St. Meletius, Archbishop of Antioch icon
Orthodox icon of Saint Meletius, Archbishop of Antioch.
Commemorated February 12.
Saint Meletius, Archbishop of Antioch, was Bishop of Sebaste in Armenia (ca. 357), and afterwards he was summoned to Antioch by the emperor Constantius to help combat the Arian heresy, and was appointed to that See.
St Meletius struggled zealously against the Arian error, but through the intrigues of the heretics he was thrice deposed from his cathedra. Constantius had become surrounded by the Arians and had accepted their position. In all this St Meletius was distinguished by an extraordinary gentleness, and he constantly led his flock by the example of his own virtue and kindly disposition, supposing that the seeds of the true teaching sprout more readily on such soil.
St Meletius was the one who ordained the future hierarch St Basil the Great as deacon. St Meletius also baptized and encouraged another of the greatest luminaries of Orthodoxy, St John Chrysostom, who later eulogized his former archpastor.
After Constantius, the throne was occupied by Julian the Apostate, and the saint again was expelled, having to hide himself in secret places for his safety. Returning under the emperor Jovian in the year 363, St Meletius wrote his theological treatise, “Exposition of the Faith,” which facilitated the conversion of many of the Arians to Orthodoxy.
In the year 381, under the emperor Theodosius the Great (379-395), the Second Ecumenical Council was convened. In the year 380 the saint had set off on his way to the Second Ecumenical Council at Constantinople, and came to preside over it.
Before the start of the Council, St Meletius raised his hand displaying three fingers, and then withdrawing two fingers and leaving one extended he blessed the people, proclaiming: “We understand three hypostases, and we speak about a single nature.” With this declaration, a fire surrounded the saint like lightning. During the Council St Meletius fell asleep in the Lord. St Gregory of Nyssa honored the memory of the deceased with a eulogy.
St Meletius has left treatises on the consubstantiality of the Son of God with the Father, and a letter to the emperor Jovian concerning the Holy Trinity. The relics of St Meletius were transferred from Constantinople to Antioch.