St. Mark of Ephesus

A great saint!
A spiritual giant!
St Mark of Ephesus pray for us.

Can you recommend anything online to read about the Council of Florence? I unfortunately don’t have access to EWTN at work where I usually am when I post (it blocks it as “streaming media” :P), but I can if there aren’t any good sources outside of it I can always save and read it here. Thanks!

Check this out…you’ll have to purchase it. More than 1000 pages per month.

January includes a wonderful and lengthy account of the Life of St Mark and the failed “council” of Florence.

Vol. 01: Great Synaxaristes – January

Frankly, I’m not a fan of the polemics between East and West. I simply pray for unity - they are the same Church to me, they just approach things differently.
As far as Mark of Ephesus goes, it sounds like I would view him more in the light of how I view Photius (as someone who sowed discord in the Body of Christ). Understand though that I love the Eastern Orthodox, their saints and their writings are amazing. But when it comes to the persons especially involved in the Great Schism, I would feel amiss as a Catholic if I thought what they did was a good thing, if you know what I mean. I mean that most respectfully, of course.
As for Gregory Palamas, I quite enjoy his writings - the “scholastic” philosopher he debated was Barlaam, and he didn’t sound like much of a philosopher to me. Palamas writing is far beyond my skill to understand, but he is interesting to say the least, especially in terms of theology. I think he is probably the best theologian in the East, although theologian in the East is probably much different than theologian in the West.

I object to the idea that St. Photius sowed discord in the Church, just as I would object to the idea that St. Athanasius or St. Cyril sowed discord in the Church. Photius has been rather unfairly made into a villain by the West, likely because of his opposition to the Filioque, and his supposed act of excommunicating Pope Nicholas which may not have happened at all. To quote Francis Dvornik from Byzantium and the Roman Primacy (pp.110-15)

On the other hand, Photius is criticized by Western theologians who accuse him of having altered the wording of the letters which Pope John VIII sent to him, to the Emperor and to the Fathers, before the Council of 879-880 which was to rehabilitate him. It is true that the Patriarchal Chancery suppressed in these letters everything that could throw a false light on the case of Photius. But these changes had been made with the consent of the legates who were convinced that the case of Photius, his “usurpation” (he had been canonically elected), his deposition (the great majority of the clergy considered this deposition as unjust and had remained faithful to him), and his other activities had been portrayed by his enemies in Rome in an altogether false light. At this period, communications between Rome and Constantinople were extremely difficult and, to save the prestige of the Holy See, the legates decided to accept the facts as they were, and not to prolong the incident by a new consultation with Rome, hoping to be able to explain their action later to Pope John VIII. They could have been almost certain that the Pope would approve their step, for they became aware at Constantinople of certain things that John VIII did not know and which considerably changed the whole aspect of the Photian problem. They had learned that Photius and Ignatius were reconciled before the latter became ill, that Photius himself had made use of his own competence in medical matters to ease the sufferings of his one-time adversary, and that the whole initiative for the convocation of the council, at which they were the representatives of the Holy See, had been stimulated not only by Photius and the Emperor but also by Ignatius himself. If Ignatius had still been alive at the time of their arrival in Constantinople everything would have been different and the Photian legend would probably never have been born. Further, the legates also learned that Photius himself had solemnly canonized Ignatius after his death. All this contributed to convince them that the information which they had gotten in Rome on this whole matter was quite incomplete. Once they were on the spot, they realized that their information had come from the relatively few but intensely bitter enemies of Photius. . . .

It has often been said that it was in 867, on the occasion of the Oriental Synod which condemned Pope Nicholas I, that Photius denied the Primacy to Rome and transferred it to Byzantium. It is unfortunate that the Acts of this Synod have been destroyed, so much so that it is almost impossible to know the exact manner in which the events took place. It is difficult to say, for example, how and in what fashion Nicholas I was really condemned. Still it is interesting to note that the homily pronounced by Photius at the very end of the Synod—probably the only official document that has been preserved, contains no attack against Rome, against the papacy, against the person of Nicholas I, nor against the Church of the West. The fact is that the Synod condemned the “errors” spread by the Roman missionaries in Bulgaria, errors which Photius had enumerated in his encyclical letter to the Oriental patriarchs, and in which the Pope was accused of having “invaded” the Bulgarian territory claimed by Byzantium, and of not respecting the autonomy of the Byzantine Church by condemning its patriarch [Photius] who had been canonically elected.

Was there really a formal excommunication? It is not easy to see how this would have been at all in keeping with the traditional practice of the Church. A rupture of relations, joined to the condemnation mentioned above, would surely have been regarded as an exclusion from all communion with the other churches. In any case, even if a formal condemnation had taken place, it was not directed against Rome nor against the papacy as such, but simply against the person of a Pope. A similar case, much more serious since it was concerned with matters of doctrine, had already occurred in the case of Pope Honorius. Obviously, this condemnation, although much more serious, had been directed against the person of Pope Honorius and not against the institution whic he represented.

From another source we learn the Emperor Michael III and his consort Basil had sent a copy of the Acts of the Synod of 867 to the Emperor of the West, Louis II. They offered to recognize his imperial title if he would depose Nicholas I by accepting the Acts of the Synod containing the reasons for the condemnation.

This account is very important for the conclusion that we may draw from it. For, if the Emperors had wished to gain the favor of Louis II, the Acts of the Synod could not possibly have contained a condemnation of the Western church, nor any denial of the Roman Primacy as such. That is to say, it could not have contained a formal attack against the papacy nor any transfer of the Primacy from Rome to Constantinople. This would have been completely unacceptable to Louis II and the very Westerners whose support was sought.

