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Sophronius, St.


Patriarch of Jerusalem, b. Damascus, Syria, ca. 560;d. Jerusalem, March 11, 638. Most probably to be identified with Sophronius Sophistes ("the Sophist"), he was a monk in Egypt (ca. 580), then in the Jordan area, and from 619 at the Theodosius Monastery at Jerusalem. He accompanied John moschus on his journey to Rome, and Moschus dedicated his Λειμών (Pratum spirituale ) to him. In 633 Sophronius went to Alexandria to combat, but without success, the Monothelite doctrine of Cyrus of Phasis, Patriarch of that city. In the same year he traveled to Constantinople in order to persuade the patriarch sergius i, the leading figure among the Monothelites, to accept the Orthodox position, but this mission likewise ended in failure. Shortly after his own election to the Patriarchate of Jerusalem (634638), he addressed his famous Synodical Letter to the other patriarchs, explaining his own teaching on the two natures in Christ. His death was undoubtedly hastened by the tragic event of the preceding year, the surrender of Jerusalem to the Saracen conqueror the Caliph Omar. In addition to his Synodical Letter, he composed a Florilegium (not extant) in two books in which he cited some 600 passages from earlier ecclesiastical writers in support of Dyothelitism. Earlier in his career, he wrote an Encomium on the Alexandrian martyrs, Cyrus and John, a Vita (not extant) of the Alexandrian patriarch, Joannes Eleemon (d. 619), and 23 Anacreontic Odes in Classical meter on the Christian feasts. Of his 11 extant sermons, in part in Latin translation, that delivered on Christmas 634 has special historical interest, as it indicates that the Saracens were already in possession of Bethlehem.

Feast: March 11.

Bibliography: f. l. cross, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (London 1957) 1272. b. altaner, Patrology, tr. h. graef from 5th German ed. (New York 1960) 628629. h. g. beck, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rah ner (Freiburg 195765); suppl., Das Zweite Vatikanishe Konsil: Dokumente und Kommentare, ed. h. s. brechter et al. (1966) 9:888889. h. g. beck, Kirche und theologische Literatur im byzantinischen Reich (Munich 1959) 434436, critical study, with bibliog. g. bardy, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. va cant et al., (Paris 190350; Tables générales 1951 ) 14.2:237883. o. bardenhewer, Geschichte der altkirchlichen Literatur 5. (Freiburg 191332) 3641. c. von schÖnborn, Sophrone de Jérusalem (Paris 1972). h. donner, Die anakreontischen Gedichte Nr. 19 und Nr. 20 des Patriarchen Sophronius von Jerusalem (Heidelberg 1981).

[m. r. p. mcguire]

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