April 18, 2019

Saint Akakios, Bishop of Meletine (+ 438)

St. Akakios of Melitene (Feast Day - April 18)

Saint Akakios was born into a pious family in the Armenian city of Melitene. His parents were childless for a long time. They prayed for a son, and vowed to dedicate him to God. Therefore, Akakios was given to Bishop Otreos of Melitene (Nov. 7) to serve the Church.

Saint Otreos was a firm supporter of Orthodoxy. When the heresy of Macedonius arose (Macedonianism, also called the Pneumatomachian heresy, that denied the full personality and divinity of the Holy Spirit. According to this heresy, the Holy Spirit was created by the Son and was thus subordinate to the Father and the Son), it was Saint Otreos who set forth the Orthodox teaching about the Holy Spirit as the Third Person of the Holy Trinity, One in Essence and Undivided, at the Second Ecumenical Synod in 381.

The holy hierarch raised Akakios with love, made him a Reader, and then ordained him a Deacon and then to the holy Priesthood. Saint Akakios devoutly served the Church. He instructed both adults and children in the Holy Scripture, and in the Orthodox Confession of faith. Among his students was Saint Euthymios the Great (Jan. 20), who was his teacher in sacred letters from the age of three, and who was ordained a Presbyter by Bishop Akakios.

After the death of Saint Otreos, Akakios was elevated to the bishop’s throne of Melitene by general acclamation. He wisely governed his diocese.

By his firm faith, humility and deeds, the Saint acquired the gift of wonderworking. Once, during a dry summer, the Saint celebrated Liturgy in an open field to end the drought, when suddenly the wine in the Holy Chalice was mixed by the falling rain, which fell throughout the land.

He also prayed during a flood, and the advancing river turned away and did not rise higher than the stone which he had placed at the riverbank.

One of the many ways the Saint cared for his flock was by building a hospital for the poor who had no place to resort for treatment. There he would help nurse the sick, and by his prayers he removed the many flies that infested it, to the point where not a single fly was ever a nuisance again. Many of the sick were healed by his prayers as well.

Not only flies, but other creatures obeyed him. Once, when frogs were croaking too loud, he rebuked them, and they became silent. Another time, while preaching his sermon in church, a flock of swallows was loudly flying about the church, so that no one could hear him speak. He therefore went outside, and commanded them, saying: "In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, be silent!" The swallows immmediately complied and ceased their loud chirping.

On one of the islands of the River Azar, despite the opposition of the pagans, the Saint built a temple in honor of the Most Holy Theotokos. The builders of the church either through carelessness or through malice, were not careful in building the dome. During the Liturgy the dome was ready to collapse. The people rushed out of the church in terror. But the Saint halted their flight, saying, “The Lord is the defender of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?” (Ps. 26/27:1). The dome remained suspended in the air. Only when the services were ended, and the Saint was the last one to emerge from the church, did the dome collapse, causing harm to no one. After this, the church was rebuilt.

As a dedicated follower of Cyril of Alexandria and determined opponent of Nestorius, Bishop Akakios participated in the Third Ecumenical Synod of 431, and he defended the Orthodox teaching of the Two Natures (Divine and Human) of the Savior, and of His seedless Birth from the Most Holy Virgin Mother of God.

His struggle after 433, together with Rabbula of Edessa, against the distribution of the works of Theodore of Mopsuestia in Armenia (letter to Catholicos Sahak and to the princes) belongs to the pre-history of the Three Chapters Controversy.

Saint Akakios peacefully reposed in the Lord around the year 438. He should not be confused with Saint Akakios the Confessor (Mar. 31), who was also a Bishop of Melitene.