Author Topic: The status of Emperor Constantine in the Oriental Orthodox Churches  (Read 5347 times)

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Offline kijabeboy03

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And yet St. Constantine is on the Coptic Orthodox calendar, and historically prominent though he was, he wasn't exactly a shining beacon for much of his life...

Father, St. Augustine's been a saint for centuries - questionable teachings aside, his sanctity of life (post conversion) is unquestioned. He died well before the Council of Chalcedon, so why should the Coptic Orthodox Church not recognize his sanctity?

Lol! I am not sure when Augustine became a saint in the Coptic Orthodox Church. Certainly his writings were not, AFAIK, used in the East until the time of Catholic influence. I haven't found any patristic OO reference to him.

But I am not willing to be completely strict about saints. I certainly consider St John Cassian a saint. (And many other Western figures). But I do find some of Augustine's teachings problematic - and the cause of many of the difficulties the West has been troubled by.

I don't think anyone questions the sanctity, or holiness of Augustine, or fails to venerate his repentance. But normally someone is only added to a calendar for public veneration as a saint if, in addition to great personal holiness, they are a sound example to emulate and learn from, including being theologically sound. Since Augustine expressed many theological errors that have lead to great divergence between the Eastern and Western Church, he has never been placed on the calendar and publicly venerated as a saint, and held up as such an example. The Coptic calendar of saints is not comprehensive, at some points it seems to include only local saints, and at others it seems to include saints from other local Churches. So his absence from the Coptic calendar certainly should not be taken as a statement that he is not saintly, or any statement about him at all.

However, the modern unofficial veneration of Augustine in the Coptic Church, which seems to go back not even 50 years, has not just been veneration of his repentance. It has been motivated by an increasing and increasingly widespread of Augustinian theology over Alexandrian theology, especially a teaching of the Western view of Original sin. Because he is being venerated as a theological father, and because there is some pressure to increasingly regard him as a canonized saint as if he were on the calendar, in connection to this adoption of problematic theology, many oppose adding him to the calendar and venerating him as a saint, not as a statement that he did not lead a holy life, but as something that is completely needless, and is being used to push the adoption of foreign theology.

Offline Jonathan

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Re: The status of Emperor Constantine in the Oriental Orthodox Churches
« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2012, 08:28:24 AM »
No, Emperor Constantine is not on the calendar of saints. In the communion of saints in the Midnight Praise he is mentioned, in connection with his mother who is a saint, at the very end, after the saints, with the righteous men. But he has no entry in the synaxarium and is not a canonized saint.

The Synaxarium is very far from perfect. There are stories in there that should not be. I'm not saying it has the exact right balance of who should be mentioned and who shouldn't be. It's something of a mess. That isn't the point. Augustine is not in there. If people wanted to add him there to talk about his repentance, sure, ok. But people are venerating him in connection with adopting his theological positions. Best to avoid.

And yet St. Constantine is on the Coptic Orthodox calendar, and historically prominent though he was, he wasn't exactly a shining beacon for much of his life...

Father, St. Augustine's been a saint for centuries - questionable teachings aside, his sanctity of life (post conversion) is unquestioned. He died well before the Council of Chalcedon, so why should the Coptic Orthodox Church not recognize his sanctity?

Lol! I am not sure when Augustine became a saint in the Coptic Orthodox Church. Certainly his writings were not, AFAIK, used in the East until the time of Catholic influence. I haven't found any patristic OO reference to him.

But I am not willing to be completely strict about saints. I certainly consider St John Cassian a saint. (And many other Western figures). But I do find some of Augustine's teachings problematic - and the cause of many of the difficulties the West has been troubled by.

I don't think anyone questions the sanctity, or holiness of Augustine, or fails to venerate his repentance. But normally someone is only added to a calendar for public veneration as a saint if, in addition to great personal holiness, they are a sound example to emulate and learn from, including being theologically sound. Since Augustine expressed many theological errors that have lead to great divergence between the Eastern and Western Church, he has never been placed on the calendar and publicly venerated as a saint, and held up as such an example. The Coptic calendar of saints is not comprehensive, at some points it seems to include only local saints, and at others it seems to include saints from other local Churches. So his absence from the Coptic calendar certainly should not be taken as a statement that he is not saintly, or any statement about him at all.

However, the modern unofficial veneration of Augustine in the Coptic Church, which seems to go back not even 50 years, has not just been veneration of his repentance. It has been motivated by an increasing and increasingly widespread of Augustinian theology over Alexandrian theology, especially a teaching of the Western view of Original sin. Because he is being venerated as a theological father, and because there is some pressure to increasingly regard him as a canonized saint as if he were on the calendar, in connection to this adoption of problematic theology, many oppose adding him to the calendar and venerating him as a saint, not as a statement that he did not lead a holy life, but as something that is completely needless, and is being used to push the adoption of foreign theology.

Offline kijabeboy03

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Re: The status of Emperor Constantine in the Oriental Orthodox Churches
« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2012, 12:24:26 AM »
I'm sorry, but he's listed in the Coptic Orthodox synaxarium (28 Baramhat and 12 Mesra) and has a pretty extensive write-up under the first date - how does that equate to having "no entry in the synaxarium"? (He very clearly does - two entries in fact.)

No, Emperor Constantine is not on the calendar of saints. In the communion of saints in the Midnight Praise he is mentioned, in connection with his mother who is a saint, at the very end, after the saints, with the righteous men. But he has no entry in the synaxarium and is not a canonized saint.

The Synaxarium is very far from perfect. There are stories in there that should not be. I'm not saying it has the exact right balance of who should be mentioned and who shouldn't be. It's something of a mess. That isn't the point. Augustine is not in there. If people wanted to add him there to talk about his repentance, sure, ok. But people are venerating him in connection with adopting his theological positions. Best to avoid.

