November 12, 2016

Saint Leo Styppes, Patriarch of Constantinople (+ 1143)

St. Leo Styppes of Constantinople (Feast Day - November 12)


Leo drives away the demons of the air,
Having come out of this life like a lion from the reeds.

Leo Styppes was Patriarch of Constantinople from May 1134 until his death in January 1143. He was a presbyter at Hagia Sophia before his elevation. He reigned during the rule of Emperor John II Komnenos (1118-1143), and reposed in peace three months before the emperor died in 1143.

Patriarch Leo is known for his severe penances inflicted upon the relatives and servants of a Komnenian princess, who resorted to magical practices at the instigation of certain foreigners. In 1140, he presided over a synod which condemned the alleged Bogomil mystical writings left by the recently deceased lay theologian Constantine Chrysomallos. These writings were withdrawn from circulation and burned. It is believed today, however, that the reading of these texts were probably misconstrued, and in fact they are Orthodox texts in line with the teachings of Saint Symeon the New Theologian.

The fear and condemnation of these texts were probably instigated by the fact that only a few decades earlier, the lay leader of the Bogomils, Basil, entered Constantinople with his twelve disciples and brought many to the Bogomil faith, peasants and wealthy alike, which led to his being burned to death in the hippodrome, and this was followed by a number of Bogomil heresy trials. Also, shortly after this in 1107 an order of preachers had been instituted to act as thought-police keeping the spread of heresy in check, not tolerating any who took it upon themselves to teach others.