St Tryphon the Patriarch of Constantinople

Saint Tryphon, Patriarch of Constantinople, was a monk from the time of his youth, distinguished by his meekness, lack of malice, full submission to the will of God, and his firm faith and love for the Church. At this time the emperor Romanus (919-944) ruled in Constantinople. He wanted to elevate his younger son Theophylactus to the patriarchal throne. When Patriarch Stephanos (925-928) died, Theophylactus was only sixteen years old. The emperor then suggested that St Tryphon be “locum tenens” of the patriarchal throne until Theophylactus came of age.

St Tryphon meekly accepted the burden of patriarchal service and for three years he wisely governed the Church. When Theophylactus turned twenty (931), the emperor told St Tryphon to resign the patriarchal throne. St Tryphon did not consider it proper to hand over the throne to an inexperienced youth, and he refused to do so. The emperor could not intimidate St Tryphon, since his life was blameless. Then Romanus employed the cunning counsels of Bishop Theophilus of Caesarea.

The deceitful bishop went to St Tryphon and urged him not to obey the emperor, and not to resign the patriarchal throne. Then Bishop Theophilus craftily obtained St Tryphon’s signature on a blank sheet of paper. Not suspecting any treachery, the guileless saint took a clean sheet of paper and wrote: “Tryphon, by the Mercy of God, Archbishop of Constantinople, the New Rome, and Ecumenical Patriarch.”

When they presented this paper to the emperor, he ordered them to write over the saint’s signature: “I hereby resign the position of Patriarch, because I consider myself unworthy of this office.” When this false document was read before the imperial dignitaries, servants removed St Tryphon from the patriarchal chambers.

St Tryphon patiently endured the injustice done to him, and returned to his own monastery. He lived there as a simple monk for a year before his death (+ 933). His body was taken to Constantinople and buried with the Patriarchs.