Commemorated on June 14
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
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.
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.