Friday, February 06, 2009

February 6: Saint Photios the Great

Saint Photius, Patriarch of Constantinople, "the Church's far-gleaming beacon," lived during the ninth century, and came from a family of zealous Christians. His father Sergius died as a martyr in defense of holy icons. St Photius received an excellent education and, since his family was related to the imperial house, he occupied the position of first state secretary in the Senate. His contemporaries said of him: "He so distinguished himself with knowledge in almost all the secular sciences, that it rightfully might be possible to take into account the glory of his age and compare it with the ancients."

Michael, the young successor to the throne, and St Cyril, the future Enlightener of the Slavs, were taught by him. His deep Christian piety protected St Photius from being seduced by the charms of court life. With all his soul, he yearned for monasticism.

In 857 Bardas, who ruled with Emperor Michael, deposed Patriarch Ignatius (October 23) from the See of Constantinople. The bishops, knowing the piety and extensive knowledge of Photius, informed the emperor that he was a man worthy to occupy the archpastoral throne. St Photius accepted the proposal with humility. He passed through all the clerical ranks in six days. On the day of the Nativity of Christ, he was consecrated bishop and elevated to the patriarchal throne.

Soon, however, discord arose within the Church, stirred up by the removal of Patriarch Ignatius from office. The Synod of 861 was called to end the unrest, at which the deposition of Ignatius and the installation of Photius as patriarch were confirmed.

Read more here.

Follower of the Apostles' way
And teacher of mankind:
Intercede, O Photius, with the Lord of all,
To grant peace to the world
And to our souls great mercy!
(Troparion-Tone 4)