A quick translation of an article on Metrophanes of Smyrna

August 10, 2018

R. Janin’s article on Metrophanes of Smyrna in the Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique, vol. 10/2 (Paris, 1923), cols. 1627-1628:

Metrophanes of Smyrna

Metrophanes of Smyrna: metropolitan of that city (9th century). He was born probably at Constantinople. Baronius, Annales, an. 843, n. 2 and 3, following John the Curopalate, reports that his mother had been the woman who, by a payment of money, had been successfully persuaded by the adversaries of Patriarch Methodius to accuse the latter of having formerly violated her. Nothing is known either about Metrophanes’ childhood or about his youth. He was already Metropolitan of Smyrna when St. Ignatius was deposed in 857. He showed himself an implacable adversary of Photius and placed himself at the head of the bishops who remained faithful to Ignatius; they excommunicated the intruder, who excommunicated them in turn (Baronius, an. 859, n. 54, and 860, n. 1). This courageous attitude earned Metrophanes the harsh attentions of Michael III. This prince had him first thrown in prison, then exiled. After the first deposition of Photius (867), Metrophanes was able to retake possession of his see. He attended the Eighth Ecumenical Council (869) and took an active part in its deliberations. During the fourth session (13 October), he put forward the motion of the patrician Baanes, the imperial commissary, demanding that two bishops, ordained by Methodius and partisans of Photius, be introduced into the assembly so that they might there learn the reason for their condemnation. The pontifical legates were opposed to this, but he ended up having his way. During the same session, he professed that he himself had been momentarily deceived by Photius who pretended to have been recognized by the pope and by the eastern patriarchs (Mansi, Concil., vol. X, cols. 55-73, passim; Baronius, Annales, an. 869, n. 27-28). During the sixth session (25 October), he gave an important speech and refuted the arguments of Zacharias, metropolitan of Chalcedon, a partisan of Photius (Mansi, ibid., cols. 89 sq.). At the end of the council, he was one of two bishops designated to read solemnly, at Hagia Sophia, the fathers’ profession of faith (Mansi, col. 179 A; Baronius, an. 869, n. 29-30). In 870, Metrophanes wrote, at the request of the patrician Manuel, Logothete of the Course or prefect of the imperial posts, an exposé of Photius’s conduct (Mansi, col. 413-420; Baronius, an. 870, n. 44-51). It was perhaps in the years following this that Photius wrote an ambiguous letter to Metrophanes (published by A. Papadopoulos-Kerameus, Ss. Patris Photii … Epistolae XLV, St. Petersburg, 1896, pp. 18-19). Upon the death of St. Ignatius, Metrophanes did not want to recognize Photius as patriarch and refused, under the pretext of illness, to attend the council held during the winter of 879-880 to pacify the Church. After the third warning, John VIII’s legates declared him cut off from the Church (Mansi, vol. XVII A-XVIII A, cols. 496 sq.). At this council of 879 there was seated a certain Nicetas with the title of Metropolitan of Smyrna; he must have been ordained by Photius during Metrophanes’ exile. All trace of Metrophanes is lost after 880. The date of his death is unknown, nor is it known if he was able to retake possession of his see after Photius’s second deposition (886). Certain manuscripts of his works give him the title of saint and even that of martyr; nevertheless, no service seems to have been composed for his veneration.

The works of Metrophanes of Smyrna are quite numerous and varied. John Bekkos, in his Epigraph VIII, PG 141, 692 (L. Allatius, Graecia orthodoxa, 1648, vol. II, p. 605), cites the beginning of his commentary on the first epistle of St. John. A Georgian translation exists of his commentary on Ecclesiastes, K. S. Kekelidze, Thargmanebay Eklesiastisay Mitrophane zmwrnel metropolitisay (Commentarii in Ecclesiastem Metrophanis, metropolitae Smyrnensis), Tiflis, 1920; the Greek text has not yet been reported. Allatius, De libris ecclesiasticis graecis, n. 67, says that Metrophanes is the author of the canons to the Holy Trinity that are sung in the office of Sunday (Fabricius, Bibliotheca graeca, 1722, vol. v, p. 49; A. Papadopoulos-Kerameus, Ἱεροσολυμιτικὴ βιβλιοθήκη, vol. I, ms. 249, p. 320, vol. II, mss. 257, 434, and 468, pp. 383, 548, and 559); from him are also sticharia on the same subject (A. Papadopoulos-Kerameus, op. cit., vol. II, ms. 434, p. 548); diverse hymns (ibid., vol. II, ms. 106 and 342, pp. 118, 464); canons and sticharia in honor of the Holy Virgin (Theotocarion, ed. Venice, 1808, pp. 15, 47, 65, 91, and 105; A. Papadopoulos-Kerameus, vol. II, ms. 435, pp. 547-548). He also left an instruction on the manner of transcribing hymns (A. Papadopoulos-Kerameus, vol. II, ms. 106, p. 188). We spoke above about his letter to the patrician Manuel on Photius’s conduct; it is found in Latin in Baronius, op. cit., an. 870, n. 44-51, in Greek and in Latin in Mansi, op. cit., vol. XVI, cols. 413 E-420. B. Georgiades has published (in Ἐκκλησιαστικὴ Ἀλήθεια, vol. 3, 1882-1883, pp. 298-302) a panegyric by Metrophanes on St. Polycarp; another by the same author on the archangels likewise appeared in the same review, vol. 7 (1887, 2nd ed.), pp. 386-393. Finally, a treatise against the Latins on the subject of the procession of the Holy Spirit has been attributed to Metrophanes: L. Allatius, De Ecclesiae occidentalis et orientalis perpetua consensione, 1648, vol. II, c. 6, col. 575; but J. Hergenröther, Photii liber de Spiritus Sancti mystagogia, Ratisbon, 1857, has proven that this work is by Photius.

Baronius, Annales ecclesiastici, ann. 843, n. 2 and 3; 859, n. 54; 860, n. 1; 869, n. 27-30; 870, n. 44-51; Mansi, Concil., vol. XVI, cols. 55-73, 89 sq., 179; vol. XVII a-XVIIIa, cols. 496 sq.; Fabricius, Bibliotheca graeca, 1721, vol. X, p. 540.

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