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Author Topic: Not-so-saintly Saints  (Read 4468 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: March 01, 2009, 09:05:23 AM »

How one should treat people, who were canonised, but in his own opinion they hadn't been worthy it? Ignore them or bite the bullet and venerate them?

For me especially royal Saints shouldn't be treated as role models with their wars, political murders and similar acts. These include: St. Equal to the Apostles Duke Volodymyr (murderer of his brother and rapist), St. Empress Irene (she ordered to murder her son), St. Tsar Nicholas II (one of the worst Russian rulers ever, he let the Bloody Sunday took place).

I don't say that they didn't serve for the Orthodoxy. But why canonise them? Why paint icons of them? How to deal with them?

Modified the title in this post and the twelve following in order to correct grammar and style. 

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« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2009, 09:27:40 AM »

Are we called to love everyone, or just the folks we like, agree with, and find fun to be with?
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« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2009, 09:33:43 AM »

I don't mean loving them or praying for their salvation. My question is: why they are set by the Church as ours authorities? Why, despite their behaviour, we have to venerate them as Saints?
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« Reply #3 on: March 01, 2009, 09:44:09 AM »

Because we are called to love the Church, who has had this truth revealed to Her, as well as love these saints whose actions seem to us to be incorrect.

We as individuals cannot judge these saints that may have had lives that we do not all agree with. We cannot as individuals know what the Church knows!

The most important thing, though, is to love and forgive any errors these saints may have done. That is what we are called to do, because if you think about it, all of us can take hope from it: if they can be forgiven, so too can we all.
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« Reply #4 on: March 01, 2009, 09:50:33 AM »

Wise answer, thanks Smiley
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« Reply #5 on: March 01, 2009, 10:39:52 AM »

I have to say that Nicholas II is hardly to blame for the Bloody Sunday (Jan 9, 1905). He was not in St. Petersburg on that day at all, and had absolutely no idea about what went on. He never gave orders to shoot at people. The shooting actually started when the mob began to overturn the "lotki" (boards on which street vendors displayed their merchandise), and engaged in fist fight with several "gorodovyje" (police force privates). Also, the number of those who were killed and wounded was later tremendously inflated by the "revolutionairies."

Overall, it is my uderstanding that Nicholas II was an extremely nice, kind, shy, introvert man who was - as perhaps expected from a man of such a character - an extremely incapable, inept ruler. Also, he, unlike the vast majority of the people who directly surrounded him, was a very devout Orthodox who took prayer and devotions very seriously - which infuriated many of his close associates-advisors who were "Libertines." So, while I am not a fan of the Romanov dynasty by any stretch, I actually sympathize with the ROC idea to canonize him as a martyr, sufferer for the faith.
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« Reply #6 on: March 01, 2009, 10:56:22 AM »

How one should treat people, who were canonised, but in his own opinion they hadn't been worthy it? Ignore them or bite the bullet and venerate them?

For me especially royal Saints shouldn't be treated as role models with their wars, political murders and similar acts. These include: St. Equal to the Apostles Duke Volodymyr (murderer of his brother and rapist), St. Empress Irene (she ordered to murder her son), St. Tsar Nicholas II (one of the worst Russian rulers ever, he let the Bloody Sunday took place).

I don't say that they didn't serve for the Orthodoxy. But why canonise them? Why paint icons of them? How to deal with them?

I would also say because GOD found them worthy enough to work miracles through them, and to reveal his grace and love for mankind through these "saints" who the church recognizes as saints (probably because of their miraculous healings and etc.)

Also there are all KINDS of different saints who are considered Icons of christ, but saints nonetheless.  I mean the different categories say it all themselves.  For example:  fools for christ.  did they act like christ?  not LITERALLY, but rather they acted like fools in order to show their humility.  how are they EXACT icons of christ...?  they are not.  but rather they show an aspect of christianity and christian living that was necessary to bring people to God.  You never know in each generation who the saints will be and how they will manifest themselves.  God's ways are not our ways.  who HE choses to be an Icon of him and fill them with grace is not something we will ever understand.  Rather, we have to all become like CHrist, (perhaps even in our own peculiar way) in order to reflect the love of XC unto all....uniquely. 


