Tuesday 2nd September 2014

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

Comment on this Article:

Pope: When we become worldly, we lose Christian flavor

Vatican City, Aug 31, 2014 / 09:39 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Christians must avoid the temptation to conform to the world, Pope Francis cautioned Aug. 31, stressing that they should instead allow their faith to transform the world around them. “Christians…Continue Reading

Catholics, Keep Away, Lest You Hear What You Ought Not

The former president of Ireland Mary McAleese will deliver the Rosemary Goldie Lecture at Sydney Town Hall on Sunday week but local Catholics, it seems, are being discouraged from attending. The Catholic Weekly newspaper refused to take advertisements for the lecture which…Continue Reading

“Adopt a Christian from Mosul” to respond directly to Iraq’s emergency

AsiaNews is launching a fundraiser to support Christians targeted by the Islamic State, thus responding to a request by the Patriarch of Baghdad and Pope Francis’s urgent appeal “to guarantee all necessary assistance – especially the most urgently needed aid…Continue Reading

Federal Judge Blocks Texas Law That Would Stop Abortions at Most Facilities Across State

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A federal judge Friday threw out new Texas abortion restrictions that would have effectively closed more than a dozen clinics in the state. U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel sided with clinics that sued over one of…Continue Reading

Tax-funded PBS To Air ‘After Tiller’ Documentary Glorifying Late-term Abortionists

Pro-life activists are up in arms after the taxpayer-funded Public Broadcasting System (PBS) announced it will air the pro-abortion documentary “After Tiller” – named for George Tiller, the notorious late-term abortionist who boasted of killing more than 60,000 unborn babies before he…Continue Reading

Outcry flares over California abortion push in Catholic colleges

August 27, 2014 “California Catholics are no longer safe to practice their faith within their own institutions.” Sacramento, Calif., Aug 26, 2014 / 03:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Amid backlash from religious liberty and education advocates, Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration…Continue Reading

SATANIC ‘BLACK MASS’ GETS GREEN LIGHT FROM U.S. CITY

Concerns mount about ‘dark powers that this invites into our community’ The Catholic Archbishop of Oklahoma City has agreed to drop a lawsuit against a satanic cult that plans to perform a “black mass” in the city now that the…Continue Reading

California reverses: Catholic colleges must now pay for all abortions

baby

Two California Catholic universities must cover elective abortions in the health care plans they provide employees, according to a decision released Friday by Governor Jerry Brown. The affected schools are Loyola Marymount University and Santa Clara University. The decision comes…Continue Reading

Catholic Church Warns Pro-Lifers About Ice Bucket Challenge Donations

by Steven Ertelt | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 8/25/14 11:59 AM A Catholic Archdiocese is warning pro-life advocates about the final destination of donations for the popular Ice Bucket Challenge, which has become a pop culture and social media…Continue Reading

Why Top Catholic Education Organization Says Common Core Could Threaten Religious Liberty

Aug. 21, 2014 10:25pm Fred Lucas A leading Catholic education organization is warning that Common Core could pose a threat to religious freedom for Catholic schools that adopt the controversial education standards. The Cardinal Newman Society’s summer newsletter named among the 10 things…Continue Reading

It’s hard to engage in interfaith dialogue when your head has been cut off.

  By Benedict Kiely In times of evil, prophets who see it in what Ronald Knox called a “clear light” are not necessarily heeded, though they are desperately needed. Such a man was Hilaire Belloc, as Monsignor Knox described him at…Continue Reading

Archbishop Kurtz Provides Initial Response To Revised HHS Mandate Regulations

August 22, 2014 Disappointed that regulation will not expand exemption, only modifies ‘accommodation’ Extending ‘accommodation’ to exempted businesses reduces religious freedom More thorough study and detailed comments to come WASHINGTON–Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced…Continue Reading

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 subscribe 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

'From our friends at The Foundry'


Today . . .

Pope at Santa Marta: Find The Living Jesus In The Gospel

pope515

(Vatican Radio) We need to proclaim the Gospel with humility not with ‘wise words’ because Jesus Himself is the power of the Word of God, and only those who have an open heart can receive Him said Pope Francis Monday morning, as he resumed his daily mass at Santa Marta after the summer break. Commenting on the readings of the…Continue Reading

Slaughter of the Innocents . . . Sex-Selective Abortions in India

Rome, August 31, 2014 (Zenit.org) Father John Flynn, LC The ratio of female to male infants continues to decline in India and a recent report by the United Nations warned that urgent action is needed to reverse the trend. The report, “‘Sex Ratios and Gender Biased Sex Selection: History, Debates and Future Directions,” was published by the organization UN Women. The ratio has…Continue Reading

The Absent Father — A Meditation

By PHILIP TROWER I’m sure, like me, you have all found over the course of your life that something you have experienced or read, perhaps even long ago, suddenly comes into your mind in a way that throws hitherto unnoticed light on some passage or theme in the Gospels. In my case it is what…Continue Reading

A Decent Lawyer Should Tell Liberals They’re Damned Fools And Ought to Stop

By MICHAEL BARONE (Editor’s Note:     Michael Barone is a Fox News contributor and senior political analyst at the Washington Examiner [www.washingtonexaminer.com], where this article first appeared. Creators.com distributed the column. All rights reserved.) +    +    + “About half the practice of a decent lawyer consists in telling would-be clients that they are damned fools…Continue Reading

Christendom Alumna Leads In “Future Of Pro-Life Movement”

FRONT ROYAL, Va. — “I believe they are the real future of the pro-life movement,” Christendom College Alumna Mary Brand says of local crisis pregnancy centers. “It’s where the rubber hits the road.” A graduate of the class of 1998, Brand has been volunteering in pro-life work since she was in high school, from praying…Continue Reading

