mardi 27 décembre 2016

Saint THÉOPHANE le «Marqué», hymnographe, évêque et confesseur, et saint THÉODORE le «Marqué», moine et confesseur

Saints Théodore et Théophane

Martyrs de l'iconoclasme (9ème s.)

Ils appartenaient au monastère de Chora à Constantinople. Victimes de la querelle iconoclaste, ils furent d'abord enfermés dans une des forteresses du Bosphore. A quelque temps de là, on grava sur leur front, aux fers rouges, des vers satiriques. Déportés en Bithynie, Théodore y mourut en 842. Théophane put retourner à Constantinople une fois la paix religieuse revenue.

Commémoraison des saints frères Théodore et Théophane. Élevés dès leur enfance au monastère palestinien de Saint-Sabas, ils luttèrent courageusement à Constantinople en faveur du culte des saintes images et subirent à plusieurs reprises les coups de fouet, la prison, l’exil et même un tatouage sur le front qui leur valut le surnom de Graptoi (Tatoués). Théodore mourut en prison en ce jour à Apamée en Bithynie vers 840. Quant à Théophane, quand la paix fut rendue à l’Église, il devint évêque de Nicée et s’endormit dans le Seigneur le 11 octobre 845.


Martyrologe romain



Saint Théophane l'Hymnographe

Évêque de Nicée (9ème s.)

Jeune frère de Saint Théodore, il appartenait au monastère de Saint Sabas en Palestine et connut simultanément la lutte contre le culte des icônes de l'empereur Léon l'Arménien et l'invasion arabe. 

Il eut à subir l'exil pour la foi orthodoxe après avoir été marqué au fer rouge sur le front. Lorsque la vénération des icônes fut à nouveau autorisée, il put rentrer et devenir évêque de Nicée. 

Il passa en paix les dernières années de sa vie composant une quantité considérable de canons poétiques. Beaucoup d'entre eux sont encore chantés de nos jours pour les fêtes du Seigneur.




Notre Saint Père THÉOPHANE le «MARQUÉ» (Graptos), Confesseur, Hymnographe et Évêque de Nicée, le frère de THÉODORE le «MARQUÉ», mort dans la paix1

Saint Théophane naquit en 778 en Palestine, de parents pieux qui excellaient dans la vertu de l'hospitalité. Ceux-ci enseignèrent à leurs fils tous ce qu'ils savaient de la science sacrée et de la sagesse profane. Puis ils les envoyèrent au Monastère de Saint-Sabas, pour y parfaire leurs connaisances et surtout pour y être initiés à la Science des sciences et à l'Art des arts: la vie monastique. Théophane suivait en toutes choses l'exemple de son aimé, Théodore, et ne brillait pas moins que lui dans l'humilité et l'obéissance, comme dans le savoir et le don pour la composition des hymnes sacrées. Ils furent tous deux ordonnés Prêtres et s'appliquaient à croître chaque jour dans l'amour de Dieu, lorsque Léon l'Arménien (813-820) déclencha une nouvelle vague de persécutions contre ceux qui vénéraient les Saintes Images. Ses premières mesures furent dirigées contre les Evêques Orthodoxes, puis il ordonna de supprimer toutes les icônes et d'effacer toutes les fresques dans les églises. Cette impiété attira la colère de Dieu, qui permit alors aux armées arabes d'envahir une grande partie du territoire de l'empire, dont la Palestine et le Monastère de Saint-Sabas. Discernant la main de Dieu à la vue de ces désastres, le Patriarche Thomas de Jérusalem décida d'envoyer en ambassade, d'abord à Rome puis à Constantinople, les deux frères Théodore et Théophane avec leur père spirituel, Michel le Syncelle (mémoire le 18 décembre), pour essayer de convaincre l'empereur de son erreur. Léon admira leur courage et leur sagesse et essaya de les attirer à son parti; mais, voyant qu'il ne pourrait pas y parvenir, il fit soumettre les deux frères à la torture et les envoya en exil, interdisant à quiconque sous peine de mort de leur venir en aide, même pour les choses les plus nécessaires. Grâce à Dieu, les Saints n'endurèrent pas longtemps cet exil, car Léon fut bientôt assassiné et remplacé par Michel II (820-829). Pendant le règne de ce dernier les persécutions contre les Orthodoxes marquèrent une accalmie, mais l'on en restaura pas pour autant officiellement le culte des Saintes Icônes; et lorsque son fils Théophile (829-842) prit la succession, les persécutions reprirent avec une ampleur et une férocité encore inégalées. Saints Théodore et Théophane furent à nouveau torturés et souffrirent pour l'amour de la Foi Orthodoxe la faim, la soif, les moqueries, les coups, les prisons et l'exil. L'empereur, qui connaissait leur indomptable courage, les fit comparaître et torturer en sa présence pendant quatre jours, puis il leur fit marquer sur le front au fer rouge douze vers iambiques, indiquant la cause de leur condamnation2. Ils furent ensuite exilés à Apamée en Bithynie, où ils firent l'admiration de tous par leur Orthodoxie, leur ascèse et la perfection de leur charité. Cest là qu'épuisé par les mauvais traitements et son âge avancé Théodore remit son âme à Dieu. Il ne put cependant être enterré, car l'empereur avait ordonné que leur corps restent sans sépulture. Resté seul, Théophane fut ensuite exilé à Thessalonique, où il fit briller le flambeau de son enseignement orthodoxe quelque temps après la mort de Théophile. Lorsque la pieuse impératrice Théodora et son fils Michel restaurèrent le culte des Saintes Icônes, Théophane put enfin être rappelé de son exil avec les autres Confesseurs. Le Patriarche de Constantinople, Saint Méthode, le fit sacrer Métropolite de Nicée en 842. C'est là qu'il passa en paix les dernières années de sa vie, à paître avec sagesse son troupeau spirituel et à composer une quantité considérable de canons poétiques et d'hymnes, que l'on chante jusqu'à nos jours pour les fêtes du Seigneur et celles des Saints.

