Saints Alexander, John and Paul, Constantinople Patriarchs
Commemorated on August 30
Saints Alexander, John and Paul, Constantinople Patriarchs, lived at different times, but each of them happened to clash with the activities of heretics who sought to distort the teachings of the Church. Saint Alexander (325-340) was a "chor-bishop" (vicar bishop) during the period of the first patriarch of Constantinople, Sainted Mitrophanes (315-325), and because of the patriarch's extreme age substituted for him at the First OEcumenical Council at Nicea against the Arians (325). Upon his death, Saint Mitrophanes had instructed in his will to elect his vicar to the Constantinople throne. During these times His Holiness Patriarch Alexander had to contend with the Arians and with pagans. Once in a dispute with a pagan philosopher the saint said to him: "In the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ I command thee to be quiet!", and the pagan suddenly became voiceless. When he gestured with signs of acknowledgement of his errors and affirmation of the correctness of the Christian teaching, then his speech returned to him and he believed in Christ together with many other pagan-philosophers.
The heretic Arius was punished through the prayer of Saint Alexander. The heretic deceitfully agreed to enter into communion with the Orthodox, and the emperor Saint Constantine set a day for receiving Arius. All night long Saint Alexander prayed, imploring the Lord not to permit the heretic to be received into communion with the Church. In the morning, when Arius triumphantly went to the church, surrounded by imperial counselors and soldiers, he was stricken with illness on the Constantine Square, – his belly exploded and the innards fell out.
His Holiness Patriarch Alexander, having toiled much, died in the year 340 at the age of 98. Sainted Gregory the Theologian (or Nazianzen, Comm. 25 January) made mention about him afterwards in words of praise to the people of Constantinople.
Sainted John the Faster (582-595) is in particular remembered by the Church on 2 September (the account about him is located under this heading).
Sainted Paul, by birth a Cypriot, became Patriarch of Constantinople (780-784) during the reign of the Iconoclast-emperor Leo IV the Khazar (775-780), and was a virtuous and pious but timid man. Viewing the martyrdom, which the Orthodox endured for holy icons, the saint concealed his Orthodoxy and associated with the iconoclasts. After the death of the emperor Leo, he wanted to restore icon-veneration but was not able to accomplish since, since the iconoclasts were still quite powerful. The saint realised, that it was not in his powers to guide the flock, and so he left the patriarchal throne and went secretly to the monastery of Saint Florus, where he took the schema. He repented his silence and association with the iconoclasts and talked of the necessity for convening the Eighth OEcumenical Council to condemn the Iconoclast heresy. Upon his advice, there was chosen to the patriarchal throne Saint Tarasios (784-806), at that time a prominent imperial counselor. The saint died a schema-monk in the year 804.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.