Ignatius, Patriarch of Constantinople, St.
IGNATIUS, PATRIARCH OF CONSTANTINOPLE, ST.
Patriarchate, July 4, 847 to 858, and Nov. 23, 867 to Oct. 23, 877; b. c. 798; d. 877. He was the son of the Byzantine Emperor Michael I Rhangabe. When Michael was deposed in 813 by the iconoclastic Emperor leo v, his sons, Nicetas, Theophylactus, and Stauracius, were castrated and with their whole family were obliged to take monastic vows. On becoming a monk, Nicetas took the name of Ignatius. He became abbot of three monasteries that he had founded in the Islands of the Princes. After the death of Patriarch methodius i (847), who had condemned iconoclasm in 843, Empress Theodora (2) appointed Ignatius patriarch of Constantinople without convoking a local synod. She was motivated by fear of new conflicts between the zealot monks of studion, excommunicated by Methodius for their opposition to his ecclesiastical policy, and the liberals who recommended milder treatment of penitent iconoclasts. Ignatius reconciled the Studite monks with the Church, and while patriarch manifested himself in sympathy with the policy of the zealots. Because of this he was sharply criticized by the more liberal prelates, some of whose leaders he suspended in 853. They appealed from the judgment of their patriarch to Pope leo iv, who asked Ignatius to send a representative to Rome to vindicate his action. Ignatius complied. But before Rome could make a decision on the appeal, Ignatius became involved in the conflict between Theodora and her brother Bardas, who had forced her to end her regency for Emperor michael iii. When Theosdora tried vainly to return to power, she was forced to join her daughters in their confinement in a monastery. Ignatius refused to bless their monastic garb and abdicated (858), on the advice of the bishops who feared a harmful conflict between the Church and the new regime. photius was elected as his successor by a local synod and recognized as legitimate patriarch by all the bishops, even by the followers of Ignatius on his recommendation. However, about two months after the enthronement of Photius, the radical followers of Ignatius rejected the new patriarch and demanded the restoration of Ignatius. Their revolt seems to have been directed against the new government. The leaders of the revolt were arrested by the imperial police and condemned by a local synod, convoked by Photius; the regent Bardas imprisoned Ignatius and interned him in various places, ultimately on the island of Terebinthus. Bardas must have recognized, however, that Ignatius was not the initiator of the revolt, because in 860 he permitted him to live in Constantinople in the palace of Posis built by Ignatius' mother. At the request of Michael III and Photius, Pope nicholas i sent two legates to Constantinople to investigate the legality of Photius' election. After learning of the circumstances leading to Ignatius' abdication and Photius' election, the legates confirmed (861) the decision of the synod of 858, which had declared the patriarchate of Ignatius illegitimate because he had not been elected by a local synod, and they confirmed his deposition. Ignatius also seems to have accepted the decision of the synod, declaring that he had not appealed to Rome and had no intention of doing so. However, some radical supporters of Ignatius, especially Abbot theognostos, took refuge in Rome and appealed to Pope Nicholas in the name of Ignatius. The pope disavowed the action of his legates and, won over by the radical Ignatians, excommunicated Photius in a Roman synod (863), calling on Michael III to reinstate Ignatius as legitimate patriarch. Four years later the new Emperor Basil I, after murdering Michael III, looked for support from the radical Ignatians and Rome. He therefore deposed Photius and reinstated Ignatius (Nov. 23,867). The legates of Pope adrian ii obtained from the Council of constantinople iv in 869–870 the confirmation of the decisions of the Roman synod, although the majority of the clergy remained faithful to the deposed Patriarch Photius. The reinstated Ignatius soon came into sharp conflict with Pope John VIII because he established a hierarchy in Bulgaria, which defected from Rome. And when he defended his action and the interests of his Church among the Bulgars, he was threatened with excommunication by Rome. When Photius was recalled from exile by Basil I, who confided to him the education of his sons, Ignatius became reconciled with Photius and took the initiative in calling for another council, which would confirm the pacification of his Church. But before the papal legates had reached Rome, Ignatius died and Photius recovered the see. Ignatius was canonized by Photius himself. The mosaic portrait of Ignatius recently discovered in the hagia sophia was probably initiated by Photius.
Feast: Oct. 23.
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