[St. Pachomius Library]

St. Maximus the Confessor, Abbot of the Chrysopolis

VI/VII Centuries
Ascetic and defender of Nicene Christianity, St. Maximus was born c. 580 into a noble family at Constantinople. A student of philosophy and theology, he served as imperial secretary to Heraclius until c. 614, when Maximus became a monk. During a Persian invasion in 626, he travelled first to Alexandria, then to Carthage, where he debated Pyrrhus, a monothelite. A number of African synods condemned Maximus for his insistence that Christ had a divine will and a human will, and Martin I invited Maximus to participate in the Lateran synod of 649. Four years later, he was arrested and tried at his birthplace for his refusal to adhere to the Typos of Constans II, which forbade the discussion of Christ's will or wills. Maximus was tortured and exile to Shemarum on the Black Sea, where he died of his injuries.

Maximus preaches that Christ's Incarnation is the purpose of history because it restores the equilibrium destroyed by Adam's fall. If Christ is not fully God and fully man, argues Maximus, salvation is void. Maximus is the author of Four Centuries of Love, about asceticism and charity in daily life; Ambigua about the writings of Sts. Gregory the Theologian; and Mystagogia about the nature of the church. Maximus also commented on the works of Dionysios the Areopagite and on the Scriptures.

Karen Rae Keck

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