The Departure of St. Alexander, Patriarch of Constantinople
On this day, of the year 340 A.D. the saint Abba Alexander, Patriarch of the city of Constantinople, departed. He was an honorable saint who suffered many hardships from the followers of Arius. When St. Athanasius the Apostolic, the twentieth Pope of Alexandria, renewed the excommunication of Arius, he went to Constantinople. Arius complained to Emperor Constantius, Son of the righteous Emperor Constantine, about St. Athanasius' conduct against him. When the emperor refused his petition, Arius asked the emperor to instruct Abba Alexander to accept him in the communion of the church. The emperor sent to this father saying, "Athanasius had defied us because he did not accept Arius, and you know that we appointed you to this position, so you must not transgress our command. Make my heart glad, and reinstate Arius." St. Alexander replied saying, "The church does not accept him for he does not worship the Holy Trinity." The Emperor said, "Arius had confessed his faith in the Holy Trinity before me and that the Son is of one essence with the Father." Then the saint answered, "If Arius had confessed that, let him write his confession by his own hand." The emperor brought Arius and he wrote down the faith with his own hand, contrary to what he had in his heart. Then the emperor made him swear on the Holy Bible that was his faith, but he swore falsely. The emperor said to Abba Alexander, "What do you have against him now, since he has written his faith with his own hand, and taken an oath on the Holy Bible." Abba Alexander replied, "Pope Athanasius renewed the excommunication of Arius, which was signed by your father, Emperor Constantine along with the three hundred and eighteen fathers, and expelled him and all his followers from Alexandria. Wait for one week, and if nothing happens to him during this week, then his profession of faith is sincere, and his oath is righteous. Then I will receive him in the communion of the church." The emperor agreed to his request.
When the patriarch went back to his church, he commanded his congregation to fast, along with him, for seven days and pray to God that He might save His church from the sin of Arius. After the week ended, and on the eve of Sunday, the heretics took Arius and started strolling with him in the streets of the city rejoicing that their leader would be accepted in the church. In the morning, Arius went to the church and sat down with the priests in front of the altar. Then Abba Alexander entered the church, being sad, and not knowing what to do. When he started the liturgy, Arius felt a colic and had to run to the washroom, where his bowels poured out of his body. When Arius delayed in returning, his followers went to the washroom, found him dead, and they were ashamed. The faithful glorified the Lord Christ, Who does not forsake His church. The emperor was amazed at that, and realized that Arius was lying in his writing and in his oath. He also perceived the holiness of Abba Alexander, the truthfulness of his faith, and the erroneous belief of Arius. He glorified the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and confessed publicly that the Trinity is one in essence. This Father having completed his life in a good course, and arrived at a good old age, departed in peace.
May his prayers be with us. Amen.
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