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Mary Magdalen
Little Paraklesis
First Canon for Midpentecost



Next to St Joseph the Hymnographer the major contributor to the weekday Paraklitiki was St Theophanes, bishop of Nicea. His life is told in the life of Michael the Synkellos, of which an excellent translation has been published by Dr Mary Cunningham. Michael and his two disciples, the brothers Theodore and Theophanes, originally left Jerusalem in 813 on a journey to Rome, sent by the Patriarch of Jerusalem to support the Pope in his stand against the Franks over the question of the filioque, which some Benedictines from the West had recently introduced to Jerusalem. Known for their support of the Seventh Council, they were detained in Constantinople, interrogated, beaten and imprisoned by Leo V in 815. During the whole of the second iconoclast period, nearly thirty years, they suffered at various times exile, imprisonment and torture, including the infamous tattooing on their faces of twelve lines of ‘badly composed’— the emperor’s own words —, if metrically correct, quantitative iambics. Theodore died in prison in 841, but his brother and Michael both survived to see Orthodoxy triumph. Theophanes was appointed metropolitan of Nicea and Michael abbot of the monastery of Chora, where he died just two months after Theophanes in January 846.

As a hymnographer St Theophanes belongs to the tradition of the monastery of Mar Sabbas, near Bethlehem, which includes many of the greatest writers of canons, including St Andrew of Crete, St Kosmas Maļouma and St John of Damascus. His contribution to the Paraklitiki consists of sets of canons in all eight tones for the Angels, and the Departed. He is sometimes said also to have written a set for the Apostles, but those in Tones 7 and 8 are ascribed to Joseph in the Paraklitiki, that in Tone 7 being ‘signed’ in the ninth ode. Not all of these are ‘signed’ in the acrostic, but that for the Angels in tone 1 has as its acrostic the following, ‘The first hymn of Theophanes for the Angels’, while that for the departed in tone 5 has, ‘The fifth canon of Theophanes for the dead’. Unfortunately none of these texts has been critically edited and the printed service books often differ widely in their ascriptions.


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Archimandrite Ephrem ©

This page was last updated on 03 November 2008