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Author Topic: Kyrillos IV an iconoclast?  (Read 1443 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: June 17, 2010, 08:49:52 AM »

I have read some stuff online about one of the Coptic popes, Kyrillos IV, who, while still widely admired, also (allegedly) initiated a period of iconoclasm. In this book (Among the Copts by John H. Watson) it says that he was enthroned in 1854 and was a "reforming" patriarch who revitalized Coptic learning, brought in printing presses, and did valuable diplomatic work in Ethiopia. But he was also educated by Protestant fundamentalists and, under their influence, instituted a period of iconoclasm "greater than the Bolshevik destruction of icons." He saw the Copts as primitive and idolatrous. He forbade icons in his cathedral and Copts began burning icons in the streets. The author claims that this iconoclasm "still has supporters today." The book then goes on to describe how iconography was revived by people like Isaac Fanous in the mid-20th century.

Has anyone else read or heard about this supposed iconoclastic period?
« Last Edit: June 17, 2010, 08:54:41 AM by Iconodule » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2011, 04:46:21 PM »

I have read some stuff online about one of the Coptic popes, Kyrillos IV, who, while still widely admired, also (allegedly) initiated a period of iconoclasm. In this book (Among the Copts by John H. Watson) it says that he was enthroned in 1854 and was a "reforming" patriarch who revitalized Coptic learning, brought in printing presses, and did valuable diplomatic work in Ethiopia. But he was also educated by Protestant fundamentalists and, under their influence, instituted a period of iconoclasm "greater than the Bolshevik destruction of icons." He saw the Copts as primitive and idolatrous. He forbade icons in his cathedral and Copts began burning icons in the streets. The author claims that this iconoclasm "still has supporters today." The book then goes on to describe how iconography was revived by people like Isaac Fanous in the mid-20th century.

Has anyone else read or heard about this supposed iconoclastic period?

Quote
Copts keep relics and treat them with great honour. They share the usual Eastern prejudice against solid statues ; but their churches are full of pictures of saints. These they treat with great, we should almost say with excessive, respect. Once they had an Iconoclast Patriarch. Cyril IV (1854-1862), in many ways a reformer, thought his people guilty of idolatry. So he made a collection of holy pictures, burned them publicly and told the people to adore God alone. In burning valuable pictures he was guilty of foolish and wasteful conduct. Nor could he have burned more than a few. Coptic churches are still full of old pictures. But he would have found his Dyophysite brother at Rome in warm agreement with his warning. We, too, have learned that we may not adore these things, for they can neither see, nor hear, nor help us.
The lesser eastern churches By Adrian Fortescue
http://books.google.com/books?id=PSEtAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA265&dq=Coptic+churches+are+still+full+of+old+pictures&hl=en&ei=agIeTrrTCo-FsgKAltTdCA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CDoQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=Coptic%20churches%20are%20still%20full%20of%20old%20pictures&f=false

This burning of the old icons of the Patriarchate seems to have been his only instance of it.
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« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2011, 05:12:36 PM »

So in other words, this was just a one off demonstration to counter excesses?
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« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2011, 05:55:29 PM »

Yes
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« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2011, 06:41:33 PM »

I have read some stuff online about one of the Coptic popes, Kyrillos IV, who, while still widely admired, also (allegedly) initiated a period of iconoclasm. In this book (Among the Copts by John H. Watson) it says that he was enthroned in 1854 and was a "reforming" patriarch who revitalized Coptic learning, brought in printing presses, and did valuable diplomatic work in Ethiopia. But he was also educated by Protestant fundamentalists and, under their influence, instituted a period of iconoclasm "greater than the Bolshevik destruction of icons." He saw the Copts as primitive and idolatrous. He forbade icons in his cathedral and Copts began burning icons in the streets. The author claims that this iconoclasm "still has supporters today." The book then goes on to describe how iconography was revived by people like Isaac Fanous in the mid-20th century.

Has anyone else read or heard about this supposed iconoclastic period?

