Patriarch of Constantinople and martyr. The son of the secretary of Emperor Constantine V, he was raised as an opponent of the Iconoclasts in the imperial capital and remembered always that his father had been tortured for opposing the Iconoclast emperor. Nicephorus became known for his intellect and his eloquence, and received the post of imperial commissioner. After founding a monastery near the Black Sea, he was chosen despite being a layman to succeed to the office of patriarch of Constantinople in 806, succeeding St. Tarasius. He was opposed for a time by St. Theodore Studites after Nicephorus forgave a priest who married Emperor Constantine VI toTheodota despite the fact the Constantineís wife, Mary, still lived. The patriarch also challenged the Iconoclast policies of Emperor Leo V the Armenian and was deposed by a synod of Iconoclast bishops at the conniving of the emperor. Nearly assassinated on several occasions, Nicephorus was exiled to the monastery he had founded on the Black Sea, spending his remaining years there in prayer. He died on June 2 or March 13, 829. While patriarch, he brought various reforms to his large diocese and inspired the lay people. He was also the author of anti Iconoclast writings and two historical works, a Chronographia and Brevianim.
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By Rev. Peter M. J. Stravinskas, Ph.D., S.T.D.
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