Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States
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Who is "Theodosios" mentioned in the chant "oo-ran en-shoo-shoo"?

There are two opinions:

First Opinion

In the life of Sozomen that is mentioned in Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers, Series II, volume II; it is mentioned that:

His work abounds with allusions to structures and regions of Constantinople, to say nothing of its vicinity. The general description of the building of the city by Constantine (ii. 3) already gives some of its principal features. Of the churches, he mentions the first of those dedicated to the Archangel St. Michael (ii. 3), at some remove from the city (Hestiae, Michaelium), and to be distinguished from a later structure on the opposite shore, and one in the city, erected to the same patron angel;

  • the church of the Apostles, which became the place of sepulture for emperors and even bishops (ii. 34, iv. 21, viii. 1O);-the church of Acacius the martyr (iv. 21), to which Macedonius endeavored to remove the coffin of Constantine;

  • the church of Sophia (iv. 26), begun by Constantine, and dedicated under Constantius,-with which was connected a baptistery (viii. 21); this great edifice was burned in the tumult which arose after the second exile of Chrysostom was announced (viii. 22);

  • the house of prayer begun by Chrysostom and completed by Sisinnius, containing the tomb of the martyred Notaries; this was outside the walls, in a spot previously devoted to the execution of criminals, and an object of dread, because of frequenting ghosts (iv. 3);

  • the church of the Novatians, situated in a cart of the city called Pelargum; this was taken down by them and transferred to a suburb named Sycae, hence the edifice was entitled Anastasia; it was restored to its original spot under Julian (iv. 20);

  • the little dwelling which was converted into a house of prayer for Gregory Nazianzen, and so became a church, also called Anastasia (vii. 5);

  • the church reared by Macedonius, which received the name of Paul, bishop of Constantinople, when Theodosius removed the confessor's body to that building; it is described as a spacious and distinguished temple (vii. 10); when Theodosius the Great conveyed the head of John the Baptist to Hebdomas, in the suburbs, where was the seventh milestone, he erected on that site a spacious and magnificent temple, which became a center of imperial devotion and miraculous cures (vii. 21, 24, viii. 4, 14);

  • the church reared in honor of St. Stephen, the proto-martyr (viii. 24);-the church dedicated to the memory of St. Mocus the Martyr, where Dioscorus was buried (viii. 17);

  • the place where the body of Thyrsus the Martyr reposed, and whither the relics of the forty soldiers were transferred (ix. 2); this was a temple, according to Procopius. In Chalcedon, he mentions the church of St. Euphemia, so glowingly described by Evagrius, and that of SS. Peter and Paul in the Oak (Ruffinum).

Second Opinion - This is a more accurate. It is taken from an article by Dr. Yohanna Naseem which was published in Al-Karaza magazine, April issue, 2013 AD

Our father Theodosius is one of the fathers and defenders of our Coptic Church, who took the seat of our father Mark the Apostle in the darkest of times. He suffered both in uniting the Church of Egypt by arguing with the imaginaries (the Julians) and resisting the Chalcedonian thugs. However, he departed as martyr and confessor in exile in Constantinople by order of Justinianus and at the instigation of Chalcedonian thugs.

In this hymn, we find mention of the tongue of fragrance Theodosius praising John the Baptist, and therefore we will talk about Theodosius first and then about the hymn.

Who is Theodosius? After the departure of Pope Timothy III (32nd Pope) on February 7, 535 AD, and according to tradition, Theodosius was elected to become the 33rd patriarch. Pope Theodosius was a friend to both Antimus, Patriarch of Constantinople, and St. Severus of Antioch. He did not remain on his seat in peace for too long, as the followers of the Council of Chalcedon sought to remove Antimus. They had what they wanted when the Pope of Rome visited Constantinople in the year 536 AD, as an envoy from the King of the West. Then Antimus was removed, and another was appointed in his place, who agreed with the Council of Chalcedon, then St. Severus of Antioch returned to Egypt, where he departed shortly after in Sakha.

As for Theodosius, he was banished from his seat because of his disagreement with the aforementioned council, and Theodosius remained in Alexandria to confront the followers of the Julian heresy. The emperor sent him an invitation to join the Council of Chalcedon, but the Alexandrian Pope refused to accept and went to Constantinople in exile, and in his exile he wrote letters to his flock. His flock considered him a confessor of faith not only in Egypt but also in Syria. He departed in exile in the year 566 AD.

Fortunately, the biography of this saintly Pope has reached us through many his contemporary historians, such as Zakaria Al-Fasih and others, as well as from his enemies, and we have received fragments of his life in Coptic.

His works:

We have obtained from his works in the Coptic language:

  • A sermon on the beginning of the Coptic year, complete in the Coptic language.
  • A homily on John the Baptist (which is the 2nd day of the month of Thout) a manuscript from the Morgan Collection, and a manuscript from the White Monastery, which is the original sermon, in which he tells the story of John the Baptist as mentioned in the Gospel of Luke 1:8-62 and Matthew 3:53-65, and then the martyrdom of John the Baptist. It is found separately in the Sahidic and Bohairic manuscripts, and the last part is a sermon on the year.
  • A homily on Archangel Michael.
  • A homily on the ascension of the Virgin's body
  • A letter: The letter written on papyrus and kept at Duke University is probably the work of Theodosius

Through the writings of St. Theodosius, we find that he arranged homilies for all the occasions of the year. He wrote a sermon on the New Year explaining the psalm: “Bless the crown of the year with your goodness, O Lord” (Psalm 64:12), and this psalm is the special response to the Feast of Nayrouz.

As for the homily on John the Baptist, it was said after the previous homily, and it was cited by Pope Yoannis III al-Samanoudi Patriarch of Alexandria (681-689 AD), known as the merciful, in his response to questions by Theodoros. It is noticeable that this patriarch always uses the texts known to his hearers. Although we did not receive this full sermon except through the manuscript collection of the Hamouli Monastery in Fayoum, which is now preserved in New York, the Coptic rite preserved this literary heritage for us through this hymn.

When was the homily turned into a hymn?

It is difficult to be certain of a definitive answer to this question, but as we have already explained that Pope Yoannis III in the seventh century referred to this sermon, which indicates that it was known to his audience. Thus, it is possible that it was introduced into the Coptic rite first as a homily to be read on the feast of St. John the Baptist and then was abbreviated and became the well-known hymn, and this was before the middle of the seventh century, so that it was sufficient for Pope Yoannis III to refer only to the text without giving details in order for his audience to understand what he meant.

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