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March 28, 2015

Saint Hesychios the Theologian of Jerusalem

St. Hesychios of Jerusalem (Feast Day - March 28)

Our holy father was born in Jerusalem during the fourth century. As a young man, he was the pupil of Saint Gregory the Theologian. After the death of the august Gregory, Hesychios spent his life as a monastic in one of the hermitages in Palestine. Continuing his scholarly pursuits, he studied Christianity from manuscripts, in conversations with other spiritual men and from his own experience and insight.

In 412, the Archbishop of Jerusalem ordained him to the rank of the priesthood. As a profound theologian, Hesychios was also an enlightened preacher, proving to be one of the Church's most famous teachers. His extensive writings, mainly commentaries on Scripture, are extant, but in fragmentary condition. However, they are deserving of fuller research.

The holy Hesychios was a contemporary of Saint Euthymios the Great. In 429, when Patriarch Juvenal went to consecrate the church of Saint Euthymios' Lavra, he brought with him the theologian Hesychios and Saint Passarion the archimandrite. The great Euthymios was greatly pleased that the Patriarch had brought Hesychios with him, for he considered him a teacher of the Church and an interpreter of sacred Scripture.

According to Saint Theophanes the Chronographer, Hesychios reposed in the twenty-sixth year of the reign of Theodosios the Younger (432-33). Theophanes also says of Hesychios: "He expounded and interpreted all the Holy Scriptures with great clarity, for the benefit of all, and was thus renowned and admired by all."

In the Canon of Saint Theodore the Studite, Hesychios of Jerusalem is numbered among the great teachers of the Church, together with Saints Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, John Chrysostom, Athanasios the Great, Cyril of Jerusalem, Cyril of Alexandria, Epiphanios and Gregory of Nyssa. Hesychios is also named "theologian", as a worthy disciple of Saint Gregory the Theologian.

Saint Cyril of Scythopolis refers to Hesychios as a "presbyter and teacher of the Church", "completely illumined", a "theologian" and a "luminary".

Saint Photios remarks about Hesychios' writings, saying: "More than any other writings, these are suitable for those leading a life of striving for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. His exposition is clear and in every way suitable for men that do not go in for abstract researches, but direct all their zeal and labor to the practical works of the active life."

The tomb of Hesychios was referenced up until 570 A.D., located at the eastern gate of Jerusalem where there was a chapel built in his honor. There liturgical gatherings would take place, and gifts were given to the poor.

Besides commentaries on Holy Scripture, the Saint's writings are also to be found in the Philokalia. Attributed to him also are homilies, an Ecclesiastical History, and answers to various questions.