Sunday 11th December 2016

Home » saints » Currently Reading:

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Nicephorus

March 10, 2014 saints No Comments

By CAROLE BRESLIN

At the end of the patrician age, iconoclasm reared its ugly head in the Christian community. Iconoclasm “rejected as superstition the use of religious images and advocated their destruction . . .occasioned by the rise of Islam which considers all sacred images idolatrous” (Modern Catholic Dictionary, Fr. John A. Hardon, p. 263). In defending the true teaching of the Church, St. John Damascene nearly lost his life.
However, some decades later, the iconoclasts gained more recognition and again sought to destroy the sacred images in use at the time. Eventually, the Second Council of Nicaea in 787 clearly defined the teaching that sacred images were permissible and to be venerated. Largely through the efforts of St. Nicephorus, the heresy was again held in check.
The parents of St. Nicephorus set a good example for their son, defender of images, who was born around 758. His father held high office under the Emperor Constantine Copronymus (Constantine V) as secretary and commissioner. Yet when the emperor persecuted the orthodox faith, Nicephorus’ father held true to the honor of sacred images with such zeal that he was stripped of his office, tortured, and banished.
Despite the banishment, Nicephorus received an excellent education further developing his innate abilities fostered by his parents who loved the faith.  When Constantine VI and his mother, the Empress Irene, changed the restrictions on sacred images, Nicephorus came to their attention as he was brought to court.  In fact, Nicephorus attended the Second Council of Nicaea as the representative of the Empress Irene.
Despite all the honors and authority bestowed upon him, Nicephorus sought the quiet of the monastery he had founded on the Thracian Bosphorus on the Black Sea. Although still a layman, he greatly appreciated the quiet, religious life.
This life was not meant to be. When the patriarch of Constantinople, St. Tarasius, died, Nicephorus became the leading candidate to succeed him. Because of his lay status, many opposed his appointment and he himself turned away from it. However, at the formal request of the emperor, St. Nicephorus received Holy Orders and accepted the office.
At his installation, he took the treatise he had written defending the treatment of images and placed it behind the altar, pledging that he would defend the doctrine of the Church. You can imagine what happened next. Without much delay, the new patriarch was persecuted, suffering at the hands of hostile rigorists.
A priest named Joseph had been exiled for celebrating the nuptial Mass of Emperor Constantine VI and Theodata even though his first wife, Empress Mary, was still living. St. Nicephorus reinstated the priest. Common belief held that Nicephorus did this to avoid greater scandal among the Christians as well as to demonstrate the mercy to be shown to a repentant sinner.
A group known as the Theodore Studites refused to have anything to do with the new patriarch who seemed to support what the Studites called the “Adulterine Heresy.” They appealed to Pope Leo III who, although he sent them an encouraging reply, did nothing about the situation since he had heard nothing from St. Nicephorus about the situation.
The Church in the East did not answer so much to the Pope in Rome as it did to the emperor who acted with much authority on the operations of the Church and the installations of the bishops or patriarchs. Because of the opposition of the Studites, the emperor had imprisoned Theodore and the monks dispersed.
Finally, Nicephorus sent a letter to Pope Leo explaining the situation and vowing to keep Rome more informed of the events in Constantinople. Thus the factions were reconciled and Theodore was released. They worked together in improving morals, restoring discipline in the monasteries, and improving the behavior of the clergy. Once again the brief period of tranquility ended.
In 813 Leo the Armenian (Leo V) became the emperor in the East. Before his installation, Nicephorus sought to get a profession of faith from Leo, especially regarding iconoclasm, but the politician eluded the efforts of the patriarch to get a definitive statement from him.
As Leo V became more confident of his position, he expressed his views more freely. He urged Nicephorus to support him in the destruction of the images in the churches that had been replaced after being removed or destroyed during the last rampage of the iconoclasts. The emperor did this despite the approval given to the images by the Second Council of Nicaea.
St. Nicephorus held true to his vow taken on the day of his installation and defended the images, replying, “We cannot change the ancient traditions: We respect the holy images, as we do the cross and the book of the Gospels.”
Evil is restless and cunning. Emperor Leo made subtle movements, under the mask of reverence, to get a crucifix removed. By ordering a soldier to profane the corpus on the cross, Leo claimed that he would remove others to prevent further profanation of the images. Thus he shrewdly attempted to manufacture events to ensure he appeared to be respecting the images.
His plotting did not stop at this. He then called the bishops of the iconoclasts to his court and then ordered the patriarch and his sympathetic bishops and clergy to the palace. Their response, however, was to pointedly refuse, telling him that he must leave Church matters to the Church and not the court. Not surprisingly, Emperor Leo became enraged.
Next the iconoclast bishops summoned the patriarch to appear before them but again they were rebuffed as Nicephorus unequivocally challenged their authority to summon him. “In my diocese you have no jurisdiction,” he wrote to them. The iconoclasts were then excommunicated from the Church.
Having the support of the emperor, they continued to issues statements against Nicephorus. Even worse, they made several attempts on his life before he was forced into exile. He returned to the monastery he had founded.
Although Emperor Leo’s successor, Michael the Stammerer, invited Nicephorus to return to Constantinople, he could do so only under the condition that he remain silent about the issue of iconoclasm. Nicephorus refused, saying that silence was tantamount to endorsement which he could not in good conscience do. Thus he remained in the monastery on the Bosphorus for his remaining days, soundly writing in defense of the sacred images. His writings have been preserved to this day.
The Eastern Church celebrates his feast on June 2 while the Latin Church celebrates it on March 13. St. Nicephorus died in the year 828. On March 13, 846 his remains were transferred to Constantinople.
Dear St. Nicephorus, may we learn from your writings and lively defense of sacred images to explain this doctrine to our separated brethren in Christ. O Lord, by your cross and Resurrection you have set us free. Amen.

+    +    +

(Carole Breslin home-schooled her four daughters and served as treasurer of the Michigan Catholic Home Educators for eight years. Mrs. Breslin’s articles have appeared in Homiletic & Pastoral Review and in the Marian Catechist Newsletter. For over ten years, she was national coordinator for the Marian Catechists, founded by Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ.)

Share Button

2016 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Pope Francis: rigidity, worldliness a disaster for priests

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated Mass in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta on Friday morning, focusing his remarks following the readings of the day on the need for priests to serve as authentic mediators of God’s love, rather…Continue Reading

Hopes for transfer of Archbishop Sheen’s body high despite emergency ruling

Hopes buoyed in the Diocese of Peoria by a November 17 court ruling allowing Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s family to transfer the sainthood candidate’s remains from New York to Peoria were tempered by an emergency stay being granted to the Archdiocese…Continue Reading

A Plea Against an Unprincipled Papalism

Editor’s note: The following is a guest essay from Dr. Markus Büning. Dr. Büning was born 1966 in Ahaus (Westfalen, Germany). He studied Catholic Theology and Philosophy at the University of Münster. After graduating in 1990, he studied Law in Münster…Continue Reading

At The Request Of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops . . . Hudson church considers taking in 21 Syrian refugees

Church leaders and members of St. Patrick Parish in Hudson have been praying overtime in the past couple of weeks as they decide whether to welcome five Syrian refugee families into their community next summer. The Rev. John Gerritts The…Continue Reading

Catholic Scholar Attacked for Catholic Views at Catholic College

Prominent Catholic scholar of Renaissance literature Anthony Esolen is under attack for daring to talk openly about the teachings of the Catholic faith. The orthodox professor at the Dominican-led Providence College in Rhode Island is the author of many books,…Continue Reading

Congress doubles budget for investigation of Planned Parenthood baby parts scandal

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 2, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Congress voted to double the budget of the Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives, meaning the panel will continue investigating Planned Parenthood and the sale of aborted baby body parts through 2016. Republicans…Continue Reading

Catholic church prepares to fight ‘grave evil’ of mass deportations

American leadership in the Catholic church laid low during the presidential election but San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy is now making clear that if President-elect Donald Trump makes good on campaign promises of mass deportations of unauthorized immigrants, the church is prepared to take…Continue Reading

Fake Catholic Groups and the “Catholic Spring” Emails

Beginning in 2007, orthodox Catholic writers including myself wrote dozens of articles in an attempt to expose the funding and duplicitousness of two fake Catholic groups: the OSF funded Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and Catholics United. (For…Continue Reading

