Saint Photios the Great, whose feast day is February 6, was Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople during the middle of the ninth century. Together with other great Fathers of the Church, Saint Photios demonstrates through his writing and his teaching that scholarship can be a valuable instrument in proclaiming and expressing the Faith of the Church.
The Orthodox Church honors Saint Photios as a theologian, a supporter of missionary activity, and a defender of the Faith. Photios was born around 820 AD to holy parents, who were confessors of the Faith. His parents were persecuted for defending icons against the iconoclasts and were exiled from Constantinople.
Although St. Photios was pressured to become Patriarch of Constantinople, he took his calling seriously and at once set to work as a man of God. One of his activities was to correct the error of Pope Nicholas of Rome who enslaved the people of the West with threats of condemnation to hell for disobedience to the Pope. Saint Photios wrote to Nicholas, “Nothing is dearer that the Truth.” In the same letter he noted, “It is truly necessary that we observe all things, but above all, that which pertains to matters of Faith, in which but a small deviation represents a deadly sin.”
St. Photios was also known for his brilliance and for his missionary zeal, and one of his greatest achievements was in the field of mission work. In 863, St. Photios sent his two nephews from Thessaloniki, known to us today as Saints Cyril and Methodios, to preach the Gospel in Moravia. He blessed St. Cyril in his work of developing an alphabet for the Slavonic people, and for the later work of St. Cyril and his brother St. Methodios as missionaries to the Slavs. As a result of efforts they initiated, the Slavic peoples and nations embraced Orthodox Christianity.
As a Father of the Church, his achievements have earned him a reputation as the greatest of all Patriarchs.
The Nicene – Constantinopolitan Creed
I believe in one God, Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible. And in One Lord, Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father of all ages. Light of Light, true God of true God, begotten, not made, of One essence with the Father, through whom all things were made. Who for us all and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and of the Virgin Mary and became man. Crucified for our salvation under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried. And on the third day He rose again according to the scriptures. And ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. And He shall come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, whose Kingdom shall have no end. And I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, Who proceeds from the Father, Who together with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified. Who spoke through the Prophets. I believe in One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins. I await the resurrection of the dead; And the life of the age to come. Amen