Senior Chaldean Official Says… Islamists Have Long Been Planning To Empty Iraq Of Christians

By FEDERICO CENCI ROME (ZENIT) — The year was 1840, when the Italian city of Otranto witnessed one of the most brutal massacres of Christians in history, perpetrated at the hands of Muslims. Eight hundred thirteen people perished in the 18 days of siege by the Ottoman army, bravely refusing to renounce their faith in…Continue Reading

Why Pope Benedict Called For The Rebirth Of The Church

By FR. JEROME ROMANOWSKI (Fr. Romanowski is a priest of the Diocese of Camden, N.J.) +    +    + In studying the important summary of a meeting Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger attended in July 22-24, 2001, Fontgombault, France, I thought again of why the Holy Father had to retire. The proceedings were held in the Benedictine Monastery…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

A Leaven In The World… The Natural And Supernatural “Keys Of The Kingdom”

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK In the Gospel of Holy Mass on a recent Sunday we heard again the beautiful and consoling words by which the Lord consigns a gift to Peter and his Successors for the benefit of us all: the “Keys of the Kingdom.” We learn that these “keys” open the doors of Heaven to us because of…Continue Reading

Priestly Celibacy: Unnatural? Or…Supernatural? The Levitical Priesthood

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 2 The second type of priesthood in the Old Testament was the Levitical priesthood. It was established by God on Mount Sinai — whereto Moses took the people to offer sacrifice to God. There is one aspect of the Levitical priesthood that is often overlooked by those who read the Bible through anti-celibacy eyes:…Continue Reading

God Reveals His Name

By DON FIER In last week’s installment of this series on the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), we examined the fundamental significance of coming to know that all that we believe begins with God and ends with God. “I believe in God” is the first affirmation of the Apostles’ Creed, and likewise, Sacred Scripture begins with the words, “In…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. My nine-year-old grandson asked why, on August 15, the Gospel of Luke about the Visitation was read when it was the Feast of the Assumption. What should I tell him? — E.C., via e-mail. A. You can tell your grandson that there is no Gospel reading about the Assumption of Our Lady into Heaven because that event is not…Continue Reading

Justice And Charity

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Twenty-Third Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR A) Readings: Ezek. 33:7-9 Romans 13:8-10 Matt. 18:15-20 In the second reading today, St. Paul tells us that we are to owe nothing to anyone except to love one another. The fact that St. Paul puts this into the category of something that is owed to another person is of…Continue Reading

Cast A Gauntlet – Sola Scriptura: Part 1

Catholic Heroes . . . St. John The Baptist

By CAROLE BRESLIN Thousands of years before the time of Christ, the Pharaoh of Egypt held the children of Israel in bondage. Our Lord proved His love for them when Moses led them out of Egypt. When Mary was carrying Jesus, she and Joseph, because of an imperial decree, had to travel to Bethlehem in order to be counted in…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . Pope St. Pius X

By CAROLE BRESLIN This month the Catholic Church celebrates the 100th anniversary of the death of Pope St. Pius X who had so many things in common with the last few Popes. Like Pope Francis, he had a special affinity for the poor — especially since he came from a poor family. Like Pope John Paul II, who updated the…Continue Reading

What to Do If Your Boyfriend Wants You to Get an Abortion?

by Krisi Burton Brown | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 2/20/14 4:00 PM Washington, DC (LiveActionNews) — Note: This article is for any girl or woman who is feeling pressured into having an abortion. If you are a guy who is trying to find out how to stop an abortion, please see this article written for dads. 1.  Stand your…Continue Reading

It’s Time to Build Schools, from the Ground Up

February 13, 2014 by Anthony Esolen   It might have been worth repairing, if it had once been noble and beautiful, or at least conceived in an orderly way, for ordinary human purposes. But it wasn’t. It was constructed upon false principles. Its walls looked like those of a bad factory. It smelled like a warehouse. It could be terribly…Continue Reading

Why I am Pro-Life

February 4, 2014   Pro-Lifers   By Therese Recinella   Editor’s note. This tribute was posted on Therese Recinella’s Facebook account. She is graciously allowing us to reprint it in NRL News Today.   There are many things that I could say about my Dad, but what I want people to know is this: My parents faithfully raised 8 children…Continue Reading

Fathers . . . The Essential Role of the Father

Posted on February 10, 2014 by The Catholic Gentleman 13 Comments   Divorce rates skyrocketing; adultery rampant; non-married cohabitating couples; children abandoned by their fathers or mothers; “same-sex unions” adopting children and calling this the “modern family”; pornography invading homes, leading to powerful addictions and total alienation from other members of the family: all of this is a bird’s eye view…Continue Reading

How Much is One Billion Dollars?

This article appeared in the March 20, 1941 issue of The Wanderer. (Well, 70 years later we can add 15 trillion into the example.) Here’s a simple and homely illustration of what one billion dollars amounts to: Suppose we take an imaginary boy, aged 15 years, and assign to him the task of counting one billion dollars in one-dollar bills.…Continue Reading

Planned Parenthood

This article appeared in The Wanderer, April 3, 1941.  (WOW, Look what we have 70 years later.) A group which calls itself the National Committee for Planned Parenthood has begun a nationwide campaign to have the promotion of birth control included in State and national health programs. The committee—which, according to propaganda sheets reaching our desk has a branch in…Continue Reading

Questions of Non-Catholics . . . Answered by Father Richard Felix, O.S.B.

Reprinted from The Wanderer April 10, 1941 Why Does God allow us to be tempted? God allows us to be tempted so that we may prove our attachment to him and merit a higher place in heaven. Temptations are the lot of all men; they are the battle ground upon which heaven is won or lost. “The kingdom of heaven…Continue Reading