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St. Methodios I or Methodius I (Greek: Μεθόδιος Α΄), (788/800 – June 14, 847) was Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinoplefrom March 4, 843 to June 14, 847. He was born in Syracuse and died in Constantinople. His feast day is celebrated on June 14 in both the East and the West.
Born to wealthy parents, Methodios was sent as a young man to Constantinople to continue his education and hopefully attain an appointment at court. But instead he entered a monastery in Bithynia, eventually becoming abbot.
Under the Emperor Leo V the Armenian (813-820) the Iconoclast persecution broke out for the second time. In 815 Methodios went to Rome, perhaps as an envoy of the deposed Patriarch Niκephorοs. Upon his return in 821 he was arrested and exiled as an iconodule by the Iconoclast regime of Emperor Michael II. Ironically, Methodios was released in 829 and assumed a position of importance at the court of the even more fervently iconoclast Emperor Theophilos.
Late 14th-early 15th century icon illustrating the "Triumph of Orthodoxy"in 843. Methodius is depicted in the upper register, to the right of the icon, with Theodora and her son Michael to the left. (National Icon Collection 18,British Museum)
Soon after the death of the emperor, in 843, the influential minister Theoktistos convinced the Empress Mother Theodora, as regent for her two-year-old son Michael III, to permit the restoration of icons by arranging that her dead husband would not be condemned. He then deposed the iconoclast Patriarch John VII Grammatikos and secured the appointment of Methodios as his successor, bringing about the end of the iconoclast controversy. A week after his appointment, accompanied by Theodora, Michael, and Theoktistos, Methodios made a triumphal procession from the church of Blachernae to Hagia Sophia on March 11, 843, restoring the icons to the church. This heralded the restoration of Orthodoxy, and became a holiday in the Eastern Orthodox Church, celebrated every year on the First Sunday of Great Lent, and known as the "Triumph of Orthodoxy".
Throughout his short patriarchate, Methodios tried to pursue a moderate line of accommodation with members of the clergy who were formerly Iconoclasts. This policy was opposed by extremists, primarily the monks of the Stoudios monastery, who demanded that the former Iconoclasts be punished severely as heretics. To rein in the extremists, Methodios was forced to excommunicate and arrest some of the more persevering monks.
Methodios was indeed well-educated; engaged in both copying and writing of manuscripts. His individual works included polemica, hagiographical and liturgical works, sermons and poetry.
· The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, Oxford University Press, 1991.
Patriarch of Constantinople