Elias I., bp. of Jerusalem
Elias (1) I., bp. of Jerusalem,
A.D. 494-513; an Arab by birth who was educated with Martyrius, in one of
the Nitrian monasteries. Driven from Egypt by Timothy Aelurus, the two friends took
refuge, a.d. 457, in the laura of St.
Euthymius, who received them with great favour, and predicted that they would both
be bishops of Jerusalem. After a time they quitted the laura, and Elias constructed
a cell at Jericho. In 478 Martyrius succeeded Anastasius as bp. of Jerusalem, and
was followed by Sallustius in 486, and in 494 by Elias. Moschus records that Elias
practised total abstinence from wine both as monk and bishop (Prat. Spiritual.
c. 25). His residence became the nucleus of a collection of cells of ascetics, which
developed into a monastery adjacent to the church of the Anastasis (Cyril. Scythop.
Vit. S. Sabae, c. 31). When Elias succeeded to the patriarchate, the Christian
world exhibited a melancholy spectacle of discord. There were at least four great
parties anathematizing one another. When the Monophysites (Acephali) in Syria, under
the leadership of Xenaias of Hierapolis, broke into open insurrection, treating
as heretics all who acknowledged the two natures, Elias was one of the chief objects
of their attack. In 509 they demanded a confession of his faith, and Anastasius
required him to convene a council to repudiate the decrees of Chalcedon. Elias declined,
but drew up a letter to the emperor, containing a statement of his belief, accompanied
by anathemas of
Nestorius, Eutyches, Diodorus, and Theodore of Mopsuestia.
This was entrusted to members of the Acephali to convey to Constantinople. When
opened, it was found to contain an anathema against the two natures. Elias reproached
the bearers with having falsified the document and thus laid him open to the charge,
which he found it very hard to refute, of having condemned the council of Chalcedon
(Evagr. H. E. iii. 31; Theod. Lect. p. 561; Theophan. Chronogr.
pp. 129, 130). Macedonius having been deposed
a.d. 511, and Timotheus, an unscrupulous
Monophysite monk, appointed to the see of Constantinople, Elias, whose principle
appears to have been to accept the inevitable and to go the utmost possible length
in obedience to the ruling powers, seized on the fact that he had abstained at first
from anathematizing the council of Chalcedon, as a warrant for joining communion
with him and receiving his synodical letter. Elias could not contend against his
many unscrupulous enemies, and in 513 was driven from his see, dying in 518 in banishment
Aila on the Red Sea shore, aet. 88. Tillem. Mém. Eccl. xvi.; Cyril. Scythop.
Vita S. Euthymii; and other authorities cited above.