These myths of Photius’ “usurpation” of the Patriarchal throne, of his jealous attempt to take Rome’s primacy for himself, and of his supposedly just deposition by the council of 869-870 (the council of 879-880 nullified the council of 869-870) still persist to this day, and are unfortunately still propagated by Catholic polemicists, despite scholarly work which shows that they are likely false charges against a great churchman who died at peace with the Church.

Peace, Cavaradossi:hug3: - I am merely stating my opinion as a Catholic. I would expect you, being an Eastern Orthodox Christian, to naturally view it differently - for instance, you would hold St. Bonaventure in a negative light, would you not, for referring to the Eastern Orthodox as schismatics and heretics (something which, by the way, I do not agree with)? It is the same with myself as a Catholic. I am obviously not going to agree with Photius or Mark of Ephesus concerning their views of us in the West. Otherwise, I would not be a Catholic then would I? Yet I have no doubt that they had much spiritual richness in their writings regardless.
That said, I tend to gloss over the writings of Eastern saints that focus on polemics against the Catholic Church, and instead focus on the spirituality and wisdom in their writings instead. I am just finishing Theophan the Recluse’ Turning the Heart to God,and it is fantastic. Do I care about his views of the West - not at all. Do you care about St. Bonaventure’s views of the East? Probably not. But there is much wisdom and love of Christ in both. :thumbsup:

I’m sorry if I came off as being combative. :slight_smile: My objection is that even in some Catholic scholarship (like the passages I posted above, written by a Roman Catholic priest and historian), Photius has been shown to be completely undeserving of the mythology which has been created around his person in the West. He did have a heated dispute with Pope Nicholas I over many issues (the filioque being one), and maybe even excommunicated him.

However, he was by all means a canonically elected patriarch who was unjustly deposed in favor of his predecessor deposed predecessor Ignatius, who reconciled with Ignatius even after he had been unjustly deposed for Ignatius’ reinstatement, who was canonically reinstated by a council ten years after the council which deposed him (his reinstatement was also accepted by Pope John VIII), and who died at peace with the Church. I think the picture of him being a man who fomented schism is a rather unjust assessment, because many of his actions suggest the contrary. Had the East-West schism not occurred, he might have be remembered rather differently by the West, in my honest opinion.

I obviously would not expect a Catholic of any sort to really have a good understanding of St. Mark of Ephesus, but for Photius, a man who lived before the East-West schism and died at peace with the Church (both East and West), I often wonder why he is so maligned by the West. If I recall, some Eastern Catholics actually do also venerate St. Photius, so I think they might be able to pitch in with their thoughts/feelings on whether the idea of Photius being a power-hungry schismatic is perhaps a bit blown out of proportion.

That’s alright friend:)
I am interested in reading up on Mark of Ephesus while I study the Christian East, but you are correct in that I do not know much of him other than some accounts of the Council of Florence and his death bed words.
You may very well be right on Photius as well - of this I have no knowledge to add, and you are far ahead of me in that area. I find it interesting that he died reconciled to the Church in the West as well - that is comforting, as unity between East and West is something I greatly hope to see in my lifetime, and this is but a small glimmer of hope in the process, if it is indeed true.

I honestly don’t know much about Mark of Ephesus either, aside from his status as the only bishop who attended Florence but refused to sign. I think that had it not been for his resistance at Florence, he probably would not be remembered in the Orthodox Church as he is today.

Again, I would assume that you would know far better than I. It is interesting to ponder the notion though - for us in the West, we honor St. Gemma Galgani for her holiness of life, but not for her visions and mystical experiences(mods, correct me if I am wrong!). But I would assume that in the East this is the same - therefore, Mark of Ephesus must have had a holiness of life that made him a saint in your tradition, yes? But then again, the Christian East has a different way of recognizing saints don’t they??

Well, there are also miracles attributed to his relics, which just like in the West makes a pretty good case for canonization in the East. There’s really not that big of a difference in how saints are recognized, except that it is a more localized process in the East.

You recall correctly. St Photius the Great is venerated by Byzantine Catholics…and I believe other Eastern Catholic Churches.

That’s confusing for me how that would work in a certain sense - if Photius died reconciled to the West as well, then I am not certain what the issue is between us Catholics and the Orthodox. If Eastern Catholics are Catholic, and they venerate Photius, then why is there a separation between us as brothers in Christ? Surely the filioque cannot be the reason, as so very many probably aren’t even going to be able to wrap their heads around such heavy theological issues.
I personally think the saints of the East and West embrace in heaven, whilst we (not us, but in a general sense) bicker below. It’s truly sad beyond belief.

I think this is where the beauty of simple faith in and love of Christ comes in - all the theology in the world cannot substitute for a simple love of Christ. Just my thoughts - forgive me for my ignorance of your tradition and saints if I have shown any.

can someone explain to me two people:

  1. st. photios ( historically, etc.)
    2)Gregory palamas (teachings)

Much obliged

I’ll let my Orthodox friends do that:thumbsup:

Hi brother. With all due respect…St Photius is a great saint in the Orthodox and some Eastern Catholic Churches…could you please use the title of “St” when you address him? Thank you.

Could be? :shrug:

“As for Gregory Palamas, I quite enjoy his writings - the ‘scholastic’ philosopher he debated was Barlaam, and he didn’t sound like much of a philosopher to me. Palamas writing is far beyond my skill to understand, but he is interesting to say the least, especially in terms of theology. I think he is probably the best theologian in the East, although theologian in the East is probably much different than theologian in the West.”

We seek - whether in the East or in the West, a theology of heart - do we not?

My apologies friend. I meant no offense.:blush:

I know. :o

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