Sainted Methodios, Patriarch of Constantinople

Commemorated on June 14

      Sainted Methodios, Patriarch of Constantinople, was born in Sicily into a rich family. Having a vocation to God, he went while still in his youth off to a monastery on the island of Chios and renovated it with his means. During the reign of the iconoclast Leo the Armenian (813-820), Saint Methodios held the high position of "apokrisiaros" ("advocate for Church matters") under the holy Patriarch Nicephoros (Comm. 2 June). He was dispatched by the patriarch to Rome on a mission to the papacy and he remained there. During this period Leo the Armenian removed Nicephoros from the patriarchal throne and put on it the iconoclast Theodotos of Melissinea, given the nickname "Kassiter" ("Tinman") (815-822). After the death of Leo the Armenian, Saint Methodios returned, and in the dignity of presbyter he struggled incessantly against the Iconoclast heresy. The emperor Michael the Stammerer (820-829) at first was noted for his benevolence and he set free many imprisoned by his predecessor for their veneration of icons, but after a while he renewed the persecution against Orthodoxy. Saint Methodios was locked up in prison in Akrita. After the death of Michael the Stammerer, the ruler was Theophilos (829-842), who also was an iconoclast. More refined a man than his father, he set free Saint Methodios, who likewise was a man of learning, superbly skilled in matters not only ecclesial, but also civil. Having received his freedom, Saint Methodios renewed the struggle with the heretics, and for a while the emperor tolerated this.
      But after defeat in a war with the Arabs, Theophilos vented his anger against Saint Methodios, saying, that God had punished him because he had let come close to him an "icon-worshipper" (such was what the iconoclasts called those who venerate holy icons). Saint Methodios objected, saying that the Lord was angry with him for the insults upon His holy icons. They gave the saint over to tortures, and struck him much about the face, from which his jaw was broken. On his face remained ugly scars. Saint Methodios was sent off to the island of Antigonos and he was locked up there with two robbers in a deep cave. In this dark prison where the light of day penetrated not, Saint Methodios languished for 7 years until the death of the emperor Theophilos.
      During this time, the holy Icon-Confessors Theodore and Theophanes the Lettered‑Upon (Comm. 27 December), likewise banished to prison, sent Saint Methodios greetings in verse, and the prisoner likewise answered with greetings in verse.
      After the death of Theophilos, his son Michael III (842-867) began to rule, but not being of mature age, the Byzantine empire was actually ruled by his mother, the empress Blessed Theodora, a venerator of icons.
      The empress tired to extirpate the Iconoclast heresy, and gave orders to free the confessors imprisoned for icon veneration. The heretic Annios occupying the patriarchal throne was banished, and Saint Methodios chosen in his place. At Constantinople was convened a Local Council with Saint Methodios presiding (842). The Council restored icon veneration and established an annual celebration of the triumph of Orthodoxy. The "Rite of Orthodoxy" compiled by Saint Methodios is done on the First Sunday of the Great Lent.
      Attempting to undermine the authority of Saint Methodios, and also the love and esteem of his flock for him, the heretics slandered him as having transgressed chastity. The slandering was exposed as such, and the enemies of the saint put to shame. The final years of the saint passed peacefully, he toiled much, wisely guided the Church and his flock, renovated temples ruined by the heretics, gathered up the relics of saints scattered about by the heretics, and transferred the relics of Patriarch Nicephoros from the place of his imprisonment back to Constantinople. Saint Methodios died in the year 846. He was spiritually close to the Monk Ioannikos (Comm. 4 November), who had foretold him his becoming patriarch and also the time of his end. Besides the "Rite of Orthodoxy", the holy hierarch also compiled a rule for those converted to the faith, three rites of marriage and several pastoral sermons and church songs.

1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.

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