April 21, 2018

Saint Maximianos, Patriarch of Constantinople (+ 434)

St. Maximianos of Constantinople (Feast Day - April 21)


Maximianos who was not an all-devouring wolf,
Instead reared the Church and died.

Our Holy Father Maximianos was born in Rome to notable and wealthy parents, and was a childhood friend of Pope Celestine I of Rome. He was noted to be a pious man, but was not known for his intellect, though he was educated. He had a good reputation among the Christians, in part because at his own expense he constructed monuments to bury the departed. Maximianos led a monastic life before he entered the priesthood. He became a priest of the Church of Constantinople, ordained by Patriarch Sisinnius I. After the deposition of Nestorius, Maximianos became Archbishop of Constantinople at the insistence of Emperor Theodosius II, who apparently was looking for an ordinary candidate and perhaps one who was not overly under the influence of his sister, Pulcheria. His selection passed over Proclus, who was a favorite of the aristocrats.

Maximianos was consecrated Patriarch on October 25, 431. The attendees at his consecration reflected the ongoing controversy, as the Orientals (Syrians) were not invited because they continued to regard Nestorius' removal from the see of Constantinople as uncanonical. Maximianos held Orthodox beliefs and thus followed in the stead of such former archbishops as John Chrysostom, Atticus, and Sisinnius. Pope Celestine I wrote to him in highly complimentary terms on his elevation. The appointment was made by the unanimous vote of clergy, emperor, and people. The letter of Maximianos announcing to the Pope his succession is lost, but that to Saint Cyril of Alexandria remains, with its high eulogy on Cyril's constancy in defending the cause of Christ.

It was the custom for occupants of the principal sees on election to send a synodical letter to the most considerable bishops of the Christian world, asking for the assurance of their communion. Communion was refused by Bishop Helladius of Tarsus; and, we may conclude, by Eutherius of Tyana, Himerius of Nicomedia, and Dorotheus of Martianopolis, as Maximianos deposed them. Patriarch John of Antioch approved the refusal of the Bishop of Tarsus, and praised him for having declined to insert the name of Maximianos in the diptychs of his Church.

After initially enforcing the rulings of the Third Ecumenical Synod of Ephesus, Theodosius, in mid 432, decided to try to heal the split with the Syrians and, after consulting with Maximianos, wrote to John of Antioch deploring the animosity and setting conditions for reconciliation with the synod at Constantinople. Among the conditions was a requirement that the Syrians accept Maximianos as Archbishop of Constantinople and renounce Nestorius. But, the Syrians, including John of Antioch, had objection over the two natures of Christ issue with Archbishop Cyril of Alexandria and his Letters and Chapters.

Maximianos' earnest appeal for reunion continued. Pope Sixtus III wrote to him several times, urging him to extend his charity to all whom he could possibly regain. Maximianos spared no effort, and although he was in closest harmony with Saint Cyril, he pressed him strongly to give up his anathemas, which seemed an insurmountable obstacle to reunion. He even wrote to the emperor's secretary Aristolaus the tribune, who was greatly interested in the question of peace, almost complaining that he did not press Cyril enough on the point, and to his archdeacon Epiphanius.

After much negotiations Cyril and the Orientals settled their differences with the Chapters and John accepted Maximianos and renounced Nestorius, leaving aside the question of the Twelve Anathemas of Saint Cyril. John of Antioch and the other Eastern bishops wrote Maximianos a letter of communion indicating their consent to his election and to the deposition of Nestorius. Cyril wrote to him, attributing the blessed result to the force of his prayers. A letter to Maximianos from Aristolaus, which Maximian caused to be read in his church to his people, was pronounced spurious by Dorotheus of Martianopolis, evidently because it took the side of Maximianos so decidedly.

Throughout these negotiations, Maximianos remained distant and blind to what was happening around him. Thus, it became clear that age and diminished intellectual alertness showed that he was not up to the job. On April 12, 434, Holy Thursday, in the midst of the negotiations Maximianos reposed. His Synaxis was annually celebrated in the Church of the Holy Apostles. He was succeeded by Saint Proclus as Patriarch of Constantinople. His feast day is April 21, though before the twelfth century he was commemorated on November 20.