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« Reply #7 on: March 01, 2009, 11:22:22 AM »

^^Well said!

Just a few months ago, I suddenly discovered on the Internet the full list of members of the so-called "Union of Russian People" (also known as "The Black Hundred") - an organization with blatantly Anti-Semitic (or, rather, Judophobic) agenda, which was active in the 1890-s - 1900-s and which if not directly organized, then at least inspired a long series of bloody Jewish "pogroms." The list, to my utter astonishment, has names of many Russian Orthodox clergymen, including recently canonized Neo-Martyrs, like, for example, Archbishop Veniamin of St. Petersburg.

So, what should we say - that these people were not saints, if they held Judophobic views? Perhaps no, we should not say that. They were not perfect, but no one is perfect except God. Something that they did for our faith, for our Church was decided by the Church to be worthy of counting them as saints, even though they made mistakes or hung out with a wrong crowd.

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« Reply #8 on: March 01, 2009, 02:45:38 PM »

Concerning Irene:

She is not a saint of the Orthodox Church. There is no entry in the Menaion. The idea that she is a saint comes from western sources.  There are some images of her with a halo but this happened quite often with emperors.  However, that being said, she was forced into a rather difficult situation given that her son was probably conspiring against her or was being used to conspire against her; blinding him was an attempt at keeping him alive, but the blinders did it too harshly and that is why he died; and as I understand it she was repentant for this the rest of her life.

As for Saint Nicholas the Tsar, he was a bad ruler for sure, but his personal correspondence makes it obvious that he was a committed Christian and tried his best to do his duties (which by this time were quite difficult since he was juggling so many forces that were fighting each other).  So maybe he was glorified in spite of his bad rule on account of his personal piety.

I don't know much about St Vladimir.

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« Reply #9 on: March 01, 2009, 03:08:27 PM »

Concerning Irene:
She is not a saint of the Orthodox Church.

At my Church (Church of Poland) she's commemorated on 9th of August.
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« Reply #10 on: March 01, 2009, 03:51:00 PM »

Concerning Irene:

She is not a saint of the Orthodox Church. There is no entry in the Menaion. The idea that she is a saint comes from western sources.  There are some images of her with a halo but this happened quite often with emperors.  However, that being said, she was forced into a rather difficult situation given that her son was probably conspiring against her or was being used to conspire against her; blinding him was an attempt at keeping him alive, but the blinders did it too harshly and that is why he died; and as I understand it she was repentant for this the rest of her life.

As for Saint Nicholas the Tsar, he was a bad ruler for sure, but his personal correspondence makes it obvious that he was a committed Christian and tried his best to do his duties (which by this time were quite difficult since he was juggling so many forces that were fighting each other).  So maybe he was glorified in spite of his bad rule on account of his personal piety.

I don't know much about St Vladimir.



The Murder and rape happened before he converted.  Are we to say that something can't be repented of?
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« Reply #11 on: March 01, 2009, 05:12:17 PM »

Overall, it is my uderstanding that Nicholas II was an extremely nice, kind, shy, introvert man who was - as perhaps expected from a man of such a character - an extremely incapable, inept ruler. Also, he, unlike the vast majority of the people who directly surrounded him, was a very devout Orthodox who took prayer and devotions very seriously - which infuriated many of his close associates-advisors who were "Libertines." So, while I am not a fan of the Romanov dynasty by any stretch, I actually sympathize with the ROC idea to canonize him as a martyr, sufferer for the faith.