And yet St. Constantine is on the Coptic Orthodox calendar, and historically prominent though he was, he wasn't exactly a shining beacon for much of his life...

Father, St. Augustine's been a saint for centuries - questionable teachings aside, his sanctity of life (post conversion) is unquestioned. He died well before the Council of Chalcedon, so why should the Coptic Orthodox Church not recognize his sanctity?

Lol! I am not sure when Augustine became a saint in the Coptic Orthodox Church. Certainly his writings were not, AFAIK, used in the East until the time of Catholic influence. I haven't found any patristic OO reference to him.

But I am not willing to be completely strict about saints. I certainly consider St John Cassian a saint. (And many other Western figures). But I do find some of Augustine's teachings problematic - and the cause of many of the difficulties the West has been troubled by.

I don't think anyone questions the sanctity, or holiness of Augustine, or fails to venerate his repentance. But normally someone is only added to a calendar for public veneration as a saint if, in addition to great personal holiness, they are a sound example to emulate and learn from, including being theologically sound. Since Augustine expressed many theological errors that have lead to great divergence between the Eastern and Western Church, he has never been placed on the calendar and publicly venerated as a saint, and held up as such an example. The Coptic calendar of saints is not comprehensive, at some points it seems to include only local saints, and at others it seems to include saints from other local Churches. So his absence from the Coptic calendar certainly should not be taken as a statement that he is not saintly, or any statement about him at all.

However, the modern unofficial veneration of Augustine in the Coptic Church, which seems to go back not even 50 years, has not just been veneration of his repentance. It has been motivated by an increasing and increasingly widespread of Augustinian theology over Alexandrian theology, especially a teaching of the Western view of Original sin. Because he is being venerated as a theological father, and because there is some pressure to increasingly regard him as a canonized saint as if he were on the calendar, in connection to this adoption of problematic theology, many oppose adding him to the calendar and venerating him as a saint, not as a statement that he did not lead a holy life, but as something that is completely needless, and is being used to push the adoption of foreign theology.

Offline Jonathan

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Re: The status of Emperor Constantine in the Oriental Orthodox Churches
« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2012, 07:58:34 AM »
The founding of the Coptic Catholic Church is mentioned in the synaxarium. Does that mean it and its founders are our saints?

If you look at the entries you mention, they do not end in the characteristic "may his prayers be with us. Amen." That every saint's entry ends with. This is a historical entry, relating events important to the history of the Church. I don't think it should be there, but the fact that it doesn't end asking for his prayers or intercessions indicates it is not a feast of a saint. All this historic entries (and only those) lack the characteristic ending. It is just talking about the work of God in freeing the Church from the great persecution, and allowing the building of Churches, and open worship.

I'm sorry, but he's listed in the Coptic Orthodox synaxarium (28 Baramhat and 12 Mesra) and has a pretty extensive write-up under the first date - how does that equate to having "no entry in the synaxarium"? (He very clearly does - two entries in fact.)

No, Emperor Constantine is not on the calendar of saints. In the communion of saints in the Midnight Praise he is mentioned, in connection with his mother who is a saint, at the very end, after the saints, with the righteous men. But he has no entry in the synaxarium and is not a canonized saint.

The Synaxarium is very far from perfect. There are stories in there that should not be. I'm not saying it has the exact right balance of who should be mentioned and who shouldn't be. It's something of a mess. That isn't the point. Augustine is not in there. If people wanted to add him there to talk about his repentance, sure, ok. But people are venerating him in connection with adopting his theological positions. Best to avoid.

And yet St. Constantine is on the Coptic Orthodox calendar, and historically prominent though he was, he wasn't exactly a shining beacon for much of his life...

Father, St. Augustine's been a saint for centuries - questionable teachings aside, his sanctity of life (post conversion) is unquestioned. He died well before the Council of Chalcedon, so why should the Coptic Orthodox Church not recognize his sanctity?

Lol! I am not sure when Augustine became a saint in the Coptic Orthodox Church. Certainly his writings were not, AFAIK, used in the East until the time of Catholic influence. I haven't found any patristic OO reference to him.

But I am not willing to be completely strict about saints. I certainly consider St John Cassian a saint. (And many other Western figures). But I do find some of Augustine's teachings problematic - and the cause of many of the difficulties the West has been troubled by.

I don't think anyone questions the sanctity, or holiness of Augustine, or fails to venerate his repentance. But normally someone is only added to a calendar for public veneration as a saint if, in addition to great personal holiness, they are a sound example to emulate and learn from, including being theologically sound. Since Augustine expressed many theological errors that have lead to great divergence between the Eastern and Western Church, he has never been placed on the calendar and publicly venerated as a saint, and held up as such an example. The Coptic calendar of saints is not comprehensive, at some points it seems to include only local saints, and at others it seems to include saints from other local Churches. So his absence from the Coptic calendar certainly should not be taken as a statement that he is not saintly, or any statement about him at all.

However, the modern unofficial veneration of Augustine in the Coptic Church, which seems to go back not even 50 years, has not just been veneration of his repentance. It has been motivated by an increasing and increasingly widespread of Augustinian theology over Alexandrian theology, especially a teaching of the Western view of Original sin. Because he is being venerated as a theological father, and because there is some pressure to increasingly regard him as a canonized saint as if he were on the calendar, in connection to this adoption of problematic theology, many oppose adding him to the calendar and venerating him as a saint, not as a statement that he did not lead a holy life, but as something that is completely needless, and is being used to push the adoption of foreign theology.

