October 13, 2010

The Tragic Fate of Emperor Michael Palaiologos

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

There is nothing more wretched than a man who, in the hour of misfortune, abandons hope in God and resorts to a means of salvation contrary to the Law of God. Not only does such a man not succeed in righting his outward situation, but he also loses his soul.

Such was the case with Emperor Michael Palaiologos. In order to save his kingdom-threatened by the Bulgars and Serbs-he sought help from the pope, and agreed to an uncanonical union. What did he gain by this? He did not save the kingdom, but did commit numerous evil crimes. Soon after, he died miserably in a military campaign against John Ducas, Prince of Epirus. The Orthodox people were so resentful toward him that his son, Andronicus, dared not bury him publicly, but buried him at night without a funeral or prayer. He was cut off from the Orthodox Church, and he was not received by the Roman Church. Michael Palaiologos died outside the Church of God.

Following Michael's death, his widow, the empress, issued the following decree: "My majesty abhors and regards as loathsome this action [the Union] that has recently occurred in the Church and created discord in it…. And, as the Holy Church of God has determined not to sanction any official commemoration of my deceased spouse, our lord and king, because of the aforementioned deed and discord, My Majesty also, submitting all things to the fear of God and obedience to the Holy Church, approve and accept this, the Church's decision, and never will I dare to perform a memorial service for my lord and spouse.''