Commemorated on November 14
Right-Believing Emperor Justinian and Empress Theodora: Saint Justinian, a
major figure in the history of the Byzantine state, was also a great champion
of Orthodoxy, a builder of churches and a Church writer, and he was of Slavic
descent – born in Bulgaria. During his reign (527-565) Byzantium won glory with
military victories in Persia, Africa, Italy, – as a result of which paganism
was decisively rooted amongst the Germanic Vandal and West-Goth tribes. By
command of the emperor Justinian the pagan schools in Athens were closed. With
the aim of spreading Christianity through the regions of Asia Minor, Justinian
sent there the bishop of Ephesus John, who baptised more than 70 thousand
pagans. The emperor gave orders to build 90 churches for the newly‑converted,
and he generously supported church construction within the empire. His finest
structures of the time are considered to be the monastery at Sinai, and the
church of Saint Sophia at Constantinople. Under Saint Justinian many a church
was built in the name of our MostHoly Lady Mother of God. Being a man of quite
diverse an education, Saint Justinian assiduously concerned himself over the
education of clergy and monks, ordering them to be instructed in rhetorics, in
philosophy and in theology.
sovereign devoted much attention and effort into the struggle with the
Origenists of his time, who then were reviving the Nestorian heresy. Against
their heretical speculations was composed the Church-hymn "Only-Begotten
Son and Immortal Word of God, Who for our salvation...", and he commanded
its singing as obligatory in the churches. From that time through the present
day this hymn is sung in the Divine Liturgy before the Small Entrance [i.e. 2nd
Antiphon]. At the command of the sovereign, in the year 553 was convened the
Fifth OEcumenical Council, censuring the teachings of Origen and affirming the
definitions of the Fourth Ecumenical Council at Chalcedon. The holy Emperor
Justinian about orderly rule and law within the realm. Under his guidance and
supervision was compiled a complete compendium of Roman laws, which has come
down to us as a codex of law known as "the Justinian Codex". The
"Novellae" (i.e. "Church-laws") of Justinian find inclusion
in all the variants of the Russian Church-law NomoKanon Books.
In his personal life,
Saint Justinian was strictly pious, and he zealously fasted quite often. The
holy Emperor Justinian died in the year 565.
Together with the
emperor was enumerated to the ranks of the Saints his like‑minded spouse,
the Empress Theodora, who died in the year 548. She was at first a notorious
sinner, and an adherent to the Monophysite heresy, but then she repented and
led a virtuous life, keeping purity of both soul and body.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.