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September 9, 2020

Saint Roufos, Bishop of Thessaloniki

St. Roufos of Thessaloniki (Feast Day - September 9)

Saint Roufos (Rufus) served as the Bishop of Thessaloniki from around 407 to 434, succeeding Anysios. Papal letters are addressed to him, the content of which is of great importance for the ecclesiastical history of Thessaloniki. With the letter of Pope Innocent (402-417) on June 17, 412, the Vicariate of Thessaloniki is formally established and the duties of the papal vicar, that is, of the respective Bishop of Thessaloniki, are defined.

Two relevant letters of Pope Boniface (418-422), successor of Innocent, are addressed to Roufos, a) in 419 on the occasion of the election of Bishop Perigenos of Corinth, and b) in 422 following information for an impending convening of a synod to reconsider the episcopate of Perigenos.

Boniface's successor, Pope Celestine I (422-432), sent in 424 letters to the Bishops of Illyricum, in which he advised them to submit to the papal vicar, Bishop Roufos of Thessaloniki, a fact which is estimated to reveal a crisis in relations between him the papal vicar and the bishops subject to him. Roufos also received a second letter from Pope Celestine on August 11, 430, informing him of the convening of a synod in the West, which condemned Nestorius' heresy.

Bishop Roufos was a close friend, ally and supporter of Saint Cyril of Alexandria in his struggle against Nestorianism. Two letters of Cyril are addressed to him, which refer to the well-known dogmatic problems of this period and the ecclesiastical events related to them. As can be seen from the preface of the first letter, these letters were informative in order to avoid distorting the truth (" communicate to your holiness everything of interest to our churches and matters arising day by day, so to speak, lest whisperers disquiet the God-fearing bishops there by saying some things instead of others"). Both letters are distinguished for the warmth of their style and the praiseworthy descriptions that Cyril uses for the person of Roufos ("...although you are all-wise and all-perfect, since you commanded me to send some of my works and since you tolerate my babbling tongue, I dared to").

The regular informing of Roufos about the outcome of ecclesiastical affairs is also evident from another letter of Cyril of Alexandria to John of Antioch: "They have also written similar letters to Roufos, the God-loving Bishop of Thessaloniki, and to the rest of the God-revering Bishops of Macedonia, who always concur with his decisions."

However, for unknown reasons, Roufos was unable to attend the sessions of the Third Ecumenical Synod, convened in 431 in Ephesus, to condemn the heresies of Nestorianism and Pelagianism. As his vicar, the Bishop of Philippi, Flavian, signed: "Flavian of Philippi, who is also in the place of Roufos, the most revered Bishop of Thessaloniki."

434 must be considered as the year of the death of Bishop Roufos, since in 435 Anastasios had already ascended the archbishopric throne of Thessaloniki.