Saint Tarasius ( feast day – February 25)

St. Tarasius was subject of the Byzantine Empire during the eighth century. He was raised to the highest honors in the Empire as Consul and later became the first secretary to Emperor Constantine and his mother, Irene. Later when Paul IV, Patriarch of Constantinople, died, an assembly was held to discuss his replacement. The people, who had come to know Tarasius from his defense of venerating sacred images, wanted Tarasius to be their new Patriarch. Tarasius gave a speech proclaiming himself unworthy of such an office, saying it would not be right for a layman such as he to hold this position. He stated he would only take the office of Patriarch on the condition that a General Council be summoned to resolve disputes between Constantinople and the Catholics of Western Europe. The Council was held in the Church of the Holy Apostles at Constantinople in the year 786. A year later it reconvened at Nice and the pope approved the decrees.

The holy Patriarch incurred the enmity of the Emperor by his persistent refusal to sanction his divorce from his lawful wife. He was falsely accused of tolerating and allowing simony (the buying or selling of spiritual things). He defended himself against these charges and wrote a synodal letter to counter such practices. He witnessed the death of Constantine, which was occasioned by his own mother; he beheld the reign and the downfall of Irene and usurpation of Nicephorus. St. Tarasius’ whole life in the Episcopacy was one of penance and prayer, and of hard labor to reform his clergy and people. He occupied the See of Constantinople for twenty-one years and two months and Saint Tarasius was a prayerful man who spent his episcopacy trying to reform his clergy and the people. During his twenty-one years as Archbishop of Constantinople, he indulged in almsgiving he personally visited the poor and sick in hospitals to assure that they were receiving adequate care. He was truly a shepherd to his flock.  His charity toward the poor was one of the very remarkable characteristic virtues of his life.  St. Tarasius died in 806 and his feast day is February 25th.

It was evident that Tarasius did not live his life to please men but to serve his Master in heaven. We pray that we might have the strength and humility to live our lives for our Creator and not for the praise of men. Intercede for us, dear Saint Tarasuis, that we might obtain the grace to do so as well.

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