Science of the Saints, 23 May, Our Venerable Father and Confessor Michael, Bishop of Synnada

Sainted Hierarch Michael the Confessor yearned from his youthful years for the monastic life and was directed by His Holiness Patriarch Tarasios (784-806) to a monastery, located at the coast region of the Black Sea. There also entered the monastery together with him Saint Theophylactus, the future bishop of Nicomedia. At the monastery both monks proceeded through the efforts of salvation and soon were glorified by graced gifts from the Lord. Once during a time of harvest, when the people were weakened by thirst, by the prayer of the monks an empty metal vessel was filled with water.

Patriarch Tarasios ordained Saint Michael as bishop of the city of Synnada. Through his holy life and wisdom, Saint Michael gained the deep love of believers and the particular notice of the emperors Nicephoros I (802-811) and Michael I Rangaves (811-813). In the year 787 Saint Michael was present at the Seventh Ecumenical Council at Nicea.

When the Iconoclast heretic Leo the Armenian (813-820) entered upon the throne, he began to expel Orthodox hierarchs from their sees, appointing in their place his like-minded heretics.

Saint Michael during this time firmly defended Orthodoxy, bravely opposing the heretics and denouncing their error. Leo the Armenian brought Saint Michael to trial, but not fearing torture, the saint answered resolutely: “I venerate the holy icons of my Saviour Jesus Christ and the All-Pure Virgin, His Mother, and all the saints, and it is to them I bow down. Thy decrees about the removal of icons from churches I shall not fulfill.”

Leo the Armenian then banished Saint Michael to imprisonment in the city of Eudokiada, where the confessor died in about the year 821. The head of Saint Michael is preserved in the Laura of Saint Athanasias on Mount Athos, and part of the relics are at the Iversk monastery.

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