Saints of the Day – Ignatius of Constantinople

Saint Ignatius of Constantinople, as portrayed in the Hagia Sophia in ConstantinopleArticle

Born in Constantinople, c.799; died 877. Saint Ignatius finds a place on both the Eastern and Western calendars. He was the son of the Byzantine Emperor Michael I. His maternal grandfather was Emperor Nicephorus I. Originally he was named Nicetas. He and his brother were mutilated and exiled to a monastery when their father was deposed by Leo the Armenian in 813.

Ignatius later became a monk, was ordained, and elected abbot of his monastery. He was name patriarch of Constantinople in 846 and vigorously assailed evil in high places. He was an upholder of the rigorist party in the Byzantine church, opposing the influence of the imperial court and its clergy in ecclesiastical affairs. In 857 he refused communion to Michael III’s uncle, Bardas, who was accused of living in incest; this action helped to provide Ignatius’s opponents with a pretext for getting rid of him.

He was deposed and exiled to the island of Terebinthos. Bardas secured the election of his secretary Photius, a layman, as patriarch. A long factional struggle ensured, and in 867 Michael was murdered and his successor, Basil the Macedonian, deposed Photius and recalled Ignatius, as much to secure the support of Ignatius’s followers as to secure justice.

Ignatius then asked Pope Adrian II to convoke a council, and at the 8th general council, 869-70, Photius and his supporters were condemned, and Photius was excommunicated.

Ignatius later came into conflict with Rome when he claimed jurisdiction over the Bulgars and convinced their prince to expel Latin priests and replace them with the Greek priests he sent. Pope John VIII’s legates, threatening Ignatius with excommunication, arrived in Constantinople to find he had died on October 23. Though he is recognized as personally holy, he was evidently deeply engaged in the politics of his times (Attwater, Delaney).

MLA Citation

  • Katherine I Rabenstein. Saints of the Day, 1998. CatholicSaints.Info. 5 August 2020. Web. 24 November 2020. <>