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3. Of CONSTANTINOPLE, competitor with Photius for the patriarchate in the ninth century. His original name was Nicetas (Νικήτας). He was son of the emperor Michael I. Curopalata or Rhangabe [MICHAEL I.], by Procopia, daughter of the emperor Nicephorus I. Logotheta, predecessor of Michael. During the short reign of his father (A. D. 811-813), Nicetas commanded the Icanates or life-guards, having been appointed to the post at about ten years of age, and manifested a desire to gain the favour of the soldiers : he also acquired some knowledge and experience in public business. If his age is accurately stated, he must lave been born just about the commencement of the century. On the deposition of Michael, and the accession of Leo V. the Armenian [LEO V.], the deposed emperor and his family shaved their heads, and took refuge in the church called Pharos (Φάρος). Their lives were spared, but Nicetas was castrated, and was obliged to embrace a monastic life, on which occasion his name was changed to Ignatius. As he is said to have been about fourteen at this time, it is probable that these things did not occur till a year or two after his father's deposition. He was educated under a severe master, a zealous Iconoclast, and pursued his new career with the energy of which he had in his boyhood given indications in secular affairs, acquired great reputation for sanctity, and became hegumenos or head of the monastery of Satyrus at Constantinople. He was ordained presbyter by Basil, bishop of the church κατὰ τὸ Πάρεον. It is probable that in the Iconoclastic controversy which was then raging in the East, he was, notwithstanding his education, one of the champions of images; for on the death of Methodius, patriarch of Constantinople, whose zeal on the same side had entailed upon him much suffering, Ignastius was elevated to the patriarchate, by the patronage of the empress Theodora [THEODORA], the guardian of her son Michael III. during his minority [MICHAEL III.] and the, restorer of image worship. The date of the elevation of Ignatius is not quite certain; it was probably in A. D. 846 or 847. Symeon Magister places it in the 11th year of Michael, A. D. 853 or 854, but this is too late. Ignatius, at his consecration, desired Gregory Asbestas, bishop of Syracuse, in Sicily [GREGORIUS, No. 35], who was then at Constantinople, to absent himself, as being under accusation. This provoked Gregory's anger, and was the source of much trouble to Ignatius himself. As the dissolute propensities of Michael were developed with his years, Ignatius became the object of insult to the emperor's profligate minion, Gryllus : and when the influence of Theodora was destroyed, and herself driven away from the court by her ambitious brother, the Caesar Bardas, Ignatius was exposed to more serious hostility. He had refused compliance with the emperor's wish to make his mother and sister nuns against their will; and in addition to the emperor's hostility, he had incurred also the personal hatred of the Caesar. Bardas had been accused by report of incest with the wife of his own son; and as he had refused to listen to the rebukes of the patriarch, Ignatius, on his coming to the communion, had refused to admit him, notwithstanding his threats of deposition and violence. Provoked by his excommunication, the Caesar forcibly expelled Ignatius from the church, on a charge of being a transgressor and corrupter (ἄνομον καὶ φθορέα), and caused Photius [PHOTIUS] to be elected patriarch in his place (A. D. 858). The appointment of Photius is said by the biographer of Ignatius to have been irregularly made by secular persons, but some bishops seem to have been on that side ; and there appears to have been a council of ecclesiastics convened to make the change, in which the metropolitans of the patriarchate acquiesced, on the understanding that Ignatius should be courteously and reverently treated by his successful rival. The senate of Constantinople gave their sanction to the transaction, and even the legates of the Roman see, who were at Constantinople on account of the Iconoclastic controversy, were induced to take the same side. Photius is charged by the biographer of Ignatius with violating the engagement to treat his deposed rival kindly : it is not improbable that he was urged on by his supporter, Gregory Asbestas; and Ignatius, by his firmness in asserting his claim to the see, provoked his enemies to continue their harshness. The severest measures were resorted to in order to obtain from him a declaration that he had voluntarily resigned the patriarchate. He was cruelly beaten and stretched out naked in the midst of winter in the tomb which had contained the body of the emperor Constantine V. Copronymus, and which was foul with filth and ordure. He was tried also with hunger and thirst; and the only alleviation he could procure was from the kindness of Constantine the Armenian, an officer of the court, who visited him by stealth, in the absence of his more savage keepers, and brought him bread and wine and other necessaries. This severe treatment brought on dysentery, from which he was near dying. From this filthy place he was repeatedly removed to other places of confinement, and so roughly treated, that two of his grinders were knocked out. He was then banished to Mytilene, from whence he was brought back to Constantinople, and solemn deposed by a synod of metropolitans and bishops at Constantinople (A. D. 858). His supporters among the clergy had meanwhile undergone great severities, and were dispersed in different places of confinement. His deposi abdication was confirmed at a subsequent council at Constantinople (A. D. 858 or 859), which was attended by the papal legates.

When Basil the Macedonian [BASILIUS I. MACEDO] ascended the throne (A. D. 867), by the assassination of Michael III. Ignatius experienced a great change. His enemy Bardas had been assassinated during the reign and in the presence of Michael, and Photius incurred the enmity of the new emperor immediately on his accession, by denouncing him as a murderer and a robber, and refusing to admit him to communion. Photius was consequently deposed and banished (A. D. 867), and Ignatius restored. In effecting this change, the emperor was supported by the pope, Nicholas I., whose enmity to Photius had been increased by a dispute as to the extent of their respective jurisdictions. In the eighth general council, assembled at Constantinople A. D. 869, the deposition of Photius and the restoration of Ignatius were ratified. An expression of the continuator of Theophanes, that the emperor compelled Photius " to retire (σχολάζειν) until Ignatius should die," indicates perhaps that the restoration of Ignatius was the subject of an arrangement between the competitors, a conjecture which is strengthened by the fact that on the death of Ignatius, Photius was again placed on the patriarchal throne. Ignatius died A. D. 877, or 878, or possibly 879, being nearly or quite 80 years old, and much reverenced for the holiness of his life. He was buried in the monastery of Satyrus, which he had rebuilt not very long before his decease.


Some letters or other pieces of Ignatius are found among the Acta of the eighth general council.

Further Information

Nicetas Paphlago, Βίος τοῦ ἁγίου Ἰγνατίον. Vita S. Ignatii, apud Concilia Binii, vol. iii.; Labbaei, vol. viii.; Harduini, vol. v., and Mansi, vol. xvi.; Synodicon Vetus, apud Fabric. Bibl. Gr. vol. xii. p. 417, &c.; Josephus Genesius, Reges, pp. 3, 47-49, ed. Venet, pp. 7, 99-102, ed. Bonn Theophanes Continuat. lib. 1.10, 4.30-32, 5.22, 32, 44; Symeon Magister, De Michaele et Theodora, 100.12, 18, 19, 28; de Basilio Macedone, 100.6, 9, 14; Georgius Monachus, Vitae Recentior. Imperatorum; de Mich. et Theod. 100.11, 20, de Basil. Maced. 100.5, 7, 16; Leo Grammaticus, Chronographia ; Zonar. 15.18, 16.4, 8 ; Cedrenus, Compend.; Constantinus Manasses, Compend. Chronic. vs. 4676, &c., 5114, &c., 5139, &c., 5253, &c., 5309, &c.; Joel, Chronog. p. 179, ed. Paris, p. 55, ed. Bonn; Michael Glycas, Annal. Pars iv. pp. 287-297, ed. Paris, 222-230, ed. Venet., pp. 533-552, ed. Bonn; Baronius, Annales, A. D. 847-878; Pagi, Critice in Baronium ; Fabric. Bibl. Graec. vol. vii. p. 45, x. p. 254.

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