Saint Theodosius, Abbot

Saint Theodosius Abbot

Saint Theodosius was born in Cappadocia in 423. He desired to visit the Holy Places, and on his way visited Saint Simeon Stylites to ask his counsel.

Simeon perceived him amid the crowd and called him by his name: Theodosius, servant of God, you are welcome. His desire to follow Jesus Christ attracted him to the religious life. He placed himself under Longinus, a very holy hermit, who sent him to govern a monastery near Bethlehem. Unable to bring himself to command others, he fled to a cavern, where he lived in penance and prayer. His great charity, however, forbade him to refuse the charge of some disciples, who, few at first, became in time a vast number; and Theodosius built a large monastery and three churches for them.

The holy monk eventually was named by the Bishop of Jerusalem Superior of all the religious communities of Palestine. He and Saint Sabas, who had been appointed by Sallustus, the same bishop, to preside the Palestinian hermits, often consulted together on subjects of piety and edification and the means to procure the glory of God. Saint Theodosius accommodated himself so carefully to the characters of his subjects that his reproofs were loved rather than dreaded. But on one occasion he was obliged to put away from the communion of the others a religious guilty of a grave fault. Instead of humbly accepting his sentence, the monk was arrogant enough to allege to excommunicate Theodosius in revenge. Theodosius thought not of indignation, nor of his own position, but meekly submitted to this false and unjust excommunication. This so touched the heart of his disciple that he submitted at once and acknowledged his fault.

Theodosius never refused assistance to any in poverty or affliction; on some days the monks laid more than a hundred tables for those in need. In times of famine Theodosius forbade their alms to be diminished, and often miraculously multiplied the provisions. He built five hospitals, in which he lovingly served the sick, while by assiduous spiritual reading he maintained himself in perfect recollection. He successfully opposed the Eutychian heresy in Jerusalem and all of Palestine, and for this was banished by the emperor Anastasius. His exile lasted but a short time, for the emperor who sustained the heretics died soon afterwards, struck by lightning.

The holy abbot suffered a long and painful illness and refused to pray to be cured, calling it a salutary penance for his former successes. He died at the age of a hundred and six.


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