Severus of Antioch

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'''Severus''', [[Patriarch of Antioch]] (AD 512 - 518), born approximately 465 in Sozopolis in Pisidia, was by birth and education a [[Paganism|pagan]], who was baptized in the ''[[martyrium]]'' of Leontius at Tripolis.<ref>Evagrius Scholasticus, H. E. 3.33.</ref>
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Patriarch St. '''Severus of Antioch''' is one of the great fathers of the [[Church of Antioch (Syriac)|Church of Antioch]], known in Syriac as the 'Togho d'Suryoye' or 'Crown of the Syrians.' He was the most prominent Orthodox Christian theologian associated with the opposition to the compromises with [[Nestorianism]] made at the [[Fourth Ecumenical Council|Council of Chalcedon]] and played a central role in defending the [[Christology]] of St. [[Cyril of Alexandria]] preserved by Chalcedon's opponents.
  
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==Early Life==
== Life ==
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St. Severus was born around 459 in Sozopolis, Pisidia (modern day Turkey). His paternal grandfather, also named Severus, was Metropolitan of Sozopolis and in that capacity attended the [[Third Ecumenical Council|Council of Ephesus]] in 431. Before St. Severus' birth his grandfather had a vision in which he was told that his grandson would strengthen Orthodoxy.
He almost at once openly united himself with the Acephali, repudiating his own [[baptism]] and his baptizer, and even the Christian church itself as infected with [[Nestorianism]] (Labbe, u.s.). After embracing the Orthodox Faith and the Christology of St. [[Cyril of Alexandria]], St. Severus entered a [[monastery]] belonging to the [[Church of Antioch (Syriac)|Syriac Orthodox Church]] between Gaza and its port city of Majuma. Here he met [[Peter the Iberian]], who had been ordained Metropolitan of Gaza by Theodosius, a Non-Chalcedonian monk, during his time as [[Patriarch of Jerusalem]]. Not long after this St. Severus joined another monastery near Eleutheropolis under the Archimandrite Mamas. At this time Severus rejected the ''[[Henoticon]]'' of [[Zeno (emperor)|Zeno]], dismissing it as "the annulling edict," and "the disuniting edict" (Labbe, v. 121), and anathematized Pope [[Peter III of Alexandria|Peter Mongus]], the Non-Chalcedonian [[patriarch of Alexandria]], for accepting it. We next hear of him in an Egyptian monastery, whose abbot Nephalius having been formerly a Non-Chalcedonian, now embraced the [[Fourth Ecumenical Council|Council of Chalcedon]]. In the resulting disagreement, Nephalius with his [[monk]]s expelled Severus and his disciples<ref>Evagrius 3.33; see also 3.22.</ref>
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Severus is said to have stirred up a fierce religious war among the population of Alexandria, resulting in bloodshed and conflagrations (Labbe, v. 121). To escape punishment for this violence, he fled to [[Constantinople]], supported by a band of two hundred Non-Chalcedonian monks. [[Flavius Anastasius|Anastasius I]], who succeeded Zeno as emperor in 491, was a professed Non-Chalcedonian, and received Severus with honor. His presence initiated a period of fighting in Constantinople between rival bands of monks, [[Chalcedonian]] and [[Non-Chalcedonian|Non]], which ended in AD 511 with the humiliation of Anastasius, the temporary triumph of the patriarch [[Macedonius II]], and the reversal of the Non-Chalcedonian cause (Theophanes, p. 132). That same year Severus was eagerly dispatched by Anastasius to occupy the vacant [[patriarch of Antioch]] (Labbe, iv. 1414; Theod. Lect. ii. 31, pp. 563, 567; Theophanes p. 134), and the very day of his enthronement solemnly pronounced in his church an anathema on Chalcedon, and accepted the ''Henoticon'' he had previously repudiated. He had the name of Peter Mongus inscribed in the diptychs; entered into communion with the Non-Chalcedonian prelates, [[Patriarch Timothy I of Constantinople|Timotheus]] of Constantinople and [[Yoannis II of Alexandria|John Niciota]] of Alexandria; and received into communion Peter of Iberia and other leading members of the Acephali (Evagr. H. E. iii. 33; Labbe, iv. 1414, v. 121, 762; Theod. Lect. l.c.). Non-Chalcedonianism seemed now triumphant throughout the Christian world. Proud of his patriarchal dignity and strong in the emperor's protection, Severus despatched letters to his brother-prelates, announcing his elevation and demanding [[communion]]. In these he anathematized Chalcedon and all who maintained the two natures. While many rejected them altogether, Non-Chalcedonianism was everywhere in the ascendant in the East, and Severus was deservedly regarded as its chief champion (Severus of Ashmunain apud Neale, Patr. Alex. ii. 27). Synodal letters were exchanged between John Niciota and Severus, which are the earliest examples of communication between the [[Oriental Orthodox]] sees of Alexandria and Antioch that have continued to the present day.
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Following the death of his father, a senator in Sozopolis, St. Severus left Pisidia for Egypt, where he studied grammar and rhetoric together with the Greek and Latin languages in Alexandria. It was in Alexandria that he was introduced to and fell in love with the writings of Sts. [[Basil the Great]] and [[Gregory of Nazianzus]]. In 486 St. Severus moved to Beirut to study philosophy and Roman jurisprudence and in 488 he was baptized in nearby Tripoli, having not been previously baptized as it was a custom in Pisidia at that time not to baptize boys until they had at least come of age.
  
