Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Timeline of the Life of St. Photius the Great

820 Photius [Φώτιος] born to the saintly iconodules Sergios and Irene (5/13). During his holy youth he and his family were frequently persecuted for their right faith.

Ps 61:6-9: But be thou, O my soul, subject to God: for from Him is my patience. For He is my God and my Savior: He is my helper, I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory: He is the God of my help, and my hope is in God. Trust in Him, all ye congregation of people: pour out your hearts before Him. God is our helper forever.

7/4/847 St. Ignatius [Ιγνάτιος] elected lawful Patriarch of Constantinople.

12/25/857 Photius invalidly ordained Patriarch of Constantinople by Archbishop Gregory Asbestas of Syracuse. Ignatius already occupied the See of Constantinople and had previously excommunicated Gregory for insubordination. Photius is thus the anti-Patriarch (illegitimate Patriarch) of Constantinople until 9/25/867.

861 Ignatius appears before a pseudo-synod as a simple monk and is not allowed to talk to the papal delegates. He proves from pontifical canons that he was not validly deposed, and he refuses to treat the synod as authoritative. Ignatius appeals in vain to the pope. He flees to safety when Bardas issues an order for his execution.

4/863 Pope St. Nicholas I the Great of Rome excommunicates Photius for his unlawful elevation to and usurpation of the see of Constantinople.

866 Pope St. Nicholas I the Great of Rome writes [Epistle 98 to Emperor Michael III in PL 119:1030B], "Consider very carefully how Photius can stand, in spite of his great virtues and universal knowledge."

867 Photius sends an encyclical to the Patriarchs of Alexandria (Michael I † 870), Antioch (Nicholas II † 879), and Jerusalem (Theodosius I † 878) giving the reasons for his action: the Latins (1) fast on Saturday; (2) do not start Lent until Ash Wednesday; (3) do not allow priests to be married; (4) do not allow priests to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation; and (5) added the Filioque clause to the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed. Now that the Apostolic See rightly does not regard him as the legitimate Patriarch, Photius changes his previous stance [Epistle 2 in PG 102:604-605D] that the different disciplines regarding fasting, clerical marriage, etc. were legitimate variations that did not rend the Faith. He calls the Latins "forerunners of apostasy, servants of Antichrist who deserve a thousand deaths, liars, fighters against God."

Nu 23:8: "How shall I curse him, whom God hath not cursed? By what means should I detest him, whom the Lord detesteth not?"
2 Tim 2:24: "But the servant of the Lord must not wrangle: but be mild toward all men, apt to teach, patient..."

867 Photius excommunicates Pope St. Nicholas I the Great of Rome. St. Nicholas dies before learning of his unjust condemnation.

Prov 26:21: "As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire, so an angry man stirreth up strife."
Sir 28:11: "For a passionate man kindleth strife, and a sinful man will trouble his friends, and bring in debate in the midst of them that are at peace."

The usurper Photius is deposed by Emperor Basil I, and Ignatius resumes his duties as the rightful Patriarch of Constantinople.

10/5/869 Pope Adrian II of Rome convokes the Eighth Ecumenical Council at the recommendation of St. Ignatius. Photius makes the excuse that the representatives of the Eastern patriarchates were "envoys of the Saracens."

Prov 26:22: "The words of a talebearer are as it were simple, but they reach to the innermost parts of the belly."

11/10/871 Pope Adrian II of Rome approves the Council of 869-870 as the Eighth Ecumenical Council.

876 Photius, from his exile, sends Emperor Basil I a fake family tree showing that the emperor is a descendant of Catholicos St. Gregory the Illuminator [Γρηγόριος Φωστήρ] of Armenia; Photius includes a fake prophecy that the emperor will be very great [Mansi xvi:284ABC]. The delighted Basil brings back Photius from exile and makes him the tutor of his son Constantine. At the reunion synod in 879-880 Photius dishonestly says, "I did not seek to return" and lived in exile "without importuning the Emperor, without hope or desire to be reinstated."

Sir 7:14: "Be not willing to make any manner of lie: for the custom thereof is not good."

10/23/877 Patriarch St. Ignatius of Constantinople, having reconciled and publicly exchanged the kiss of peace with and received medical aid from Photius, and having recommended Photius for the patriarchate this time around, reposes in the Lord.

*Sir 7:38: "Be not wanting in comforting them that weep, and walk with them that mourn."
*Rom 13:7: "Render therefore to all men their dues. Tribute, to whom tribute is due: custom, to whom custom: fear, to whom fear: honor, to whom honor."
*2 Chr 32:33: "Hezekiah rested with his ancestors; he was buried at the approach to the tombs of the descendants of David. All Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem paid him honor at his death. His son Manasseh succeeded him as king."

878 On the Sunday of Orthodoxy, Photius canonizes Ignatius by adding him to the Synodikon.

1 Jn 4:21: "And this commandment we have from God, that he who loveth God love also his brother."

879 Photius gets the approval of Pope John VIII of Rome for a council under the false pretense that it will eliminate any remnants of the 863-867 schism.

880 At the council, Photius repeats the same accusations against the Latins that he wrote to the other three Patriarchs of the East in 867. He anathematizes the Filioque addition to the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed and stirs up old anti-Latin schismatic sentiments. He alters the letters sent to him, Emperor Basil I, and the rest of the Byzantine Church by Pope John VIII of Rome, with the ironic excuse that he does not want to start controversy. The weak papal legates go with the wishes of the majority [Mansi xvii:374 sq.], and they do not understand Greek well. For the sake of peace, Pope John VIII accepts Photius as legitimate patriarch and accepts the synod in a qualified manner as a union synod and abrogates not the doctrinal canons of the Eighth Ecumenical Council of 869-870 (i.e., not that whole synod, contrary to the altered versions of his letters by the Photian party), but the disciplinary canons of that Council against Photius, which are not irreformable. The statement attributed to Pope John VIII that the Filioque addition is blasphemous (i.e., that the doctrine itself is heterodox) is fraudulent. In Epistle 7 the pontiff says, "If perchance at the same synod our legates have acted against Apostolic instructions, neither do we approve their action nor do we attribute any value to it." Pope John VIII and Photius remain in communion with each other, as Fr. Francis Dvornik shows.


883 Photius sends an epistle to the Metropolitan of Aquileia in which he states that the Holy Spirit proceeds, as regards His eternal hypostatic existence, from the Father alone.


886 Photius completes his polemical treatise Mystagogy of the Holy Spirit [PG 102:264-541], in which he offers myriad arguments for the eternal hypostatic procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father alone. While the eloquent work is brilliant for its demonstration of the blasphemous consequences of compromising the monarchy of the Father, it is based on the error of Photius that Filioque destroys the monarchy of the Father. Photius misinterprets and misrepresents Scripture and the Fathers. Many Eastern Orthodox apologists will use as a polemical weapon the Photian treatise and the epitome of it by a later author.

Is 47:10: "Thy wisdom, and thy knowledge, this hath deceived thee."



2/6/891 St. Photius the Great of Constantinople, having repented of his sins and having been restored to communion with the Apostolic See, reposes in the Lord in the monastery of Armeniakon. Greek Byzantine Catholics commemorate our father among the saints Photius every February 6.

Ps 132:1: "Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity."
1 Cor 2:9: "But, as it is written: 'That eye hath not seen, nor ear heard: neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love Him.'"


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