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Commemorated on February 12th

Saints Meletios the Great, Archbishop of Antioch

St Meletios 12th Feb

St Meletios was from Melitene of Armenia, and was a blameless man, just, reverent, sincere, and most gentle. Consecrated Bishop of Sebastia in 357 AD, he was later banished from his throne and departed for Beroea of Syria (this is the present day Aleppo).

After the Arian bishop of Antioch had been deposed, the Orthodox and the Arians each strove to have a man of like-minded man to become the next Bishop of Antioch. Meletios was highly esteemed by all, and since the Arians believed him to share their own opinion, they had him raised to the throne of Antioch. As soon as he had taken the helm of the Church of Antioch, however, he began preaching the Son's consubstantiality with the Father. At this, the archdeacon, an Arian, put his hand over the Bishop's mouth; Meletios then extended three fingers towards the people, closed them, and extended one only, showing by signs the equality and unity of the Trinity.

The embarrassed archdeacon seized his hand, but released his mouth, and Meletios spoke out even more forcibly in defence of the Synod of Nicaea. Shortly after, he was banished by the Arian Emperor Constantios, son of St Constantine the Great. After the passage of time, he was recalled to his throne, but was banished again the third time by Valens. It was St Meletios who ordained St John Chrysostom reader and Deacon in Antioch.

St Meletios lived until the Second Ecumenical Synod in 381 AD, over which he presided, being held in great honour as a zealot of the Faith and a venerable elder hierarch. The Synod was convoked against Macedonios, Patriarch of Constantinople, the enemy of the Holy Spirit).

Some time before, when the Emperor Gratian had made the Spanish General Theodosios commander in chief of his armies in the war against the barbarians, Theodosios had had a dream in which he saw Meletios, whom he had never met, putting upon him the imperial robe and crown. Because of Theodosios' victories, Gratian made him Emperor of the East in Valens' stead in 379 AD. When, as Emperor, St Theodosios the Great convoked the Second Ecumenical Synod in Constantinople two years later, he forbade that anyone should tell him who Meletios was; and as soon as he saw him, he recognized him, ran to him with joy, embraced him before all the other bishops, and told him of his dream.

While at the Synod, St Meletios fell ill and reposed a short while after. St Gregory of Nyssa, among others, gave a moving oration at his funeral; bewailing the loss of him whom all loved as a father, he said, "Where is that sweet serenity of his eyes? Where that bright smile upon his lips? Where that kind right hand, with fingers outstretched to accompany the benediction of the mouth?" e lamented, "Our Elias has been caught up, and no Elisseus is left behind in his place". The holy relics of St Meletios were returned to Antioch and were buried beside St Babylas the Martyr (commemorated September 4), in the Church dedicated to the Martyr that Meletios, in his zeal for the Martyr's glory, had helped build with his own hands.

Dismissal Hymn (Fourth Tone)

The truth of things have revealed you to your flock as a rule of faith, an icon of meekness, and a teacher of temperance; for this cause, you have achieved the heights by humility, riches by poverty. O Father and Hierarch Meletios, intercede with Christ God that our souls be saved.

Kontakion (Plagal of second Tone)

Fearing your spiritual boldness, the apostate Macedonios flees; and as we accomplish the service wherein we seek your intercessions, we, your servants, hasten to you with longing, O Meletios, you equal of the Angels, you fiery sword of Christ our God, which utterly slays all the godless. We praise you, the luminary that illumines all.