The triumph of Severus was, however, short. His possession of the patriarchate of Antioch did not survive his imperial patron. Anastasius was succeeded in 518 by [[Justin I]], who embraced the beliefs of Chalcedon. The Non-Chalcedonian prelates were everywhere replaced by Chalcedonian successors, Severus being one of the first to fall. Irenaeus, the count of the East, was commissioned to arrest him but Severus departed before his approach, setting sail one night in September 518 for Alexandria (Liberat. Brev. l.c.; Theophanes, p. 141; Evagr. H. E. iv. 4). [[Paul I of Antioch|Paul I]] was ordained in his place. Severus and his doctrines were anathematized in various councils, while at Alexandria he was gladly welcomed by the patriarch [[Timotheos III of Alexandria|Timotheos III]] and his other fellow doctrinarists, being generally hailed as the champion of the orthodox faith against the corruptions of Nestorianism. His learning and persuasion established his authority as "os omnium doctorum," and the day of his entrance into Egypt was long celebrated as a Coptic/Jacobite festival (Neale, u.s. p. 30). Alexandria soon became a refuge of Non-Chalcedonians of every shade of opinion, becoming too numerous for the emperor to molest. But within this group fierce controversies sprang up on various subtle questions of [[Christology]], one of which involved Severus and his fellow-exile [[Julian of Halicarnassus]] as to the corruptibility of Christ's human body before His resurrection. Julian and his followers were styled [[Aphthartodocetae]] and "Phantasiastae," Severus and his adherents "Phthartolatrae" or "Corrupticolae," and "Ktistolatrae." The controversy was a heated and protracted one and while no settlement was arrived at, the later Oriental Orthodox claim the victory for Severus ([[Renaudot]], p. 129).
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==Life as a Monk==
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After his baptism St. Severus became increasingly ascetic in his daily life, eventually becoming a monk at St. Romanus' Monastery in Maiuma, Palestine. He later retreated into the desert near Eleutheropolis before founding a monastery for his disciples in Maiuma. The Saint lived there in peace until the coming of Nephalius to Gaza in 508. Nephalius had previously led a faction of the Eutychian heretics before accepting Chalcedon and promptly began attacking St. Severus after his arrival in the area, eventually securing the expulsion of the Saint and his followers from their monasteries.
  
