Alexander of Constantinople

Infobox Saint
name=Saint Alexander
birth_date=237 - 244
death_date=337
feast_day=August 30
venerated_in=Eastern Orthodoxy
Roman Catholicism


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death_place=Constantinople
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Saint Alexander of Constantinople (born between 237 and 244 - 337) was bishop of Byzantium and the bishop of Constantinople [Theodoret "Hist." i. 19] (the city was renamed during his episcopacy). He was elected as a vicar to assist the aged bishop Saint Metrophanes of Constantinople. As a result, both he and Metrophanes are variously reported as being the first Bishop of Constantinople (both are also sometimes listed as first "Patriarch" of Constantinople, though the episcopal see had not yet been elevated to that rank). [See [http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf214.ix.viii.iv.html Canon iii] , First Council of Constantinople, 359 AD] Alexander served as bishop for about 23 years, until his death. His consecration, which has been variously dated from between 313 and 317, took place when he was 73 years of age. [Socrates Scholasticus "Hist." ii. 6; Sozomen "Hist." iii. 3] At the time of Metrophanes' death, he left instructions in his will to elect his vicar to the throne of Constantinople.

During his episcopacy, Alexander engaged in debate with pagan philosophers and opposed heresies. He was highly praised by Gregory Nazianzus [Gregory Nazianzus, "Oration 27"] and Epiphanius of Cyprus. [Epiphanius of Cyprus, "Adv. Haer". lxix. 10] Theodoret called him an "apostolic" bishop. [Theodoret, "Hist." i. 3, cf. "Phil." 12]

Arian controversy

When the Arian controversy began, Alexander, the Patriarch of Alexandria, requested his cooperation in combatting what he perceived to be heresy. [Theodoret, "op. cit." i. 4] According to most sources, Alexander of Constantinople was present at the First Council of Nicaea [Sozomen, "op. cit." ii. 29] as Metrophanes' deputy, although some sources state that Metrophanes (who would have been 117 years of age at the time) attended the council personally. At the council, Arius and his teachings were condemned.

Later, Arius desired to be received back into the communion of the Church. The Roman Emperor Constantine I, having been convinced by the Eusebians, commanded Alexander to formally receive Arius back. [Athanasius of Alexandria "Ep. ad Serap."; Rufinus, "Hist." i.] According to Socrates Scholasticus, Arius did not in fact repent of his heresy, but was equivocating, and Bishop Alexander was aware of this. [Socrates Scholasticus, "op. cit." i. 37] Alexander, though threatened by the Eusebians with deposition and banishment, persisted in his refusal to admit Arius back into the Church, and shut himself up in the Church of Hagia Irene (which at that time was the cathedral of Constantinople) in fervent prayer that God would take him from this world rather than be forced to restore someone to communion who he feared was only feigning repentance. As it happened, Arius died on his way to the church, before he could be received back into communion.

Death

Alexander did not long survive Arius. [Socrates Scholasticus, "op. cit." ii. 6 ; Theodoret, "op. cit."i. 19] On his deathbed he was said to have nominated his vicar, Paul as his successor, and to have warned his clergy against Macedonius, who became bishop of Constantinople in 342 and whose teachings inspired Macedonianism.

After his death, Alexander came to be regarded as a saint of the Church. The service in his honor was printed in Venice in 1771. According to some ancient manuscripts, the feast of St Alexander was commemorated on June 2. Today, his feast day is celebrated annually on August 30, in a common commemoration with his fellow Patriarchs of Constantinople John the Faster (582–595, also commemorated on September 2) and Paul the New (780-784).

Footnotes

ources

*Citation
last =Wace
first =Henry
contribution =Alexander, of Byzantium
year =1911
title =Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature
publisher =John Murray (Reprint: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1999)
id =ISBN 1-56563-460-8
url = http://www.ccel.org/ccel/wace/biodict.html?term=Alexander,%20of%20Byzantium
accessdate = 2007-08-10

*WaceBio

External links

* [http://ocafs.oca.org/FeastSaintsViewer.asp?SID=4&ID=1&FSID=102420 St Alexander the Patriarch of Constantinople] Orthodox Icon and Synaxarion


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