Saint of the day:
Saint Methodius I
Saint Methodius' Story
St. Methodius or Methodios was one of the early patriarchs of Constantinople. He was born in Syracuse, Sicily, sometime around the 790 AD. Methodios was the heir to a wealthy family. He was sent to Constantinople, the capital of the empire, to receive a top-notch education and hopefully land a position in the emperor's court.
But Methodios was drawn, not to the splendor of the court of the empire, but to the monastic vocation. He became a monk and eventually was appointed the abbot of his monastery.
During the ninth century, the iconoclast controversies raged throughout the Christian communities in the East. Due to the influence of the quickly spreading Islam, the question of whether or not Christians were allowed to make and venerate icons swiftly became a fiercely debated topic. Iconoclasts insisted that images of God were pagan and should be forbidden. Iconophiles, who were led by many saints, including St. John Damascene, continued to profess the Christian belief that since God became man it was right for Christians to make images to praise him and remember him.
Leo the Armenian, an iconoclast emperor, reigned from 813-820, During his reign, Methodios served as a member of the staff of the Patriarch Nicephoros. Leo removed the orthodox, iconophilic, Patriarch Nicephoros and replaced him with an iconoclast, Theodotus. Methodios fled and returned after Leo the Armenian died.
Michael the Stammerer, who ascended to the imperial throne after Leo, was a more benevolent iconoclast who softened the penalties against the orthodox Christians. Eventually, however, potentially due to political pressure, Michael resumed the fierce persecution of orthodox iconophiles. Methodios was imprisoned. Michael's son, Theophilus, set Methodios free. Methodios continued to preach orthodoxy without troubling Theophilus, until Theophilus was defeated in an important war with his Arab neighbors. Theophilus blamed Methodios, insisting that God was punishing him for allowing an "icon-worshipper" to remain in his court. Methodios was tortured and exiled to the island of Antigonos.
When Theophilus died, the Empress Theodora ruled for her son. The Empress ordered that all who were imprisoned for icon veneration be set free. She appointed Methodios the patriarch of Constantinople. In 842, a local synod in Constantinople restored icon veneration and instituted a yearly celebration of "the Triumph of Orthodoxy" each year.
Methodios died on June 14, in the year 846 or 847. His feast day continues to be celebrated on June 14 by both the Eastern and Western Churches.
St. Methodios I of Constantinople, ecumenical patriarch who defended true Christian teaching—pray for us!v