medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Methodius (d. 847) is Sicily's only ecumenical patriarch.  Born in Syracuse, he moved early to New Rome, entered religion at a monastery in Bithynia, and seems to have joined the circle of patriarch St. Nicephorus I.  Probably at the latter's bidding he was sent to Rome as an envoy in 815, the year in which the iconophile Nicephorus was removed from office and replaced as patriarch by the iconoclast Theodotus I.  For the next six years Methodius was in the West, mostly at Rome.  Specimens of his scribal activity survive from this period.  Also during this period Methodius journeyed to Reichenau, where his name was inscribed in the monastery's _Liber confraternitatum_.  The entry can be seen in Johanne Autenrieth, Dieter Geuenich und Karl Schmid, hrsg., _Das Verbrüderungsbuch der Abtei Reichenau_ (Hannover: Hahnsche Buchhandlung, 1979; MGH, Antiquitates, Libri mem. N. S., 1; accessible online at <>), facsimile p. 4 (the facsimiles are at the end of section V: Nachweis der nicht von den anlegenden Händen geschriebenen Texte); it's in column A, two lines below NOMINA.

In 821 Theodotus died.  Methodius returned to Constantinople only to run into serious difficulties with the emperor Michael II, who had him exiled for seven years to an island where he is said to have been badly treated.  Methodius was recalled by the emperor Theophilus (829-42).  In 843 the regent Theodora, Theophilus' _de facto_ successor, deposed the last iconoclast patriarch, John VII, and raised Methodius to the patriarchate in his stead.  One week later Methodius together with Theodora, her infant son Michael III, and major court figures proceeded from the church of the Theotokos near the Blachernae palace to Hagia Sophia, where the icons were formally restored in a ceremony since known as the Triumph of Orthodoxy and celebrated in the Byzantine Rite in the Feast of Orthodoxy on the first Sunday of Great Lent.  For the remainder of his patriarchate Methodius steered a middle course between former iconoclasts in the hierarchy and Stoudite purists who wished to rid the church of them.  An accomplished writer, he is the author of surviving hymns and other liturgical texts, pious epigrams, hagiographical writing (Bioi and exegetical encomia), sermons, and letters.  Later homonyms in the see of Constantinople cause him to be identified in modern scholarship as Methodius I.

Methodius was buried in the church of the Holy Apostles.  He was glorified in the later ninth century.  14. June (his _dies natalis_) is his feast day in the originally tenth-century Synaxary of Constantinople and in its descendants in modern Byzantine-rite churches.  It is also his day of commemoration in the Roman Martyrology.

Some period-pertinent images of St. Methodius of Constantinople:

a) as depicted (upper register at far left) in a nineteenth-century drawing, at the time of their discovery, of the now fragmentary late ninth- or perhaps early tenth-century mosaics of patriarchs in the Large Sekreton in Hagia Sophia:

b) as depicted by Eutychios and Michael Astrapas in the late thirteenth-century frescoes (ca. 1295) in the church of Peribleptos (now Sv. Kliment Ohridski) in Ohrid:

c) as depicted (at left) in the early fourteenth-century frescoes (1303) in the chapel of St. Euthymius in Thessaloniki:

d) as depicted (at right) in the earlier fourteenth-century frescoes (betw. 1313 and 1318; conservation work in 1968) by Michael Astrapas and Eutychios in the church of St. George at Staro Nagorièane in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia:

e) as depicted (middle register at left; writing his Encomium of St. Dionysius the Areopagite) among the biographers of St. Dionysius in an earlier fourteenth-century copy of the _Vita sancti Dionysii Areopagitae_ in its French-language translation by Yves of Saint-Denis (1317; Paris, BnF, ms. Français 2090, fol. 12v):

f) as depicted in grisaille (middle register at left; writing his Encomium of St. Dionysius the Areopagite) among the biographers of St. Dionysius in an earlier fourteenth-century copy of the _Vita sancti Dionysii Areopagitae_ (ca. 1317-1325; Paris, BnF, ms. Latin 5286, fol. 3r; this page a copy of item e, above):

g) as depicted (upper register at far right in the panel at upper right) in an earlier fourteenth-century pictorial menologion from Thessaloniki (betw. 1322 and 1340; Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Gr. th. f. 1, fol. 43v):

h) as depicted (upper register, fourth from right) in a late fourteenth- or early fifteenth-century festal icon (the Triumph of Orthodoxy) in the British Museum:
Detail view (Methodius):

John Dillon
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