He was born of noble parents and made a brilliant career in Byzantine as a statesman. He reached a top rank in civil service in the year 780, becoming the principal secretary to the Emperor. His leadership qualities were well-esteemed, and when in 784 the Patriarch of Constantinople Paul resigned, he was called upon to become the next Patriarch. The Orthodox Church was then recovering from the extended struggle with Iconoclasm, and he was judged to be the best person to lead the process and preserve peace and unity in the Church.
As Patriarch of Constantinople, he led a simple life of humility that contrasted sharply with the lifestyles of many top courtiers and secular dignitaries. He distributed the Church's wealth to the destitute and often invited the poor to his table to share his simple meal. He also presided over many of the Church's charitable projects, including infirmaries and shelters for the sick and poor. He called for pardon and mercy for repentant iconoclasts, provoking the ire of some of the defenders of the true faith among monastics. For his humble lifestyle and generous almsgiving, he was nicknamed the new Joseph.
Yet, Patriarch Tarasios was uncompromising in matters of faith, worship and piety. He made it a condition of his enthronement as Patriarch that an ecumenical council be called immediately to condemn the iconoclast heresy. However, the first attempt to do so in Constantinople failed. In the middle of the session, a crowd of iconoclasts stormed into the church and drove out all the Church Fathers who were participating. The council reconvened at Nikea over which Saint Tarasius presided. It condemned finally and resolutely the iconoclast heresy.
For his unbending defence of piety, he suffered torments. When Emperor Constantine came of age, he sought to divorce his legitimate wife to marry his servant. The Patriarch refused to bless his sinful union and told Constantine to repent. Constantine did not listen. He committed his wife to a monastery against her will, married the servant, threw the Patriarch into prison and found a priest who blessed his new union. A year later, Constantine was dethroned and Tarasios regained his freedom.
Tarasios served diligently as Patriarch for 26 years. Despite a long and painful illness in the last years of his life, he continued to serve the liturgy. He died in the year 806 at the altar. He was buried in a monastery on the Bosphorus, and numerous miracles have taken place at his tomb.
Our patronal feast is like a small Easter during Great Lent. In the middle of the largest church in the Convent rests the decorated image of the Reigning Icon of the Mother of God.
The courage of the Holy Royal Martyrs, their mercy, steadfast faith and readiness to entrust their fate to the Lord softened the hearts of many and showed the way of the Lord to the generations to come.
On August 4, we commemorate Mary Magdalene, the Holy Myrrh-bearer Equal of the Apostles, in the Belarussian Orthodox Church. There is so much one can learn from the life of this strong, devoted and brave woman.
Saint Varus' life teaches us the power of unwavering faith. He shows that our life in this world is only a fleeting moment of transition to eternity and that worldly honours and comforts are worthless compared to our everlasting salvation.
St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco is one of the most venerated and loved Saints in the Russian Orthodox Church, as well as in other Orthodox Churches all around the world.
The Belarusian Orthodox Church is glorified by the names of many local saints. February 6 is the Feast day of not only the Blessed Xenia of St Petersburg, but also of another prominent saint, almost her contemporary, Blessed Eldress Valentina…
The holy martyrs, Faith, Hope, Love and their mother Sophia, are revered throughout the world. They lived in Rome in the 2nd century. When Sophia was left a widow, she devoted her life to raising her three daughters, naming them Faith, Hope…