Maximus the Confessor

Maximus the Confessor

Our venerable and God-bearing Father Maximus the Confessor (ca. 580-662) was an Orthodox Christian monk and ascetical writer known especially for his courageous fight against the heresy of Monothelitism. His feast days in the Church are celebrated on January 21 and, for the translation of his relics, on August 13.


He was born in the region of Constantinople, was well educated, and spent some time in government service before becoming a monk, having been a member of the old Byzantine aristocracy and holding the post of Imperial Secretary under Emperor Heraclius. Around 614, he became a monk (later abbot) at the monastery of Chrysopolis. During the Persian invasion of the Empire (614), he fled to Africa.

From about 640 on, he became the determined opponent of Monothelitism, the heretical teaching that Jesus Christ had only one will. In this, he followed the example of St. Sophronius of Jerusalem, who was the first to combat this heresy starting in 634. Maximus supported the Orthodoxy of Rome on this matter and is said to have exclaimed: "I have the faith of the Latins, but the language of the Greeks." He argued for Dyothelitism, the Orthodox teaching that Jesus Christ possessed two wills (one divine and one human), rather than the one will posited by Monothelitism.

After Pyrrhus, the temporarily deposed Monothelite Patriarch of Constantinople, had declared his defeat in a dispute at Carthage (645), Maximus obtained the heresy's condemnation at several local synods in Africa, and also worked to have it condemned at the Lateran Council of 649. He was brought to Constantinople in 653, pressured to adhere to the Typos of Emperor Constans II. Refusing to do so, he was exiled to Thrace. (Pope St. Martin of Rome was tried around the same time in Constantinople, and thus deposed and exiled to Crimea.)

In 661 Maximus again was brought to the imperial capital and questioned; while there, he had his tongue uprooted and his right hand cut off (to prevent him from preaching or writing the true faith), and then was again exiled to the Caucasus, but died shortly thereafter. Ultimately, Maximus was exonerated by the Sixth Ecumenical Council and recognized as a Father of the Church.

21 january: Martyrs Eugenios, Candidus, Valerianus, and Aquilas, at Trebizond (303); Virgin-martyr Agnes of Rome (c. 304) (see also January 20); Martyr Neophytus of Nicaea (305); The Holy Four Martyrs of Tyre, by the sword; Venerable Apollonios of the Thebaid, ascetic (4th century) (see also March 31); Venerable Maximus the Confessor (662); Martyr Anastasius (662), disciple of St. Maximus the Confessor; Saint Zosimas, Bishop of Syracuse (662); Martyrs Gabriel and Zionios, and companions, under the Bulgarian ruler Omurtag (c. 814-831); Venerable Neophytus of Vatopedi (Mount Athos); Saint Publius, first Bishop of Malta and later Bishop of Athens (c. 112 or c. 161-180) (see also March 13); Saint Fructuosus, Bishop of TarragoƱa in Spain, and Deacons Augurius and Eulogius (259); Martyr Patroclus of Troyes, under Aurelian (ca. 270-275); Saint Epiphanius of Pavia, Bishop of Pavia (496); Saint Brigid (Briga), known as St Brigid of Kilbride, venerated around Lismore in Ireland (6th century); Saint Lawdog (6th century); Saint Vimin (Wynnin, Gwynnin), a Bishop in Scotland, said to have founded the monastery of Holywood (6th century); Saint Meinrad of Einsiedeln, hermit, martyred by robbers (861); Saint Maccallin (Macallan), Abbot of Saint-Michel-en-ThiƩrache Abbey and Waulsort (978); Venerable Maximus the Greek of Russia (1556); Venerable Timon, monk (desert-dweller) of Nadeyev and Kostroma (1840); Saint George-John (Mkheidze) of Georgia (1960); New Hieromartyr Elias Berezovsky, Priest of Alma-Ata (1938); Other Commemorations: Synaxis of All the Martyred Saints, from Protomartyr Stephen up to the present; Synaxis of the Church of Holy Peace (Saint Irene), by the Sea in Constantinople; Icons: "Paramythia" Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos (Vatopedi Mother of Consolation, Mother of God of Vatopedi), at Vatopedi monastery, Mt. Athos (807); Icon of the Mother of God "Stabbed" (Greek: "Esphagmeni", Slavonic: "Zaklannaya"), at Vatopedi monastery (14th century); Icon of the Mother of God "Xenophon Hodigitria" (1730).

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