November 23, 2022

How Saint Amphilochios of Iconium Cleansed the Church of Arian Heretics

 By St. Justin Popovich

Saint Amphilochios shepherded the flock of Christ for many years, because his life extended until the reign of Theodosius the Great and his sons. As a teacher of the Orthodox faith, he fought against the heresy of Arius, he suffered many persecutions and tortures from heretics, he was a co-struggler of the Holy Fathers in the fight against the blasphemy of Eunomius, and at the Second Ecumenical Synod he fought a lot against the pneumatomachian Macedonius and supporter of the heresy of Arius. Because of such zeal for the faith and because of his highly virtuous life, Saint Amphilochios was celebrated everywhere and was loved by the Holy Fathers, especially by Saint Basil the Great and Saint Gregory the Theologian, who considered him a close friend and corresponded with him.

During the reign of the pious emperor Theodosius the Great, Saint Amphilochios went to the emperor and begged him to ban the prayer gatherings of Arians in all cities. But the emperor did not want to do that, so that he would not appear as a bully in the eyes of the people. Then Saint Amphilochios left the palace dejected. However, after a few days he came again to the emperor's palace, and like a wise man did something worthy of memory: he bowed to the emperor who was sitting on the throne, showing him his due respect, and to his son Arcadius, who had recently become his father's assistant and sat next to his father, he did not look, nor pay him due respect. Emperor Theodosius thought that Amphilochios had forgotten and ordered him to pay due respect to Arcadius as well. "It is enough, because due respect has been shown to the emperor," answered Amphilochios. This greatly angered Emperor Theodosius, and he, not allowing disrespect towards his son, ordered that the blessed Amphilochios be scornfully expelled from the palace. Then Saint Amphilochios said to the emperor: "Do you see, emperor, how you cannot bear the disrespect of your son and how you are angry with me? In the same way, God the Father does not tolerate disrespect towards His Son, and turns away and does not look upon those who blaspheme His Son and is angry with those who associate with the followers of their accursed heresy."

Then it was clear to the emperor why Saint Amphilochios did not show due respect to his son, because in this way he would show that God the Son deserves equal respect with the Father. Amazed by the wisdom of Saint Amphilochios, the emperor got up from the throne, bowed to the saint and asked for his forgiveness. And immediately Emperor Theodosius sent an order throughout the empire: to expel all Arians from all cities, even if by force and threat. Thus Saint Amphilochios cleansed the Church of Christ from heretics.

From The Lives of the Saints of November. Translation by John Sanidopoulos.