Offline Father Peter

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Re: The status of Emperor Constantine in the Oriental Orthodox Churches
« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2012, 08:24:00 AM »
Indeed it would be interesting to look at historic copies of the Synaxarium and see if this is a more recent entry.
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Offline kijabeboy03

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Re: The status of Emperor Constantine in the Oriental Orthodox Churches
« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2012, 06:47:13 PM »
And yet he is referred to as "righteous," and there are two commemorations, one of the historical event of his reign and one of his departure - why the two if this is merely a historical entry in the synaxarium? (If it were, then the one commemorating his reign would be sufficient, no?)

And then, of course, there are the assorted Coptic Orthodox references to Emperor Constantine as a saint, one of which is here: http://st-takla.org/Gallery/Saints-and-Figures/26-Heh/Saint-Helena-of-Constantinople/Saint-Helena-n-St-Constantine-the-Great-003.html

Anyways, all of this is a little silly - there are a lot of surprising saints, and my only point was that perfection, either of theology or of life, is definitely not among the criteria for sainthood. (Otherwise how could anyone be saved, for salvation and sainthood are one, no?)

The founding of the Coptic Catholic Church is mentioned in the synaxarium. Does that mean it and its founders are our saints?

If you look at the entries you mention, they do not end in the characteristic "may his prayers be with us. Amen." That every saint's entry ends with. This is a historical entry, relating events important to the history of the Church. I don't think it should be there, but the fact that it doesn't end asking for his prayers or intercessions indicates it is not a feast of a saint. All this historic entries (and only those) lack the characteristic ending. It is just talking about the work of God in freeing the Church from the great persecution, and allowing the building of Churches, and open worship.

I'm sorry, but he's listed in the Coptic Orthodox synaxarium (28 Baramhat and 12 Mesra) and has a pretty extensive write-up under the first date - how does that equate to having "no entry in the synaxarium"? (He very clearly does - two entries in fact.)

No, Emperor Constantine is not on the calendar of saints. In the communion of saints in the Midnight Praise he is mentioned, in connection with his mother who is a saint, at the very end, after the saints, with the righteous men. But he has no entry in the synaxarium and is not a canonized saint.

The Synaxarium is very far from perfect. There are stories in there that should not be. I'm not saying it has the exact right balance of who should be mentioned and who shouldn't be. It's something of a mess. That isn't the point. Augustine is not in there. If people wanted to add him there to talk about his repentance, sure, ok. But people are venerating him in connection with adopting his theological positions. Best to avoid.

And yet St. Constantine is on the Coptic Orthodox calendar, and historically prominent though he was, he wasn't exactly a shining beacon for much of his life...

Father, St. Augustine's been a saint for centuries - questionable teachings aside, his sanctity of life (post conversion) is unquestioned. He died well before the Council of Chalcedon, so why should the Coptic Orthodox Church not recognize his sanctity?

Lol! I am not sure when Augustine became a saint in the Coptic Orthodox Church. Certainly his writings were not, AFAIK, used in the East until the time of Catholic influence. I haven't found any patristic OO reference to him.

But I am not willing to be completely strict about saints. I certainly consider St John Cassian a saint. (And many other Western figures). But I do find some of Augustine's teachings problematic - and the cause of many of the difficulties the West has been troubled by.

I don't think anyone questions the sanctity, or holiness of Augustine, or fails to venerate his repentance. But normally someone is only added to a calendar for public veneration as a saint if, in addition to great personal holiness, they are a sound example to emulate and learn from, including being theologically sound. Since Augustine expressed many theological errors that have lead to great divergence between the Eastern and Western Church, he has never been placed on the calendar and publicly venerated as a saint, and held up as such an example. The Coptic calendar of saints is not comprehensive, at some points it seems to include only local saints, and at others it seems to include saints from other local Churches. So his absence from the Coptic calendar certainly should not be taken as a statement that he is not saintly, or any statement about him at all.

However, the modern unofficial veneration of Augustine in the Coptic Church, which seems to go back not even 50 years, has not just been veneration of his repentance. It has been motivated by an increasing and increasingly widespread of Augustinian theology over Alexandrian theology, especially a teaching of the Western view of Original sin. Because he is being venerated as a theological father, and because there is some pressure to increasingly regard him as a canonized saint as if he were on the calendar, in connection to this adoption of problematic theology, many oppose adding him to the calendar and venerating him as a saint, not as a statement that he did not lead a holy life, but as something that is completely needless, and is being used to push the adoption of foreign theology.

Offline Jonathan

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Re: The status of Emperor Constantine in the Oriental Orthodox Churches
« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2012, 10:29:02 PM »
And yet he is referred to as "righteous," and there are two commemorations, one of the historical event of his reign and one of his departure - why the two if this is merely a historical entry in the synaxarium? (If it were, then the one commemorating his reign would be sufficient, no?)

And then, of course, there are the assorted Coptic Orthodox references to Emperor Constantine as a saint, one of which is here: http://st-takla.org/Gallery/Saints-and-Figures/26-Heh/Saint-Helena-of-Constantinople/Saint-Helena-n-St-Constantine-the-Great-003.html

Anyways, all of this is a little silly - there are a lot of surprising saints, and my only point was that perfection, either of theology or of life, is definitely not among the criteria for sainthood. (Otherwise how could anyone be saved, for salvation and sainthood are one, no?)

Yes, righteous is the title used for those who don't get the title holy/saint. I think it's fair to call him righteous for freeing the Church from persecution and all the good he did, even if he was not exactly holy. It is clear he is not considered a saint in this tradition. I don't know the history behind those two entries, but they clearly lack all the words that indicate a saint, especially asking for his prayers and calling him a saint.

In any case, let's just take another example or two to get away from the completely irrelevant discussion around Constantine.

