Monday, September 19, 2016

The Holy Hierarch Theodore, Archbishop of Canterbury

St Theodore was the eighth Archbishop of Canterbury (668-690), and one of England's great saints. He was a Greek from Tarsus, the home of the Holy Apostle Paul. He was a highly- educated monk living in Rome who was quickly advanced through all the clerical ranks and consecrated as Archbishop of Canterbury at the age of sixty-five. St Adrian, an African who was the abbot of a monastery near Naples, was sent to assist St Theodore.
St Theodore arrived in Kent in 669, when he was almost seventy years old. In spite of his age, he was quite energetic, travelling throughout England, founding churches and consecrating bishops to fill those Sees which were left vacant by an outbreak of plague. He also created new Sees and established a school in Canterbury where Greek was taught.

St Theodore summoned a council of the entire English Church at Hertford in 672. Not only was this the first church council in England, it was the first assembly of any kind attended by representatives from all over the country. In 679 he convened another synod at Hatfield to maintain the purity of Orthodox doctrine and to condemn the heresy of Monothelitism.
St Theodore fell asleep in the Lord in 690, and his body remained incorrupt for a long time. St Theodore was, as St Bede expresses in his Ecclesiastical History, ‘the first archbishop whom all the English obeyed.’ Under his leadership, the English Church became united in a way that the various tribal kingdoms did not. The body of canon law drawn up under his supervision, and his structure of dioceses and parishes, survived the turmoil of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and are substantially intact today. He was respected for his administrative skills, and also for his moral and canonical decisions.
The History of the English Church and People of St Bede gives detailed information about St Theodore’s life and work as Archbishop of Canterbury (Books IV and V). The feast of St Theodore is kept on the 19th of September.

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