After some years in Egypt spent in continual literary and polemical activity, Severus was unexpectedly summoned to Constantinople by Justin's successor [[Justinian I]], whose consort [[Theodora (wife of Justinian)|Theodora]] favored Severus' cause. The emperor was weary of the turmoil caused by the prolonged theological discussions; Severus, he was told, was the master of the Non-Chalcedonian party, and only through his influence could unity only be regained. At this period, AD 535. [[Anthimus I of Constantinople|Anthimus]] had been recently appointed to the [[Patriarch of Constantinople]] by Theodora's influence. He was a Non-Chalcedonian, who later joined heartily with Severus and his associates, Peter of Apamea and Zoaras, in their endeavours to get Non-Chalcedonianism recognized as the imperial faith. This introduction of Non-Chalcedonians threw the city into great disorder, and large numbers embraced their beliefs (Labbe, v. 124). Eventually, at the instance of [[Pope Agapetus I]], who happened to be present in Constantinople on political business, the Non-Chalcedonians Anthimus and Timotheus were deposed. Patriarch [[Mennas of Constantinople|Mennas]], who succeeded Anthimus, summoned a [[synod]] in May and June 536 to deal with the Chalcedon question. Severus and his two companions were cast out "as wolves", and once again anathematized (Labbe, v. 253-255). The sentence was ratified by Justinian. The writings of Severus were proscribed; any one possessing them who failed to commit them to the flames was to lose his right hand (Evagr. H. E. iv. 11; Novell. Justinian. No. 42; Matt. Blastar. p. 59). Severus returned to Egypt, which he seems never again to have left. The date of his death is said variously to be 538, 539, or 542.<ref>Gillman, Ian and Hans-Joachim Klimkeit, ''Christians in Asia before 1500'' (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1999), on p. 31 states he died in 538.</ref> According to [[John of Ephesus]], he died in the Egyptian desert.
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Following his expulsion from his monastery St. Severus together with 200 monks from the area around Gaza left for the imperial capital of Constantinople, where they remained for 3 years seeking to obtain the favor of Emperor Anastasius. When Patriarch Macedonius of Constantinople died in 511 he was considered for the patriarchate, but Patriarch Timothy, who also opposed Chalcedon, was enthroned instead and St. Severus was able to return to Palestine with his disciples.  
  
== Writing and theology ==
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==Patriarchate==
He was a very copious writer, but we possess little more than fragments. An account of them, so far as they can be identified, is given by William Cave<ref> ''Historia Literaria'', vol. i.pp. 499 ff.</ref> and [[Fabricius]]<ref>Bibl. Graec. lib. v. c. 36, vol. x. pp. 614 ff., ed. Harless</ref>. A very large number exist only in Syriac, for which consult the catalogue of the Syriac manuscripts in the British Museum by Prof. Wright.
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When Patriarch Flavian II of Antioch was deposed in 512 St. Severus was elected Patriarch of Antioch, being enthroned on 6 November 512. Following the rise to power of Emperor [[Justinian I]] the Saint was summoned to Constantinople, where the emperor attempted to persuade him to accept Chalcedon. When St. Severus refused the emperor ordered him to be killed, but he was saved by St. Theodora, the emperor's wife, who was the daughter of a priest from Syria and an opponent of Chalcedon. At her urging St. Severus fled the capital, after which Emperor Justinian declared him deposed and in 518 placed a supporter of Chalcedon on the patriarchal throne of Antioch.
  
Severus was successful in his great aim of uniting the Non-Chalcedonians into one compact body with a definitely formulated creed. For notwithstanding the numerous subdivisions of the Non-Chalcedonians, he was, in Dorner's words, "strictly speaking, the scientific leader of the most compact portion of the party," and regarded as such by the Non-Chalcedonians and their opponents. He was the chief object of attack in the long and fierce contest with the Chalcedonians, by whom he is always designated as the author and ringleader of Non-Chalcedonianism. Hoping to embrace as many as possible of varying theological color, he followed the traditional formulas of the church as closely as he could, while affixing his own sense upon them.<ref>Dorner, ''Pers. of Christ'', div. ii. vol. i. p. 136, Clark's trans.</ref>
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St. Severus fled Constantinople for Egypt, where he met with Pope Timothy II and took refuge in a number of different monasteries disguised as a simple monk. Throughout his travels in Egypt St. Severus preached the Orthodox Faith and strengthened the faithful in their resistance to Chalcedon and Eutychianism. He also wrote many books and letters against heresies. Although he wrote in Greek his writings have been primarily preserved in Syriac.  
  