Gregory of Nyssa is considered a saint, despite the fact that he preached a form of universal salvation. Let's say he wasn't on the calendar for whatever reason--conscious choice, or oversight. Say people were starting the venerate him in the Churches, and wanted to add him, because they recognized that his early mistake is forgivable since it's before it had been clearly condemned the the Church, and he lead a holy life and made significant contribution. Ok, no problem to me. Say, on the other hand, that people were increasingly venerating him in the Church for preaching universal salvation, and seeking to add him to the calendar in connection with preaching universal salvation, while they strongly put forward this view in the Church as Orthodox. Then, suddenly, despite the saint being the same, I would have a big problem with this movement. Same thing with Augustine.

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Re: The status of Emperor Constantine in the Oriental Orthodox Churches
« Reply #7 on: July 18, 2012, 02:33:55 AM »
In the Midnight Tasbeha, we ask the prayers of the Emperor Constantine and his mother Helena.  I think it's safe to say he is a saint.  Now, I agree, his life may not be agreeable, but who am I to judge.  If he can be a saint, there's still chance for me, although, with humility, one can still plead to attain maybe a tenth of the same favor from God Constantine attained by the Church.
« Last Edit: July 18, 2012, 02:35:41 AM by minasoliman »
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Offline kijabeboy03

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Re: The status of Emperor Constantine in the Oriental Orthodox Churches
« Reply #8 on: July 18, 2012, 05:11:53 PM »
Amen! :-)

In the Midnight Tasbeha, we ask the prayers of the Emperor Constantine and his mother Helena.  I think it's safe to say he is a saint.  Now, I agree, his life may not be agreeable, but who am I to judge.  If he can be a saint, there's still chance for me, although, with humility, one can still plead to attain maybe a tenth of the same favor from God Constantine attained by the Church.

Offline Jonathan

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Re: The status of Emperor Constantine in the Oriental Orthodox Churches
« Reply #9 on: July 18, 2012, 07:55:47 PM »
In the Midnight Tasbeha, we ask the prayers of the Emperor Constantine and his mother Helena.  I think it's safe to say he is a saint.  Now, I agree, his life may not be agreeable, but who am I to judge.  If he can be a saint, there's still chance for me, although, with humility, one can still plead to attain maybe a tenth of the same favor from God Constantine attained by the Church.

The midnight praise doesn't have the same weight as the Liturgy. Even there, he's listed after all the saints. The synaxarium entry is clearly worded as historical, rather than the feast of a saint. I don't accept that either Constantine or Augustine are on the calendar for public veneration in the Coptic Church. Everyone will continue to think I'm crazy for it, so I'll go now.

Offline Salpy

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Re: The status of Emperor Constantine in the Oriental Orthodox Churches
« Reply #10 on: July 18, 2012, 08:59:13 PM »
I would think it strange if St. Emperor Constantine were not a saint in the Coptic Church.  He was the one who stopped the persecution of Christians, and I know that the Copts were very hard hit by that.  Granted, he didn't live an exemplary life, but then neither did St. Paul before his baptism, and Constantine was baptized on his deathbed.  His stopping the persecution, as well as his presiding over the First Ecumenical Council, were enough to make him a saint in the Armenian Church.  From our liturgy:

Quote
The Deacon:
     That the devout kings, Saints Abgar, Constantine, Drtad and Theodosius
and all saintly and pious kings and God-loving princes be remembered in
this holy sacrifice, we beseech the Lord.
 


http://www.armenianchurchlibrary.com/files/The_Divine_Liturgy-English.pdf

King Drtad, who is mentioned above with Emperor Constantine, attempted to sexually assault St. Hripsime.  When she successfully resisted him, he had her and her companions all killed.  He killed something like forty women, not exactly the kind of thing a saint would do.  But then that was before his baptism, and the reason for his being a saint is because after his conversion, he was the one who turned Armenia into a Christian nation.

I guess what I am trying to say is that many saints did not live exemplary lives; However, there were one or two very specific things they did that profoundly affected our religion in a positive way and that got them on the calendar.

So I would be a bit surprised if St. Constantine were not on the Coptic calendar.  I would think the Copts would venerate him for the same reason everyone else does.

Is there an easy way to search the Coptic calendar to see if he is in there?  This year he and his mother Helena were commemorated by the Armenians on June 19.

Augustine, on the other hand, is not on the Armenian calendar, and I rarely hear him even mentioned by our priests.


Offline Salpy

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Re: The status of Emperor Constantine in the Oriental Orthodox Churches
« Reply #11 on: July 18, 2012, 09:41:21 PM »
Look at August 18 on the Coptic Calendar.  Is that a commemoration of the Emperor Constantine?  The calendar I have says something about his reign, but it's unclear if it is a commemoration of his person.

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Re: The status of Emperor Constantine in the Oriental Orthodox Churches
« Reply #12 on: July 18, 2012, 10:02:10 PM »
April 6 commemorates his departure. 

OK, I'm realizing that this is what Kijabeboy was talking about in reply 33.  Oops.  I should have read that more closely.

If someone's departure is commemorated on the calendar, doesn't that make them a saint?

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Re: The status of Emperor Constantine in the Oriental Orthodox Churches
« Reply #13 on: July 19, 2012, 06:49:05 AM »
Constantine or Augustine?
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Re: The status of Emperor Constantine in the Oriental Orthodox Churches
« Reply #14 on: July 19, 2012, 06:51:52 AM »
Constantine or Augustine?
I believe she is referring to St. Constantine, as he is on our calendar for April 6th. Father, would you call St. Constantine a Saint or venerate him?

Quote
1. The Departure of the righteous Emperor Constantine the Great.

