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May 14, 2022

Saint Leontios, Patriarch of Jerusalem (+ 1190)

St. Leontios of Jerusalem (Feast Day - May 14)


Breathing like a Lion O Leontios,
You overcame Satan like a small gnat.

Saint Leontios came from Tiberiopolis in Phrygia, and was born to wealthy and pious parents around the second half of the 12th century AD. When his father died, after leaving his hometown and studying under a pious priest, he came to the Monastery of Ptelidi, where he became a monk. Later he went to Constantinople and became associated with the Metropolitan of Tiberias, to whom he submitted. After following his elder, who was returning to his Diocese, he sailed with him to Patmos, to worship at the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian. He then started his journey to Cyprus, but the will of God led him back to Patmos. There, with the spiritual guidance of the abbot of the monastery, Theoktestos, a man experienced in spiritual matters, he became a model of brotherly love and humility. When the abbot Theoktestos died, Leontios was elected his successor by a unanimous decision of the monks.

Saint Leontios oversaw the material needs of the monastery and the island of Crete. The Monastery of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist John was based in Crete, inside the ancient city of Aptera, above the Turkish fortress Isdezin (Kalami), which was then part of the Monastery of Patmos.

Taking care of the affairs of the monastery, Saint Leontios went to Constantinople. There he gained the respect and esteem of the emperor Manuel Komnenos (1118-1180) who proposed for him to become a Bishop of Russia or Cyprus but Saint Leontios humbly refused. However, when he was offered the throne of Jerusalem, Leontios could not refuse and became Patriarch of Jerusalem in 1170, at a time when the Orthodox Church was being tested by Latin rule.

Due to the rebuke he gave the new emperor Andronikos Komnenos, Leontios was exiled and died of old age on May 14, 1190. His memory is celebrated in Patmos and Jerusalem on May 14.

A Divine Office in his honor was published in Jerusalem in 1912.