He was born about 320, most probably in Antioch. He inherited great wealth, but resolved to devote his riches and his talents to the service of the church. In association with Diodorus, afterwards bishop of Tarsus, he supported the Catholic faith against the Arian Leontius, who had succeeded Eustathius as bishop of Antioch. The two friends assembled their adherents outside the city walls for the observance of the exercises of religion; and, according to Theodoret, it was in these meetings that the practice of antiphonal singing was first introduced in the services of the church.
When Meletius was appointed bishop of Antioch in 361 he raised Flavian to the priesthood, and on the death of Meletius in 381 Flavian was chosen to succeed him. The schism between the two parties was, however, far from being healed. The bishop of Rome and the bishop of Egypt refused to acknowledge Flavian, and Paulinus, who by the extreme Eustathians had been elected bishop in opposition to Meletius, still exercised authority over a portion of the church.
On the death of Paulinus in about 383, Evagrius was chosen as his successor. After the death of Evagrius (c. 393), Flavian succeeded in preventing the election of a successor, though the Eustathians still continued to hold separate meetings. Through the intervention of John Chrysostom, soon after his elevation to the patriarchate of Constantinople in 398, and the influence of the emperor Theodosius I, Flavian was acknowledged in 399 as legitimate bishop of Antioch by the Church of Rome.
Nevetheless the Eustathian schism was not finally healed until 415. Flavian is posthumously venerated in both the Western and Eastern churches as a saint.
This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.