July 1, 2017

Saint Peter the Patrician (+ 854)

St. Peter the Patrician (Feast Day - July 1)


Having left earthly glory and earthly delights,
Peter died and partook of heavenly glory.

Saint Peter was the son of the patrician and commander Constantine, who served under Emperor Constantine VI (780-797) and Empress Irene. From a young age Peter attended various schools, and gathered knowledge like a bee gathers honey. After he got married and his father died, he was honored and became Domestic of the Schools, which was a senior military post, and was also given the title of Patrician. When Nikephoros the Patrician became Emperor (802-811), he made Peter Domestic of the Hikanatoi, or the head of the elite imperial guard. The emperor then took Peter with him to Bulgaria in 811, where there was a war between the Romans and Bulgarians.

Having gathered for war, the Romans defeated the Bulgarians, but the emperor was mortally wounded and Peter along with fifty commanders was captured and imprisoned. While in prison, Peter prayed, and Saint John the Theologian and Evangelist appeared. The Holy Apostle released him from his bonds and guided him back to the land of the Romans. From that moment the blessed one looked upon all worldly things as dung, and after retiring from the military he left for Mount Olympus in Asia Minor. There he found Saint Ioannikios the Great, who guided him in the way of virtue and salvation, and was clothed in the angelic schema of the monks.

While at Mount Olympus, the Saint exercised every virtue. After thirty-four years had passed, he returned to Constantinople. There he built a church in the Evandrou quarter. Because his wife and son had died, he built a hut some distance away and lived there for eight years. Saint Peter covered his body in a garment made of prickly hair, and throughout all the years he lived as an ascetic he never wore shoes. He disciplined his body with fasting and vigils and other hardships. Having conducted his life well and in a God-pleasing manner, he reposed in the Lord. It is said that under his garment of hair, he was dressed in a garment made of wicker, and with this he was buried.