Greek theologian and ascetical writer. He was Imperial Secretary under the Emp. Heraclius. Having become a monk c.614, he fled to Africa during the Persian invasion (626). From c.640 he was a determined opponent of Monothelitism, and he had a share in its condemnation at the Lateran Council of 649. He was taken to Constantinople in 653 and, refusing adherence to the ‘Typos’ of Constans II, he was banished to Thrace.
Maximus wrote on doctrinal, ascetical, exegetical, and liturgical subjects. He held that the purpose of history was the Incarnation of the Son of God and the deification of humanity, which consisted in the restoration of the image of God. Human beings, created in an incorruptible nature devoid of passion, caused evil to come into the world by their desire for pleasure, which destroyed the dominion of reason over the senses; hence Christ had to redeem the race by pain to restore the equilibrium. Through the Incarnate Word people are not only freed from ignorance but given the power to practise virtue. The goal of human life, obtained through abnegation, is union with God by charity. Feast day in the W., 13 Aug.; in the E., 21 Jan. (also 13 Aug.).