Friday 6th May 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.

Cardinal Burke: Notre Dame is Wrong

Notre Dame’s Great Scandal: Honoring Vice President Biden By Thomas McKenna, President of Catholic Action for Faith and Family: The University of Notre Dame has announced that they intend to confer the Laetare Medal, an honor given to Catholics “in…Continue Reading

DoJ to North Carolina: You Have Until Monday to Reverse Bathroom Bill

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory received a letter from the Department of Justice that gives him until Monday to reverse his state’s controversial bathroom bill, reports The Hill. The DoJ said the law is in violation of the federal Civil…Continue Reading

Lavender Graduations Harmful to Students at Catholic Colleges

At least eight Catholic colleges across the country are hosting “lavender graduations” this spring — many of them as part of an annual campus tradition — to celebrate and honor students with same-sex attraction (SSA) or who identify as lesbian,…Continue Reading

Serving LGBT Students in Catholic Schools

April 28, 2016, at 9:03 AM  |  By Dan Guernsey  |  Opinion How do Catholic schools best serve students who struggle with same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria (popularly called “transgendered”)? What should a school’s policies prescribe in order to prevent…Continue Reading

Pro-Life Group Lists Every Company Backing Planned Parenthood

A pro-life organization that has spent decades working to try to get corporations to stop giving financial donations to the Planned Parenthood abortion business has released a revised listing of companies backing the abortion giant. Life Decisions International has released…Continue Reading

Trump completes 5-state sweep; Clinton beats Sanders in most Super Tuesday III contests

Donald Trump completed a five-state sweep in Tuesday’s Republican presidential primaries, strengthening his shot at avoiding a contested convention – while Hillary Clinton scored convincing victories but was denied the same bragging rights of a primary sweep by a surprise…Continue Reading

Planned Parenthood Caught Again

Kentucky is suing a new Planned Parenthood clinic after Governor Matt Bevin found out that they have illegally killed 23 unborn children. The clinic knowingly operated without a license for nearly two months. The request for a license was later…Continue Reading

Top Vatican cardinals aren’t commenting on pope’s exhortation

April 25, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Two of the Vatican’s most senior prelates, both known for taking a strong stand for the Church’s tradition at the Synod on the Family, are declining interviews on Pope Francis’ controversial apostolic exhortation. Vatican reporter…Continue Reading

Indiana diocese: Catholic teachers must uphold Church’s moral teachings

FORT WAYNE, Indiana, April 25, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Another Catholic bishop has taken steps to reinforce Catholic identity in the schools of his diocese. Fort Wayne-South Bend Bishop Kevin Rhoades promulgated “The Mission of Our Catholic Schools and the Importance…Continue Reading

Abby Johnson to Georgetown: Pray for Cecile Richards because no one is beyond conversion

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 21, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – No one is beyond conversion, former Planned Parenthood clinic director Abby Johnson said at Georgetown University Wednesday, just hours after Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards delivered a lecture to a packed room at…Continue Reading

EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Pro-life NFL star Matt Birk reveals real reason he skipped meeting with Obama

April 15, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — When football star Matt Birk decided to quietly decline an invitation to meet President Obama after winning the 2013 Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens, he said at the time that he was acting on…Continue Reading

Head of US Bishops’ news agency resigns, blames ‘far right blogosphere’

WASHINGTON, D.C. April 14, 2016 (LifeSiteNews)—The editor-in-chief and director of the U.S. bishops’ official news service resigned Wednesday at the request of the U.S. Bishops’ Conference general secretary. Tony Spence, who had worked for Catholic News Service since 2004, had…Continue Reading

Newsmax

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  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 145 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

Commentary

This Weeks Comments And Letters . . .  

A Powerful Weapon: 15 Quotes on the Holy Rosary

We live in evil times. I hardly need elaborate the multitude of crises that fill the globe. Sadly, many are being swept away by this flood of evil and are succumbing to an overwhelming anxiety and discouragement. But no matter how tempting it is, we must not shrink back. We must pray and fast with a living faith and a firm confidence—and there is no better way to…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Pope Francis: ‘God loves each and every one of us’

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis says God loves each and every one of us, He is totally extraneous to the “throwaway culture” of today and like the good shepherd he does not want a single person to be lost. Speaking on Wednesday at the weekly General Audience, Pope Francis continued his catechesis for this Holy Year of Mercy reflecting on the parable of the Good Shepherd. He said that the Lord uses the image of the…Continue Reading

Cardinal Müller: Communion Remains Off-Limits for “Remarried”

muller

News is now spreading about Cardinal Gerhard Müller’s varied remarks on marriage, as well as on the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia itself, during his trip to Spain at the beginning of May. As the Spanish website Infocatolica.com now reports, Cardinal Müller spoke at a presentation of his new book on hope at the Francisco de Vitoria University in Madrid, Spain, where he affirmed and confirmed the traditional view of marriage and the “impossibility” of changing that clear…Continue Reading

Catholic Colleges Embrace ‘Demonic’ Gender Ideology in Housing Policies

gay

The College of the Holy Cross, a Jesuit, Catholic institution in Worcester, Mass., will implement a new housing policy in the 2016-2017 academic year that embraces gender ideology, which Pope Francis has called “demonic” and a threat to the family. The updated housing policy “will allow students of different sexes to room together based on gender identity,” according to an April 29, 2016, report in the campus newspaper The Crusader. At the University of San…Continue Reading

