Acoemete

ALEXANDER the Acoemete d. ca. 430. Alexander’s wanderings are known in some detail, though in some cases precise dates and places are difficult to establish, thanks to the biography written probably by one of his disciples, who has remained anonymous PO VI, 658-701, ed. De Stoop; his last years are known to us from the lives of Hypatius and Marcellus the Acoemete. Alexander was born mid-4th c. on an island in the Aegean Sea between Tenedos and Rhodes. After his literary formation at Constantinople and experience at court during a military career, he left for Syria ca. 380 and stayed 7 years in a monastery directed by an archimandrite named Elias. Seeking a life even more in conformity with evangelical precepts, Alexander traveled throughout Mesopotamia, and after various adventures provoked by his apostolic zeal among them the destruction of pagan idols and a long discussion with Rabbula, the local precept, who in the end converted: this episode is recognized as an interpolation from the life of Rabbula, bishop of Edessa, he founded a monastery in an unidentified location on the right bank of the Euphrates, which quickly developed and very soon had 400 monks of various origins and languages Syrian, Greek, Egyptian, Roman. Again driven by his zeal for evangelization, he left with his most zealous disciples to Christianize Mesopotamia. He then went to Palmyra and from there to Antioch where, according to the Life, he had previously been ca. 403 to incite the Christians to rebellion against the intruder Porphyrius. His extreme opinions angered the patriarch Theodotus and some civil authorities, and he was quickly expelled from the city. It seems he first took refuge at Chalcis, then, leaving Syria, stopped at the monastery of Krith- nion, where he found some of his old disciples who had remained faithful to the practice of continual prayer. From there he departed with 24 companions, whom he led to Constantinople. There, near the church of St. Mennas, he laid the foundations of a monastery where he could finally implement his ideas on the integral practice of evangelical precepts: absolute poverty, rejection of all manual labor, constant charity, the preaching apostolate and above all uninterrupted prayer or perpetual doxology. This last characteristic earned him and his disciples the name of acoemetae meaning sleepless ones; not because the monks went entirely without sleep but because they were divided into several choirs, who alternated so as to celebrate the Laus Perennis without interruption. The attractiveness of this new movement, as distinct from more traditional monastic practice, was quick to provoke jealousy, rancor and animosity toward Alexander, who, for his part, spared no criticism against those who did not share his point of view, be they religious or civil authorities. In 426 or 427 the same Theodotus of Antioch and other bishops, meeting at Constantinople, condemned the errors of the Euchites, or Messalians, in a letter to the church of Pamphylia. Tillemont has related this fact to the trial which ended with Alexander being obliged to return to Syria and his monks to their monasteries of origin. Alexander had just passed the Bosporus and reached the town of Rufiananes when he was ambushed by order of Bishop Eulalius. He was taken in and cared for by Hypatius, the hegumen of the monastery at Rufiananes, and after his recovery protected by the empress, he was able to found a new monastery at Gomon in Asia, where the Bosporus meets the Black Sea. He died shortly later ca. 430. Alexander’s biographer is realistic and objective, clearly articulating his spiritual ideals, his qualities and his virtues without overlooking the defects and excesses which led him to narrow and intransigent conceptions of the practice of the gospel: his biographer thus gives a strong impression of veracity. His document is moreover of great interest and fundamental importance for the information it offers on monastic traditions in Syria and Constantinople, both in the late 4th and the first half of the 5th c., esp. regarding the Acoemete movement.Peshitta – definition and synonims of «Peshitta» in english dictionary travelquaz

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