==References==
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In 535 St. Severus returned to Constantinople to discuss the reunification of the Church with Emperor Justinian. During his stay in the city he brought Patriarch Anthimus of Constantinople to reject Chalcedon, but the schism as a whole was unable to be healed at that time and in 536 the emperor had St. Severus formally excommunicated by the hierarchs who favored Chalcedon on false charges.
  
*In 1904 the ''Sixth Book of the Select Letters of Severus'', in the Syriac version of [[Athanasius of Nisibis]], were edited by G. E. W. Brooks (London). For a full statement of his opinions see the major work of Dorner, and the article "Monophysiten" in Herzog's Encyclopedia.
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Upon returning to Egypt, St. Severus settled in the home of a layman, Dorotheus, in the city of Sakha and continued to teach and work many miracles. On 8 February 538 he fell asleep in the Lord. His relics were then translated to the Monastery of el-Zugag to the west of Alexandria, working many signs and wonders in the process.  
*This article uses text from ''[http://www.ccel.org/w/wace/biodict/htm/TOC.htm A Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature to the End of the Sixth Century A.D., with an Account of the Principal Sects and Heresies]'' by Henry Wace.
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*Pauline Allen and Robert Hayward, ''Severus of Antioch'', Routlege, 2004.
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*Frédéric Alpi, several recent articles in French devoted to the episcopate of Severus.
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==Notes==
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==Commemoration==
<references/>
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St. Severus is commemorated by the Syriac Orthodox Church on 8 February and on the Thursday following the [[Fast of Nineveh]].
  
==Source==
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==External Links and Sources==
*[[Wikipedia:Severus_of_Antioch]]  
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*[http://www.cecs.acu.edu.au/severusresearch.htm A Bibliography of Severus of Antioch]
 
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*[http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/10489b.htm Monophysites and Monophysitism] (Catholic Encyclopedia)
==External links==
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*[http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/severus_coll_0_eintro.htm A Collection of Letters of Severus of Antioch]
* [http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/severus_coll_0_eintro.htm Severus: A collection of letters from numerous Syriac manuscripts]
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*[http://www.ccel.org/ccel/pearse/morefathers/files/severus_coll_0_eintro.htm Letters of Patriarch Severus of Antioch]
* [http://www.cecs.acu.edu.au/severusresearch.htm A bibliography of Severus of Antioch]
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*[http://www.quodlibet.net/articles/farrington-severus.shtml Orthodox Christology of St. Severus of Antioch]
* [http://www.orthodoxunity.org/article02.html The Christology of Severus of Antioch].
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*[http://www.copticchurch.net/synaxarium/6_9.html Departure of St. Severus] (Synaxarium)
* [http://www.orthodox-library.com A collection of letters from numerous Syriac manuscripts]
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*[http://www.soc-wus.org/ourchurch/St.%20Severus,%20Patriarch%20of%20Antioch.htm St. Severus] (Syriac Orthodox Patriarchal Vicariate of the Western United States)
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*[http://sor.cua.edu/Personage/Qadishe/MSeveriusAntioch.html Mor Severius of Antioch] (Syriac Orthodox Resources)
  
 
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[[Category: Church Fathers]]
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[[Category:Non-Chalcedonian Saints]]
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[[Category: Oriental Orthodoxy]]
 
[[Category: Patriarchs of Antioch]]
 
[[Category: Patriarchs of Antioch]]
[[Category:Non-Chalcedonian Saints]]
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[[Category: Syrian Saints]]

Revision as of 20:05, March 2, 2011

Coptic Orthodox Cross
Note: This article or section represents an Oriental Orthodox (Non-Chalcedonian) perspective, which may differ from an Eastern Orthodox (Chalcedonian) understanding.

