Saint of the Day – 23 May – Saint Michael of Synnada (Died 826) Monk, Bishop, Confessor, emmissary and diplomat of peace – also known as St Michael the Confessor – his birthplace is unknown but he died in 826 in Eudokiadu, Turkey of natural causes. Patronage – protection of crops from pests.
Nothing is known about Michael’s early life but we do know, that as a young man he was much influenced by St Tarasios (Bishop of Constantinople in 784–806) and he thereafter longed for the monastic life. St Tarasios tonsured him and sent him to a Monastery on the coast of the Black Sea, along with St Theophylactus, the future Bishop of Nicomedia.
At the Monastery both Monks became immersed in the holy Gospel and the life of Christ. As his own sanctity grew so did his love for his neighbour. It is reported that he worked many miracles, once, during a harvest, when the people were weakened by thirst, an empty metal vessel was filled with water by the prayer of the Monk. Similarly, during a pestilence of the crops, both Monks prayed that the crops might be saved and, to the great joy of the people, the pestilence, disappeared.
Bishop Tarasius consecrated Saint Michael as Bishop of the City of Synnada, apparently he was not enamoured of becoming a Bishop, but through his holy life, (he continued to live as a Monk) and wisdom, Bishop Michael won the love of his faithful and the notice of the emperors. He was therefore, requested to assist and was instrumental in negotiating various peace treaties in the areas surrounding his Diocese.
Saint Michael was present at the Seventh Ecumenical Council at Nicea in 787 in which his participation in all sessions of the council is recorded.
When the Iconoclast heretic Emperor Leo the Armenian (813-820) assumed the throne, he began to expel Bishops from their Diocese, appointing heretics in their place.
Bishop Michael bravely defended the teachings of the Church, opposing the heretics and denouncing their error. Leo the Armenian brought Bishop Michael to trial but not fearing torture he answered resolutely, “I venerate the holy icons of my Saviour Jesus Christ and the Immaculate ever-Virgin, His Mother and all the saints and, it is to them, I bow down. I shall not obey your decrees to remove icons from our Churches.”
Leo then banished Michael to the city of Eudokiada, where the Confessor died in 826.
The head of Saint Michael is preserved at Saint Athanasius on Mount Athos and part of the relics are at the Iveron Monastery.