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February 12, 2020

Saint Anthony III the Studite, Patriarch of Constantinople (+ 983)

St. Anthony III the Studite (Feast Day - February 12)


Anthony cared not for things below,
For which he was justly made worthy of the good things above.

Saint Anthony* was a monk at Stoudios Monastery in Constantinople. He became private secretary to Basil I, Patriarch of Constantinople. In the struggle for the papal throne waged by Pope Benedict VII (974–983) and the antipope Boniface VII, who was suspected of having executed the previous pope, Benedict VI, Basil supported the claims of the legitimately elected Benedict VII. Because of Emperor John I Tzimiskes’ support of the antipope, who was a guest at the court in Byzantium, Basil was deposed and Anthony installed as patriarch in 974.

Byzantine historians of the tenth century recorded that Anthony, entering the patriarchate at an advanced age, brought to it a moderation and mildness that had been wanting in that office. But his tenacity in upholding the autonomous jurisdiction of the Orthodox Church as complementary to the emperor’s secular authority brought him into conflict with Emperor Basil II. A reformer, Anthony strove to eliminate the simony (the buying or selling of ecclesiastical offices) that the clergy practiced in order to satisfy imperial taxes on church property. Because of controversy with the emperor over the right of the Church to property, Anthony was eventually forced to resign, partly for being implicated in the attempt, in 979, of General Bardas Skleros to overthrow Basil.

Yearning to return to his monastic life, Anthony returned to Stoudios Monastery, where he reposed in 983.

The single extant work of Anthony is his Monitum (“Admonition”) to monks on repentance and the confession of sins. By his command, the collection of the lives of the saints of the Orthodox Church was first compiled.


* It should be noted that in the Synaxarion of Constantinople, we are only told that Saint Anthony, Patriarch of Constantinople, is commemorated on February 12, but we are not told which one. Most have Patriarch Anthony II Kauleas, while St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite follows the historian Meletios in advocating for Patriarch Anthony III the Studite.