October 11, 2011

Saint Philotheos Kokkinos (1300 - 1379)

He was born in Thessaloniki around 1300; his mother was a convert from Judaism. He entered monastic life, first at Mt. Sinai, then at Mt Athos. First he lived his monastic life at Vatopaidi Monastery, where he formed a relationship with St. Savvas the Fool-For-Christ (for whom he became a biographer), then went on to Great Lavra Monastery, where he formed a relationship with St. Gregory Palamas (for whom he became a biographer). The so-called "Hesychast controversy" was then raging, and St. Philotheos became one of the firmest and most effective supporters of St. Gregory Palamas (November 14) in his defense of Orthodoxy against western-inspired attacks on the doctrines of uncreated Grace and the possibility of true union with God. It was St. Philotheos who drafted the Hagiorite Tome, the manifesto of the monks of Mt. Athos setting forth how the Saints partake of the Divine and uncreated Light which the Apostles beheld at Christ's Transfiguration. In 1342 he became abbot of the Monastery when Makarios became Metropolitan of Thessaloniki. He wrote two works on the Taboric Light and a treatise against Akyndinos in 1346. In 1351, he took part in the "Hesychast Council" in Constantinople, and wrote its Acts.

In 1353 he was made Patriarch of Constantinople; he stepped down after one year, but was recalled to the Patriarchal throne in 1364. He continued to be a zealous champion of undiluted Orthodoxy, writing treatises setting forth the theology of the Uncreated Energies of God and refuting the scholastic philosophy that was then infecting the Western church. Despite (or because of?) his uncompromising Orthodoxy, he always sought a true, rather than political, reconciliation with the West, and even worked to convene an Ecumenical Council to resolve the differences between the churches; this was rejected by Pope Urban V. In 1368 he led the synodal decision to proclaim St. Gregory Palamas a Saint and ordained the Second Sunday of Great Lent to be his feast. St. Philotheos composed the Church's services to St Gregory Palamas. This holy Patriarch was deposed in 1376 when the Emperor Andronicus IV came to the throne; he died in exile in 1379. His tomb at the Monastery of Akatalyptos Maria Diakonissa became a place of many miracles.

St. Philotheos is celebrated in the Orthodox Church on the Fifth Sunday of Great Lent and on October 11th. He is a Protector of Orthodoxy alongside Sts. Photios the Great, Mark Evgenikos, and Gregory Palamas.