Today's saint retired from a thriving and lucrative law practice to join the hyper-charged religious community that formed around Basil of Caesarea. Amphilochius' cousin and friend, Gregory of Nazianzus, introduced him to Basil, who was probably responsible for his appointment as Bishop of Iconium.
Amphilochius was a dogged defender of the emerging Christian orthodoxy against the rival heterodoxies (heresies). His writings were commonly cited in doctrinal debates for centuries after his death. Even cantankerous old Saint Jerome, who seldom had a kindly word for anyone, said of Amphilochius (and Basil and Gregory), "they cram their books with the lessons and sentences of the philosophers to such an extent that you cannot tell which you ought to admire most in them, their secular erudition or their scriptural knowledge." It's not exactly the sort of endorsement I'd want to read in a book review, but from him, it is high praise indeed.
|Lots of saints sharing this day. Our boy is on the far left.|
So one day, Amphilochius was formally presented to Emperor Theodosius I and his son Arcadius for an audience. [Theodosius had refused Amphilochius' request that he expel the Arians from Constantinople.] The Bishop saluted the Emperor, who promptly scolded him for ignoring Arcadius. Amphilochius took the opportunity to remind his Emperor that God also doesn't like it when people disrespect his son. It might have been a cheap rhetorical trap, but it took some balls.