I think this is well said.  I used to think that all of the last Romanovs were not devout Orthodox Christians, but it seems that I was wrong about St. Nicholas.  He and his family were not glorified as martyrs, however.  (Unless you agree with how ROCOR saw it when they glorified them years before the MP.)  They were glorified as passion-bearers, which I find interesting.  It would seem that eyewitness accounts of how they died would not conflict with this assessment.  For while none of them, (with the possible exception of Nicholas?) were witnesses for the Orthodox faith, they died meekly and with great dignity in the face of their fate.  That is what I have heard, anyway.  Maybe someone else can provide a better account of how they faced their death.
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« Reply #12 on: March 01, 2009, 05:20:12 PM »

Concerning Irene:
She is not a saint of the Orthodox Church.

At my Church (Church of Poland) she's commemorated on 9th of August.

That's interesting, as I had been looking at this myself recently. This Calendar makes no mention of her and it is rather extensive:
http://www.holytrinityorthodox.com/calendar/index.php?year=2009&today=22&month=8&trp=0

Also Orthodox Wiki makes this claim:

http://www.orthodoxwiki.org/Irene_of_Athens
Quote
rene's place in the Orthodox Christian church is that of a strong defender of the veneration of images. This came at a critical point in history, when the eastern empire was controlled by iconoclasts. With the election of Tarasius as the Patriarch of Constantinople on December 25, 784, she was able to convene the Seventh Ecumenical Council. Initially convened in Constantinople on August 1, 786, the council was moved to Nicea in May 787 because of the instigated opposition in Constantinople of soldiers loyal to the iconoclasts who forced the dissolution of the 786 sessions. Learning from the experience in Constantinople, Irene arranged that the council in 787 would be away from the capital, in Nicea, which incidentally was the site of Constantine the Great's council of 325. This council, in contrast with the robber council of 754 in Hieria, was attended by the patriarchs or their representatives. The council affirmed the principle of veneration of icons and declared iconoclasm a heresy. Theodore the Studite wrote a praising letter [1] to Irene because of her work in supporting icons. This letter became the beginning of the misconception that Irene is considered a saint in the Eastern Orthodox Church. Though this claim is not supported by the Menaion, the "Lives of Saints" by Nikodemos the Hagiorite, or any other related book of the Orthodox Church, some Western sources [2] still cite Irene as a saint of the Orthodox Church, based on the writings of the Bollandists.

Would it be difficult for you to scan or photograph a calendar from your Church showing her commemoration? It would be very useful information to show to the Wiki site.
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« Reply #13 on: March 01, 2009, 05:20:12 PM »

The Murder and rape happened before he converted.  Are we to say that something can't be repented of?

I'm aware of that. Of course it could be repented of after his baptism, but it may not have been glorified also.


Would it be difficult for you to scan or photograph a calendar from your Church showing her commemoration? It would be very useful information to show to the Wiki site.

I've found her bio, her icon and the date on the site I have a link to on my profile. After your doubts I checked it in paper calendar and she isn't listed there. It's strange. I'll try to ask the man who posted it on the site about details and a source.

there's a link I was basing on: http://cerkiew.pl/index.php?id=swieci&tx_orthcal[sw_id]=341&cHash=d4b0e8ce2b
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« Reply #14 on: March 05, 2009, 03:18:29 PM »

there's a link I was basing on: http://cerkiew.pl/index.php?id=swieci&tx_orthcal[sw_id]=341&cHash=d4b0e8ce2b

It doesn't work. What's more, I can't find Empress Irene here: http://tinyurl.com/aoonhw nor here: http://tinyurl.com/dbrxsj .

As far as not-so-saintly saints are concerned, I've heard an opinion that some saints are set as an example because of their entire lives and some - because of some specific things they did. E.g., St Constantine the Emperor was canonised because of the fact that he legalised Christianity and summoned the 1st Ecumenical Council.
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« Reply #15 on: March 05, 2009, 03:24:34 PM »

The site with Saint (?) Irene's BIO and her name from calendar were removed. It has to be ascertained whether she is a saint in the Church of Poland or not. Wiser people were asked about this issue and I'll post their answer here as soon as I get it.

Modified the title in this post and the twelve following in order to correct grammar and style. 

