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Saint Tarasius

Saint Tarasius
  • Century: 8th & 9th Century
  • Patronage: -
  • Feast Day: February 25th

St. Tarasius was born and raised in Constantinople.  He was the son of high-ranking judge.  He was related to many noble families including Patriarch Photios the Great.  At first he took up a career in the secular administration and had attained the rank of Senator, eventually becoming the Imperial Secretary to the Emperor Constantine VI and his mother, Empress Irene.  He had embraced Iconoclasm, but later repented, resigned his post and retired to a Monastery taking the monastic habit.  

Since he exhibited both Iconodule sympathies and the willingness to follow imperial commands when they were not contrary to the faith, Empress Irene selected him as Patriarch of Constantinople in 784, even though he was a layman at the time.  He was well versed in theology, and the election of qualified laymen as bishops was not unheard of in the history of the Church.  He reluctantly accepted, on condition that the Church would be restored with Rome and the Oriental Patriarchs.  Tarasius had to be duly ordained to the deaconate and then to the priesthood, before he could be consecrated as a Bishop.  

Before accepting the dignity of Patriarch, he demanded that veneration of icons be restored in the Church.  He persuaded Empress Irene to write to Pope Hadrian I, inviting him to send delegates to Constantinople for a new council to repudiate heresy.  The Pope sent delegates, although he disapproved of a layman being appointed as Patriarch.  The council convened in the Church of the Holy Apostles.  Mutinous troops burst into the Church and dispersed the delegates.  The papal delegates left for Rome, but the mutinous troops were removed from the city and the delegates reassembled at Nicaea the following year.  That council, known as the Second Council of Nicaea, condemned Iconoclasm and formally approved the veneration of icons.  St. Tarasius continued in office until his death, on February 25, 806.  

Practical Take Away

St. Tarasius was born in Constantinople in 730.  He was a learned person, and born into nobility.  He was asked to become the Patriarch of Constantinople, and reluctantly accepted.  At the time, he was a layman.  He had to be duly ordained as a deacon and then a Priest in order to be installed as a Bishop.  He served as Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople until he died on February 25, 806.  He was in charge at the Second Council of Nicaea, where they condemned Iconoclasm and formally approved the veneration of icons.