Patriarch St. Severus of Antioch is one of the great fathers of the Church of Antioch, known in Syriac as the 'Togho d'Suryoye' or 'Crown of the Syrians.' He was the most prominent Orthodox Christian theologian associated with the opposition to the compromises with Nestorianism made at the Council of Chalcedon and played a central role in defending the Christology of St. Cyril of Alexandria preserved by Chalcedon's opponents.

Contents

Early Life

St. Severus was born around 459 in Sozopolis, Pisidia (modern day Turkey). His paternal grandfather, also named Severus, was Metropolitan of Sozopolis and in that capacity attended the Council of Ephesus in 431. Before St. Severus' birth his grandfather had a vision in which he was told that his grandson would strengthen Orthodoxy.

Following the death of his father, a senator in Sozopolis, St. Severus left Pisidia for Egypt, where he studied grammar and rhetoric together with the Greek and Latin languages in Alexandria. It was in Alexandria that he was introduced to and fell in love with the writings of Sts. Basil the Great and Gregory of Nazianzus. In 486 St. Severus moved to Beirut to study philosophy and Roman jurisprudence and in 488 he was baptized in nearby Tripoli, having not been previously baptized as it was a custom in Pisidia at that time not to baptize boys until they had at least come of age.

Life as a Monk

After his baptism St. Severus became increasingly ascetic in his daily life, eventually becoming a monk at St. Romanus' Monastery in Maiuma, Palestine. He later retreated into the desert near Eleutheropolis before founding a monastery for his disciples in Maiuma. The Saint lived there in peace until the coming of Nephalius to Gaza in 508. Nephalius had previously led a faction of the Eutychian heretics before accepting Chalcedon and promptly began attacking St. Severus after his arrival in the area, eventually securing the expulsion of the Saint and his followers from their monasteries.

Following his expulsion from his monastery St. Severus together with 200 monks from the area around Gaza left for the imperial capital of Constantinople, where they remained for 3 years seeking to obtain the favor of Emperor Anastasius. When Patriarch Macedonius of Constantinople died in 511 he was considered for the patriarchate, but Patriarch Timothy, who also opposed Chalcedon, was enthroned instead and St. Severus was able to return to Palestine with his disciples.

Patriarchate

When Patriarch Flavian II of Antioch was deposed in 512 St. Severus was elected Patriarch of Antioch, being enthroned on 6 November 512. Following the rise to power of Emperor Justinian I the Saint was summoned to Constantinople, where the emperor attempted to persuade him to accept Chalcedon. When St. Severus refused the emperor ordered him to be killed, but he was saved by St. Theodora, the emperor's wife, who was the daughter of a priest from Syria and an opponent of Chalcedon. At her urging St. Severus fled the capital, after which Emperor Justinian declared him deposed and in 518 placed a supporter of Chalcedon on the patriarchal throne of Antioch.

St. Severus fled Constantinople for Egypt, where he met with Pope Timothy II and took refuge in a number of different monasteries disguised as a simple monk. Throughout his travels in Egypt St. Severus preached the Orthodox Faith and strengthened the faithful in their resistance to Chalcedon and Eutychianism. He also wrote many books and letters against heresies. Although he wrote in Greek his writings have been primarily preserved in Syriac.

In 535 St. Severus returned to Constantinople to discuss the reunification of the Church with Emperor Justinian. During his stay in the city he brought Patriarch Anthimus of Constantinople to reject Chalcedon, but the schism as a whole was unable to be healed at that time and in 536 the emperor had St. Severus formally excommunicated by the hierarchs who favored Chalcedon on false charges.

Upon returning to Egypt, St. Severus settled in the home of a layman, Dorotheus, in the city of Sakha and continued to teach and work many miracles. On 8 February 538 he fell asleep in the Lord. His relics were then translated to the Monastery of el-Zugag to the west of Alexandria, working many signs and wonders in the process.

Commemoration

St. Severus is commemorated by the Syriac Orthodox Church on 8 February and on the Thursday following the Fast of Nineveh.

External Links and Sources

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