12. ASCIDAS (ὁ Ἀσκιδᾶς
), a Cappadocian, first a monk of the convent of Nova Laura in Palestine, and afterwards archbishop of Caesaraeia in Cappadocia in the reign of Justinian I.
He was probably appointed to his see in A. D. 536, or soon after, but resided little in his diocese, being much at court, where he enjoyed the favour and confidence of the emperor, and was much employed by him.
He was also in favour with the empress Theodora, probably from his secretly holding the opinions of the Acephali. When the revival of the doctrines of Origen [ORIGENES] in the monasteries of Palestine, and especially in that monastery called Nova Laura, began to excite attention, Eustochius, patriarch of Jerusalem, a decided Anti-Origenist expelled from the convent of Nova Laura those of the monks who were known as Origenists, and compelled them, by his persecution, to fly to distant parts.
In their dispersion, however, they diffused their views more widely, and their cause was warmly espoused by many persons, of whom Theodore Ascidas was at once the most active and influential.
He loudly protested against the conduct of Eustochius as both impious and unjust; so that Eustochius found it needful to send as delegates to Constantinople, to counteract Theodore's influence, several monks of his own party, at the head of whom were Conon of the monastery of St. Saba and Rufus, abbot of the monastery of St. Theodosius. Theodore, with undaunted resolution, maintained the Origenists, but the emperor was persuaded by Pelagius the Deacon, legate of Pope Vigilius, and by Mennas, patriarch of Constantinople, to order the condemnation of certain propositions, extracted by the Palestinian monks from the works of Origen and to anathematize their author.
The condemnation of Origen was a severe mortification to Theodore, who, however, availing himself of this example of the anathematizing of the dead, prevailed on the emperor, by holding out to him the prospect of thereby reconciling the Monophysites to the church, to issue a libellus, condemning the three decisions " tria Capitula " of the Council of Chalcedon, which recognised the orthodoxy of Theodoret of Cyrus, of Theodore of Mopsuestia, and of the Epistle of Ibas of Edessa; and to anathematize Theodore of Mopsuestia, a prelate much reverenced by the opposite party.
This condemnation of the tria Capitula excited great disturbances in the church; Pope Vigilius resisted the condemnation for a time, and issued an act of deposition and excommunication against Theodore, which was of no effect.
The emperor persisted; bribery and persecution were freely employed to obtain ecclesiastical support for the imperial edict; and so great was the confusion that even Theodore himself is said to have publicly acknowledged that both he and his great opponent the deacon Pelagius, the pope's legate, deserved to be burnt alive for the scandals their struggle had occasioned.
The disturbance was only ended by the assembling of the fifth general (or second Constantinopolitan) council A. D. 553.
That council condemned Origen and his supporters on the one hand; and Theodore of Mopsuestia, Theodoret, and Ibas on the other. Theodore Ascidas subscribed to these several anathemas.
He died A. D. 558 at Constantinople; if, as is most likely, he is the bishop of Caesaraeia, whose death is noticed by Joannes Malalas, Chronographia,
p. 234, ed. Oxford, p. 81, ed. Venice, p. 489, ed. Bonn. (Cyril. Scythopolit. Sabae Vita,
c. lxxxiii. &c. apud Coteler. Monumenta Eccles. Graec.
vol. iii. p. 361, &c.; Evagrius, H. E.
4.38; Liberat. Breviar.
c. xxiii. xxiv.; Malalas, Chronographia,
p. 234, ed. Oxford, p. 81, ed. Venice, p. 489, ed. Bonn; Concilia,
vol. iii. pp. 1, &c. ed. Hardouin; Le Quien, Oriens Christianus,
vol. i. col. 378, &c.)
Testimonium of Theodore as to the tergiversation of Vigilius
of Theodore and of Cethegus the Patrician as to the tergiversation of Vigilius in the matter of the tria Capitula was first published by Baluse in his Supplementum to the Concilia (Paris, 1683, and again 1707)
, and is given in the Concilia of Harduin, vol. iii. col. 184
, and of Mansi, vol. ix. col. 363