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May 18, 2015

Saint Stephen I, Patriarch of Constantinople

St. Stephen I, Patriarch of Constantinople (Feast Day - May 18);
Seal of Stephen, Patriarch of Constantinople New Rome
(it is not known if this seal belonged to Stephen I or Stephen II)

Verses

After fading away he departed life,
Stephen thus received a crown where there is no fading away.

Saint Stephen was officially the son of Emperor Basil the Macedonian and Eudokia and was born in 867. But as his mother was the mistress of Emperor Michael III, it is very likely he was his real father along with his brother Leo. He was a student and synkellos (private secretary) of Patriarch Photios the Great, and after his second patriarchate Stephen came to the Patriarchal Throne in 886 at the age of nineteen, according to the choice of his brother, and occupied it while his brother Emperor Leo VI the Wise (886-912) reigned.

Patriarch Stephen I was a man of deep piety. Once when he fell seriously ill, he was healed after applying on himself the holy waters from the Zoodochos Pigi. Grateful for this healing from the Theotokos, he donated to the church his most valuable vestments with which, after appropriately having them fitted, he covered the holy altar of the church on the feast of the Exaltation of the Honorable Cross.

He used his royal ties through kinship to help the poor, widows, orphans and the unjustly accused. Saint Stephen was also a vigilant protector and true shepherd of the flock of Christ. At the young age of twenty-six in May of 893 he reposed and was buried in the Monastery of Saint George of the Second in Sykeote.