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Saint Tarasius, Patriarch of Constantinople (25 February)

This Saint was the son of one of the foremost princes in Constantinople, and was originally a consul and first among the Emperor’s private counselors. Then, in 784, he was elected Patriarch of Constantinople by the Sovereigns Irene and her son Constantine Porphyrogenitus. He convoked the Seventh Ecumenical Council that upheld the holy icons, and became the boast of the Church and a light to the clergy. He reposed in 806.

His predecessor, Patriarch Paul, secretly relinquished the throne, entered a monastery and received the schema [The Great Angelic Habit]. Irene and Constantine VI reigned at the time. By Paul’s counsel, Tarasius, who was then a senator and royal advisor, was chosen to be patriarch in the year 783 A.D. He was quickly raised through the ecclesiastical ranks and consecrated as patriarch. A man of great learning and great zeal in the Orthodox Faith, Tarasius reluctantly accepted this rank in order to help Orthodoxy in the struggle against heresies, especially against iconoclasm. During his reign the Seventh Ecumenical Council [Nicaea, 787 A.D.] was convened.

There iconoclasm was condemned, and the veneration of holy icons was confirmed and restored. Tarasius was very charitable toward orphans and the poor, creating shelters and distributing food to them. Toward the powerful, Tarasius was decisive in his defense of faith and morals. When Emperor Constantine banished Maria, his lawful wife, and took a kinswoman to live with him, he sought a blessing for marriage from the patriarch. Tarasius not only refused him a blessing but first counseled him, then reproached him, and finally forbade him to receive Holy Communion. Before his death, many saw how Tarasius replied to the demons, saying: “I am not guilty of this sin; neither am I guilty of that sin,” until his weakened tongue could not longer speak. He then began to defend himself with his hands, driving away the demons. When he reposed, his face lit up like the sun. This truly great hierarch died in the year 806 A.D. He governed the Church for twenty-two years and four months.

Apolytikion of Tarasius, Patriarch of Constantinople

Fourth Tone

A model of faith and the image of gentleness, the example of your life has shown you forth to your sheep-fold to be a master of temperance. You obtained thus through being lowly, gifts from on high, and riches through poverty. Tarasius, our father and priest of priests, intercede with Christ our God that He may save our souls.