Today the Church commemorates our fathers among the saints, Alexander, John and Paul, Patriarchs of Constantinople. The Kontakion for this feast is: ‘Set aflame by the love of Christ, O glorious ones, you took up the yoke of His precious Cross revealing yourselves as followers in His footsteps by your way of life, and you became partakers of His divine glory, divinely-wise Alexander, with wonderful John and glorious Paul. As you stand before His throne, earnestly pray for our souls.’
St Alexander was the first bishop after St Constantine the Great inaugurated Constantinople as the New Rome, succeeding St Metrophanes, last bishop of Byzantium. As archpriest under St Metrophanes, he represented the aged bishop, unable to attend in person, at the Council of Nicæa in A.D. 325. Soon after the council, he succeeded St Metrophanes.
‘After the Council, Saint Alexander, then aged almost seventy, became famed for his defence of Orthodoxy against the intrigues fomented by Arius and his partisans, and it is said that he undertook apostolic journeys to Thrace, Macedonia and Thessaly, and the islands, to preach the doctrine of Nicæa.’ (Makarios of Simonos Petra, The Synaxarion, VI: July, August, Chalcidice: Holy Convent of the Annunciation of Our Lady Ormylia, 2008, p. 658.)
St Alexander died in the year 337, not long after the emperor St Constantine. He was succeeded by St Paul, who also carried on the struggle for the faith of Nicæa, although he is not the St Paul commemorated today. His feast is 6 November. Today’s feast is for St Paul the New, patriarch from 780 to 784, who carried on the struggle against the iconoclast heresy leading to the 7th Œcumenical Council in 787.
I want to wish all the Alexanders χρόνια πολλά today, and especially our own priest, Fr Alex, who has laboured devotedly to carry on the services of the Church in this time of plague, even though he himself fell ill with the infection. May he have many years as head of our congregation!
Occasional comments by a convert to Orthodoxy.