This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

October 23 -- Feast of Saint Ignatius of Constantinople

Saint Ignatius
We've already seen how hard the iconoclastic era was on the faithful on both sides of the controversy.  People lost their jobs, and even their lives, because they fell out with folks who called themselves orthodox.  And since both sides claimed that label, it was ugly all around. 

Ignatius, the son of the Byzantine Emperor Michael I Rangabe, had it rough even before he got mixed up in the icon-troversy (hah! I crack myself up).  When dad was overthrown, Leo the Armenian ordered Ignatius to be castrated and tonsured into a monastery.  There's a little archipelago off Constantinople (Istanbul) called Princes' Islands to which the family members of overthrown emperors were exiled.  Ignatius wound up founding three different monasteries there during his exile.

Ignatius landed the top church job (Patriarch of Constantinople) when his faction regained the palace.  His mom took a hand in affairs, helping to get his nephew Michael III on the throne.  Iggy took a hard line it came to the iconoclasts, opposing the reinstatement of an archbishop who had taken a soft line on the iconoclasts.  That archbishop appealed to the Pope, leading to the question What authority does the Pope have to judge the Church in the East?  It was a fair question, but it kicked off a schism that has not been healed to this day. 

The Empress Theodora's brother Bardas moved close to the throne by arranging a murder or two.  That's not so unusual for a Roman imperial family, but it's worth mentioning because reversed Ignatius' fortunes again.  Bardas did something to earn the disapprobation of the Patriarch.  Later sources said that it was sleeping with one of his daughters-in-law.  Others seem to think that Bardas wanted to force his sister into a convent and Ignatius refused to help.  Either way, Bardas deposed Ignatius and replaced him with a layman named Photios. 

Bardas gets pink slip the Byzantine way. 
In response, Ignatius appealed to the Pope, again raising the question, What authority does the Pope have to judge the Church in the East?  Much like the Supreme Court of the United States, everyone condemned them until he could benefit from a ruling; then the Court (and Pope) are wise and just.  Of course, at the end of the day, the Pope did not have enough divisions to hold onto Italy, let alone influence the politics in Constantinople.

Seven times down, eight times up.
Ignatius did get his job back when Basil the Macedonian usurped the throne.  Photios was briefly banished, but he wasn't a bad guy and was soon recalled to tutor the imperial children.  Ignatius repudiated the Pope's authority in the East, which seems a little duplicitous but is probably a whole lot more complicated and comprehensible when studied closely.  After Ignatius died, Photios got the job and advocated making Iggy a saint.

Yamamoto Tsunetomo, called Jocho, dictated a book that's come to be called Hagakure (Hidden Leaves).    He offered a thought that might apply to Saint Ignatius' career, and Photios' also:

If one has not been a ronin at least seven times he will not be a true retainer. Seven times down, eight times up. One should understand that it is something like being a self-righting doll.

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