Saints of the Day – Theodore and Theophanes

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Born in Kerak, Moab (Trans-Jordan), c.775 and c.778; died at Apamea, Bithynia, c.841 and at Nicaea, October 11, 845, respectively. Theodore and Theophanes were blood and spiritual brothers, who were raised in Jerusalem. They both became monks of Saint Sabas’s laura in Jerusalem, where they were admired for their intelligence and model behavior. For their vehement defense of the veneration of sacred images, the two were cruelly persecuted by the Byzantine emperors. At the urging of the patriarch of Jerusalem Theodore was ordained a priest. The patriarch then sent him as emissary to the court in Constantinople to persuade Emperor Leo the Armenian not to interfere in ecclesiastical matters. Leo ordered the scourging of Theodore and exiled the two brothers on an island in the Black Sea, where they suffered hunger and harsh weather. They returned to their monastery in 820, after Leo’s death.

In 829, Emperor Theophilus took power, denounced the use of images, and tortured and banished the brothers. They were recalled to Constantinople in 831. After they refused discussions with the iconoclasts, a 12-line iambic verse was cut in the flesh of their faces (and for this reason they are called Graptoi or “the written upon”). The verse read: “These men have appeared at Jerusalem as vessels full of the iniquity of superstitious error, and were driven thence for their crimes. Having fled to Constantinople, they forsook not their impiety. Wherefore they have been banished from thence and thus stigmatized on their faces.” The operation took two days to cut into the flesh of their foreheads.

They were then banished to Apamea, Bithynia. Theodore died first, while he was in prison, of the terrible sufferings he endured. Theophanes, according to the Roman Martyrology, survived to become bishop of Nicaea and a poet. He wrote several hymns, including one about his brother (Benedictines, Delaney, White).

MLA Citation

  • Katherine I Rabenstein. Saints of the Day, 1998. CatholicSaints.Info. 21 August 2020. Web. 29 November 2020. <>