St. Mark of Ephesus, Pillar of Orthodoxy – February 1 (old calendar January 19)

by 1389 on February 1, 2015

in 1389 (blog admin), heroes, icons, Orthodox Christianity, Orthodox hymnography, Roman Catholic Church

Saint Mark of Ephesus saved the Holy Orthodox Church from being sold for money into a false union with Rome.

Fr. Alexey Young: St. Mark of Ephesus, a True Ecumenist

Ecumenical means “belonging to or accepted by the Christian Church throughout the word; as such, this term reflects the rule of faith given by St. Vincent of Lerins: Christian truth is that “which has been believed everywhere, always, and by all.” Thus is the correct dictionary definition of the word and the only patristic definition of it. Unfortunately, ‘ecumenical” has come to mean something quite different in the latter part of the 20th century. Under the influence of the World Council of Churches and the policy of aggioramento in the Church of Rome. “ecumenical” has come to mean the following: the unity of Christ’s Church has been shattered through the centuries; all Christian Churches are pretty much equal, and each has a “share” of the truth; therefore, all denominations must be united in order to recapture the “whole- ness” that once existed. This is modern-day ecumenism.

A superb example of the first and original kind of ecumenist is St. Mark of Ephesus, a 15th century champion of orthodoxy, sometimes called “The conscience of Orthodoxy.” The following information is condensed from a series of three articles in “The Orthodox Word” (1967), written by Archimandrite Amvrossy Pogodin:

When the foundations of Byzantium were crumbling, diplomats redoubled their efforts to find a possibility of union with Western powers for a battle against the common adversary of Christianity, Islam. Attempts were made to conclude treaties with the Turks, but these were unsuccessful. The only hope lay in the West. For this it was necessary above all to make peace with the Vatican.

A Council was convened in 1437, which established a committee of Latin and Greek theologians with the Pope and the Byzantine Emperor acting as heads. The Pope, Eugenius IV, had a very exalted idea of the papacy and aimed at subjecting the Orthodox Church to himself. Prompted by the straitened circumstances of Byzantium, the Emperor pursued his aim: to conclude an agreement profitable for his country. Few gave thought to the spiritual consequences of such a union. Only one delegate, the Metropolitan of Ephesus, St. Mark, stood in firm opposition.

In his address to the Pope at the opening of the Council, St. Mark explained how ardently he desired this union with the Latins- but a genuine union, he explained, based upon unity of faith and ancient Liturgical practice. He also informed the Pope that he and the other Orthodox bishops had come to the Council not to sign a capitulation, and not to sell Orthodoxy for the benefit of their government, but in order to confirm true and pure doctrine.

Many of the Greek delegates, however, thought that the salvation of Byzantium could be attained only through union with Rome. More and more became willing to compromise the eternal Truth for the sake of preserving a temporal kingdom. Furthermore, the negotiations were of such unexpectedly long duration that the Greek delegates no longer had means to support themselves; they began to suffer from hunger and were anxious to return home. The Pope, however, refused to give them any support until a “Union” had been concluded. Taking advantage of the Situation and realizing the futility of further debates, the Latins used their economic and political advantage to bring pressure on the Orthodox delegation, demanding that they capitulate to the Roman Church and accept all her doctrines and administrative control.

St. Mark stood alone against the rising tide which threatened to overturn the ark of the true Church. He was pressured on all sides, not only by the Latins, but by his fellow Greeks and the Patriarch of Constantinople himself. Seeing his persistent and stouthearted refusal to sign any kind of accord with Rome under the given conditions, the Emperor dismissed him from all further debates with the Latins and placed him under house arrest. By this time St. Mark had fallen very ill (apparently suffering from cancer of the intestine). But this exhausted, fatally ill man, who found himself persecuted and in disgrace, represented in his per son the Orthodox Church; he was a spiritual giant with whom there is none to compare.

Events followed in rapid succession. The aged Patriarch Joseph of Constantinople died; a forged document of submission to Rome was produced; Emperor John Paleologos took the direction of the Church into his own hands, and the Orthodox were obliged. to renounce their Orthodoxy and to accept all of the Latin errors, novelties, and innovations on all counts, including complete acceptance of the Pope as having “a primacy over the whole earth.” During a triumphant service following the signing of the Union on July 5, 1439, the Greek delegates solemnly kissed the Pope’s knee. Orthodoxy had been sold, and not merely betrayed, for in return for submission, the Pope agreed to provide money and soldiers for the defense of Constantinople against the Turks. But one bishop still had not signed. When Pope Eugenius saw that St. Mark’s signature was not on the Act of Union, he exclaimed, “And so, we have accomplished nothing!”

The delegates returned home ashamed of their submission to Rome. They admitted to the people: “We sold our faith; we bartered piety for impiety!” As St. Mark wrote: “The night of Union encompassed the Church.” He alone was accorded respect by the people who greeted him with universal enthusiasm when he was finally allowed to return to Constantinople in 1440. But even then the authorities continued to persecute him. At length he was arrested and imprisoned. But whatever his condition a n d circum stances, he continued to burn in spirit and to battle for the Church.

