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February 13, 2016

Saint Eulogios, Archbishop of Alexandria (+ 607)

St. Eulogios of Alexandria (Feast Day - February 13)


Eulogios gives his soul to the Lord,
Crying out: Lord you are blessed.

Our Holy Father Eulogios was a Syrian by birth, and early in life was consecrated to God as a monk in a monastery in Antioch dedicated to the Mother of God. There he led a God-pleasing life and acquired all the virtues, making him worthy to become abbot of this monastery. It was at this time also that he became well known as a staunch defender of the teachings of the Church defined by the Fourth Ecumenical Synod against the Monophysites. For this reason he was elected to be Patriarch of Alexandria in the year 579. As patriarch he continued to successfuly defend Orthodoxy against the Monophysites, Novatians, Nestorians and Eutychites.

Not long after his elevation to the patriarchal office, Eulogios traveled to Constantinople to attend to certain affairs of his Church. There he met Saint Great the Great, known as the Dialogist (Mar. 12), who at the time was the papal representative (apocrisiarius) at the court of Byzantium, an appointment he held from 579 to 586. Eulogios and Gregory became fast friends, with a warm relationship that lasted for many years, even after Gregory became Pope of Rome in 590. There are a number of extant letters that Gregory wrote to Eulogios. In one of them, Pope Gregory accepts that the apostolic authority, the Cathedra Petri, did not only apply to Rome, but consisted of the communion of the three great Sees associated with the Apostle Peter, namely that of Rome, Antioch and Alexandria.

Now over a century earlier, during the Fourth Ecumenical Synod of Chalcedon in 451, Pope Leo the Great (440-461) had written a letter to the then Patriarch Flavian of Constantinople (446-449) defending the Orthodox thesis of the two natures of Christ. With regard to this letter, the following two edifying accounts are written by John Moschos, author of The Spiritual Meadow (or Leimonarion:

"Abba Menas, ruler of the Community of Tougara, nine miles outside Alexandria, told us that he had heard this from the same Abba Eulogios, Pope of Alexandria: 'When I went to Constantinople, I was a guest in the house of master Gregory the Archdeacon of Rome, a man of distinguished virtue. He told me of a written tradition preserved in the Roman Church concerning the most blessed Leo, Pope of Rome. It tells how, when he had written to Flavian, the saintly patriarch of Constantinople, condemning those impious men, Eutyches and Nestorios, he laid the letter on the tomb of Peter, the Prince of the Apostles. He gave himself to prayer and fasting, lying on the ground, invoking the chief of the disciples in these words: If I, a mere man, have done anything amiss, do you, to whom the church and the throne are entrusted by our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ, set it aright. Forty days later, the apostle appeared to him as he was praying and said: I have read it and I have corrected it. The pope took the letter from Saint Peter's tomb, unrolled it and found it corrected in the apostle's hand.'"

"Theodore, the most holy bishop of the city of Dara in Libya, told us this: 'When I was syncellos (chancellor) to the saintly Pope Eulogios, in my sleep I saw a tall, impressive looking man who said to me: Announce me to Pope Eulogios. I asked him: Who are you, my lord? How do you wish to be announced? He replied: I am Leo, Pope of Rome, so I went in and announced: The most holy and most blessed Leo, Primate of the Church of the Romans, wishes to pay you his respects. As soon as Pope Eulogios heard, he got up and came running to meet him. They embraced each other, offered a prayer and sat down. Then the truly godly and divinely-inspired Leo said to Pope Eulogios: Do you know why I have come to you? The other said he did not. I have come to thank you, he said, because you have defended so well, and so intelligently, the letter which I wrote to our brother, Flavian, Patriarch of Constantinople. You have declared my meaning and sealed up the mouths of the heretics. And know, brother, that it is not only me whom you have gratified by this labor of yours, but also Peter, the chief of the apostles; and, above all, the very Truth which is proclaimed by us, which is Christ our God. I saw this, not only once, but three times. Convinced by the third apparition, I told it to the saintly Pope Eulogios. He wept when he heard it and, stretching out his hands to heaven, he gave thanks to God, saying: I give you thanks, Lord Christ, our God, that you have made my unworthiness become a proclaimer of the truth, and that, by the prayers of your servants Peter and Leo, your Goodness has received our feeble endeavor as you did receive the widow's two mites."

John Moschos also records how the Holy Martyr Julian of Antinoe appeared to Saint Eulogios in a vision in the form his Archdeacon also named Julian, urging him to restore his dilapidated church:

"When we were at the Community of Tougara, nine miles outside Alexandria, Abba Menas who ruled that community, told us this concerning the saintly Pope Eulogios: 'One night when he was performing the office alone in the chapel of the episcopal residence, he saw the Archdeacon Julian standing before him. When he saw him he was disturbed that the man should have dared to enter unannounced, but he said nothing. At the end of the psalm, he prostrated himself; and so too did the one who had appeared to him in the form of the archdeacon. When the pope got up and offered the prayer, the other one remained prostrate on the ground. The pope turned to him and said: How long will it be before you stand up? The other said: Unless you offer me your hand and raise me, I cannot stand up. Then the abba put out his hand, took hold of him and raised him up. Then he took up the psalm again; but when he turned round, he no longer saw anybody. When he had completed the dawn office, he called for his chamberlain and said to him: Why did you not announce the entry of the archdeacon, but let him come to me unannounced, and that in the night-time. The chamberlain said neither had he seen anybody nor had anybody come in. The pope was not convinced. Call the porter here, he cried, and when the porter arrived he said to him: Did the Archdeacon Julian not come in here? The porter asserted with an oath that the archdeacon had neither come in nor gone out. Then the pope kept his peace. When day dawned, Archdeacon Julian came in to pray. The pope said to him: Why did you break the rule by coming in to me unannounced last night, Archdeacon Julian? He replied: By the prayers of my lord, I did not come in here last night, nor did I leave my own house until this very hour. Then the great Eulogios realized that it was Julian the Martyr he had seen, urging him to rebuild his church which had been dilapidated for some time and antiquated, threatening to fall down. The godly Eulogios, the friend of martyrs, set his hand to the task with determination. By rebuilding the martyr's temple from its foundations and distinguishing it with a variety of decoration, he provided a shrine worthy of a holy martyr."

Saint Eulogios reposed in Alexandria in the year 607. Among his writings are a commentary on the various sects of the Monophysites (Severians, Theodosians, Cainites, Akephaloi). He also left eleven discourses in defense of Leo I and the Synod of Chalcedon. There is also a work against the Agnoetae, approved by Pope Gregory. With the exception of one sermon and a few fragments, all the writings of Patriarch Eulogios have perished (see P.G. 86:2907-2944). A festal divine office was composed for Saint Eulogios by Monk Gerasimos Mikragiannanites, which was published in Nea Sion.

See also: