Commemorated on February 25th
St Tarasios, Patriarch of Constantinople
St Tarasios was the son of one of the foremost princes in Constantinople. He was born and raised in Constantinople, where he received a fine education. He was rapidly promoted at the court of the Emperor Constantine VI Porphyrogenitos (780-797 AD) and Constantine's mother, the holy Empress Irene, and the saint attained the rank of Senator.
During these times, the Church was troubled by the turmoil of the Iconoclast disturbances. The holy Patriarch Paul, although he had formerly supported Iconoclasm, later repented and resigned his office. He withdrew to a monastery, where he took the schema. When the holy Empress Irene and her son the Emperor came to him, St. Paul told them that the most worthy successor to him would be St Tarasios (who at this time was still a layman).
St Tarasios refused for a long time, not considering himself worthy of such high office, but he then gave in to the common accord on the condition, that an Ecumenical Synod (Council) be convened to address the Iconoclast heresy.
Proceeding through all the clerical ranks in a short while, St. Tarasios was elevated to the Patriarchal throne in 784 AD. In the year 787 AD, the Seventh Ecumenical Council was convened in the city of Nicea, with Patriarch Tarasios presiding, and 367 Bishops attending. The veneration of holy icons was confirmed at the council. The Bishops who repented of their iconoclasm, were again received by the Church.
St Tarasios wisely governed the Church for 22 years, during which time he led a strict ascetic life. He spent all his money on charity, feeding and giving comfort to the aged, to the impoverished, to widows and orphans, and on Holy Pascha he set out a meal for them, and he served them himself.
The holy Patriarch fearlessly denounced the Emperor Constantine Porphyrigenitos when he slandered his spouse, the Empress Maria, the granddaughter of St Philaretos the Merciful (commemorated December 1), so that he could send Maria to a monastery, thus freeing him to marry his own kinswoman. St Tarasios resolutely refused to dissolve the marriage of the Emperor, for which the Saint fell into disgrace. Soon, however, Constantine was deposed by the Empress Irene, his mother.
St Tarasios died in the year 806 AD, and before his death, it is said that devils examined his life from the time of his youth, and they tried to get the Saint to admit to sins that he had not committed. "I am innocent of that of which you accuse me", he replied, "and you falsely slander me. You have no power over me at all".
Mourned by the Church, the Saint was buried in a monastery he built on the Bosphorus. Many miracles took place at his tomb.
Dismissal Hymn (Fourth Tone)
The truth of things has revealed you to your flock as a rule of faith, an icon of meekness, and a teacher of temperance; for this cause, you have achieved the heights by humility, riches by poverty. O Father and Hierarch Tarasios, intercede with Christ God that our souls be saved.
Kontakion (Third Tone)
On this day a Virgin
You made the Church to shine with your most Orthodox doctrines, teaching all to venerate and worship Christ's sacred image; so you convicted the godless and hateful doctrine of all them that fought against Christ's venerable icon; O Tarasios our Father most wise and blessed, to you we all cry, "Rejoice".