1. Saint Théodore le «Marqué» est célébré le 27 décembre. Leur père devint moine aussi au Monastère de Saint-Sabas, sous le nom de Jonas. Il est commémoré le 21 septembre.

2. C'est de là que vient leur surnom de "graptoi" qui signifie "marqués".

December 27

St. Theodorus Grapt, Confessor

THIS saint was of the country of the Moabites; but his parents, who were rich and virtuous, went and settled at Jerusalem, in order to procure him the advantages of a holy education. He was placed by them, when he was very young, in the monastery of Sabas, and by his progress in learning, the extraordinary purity of his manners, and the habitual mortification of his senses, attained in a short time to an eminent degree of virtue, and acquired a high reputation in the world. The patriarch of Jerusalem obliged him to receive priestly orders, and when Leo, the Armenian, waged a cruel war against holy images, sent the saint to that emperor to exhort him not to disturb the peace of the church. The tyrant, instead of relenting, caused St. Theodorus to be scourged, and banished him, with his brother Theophanes, a monk of the same monastery, and his companion, into an island in the mouth of the Euxine sea, where they suffered much by hunger and cold. But they had not staid long there before the emperor died, in 882, when they returned to Constantinople, and St. Theodorus published some writings in defence of the truth. Michael the Stutterer, who succeeded in the imperial throne, and is thought either to have had no religion, or to have leaned most to that of the Manichees or Paulicians, was for steering a middle course between the Catholics and the Iconoclasts. He cast St. Theodorus into prison, and afterwards sent him into exile. His son and successor Theophilus, a violent Iconoclast, and barbarous persecutor, who ascended the throne in 829, caused the two brothers to be whipped; then banished them into the island of Aphusia. Two years after, they were brought back to Constantinople, buffeted in presence of the emperor till they fell down quite stunned at his feet, then stripped and publicly scourged. When they had lain some days in prison, and still persisted in their refusal to communicate with the Iconoclasts, the emperor commanded twelve Iambic verses, composed for that purpose by an Iconoclast courtier, to be inscribed on their foreheads. The sense of the verses was as follows: “These men have appeared at Jerusalem as vessels of iniquity, full of superstitious error, and were driven thence for their crimes; and having fled to Constantinople they forsook not their impiety. Wherefore they have been again banished from thence, and are stigmatized on their faces.” Though the wounds which they had received by their stripes were yet much inflamed and very painful, they were laid upon benches, whilst the letters which composed those verses were cut or pricked upon their faces. The operation was long and tedious, and interrupted by the coming on of the night; and the confessors were sent back to prison, their faces being still bloody. They were soon after banished to Apamea, in Syria, where St. Theodorus died of his sufferings. From the inscription cut in his forehead he is surnamed Grapt, which signifies in Greek, marked or engraved. Theophilus died about the same time, and the Empress Theodora, a zealous Catholic, becoming regent for her son Michael, St. Methodius was made patriarch, and restored holy images in 842. Theophanes was then honoured for his glorious confession of the faith, and constituted bishop of Nice, that he might more effectually concur in overthrowing a heresy, over which he had already triumphed. St. Theodorus Grapt is named in the Roman Martyrology with his brother Theophanes on this day. The Greeks honour the former on the 27th of December, and St. Theophanes, whom, on account of sacred hymns which he composed, they style the poet, on the 11th of October. See the authentic life of St. Theodorus Grapt, in Metaphrastes, Baronius, and Fleury, l. 47, &c. The twelve iambic verses, which were written on their foreheads, with a red-hot steel pencil, are recited in the Greek Synaxary on this day.

Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73).  Volume XII: December. The Lives of the Saints.  1866.



Theodore M and Theophanes B (RM)

Born in Kerak, Moab (Trans-Jordan), c. 775 and c. 778; died at Apamea, Bithynia, c. 841 and at Nicaea, October 11, 845, respectively. Theodore and Theophanes were blood and spiritual brothers, who were raised in Jerusalem. They both became monks of St. Sabas's laura in Jerusalem, where they were admired for their intelligence and model behavior. For their vehement defense of the veneration of sacred images, the two were cruelly persecuted by the Byzantine emperors. At the urging of the patriarch of Jerusalem Theodore was ordained a priest. The patriarch then sent him as emissary to the court in Constantinople to persuade Emperor Leo the Armenian not to interfere in ecclesiastical matters. Leo ordered the scourging of Theodore and exiled the two brothers on an island in the Black Sea, where they suffered hunger and harsh weather. They returned to their monastery in 820, after Leo's death.


In 829, Emperor Theophilus took power, denounced the use of images, and tortured and banished the brothers. They were recalled to Constantinople in 831. After they refused discussions with the iconoclasts, a 12-line iambic verse was cut in the flesh of their faces (and for this reason they are called Graptoi or "the written upon"). The verse read: "These men have appeared at Jerusalem as vessels full of the iniquity of superstitious error, and were driven thence for their crimes. Having fled to Constantinople, they forsook not their impiety. Wherefore they have been banished from thence and thus stigmatized on their faces." The operation took two days to cut into the flesh of their foreheads.

They were then banished to Apamea, Bithynia. Theodore died first, while he was in prison, of the terrible sufferings he endured. Theophanes, according to the Roman Martyrology, survived to become bishop of Nicaea and a poet. He wrote several hymns, including one about his brother (Benedictines, Delaney, White). 



St. Theophanes the Confessor and Hymnographer, Bishop of Nicea

Saint Theophanes, Confessor and Hymnographer, Bishop of Nicea was the younger brother of the Saint Theodore the Branded (December 27). The brothers received an excellent education and were particularly involved in philosophy. Striving towards the knowledge of God, they settled in the Lavra of Saint Sava. Here Saint Theophanes was tonsured, and later became a hieromonk.


The holy brothers were famed as advocates of icon veneration. They boldly fulfilled the mission entrusted them by the Patriarch of Jerusalem and went to Constantinople to denounce the iconoclast emperor Leo the Armenian (813-820). Afterwards, they also denounced the iconoclast emperors Michael Balbos (820-829) and Theophilus (829-842).

The saints had to endure imprisonment, hunger, even torture. The emperor Theophilus gave orders to inscribe a phrase insulting to the glorious confessors upon their faces with red-hot needles. Therefore, they are called “Branded”. “Write whatever you wish, but at the Last Judgment you shall read your own writing,” said the agonized brothers to the emperor. They sent Theodore to prison, where also he died (+ 833), but Theophanes was sent into exile. With the restoration of Icon veneration Saint Theophanes was returned from exile and consecrated Bishop of Nicea. The saint wrote about 150 canons, among which is a beautiful canon in defense of holy icons. He died peacefully around the year 850.


Santi Teodoro e Teofane Grapti


Martirologio Romano: Ad Hisarlik in Bitinia, nell’odierna Turchia, passione di san Teodoro, monaco del monastero di San Saba in Palestina, sacerdote e martire, che, a Costantinopoli, insieme a suo fratello Teofane, per aver difeso il culto delle sacre immagini, dopo aver subito la fustigazione, la prigionia, l’esilio e il supplizio dell’incisione di alcuni versi sulla fronte, che gli valse il nome di Graptós, “marchiato”, spirò alla fine in carcere.