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Saint Sophronius of Jerusalem

Saint Sophronius of Jerusalem
  • Century: 6th & 7th Century
  • Patronage: -
  • Feast Day: March 11th

St. Sophronius of Jerusalem was born in Damascus in 560.  He was the Patriarch of Jerusalem from 634 until his death in 638.  Before rising to the primacy of the See of Jerusalem, he was a Monk and Theologian who was the chief protagonist for orthodox teaching in the controversy on the essential nature of Jesus.  He was of Arab descent.  He was a teacher of rhetoric, the art of persuasion in speaking.  He became an ascetic in Egypt about 580 and then entered the Monastery of St. Theodosius near Bethlehem.   

He traveled to monastic centers in Asia Minor, Egypt and Rome, and was accompanied by St. John Moschus.  On the death of Moschus in Rome in 619, he accompanied the body back to Jerusalem for monastic burial.  He traveled to Alexandria, Egypt and to Constantinople in the year 633 to persuade the Patriarchs to renounce Monothelitism, a heterodox teaching that espoused a single, divine will in Christ to the exclusion of a human capacity for choice.  All of St. Sophronius’ extensive writings on this subject are lost.  Although he was unsuccessful in this mission, he was elected Patriarch of Jerusalem in 634.  He soon after forwarded his synodical letter to Pope Honorius I explaining the orthodox belief in the two natures of Christ, human and divine.  This was opposite of Monothelitism, which he viewed as a subtle form of heretical nature for Christ.  He also composed some 600 texts from the Greek Church Fathers in favor of orthodox teaching of Dyothelitism, posing both human and divine wills in Christ. 

In his Christmas sermon of 634, St. Sophronius was more concerned with keeping the clergy in line with the view of God, giving only the most conventional of warnings of the Muslim-Saracen advance on Palestine, commenting that the Saracens already controlled Bethlehem.  St. Sophronius, who viewed the Muslim control of Palestine as “unwitting representatives of God’s inevitable chastisement of weak and wavering Christians”, died soon after the fall of Jerusalem to Umar I, in 637.  Before his death he was however, able to negotiate the recognition of civil and religious liberty for Christians in exchange for tribute.  The Caliph himself came to Jerusalem, and met with the Patriarch at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, to accomplish this.  

Practical Take Away

St. Sophronius of Jerusalem was born in Damascus in 560.  He was the Patriarch of Jerusalem from 634 until his death in 638.  Before rising to the primacy of the See of Jerusalem, he was a Monk and Theologian.  He worked hard to persuade the Patriarchs to renounce Monothelitism, a heterodox teaching that espoused a single, divine will in Christ to the exclusion of a human capacity for choice.  He was a strong supporter of Christ having both natures, “Human and Divine”.   This was opposed to Monothelitism, which he viewed as a subtle form of a heretical nature for Christ.  Before his death he was, however, able to negotiate the recognition of civil and religious liberty for Christians in exchange for tribute.  This set a precedent that helped to promote both civil and religious liberties for Christians.