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Saint Amphilochios, Bishop of Iconium (23 November)

Saint Amphilokhios (Amphilókhios), Bishop of Iconium, was born in Caesarea of Cappadocia (circa 340) a city which produced some of the greatest Fathers and teachers of the Orthodox Church. He was a lawyer in Constantinople, but later he devoted himself entirely to serving the Church. Not only was he a friend of Saint Basil the Great and a relative of Saint Gregory the Theologian, he was also their disciple.

Saint Amphilokhios labored diligently in Christ’s vineyard, living in the wilderness as a strict ascetic for about forty years, until the the Lord chose him to serve as a Hierarch. Saint Amphilokhios was the first Metropolitan of the new province of Lycaonia, and he often relied on Saint Basil for advice and help in his pastoral duties.

The holy Archpastor fought against Arianism and other heresies of that time, defending the Divinity of the Holy Spirit against the heresy of Macedonius. Saint Basil dedicated his treatise “On the Holy Spirit” to Bishop Amphilokhios. In addition to demonstrating the divinity of the Holy Spirit and His equality with the Father and the Son, Saint Basil’s treatise defends the Church’s ancient unwritten traditions, such as making the Sign of the Cross, facing East when we pray, not kneeling on Sunday, and so on.

For many years Saint Amphilokhios tended the flock of Iconium which the Lord entrusted to him. The righteous one’s prayer was so intense that he could ask the Lord to heal the physical and spiritual infirmities of his flock. He was also a gifted writer and preacher, guiding his flock on the path of salvation . As a strict Orthodox theologian, the Saint fought relentlessly against the Arian and Eunomian heresies. He participated in the Second Ecumenical Council in 381, and led the struggle against the heresy of Macedonius. Few of the Saint’s writings have been preserved, but eight of his homilies exist, including the oldest known homily on the Meeting of the Lord (February 2).

The holy Bishop Amphilokhios departed peacefully to the Lord in the year 394. Pieces of the Saint’s Holy Relics are to be found in the Monasteries of Saint Panteleimon on Mount Athos, Kykkos Monastery on Cyprus, and at the Benaki Museum in Athens.

Saint Amphilochius, who was born in Cappadocia, shone forth in asceticism and divine knowledge even from his youth. He was consecrated Bishop of Iconium in 341, he struggled courageously against the blasphemies of Eunomius, Macedonius the enemy of the Holy Spirit, and the followers of Arius. He was present at the Second Ecumenical Council of the 150 Fathers, which took place in Constantinople, convoked during the reign of Theodosius the Great in the year 381. In 383 Amphilochius wished to persuade the Emperor Theodosius to forbid the Arians from gathering in Constantinople and to commit the churches to the Orthodox, but the Emperor was reluctant to do such a thing. The next time that Amphilochius entered the palace, he addressed Theodosius with proper honour, but slighted his young son Arcadius in his presence. Theodosius was indignant, and said the dishonour shown to his son was equally an insult to himself.

To this Saint Amphilochius answered that as he would not suffer an insult to his son, so he ought to believe that God is wroth with those who blaspheme His Only-begotten. Saint Theodosius understood and admired Amphilochius’ ingenious device, and he issued the desired edict in September of the same year. Saint Amphilochius, having reached deep old age, reposed in peace about the year 395. Saint Basil the Great wrote many letters to Saint Amphilochius, his friend and Fellow champion of the Faith, and at his request wrote his treatise On the Holy Spirit, which besides demonstrating the divinity of the Holy Spirit and His equality with the Father and the Son, defends the Church’s unwritten ancient traditions, such as making the sign of the Cross, turning towards the East in prayer, no kneeling on Sunday, and so forth.

Amphilochius was a fellow countryman, companion and friend of St. Basil the Great and other great saints of the fourth century. Amphilochius left the uproar of the world early in life and withdrew to a cave where, as a hermit, he lived in asceticism for forty years. It then happened that the episcopal throne in Iconium was vacated, and Amphilochius, in a wondrous manner, was chosen and consecrated Bishop of Iconium. He was a splendid shepherd and a great defender of the purity of the Orthodox Faith. He took part in the Second Ecumenical Council in 381 A.D. He fought zealously against the impious Macedonius, the Arians and the Eunomians. He personally begged Theodosius the Great to expel all the Arians from every city in the empire, but the emperor did not heed him.

A few days later, Amphilochius came before the emperor again. When the bishop was led into the reception chamber, the emperor was sitting on his throne, and on his right sat his son Arcadius, whom Theodosius had taken as his co-emperor. Entering the chamber, St. Amphilochius bowed to Emperor Theodosius but paid no attention to Arcadius, the emperor’s son, as if he were not there. Greatly enraged at this, Emperor Theodosius ordered that Amphilochius be immediately expelled from the court. The saint then said to the emperor: “Do you see, O Emperor, how you do not tolerate disrespect to your son? So too, God the Father does not tolerate disrespect to His Son, and is disgusted with the corruptness of those who blaspheme Him and is angered at all those adherents of that cursed (Arian) heresy.” Hearing this, the emperor then understood why Amphilochius had not given honor to his son, and was amazed at his wisdom and daring. Among many other works, St. Amphilochius wrote several books on the Faith. He entered into rest in great old age in the year 395 A.D. and took up his habitation in eternal life. 

Apolytikion of Amphilochius, Bp. Of Iconium

Fourth Tone

O God of our Fathers, ever dealing with us according to Thy gentleness: take not Thy mercy from us, but by their entreaties guide our life in peace.

Kontakion of Amphilochius, Bp. Of Iconium

First Tone

O thunder divine, thou husbandman of faithful men, the Spirit’s clear trump, O axe that hewest heresies, Hierarch Amphilochius, thou great servant of God the Trinity, ever with the Angels on high cease not interceding for us all, O Saint.

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