10 October 2009

'Teaching, Reproving, & Consoling All'—St Anthimus the Iberian

Today, 27 September on the Church’s calendar, we celebrate the memory of St Anthimus the Iberian, or ‘the Georgian’ (1650-1716), Metropolitan of Wallachia. Of course, I have already posted the fullest Life of St Anthimus I know of in English (Archimandrite Ioanichie [Bălan], Romanian Patericon: Saints of the Romanian Orthodox Church, Vol. I: Third to Eighteenth Centuries [Platina, CA: St Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 1996], pp. 383-4), as well as many additional pertinent facts and observations, here, where I also discuss St Anthimus’s moment of fame in Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian (NY: Back Bay, 2006).

But to his summary of St Anthimus’s life, Fr Ioanichie adds a few more details in the ‘Works and Teachings’ section of his chapter on the Saint. I shall post these, another excerpt or two from the ‘Teachings’, and the Troparion of the Saint, which I did not post last time. First, the passages on his ‘Works’ (pp. 385):

1. This blessed hierarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church, after being estranged from the land of his fathers at a young age and suffering great temptations among the pagans, was guided by Christ to the Romanian Land. There he found a second homeland, as well as fathers, brothers, and every consolation of the Holy Spirit.

2. Taking up the yoke of Christ at Snagov Monastery, Hieromonk Anthimus became a good monk and an unsurpassed printer. In the fifteen years before he was made a bishop, he founded two printing houses and dozens of ecclesiastical books in Romanian, Greek, Arabic, and Slavonic, becoming the greatest printer of Romania in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. His books were distributed in all the Romanian provinces, and even as far away as Athos, Greece, Constantinople, Jerusalem, Sinai, Syria and Georgia, for he was a devoted servant of Christ and defender of the Orthodox Church.

3. For the holiness of his life, Abbot Anthimus the Georgian was consecrated Bishop of Rmnic, and later Metropolitan of the Romanian Land. As a spiritual pastor and father, the great hierarch shone upon all like a candle on a candlestand, from the prince to the last pious layman. He was a wise man, inspired by the Holy Spirit, constant in faith, strong in hope, astute in speech, humble in heart, and full of divine love.

4. Desiring, for the sake of men’s salvation, that the church services be performed in the Romanian language, Metropolitan Anthimus multiplied the number of printing houses, and translated and printed the principal service books, beginning with the Horologion and the Liturgicon. Of the sixty-four books printed by him and his disciples, twenty-four were in Romanian.

Thus Metropolitan Anthimus is a major founder of the Romanian liturgical language. In his time the divine services began to be performed throughout the whole country only in Romanian, for the comprehension and consolation of all.

5. Besides enriching the services with books in the vernacular, the good pastor of Christ’s Church also made other contributions. He rebuilt churches in the villages and towns, founded the Monastery of All Saints in Bucharest, today called ‘Antim’ [after the Saint] (1713-1715), and made donations and initiated restoration work in other monasteries. He trained many disciples to be printers, gave much alms to the poor, and was a patron of scholars. For the teaching and defense of the right Faith, this skilled theologian, hierarch, and evangelical preacher authored and printed numerous
sermons, called Didahii.

In addition to those offered in the previous post on St Anthimus, here are two more excerpts from the Didahii:

14. Another time Metropolitan Anthimus said, humbling himself: ‘Being blinded by worldly vanities, we do not rejoice in anything but the works of the darkness of this age. We all have set out towards wicked things, like a wheel rolling downhill that cannot be stopped. All these thing have come upon us for no other reason but our unbelief. For like Pharaoh our hearts have hardened in evil, and we go about like untamed horses, unbridled and shameless, until we will fall into an abyss and perish.’

‘Therefore I say to you, my beloved ones, and I teach you with the fear of God, as your spiritual father and pastor, that you should come to your senses and repent of your impious works. God is merciful, and if He sees our turning back and good repentance, He will forgive us. For He says through the mouth of the Prophet Isaiah: Return to Me and I will return to you (Is 45:22).’ (p. 386)

62. ‘Before Christ’s Passion we were surrounded by five unvanquished enemies, who were always arrayed against us and brought us to great and incurable corruption: sin, death, hell, the devil, and the body.

‘He extinguished sin through the pouring out of His most precious Blood, and it can no more hurt us unless some evil passion will gain mastery over us. Death, which was born of sin, He killed by His death. Hell, which is the perfect reward of sin, He laid waste and shattered by His descent into it. The devil, who was the instigator of all sins and the tormentor of our souls, He bound and cast into the deepest abysses of hell. And the body, through His sufferings and His crucifixion on the Cross, He pacified and cleansed of the passions.’ (pp. 394-5)

Finally, Fr Ioanichie concludes his chapter on St Anthimus as follows:

74. Thus did this meek, humble, and most wise Father of the Romanian Land labor for the salvation of his flock, teaching, reproving, and consoling all for twenty-six years. Then, as it was ordained by God that he should die for the truth, he was cruelly tortured and drowned by the Turks, and he gave his soul into the arms of Christ. Thus the holy Metropolitan Anthimus is numbered in the ranks of the holy martyrs of Romania, and he prays in heaven for the salvation of our souls. (p. 397)

The Troparion of the Saint in Tone 3:

O holy Father, Hierarch Anthimus, with diligence thou didst order well the pastors and instructors of thy flock, and with divine wisdom didst pour forth rivers of holy words. Thou didst give thy life for thy flock and obtain the crown of martyrdom from Christ God, to Whom do thou pray, O holy Father, Hierarch Anthimus, to grant peace and great mercy to those who celebrate thy holy memory. (p. 397)


protov said...

Thank you for your post. It brought back a flood of sweet memories, from the time when I was a constant visitor of the "Manastirea Antim" as it was popularly known. It was a hub of spirituality.

aaronandbrighid said...

I'm glad to hear it, brother. Often I blog about these Saints and the monasteries they founded without having any idea what monastic life there is like now or whether there is any at all! I rejoice to hear the spirit of St Antim is alive and well there.

protov said...

Yes, today the Monastery, which is situated in the center of Bucharest, is the center of the Holy Synod of the Romanian Church. It has a vast library. In the years following WWII is was the center of a spiritual movement known as "The Burning Bush of the Most Holy Mother of God" which involved also laics of all walks of life. They have all persecuted by the Communist regime, the founder of the "Burning bush", the Hieroschemamonk Daniil (the journalist,poet and writer Sandu Tudor before taking the habit) died in prison. After the relative relaxation of the persecutions in the late '60s a number of the monks returned to Antim and were very much sought after by pople thirsty for spiritual life. I experienced great moments there.