April 25, 2017

Saint Macedonius II, Patriarch of Constantinople (+ c. 517)

St. Macedonius II, Patriarch of Constantinople (Feast Day - April 25)


Shunned, Macedonius, from your corruptible throne,
You sing hymns to the Divine with Seraphim and Thrones.

Little is known of the early life of Patriarch Macedonius. A nephew of Patriarch Gennadius, he was a Presbyter of the Great Church of Hagia Sophia as well as a Skevophylax. He came to be Patriarch when Emperor Anastasios forced the deposition of Patriarch Euphemios for the alleged treason by revealing Anastasios' war strategy to his enemies; in reality the emperor wanted him to resist the Fourth Ecumenical Synod of Chalcedon. A synod of bishops, obedient to the emperor, elected Macedonius patriarch after excommunicating and deposing Euphemios. As Macedonius met with Euphemios before his journey into exile, Macedonius had his deacon remove his newly-given omophorion and dress him as a simple priest, "not daring to wear" his insignia before their canonical owner. During their last conversation together, Macedonius gave Euphemios the proceeds of a loan he had raised for Euphemios' expenses into exile in Asia Minor. Macedonius was elevted to the patriarchal throne in 496.

A year or so later, Patriarch Macedonius convened a synod during which he confirmed in writing the acts of the Fourth Ecumenical Synod and continued to resist the efforts of Emperor Anastasios to have him declare against the Synod at Chalcedon. Anastasios' efforts went beyond the use of flattery to the point of the hiring of an assassin, named Eucolus, who the Patriarch fended off. Yet, the Patriarch ordered a fixed amount of provisions to be given monthly to the criminal.

Renewing his efforts in 511, the emperor continued his campaign to nullify Chalcedon. However, Macedonius would do nothing without the convening of an ecumenical synod presided over by the bishop of Rome. Annoyed at this response and irritated because Macedonius would not release him from the commitment he had made at his coronation to maintain the faith of the Church and the authority of the Synod of Chalcedon, Anastasios sought to drive Macedonius from his see. To do this, Anastasios sent monks and clergy, as well as magistrates of the city, to harass him with public outrage and insult. To this, the citizens raised such a tumult, including monastics, women and children, that they cried out: "It is time O Christians for martyrdom; let us not abandon our Father, our Patriarch." They also ridiculed the emperor by calling him a Manichean, and his reign unworthy. So much was Patriarch Macedonius loved by the people. Anastasios had to shut himself up in his palace and to have ships prepared in case flight were to be necessary. Macedonius, when he responded to a plea by Anastasios to come and speak with him, reproached the emperor about the sufferings his persecutions caused the Church. While accepting this, Anastasios again made a third attempt to have Macedonius change his beliefs.

Anastasios even had Xenaias, a Eutychian bishop, commit a campaign of lies against the Patriarch. Xenaias demanded of Macedonius a declaration of his faith in writing, but in a memorandum to the emperor Macedonius insisted that he knew no other faith than that of the Fathers of Nicaea and Constantinople, noting that he had anathematized Nestorius and Eutyches and all those who admitted two Sons or two Christs, or who divided the two natures. Seeing the failure of his attempt, Xenaias then found two individuals who accused Macedonius of an abominable crime while also avowing themselves as his accomplices. Then, Macedonius was charged with Nestorianism and also with having falsified a passage in an epistle of Paul, in support of the Nestorians.

In a final attempt in 511 to change Macedonius' beliefs, Emperor Anastasios commanded the Patriarch to send him the authentic copy of the Acts of the Synod of Chalcedon bearing the signatures of the bishops. Macedonius refused and hid the document under the altar of the Great Church. Enraged, Anastasios then had Macedonius carried off by night to Chalcedon and then on to Euchaita in Pontus, to the place his predecessor, Euphemios, had been exiled.

In 515, Pope Homisdas attempted to restore Macedonius, whom he considered was unjustly deposed. It was stipulated in the treaty of peace between the rebel Vitalian, a relative of Macedonius, and Emperor Anastasios that the patriarch and all the deposed bishops should be restored to their sees. However, Anastasios never kept his promises. Macedonius died c. 517 in exile at Gangra, where he had retired for fear of the Huns, who ravaged all Cappadocia, Galatia, and Pontus.