Theodore the Studite


Feastday: November 11

b. 759 d. 826

Also know as Theodore of Studium and Theodore of Studios, he was an abbot, monastic reformer, theologian and ardent enemy of heretical iconoclastic policies in the Byzantine Empire. The nephew of St. Pluto, abbot of Saccudium (a monastery in Bithynia, Asia Minor, near Mt. Olympus in modern Turkey), he decided to follow the angelic life of asceticism and was blessed by his uncle to take the holy habit and entered the community at Saccudium about 780. In 794, he followed St. Pluto as abbot when his uncle abdicated in his favor.

Theodore soon drew attention to himself for his opposition to the adulterous marriage of Emperor Constantine VI (r. 780-797) and was banished until 797 when the emperor was deposed by his mother, Irene. Two years later Theodore moved the community from Saccudium to the Studion, (an estate in a suburb of Constantinople) in order to escape the growing dangers of the Arab invasions. The monastery subsequently became one of the most prominent in the whole of the Eastern Church. In 809, Theodore was exiled once more, this time by by opposing Emperor Nicephorus I's (r. 802-811) promotion of the iconoclast heresy. This marked the start of suffering and persecution which continued virtually until his death. Recalled in 811, he was forced soon after to speak out against the iconoclastic policies of Emperor Leo V (r. 813-820). In revenge, Leo had Theodore seized, cruelly abused, and exiled. The Studion was populated by Iconoclast monks, and Theodore lived in banishment until 820 when Emperor Michael II (r. 820-829) brought him back to Constantinople. Theodore remained unbending and died without ever returning to the Studion. He died just outside of Constantinople.

Theodore was venerated for his personal holiness, his brilliant abilities as a preacher, and his willingness to champion the rights of the Church, even at the price of deep personal sacrifice. He was also the author of five hundred letters, hymns, sermons, polemics against Iconoclasm, and two cathechisms. His rule for monks and abbatial admonitions and letters have influenced monastic life in the Orthdox Church to this very day.