From Dominus nr. 54:
The Patron of Sportingclub Saint Severius
Saint Severius (also known as Severin, (512- died on 8th of February AD 538) was known as the “crown
of the Syrians". This Holy Patriarch of Antioch, nowadays Antakya in Turkey, is the Patron Saint of the Roman Catholic
sportingclub Sint Severius in the Netherlands. Their motto: Severius if you are serious!
Severius stood as a hard rock in his believe. He learned us to persevere in our religion. Even when attacked,
debased or maltreated! Severius was nof a softy at all and never refused to use his hard hand or even his
belt when belief was at stake. He hit his followers and supporters not only by words, if Severius meant that
they were not upright in their religion.
But that same dominant Saint was also the man that introduced the peace kiss in the Holy Mass. Up till this day
the deacon in the Syrian Orthodox Church speaks his words: Barekhmor. Let us give peace to one another, everyone to his
neighbour with a holy and divine kiss, in the love of our Lord and God.
St. Peter the Apostle was the first Patriarchs of Antioch. Among famous
saints who seated in Antioch were St. Babulas the Martyr, Tyrannos, an even more severe Patriarch as Severius the Great, who
came as nr. 37 on the See of Antioch.
the pride of the Patriarchs of Antioch, an outstanding authority with great control over the faithful. When
the Chalcedonians took control of the See of Antioch in 518, they sent Severius in exile and appointed Paul the Jew as Patriarch.
This line continues in the form of the Byzantine (Antiochene Orthodox) Patriarchate:
Severus: The most famous and the most fertile of all the Monophysite writers was Severus, who was Patriarch
of Antioch (512- 518), and died in 538. We have his early life written by his friend Zacharias Scholasticus; a complete biography
was composed soon after his death by John, the superior of the monastery where Severus had first embraced the monastic life.
was born at Sozopolis in the province of Psidis around the year 459 A.D. His grandfather (on his father’s side) was
one of the bishops who attended the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus (431 A.D). in Pisidia, his father being
a senator of the city, and descended from the Bishop of Sozopolis who had attended the Council of Ephesus in 431. After
his father's death he was sent to study rhetoric at Alexandria, being yet a catechumen, as it was the custom in Pisidia to
delay baptism until a beard should appear. Zacharias, who was his fellow-student, testifies to his brilliant talents and the
great progress he made in the study of rhetoric. He was enthusiastic over the ancient orators, and also over Libanius. Zacharias
induced him to read the correspondence of Libanius with St. Basil, and the works of the latter and of Saint Gregory of Nazianzus,
and he was conquered by the power of oratory. Severus went to study law at Berytus about the autumn of 486, and he was followed
thither by Zacharias a year later.
Severus was alter accused of having been in youth a worshiper of idols and a dealer in magical arts (so the libellus
of the Palestinian monks at the council of 536), and Zacharias is at pains to refute this calumny indirectly, though at great
length, by relating interesting stories of the discovery of a hoard of idols in Menuthis in Egypt and of the routing of necromancers
and enchanters at Berytus; in both these exploits the friends of Severus took a leading part, and Zacharias asks triumphantly
whether they would have consorted with Severus had he not agreed with them in the hatred of paganism and sorcery.
Zacharias continued to influence him, by his own account, and induced him to devote the free time which the students
had at their disposal on Saturday afternoons and Sundays to the study of the Fathers. Other students joined the pious company
of which an ascetic student named Evagrius became leader, and every evening they prayed together in the Church of the Resurrection.
Severus was persuaded to be baptized. Zacharias refused to be his godfather, for he declared that he did not communicate
with the bishops of Phoenicia, so Evagrius stood sponsor, and Severus was baptized in the church of the martyr Leontius, at
After his baptism Severus renounced the use of baths and betook himself to fasting and vigils. Two of his companions departed
to become monks under Peter the Iberian. When the news of the death of that famous monk (488) arrived, Zacharias and several
others entered his monastery of Beith-Aphthonia, at the native place of Zacharias, known also as Maļuma, the port of Gaza,
where Peter had been bishop. Zacharias did not persevere, but returned to the practice of the law. Severus intended to practise
in his own country, but he first visited the shrine of St. Leontius of Tripolis, the head of St. John Baptist at Emea, and
then the holy places of Jerusalem, with the result that he joined Evagrius who was already a monk at Maļuma, the great austerities
there did not suffice for Severus, and he preferred the life of a solitary in the desert of Eleutheropolis.
Having reduced himself to great weakness he was obliged to pass some time in the monastery founded by Romanus, after which
he returned to the laura of the port of Gaza, in which was the convent of Peter the Iberian. Here he spent what his charities
had left of his patrimony in building a monastery for the ascetics who wished to live under his direction.
His quiet was rudely disturbed by Nephalius, a former leader of the Acephali, who was said to have once had 30,000 monks
ready to march on Alexandria when, at the end of 482, Peter Mongus accepted the Henoticon and became patriarch. Later on Nephalius
joined the more moderate Monophysites, and finally the Catholics, accepting the council of Chalcedon. About 507-8 he came
to Maļuma, preached against Severus, and obtained the expulsion of the monks from their convents.
