Plato’s wealthy parents died of disease before he was 13. Raised and educated by an uncle who was a treasurer, and Plato soon handled much of his uncle’s business. Excellent student. Pious from youth, he turned away from the world of the royal court, freed his slaves, sold his estates, gave the money to his sisters and the poor, and at age 24 he moved to the monastery at Symbolean on Mount Olympus, though he never took holy orders and remained a layman. He spent his days in prayer, menial labour, and copying holy books. Abbot in 770. Given to severe fasts and self-deprivation.
In 775 Plato made a journey to Constantinople on business, and managed to inspire many of the citizens of all stations to better, more pious lives. The patriarch Paul tried to make him bishop of Nicomedia, but Plato retreated to his monastery.
His sister Theoctista’s entire family embraced a religious state, founded a monastery of Saccudion, near Constantinople, and prevailed upon Plato to direct it in 782. In 794 he turned it over to his nephew, Saint Theodorus.
The emperor Constantine repudiated his empress, Mary, and married Theodota, a relative of Plato; Plato and Theodorus published a sentence of excommunication against him. Joseph, the treasurer of the church, and several other mercenary priests and monks, tried to convince Plato to approve the emperor’s divorce, but he refused, scolded the emperor to his face, and was imprisoned until Constantine’s death in 797.
In the face of the Saracen invasions, the monks of Saccudion abandoned their settlement for Studius where Plato vowed obedience to his nephew Theodorus, and lived as a recluse in a narrow cell, in perpetual prayer and manual labor, one foot fastened to the ground with a heavy iron chain which he hid with his cloak when anyone came to see him.
In 807, Joseph, the priest who had presided at the wedding of Constantine and Theodoat, was restored to his position and made treasurer of the church by order of emperor Nicephorus. Plato considered this scandalous, and loudly condemned it. The emperor had him guarded for a year by a troop of insolent soldiers and false monks after which Plato was unjustly condemned by a council of court bishops, then banished to be conducted from place to place in the isles of Bosphorus for four years until freed in 811 by the new emperor Michael I. Plato then returned to his cell and his life of prayer.
In 813, Plato saw that his end was near, directed his grave be dug, had himself carried to it, lived laying in it, spending his last days in prayer and receiving guests from his grave including his former enemy, the priest Joseph who came to ask for Plato’s prayers.
- Book of Saints, by the Monks of Ramsgate
- Catholic Online
- Lives of the Saints, by Father Alban Butler
- Our Sunday Visitor’s Encyclopedia of Saints
- Santi e Beati
- “Saint Plato“. Saints.SQPN.com. 14 March 2014. Web. 26 January 2015. <>