The General Audiences of Pope Benedict XVI remain an incomparable treasure for all who love the saints. Pope Benedict, having a deeply Benedictine heart, was particularly attentive to presenting the great figures of monasticism to the whole Church. His presentation of the life and spiritual doctrine of Saint Theodore the Studite, whose feast we keep today, merits an attentive reading.
The Saint we meet today, St Theodore the Studite, brings us to the middle of the medieval Byzantine period, in a somewhat turbulent period from the religious and political perspectives. St Theodore was born in 759 into a devout noble family: his mother Theoctista and an uncle, Plato, Abbot of the Monastery of Saccudium in Bithynia, are venerated as saints. Indeed it was his uncle who guided him towards monastic life, which he embraced at the age of 22. He was ordained a priest by Patriarch Tarasius, but soon ended his relationship with him because of the toleration the Patriarch showed in the case of the adulterous marriage of the Emperor Constantine VI. This led to Theodore’s exile in 796 to Thessalonica. He was reconciled with the imperial authority the following year