against Idols", a "Commentary on Genesis", a "Commentary on the Text `I shall bear the Gift unto the Altar", "About Fasting" (from the last 4 works the Monk John Damascene makes comparison in several places in his own parallels).
      Sainted Theotimos died peacefully in about the year 412. His commemoration in the "Acts of the Saints" is indicated as 20 April.

1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.

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