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Metrophanes of Smyrna

Leader of the faithful Ignatian bishops at the time of the Photian schism (867)

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* Published by Encyclopedia Press, 1913.


Metrophanes of Smyrna, leader of the faithful Ignatian bishops at the time of the Photian schism (867). Baronius (Ann. Eccl., ad an. 843, I) says that his mother was the woman who was bribed to bring a false accusation of rape against the Patriarch Methodius I (842-846) during the Iconoclast troubles. If this be true he was a native of Constantinople. In 857, when Ignatius was deposed, Metrophanes was already Metropolitan of Smyrna. He was strongly opposed to Photius. For a short time he wavered, as Photius promised not to attack Ignatius' rights, but, as soon as he found how little the intruder kept his word, he went back to his former attitude, from which nothing could make him waver again. Metrophanes was the leader of the bishops who excommunicated Photius in 858; they declared themselves excommunicate if ever they recognized him. This somewhat rash pledge explains his attitude later. He was chained and imprisoned, then sent into exile by the Government. After Photius' first fall (867) Metrophanes came back to his see. He was present at the eighth general council (Constantinople, IV, 869), opened the sixth session with a speech and was one of the judges who condemned Photius. When Ignatius died in 877 and Photius succeeded lawfully with the consent of John VIII, Metrophanes still refused to recognize him, for which conduct he was again banished. At the Photian Synod of 879 a certain Nicetas appears as Metropolitan of Smyrna; meanwhile Metrophanes lay sick at Constantinople. In 880 as he still refused to have anything to do with Photius he was excommunicated by the papal legates. After that he disappears. It is uncertain whether he returned to his see at Photius' second fall or whether he died in exile. A letter of his to a patrician, Manuel, is extant, written in 870, in which he gives his reasons for his opposition to Photius (in Mansi, XIV, 414). Other works attributed to him but strongly Photian in tone ("Against the new Manicheans", i.e., the Latins, and "On the Procession of the Holy Ghost from the Father alone") are certainly spurious. See Fabricius-Harles, Bibliotheca Graeca (Hamburg, 1790-1809), XI, 700.

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