As we commemorate Saint Theodore the Studite (+826) you may wonder, who were the studites? ‘Studite’ is the name given to monks who dwelled in the Monastery of Studios in Constantinople. In AD 462, a Roman patrician named Stoudios established the monastery. Over time the monastery became the most important in Constantinople, housing over seven hundred monks. This is especially true during the eighth and ninth century when the monastery was a bastion for the Iconodules in their defense of holy images against the Iconoclasts. Saint Theodore, the abbot of the monastery from 796 to 826, was a fierce defender of icons and endured exile and torture during the persecution ordered by the Iconoclast Emperor Leo the Armenian. Despite persecution and periods of exile for Theodore and other monks, the monastery flourished spiritually and academically under his leadership. The monastic rule established by Theodore influenced later monasteries, including those emerging on Mount Athos. Each year during Great Lent, we experience the fruits of Studite labor in the worship services due to their enduring work on the Lenten Triodion and Pentacostarion:
“It was ninth-century Studite monks who not only gave the Lenten Triodion its present structure, but also composed the greater part of its contents. This book, and likewise the Pentekostarion, are substantially the product of Studite editorial work. They bear the mark in particular of the two brothers St. Theodore the Studite and St. Joseph the Studite, Archbishop of Thessaloniki. St. Theodore composed the second canon for weekdays in Lent, and his brother Jospeh the first.” (1)
The monastery was partially destroyed during the fall of Constantinople in AD 1453. It endured further damage from fire, earthquake, and vandals in the centuries that followed. The pictures below are of the ruins of the monastery that still remain in modern day Constantinople (Istanbul). Several articles on the web originally sourced to a Turkish news report in 2013 mention that the monastery would soon be turned into a mosque but we’re not quite certain if this has actually occured or not.
1. The Lenten Triodion (SVS Press) translated by Mother Mary and Met. Kallistos Ware