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The Liturgical Calendar: The Church Remembers

Today the church remembers Theodore of Tarsus, Archbishop of Canterbury, 690.

The seventh century was not an age of international understanding and communication. However, the church clearly thought of itself as one worldwide body. In 668 an African monk recommended to Pope Vitalian of Rome that he dispatch Theodore, a Greek whose hometown was Tarsus (in modern Turkey), to England to fill the vacant See of Canterbury. And so it was done.

Theodore turned out to be one of the most brilliant and effective Archbishops England ever had. He visited all of England and secured the unity of the Christian people of the land under the leadership of Canterbury. He called two important councils of the English church, one at Hertford and one at Hatfield, which ratified the orthodoxy and unity of the Church of England. He was tolerant of local traditions as long as they did not generate heresy or schism.

Theodore was an exceptionally well-educated and cosmopolitan individual. He is said to have written much, but unfortunately his scholarly work was little appreciated in primitive England and none of it survives to this day. His monument is the Church of England: catholic, orthodox, and unified.

O God, raise up in your church good and faithful stewards of the mysteries of Christ, as you did in your servant Theodore. Amen.

Read the Wikipedia article here.

Almighty God, you called your servant Theodore of Tarsus from Rome to the see of Canterbury, and gave him gifts of grace and wisdom to establish unity where there had been division, and order where there had been chaos: Create in your Church, by the operation of the Holy Spirit, such godly union and concord that it may proclaim, both by word and example, the Gospel of the Prince of Peace; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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