Sainted Tryphonos, Patriarch of Constantinople

Commemorated on April 19

      Sainted Tryphonos, Patriarch of Constantinople, was from his youthful years a monk, distinguished by his meekness, lack of malice, full submission to the will of God, firm faith and love for the Church. At this time in Byzantium ruled the emperor Romanos (919-944), who wanted to raise up onto the patriarchal throne his younger son Theophylaktos. When Patriarch Stephanos (925-928) died, Theophylaktos was only 16 years old. The emperor then suggested to the Monk Tryphonos to be a "locum tenens" of the patriarchal throne until the coming of age of Theophylaktos.
      The Monk Tryphonos meekly accepted upon himself the burden of patriarchal service and over the course of three years he wisely governed the Church. When Theophylaktos turned age twenty (931), the emperor proposed to Saint Tryphonos that he resign the patriarchal throne. But Saint Tryphonos did not consider it proper to hand over the throne to an inexperienced youth and so he refused to do so. The emperor could not find pretense to intimidate Saint Tryphonos, since his life was blameless. Then Romanos employed the cunning counsel of the bishop of Caesarea, Theophilos.
      The bishop went to Saint Tryphonos and deceitfully began to urge him not to comply with the emperor and not to resign the patriarchal throne. He began to advise Saint Tryphonos to take beforehand a measure of caution and dispel the impression of the emperor about his illiteracy. And to do this bishop Theophilos craftily suggested to Saint Tryphonos to write down on a clean sheet of paper his full name and title, and to give it over to the emperor. Not perceiving the fraud, the guileless saint at a Council of bishops took a clean sheet of paper and put on it his titled signature: "Tryphonos, by the Mercy of God the ArchBishop of Constantinople, and of New Rome the OEcumenical Patriarch". When they presented this paper to the emperor, he gave orders to write atop the signature of the saint: "I resign the position of Patriarch for no other reason than this, that I consider myself unworthy of this dignity". When this fraud was read at a gathering of imperial dignitaries, servants removed Saint Tryphonos from the patriarchal chambers. The Monk Tryphonos patiently endured the deception done him, and returned to his own monastery. He lived in it as a modest monk but for a year until his death (+ 933). His body was taken to Constantinople and buried in the burial place of the Patriarchs.

1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.

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