 On this day of the year 53 A.M. (337 A.D.) the righteous Emperor Constantine the great departed. His father's name was Constantius I Chlorus which means (Green), and his mother's name was Helena. Constantius reigned over Byzantium, Maximianus reigned over Rome, and Diocletian reigned over Antioch and Egypt. Constantius was pagan, but he was honorable, loved to do good, compassionate and merciful. He went to the city of El-Ruha (Urfa - Gr. Edessa) and there he saw Helena, liked her and he married her. She was a Christian, and she conceived Constantine. Constantius left her in El-Ruha and returned to Byzantium. She brought forth Constantine and raised him up very piously, taught him every kind of learning, sowed in his heart mercy and compassion for the Christians, but she did not dare to have him baptized.

Constantine grew up, and he was a bold and skilful horseman. He went to his father who rejoiced in him when he saw that he was full of wisdom, knowledge, and he was a skilful horseman. After his father's death he received the kingdom and he reigned with justice and integrity, and stopped all unfair practices. All the people were subject to him and they loved him and his righteous judgement spread throughout the Empire. The nobles of Rome sent asking him to come and save them from the injustice of Maximianus. Constantine marched with his army toward Rome to save them. During the war he saw in the heaven, in the middle of the day, a Cross made of stars, and on it was written in Greek words which being interpreted as "With this you shall conquer." The light of the Cross was more shinning than the sun, and he shewed it to his ministers and the nobles of his kingdom. They read what was written, marvelled and they did not know for what reason that cross had appeared. That night the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a vision and told him: "Make a sign for yourself like that sign which you had seen, and with it you shall conquer your enemies." The next morning, he prepared a large flag with the sign of the cross on it, and made the sign of the cross on all the armaments. He engaged with Maximianus in a battle and fought. Constantine overcame Maximianus who withdrew with his army, and while crossing the bridge over the Tiber river, the bridge broke and he and most of his men perished. Constantine entered Rome and its people welcomed him with joy and gladness, and its learned men praised the Honorable Cross and called it the Savior of their city. Then they celebrated for the Cross seven days and Constantine became the Emperor of the East and the West.

When Constantine established himself in Rome, he and most of his soldiers were baptized by the Pope of Rome, in the eleventh year of his reign, which is the fourth year after the appearance of the Honorable Cross. He sent throughout the kingdom and commanded to set free all those who were imprisoned for the sake of faith, and that they should not work during the Passion week as the Apostles commanded.

Then he sent his mother Helena to Jerusalem where she discovered the Holy Cross of Our Lord Christ. In the seventeenth year of his reign the Holy Council of the Three Hundred and Eighteen bishops assembled at Nicea in the year 325 A.D. which arranged the affairs of the Christians and put down the cannons of the church. He rebuilt the city of Byzantium and called it after his name "Constantinia" and he brought to it many of the bodies of the apostles and holy martyrs. He departed in the city of Nicomedia, they laid him in a gold sarcophagus, carried him and brought him to Constantinia. The Patriarch, bishops, priests, and all the people received him with prayers, psalms, and spiritual hymns, and laid him in the sanctuary of the holy apostles. All the days of his life were seventy five years.

To Our God is the glory, might, and dominion and may His mercy and grace be upon us forever. Amen.

http://www.copticchurch.net/synaxarium/7_28.html
« Last Edit: July 19, 2012, 06:53:05 AM by Severian »
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Offline Father Peter

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Re: The status of Emperor Constantine in the Oriental Orthodox Churches
« Reply #15 on: July 19, 2012, 07:31:44 AM »
The Synaxarium entry is unfortunately not very accurate. Constantine was baptised in the East, at Nicomedia, by the Arian sympathising bishop Eusebius, at the very end of his life. He was not baptised in Rome. He didn't even become a catechumen until he was dying.

Constantine did not become sole emperor after defeating Maximianus, he fought against Maxentius when he used the sign of the cross, and he was a Western rival. It was only after defeating Licinius that he became sole emperor. This was much later. Indeed almost all of the Synaxarium entry is wrong.

Even the information about Constantine's father is wrong. Constantius was the Caesar in the West to Maximian, who was Augustus in the West. He never reigned over Byzantium. Byzantium did not become an Imperial residence until the time of his son Constantine.

It is hard to see how Constantine is a saint, although he was used of God perhaps. He was only baptised on his death bed.

It would be interesting and necessary to consider when and where Constantine has been considered a saint. There is an icon in my own Church of St Helena with her son. But what was the view of him in the centuries between his death and say the 7th century? Which was the first Church dedicated to him, for instance? It is not easy for me to find out this information. Is there any reference to him in the Fathers? etc etc.

The Synaxarium could well do with a revision. It is a medieval and later text and although I do not expect academic quality accuracy from a hagiographical document, this particular entry is almost entirely in error.
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Re: The status of Emperor Constantine in the Oriental Orthodox Churches
« Reply #16 on: July 19, 2012, 07:38:21 AM »
^Father bless and thank you, as always, for your contribution.

Edit: Not to mention his persecution of St. Athanasius.
« Last Edit: July 19, 2012, 07:39:01 AM by Severian »
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Re: The status of Emperor Constantine in the Oriental Orthodox Churches
« Reply #17 on: July 19, 2012, 08:42:33 AM »
April 6 commemorates his departure. 

OK, I'm realizing that this is what Kijabeboy was talking about in reply 33.  Oops.  I should have read that more closely.

If someone's departure is commemorated on the calendar, doesn't that make them a saint?

