October 11, 2014

Saint Theophanes the Graptos, Who Was Branded With Twelve Iambic Verses

Holy Confessor Theophanes the Graptos and Poet (Feast Day - October 11)

Saint Theophanes together with his brother Theodore (who is celebrated on the 27th of December) lived during the reign of Theophilos the iconoclast in the ninth century. He was born in 808 to pious parents in Palestine, who were distinguished for their virtue of hospitality. The wise and virtuous Theophanes was distinguished for his learning of the Holy Scriptures and sacred theology, but he also had a precise knowledge of ancient Greek writers. Both became monks and then priests and struggled greatly for the honor and veneration of the holy icons. In 829 the most-wise brothers were sent by the Patriarch and went to meet the Emperor in the holy city of Jerusalem. They rebuked him for his impiety and called him a hater of Christ and a fighter against God. Wherefore they were imprisoned for a long time and beaten without mercy. Then, according to the commands of Theophilos, they were released from prison and with sintered iron there was inscribed on their foreheads the following twelve iambic verses describing their condemnation:

Πάντων ποθούντων προστρέχειν προς την πόλιν,
Όπου πάναγνοι του Θεού λόγου πόδες
Έστησαν εις σύστασιν της οικουμένης,
Ώφθησαν ούτοι τω σεβασμίω τόπω
Σκεύη πονηρά δεισιδαίμονος πλάνης.
Eκείσε πολλά λοιπόν εξ απιστίας
Πράξαντες δεινά αισχρά δυσσεβοφρόνως,
Eκείθεν ηλάθησαν ως αποστάται.
Προς την πόλιν δε του κράτους πεφευγότες
Oυκ εξαφήκαν τας αθέσμους μωρίας.
Όθεν γραφέντες ως κακούργοι την θέαν
Kατακρίνονται και διώκονται πάλιν.

All long to run to the city [Jerusalem],
Where the all-pure feet of God's Word
Stood as a support of the ecumene,
These men were seen in this revered place
Wicked vessels of superstitious delusion.
There due to unbelief
They did many woeful, shameful and ungodly-minded things
They were banished from there as apostates.
Towards the city [Constantinople] of the empire they fled
They did not abandon their lawless folly.
Thus they were branded to be seen as evil-doers
They are again condemned and prosecuted.

Having been branded with these verses, they were sent into exile, where the great most-brave and triumphant Theodore departed to the Lord in 838. Both brothers received the epithet "Graptos" ("Branded") for their unique confession of the faith. Theophanes was then sent to exile in Thessaloniki.

When the iconoclast Emperor Theophilos died and Theodora was Empress, Theophanes was elevated to the management of the royal authorities in 842. Patriarch Methodios then made him Metropolitan of Nicaea. He performed his pastoral duties with great precision and he reposed quietly with his conscience, after fulfilling his duties to Christ and the Church well as a simple hieromonk then hierarch.

Theophanes the Graptos is one of the greatest Orthodox poets and hymnographers of the ninth century, having authored many canons.