Quote
Copts keep relics and treat them with great honour. They share the usual Eastern prejudice against solid statues ; but their churches are full of pictures of saints. These they treat with great, we should almost say with excessive, respect. Once they had an Iconoclast Patriarch. Cyril IV (1854-1862), in many ways a reformer, thought his people guilty of idolatry. So he made a collection of holy pictures, burned them publicly and told the people to adore God alone. In burning valuable pictures he was guilty of foolish and wasteful conduct. Nor could he have burned more than a few. Coptic churches are still full of old pictures. But he would have found his Dyophysite brother at Rome in warm agreement with his warning. We, too, have learned that we may not adore these things, for they can neither see, nor hear, nor help us.
The lesser eastern churches By Adrian Fortescue
http://books.google.com/books?id=PSEtAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA265&dq=Coptic+churches+are+still+full+of+old+pictures&hl=en&ei=agIeTrrTCo-FsgKAltTdCA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CDoQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=Coptic%20churches%20are%20still%20full%20of%20old%20pictures&f=false

This burning of the old icons of the Patriarchate seems to have been his only instance of it.

Meinardus says this: "In addition to establishing schools; Cyril IV also rebuilt the patriarchal cathedral in Azbakiya. At this time, an iconoclastic controversy emerged within the Coptic Church, and Cyril, who considered his people guilty of idolatry, prohibited the display of icons in the cathedral. In Cairo and Asyut many Coptic icons were publicly burned, whereby no doubt many valuable objects of medieval Coptic Christian art were destroyed."
« Last Edit: July 13, 2011, 06:50:43 PM by Iconodule » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: July 13, 2011, 07:11:05 PM »

What would it matter if he was?
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« Reply #6 on: July 13, 2011, 09:41:47 PM »

What would it matter if he was?
Because the belief that venerating icons is inherently idolatrous is Protestant heterodoxy and unheard of in the early Church. I know that unlike EOs we OOs don't really view icons as "necessary", but to say they are idolatrous is a distortion of Orthodox teaching. They aren't "necessary", but, they are a significant aspect of an Orthodox Christian's spiritual life.
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« Reply #7 on: July 13, 2011, 09:43:41 PM »

What would it matter if he was?
Because the belief that venerating icons is inherently idolatrous is Protestant heterodoxy and unheard of in the early Church. I know that unlike EOs we OOs don't really view icons as "necessary", but to say they are idolatrous is a distortion of Orthodox teaching. They aren't "necessary", but, they are a significant aspect of an Orthodox Christian's spiritual life.

OK, but what would it matter if Pope Cyril IV had been heterodox?
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« Reply #8 on: July 13, 2011, 09:54:06 PM »

What would it matter if he was?
Because the belief that venerating icons is inherently idolatrous is Protestant heterodoxy and unheard of in the early Church. I know that unlike EOs we OOs don't really view icons as "necessary", but to say they are idolatrous is a distortion of Orthodox teaching. They aren't "necessary", but, they are a significant aspect of an Orthodox Christian's spiritual life.

OK, but what would it matter if Pope Cyril IV had been heterodox?
I guess you have a point. But, Pope Cyril IV is, if I'm not mistaken, commemorated in the Coptic synaxarium.
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« Reply #9 on: July 13, 2011, 09:55:42 PM »

What would it matter if he was?
Because the belief that venerating icons is inherently idolatrous is Protestant heterodoxy and unheard of in the early Church. I know that unlike EOs we OOs don't really view icons as "necessary", but to say they are idolatrous is a distortion of Orthodox teaching. They aren't "necessary", but, they are a significant aspect of an Orthodox Christian's spiritual life.

OK, but what would it matter if Pope Cyril IV had been heterodox?

Has the Coptic church ever openly repudiated his iconoclast policy?
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« Reply #10 on: July 13, 2011, 09:59:55 PM »

What would it matter if he was?
Because the belief that venerating icons is inherently idolatrous is Protestant heterodoxy and unheard of in the early Church. I know that unlike EOs we OOs don't really view icons as "necessary", but to say they are idolatrous is a distortion of Orthodox teaching. They aren't "necessary", but, they are a significant aspect of an Orthodox Christian's spiritual life.

OK, but what would it matter if Pope Cyril IV had been heterodox?

