Dionysius the Areopagite

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St. Dionysius the Areopagite

The holy, glorious and right-victorious Hieromartyr Dionysius the Areopagite (also Dionysios or Denys) was baptized by Saint Paul in Athens and is numbered among the Seventy Apostles. His feast day is celebrated on October 3.

Contents

Life

Prior to his baptism, Dionysius grew up in a notable family in Athens, attended philosophical school at home and abroad, was married and had several children, and was a member of the highest court in Greece, the Areopagus. After his conversion to the True Faith, St. Paul made him Bishop of Athens. Eventually he left his wife and children for Christ and went with St. Paul in missionary travel. He travelled to Jerusalem specifically to see the Most Holy Theotokos and writes of his encounter in one of his books. He was also present at her Dormition.

Seeing St. Paul martyred in Rome, St. Dionysius desired to be a martyr as well. He went to Gaul, along with his presbyter Rusticus and the deacon Eleutherius, to preach the Gospel to the barbarians. There his suffering was equalled only by his success in converting many pagans to Christianity.

In the year 96, St. Dionysius was seized and tortured for Christ, along with Rusticus and Eleutherius, and all three were beheaded under the reign of the Emperor Domitian. St. Dionysius' head rolled a rather long way until it came to the feet of Catula, a Christian. She honorably buried it along with his body.

Works

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Four theological works are attributed to Dionysius: The Divine Names, The Mystical Theology, The Celestial Hierarchy, and The Ecclesiastical Hierarchy, as well as eleven letters. Many scholars doubt that the apostle himself wrote these works, often calling the author "Pseudo-Dionysius," supporting the notion that they are the works of a fifth-century Syrian student of the pagan Neoplatonist Proclus, a controversial in nature theory.citation needed On the one hand they have been accused of "employing Neoplatonic language to elucidate Christian theological and mystical ideas."[1] Whatever the provenance of the texts, their theology was incorporated into the mainstream of Orthodox theology through its adoption by St. Maximus the Confessor. While some recent Orthodox scholars have been critical of the influence of the Dionysian corpus, recent defenders include Igumen Alexander Golitzin, who sees it as a fully Christian liturgical theology (Et introibo ad altare dei: The Mystagogy of Dionysius Areopagita [Thessalonika, 1994]), and Vladimir Lossky, who sees it as fundamental to any Christian theology (The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church).

His Letter to Titus is quoted by St. John of Damascus in his work On the Divine Images, a defense of icons during the iconoclastic controveries.

Hymns

Troparion (Tone 4)

Having learned goodness and maintaining continence in all things,
you were arrayed with a good conscience as befits a priest.
From the chosen Vessel you drew ineffable mysteries;
you kept the faith, and finished a course equal to His.
Bishop martyr Dionysius, entreat Christ God that our souls may be saved.

Kontakion (Tone 8)

As a disciple of the apostle caught up to the third heaven,
you spiritually entered the gate of heaven, Dionysius.
You were enriched with understanding of ineffable mysteries
and enlightened those who sat in the darkness of ignorance.
Therefore we cry to you: Rejoice, universal Father!

References

  1. Wikipedia: Dionysius the Areopagite; cf. also Wikipedia: Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite

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