Augustine Sokolovski

Saint Anatolius was the Bishop of Constantinople, and the first Patriarch of the New Rome to officially bear this title in history. He is one of those few saints, about whose personal biography, inner motives, and spiritual life no information has been preserved. Only the most important circumstances of life related to his activities as a primate are known. The veneration of Anatolius among the saints is that very rare case when personal holiness, as it were, was hidden under the cover of ministry. To understand the essence of his contribution to the treasury of church holiness, whose name is the Communion of Saints, it is important to turn to the circumstances of his time.

According to the life, Anatolius was an Alexandrian. Egypt and Alexandria were two different administrative divisions. Alexandria was a very international city, from ancient times it was Hellenized, in terms of the language of communication and culture it was largely Greek. Egypt, on the other hand, remained isolated in many respects, according to the type of civilization it remained primordially Egyptian, that is, “Coptic”. As you know, despite the difference in pronunciation, this is, in fact, the same word.

Economically, Egypt was the granary of the Empire, the most important source of bread for Roman spectacles. At the same time, regarding the teachings of the Church, the interpretation of Scripture and the formulation of dogmas, Alexandria was the source of spiritual bread. In the understanding of Christians of that time, spiritual bread is not only sacraments, but also theology. One of the ancient axioms stated that whoever theologizes, he already prays a lot.

In church terms, the bishop of the city excelled in the entire Orthodox East and was a mediator in relations between the Churches of the East and the See of Rome.

Alexandria and Egypt were the birthplace of Christian monasticism, constantly producing theological teachings, some of which inevitably turned out to be false. Ecumenical Councils were convened to determine the conformity of theology with the criteria of orthodoxy.

Around the year 400, when Anatolius was born in Alexandria, the ecumenical Orthodox episcopate numbered about two thousand bishops. Contemporaries of his childhood and youth were the great fathers of the Church, Ambrose of Milan and John Chrysostom, and later Jerome and Augustine of Hippo. Anatolius himself was a disciple, and possibly a relative of the great Father of the Church, Cyril of Alexandria. It was Cyril who ordained Anatolius a deacon and sent him as his envoy to the capital Constantinople.

The name Anatoly is translated as "eastern". It is possible that the Alexandrians, proud of the grandeur of their see, sent a deacon with that name to what they believed to be self-appointed Constantinople as a reminder that Alexandria was the apostolic capital, and true light comes from the east (cf. Ps. 112:1). Recall that in those days Egypt was not perceived as a distant Africa but was one of the wings of the Roman Empire and the true center of the Mediterranean.

In 431, at the III Ecumenical Council in Ephesus, Bishop Nestorius of Constantinople was condemned and deposed. At the same time, the Christological teaching of Cyril was accepted by the Church as a basis. Cyril died in 444 and was succeeded by the new bishop Dioscorus (390-454). Just a few years later, Archimandrite Eutyches of Constantinople began to spread in Constantinople the doctrine that Christ was not consubstantial with other mankind by nature. Dioscorus took his side.

In 449, a new Council was convened in Ephesus, which, according to the plan of the Emperor Theodosius II (401-450), who convened it, was ecumenical. However, his decisions turned out to be canonically illegal. In a dogmatic sense, they were false. The Orthodox bishops Domnus of Antioch (442-452) and Flavian of Constantinople (446-449) were brutally deposed at this Council. It may seem incredible in our time, but to intimidate their opponents, Dioscorus and other Egyptians bishops attracted angry crowds of monastics. Bishop Flavian soon died of the wounds he had endured and received.

Instead of Flavian, Anatolius was appointed bishop of Constantinople. Recall that the City of Constantinople was founded in 330 by Emperor Constantine as the New Rome on the Bosporus. The diocese of the capital had no apostolic origin. In ecclesiastical terms, the Bishop of Constantinople was subordinate to the hierarch of the neighboring Heraclius Metropolis. However, due to the status of the capital and proximity to the imperial court, the importance of the Bishop of Constantinople increased almost from the very foundation of the city.

