May 9, 2020

Saint Maximus III, Patriarch of Jerusalem

St. Maximus of Jerusalem (Feast Day - May 9)

According to Sozomen, Saint Maximus was a confessor of the persecution against Christians by the Emperor Diocletian, and was condemned to work in the mines, after having first deprived him of his right eye, and the use of his left leg.

Maximus was so popular among the people for his good character and for being a confessor that when Saint Macarius the Bishop of Jerusalem attempted to appoint him as Bishop of Lydda (also known as Diospolis) the populace insisted upon his retention in Jerusalem. Upon Macarius' death Maximus became Bishop of Jerusalem in 333, and was present in 335 at the first Synod of Tyre, and signed that synod's condemnation of Saint Athanasius, which he later realized he was deceived into doing.

During Saint Athanasius' return from exile, circa 346, Maximus convoked a synod in Jerusalem of sixteen Palestinian bishops that welcomed Athanasius. Socrates Scholasticus recorded that "the adversaries of Athanasius exceedingly derided Maximus, because having before assisted in his deposition, he had suddenly changed his mind, and as if nothing had previously taken place, had voted for his restoration to communion and rank." Athanasius receiving support against the Arians and Maximus advancing the desire of the bishops of Jerusalem to have their see be equal in status to the metropolitan see of Caesarea, a desire later achieved in 451 at the Fourth Ecumenical Synod.

Maximus was succeeded as Bishop of Jerusalem by Saint Cyril, though the process is unclear. Sozomen and Socrates say that Maximus had been deposed in favor of Cyril by Acacius of Caesarea and Patrophilus of Scythopolis, both Arians. Jerome says instead that Maximus' intended successor was Heraclius, whom Maximus had named upon his death bed, but that Acacius and Cyril deposed Heraclius and made Cyril bishop. Rufinus mentions only that the ordination was in some unspecified way "irregular". Regardless of how the succession came about, Cyril and Acacius would become bitter enemies during the next few years, disagreeing both in the Arian controversy and in terms of the precedence and rights of each see.

Saint Maximus reposed around 350.