Augustine Sokolovski

The name “Theodosius” is literally translated from Greek as “given by God.” By an amazing method of divine predestination, this name was borne by the great founders of monastic life.

Thus, Theodosius the Great (424–529) is considered the founder of cenobitic monasticism in Palestine. About half a millennium later, Theodosius of Pechersk (1009–1074) laid the foundation for monasticism in Rus'. These saints are well known, and their memory is preserved in all local churches. Much less known is another Saint Theodosius, mentioned in the liturgical calendar under the name Theodosius of Antioch.

Information about this saint has come to us thanks to the teacher of the Ancient Church, Theodoret of Cyrus (393–457). In his work “The History of God-Lovers,” Theodoret dedicated several short chapters to Theodosius. According to the author, the saint had a noble origin and was from Antioch. He left this Syrian capital of that time and settled in the nearby desert. Over time, disciples began to flock to him.

Theodosius earned his living by doing handicrafts. In a boat he transported the products of his labor to the city. This way of life was apostolically instructive (Acts 18:3). He taught his students to it. Scientific monasticism did not exist then; monks, as a rule, did not care about the Christian mission. Therefore, it was necessary to engage in some kind of work.

Like other founders of monastic traditions, Theodosius acquired special grace, with the power of which he could perform miracles. So, through his prayer, one day a source of water for the monastery was dug out of the rocks. There was certainly something very biblical and prophetic in this miraculous gesture. For the founder of a special monastic monastery, which was Theodosius, according to the semantics of the lives of saints, this was a kind of sign of recognition, a sacred apotheosis.

Perhaps the most instructive detail for us in what Theodoret wrote about Theodosius lies in the concern for his neighbors, which he once showed in an unexpected, paradoxical way to the detriment of himself. For the ancient ascetics, leaving the world was an unconditional event. They had no habit or desire to return to the world and its temptations and especially its comforts. But one day the places where Theodosius labored began to be raided by wild tribes.

Upon learning of this, the Syrian bishops asked him to return to the world so that the nomads would not kidnap him for ransom. Such a request might seem strange or unusual to someone, but Theodosius yielded. It is obvious that, in the words of Paul, he “sought not his own benefit, but the benefit of his neighbor” (cf. 1 Cor. 13:5). In the city, he continued his strict ascetic life, and even, according to Theodoret, founded a monastery. This simple example is not easy to forget. He teaches Christians not to be uncompromising in their religiosity.