Commemorated on February 21
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
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.