The Monk Theophanes the Confessor, Composer of Canons, Bishop of Nicea

Commemorated on October 11

      The Monk Theophanes the Confessor, Composer of Canons, Bishop of Nicea, was the younger brother of the Monk Theodore the Lettered-Upon (Comm. 27 December). The brothers received an excellent education, and were particularly involved in philosophy. Striving towards knowledge of God, they settled in the Laura monastery of Saint Sava. Here the Monk Theophanes was tonsured, and after a certain while became a presbyter.
      The holy brothers were famed as advocates of icon-veneration. They boldly fulfilled the mission entrusted them by the Patriarch of Jerusalem and set off to Constantinople to denounce the iconoclast emperor Leo the Armenian (813-820). And afterwards they denounced also the iconoclast emperors Michael Balbos (820-829) and Theophilos (829-842).

      The saints had to endure imprisonment, hunger, even tortures. The emperor Theophilos gave orders to inscribe upon their faces with red-hot needles a phrase insulting to the glorious confessors (wherefore they are called "Lettered-Upon"). "Write whatever thou dost wish, but at the Last Judgement thou shalt read thine writing", – said the agonised brothers to the emperor. They dispatched Theodore to prison, where also he died (+ 833), but Theophanes they sent into exile. With the restoration of Icon-veneration the Monk Theophanes was returned from exile and ordained bishop of Nicea. The saint wrote about 150 canons, among which is a beautiful canon in defense of holy icons. The monk died peacefully in about the year 850.

© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.