October 28, 2019

Saints Firmilian, Archbishop of Caesarea, and Melchion the Sophist, Presbyter of Antioch

St. Firmilian of Caesarea and Melchion of Antioch (Feast Day - October 28)


The friends of peace died peacefully,
Firmilian together with Melchion.

Born to a noble family of Caesarea in Cappadocia, our Venerable Father Firmilian studied under Origen with his friend Saint Gregory the Wonderworker (Nov. 17). He became Bishop of Caesarea around 230. In 252 he took part in the Synod of Antioch, which condemned the schismatic Novatian and his followers, who denied all hope of repentance and restoration to the Church for those who had denied the Christian faith to avoid persecution.
Firmilian devoted much energy to defending the churches of Asia and Africa from unlawful domination by Pope Stephen of Rome. The Asian and African churches baptized heretics who returned to the Church; Rome reconciled them simply by the laying on of hands. Firmilian, supported by Saint Cyprian of Carthage (Sept. 16) did not condemn the Roman practice, but zealously opposed the local churches' right to keep their practice, rather than have the Pope dictate the practices of the entire Church.

The holy Bishop was then called upon to combat the heresy of Paul of Samosata, Bishop of Antioch. Paul taught that the Word of God is not one in essence with the Father, but is only a word of divine inspiration sent to the man Jesus. Seeing in this teaching a complete denial of our salvation in Christ, who is fully man and fully God, Firmilian called three successive Synods (in 263, 266 and 268) to deal with the heresy. The first two were undermined by Paul and his party; but at the third the heresy of Monarchianism was finally condemned, thanks to the skillful and well-informed refutation delivered by Melchion the Sophist, who was a presbyter of Antioch esteemed for his faith.

Saint Firmilian died in the city of Tarsus while traveling to this Synod in 268. Paul of Samosata managed to hold on to the see of Antioch with imperial support until 272, when Domnus finally replaced him.