Severus betook himself to Constantinople with 200 monks, and remained there three years, influencing the Emperor Anastasius
as far as he could in the support of the Henoticon, against the Catholics on the one hand and the irreconcilable Acephali
on the other. He was spoken of as successor to the Patriarch Macedonius who died in August 511.
The new patriarch, Timotheus, entered into the views of Severus, who returned to his cloister. In the following year he
was consecrated Patriarch of Antioch, 6 November 512, in succession to Flavian, who was banished by the emperor to Arabia
for the half-heartedness of his concessions to Monophysitism. Elias of Jerusalem refused to recognized Severus as Patriarch,
and many other bishops were equally hostile. However, at Constantinople and Alexandria he was supported, and Elias was deposed.
Severus exercised a most active episcopacy, living still like a monk, having destroyed the baths in his palace, and having
dismissed the cooks. He was deposed in September, 518, on the accession of Justin, as a preparation for reunion with the West.
He fled to Alexandria.
In the reign of Justinian the patronage accorded to the Monophysites by Theodora raised their hopes. Severus went to Constantinople
again, where he fraternized with the ascetical Patriarch Anthimus, who had already exchanged friendly letters with him and
with Theodosius of Alexandria. The latter was deposed for heresy by Pope Agapetus on his arrival in Constantinople in 536.
His successor Mennas held a great council of sixty-nine bishops in the same year after the pope;s departure in the presence
of the papal legates, solemnly heard the case of Anthimus and reiterated his deposition. Mennas knew Justinian's mind as was
determined to be orthodox: "We, as you know", said he to the council, "follow and obey the Apostolic See, and those with whom
it communicates we have in our communion, and those whom it condemns, we condemn."
The Easterns were consequently emboldened to present petitions against Severus and Peter of Apamea. It is from these documents
that we have our main knowledge of Severus from the point of view of his orthodox opponents. One petition is from seven bishops
of Syria Secunda, two others are from ninety-seven monasteries of Palestine and Syria Secunda to the emperor and to the council.
Former petitions of 518 were recited.
The charges are somewhat vague (or the facts are supposed known) of murders, imprisonments, and chains, as well as of heresy.
Mennas pronounced the condemnation of these heretics for contemning the succession from the Apostles in the Apostolic See,
for setting at nought the patriarchal see of the royal city and its council, the Apostolic succession from our Lord in the
holy places (Jerusalem), and the sentence of the whole Diocese of Oriens.
Severus retired to Egypt once more and to his eremitical life. He died, 8 February, 538, refusing to take a bath even to
save his life, though he was persuaded to allow himself to be bathed with his clothes on. Wonders are said to have followed
his death, and miracles to have been worked by his relics. He has always been venerated by the Jacobite Church as one
of its principal doctors.
His literary output was enormous. A long catalogue of works is given by Assemani. Only a few fragments survive in the original
Greek, but a great quantity exists in Syriac translations, some of which has been printed. The early works against Nephalius
are lost. A dialogue, "Philalethes", against the supporters of the Council of Chalcedon was composed during the first stay
of Severus at Constantinople, 509-11. It was a reply to an orthodox collection of 250 extracts from the works of St. Cyril.
An answer seems to have been written by John the Grammarian of Caesarea, and Severus retorted with an "Apology for Philalethes"
(remains of the attack and retort in Cod. Vat. Syr. 140 and Cod. Venet. Marc. 165). A work "Contra Joannem Grammaticum" which
had a great success, and seems to have long been regarded by the Monophysites as a triumph, was probably written in exile
after 519. Severus was not an original theologian. He had studied the Cappadocians and he depended much on the Apollinarian
forgeries; but in the main he follows St. Cyril in every point without conscious variation.
A controversy with Sergius the Grammarian, who went too far in his zeal for the "One Nature", and whom Severus consequently
styles a Eutychian, is preserved in MS. Addit. 17154. This polemic enabled Severus to define more precisely the Monophysite
position, and to guard himself against the exaggerations which were liable to result from the habit of restricting theology
to attacks on Chalcedon.
In his Egyptian exile Severus was occupied with his controversy with Julian of Halicarnassus. We also hear of works on
the two natures "against Felicissimus", and "Against the Codicils of Alexander". Like all Monophysites his theology is limited
to the controversial questions. Beyond these he has no outlook.
Severius died in the
city of Sakha in Egypt on the 8th of February, 538. He was crowned by the Church as the Great Doctor of the catholic
Church. The Syrian Orthodox Church commemorates Severius on the day of his death with the following Anaphora:
Remember our Patriarch St. Severius, the crown of the Syrians, that rational mouth, pillar and teacher of all the
Holy Church of God.
After this holy and divine peace which has been given, let us once again bow down our heads before the merciful
Barekhmor. Let us stand well, let us stand with fear, let us stand with modesty, purity and holiness and let us
all stand, my brethren, in love and true faith.