Just to repeat the argument above (I will not add anything new to it as I don't want to continue to argue, I'll just summarize for context since you asked rather than refer to a bunch of replies above):

I do not believe that he is on the calendar, and this is what I have been taught. I know others disagree, and I'm not trying to present an official coptic orthodox view, just my believe.

Yes, he is mentioned twice in the synxarium. But while the synaxarium is primarily a collection of readings for saints' feast days, there are also some historic references. For example there is an entry mentioning the founding of the Coptic Catholic Church, and its founder. We could say we venerate him as a saint since he saved the Orthodox Church form persecution by leaving it and becoming Catholic in order to appease the Muslim ruler... but I would consider that a very screwed up definition of a saint.

What distinguishes the saint entries from the historic ones? Every saint entry ends with "my his prayers be with us. Amen." The last entry for the day appends "Glory be to our God forever. Amen". The historic entries do not end like this. They end with "Glory be to God." I.e. God is glorified in the events, but we aren't asking the person in the events to pray for us. Also, these entries do not refer to the person as a saint, whereas (I believe) all the saint entries do refer to them as holy or a saint.

Offline The least of all

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Re: The status of Emperor Constantine in the Oriental Orthodox Churches
« Reply #18 on: July 19, 2012, 02:11:20 PM »
Hi all,

Just to add another curve ball to the proceedings :P, in the recent entry on Saint Anba Bishoy from the 8th of Abib or July 15th, there was mention made of Constantine in a vision. The text is as follows,

"Emperor Constantine appeared to him in a vision, saying, "Had I known how great is the honor of monks, I would have abandoned my kingdom and became a monk." St. Bishoy told him, "You have banished the heathen worship and exalted Christianity, and has not Christ given you anything?" Emperor Constantine answered him, "The Lord has given me many gifts, but none of them is like the honor of the monks.""

Having said that, i am quite aware that many of the Synexarium accounts are replete with errors and in fact Fr. Athanasius Iskander of the nearby Kitchener Church had requested, a few times, of the recently reposed Pope Shenouda III that the Synexarium be subject to historical scrutiny and mass editing. Perhaps this will be a project for the near future!

I would too be interested in seeing when and where veneration of Emperor Constantine originated and how strong a movement it may have been.

And my two cents; I have a lot of respect for Augustine but am distressed at the recent favour he has come under (particularly as that of a 'saint') in Coptic Orthodox circles. Not that he shouldnt be admired, perhaps! But that people seem to be turning to him rather than Sts. Athanasius, Severus, Cyril, etc etc

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Re: The status of Emperor Constantine in the Oriental Orthodox Churches
« Reply #19 on: July 19, 2012, 02:22:02 PM »
^Welcome to the forum! :)
"I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die [...] These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." -The Lord Jesus Christ

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Re: The status of Emperor Constantine in the Oriental Orthodox Churches
« Reply #20 on: July 19, 2012, 02:34:08 PM »
Yes, welcome to the forum!

I think I might start a thread on St. Emperor Constantine and his place in the OO Churches, so we can try to get back on track with this thread.

Offline Salpy

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The status of Emperor Constantine in the Oriental Orthodox Churches
« Reply #21 on: July 19, 2012, 02:39:11 PM »
I'm starting this thread to continue the conversation we have been having in another thread about St. Emperor Constantine:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,39817.msg777877/topicseen.html#msg777877

He is a saint in the Armenian Orthodox Church, being commemorated in June with his mother Helena, but there seems to be some doubt about his status in the Coptic Orthodox Church.

I'm wondering about the other OO Churches now.  Does anyone know if he is a saint in the Syriac, Indian, and Ethiopian Orthodox Churches?

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Re: The status of Emperor Constantine in the Oriental Orthodox Churches
« Reply #22 on: July 19, 2012, 02:59:43 PM »
--Subscribed--
"I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die [...] These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." -The Lord Jesus Christ

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Offline The least of all

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Re: The status of Emperor Constantine in the Oriental Orthodox Churches
« Reply #23 on: July 19, 2012, 03:13:23 PM »
Thank you!!

I have been on the forum for quite a while actually, i just like to sit back and learn from the rest of you so i dont post very often.

Thanks for the welcome :)

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Re: The status of Emperor Constantine in the Oriental Orthodox Churches
« Reply #24 on: July 19, 2012, 03:21:03 PM »
Let me welcome you as well.
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Offline Hiwot

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Re: The status of Emperor Constantine in the Oriental Orthodox Churches
« Reply #25 on: July 19, 2012, 03:36:17 PM »
yeah his repose in the Lord is commemorated on Megabit 28 ( April 06) in the Ethiopian Synaxarium.His Mother St. Helena's repose in the Lord is commemorated on Ginbot 09 ( May 17). her finding of the True Cross, is commemorated on Megabit 10 (March 19) and the completion of the dig and the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on Meskerem 17 ( September 27).
« Last Edit: July 19, 2012, 03:45:20 PM by Hiwot »
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Re: The status of Emperor Constantine in the Oriental Orthodox Churches
« Reply #26 on: July 19, 2012, 03:38:20 PM »
A Month called Megabit? So nerd.
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Re: The status of Emperor Constantine in the Oriental Orthodox Churches
« Reply #27 on: July 19, 2012, 03:47:37 PM »
A Month called Megabit? So nerd.

 :laugh: :laugh: Michal I have never paid attention to it that way, but now you mentioned it hmm you are right! hehehe
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Re: The status of Emperor Constantine in the Oriental Orthodox Churches
« Reply #28 on: July 19, 2012, 04:07:45 PM »
Are you able to say WHEN he was added to the Armenian calendar? Was he added in Armenia proper first of all, or in the Cilician calendar perhaps under other influences, or even in Jerusalem where many of the holy places built by his mother may have been an influence?

