Holy heretics and schismatic saints

In contrast to the border-crossing saints introduced above there are saints who remained localized. They are connected with the Christological quarrels of late antiquity. John of Ephesus has already been mentioned. His collection of 'Eastern saints' lives leads us straight to the question of ecclesiastical plurality within Syrian Christianity and its impact on hagiographical composition. Hagiography was certainly used as a weapon during the rising theological conflicts as it served confessional interests. Thus Jacob Baradeus (c.500-78), the organizer of the Syrian Orthodox Church, and the reason for the term 'Jacobite' being applied, is an example of one of those saints who are commemorated in its diptychs.

In some particular cases the saint of one church is the theological enfant terrible, or even the formally condemned heretic of the other. Archbishop Mesrob Krikorian provided a list of such 'holy heretics' and 'schismatic saints' in 1990. For example, Patriarch Mar Severus of Antioch and Bishop Philoxenos of Mabbug, as well as the Alexandrian Patriarchs Dioscorus and Timothy Aelurus are venerated by the Oriental Orthodox Churches, but anathematized by the Byzantine Orthodox and the Latin Churches. On the other hand, Pope Leo the Great and the Patriarchs Flavian, Anatolius and Gennadius are all anathematized by the Oriental Orthodox Churches, but count as saints in the Chalcedonian Churches. The problem has been discussed, but the issue has not yet been resolved in the ecumenical approach of modern times, and is particularly topical in conversation between the Syrian Orthodox Church and the Church of the East. There Diodore of Tarsus, Theodore of Mopsuestia, Narsai (Narses of Edessa) and occasionally Nestorius are celebrated as saints. But as far as other inter-church relations are concerned in the world of Eastern Christianity the general doctrinal approach helps to play down the problem of the status of saints from different traditions. There is a tendency instead to stress the shared hagiographical patrimony, as pointed out already.

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