Walking with the Saints

Theodore of Tarsus

One of the thoughts I used to have about Episcopalians is that they were well educated people. Being Episcopalian, in my view, requires engaging your mind as well as your heart.  I was not a cradle Episcopalian but rather a convert late in life. I have not been disappointed as I continue to learn new things, the celebrations of holy men and women being one of them. Since being asked to reflect on various feast days I have learned quite a bit, and I hope you have as well.

Today I am tasked with Theodore of Tarsus, a Greek man from Tarsus, Turkey. He was part of a Greek speaking diocese of the Byzantine Empire. During his childhood he saw devastating wars between Byzantium and the Persian Sassanid Empire which resulted in the capture of Antioch, Damascus and Jerusalem in 613-614. Persian forces captured Tarsus when Theodore was twelve years old. Thus, he was familiar with Persian culture.

Although he could live with Persian rule the Muslim conquests which reached Tarsus in 637 certainly caused Theodore to flee and return to the Eastern Roman Empire studying in Constantinople a varied course of studies.

Sometime before the 660’s He traveled to Rome where he lived with a community of Eastern Monks where he added to his Greek intellectual heritage. He became learned in Latin Literature both secular and sacred. 

Theodore was appointed by Pope St Vitalian as the Archbishop of Canterbury in 668.  He began to institute reforms and became known as the “first archbishop obeyed by all the English Church”.  He helped to establish a school in Canterbury providing instruction in both Greek and Latin, resulting in the “golden age” of Anglo – Saxon scholarship.

Theodore died at the age of 88 in 680. He had been the Archbishop of Canterbury for 22 years. He was venerated as a Saint on September 19 in the Catholic Church, Church of England, Episcopal Church(USA), and Eastern orthodox churches.