It is hard to find the right places to research but official Syrian and Indian Orthodox Church websites seem not to refer to Constantine as a saint at all, even on pages where other figures are described as saints.

A quick text search of the text of an Arabic-Jacobite Synaxarium found many references to St Severus but none to Constantine. I have not had time to read through it all to be sure.

On what date is Constantine commemorated in the Armenian calendar? I have the Synaxarum of Ter Israel and I am trying to find his entry though he is referred to as saint Constantine, as well as the great Constantine, in other entries.
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Offline Salpy

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Re: The status of Emperor Constantine in the Oriental Orthodox Churches
« Reply #29 on: July 19, 2012, 05:00:24 PM »
Are you able to say WHEN he was added to the Armenian calendar? Was he added in Armenia proper first of all, or in the Cilician calendar perhaps under other influences, or even in Jerusalem where many of the holy places built by his mother may have been an influence?

It is hard to find the right places to research but official Syrian and Indian Orthodox Church websites seem not to refer to Constantine as a saint at all, even on pages where other figures are described as saints.

A quick text search of the text of an Arabic-Jacobite Synaxarium found many references to St Severus but none to Constantine. I have not had time to read through it all to be sure.

On what date is Constantine commemorated in the Armenian calendar? I have the Synaxarum of Ter Israel and I am trying to find his entry though he is referred to as saint Constantine, as well as the great Constantine, in other entries.

I honestly don't know when he and his mother were added.  They were commemorated on Tuesday, June 19, this year.  The date would change every year, since that is how the Armenian calendar is, but it is probably always a Tuesday.  I'm not sure how the date is calculated.  The rule is probably something like "Tuesday, ______ weeks after Pentecost," or some such thing.  That's how saints days are usually calculated. 

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Re: The status of Emperor Constantine in the Oriental Orthodox Churches
« Reply #30 on: July 19, 2012, 05:02:00 PM »
Yes, I listened to a great lecture on the Armenian calendar a few weeks ago.

We still need to find out where and when he was added to calendars. I will look through some journal databases and see if anyone has researched it.
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Offline Salpy

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Re: The status of Emperor Constantine in the Oriental Orthodox Churches
« Reply #31 on: July 19, 2012, 05:12:30 PM »
I would think it would be pretty ancient.  After Chalcedon, and especially after the Islamic invasions, the Armenians became pretty isolated and I am not sure if any Non-Armenians were added to the calendar after that time.

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Re: The status of Emperor Constantine in the Oriental Orthodox Churches
« Reply #32 on: July 19, 2012, 05:13:46 PM »
I'm thinking I will bring over the posts about Constantine from the other thread and merge them here.  It will just make it easier on people who come to this thread in the future.

Edit:  OK, I just merged the posts.  I left the discussion about Augustine in the other thread.  If someone sees a post that should have been left over there, or one that should have been brought here, please let me know.  I think it is the first 24 posts of this thread that are from the other thread, which is this one:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,39817.msg643558.html#msg643558

My goodness, but I hope this is clear.   :)
« Last Edit: July 19, 2012, 05:30:22 PM by Salpy »

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Re: The status of Emperor Constantine in the Oriental Orthodox Churches
« Reply #33 on: July 19, 2012, 05:21:23 PM »
we call him 'righteous', so maybe not a 'saint' in the coptic church.
this is according to this:
(which is commemorated nearly 3 months ago)
http://www.copticchurch.net/synaxarium/7_28.html#1

but saint helena is called 'saint':
http://www.copticchurch.net/synaxarium/9_4.html#1
interesting.

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Re: The status of Emperor Constantine in the Oriental Orthodox Churches
« Reply #34 on: July 19, 2012, 05:31:08 PM »
Theodoret writes about Constantine in the mid-5th century and doesn't seem to consider him a saint.

It is interesting that the Cath. Enc. doesn't consider him a saint.

I've spent the past hour or so trying to study this and what is clear is how little material there is about the development of the cult of Constantine. Lots of modern justification for it. Some even say that his murder of his wife and son were all reasonable and consistent with the Christian Faith. But none describing how he went from an Emperor viewed rather ambiguously to a saint.
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Offline Hiwot

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Re: The status of Emperor Constantine in the Oriental Orthodox Churches
« Reply #35 on: July 19, 2012, 05:40:13 PM »
we call him 'righteous', so maybe not a 'saint' in the coptic church.
this is according to this:
(which is commemorated nearly 3 months ago)
http://www.copticchurch.net/synaxarium/7_28.html#1

but saint helena is called 'saint':
http://www.copticchurch.net/synaxarium/9_4.html#1
interesting.

now you mention it mabsoota, that interesting usage of distinctive language is found in the Ethiopian synaxarium as well , interesting indeed...

perhaps pleasing for my personal bias, but this distinction for all practical purposes insignificant. still....
« Last Edit: July 19, 2012, 05:50:24 PM by Hiwot »
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Offline Salpy

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Re: The status of Emperor Constantine in the Oriental Orthodox Churches
« Reply #36 on: July 19, 2012, 05:54:09 PM »
The only thing I can find on the Armenian feast day is this:

http://lusamut.net/կոստանդիանոս-կայսրը-նրա-մայր-հեղինե/

It's written in Eastern Armenian and has a lot of fancy words in it that I don't know, so I am not going to attempt to translate it word for word.   :)

From what I can read and understand of it, the first two paragraphs tell about Constantine.  They mention the Council of Nicea, his building shrines in Bethlehem and Jerusalem, and the vision of the cross he had in battle.  I think the last sentence of the second paragraph says he accepted Christianity and was baptized on his deathbed.

