04 June 2018

Patriarch Saint Metrophanes of Constantinople

Saint Metrophanes the First Patriarch of Constantinople

During the early 200s, Dometius, the son of a Roman patrician named Dalmatius, converted to Christianity. Having seen the falsity of the pagan Roman beliefs, he embraced Christ with both arms. Fleeing persecution, he took himself to the ancient Greek trading port of Byzantium along with his two sons, Probus (which was also the name of Dometius’s younger brother, later an emperor of Rome), and Metrophanes. Dometius befriended the Christian bishop of Byzantium, Bishop Titus. Titus instructed the two young men in the Christian faith, and all three men – Dometius, Probus and Metrophanes – came to be clergymen themselves.

Emperor Constantine came to Byzantion at one point, and was immediately smitten with the town’s physical beauty. He also met Metrophanes, who was at that time serving as bishop of the town, and was impressed with Metrophanes’ learning and holy way of life. Emperor Constantine brought Bishop Metrophanes back to Rome with him. When he relocated the capital of the Empire to Byzantium in 324, Bishop Metrophanes returned to his former diocæse and resumed his duties there. The relationship between the two men was a harmonious one, reflecting the loving and brotherly relationship between Moses and Aaron.

Emperor Constantine convened the First Œcumenical Council at Nicæa the following year, to peaceably resolve the Arian controversy. Saint Metrophanes was not one of the 318 saintly bishops who attended the council, already being elderly, infirm and confined to his bed – however, he sent Vicar-Bishop Alexander there as his deputy. At the closing of the Council, Emperor Constantine asked the bishops at Nicæa to bestow upon his dying friend the title of Archbishop – thus, even though the Œcumenical Patriarchate would not be established officially for another 56 years, Saint Metrophanes is venerated as the First Patriarch of Constantinople.

Saint Metrophanes gave thanks to God at the outcome of the Council, when the bishops of Nicæa came to meet him at Emperor Constantine’s urging. There, he formally appointed Bishop Alexander as his worthy successor in office, and foretold to Patriarch Alexander of Alexandria at the time that the saintly then-Deacon Athanasius would be his successor. The saintly Archbishop reposed the following year at the age of 117; and was interred in a church in Constantine’s city dedicated to his memory.
You proclaimed the great mystery of the Trinity, O good shepherd,
And manifested Christ’s dispensation to all,
Dispersing the spiritual wolves who menaced your rational flock,
Saving the lambs of Christ who cry:
Glory to him who has strengthened you!
Glory to him who has exalted you!
Glory to him who through you has fortified the Orthodox Faith!

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