St. Theodosius the Cenobiarch
Theodosius was born in 423 in Mogarissos, Cappadocia (which is now known as Turkey) within Saint Basil’s province. At a young age, he decided to follow in the footsteps of Abraham by dropping everything, including his friends, relatives, and even parents, to dedicate his life to God. He left for Jerusalem around 451, which was the same period the Holy Fourth Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon assembled.
The moment he landed in Antioch, he searched for Saint Symeon the Stylite to request the saint’s blessings. At the Saint Symeon pillar, he was astonishingly called by his name and asked to climb the column. When Theodosius ascended the column and kneeled before Saint Symeon, the saint pulled him into an embrace. Saint Symeon blessed Theodosius and foretold that an amazing spiritual glory was coming to the young devotee’s life.
Call to Dedication and Devotion
While in Jerusalem, Theodosius visited and worshipped at the Holy Places. He decided to go into quiet solitude. However, to gain the needed discipline for that undertaking, he took up monastic activities near the Tower of David, under the guidance of hermit abbot Longinus. As time went on, he was appointed as the leader of a church located in the middle of Bethlehem and Jerusalem. However, he didn’t stay long there as the distractions from his many admirers became overwhelming. Later, he moved to a cave on the mountain peak so he could truly seek God and be free from any earthly distractions.
Theodosius the Cenobiarch founded a small society of monks which eventually developed into the St Theodosius Monastery. This monk society swiftly expanded to include monks from numerous cultures as well as languages such as Armenian and Greek.
The monks became renowned for their venerable work and kindness to the elderly, the mentally ill, and the physically sick.
Saint Theodosius was known for his generous spirit and kind heart. He constantly provided food for multitudes of the poor and needy. He trusted in God to continually provide and never sent travelers away, even in times when the food was barely enough.
Theodosius was chosen to lead the monks in the community right after his friend, Sabbas, was appointed by Patriarch Salustius of Jerusalem as the archimandrite of the monks isolated in Palestine.
The title “the Cenobiarch”, means “chief of those living a life in common”, is a testament to his leadership of the monk community. In addition, he is known as the monk who introduced the cenobitic way into monasticism.
Theodosius was known for his opposition to heresies such as Monophysitism and Eutychianism. This led to him being offered a huge bribe by Emperor Anastasius, a proponent of Eutychianism in hopes of luring the saint to his said. Instead, Saint Theodosius used the money to take care of the poor. He also persisted with his anti-heresy preaching. Due to these reasons, Anastasius dismissed Theodosius from his role as leader of the monks. However, when emperor Justinian took over power, he reinstated Theodosius.
St. Theodosius the Cenobiarch passed away at nearly 105 years of age in Palestine. His remains are interred in the first place he ever resided as a monk.
The feast day of St Theodosius is celebrated on the 11th of January.
5 Interesting Facts About St. Theodosius the Cenobiarch
- Did you know Saint Theodosius was his mother’s spiritual father?
- It is said that the cave where Saint Theodosius lived as a hermit was the same one the three Magi stayed in on the night God sent an angel to them.
- Did you know Saint Theodosius is the patron saint of file makers?
- Did you know St. Theodosius did not eat bread for thirty years? He only ate wild vegetables, dates, and legumes.
- Did you know that to stop himself from falling asleep while praying in the cave on the mountain, Theodosius tied himself to a rope hanging from the cave roof?
Prayer to St. Theodosius the Cenobiarch