February 25, 2010

Saint Tarasios and the Death of Emperor Leo V

St. Tarasios, Patriarch of Constantinople (Feast Day - February 25)

Saint Tarasios 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.

In the year 806, on the 25th of February, Saint Tarasios died a glorious death, and all of Constantinople mourned the passing of their faithful and zealous patriarch. Emperor Leo V the Armenian came to the throne in 813 and restored Iconoclasm and had the Orthodox Patriarch Nikephoros deposed. Seven years later, in 820, Emperor Leo felt that the end of his life was drawing near. It was then that he encountered a terrifying vision.

Saint Tarasios appeared in a dream to Emperor Leo and the hierarch was very angry. Turning to someone standing nearby, Saint Tarasios said: "Michael, thrust a sword against him" while pointing to the emperor. Michael obeyed and thrust a sword against Leo. Leo, stirred from that dream, made haste to the monastery nearby which contained the relics of Saint Tarasios. There he made known his dream to the monks and had some of the monks arrested, imprisoned and tortured in his attempt to discover who this Michael was that was planning his assassination. His intention was to have this Michael killed.

The following day was the Feast of the Nativity of the Lord, and Leo was in church. There he was assassinated by the supporters of Michael II the Amorian (820-829). Though Michael was an iconoclast, he prohibited public discussion of the controversy and restored the iconophiles whom Leo V had either attacked or banished. Michael however did not restore Patriarch Nikephoros and even persecuted the future Patriarch Methodios I.

Thus, God glorified His servant Tarasios and delivered to destruction Leo, who refused to serve God in a holy manner.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
The truth of things hath revealed thee to thy flock as a rule of faith, an icon of meekness, and a teacher of temperance; for this cause, thou hast achieved the heights by humility, riches by poverty. O Father and Hierarch Tarasios, intercede with Christ God that our souls be saved.

Kontakion in the Third Tone
Thou didst make the Church to shine with thy most Orthodox doctrines, teaching all to venerate and worship Christ's sacred image; so didst thou convict the godless and hateful doctrine of all them that fought against Christ's ven'rable icon; O Tarasius our Father most wise and blessed, to thee we all cry: Rejoice.