December 24, 2016

Saint Antiochus Pandektos

St. Antiochus Pandektos (Feast Day - December 24);
photo depicts the Lavra of Saint Savvas


Your life Antiochus was tumultuous with detestable things,
And after a full life, you passed pleasantly.

Saint Antiochus was from Ancyra in Galatia and lived during the reign of Emperor Heraclius (610-641). He became a solitary, then entered the Lavra of Saint Savvas in Palestine, where he became renowned for his virtue and holiness. He witnessed the Persian invasion of Palestine in 614, and the massacre of forty-four of his fellow monastics by the Bedouins. Like another Prophet Jeremiah, he recorded his lamentation of the fall of the Holy Land, the destruction of the Lavra, and the seizure of the Holy Cross which was carried away into Persia.

Five years after the conquest of the Holy Land by King Chosroes, Ancyra was taken (619) and destroyed by the Persians, which compelled the monks of the neighboring monastery of Attaline to leave their home, and to move from place to place. As they were, naturally, unable to carry many books with them, the Abbot Eustathios asked his friend Antiochus to compile an abridgment of Holy Scripture for their use, and also a short account of the martyrdom of the forty-four monks of the Lavra of Saint Savvas. In compliance with this request he wrote a work known as Pandects of the Holy Scriptures in 130 chapters. It is a collection of moral sentences, drawn from Scripture and from early ecclesiastical writers. He also wrote an "Exomologesis" or Confession prayer, in which he relates the miseries that had befallen Jerusalem since the Persian invasion, and begs for divine mercy to heal the Holy City's many ills. These works seem to have been written in the period between the conquest of Palestine by Chosroes and its reconquest by the Emperor Heraclius (628). The introductory chapter of the Pandects tells of the martyrdom referred to which is celebrated by the Church on the 20th of March; its last chapter contains a list of heretics from Simon Magus to the Monophysite followers of Severus of Antioch. The book is of special value for its extracts of works no longer existing; the writer had an interest, then uncommon, in early Christian literature. It is from the name of this book that he became known as "Pandektos;" the word "pandects" being translated as "digest." This work was translated into modern Greek by Saint Nektarios of Aegina.

The following saying is also attributed to him: "A proud monk is like a barren and rootless tree; he cannot withstand the force of the wind; and like a burst bubble, he vanishes. Thus does the memory of a proud man disappear after death. As the prayer of a humble man appeases God, so does the entreaty of a proud one anger the Almighty."

Many prayers are attributed to him, including the following prayer said before sleep:


By Monk Antiochus Pandektos

And grant to us, Master, as we depart for sleep, rest of body and soul, and preserve us from the gloomy slumber of sin, and from every dark and nocturnal pleasure. Arrest the drives of passion, extinguish the burning arrows of the Evil One which insidiously fly in our direction; suppress the rebellions of our flesh, and calm our every earthly and material thought. And grant to us, O God, an alert mind, prudent thinking, a sober heart, light sleep free of any satanic fantasy. Awaken us at the time of prayer rooted in Your commandments and having unbroken within us the remembrance of Your ordinances. Grant that we may sing Your glory through the night by praising and blessing and glorifying Your Most Honorable and Majestic Name, of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.