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Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem

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March 11

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This Saint was born in Damascus. As a young man he became a monk at the Monastery of Saint Theodosius the Cenobiarch in Palestine, where he met John Moschus and became his close friend. Having a common desire to search out ascetics from whom they could receive further spiritual instruction, they journeyed together through Palestine, Syria, Asia Minor, and Egypt, where they met the Patriarch of Alexandria, Saint John the Almsgiver, with whom they remained until 614, when Persians captured Jerusalem (see also Saint Anastasius the Persian, Jan. 22). Saint Sophronius and John Moschus departed Alexandria for Rome, where they remained until 619, the year of John Moschus' death. Saint Sophronius returned to the Monastery of Saint Theodosius the Cenobiarch, and there buried the body of his friend. He laboured much in defence of the Holy Fourth Council of Chalcedon, and traveled to Constantinople to remonstrate with Patriarch Sergius and the Emperor Heraclius for changing the Orthodox Faith with their Monothelite teachings. After the death of Patriarch Modestus in December of 634, Sophronius was elected Patriarch of Jerusalem. Although no longer in the hands of the Persians, the Holy Land was now besieged by the armies of the newly-appeared religion of Mohammed, which had already taken Bethlehem; in the Saint's sermon for the Nativity of our Lord in 634, he laments that he could not celebrate the feast in Bethlehem. In 637, for the sins of the people, to the uttermost grief of Saint Sophronius, the Caliph Omar captured Jerusalem. Having tended the flock of his Master for three years and three months, Saint Sophronius departed in peace unto Him Whom he loved on March 11, 638.

Saint Sophronius has left to the Church many writings, including the life of Saint Mary of Egypt. The hymn "O Joyous Light," which is wrongly ascribed to him, is more ancient than Saint Basil the Great, as the Saint himself confirms in his work "On the Holy Spirit" (ch. 29). However, it seems that this hymn, which was chanted at the lighting of the lamps and was formerly called "The Triadic Hymn," was later supplemented somewhat by Saint Sophronius, bringing it into the form in which we now have it. Hence, some have ascribed it to him.

Apolytikion of Sophronius, Pat. Of Jerusalem in the Fourth Tone

A model of faith and the image of gentleness, the example of your life has shown you forth to your sheep-fold to be a master of temperance. You obtained thus through being lowly, gifts from on high, and riches through poverty. Sophronios, our father and priest of priests, intercede with Christ our God that He may save our souls.