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St. Theophanes the Chronicler

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St. Theophanes the Chronicler

St. Theophanes was born in Samothrace, Greece around the year 759. He was orphaned while still a young child, but was left a large inheritance. At age twelve, Theophanes’ guardian coerced him to marry, however he and his wife vowed themselves to celibacy. They lived together for several years but eventually Theophanes’ wife joined a religious community and he became a hermit.

Theophanes’ wisdom and holiness were quickly noticed by others. He decided to use his great wealth to form two monasteries out of the men who sought his counsel. Theophanes became abbot of one of these monasteries and gained a greater reputation for his virtues. While he lived in the monastery, Theophanes worked to write a history of the Christian world starting at the end of the Diocletian persecution to the early ninth century. It is for this work that he gained the nickname “Chronicler.”

During the time Theophanes lived, the iconoclast heresy was causing problems in the Church. The emperor of Constantinople, who encouraged the destruction of icons, tried to gain Theophanes support through subterfuge and coercion but he remained faithful to Rome. Eventually, this fidelity got Theophanes arrested and imprisoned. He died in prison around the year 818.


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    • Daughter of the Church

      St. Theophanes the Chronicler’s one’s most important work seems to have been his presence during the the Second Council of Nicaea in 787, which issued the declaration of faith concerning the veneration of holy images. The veneration of holy images had began being defended by St. John Damascene against the Emperor of Constantinople. St. John Damascene, confessor -Doctor of the Church- had been persecuted and had died in 749. St. Theophanes was therefore a near contemporary to St. John Damascene, which explains his role in defending the icons and holy images.
      Once again, this ignorant typing hand admits having never hear of St. Theophanes the Chronicler before. Is it because this saint, who is obviously issued from the Greek Orthodox Church, had been “blotted out” by the Roman Catholic Church after the Great Schism? Very possibly.
      There is however a “rattrapage” by the Roman Catholic Church which has been done to day March 12 in order to indirectly honor St. Theophanes. The calendar of the saints shows that to-day is the feast of St. Gregory the Great . This former saintly pope is widely known for the “Gregorian Chants”. The Gregorian Chants is a form of “musical icon”, because it carries the listener towards heaven by means of its angelic melody. The holy images and icons obtain the same effect onto the faithful viewer.

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