Sophronius was born in Damascus around 550 AD. He was interested in philosophy, and proved to be gifted in all his studies, earning the title Sophronius the Wise. However, he was unsatisfied with these gifts as they were not yet accompanied by spiritual perfection. His pursuit for the true philosophy began in then-Palestine, where he venerated the Holy Places before arriving at the monastery founded by St Theodosius. Here he developed a kinship with John Moschus, a monk with whom Sophronius discovered wonderful spiritual wisdom. John Moschus became Sophronius’ spiritual father, and together they travelled to Alexandria to learn from the holy ascetics there. They were instructed to live in stillness and to pray without ceasing. This was essential for their future tribulations and secured Sophronius’ monastic profession on their return to Palestine.
Over the next ten years, Sophronius lived in prayer. His communication with desert-dwellers during this time formed the basis for many writings, including his great work, the Leimonarion, or Spiritual Meadow.
In about 603 AD, with the imminent threat of Persian invasion, Sophronius traveled to Phoenicia, Antioch and later to Alexandria to assist St John the Merciful in the struggle against the heresy of monophysitism. These were difficult years. The Church was viciously confronted by the distorting influence of political power in theological dogma, and then by the bloody massacre at the hands of the Persians in Jerusalem. Dissent bred dissent. The righteous were exiled.
Sophronius worked to reinforce the Truth, in his writings, in his conversations, in his daily work as missionary and monk. With St Maximus’ confession of Christ’s dual nature and dual will, Sophronius returned to Jerusalem where he acceded the see as Patriarch. He restored the shaken faith and hope of the people through liturgical hymns, sermons and doctrinal teachings on the person of Christ, the truth of which offers the greatest hope of all – union with God. Having attained a ripe-old age, Sophronius departed this world in peace on March 11, 638.
Source: February – March 2016 Lychnos Edition