The third paragraph is about St. Helena.  It tells how she found the Holy Cross, and how the Cross was used to bring a young man back to life.  Patriarch Cyril raised the cross for everyone to see, and St. Helena built churches.  It ends by saying that her good memory is in the hearts of Christians.  

From what I can tell, it doesn't say anything about when the feast day was added, or how it is calculated.

« Last Edit: July 19, 2012, 06:04:11 PM by Salpy »

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Re: The status of Emperor Constantine in the Oriental Orthodox Churches
« Reply #37 on: July 19, 2012, 05:56:19 PM »
The link is no good the way it pasted.  Sorry.  I guess you can paste the Armenian part into the search machine and it will come up.
« Last Edit: July 19, 2012, 05:56:42 PM by Salpy »

Offline Salpy

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Re: The status of Emperor Constantine in the Oriental Orthodox Churches
« Reply #38 on: July 19, 2012, 05:57:41 PM »
That didn't work either.  I think if you paste the address into google search, it will work.
« Last Edit: July 19, 2012, 05:59:04 PM by Salpy »

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Re: The status of Emperor Constantine in the Oriental Orthodox Churches
« Reply #39 on: July 19, 2012, 06:16:47 PM »
It is interesting that there is a Hymn of St Severus which speaks of Constantine. He does write hymns about other kings who are not necessarily saints but are worthy of remembrance. I was led to it via one scholarly work which suggested that the hymn may have been the basis for some aspects of the Constantinopolitan Office for St Constantine.

Let me comment on the hymn here in case you do not want to read it. I always follow the teachings of St Severus, my holy father and guide. It would seem that he venerates the memory of Constantine, but he does not consider him a saint. I will do likewise. There is no mention of Constantine interceding for us. No mention of asking his mercy on us by his prayers. The hymn ends with praise to God, counting Constantine among other worthy, but not saintly men of memory.

It is to be noted that St Severus was always a monarchist, as were most of the anti-Chalcedonians. They were all part of the Imperium and did not wish to be at odds with the Emperor. Therefore it is perhaps natural that St Severus should compose several hymns referring to various godly Emperors. But they do not appear to be accorded the same status as saints in his hymns.

A few other scraps of reading make me certain that the devotion to Constantine as saint developed in Constantinople. I have a few references to various writers which might provide a timescale. Certainly by the 9th century there were many popular romances about him. So I guess he must have been considered a saint before then. There is a troparia to him, I need to try and see who composed it and when.

St Severus says...

Not from men, nor through man came the calling to the elect Constantine, the believing King.
But through Jesus Christ, even as to that great Apostle Paul.
For, having clearly seen in the sky the resplendent sign consisting of the form of the Cross,
He believed that he who is God from the beginning, the Word of the Father,
Became flesh for our sake without being changed, and became truly man.
And accordingly the King, having rejoiced in thy strength,
And having greatly exulted in thy salvation, as the great prophet David sings,
Called and gathered together to himself the preachers of the Orthodox Faith from the four quarters,
And expelled from the Church the madness of Arius,
Who presumed to call the Word who is before the ages a creature.
And further also he checked beforehand and annihilated the impiety of those who divide Emmanuel into two natures,
In that he himself recognises him who became incarnate,
Who was crucified and suffered and died in the flesh for our salvation to be one.
And he further rebuilt and restored the holy Churches,
Who is the beginning of all the believing Kings who were after him,
Of whom David sings with us,
The rulers of the people have been gathered together with the God of Abraham.
Praise to thee!
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Offline NicholasMyra

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Re: The status of Emperor Constantine in the Oriental Orthodox Churches
« Reply #40 on: July 19, 2012, 06:39:33 PM »
A few other scraps of reading make me certain that the devotion to Constantine as saint developed in Constantinople.
You don't say.  ;)
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...you can imagine so-called healing services of the pigpen. The books that could be written, you know: Life in the Pigpen. How to Cope in the Pigpen. Being Happy in the Pigpen. Surviving in the Pigpen. And then there could be counselling, for people who feel unhappy in the pigpen, to try to get them to come to terms with the pigpen, and to accept the pigpen.

Offline Salpy

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Re: The status of Emperor Constantine in the Oriental Orthodox Churches
« Reply #41 on: July 19, 2012, 06:44:53 PM »
Care to elaborate, Nicholas?

Offline EkhristosAnesti

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Re: The status of Emperor Constantine in the Oriental Orthodox Churches
« Reply #42 on: July 19, 2012, 07:00:17 PM »
From the Coptic hymn 'Etaven Nieskhai' (which exists in good Boharic Coptic form) to be chanted during the Divine Liturgy after the reading of the Synaxarion on the Feast of the Holy Cross:

Pray to the Lord on our behalf,
My master king Constantine,
And Helen the Queen,
That He may forgive us our sins.


The hymn follows the manner in which doxologies to Saints are typically concluded in the Coptic tradition:

"Hail to you...
[For you you were so and so,
And you did so and so...]

Pray to the Lord on our behalf...
that He may forgive us our sins."
« Last Edit: July 19, 2012, 07:01:47 PM by EkhristosAnesti »
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Offline Father Peter

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Re: The status of Emperor Constantine in the Oriental Orthodox Churches
« Reply #43 on: July 19, 2012, 07:12:18 PM »
Do we know when this Doxology might have been composed or the date of the earliest manuscript it appears in?
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Offline EkhristosAnesti

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Re: The status of Emperor Constantine in the Oriental Orthodox Churches
« Reply #44 on: July 19, 2012, 07:40:05 PM »
I don't think there's any publicly available information on historical or documentary evidence for this hymn. Someone with access to historical archives of Liturgical texts would need to do some digging.
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"Philosophy is the imitation by a man of what is better, according to what is possible" - St Severus