Finally he was liberated and, following his example, the Eastern Patriarchs condemned the False Union and refused to recognize it. The triumph of the Church was accomplished-through a man exhausted bydisease and harrassed by the wiles ofmen, but strong in the knowledge of our Saviour’s promise: “…I will Build My Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matt. 16:18)

St. Mark died on June 23, 1444, at the age of 52. This great pillar of the Church was a true ecumenist, for he did not fear to journey to Italy to talk with the Roman Catholics, but more importantly, neither did he fear to confess the fullness of the truth when the time came

The following is the concluding section of the Saint’s encyclical letter on the subject of the false union. It is as meaningful and vital today as it was 500 years ago: “Therefore,” St. Mark writes, “in so far as this is what has been commanded you by the Holy Apostles,-stand aright, hold firmly to the traditions which you have received, both written and by word of mouth, that you be not deprived of your firmness if you become led away by the delusions of the lawless. May God, Who is All-powerful, make them also to know their delusion; and having delivered us from them as from evil tares, may He gather us into His granaries like pure and useful wheat, in Jesus Christ our Lord, to Whom belongs all glory, honor, and worship, with His Father Who is without beginning, and His All-holy and Good and Life- giving Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.”

By the prayers of St. Mark, O Christ our God, and all Thy Holy Fathers, Teachers and Theologians, preserve Thy Church in Orthodox confession and lead many into a knowledge of the Truth, unto the ages!

From Wikipedia:

Mark of Ephesus (born Manuel Eugenikos) was a hesychast theologian of the late Palaiologan period who became famous for his rejection of the Council of Ferrara-Florence (1438-1439). As a monk in Constantinople, Mark was a prolific hymnographer and a devoted Palamite. As a theologian and a scholar, he was instrumental in the preparations for the Council of Ferrara-Florence, and as Metropolitan of Ephesus and delegate for the Patriarch of Alexandria, he was one of the most important voices at the synod. After renouncing the Council as a lost cause, Mark became the leader of the Orthodox opposition to the Union of Florence, thus sealing his reputation as a defender of Orthodoxy and pillar of the Church.

Early life
Mark was born Manuel in 1392 in Constantinople to George, sakellarios of Hagia Sophia, an Orthodox deacon, and Maria, the daughter of a devout doctor named Luke. Mark learned how to read and write from his father, who died while Mark and his younger brother John Eugenikos were still children. Maria had Mark continue his education under John Chortasmenos, who later became Metropolitan Ignatius of Selymbria, and a mathematician and philosopher by the name of Gemistus Pletho.

Activity at the Council of Florence and Aftermath
Mark was the only Eastern bishop who refused to sign the agreement with the Roman Catholic Church on a compromise formula, “ex filio,” for the Filioque clause disagreement, during the Council of Ferrara. He held that Rome continued in both heresy and schism. He also rejected the doctrine of Purgatory, in that he objected to the existence of a purgatorial fire that “purified” the souls of the faithful. The doctrine of “purgatorial fire” was typical of medieval Roman Catholic theology. In the end, Mark won this aspect of the discussions in the purgatorial debates, since the final formula of union omitted any affirmation of “fire” in reference to the lot of souls after their death and before the beatific vision.

Death
He died peacefully at the age of 52 on June 23, 1444, after an excruciating two-week battle with intestinal illness. On his death bed, Mark implored Georgios Scholarios, his former pupil, who later became Patriarch Gennadius of Constantinople, to be careful of involvement with Western Christendom and to defend Orthodoxy.

According to his brother John, his last words were “Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, into Thy hands I commit my spirit.” Mark was buried in the Mangana Monastery in Constantinople.

Posthumous Miracle and Canonization
The Eugenikos family celebrated each anniversary of Mark’s death with a eulogy consisting of a service (akolouthia) and synaxarion of a short life of Mark. Thanks in large part to Patriarch Gennadius Scholarius, veneration of Mark spread among the Church. In 1734 Patriarch Seraphim of Constantinople presided over the Holy Synod of the Church of Constantinople and solemnly glorified (canonized) Mark and added six services to the two older ones.

There is an account of a posthumous miracle performed by St. Mark of Ephesus. Doctors gave up on trying to save the life of the terminally ill sister of Demetrios Zourbaios, after their efforts had worsened her condition. After losing consciousness for three days she suddenly woke up, to the delight of her brother, who asked her why she woke up drenched in water. She related that a bishop escorted her to a fountain and washed her and told her, “Return now; you no longer have any illness.” She asked him who he was and he informed her, “I am the Metropolitan of Ephesus, Mark Eugenikos.” After being miraculously healed, she made an icon of St. Mark and lived devoutly for another 15 years.

Legacy
The Orthodox Church considers Mark of Ephesus a saint, calling him, together with St. Photius the Great and St. Gregory Palamas, a Pillar of Orthodoxy. St. Nikodimos of the Holy Mountain, in his service to the saint, called him “the Atlas of Orthodoxy.” His feast day is January 19, the day his relics were moved to the monastery of Lazarus in Galata…

More here…

From OrthodoxWiki:

Troparion (Tone 4)
By your profession of faith, O all-praised Mark
The Church has found you to be a zealot for truth.
You fought for the teaching of the Fathers;
You cast down the darkness of boastful pride.
Intercede with Christ God to grant forgiveness to those who honor you!

Kontakion (Tone 3)
Clothed with invincible armor, O blessed one,
You cast down rebellious pride,
You served as the instrument of the Comforter,
And shone forth as the champion of Orthodoxy.
Therefore we cry to you: “Rejoice, Mark, the boast of the Orthodox!”

John Sanidopoulos has more:

Even more here:

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