St. Maximus the Confessor icon

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Orthodox icon of Saint Maximos, Maximus the Confessor.

Commemorated January 21.

This is the Orthodox icon of Saint Maximus the Confessor who was born in Constantinople around 580 and raised in a pious Christian family. He received an excellent education, studying philosophy, grammar, and rhetoric.u00a0He held a position as the personal secretary to Heraclius has been taken as an indication that Maximus was born into Byzantine nobility. Saint Maximus left public life and took monastic vows at the monastery of Philippicus in Chrysopolis, a city across the Bosporus from Constantinople.

He was the greatest defender of Orthodoxy against the so-called Monothelite heresy, which developed from the heresy of Eutyches. That is to say: as Eutyches asserted that there is in Christ only one nature, so the Monothelites asserted that there is in Him only one will. Maximus resisted this assertion and found himself in opposition to both the Emperor and the Patriarch. But he was unafraid, and persevered to the end in proving that there are in the Lord two natures and therefore also two wills. By his efforts, one Council in Carthage and one in Rome stood firm, and both these Councils anathematized the Monothelite teaching.

When Emperor Constans II received the decisions of the Council, he gave orders to arrest St Maximus. He was accused of treason and locked up in prison. The saint and two of his disciples were subjected to the cruelest torments. Each one's tongue was cut out, and his right hand was cut off. Then they were exiled to Skemarum in Scythia, enduring many sufferings and difficulties on the journey. Ultimately, Maximus was exonerated by the Sixth Ecumenical Council and recognized as a Father of the Church.

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