August 18, 2010

Saint Christodoulos the Philosopher and Islam

St. Christodoulos the Philosopher (Feast Day - August 18)

The thirteenth century great ecclesiastical figure and philosopher St. Christodoulos was from the village of Sakara in the Imereti region of Georgia. He possessed an exceptional knowledge of the Holy Scriptures and spoke several languages fluently. To support his prodigious understanding of the Christian Faith, Christodoulos became thoroughly acquainted with other creeds as well. To this purpose, he even memorized the Koran.

Once the Persian king Iamame arranged a debate on theological issues between the Muslims and the Christians, and he invited the elder Christodoulos to take part in this event. At first the king himself debated with the elder and suffered an upset. Then a certain pagan astrologer was brought to replace him, and when it became clear that he too was no match for the elder-philosopher, he summoned a renowned scholar to outwit him. In the debates with this scholar, Christodoulos freely cited both the Holy Scriptures and the Koran, and with his brilliant logic and rhetoric he triumphed over his rival. His challengers were disgraced.

In his work Pilgrimage, the famous 19th-century historian Archbishop Timote (Gabashvili) describes his journey to Mount Athos and notes that St. Christodoulos had labored with the monks of the Iveron Monastery.

Church historians believe that St. Christodoulos labored first in Georgia, then moved to Mount Athos, and finally to the island of Patmos.