Even the congregations of the angels, the chief ranks of the archangels, the supremacy of the united thrones, the rulers
that are unchangeable… and the most intelligent natures trembling for Your invisible and incomprehensible Godhead. They
sing continuous Your glory. O Lord, do not deliver us to Your everlasting tortures. Have mercy upon us, O Almighty. We glorify
You, we worship You. O Lord our God, have compassion and mercy upon us. Make us worthy, O Lord, to participate in the memorials
of the martyrs who have pleased You. We cry out and say: Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty; heaven and earth are full of
His glories. Hosanna in the highest...
Later in the ceremony the celebrant lifts up the shushefo (veil) and waves it three times over the elements, saying
in a low voice:
You are the hard rock which sent forth twelve rivers of water for the twelve tribes of Israel. You are the hard
rock which was set against the tomb of our Savior.
Saint Serius learned to incline our hearts to obey Gods commandments, destroying all the lustful vanity that exalts
itself in us against Gods knowledge.
Capturing all our thoughts to the example of the humility of Who, of His own will, humbled Himself for Your good
pleasure, O God, Whom befit glory and honour now and always and forever.
Of the numerous sermons of Severus, those which he preached at Antioch
are quoted as "Homilae cathedrales". They have come down to us in two Syriac translations; one was probably made by Paul,
Bishop of Callinicus, at the beginning of the sixth century, the other by Jacob Barandai, was completed in 701. Those which
have been printed are of astonishing eloquence. A diatribe against the Hippodrome may be especially noted, for it is very
modern in its denunciation of the cruelty to the horses which was involved in the chariot races. A fine exhortation to frequent
communion is in the same sermon.
The letters of Severus were collected in twenty-three books, and numbered no less than 3759. The sixth book is extant.
It contains theological letters besides many proofs of the varied activities of the patriarch in his episcopal functions.
He also composed hymns for the people of Antioch, since he perceived that they were fond of singing. His correspondence with
Anthimus of Constantinople is found in "Hist. Misc.", IX, xxi-xxii.
Julian, Bishop of Halicarnassus, joined with Severus in the intrigue by which Macedonius was deposed from the Patriarchate
of Constantinople in 511. He was exiled on the accession of Justin in 518, and retired to the monastery of Enaton, nine miles
from Alexandria. He was already of advanced age. Here he wrote a work "Against the Diphysites" in which he spoke incorrectly
according to Severus, who nevertheless did not reply. But Julian himself commenced a correspondence with him (it is preserved
in the Syriac translation made in 528 by Paul of Callinicus, and also partially in the "Hist. Misc.", IX, x-xiv) in which
he begged his opinion on the question of the incorruptibility of the Body of Christ. Severus replied, enclosing an opinion
which is lost, and in answer to a second letter from Julian wrote a long epistle which Julian considered to be wanting in
respect, especially as he had been obliged to wait for it for a year and a month. Parties were formed. The Julianists upheld
the incorruptibility of the Body of Christ, meaning that Christ was not naturally subject to the ordinary wants of hunger,
thirst, weariness, etc., nor to pain, but that He assumed them of His free will for our sakes. They admitted that He is "consubstantial
with us", against Eutyches, yet they were accused by the Severians of Eutychianism, Manichaeism, and Docetism, and were nicknamed
Phantasiasts, Aphthartodocetae, or Incorrupticolae. They retorted by calling the Severians Phthartolotrae (Corrupticolae),
or Ktistolatrae, for Severus taught that our Lord's Body was "corruptible" by its own nature; that was scarcely consistent,
as it can only be of itself "corruptible" when considered apart from the union, and the Monophysites refused to consider the
Human Nature of Christ apart from the union.
Justinian, who in his old age turned more than ever to the desire of conciliating the Monophysites (in spite of his failure
to please them by condemning the "three chapters"), was probably led to favour Julian because he was the opponent of Severus,
who was universally regarded as the great foe of orthodoxy. The emperor issued in edict in 565 making the "incorruptibility"
an obligatory doctrine, in spite of the fact that Julian had been anathematized by a council of Constantinople in 536, at
which date he had probably been dead for some years.
A commentary by Julian on the Book of Job, in a Latin version, was printed in an old Paris edition of Origen (ed. Genebrardus,
1574). A MS. of the original Greek is mentioned by Mai. It is largely quoted in the catena on Job of Nicetas of Heraclea.
The great work of Julian against Severus seems to be lost. Ten anathematisms remain.
Of his commentaries, one on Matthew is cited by Moses Barkepha (P.G., CXI, 551). It is to be hoped that some of Julian's
works will be recovered in Syriac or Coptic translations. An anti-Julianist catena in the British Museum (MS. Addit. 12155)
makes mention of Julian's writings. We hear of a treatise by him, "Against the Eutychianists and Manichaens", which shows
that Julian, like his great opponent Severus, had to be on his guard against extravagant Monophysites. Part of the treatise
which Peter of Callinicus, Patriarch of Antioch (578-591), wrote against the Damianists is extant in Syriac MSS. (See
Assemani's and Wright's catalogues).