Dioscorus and his party counted on Anatolius’ ordination that, by virtue of his family ties, as a token of gratitude and, most importantly, for the sake of the always strong “Alexandrian separatism”, he would be “one of his own” in the diocese of the imperial capital. Obviously, like the gospel temptation in the desert (cf. Matt. 4:1), this “temptation of patriotism” was intended to become a key element in the spiritual biography of Anatoly. We add that even though the Empire was a single state, Constantinople was full of agents of influence of Alexandria, who acted like real spies in secular and even ecclesiastical terms.

In 450, the Orthodox Emperor Marcian (392-457) ascended the throne. The Council in Ephesus, which had taken place shortly before, was rejected, and, in accordance with church terminology, was declared “latrocinium”.

In 451, a Council was convened in Chalcedon, which went down in history under the name of the IV Ecumenical. On it the divine and human natures in Christ were proclaimed to exist forever, unmerged, unchangeable, inseparable, and inseparable. Let us remember that in theology and philosophy, this is perhaps one of the most ingenious denials!

This formulation turned out to be not only extremely important, but also fateful for all of Christianity. After all, humanity in Christ Jesus, and therefore humanity as such, including its inherent material reality, was recognized as relevant, unquestionable, capable of kinship with God, and therefore subject to infinite improvement. Reality is not divine, is not created anew by God, as in other religions, but, in the true sense, as the work of human hands, and these hands themselves are manipulated. Otherness in relation to God and the simultaneous godhood of mankind is a consequence of the decrees of Chalcedon.

In fact, the Council gave a new, this time a truly evangelical definition of religiosity. Religious is not the one who connects and, moreover, mixes the divine and the human, but who consistently separates these two spheres that are fully equal in their legitimacy. “He renders to God what is God's, and to Caesar what is Caesar's”, -as it is said in the Gospel (Matthew 22:21). It is also interesting that those Churches and peoples who rejected Chalcedon subsequently lost their independence, found themselves under foreign rule or on the outskirts of history.

Much less known, and in our time, perhaps, completely forgotten, are the decisions of the Council on church organization. At the same time, like the adoption of Christianity by Constantine (+337), they were truly revolutionary.

Their essence boiled down to the fact that the Universal Church was, as it were, divided between the five highest hierarchs, whose chairs were called patriarchates. Even though Rome and Alexandria did not recognize these decisions, they turned out to be a real restructuring for the entire Universal Church. Thus arose the system of "rule of five", that is, "Pentarchy". Constantinople not only became one of them but gained primacy in Eastern Orthodoxy. And that was perestroika.

It turns out that if in relation to Christology the decisions of Chalcedon turned out to be truly relevant and very beneficial, then in relation to the church organization, they, creating in the Church a complex system of “checks and contradictions” of the five patriarchates, on the part of the imperial power, followed the principle of “divide and rule”.

This resolution went down in history as adopted by the Council, but bypassing the regulations, for retroactively, the 28th rule. It is noteworthy that not only Alexandria, which lost ecclesiastical primacy despite its undeniable apostolic origin, but also Rome initially refused to accept Chalcedon's decrees on church organization. So, the consequences of the ecclesial Revolution of Chalcedon turned out to be extremely long-term.

The Egyptian, non-Greek Church of Egypt, which eventually became the Alexandrian Patriarchate of the Copts, remains to this day out of Eucharistic communion with Constantinople, Rome, and other churches. In turn, without any connection with the Copts, in 2006 Pope Benedict XVI officially abandoned the essentially Chalcedonian title "Patriarch of the West". Let us also note that even today the theologians of the Patriarchate of Constantinople continue to believe that only those mentioned by the Ecumenical Councils, that is, in fact, by Chalcedon, should be considered immutable, that is, not titular, but real patriarchates.

It is important to remember that due to the acceptance or rejection of the Council of Chalcedon in 536, the Church of Alexandria was divided into two. Approximately three hundred thousand believers in Alexandria, headed by the Patriarch, retained ecclesiastical communion with other Orthodox sees, while six million in the rest of Egypt separated, having their own patriarch at the head, and possessing a parallel hierarchy. A little earlier, around 519, on the same principle, but this time approximately equally, the Church of Antioch was divided. The same fate threatened Palestine and Constantinople.

