Saint of the Day – 12 February – Saint Meletius of Antioch (Died 381) Bishop of Antioch from 360 until his death in 381, Confessor, Defender of the true Faith against heresies – born in the early 4th century Melitene, Lower Armenia (modern Malatya, Turkey) and died in 381 at Constantinople (modern Istanbul, Turkey) of natural causes. Meletius asceticism was remarkable in view of his great private wealth. He was opposed by a rival bishop named Paulinus and his episcopate was dominated by the schism, usually called the Meletian schism. As a result, he was exiled from Antioch in 361–362, 365–366 and 371–378. One of his last acts was to preside over the First Council of Constantinople in 381.
Meletius of Antioch is an important early Christian Saint, who became Bishop of one of the largest and most ancient congregations of Christianity—the Syrian city of Antioch.
Meletius was born at Melitene in Armenia in the first half of the fourth century. He was born into a distinguished and wealthy family, leading him to seek a distinguished ecclesial office in the Church. Meletius was appointed the Bishop of the Christian City of Sebaste.
During the fourth century, debates over the divinity of Christ raged throughout Eastern and Western Christianity. Antioch was, for a long time, a stronghold of orthodox Christianity, where Christians believed in Christ’s two natures—divine and human—united in the one person of Jesus.
Meletius resisted both the rise of Arianism and the Eastern emperor, Constantius II, who supported the Arian Christians. During these bickerings, the important Christian city of Antioch was being pulled between many different Bishops. The people of Antioch were divided between these heretical Bishops vying for the See. Finally, they appointed Meletius, who was an orthodox Christian but who focused mostly on the moral Christian life and living a life of Christian charity. The divided people of Antioch admired their saintly Bishop and adhered to his example.
Meletius became known as a hero among the faithful in Antioch, for uniting the church that had been divided by heresies. The good Bishop Meletius Consecrated as a Deacon, one of Antioch’s most famous Bishops, the great St John Chrysostom. John Chrysostom later praised him in one of his homilies, eulogising him for his great wisdom and his calm and holy leadership.
Meletius died soon after the opening of the First Council of Constantinople and the Emperor Theodosius, who had received him with special distinction, ordered his body to be carried to Antioch and buried with the honours of a saint. The Meletian schism, however, did not end immediately with his death. In spite of the advice of Gregory Nazianzus, Paulinus was not recognised as the sole bishop and Flavian was consecrated as Meletius’ successor.