Rubio on Castro Condolences: Obama’s Response ‘Pathetic’; My Catholic Faith Does Not Bind Me to Pope’s Foreign Policy Stances

(CNSNews.com) – Asked Sunday about Pope Francis’ expression of sorrow on the death of Fidel Castro, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said that as a Catholic he believes in the Pope’s theological authority but his faith does not bind him when…Continue Reading

Head of Vatican Court: Cdl. Burke Could Be Stripped of Red Hat

The Dean of the Roman Rota, the Vatican’s top canonical court overseeing marriage, is issuing an ominous warning to Cdl. Raymond Burke that he may be stripped of his cardinalate for allegedly causing “grave scandal.” Speaking Tuesday at a lecture at the…Continue Reading

Cardinal Pell defends four cardinals for asking ‘significant’ questions

Cardinal George Pell has come to the support of the four cardinals who have submitted dubia about the interpretation of Amoris Laetitia. Following an address to an audience in London, the Australian cardinal was asked whether he agreed with the…Continue Reading

Third bishop backs four Cardinals: I was ‘overwhelmed’ with similar questions

POLAND, November 25, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – A third bishop has now publicly risen in defense of the four Cardinals who have been vilified by influential prelates after going public with their request that Pope Francis clarify whether or not his…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Enter Comments Below

This Weeks Comments And Letters . . .

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “An Introduction To The Problem Of Euthanasia”

By BRIAN CLOWES Part 2 (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 23 of The Facts of Life, a 150-page treatise on all of the aspects of euthanasia, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + We have covered the definitions of the varieties of…Continue Reading

Today . . .

23 scholars sign letter supporting four Cardinals, warn of ‘metastasizing crisis’ in Church

December 8, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Twenty-three prominent Catholic academics and pastors released a letter Thursday expressing their “profound gratitude and full support” of the dubia four cardinals sent to Pope Francis asking for moral clarification on Amoris Laetitia. “As has been widely publicized, these cardinals have formally submitted five dubia to Pope Francis, asking him to clarify five fundamental points of Catholic doctrine and sacramental discipline, the treatment of which in Chapter 8 of the recent Apostolic Exhortation…Continue Reading

Vatican updates guidelines for educating priests

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Catholic Church needs holy, healthy and humble priests and that requires prayers for vocations and the careful selection and training of candidates, said the Congregation for Clergy. Updating 1985 guidelines for preparing men for the Latin-rite priesthood and ensuring their continuing education, training and support, the Congregation for Clergy Dec. 7 released “The Gift of the Priestly Vocation,” a detailed set of guidelines and norms for priestly formation. The updated…Continue Reading

Bishop Schneider likens treatment of four Cardinals to Soviet regime: ‘We live in a climate of threats’

ROME, Italy, December 6, 2016, (LifeSiteNews) — Before a packed room in Rome’s Centro Lepanto on Monday, Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Kazakhstan urged the faithful to ardently hold on to the Church’s Magisterium on the indissolubility of marriage within the current state of ongoing ambiguities. “When Christ preached 2,000 years ago, the culture and reigning spirit were radically opposed to Him. Concretely religious syncretism ruled, also Gnosticism among the intelligent leaders, as well as permissibilism…Continue Reading

Magisterium ‘debased’ by pope’s ‘refusal to answer’ four Cardinals: famed German philosopher

December 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — The foremost Roman Catholic philosopher in Germany has come out in support of the four Cardinals who asked Pope Francis to clarify ambiguities in his Apostolic Exhortation regarding the sacraments for divorced and remarried Catholics. “It is deplorable that only four Cardinals have taken the initiative regarding this topic,” Robert Spaemann said in defense of the dubia voiced by four Cardinals. In an interview with the Italian Nuova Bussola Quotidiana…Continue Reading

Vatican Spin Machine Intensifies . . . From L’Osservatore Romano

barth

When speaking of God, the descriptive language that we adopt is love. And when speaking of love, the fundamental dimension that we attribute is divine. This is why the Apostle of Love defines God as love. (1 John 4.8) When our dear brother and Bishop of Rome, His Holiness Francis, issued his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia earlier this year, it was around the time that we jointly travelled to the island of Lesbos in Greece,…Continue Reading

