Sainted Eustathios, Archbishop of Antioch

Commemorated on February 21

      Sainted Eustathios, Archbishop of Antioch (323-331) was born in Pamphylian Sidon in the second half of the III Century. He was bishop of Beria (Beroea), and enjoyed the love and esteem of the people, and at the request of his flock he was elevated by the fathers of the First OEcumenical Council (325) to the Antioch cathedra-chair.
      Sainted Eustathios was profoundly learned as a theologian, and was likewise distinguished by his broad knowledge in the mundane sciences. When in the East there began spreading about the heresy of Arius, which denied the Consubstantiality of the Son of God together with the Father, Saint Eustathios struggled zealously in both word of mouth and in writing for the purity of the Orthodox faith. The First OEcumenical Council was convened in the year 325 by the holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Constantine the Great (306-337). The first to preside over this Council was Saint Eustathios. The Council condemned the heretical teachings of Arius and expounded the Orthodox confession into the Symbol of Faith (i.e. the Nicene Creed). But the mad Arius, as Saint Eustathios called him, who refused to renounce his errors, together with those of like mind with him, were deprived of dignity and excommunicated from the Church by the Council. Though among the bishops, who put their signature to the Nicene Symbol of Faith, were also those sympathising with the heresy of Arius yet signing the Acts of the Council not through conviction, but through fear of excommunication. After the Council, intrigues started against Saint Eustathios. With great cunning they gained his consent for the convening at Antioch of a Local Council. Having bribed a certain profligate woman, they persuaded her to appear at the Council with an infant at her breast, and falsely declare that the father of the infant was Saint Eustathios. Violating the Apostolic Rule concerning this, that accusations against clergy-servers need to be vouched to by two witnesses, the Arians declared Saint Eustathios deposed. Without a trial he was sent off into exile to Thrace. But the lie to the accusation was soon unmasked: having fallen grievously ill after the slandering, the woman repented, summoned the clergy and in the presence of many people she confessed her sin. But in this same time period Saint Constantine the Great had died, and onto the throne entered his son Constantius (337-361), who shared the heretical views of Arius and patronised the Arianising bishops. Even in exile Saint Eustathios struggled with all his same zeal for Orthodoxy. He died in exile, in the city of Philippi or Trajanopolis, in the year 337.
      Convened in the year 381 at Constaninople, the Second OEcumenical Council confirmed the Orthodox Symbol of Faith, which Saint Eustathios had so assiduously defended. The Arian false-teaching was once again anthematised as heretical.
      In the year 482 the relics of Saint Eustathios were reverently transferred from Philippi to Antioch, to the great joy of the Antioch people, who had not ceased to honour and love their confessor-patriarch.
      Saint Eustathios was esteemed by the great hierarchs of the IV Century Basil the Great, John Chrysostom, Athanasias of Alexandria, Epiphanios of Cyprus, Anastasias of Sinai and Jerome of Stridonia. The reknown church historian Bishop Theodorit of Cyr calls Saint Eustathios a pillar of the Church and a man of piety, of an equal footing with Saint Athanasias of Alexandria and the other bishops at the forefront in the struggle for Orthodoxy.

1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.

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