MELETIOS A GREAT SAINT
St. Meletios the Great, Archbishop of Antioch, celebrated by Orthodox Christians on February 12, flourished in the fourth century. He became Archbishop in 360 AD, and met a young man, John Chrysostom. Their acquaintance profoundly affected the character of young Chrysostom who at that time had entered a class of catechumens; after three years of instruction, he was baptized by Archbishop Meletios at the age of twenty-three. In 370 AD. St. Meletios ordained young John Chrysostom first as Reader and later as Deacon. The Saint also ordained St. Basil the Great as Deacon.
St. Meletios, being an outstanding defender and interpreter of holy Orthodoxy, zealously spent his life fighting against the Arian heretics who blasphemed against the Holy Trinity. Many Arians nourishing the bitterness of their heresy in their hearts began an ingenious slander campaign hurled against the Saint, even accusing him of being a Sabellian. The struggle between the Orthodox and the heretics was so bitter, that when the Saint was preaching in a church the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, his own deacon who had embraced the wicked Arian heresy, ran up and put his hands over the Archbishop’s mouth to prevent him from continuing his sermon. Meletius then began to preach using his hands; first he opened three fingers and then his fist he represented the one God in trinity. Eventually St. Meletios was driven from his Archbishopric throne by the persecutors. The Antiochene community was divided between the heretics and the supporters of the First Ecumenical Synod. When the Emperor Constantius died he was succeeded by Julian the Apostate who persecuted the Christians and initiated efforts to bring back the insanity of idolatry. Julian drove St. Meletios from his throne, and many Orthodox believing Christians fled his persecution while some submitted to death and martyrdom.
After the death of the profane emperor Julian. the pious and God-fearing Jovian became emperor (363-364). The divine Meletios then was able to return to his see in Antioch. The emperor held St. Meletios in very high regard. Meletios convened a synod where the Arians hypocritically pretended to complete agreement with Orthodox doctrine, proclaiming that the Father and the Son were co-essential. Later a new emperor, under the influence of the Arians, exiled St. Meletios after Arianism had spread over greater territory. While in exile he met St. Basil the Great, who agreed with his wonderful exposition on the Holy Trinity. St. Basil championed Saint Meletios and eventually Meletios returned to his see. It was at this time that he encountered the young John Chrysostom. The pious western Roman Emperor Gratian, influenced by St. Ambrose of Milan, returned Meletios to his see in Antioch for the third time