In Praise Of Clarity

By DONALD DeMARCO A hostess sent out party invitations to her friends that requested RSVPs. When she received a completely illegible response from a particular doctor, she asked her husband what she should do. Upon his advice, she brought the indecipherable letter to a druggist since members of the pharmaceutical profession are reputed to be…Continue Reading

A Book Review… Missing Joe Sobran

By CHRISTOPHER MANION Joseph Sobran’s Subtracting Christianity: Essays on American Culture and Society, $27.00; Hustler: The Clinton Legacy, $23.00 — both available postpaid from the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation, 713 Park St., SE, Vienna, VA 22180, 1-877-726-0058. Or online at fgfBooks.com or at Amazon.com. When Al Matt asked me some ten years ago to take over…Continue Reading

Restoring The Sacred… The Beauty Of Purity

By JAMES MONTI Advent is a season we journey though in the company of our Lady. For her sacred pregnancy was indeed the first Advent, an Advent of nine months that culminated in the first Christmas. The Advent Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe testifies to this association, for the miraculous image of Guadalupe, revealed…Continue Reading

A Book Review . . . Proclaim The “Great Story Of Jesus Christ”

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY Forming Intentional Disciples: The Path to Knowing and Following Jesus by Sherry Weddell, Our Sunday Visitor, 224 pages; paperback, $16.95 plus shipping. See: https://www.osvcatholicbook store.com. The subtitle of Forming Intentional Disciples is, “The Path to Knowing and Following Jesus,” and that sums up what the book is about since we will…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101… “Why Euthanasia Is Wrong — From A Secular Viewpoint”

By BRIAN CLOWES (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 23 of The Facts of Life, “Euthanasia,” e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + “You are a member of the first generation of doctors in the history of medicine…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

What Is Faith?… God’s Creation And Purpose

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA Part 15 I think of the word “gullible” whenever I hear the words “Big Bang” mentioned to explain the origin of the universe. We are supposed to believe that in the beginning there was nothing and then, somehow or other, a huge condensed solid mass of matter came out of the nothing, and without anybody doing…Continue Reading

Gifts Of The Holy Spirit — Fortitude

By DON FIER An underlying principle that sums up why the gifts of the Holy Spirit are necessary for the attainment of eternal life is that the natural instincts of mind and will — even elevated by the infused theological and moral virtues — cannot always cope with critical situations or problems that present themselves during life’s journey. As expressed…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: Regarding a recent question about omission of the Epistle and Gospel at a Latin Mass, M.C. of Michigan sent the following by e-mail: “I have been going to Sunday Mass in the Extraordinary Form with some regularity ever since Pope St. John Paul issued his indult, both in my home state of Michigan and on trips to at…Continue Reading

The Obedience Of Faith

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Fourth Sunday Of Advent (YR A) Readings: Isaiah 7:10-14 Romans 1:1-7 Matt. 1:18-24 In the second reading today St. Paul says that he was made an apostle in order to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of the Name of Jesus. It is this obedience to which every single person on Earth is…Continue Reading

Advent As A Liturgical Season

By FR. EDWARD McNAMARA, LC (Editor’s Note: Below is a ZENIT column by Legionary of Christ Fr. Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy and dean of theology at the Regina Apostolorum University. ZENIT News Agency published the column. All rights reserved.) + + + Q. May you help me on the issue of Advent season, since we are approaching it? What is…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. John Damascene

By CAROLE BRESLIN “The Fathers of the Church were those saintly writers of the early centuries whom the Church recognizes as her special defenders of orthodoxy. And the Patristic Age is the period during which they lived. “It is generally held that the last of the Western Fathers (Latin) was St. Bede the Venerable (673-735), and the last of the…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Peter Fourier

By CAROLE BRESLIN In the Catholic Church, there are many examples throughout history of religious orders that have been reformed or have been in need of reform. After many years the members of religious orders tend to relax rules until they do not live much differently than the laity. It seems that discipline and fervor are closely related — without…Continue Reading