Has the Coptic church ever openly repudiated his iconoclast policy?
I'll ask my Priest. As I said, I think he's commemorated in the Coptic synaxarium. But so long as my Church isn't really iconoclastic, I don't think it's that big of a deal. St Severus says that we shouldn't be strict with the names of those commemorated in the diptychs so long as the Orthodox faith & practice are maintained.
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« Reply #11 on: July 13, 2011, 10:06:30 PM »

He is commemorated in the synaxarium:
Quote
The Departure of Pope Cyril IV (Kyrillos), 110th Pope of Alexandria.

On this day also, the great father Pope Kyrillos IV (Cyril), 110th Pope of Alexandria, departed. He was born in the town of Sawamaa of the district of the city of Girga, to righteous parents in the year 1816 A.D. They gave him the name David (Daoud) after his grandfather. His father brought him up and educated him well. He grew up despising the things of the world and its vanities. When he was 22 years old, he went to the monastery of St. Anthony, where he conducted himself virtuously and lived an ascetic life, which convinced the abbot of the monastery, Father Athanasius (El-Kalousni), to clothe him with the garb of the monks. He continued to read and to study the holy books.

Two years after David's ordination as a monk, the abbot of the monastery departed. David (Daoud) was chosen, by the consensus of the monks, to become their abbot. Pope Petros "El-Gawli" (Anba Petros VII), 19th Pope of Alexandria, ordained him a priest, and he appointed him as abbot of the monastery. He took care of the state of affairs of the monastery and those concerning the monks.

He was very sharp intellectually and was very well versed in religious matters. When a problem transpired among the Ethiopians concerning some doctrinal issues, the Pope, Anba Petros called upon him to go to Ethiopia to solve these problems. He performed his duty admirably. Father Daoud returned on July 13, 1852, to find that Pope Petros had departed on April 15, 1852. When they tried to choose a successor to the Pope, there was a split in the people's opinions. Some wanted Father Daoud and others wanted to choose someone else.

Finally they decided to ordain Father Daoud an auxiliary bishop in the year 1853. He performed his duties as such, for a year and two months, during which, he showed discretion and good conduct, that made him worthy to be chosen patriarch on the 28th of Bashanse of 1571 A.M. (1854 A.D.).

He devoted all his efforts to disciplining the youth and educating them. He established the great Coptic school in the patriarchate. He also established another school in Haret-El-Sakkayeen. He paid great attention to the teaching of the Coptic language. He also established a great printing house and printed many church books.

Generally, the progress of the Copts at that time attributed to his efforts. He demolished the old church in the Patriarchate and built another, but he could not complete it because of his absence in Ethiopia for the second time.

This great pontiff upheld the canons of the church, and was charitable to the poor and the needy, and was deeply loved by his flock. He departed on the 23rd of Tubah in 1577 A.M. (1861 A.D.)

His prayers be with us and Glory be to our God forever. Amen.
It mentions nothing about him being an iconoclast. I respect the Church's decision of listing his name in the synaxarium, but he wouldn't exactly have been my first choice to commemorate considering his iconoclasm. No one who tries to destroy an integral part of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church's praxis and spirituality is worthy of glorification in the synaxarium. But, I shall submit myself to the wisdom of the Church and respect her choice.
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« Reply #12 on: July 13, 2011, 10:10:57 PM »

What would it matter if he was?
Because the belief that venerating icons is inherently idolatrous is Protestant heterodoxy and unheard of in the early Church. I know that unlike EOs we OOs don't really view icons as "necessary", but to say they are idolatrous is a distortion of Orthodox teaching. They aren't "necessary", but, they are a significant aspect of an Orthodox Christian's spiritual life.

OK, but what would it matter if Pope Cyril IV had been heterodox?

Has the Coptic church ever openly repudiated his iconoclast policy?
I'll ask my Priest. As I said, I think he's commemorated in the Coptic synaxarium. But so long as my Church isn't really iconoclastic, I don't think it's that big of a deal. St Severus says that we shouldn't be strict with the names of those commemorated in the diptychs so long as the Orthodox faith & practice are maintained.

But I think some formal rejection of iconoclasm would be important, to ensure that the heresy didn't resurface. No need to mention any names- just affirm formally that icons are OK.
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« Reply #13 on: July 13, 2011, 10:18:21 PM »

What would it matter if he was?
Because the belief that venerating icons is inherently idolatrous is Protestant heterodoxy and unheard of in the early Church. I know that unlike EOs we OOs don't really view icons as "necessary", but to say they are idolatrous is a distortion of Orthodox teaching. They aren't "necessary", but, they are a significant aspect of an Orthodox Christian's spiritual life.

