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Hierotheos the Thesmothete

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Saint Hierotheos
The Thesmothete
Died Athens
Venerated in
Eastern Orthodox Church
Eastern Catholic Churches
Feast October 4

Hierotheos the Thesmothete (Greek: θεσμοθέτης Ἱερόθεος) is the reputed first head and bishop of the Christian Athenians. The title thesmothete means ruler, or junior archon, of Athens (literally "law-giver").


Little is known of Hierotheos (Ἰερόθεος "sanctified by God"); church tradition holds that he was one of the learned men in the city of Athens. He was instructed in Christianity by the Apostle Paul, who baptized and ordained him around the year 53. Hierotheos frequently visited and instructed St. Dionysius the Areopagite. There is disagreement as to whether Hierotheos was actually a priest or bishop; some traditions describe Dionysius as the first bishop of Athens.[1] The fifth century Neoplatonist, Pseudo-Dionysius spoke of Hierotheos. However, Pseudo-Dionysius adopted the earlier Dionysius as a pseudonym and literary device and thus he did not in fact know the original Hierotheos and the description of Hierotheos and his works that Pseudo Dionysius supplied was either purely fictional or a veiled tribute to a fifth century contemporary of Pseudo-Dionysius. Thus there was an Hierotheos and there was also a Pseudo-Hierotheos.

According to Pseudo-Dionysius (On the Divine Names, 3:2), Hierotheos was an accomplished hymnographer:

"He was wholly transported, wholly outside himself and was so deeply absorbed in communion with the sacred things he celebrated in hymnology, that to all who heard him and saw him and knew him, and yet knew him not, he seemed to be inspired of God, a divine hymnographer." [2]

Hierotheos and the Dormition of the Theotokos

Hierotheos was reportedly present during the dormition of the Theotokos (Mary, the Mother of God),[3] and he stood in the midst of the apostles and comforted them with spiritual songs and hymns which he sang accompanied with musical instruments.[4]


  1. "Christian Athens". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913. 
  2. Daily Reading, October 4, 2005, The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
  3. The Role of Hierotheus at the Dormition, Taylor Marshall
  4. "Hierotheus". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913. 

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