SAINT METHODIUS of CONSTANTINOPLE (?-846), patriarch
Today, the Church honors Saint Methodius, who worked for unity and reconciliation in the Eastern Church and served as the patriarch of Constantinople for the last four years of his life.
Methodius was born in Syracuse, Sicily, an island off the Italian coast, famous for its olives, wine, and marble. The schools there afforded him a good education, and he developed political ambitions. The capital of the surviving Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine Empire) was Constantinople, so Methodius packed his bags and traveled there, hoping for a post at court.
Instead, he met a monk who persuaded him to abandon his secular pursuits, and Methodius entered a monastery. The iconoclastic controversy was tearing the Eastern Church apart at the time – Should icons and images of Christ and the saints be honored? Methodius vigorously argued in favor of the icons. As a result, he was eventually noticed by Patriarch Nicephorus who gave him ecclesiastical responsibilities.
In his attempts to show the value of the icons as a means of bringing the faithful closer to God, Methodius traveled to Rome and obtained a letter of support from Pope Paschal I about the year 820. However, upon his return to Constantinople, he found himself on the losing side. Patriarch Nicephorus was deposed, and Methodius was condemned, flogged, and imprisoned in a tomb for seven years by the Byzantine emperor, Michael II.
In the year 828, Methodius was released, and even though greatly weakened by the harsh conditions under which he was imprisoned, he returned to Constantinople and took up the defense of the holy images as zealously as before.
He was summoned before the current Byzantine emperor, Theophilus, and was charged with heresy, but Methodius threw the charges back in the ruler’s face – “If an image is so worthless in your eye”, he reportedly thundered, “how is it you do not also condemn the veneration paid to representations of yourself?”
Emperor Theophilus died soon thereafter, and his widow, Theodora, took Methodius’s side. Those who venerated icons returned to the churches, exiled clergy returned to the empire, and within 30 days icons had been reinstated in all the churches of the capital.
Methodius was named patriarch of Constantinople and soon called a synod of the Eastern churches in Constantinople to endorse his decrees about icons, to reinstate the decrees of the Council of Nicaea II from the year 787, and to institute the Feast of Orthodoxy, celebrating the return of images to the Eastern Church.
Methodius ruled as patriarch for four years until he died as a result of complications due to edema (accumulation of excessive fluids in the body) on June 14, 846. He is recognized as a saint in both the Roman and Eastern Churches.
We commemorate his feastday on June 14.
(From catholicnewsagency.com, saints.sqpn.com and newadvent.org)
(The following prayer is from the Roman Breviary from the Commons for Pastors ~ bishop)
“Lord God, You counted Saint Methodius among Your holy pastors, renowned for faith and love which conquered evil in this world. By the help of his prayers, keep us strong in faith and love and let us come to share his glory.
“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.”