Tarasius, Patriarch of Constantinople, St.

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Anti-iconoclast; b. Constantinople, c. 730; d. Constantinople, Feb. 18, 806 (feast, Feb. 25). A well-educated layman, and secretary to the Empress irene during her regency for her infant son, Tarasius was elected patriarch in December 784, by the priests and people of Constantinople at the insistence of the Empress. Consecrated on December 25, he sent a synodal letter to the pope announcing his election; to the letter he appended an orthodox profession of faith, particularly concerning veneration of images. Both Tarasius and Empress Irene then began preparations for an ecumenical council to condemn iconoclasm. Although he expressed his disapproval at the nomination of a layman as patriarch, Pope adrian i recognized Tarasius, consented to the convocation of a council, and sent his legates. The first session of the Council, which assembled in Constantinople in 786, was disbanded by the rioting of iconoclasticinspired imperial guards, and the following year it was reconvened at Nicaea under the presidency of Tarasius as the seventh ecumenical council. It condemned iconoclasm and defined the orthodox doctrine on the veneration of images.

Since the patriarch exercised leniency in dealing with bishops who had subscribed to iconoclasm, he was strongly criticized by the stricter faction within the Church and was forced by the monks to take strong action against simoniacal bishops. In 795 he was severely attacked for his failure to condemn the adulterous second marriage of Emperor Constantine VI, although after the deposition of the Emperor, Tarasius excommunicated the priest who had blessed the marriage.

Tarasius is credited with the composition of a refutation of the iconoclastic decisions of the Synod of 754 which was cited at the Third Council of Nicaea (787). His extant letters deal with the controversy over image worship. The sermon he preached on his installation as patriarch and another on the Presentation of Mary in the Temple are extant.

Bibliography: Patrologia Graeca, ed. j. p. migne (Paris 185766) 98:14231500. j. d. mansi, Sacrorum Conciliorum nova et amplissima collectio, (Florence-Venice 175798); reprinted and continued by l. petit and j. b. martin (Paris 18891927; repr. Graz 1960) 12:111928;13:208356, 399472. v. grumel, Les Regestes des actes du patriarcat de Constantinople (Kadidoi-Bucharest 1932) 12:350373. É. amann, a. fliche and v. martin, Histoire de l'église depuis les origins jusqu'à nos jours (Paris 1935) 6:107127. h. g. beck, Kirche und theologische Literatur im byzantinischen Reich (Munich 1959) 489. g. ostrogorsky, History of the Byzantine State, tr. j. hussey from 2d German ed. (Oxford 1956); American ed. by p. charanis (New Brunswick, N.J. 1957) 158163. ignatios the deacon, The Life of the Patriarch Tarasios, trans. s. efthymiadis (Aldershot, Hampshire, U.K.; Brookfield, Vt. 1998).

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