Planned Parenthood CEO: My Proudest Moment is Forcing Christians to Pay for Abortion Drugs

richards

Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards seems to jump at every chance she gets to do an interview with a journalist who will flatter her abortion work. In her latest interview, Richards revealed her proudest moment on the job – forcing Christians to pay for contraception, including methods that many say can cause early abortions. She told the Texas Observer: TO: And your proudest moment at Planned Parenthood? CR: Definitely the day President Obama called to…Continue Reading

Pope’s Morning Homily: No to Double Lives!

pope(picture)

You are in communion with God, walk in the light. Do works of light, don’t say one thing and do another •April 29, 2016•ZENIT Staff• Pope Francis today exhorted Christians to avoid the “double life” of saying one thing and doing another. This was a main message of his homily this morning in the Casa Santa Marta, reported Vatican Radio. “If you say you are in communion with the Lord, then walk in the light.…Continue Reading

A Book Review . . . A Look Beyond Radical Secularism

By JUDE DOUGHERTY Manent, Pierre. Beyond Radical Secularism: How France and the Christian West Should Respond to the Islamic Challenge. Translated from the French by Ralph Hancock and Daniel J. Mahoney. South Bend, Ind.: St. Augustine’s Press, 2016. 115 pp. To say this is a timely book is almost an understatement. In its opening pages,…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “How To Fight Dissent Continued”

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 the book Call to Action or Call to Apostasy, consisting of a detailed description of the current forms of dissent and how to fight them, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org). +…Continue Reading

Dishonoring General Jackson

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN In Samuel Eliot Morison’s The Oxford History of the American People, there is a single sentence about Harriet Tubman. “An illiterate field hand, [Tubman] not only escaped herself but returned repeatedly and guided more than 300 slaves to freedom.” Morison, however, devotes most of five chapters to the greatest soldier-statesman in…Continue Reading

Euthanasia In Canada… Liberty Without Freedom

By DONALD DeMARCO On April 14, 2016, Canada’s Liberal government introduced Bill C-14 legalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide. The long-awaited draft is intended to amend two Criminal Code sections that formerly prohibited euthanasia and assisted suicide. The Supreme Court of Canada, in a 9-0 decision on February of 2015, declared these sections to be unconstitutional.…Continue Reading

And A Child Shall Lead Them

By JAMES K. FITZPATRICK College students are not children, yet the line from Isaiah 11:6, about how “a little child shall lead them,” may fit the role they will play is correcting the disorder at our Catholic universities. Perhaps it is wishful thinking, but one cannot help but wonder if the day will come when…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

Q. Catholic doctrine establishes that a patient terminally ill must not be denied food and nutrients. But what about a patient over 80 and otherwise in fair condition, who after a chronic renal failure has no renal function left and faces treatment with chronic hemodialysis with the possible complications of infection, anemia, discomfort, etc.? Can he in good faith refuse…Continue Reading

Faith And Courage

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER The Solemnity Of Pentecost (YR C) Readings: Acts 2:1-11 1 Cor. 12:3b-7, 12-13 John 20:19-23 In the Gospel reading today we hear about our Lord breathing on His disciples so that they would receive the Holy Spirit. This, of course, is a reference back to the creation when God breathed the breath of life into the…Continue Reading

“Love One Another”. . . But Logic Cannot Be Separated From God

By FR. JOHN DE CELLES (Editor’s Note: Fr. John De Celles, pastor of St. Raymond of Peñafort Catholic Church, Springfield, Va., gave the following homily on the Fifth Sunday of Easter, April 24, 2016, at his parish. (Fr. De Celles based his homily on the readings for that day, including the Gospel which has the passage, “Love one another as…Continue Reading

Race And Religion . . . Commitment To Religion Improves Lives

By FR. JOHN FLYNN, LC (Editor’s Note: Fr. John Flynn, LC, wrote this commentary for ZENIT News Agency. Fr. Flynn, a regular ZENIT contributor, holds degrees from the University of New South Wales and from the Pontifical Gregorian University. (We are running this commentary in the space usually reserved for Fr. Kevin M. Cusick’s column, as Fr. Cusick appears on…Continue Reading

An Apologetics Course… The Inquisition: Answering Objections

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 52 First objection: The Inquisition was intolerant! Reply: Before we dissect the Inquisition, we first have to define the terms we use, to ensure that we share the same meaning. What is “tolerance”? In today’s liberal parlance, it means something like accepting other opinions, views, and preferences, so that we are not seen to…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . Blessed Anna Rosa Gattorno

By CAROLE BRESLIN Near the western border of Italy lies Monaco. Driving northeast along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea for about 110 miles, the traveler arrives in the coastal city of Genoa, home of a truly remarkable woman who served the Kingdom of God as a wife, mother, widow, layperson, and religious. Although she suffered from hidden wounds, she…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Hugh The Great

By CAROLE BRESLIN In the 11th century, over 150 years before St. Francis of Assisi received the order from our Lord to “repair my house, which as you see is falling into ruin,” the secular rulers sought to control the appointment of bishops, abbots, and even the Pope. During this period of simony and conflict, St. Hugh the Great entered…Continue Reading

COMPLETE 3 PART Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Insights On The State Of The Church In The Aftermath Of The Ordinary Synod On The Family

Cburke3

By DON FIER Part 1 (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, recently traveled from Rome to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., a magnificent place of worship which he founded and dedicated. (His Eminence graciously granted an extensive interview to The Wanderer during which he…Continue Reading