February 10, 2011

Anastasios "of Constantinople": An Iconoclast Saint?

Ecumenical Patriarch Constantios I

On the 10th of February, the holy Church commemorates 
Saint Anastasios, Archbishop of Jerusalem

Anastasios "of Constantinople" (730-754), as given in previous versions of The Great Synaxaristes (in Greek) and in the February Menaia, is an error, according to the Greek compilers, since this patriarch was an iconoclast during the reign of Emperor Leo III the Isaurian (717-741) who inaugurated imperial support for Iconoclasm. This action on the part of Leo had provoked Patriarch Germanos I (715-730, commemorated the 12th of May) whom Leo deposed. Thus, Anastasios of Constantinople, who corrupted the Church for more than twenty years, cannot possibly be the patriarch of today's commemoration.

Since there is no other Patriarch of Constantinople bearing the name of Anastasios, this vexed question was taken up by the most wise Patriarch Constantios I (1830-1834), the author of many writings. He corrected the commemoration from "Anastasios, Patriarch of Constantinople," to "Anastasios, Patriarch of Jerusalem".

This latter patriarch, Anastasios II (ca. 706), had been a contemporary of Saint Germanos. (He is not to be confused with Patriarch Anastasios I of Jerusalem, whose tenure was from 458 to 478.) Since the Church of Jerusalem, at the time of Anastasios II, suffered under Arab occupation of Palestine, it is suggested that perhaps this patriarch presided over his Church from Constantinople, hence the error in titling him "of Constantinople".

In Patriarch Anastasios II's absence from his See, Patriarch John V was in the holy city from 706-735. In the acts of the Sixth Ecumenical Synod, convoked at Constantinople in 680, the signature of Anastasios II appears. Bartholomew of the Athonite Monastery of Koutloumousiou notes that Saint Anastasios II of Jerusalem is commemorated in Patmos Codex 266. As a result of these proofs, the compilers of The Great Synaxaristes (in Greek) have altered the commemoration to read "Anastasios of Jerusalem," rather than "of Constantinople".

From The Great Synaxarion of the Orthodox Church, translated by Holy Apostles Convent, p. 465.