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I used to think that Saint is also an adjective.
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« Reply #16 on: March 05, 2009, 06:42:38 PM »

I have to say I'm a little uncomfortable with Justinian's canonization because of how he handled the Nika Riots.
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« Reply #17 on: April 08, 2009, 04:53:10 PM »

Would it be difficult for you to scan or photograph a calendar from your Church showing her commemoration? It would be very useful information to show to the Wiki site.

After consultations with Warsaw Orthodox Seminary rector it has been realised that one, who had placed it on the net made a misteke. Sorry for misguiding you.
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« Reply #18 on: April 08, 2009, 05:10:43 PM »

Many of the greatest of the Fathers and Mothers of the church have been some of the worst and most abominable sinners in the history of the world. My favorite examples are:

The Apostle Paul:  (Persecuted the church)

Mary of Egypt: Prostitute

The saints who are "not-so-saintly" might have been chosen by God for glorification because he wanted to show us that even for the worst of us sinners, there is always time to forgive, to repent, and to find the true faith. God may have wanted to show us that no matter our decisions if we allow ourselves to repent and be sincere, there is always hope for us.

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« Reply #19 on: April 08, 2009, 05:30:44 PM »

You can get to hell by imitating the faults of any one of the saints.

You can accept the church's judgement that somebody is in heaven but if you don't like that person you don't have to be devoted to him.
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« Reply #20 on: April 08, 2009, 05:33:43 PM »

Emperor Justinian deceived 30 thousand rioters into meeting him in the Hippodrome for peaceful negotiation. Instead, he killed them all. It's not just that he killed 30 thousand people, but he killed them when they were willing to peacefully negotiate with him.

I don't think he ever repented of this.
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« Reply #21 on: April 08, 2009, 05:35:34 PM »

I was taught some are saints because they became holy. Some are saints because they were martyrs. And some are saints because they wrought some extraordinary good for the sake of Christ's Church.

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« Reply #22 on: April 08, 2009, 07:39:30 PM »

Emperor Justinian deceived 30 thousand rioters into meeting him in the Hippodrome for peaceful negotiation. Instead, he killed them all. It's not just that he killed 30 thousand people, but he killed them when they were willing to peacefully negotiate with him.

I don't think he ever repented of this. 

Peacefully negotiate with him Huh What is this - an ignorant statement, or historical revisionism?  There was no negotiation with the mob - they thought he was going to acquiesce (in this case, give up the throne), and if he didn't do so 100% they were going to riot again.
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« Reply #23 on: April 09, 2009, 12:00:41 AM »

I don't think he ever repented of this.

There is no possible way for you to know this.

I don't think you have ever repented of any of your sins either. Luckily for you, I don't actually get to judge this.
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« Reply #24 on: April 09, 2009, 01:08:14 AM »

Quote
I don't think he ever repented of this.

There is no possible way for you to know this.

I don't think you have ever repented of any of your sins either. Luckily for you, I don't actually get to judge this.
that's true

Quote
Peacefully negotiate with him  What is this - an ignorant statement, or historical revisionism?  There was no negotiation with the mob - they thought he was going to acquiesce (in this case, give up the throne), and if he didn't do so 100% they were going to riot again.

According to a documentary I saw on the history channel, maybe they revise history, or exaggerate (I'm not being sarcastic here, the host seemed a little ranty).

Either way, people here are uncomfortable with Czar Nikolas and Constantine, but Justinian I've had trouble with even though he rebuilt Hagia Sophia.
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« Reply #25 on: April 10, 2009, 03:38:22 PM »

Quote
Peacefully negotiate with him  What is this - an ignorant statement, or historical revisionism?  There was no negotiation with the mob - they thought he was going to acquiesce (in this case, give up the throne), and if he didn't do so 100% they were going to riot again.

According to a documentary I saw on the history channel, maybe they revise history, or exaggerate (I'm not being sarcastic here, the host seemed a little ranty).

Either way, people here are uncomfortable with Czar Nikolas and Constantine, but Justinian I've had trouble with even though he rebuilt Hagia Sophia. 