It is important to remember that due to the adoption or rejection of the Christology of the Council of Chalcedon in 536, the Alexandrian Church was divided into two. Approximately three hundred thousand believers in Alexandria, headed by the Patriarch, retained ecclesiastical communion with other Orthodox sees, while six million in the rest of Egypt separated, having their own patriarch at the head, and possessing a parallel hierarchy. A little earlier, around 519, on the same principle, but this time approximately equally, the Church of Antioch was divided. The same fate threatened Palestine and Constantinople.

But the calculation of Dioscorus and his party in relation to Anatolius did not materialize. Anatolius soon condemned the false dogmatic teaching of his "benefactors", and took the side of orthodox Christology, as it was set forth in the Epistle of Leo of Rome to Flavian (449) and the decrees of Chalcedon. The undoubted feat of Anatoly is in the firm ability to overcome the insidiousness of kinship. The ability to say a firm no, so unusual for the peoples of the East, in fact, became for Anatolius a stairway to heaven, an apocalyptic stone of glorification (cf. Apoc. 2:17) among the righteous.

Like Leo the Great himself (+461), Juvenal of Jerusalem (+458) and Proterius of Alexandria (+457), Anatolius is canonized by the Church for his contribution to the approval of the dogma of the IV Ecumenical Council (451) on Christology and fidelity to precise dogmatic formulations. Let's say a few words about each of them.

Leo was a great theologian. In his Christology, he followed the doctrine of grace, liberty, and election by Augustine (354–430).

Leo was a great theologian. In his Christology, he followed the doctrine of grace, liberty, and election by Augustine of Hippo (354–430). His formulations became the basis of the Christological decree of Chalcedon.

Proterius was appointed Bishop of Alexandria in place of the deposed Dioscorus. In 457, on Maundy Thursday, the crowd, who disagreed with Chalcedon, tore him to pieces, and burned him in front of those in power. So, he became the first martyr - the firstborn of those martyrs who, like the Lord Jesus once (John 1:11), were now destined to suffer from their own. Surprisingly, his very name in translation means "preceding others".

Thanks to saints Anatolius and Juvenal, the Churches of Constantinople and Palestine did not separate, but remained in the communion of universal Orthodoxy. Juvenal led the Jerusalem Church for over forty years. It seemed that contemporaries simply did not notice that he had died. As the once "last postmodern philosopher" Jacques Derrida (1930-2004) said on the death of the great hermeneutic Gadamer (1900-2002), "I'm too used to him being alive." So, the exact date of Juvenal's departure to God remained unknown. Therefore, even in ancient times, the Church dated the day of his memory to the day on the eve of the memory of Anatolius.

Leo, Anatolius, Proterius, Juvenal - they were all contemporaries, at about the same time they departed to the Lord. The contribution of these true Founding Fathers to the fate of Christianity, now forgotten by many, was enormous. Moreover, in the progress of modernity that has surrounded and surrounds us, unexpectedly and paradoxically, there is a great contribution of the Fathers, and Anatoly. The Christology of Chalcedon clearly emphasized the relevance and authenticity of human reality. Secular things almost always have genuine theological tectonics.

In 457, Anatolius crowned Emperor Leo (457-474), who ruled in Constantinople. Shortly before this, Daniel the Stylite (409–493) healed the patriarch from a serious illness. It is known that the monk brought to Constantinople from Antioch the hitherto unknown tradition of stylitism. Events so dissimilar to each other were signs of the accomplished primacy of Constantinople.

In liturgical books with the name of Anatolius, the hymns written by him have been preserved. However, as if again wishing to hide the personal side of the biography of the patriarch, they are sometimes, according to the literal translation of his name, signed as “eastern”.

It was a difficult and very tragic time of dogmatic confrontations. In the apostolic capitals and the new historical patriarchates, blood was shed because of the understanding of dogmas.

On July 3, 458, Anatolius reposed in the Lord. The disciples of the patriarch were convinced that Anatolius was killed by the followers of Dioscorus. The latter, in turn, claimed that he died under the rubble of the earthquake. Possibly, it was "Caiaphas' prophecy" (cf. Jn. 11:49-50). And with the traditional ability of the ancient Alexandrians for allegorical thinking, this is how they perceived the сhurch division that occurred through their own fault.