Saint Theodore Studite: defender of icons and mystical life

Saint Theodore was born in Constantinople in 759, into a family of high officials. He received a careful education. Around 780, he followed, with all his family, his uncle Plato, to Bithynia, to become a monk. They founded a new monastery there. He refounded the monastery of Studion – hence its name Studite – in Constantinople itself, around 800. He then fought against the iconoclastic emperor Leo V the Armenian, and was exiled and mistreated several times. He died in 826.

Saint Theodore Studite had a powerful influence: he brought together at the monastery of Stoudion more than a thousand monks, who were precious auxiliaries in the fight for the holy images, the spirit of penance and the mystical life, in front of a clergy subservient to the civil power. Saint Theodore played a considerable role in Marian literature. Here are two texts from his pen.

Mary, the new world prepared to receive the new Adam

Before forming the first man, God had raised to him the magnificent palace of creation. Placed in paradise, man was driven out of it by his disobedience, and he became with all his descendants the prey of corruption.

But he who is rich in mercy took pity on the work of his hands, and he decided to create a new heaven, a new earth, a new sea to serve as a dwelling place for the Incomprehensible, desirous of reforming the human race. . What is this new world, this new creation?

The Blessed Virgin is the sky which shows the sun of justice, the earth which produces the grain of life, the sea which brings the spiritual pearl… How magnificent this world is! How admirable is this creation, with its beautiful vegetation of virtues, with the fragrant flowers of virginity!

What could be purer, what could be more irreproachable than the Virgin? God, sovereign and wholly immaculate light, found so many charms in her that he united himself to her substantially, by the descent of the Holy Spirit. Mary is a land on which the thorn of sin has not grown. On the contrary, it produced the offshoot by which sin was rooted out.

It is a land which was not cursed like the first, fertile in thorns and thistles, but on which the blessing of the Lord descended, and its fruit is blessed, as the divine oracle says.

Contemplation of Mary in Glory

Now, in possession of blissful immortality, she lifts up to God, for the salvation of the world, those hands which have borne God…

White and pure dove, raised in her flight to the heights of the sky, she never ceases to protect our lower region. She left us in body, but in spirit she is with us; having entered the heavens, she puts the demons to flight, having become that she is our mediator with God.

Formerly, death, introduced into the world by Eve, gripped it under its harsh sway; today, attacking the blessed daughter of a guilty mother, she has been expelled; and his defeat has come from whence his power once came…

O Virgin, I see you asleep rather than dead; you have been transported from earth to heaven, and yet you do not cease to protect the human race…

Mother, you remained a virgin, because he “was God, whom you gave birth to”. And this is also what makes your “living death” so different from ours: only, and this is fair, you have the incorruption of body and soul.

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Saint Theodore Studite: defender of icons and mystical life

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