Saint for the Day ~ March 12

SAINT THEOPHANES the CHRONICLER (c.758-818), abbot

Today, the Church honors Saint Theophanes the Chronicler, who felt called to embrace the religious way of life and who remained faithful to the teachings of Rome, even against the threat of death.

Theophanes was born in Constantinople about the year 758. His father, who was governor of the isles of the Archipelago, died when Theophanes was only three years old, and left his son heir to a very large estate. While still a young lad, Theophanes’ guardian coerced him to marry at the age of twelve, but he and his wife vowed themselves to a life of mutual and perpetual celibacy.

They lived together for several years until, in 779, after the death of his father-in-law, they separated with mutual consent to embrace the religious way of life, she choosing a convent on an island near Constantinople, while he entered the monastery called Polychronius near Cyzicus (an ancient city in modern day Turkey).

Theophanes’ wisdom and holiness were quickly noticed by others, and he used his wealth to form two monasteries with the men who sought his counsel. Theophanes became abbot of one of the monasteries and gained a greater reputation for his virtues.

While he lived in the monastery, Theophanes worked to write a history of the Christian world starting at the end of the Diocletian persecution (in the year 305) to the early ninth century. It is for this work that he gained the nickname “Chronicler”.

During the time that Theophanes lived, the iconoclast heresy was causing problems in the Church. The emperor of Constantinople, Leo the Armenian, who encouraged the destruction of icons, brought Theophanes to Constantinople and tried to gain his support through subterfuge and coercion, but Theophanes remained faithful to Rome.

Eventually, this fidelity resulted in Theophanes’ arrest, and he was imprisoned for two years, being subjected to various forms of torture.

He was then banished to Samothrace in Greece, where, overwhelmed with afflictions from his cruel treatment in prison, Theophanes lived only seventeen days until he died on, what is believed to be, March 12, 818. Following his death, many of the faithful reported receiving answers to prayers through the intercession of Theophanes before the Heavenly Throne of God.

We commemorate his feastday on March 12.

(From,, and



(The following prayer is from the Roman Breviary from the Commons for Religious ~ abbot)

“Lord, in Your abbot, Saint Theophanes, You give an example of the Gospel lived to perfection. Help us to follow him by keeping before us the things of Heaven amid all the changes of this world.

“Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”

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