St Theodosius

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Abbot. Born at Cappadocia in 423, St Theodosius went on pilgrimage to Jerusalem as a young man, with dreams of becoming a hermit. For a time he lived in a monastery. Then he settled in the desert alone. But his teacher, an elderly monk called Longinus, noticed that he had other gifts and advised him to lead a more public life.

In 479, near Bethlehem, Theodosius established what was to become the largest and most well organised of the Judaean monasteries, with several hundred monks. He built a church for each of the language groups and three hospitals. One cared for the elderly, one was for the mentally ill and one was for people physically sick. In this large community, Greeks, Armenians. Persians and Arabs all worked and prayed happily together. No one was ever turned away without a meal and good hospitality, no matter how little the monks had to eat for themselves.

The Patriarch of Jerusalem appointed St Sabas head of all the hermits while St Theodosius was responsible for those living in community (hence the title Cenobiarch).

Theodosius was a staunch opponent of the Monophysism which lead to him being removed from office by the Emperor Anastasius. He was about 105 years old when he died. His monastery has been refounded, but is now surrounded by suburban houses.

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