OK, but what would it matter if Pope Cyril IV had been heterodox?
I guess you have a point. But, Pope Cyril IV is, if I'm not mistaken, commemorated in the Coptic synaxarium.

For one thing, just because he is a Saint doesn't mean he wasn't heterodox. There are a handful of other recognized Saints who were.

Another thing is that I think particular glorifications can be in error. People always challenge me when I say this, but I've never been provided any reason why glorifications of Saints by particular churches should be regarded as infallible.
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« Reply #14 on: July 13, 2011, 10:19:55 PM »

What would it matter if he was?
Because the belief that venerating icons is inherently idolatrous is Protestant heterodoxy and unheard of in the early Church. I know that unlike EOs we OOs don't really view icons as "necessary", but to say they are idolatrous is a distortion of Orthodox teaching. They aren't "necessary", but, they are a significant aspect of an Orthodox Christian's spiritual life.

OK, but what would it matter if Pope Cyril IV had been heterodox?

Has the Coptic church ever openly repudiated his iconoclast policy?

Entertaining that question would only be relevant if we came to an agreement that he truly had an iconoclast policy.
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« Reply #15 on: July 13, 2011, 10:20:32 PM »

What would it matter if he was?
Because the belief that venerating icons is inherently idolatrous is Protestant heterodoxy and unheard of in the early Church. I know that unlike EOs we OOs don't really view icons as "necessary", but to say they are idolatrous is a distortion of Orthodox teaching. They aren't "necessary", but, they are a significant aspect of an Orthodox Christian's spiritual life.
OK, but what would it matter if Pope Cyril IV had been heterodox?

Has the Coptic church ever openly repudiated his iconoclast policy?
I'll ask my Priest. As I said, I think he's commemorated in the Coptic synaxarium. But so long as my Church isn't really iconoclastic, I don't think it's that big of a deal. St Severus says that we shouldn't be strict with the names of those commemorated in the diptychs so long as the Orthodox faith & practice are maintained.

But I think some formal rejection of iconoclasm would be important, to ensure that the heresy didn't resurface. No need to mention any names- just affirm formally that icons are OK.
Watch this video and tell me if you still think my Church is iconoclastic  Wink
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ghnXK9dVH58

But if it makes you feel better...
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God bless,
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P.S. I don't think my hierarchs would mind condemning iconoclasm in writing.
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« Reply #16 on: July 13, 2011, 10:22:23 PM »

Entertaining that question would only be relevant if we came to an agreement that he truly had an iconoclast policy.
I have to agree, do we know for sure he was an iconoclast? I'm just typing the stuff I am under the assumption that what scholars are saying about him are true.
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« Reply #17 on: July 14, 2011, 03:08:48 AM »

This incident should not be over-egged.

There are eyewitness accounts by Western observers. He burned a few damaged and redundant icons once. He was not an iconclast, even if he was mistaken in his actions.

In this instance Meinardus seems to be going  beyond the evidence.
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« Reply #18 on: July 14, 2011, 03:26:33 AM »

This incident should not be over-egged.

There are eyewitness accounts by Western observers. He burned a few damaged and redundant icons once. He was not an iconclast, even if he was mistaken in his actions.

In this instance Meinardus seems to be going  beyond the evidence.
As I said, under the assumption he was an iconoclast, he is to be condemned. But, why do you think he burned them anyway? I don't see the point.
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« Reply #19 on: July 14, 2011, 04:11:11 AM »

It would seem that he felt that some in his community had an almost superstitious attitude towards icons.

(I am entirely guessing, but perhaps some had an attitude which made superstitious rather than spiritual use of the material of the icon).

He seems to have wanted to show them that icons were for a spiritual purpose and not for 'magical' ends? I am not sure. Be he was clearly not an iconoclast because he did not remove all the icons from anywhere, and indeed IIRC he built or renovated churches with new icons. As far as my research found, these were old and damaged icons which were burned, and not ancient and precious ones.
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