Fortunately, I don't fall into the camp of "oh, you watch the History Channel... what a fool!"  I enjoy the channel, and very often they are spot on with presentation of facts and interpretation; however, the number of occasions when they are presenting incomplete facts or faulty interpretation leads me to use the channel for entertainment, rather than education.

There are plenty of people who have a hard time with Justinian, especially in the OO camp (his place in EO is a stumbling block on the road to EO-OO reconciliation).
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« Reply #26 on: April 10, 2009, 04:29:31 PM »

There are several ways to approach this problem of 'sinful' Saints, which I do think is a serious concern and possible stumbling-block for Orthodox believers and especially those who are inquiring.
At least for believers, we should really give the Church the benefit of the doubt in any case where we're uncertain about a particular teaching or practice. So if someone is venerated as a Saint, but you hear bad things said about him, you should trust the Church, and assume that the bad things being said are either untrue, or were repented of, or are simply insignificant when compared to the overall holiness of the individual. Why would the Church be venerating a notorious sinner, if the Church is the fountain of Truth?
It's also worth doing serious investigation into the claims being made. Many saints had enemies who slandered them, and their slanders have survived. Historians whose purpose seems to be undermine tradition for its own sake love to give the benefit of the doubt to the slanderers, not the Church. Why should you believe the former over the latter? It is against Christian principles to believe slanders. We are told to believe the best about everybody.
This doesn't mean we should abandon discernment; sometimes bad behavior is very clear and we must be aware of it. But where there is doubt, we should believe the better things.
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« Reply #27 on: April 10, 2009, 04:47:37 PM »

Justinian is actually a saint?  WTF?  Huh
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« Reply #28 on: April 10, 2009, 05:49:38 PM »

There are several ways to approach this problem of 'sinful' Saints, which I do think is a serious concern and possible stumbling-block for Orthodox believers and especially those who are inquiring.
At least for believers, we should really give the Church the benefit of the doubt in any case where we're uncertain about a particular teaching or practice. So if someone is venerated as a Saint, but you hear bad things said about him, you should trust the Church, and assume that the bad things being said are either untrue, or were repented of, or are simply insignificant when compared to the overall holiness of the individual. Why would the Church be venerating a notorious sinner, if the Church is the fountain of Truth?
It's also worth doing serious investigation into the claims being made. Many saints had enemies who slandered them, and their slanders have survived. Historians whose purpose seems to be undermine tradition for its own sake love to give the benefit of the doubt to the slanderers, not the Church. Why should you believe the former over the latter? It is against Christian principles to believe slanders. We are told to believe the best about everybody.
This doesn't mean we should abandon discernment; sometimes bad behavior is very clear and we must be aware of it. But where there is doubt, we should believe the better things.


Excellent advice! While we hear alot about the 'bad' that the emperors may have done in their life, which will always occur when one needs to make tough political descisions, and we dont hear about their good deeds and their contributions. This short article shouls clear up some of the apprehensions over St Justinian:

 http://www.roca.org/OA/42/42m.htm
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« Reply #29 on: April 10, 2009, 06:00:01 PM »

Justinian is actually a saint?  WTF?  Huh

October 14th.
http://www.goarch.org/chapel/saints/2295

or November 14th.
http://orthodoxwiki.org/Justinian
« Last Edit: April 10, 2009, 06:00:16 PM by cleveland » Logged

"The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the one who can't read them." Mark Twain
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Ordained on 17 & 18-Oct 2009. Please forgive me if earlier posts are poorly worded or incorrect in any way.
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« Reply #30 on: September 11, 2009, 03:15:48 AM »

I just wanted to throw in the ring that the Holy Prophet and King David is a saint of the Orthodox Church, and he was a deceiving, murderous adulterer, and the Holy Scriptures tell us that he was a man after God's own heart.  It may be difficult for us to forgive the sins of the saints, but God forgives them regardless if there is repentance in them.
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