St. Theodosius the Cenobiarch
January 11, Saint.


Abbot and Founder.

Roman martyrology: In the desert of Judea, St. Theodosius, friend of St. Sabas, after a long life in solitude, he accepted to take with him many disciples and instilled a community life in the monasteries he built.  Having suffered persecution because of the Catholic faith, he finally rested in the peace of Christ in 529.  Although the work of Theodosius started small, his goodness soon caught the attention of others who wanted to serve God.

Etymology:  Latinized form of the Greek which meant  "Giving to God".


Theodosius was born in Mogariassus, Asia Minor in 423. From a pious family, he began his studies at an early age, and became a lector while still a youth. As a young man, he set out on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. People say he was inspired by Abraham's journey of faith recorded in the Bible's book of Genesis.

Here he met Saint Simeon Stylites in Antioch; Simeon recognized him as a holy man and leader, and invited Theodosius onto his pillar for prayer, blessing, and advice so they travelled to Jerusalem. Having satisfied his devotion in visiting the holy places in Jerusalem, he began to consider in what manner he should dedicate himself to God in a religious state. The dangers of living without a guide made him prefer a monastery to a hermitage; and he therefore put himself under the directions of a holy man named Longinus, to whom his virtue soon endeared him in a very particular manner.

After a while, he became a hermit in the desert of Judah, living in a cave. But word of his holiness began to attract disciples, and Theodosius decided to build a monastery at Cathismus, near Bethlehem to house them. Before long, it was filled with monks from Greece, Armenia, Arabia, Persia and the Slavic countries. Eventually, it grew into a "little city." One building was for sick people, one for the elderly and one for the poor and homeless, but they all happily worked and prayed together.
Friend of and co-worker with Saint Sabbas. Appointed visitor to all cenobitical communities of Palestine the patriarch of Jerusalem.

Theodosius was always generous. He fed an endless stream of poor people. Sometimes it seemed like there would not be enough food for the monks, but Theodosius had great trust in God. He never turned travelers away, even when food was scarce. The monastery was a very peaceful place. The monks lived in silence and prayer. It was going so well that the patriarch of Jerusalem appointed Theodosius head of all the monks in the east.

He opposed heresies, including Eutychianism and Monophysitism. Emperor Anastatius, a supporter of Eutychianism, sent Theodosius a large bribe, hoping to sway the influential monk to his thinking; Theodosius distributed the money to the poor, and continued to preach against heresy. Because of his orthodox views, Anastatius removed him from his position in 513, but he soon resumed his duties under emperor Justinian.

In poor health in his old age, Theodosius died in 529 at the age of 105. He continued to work until his health gave out, and then he spent his time praying for his community. The patriarch of Jerusalem and many people attended his funeral. Theodosius was buried where he had first lived as a monk.


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