Michael of Synnada

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Michael of Synnada (Michael the Confessor) (died 818) was a bishop of Synnada from 784. [1] He represented Byzantium in diplomatic missions to Harun al-Rashid and Charlemagne. He was exiled by Emperor Leo V the Armenian because of his opposition to iconoclasm. Honored by the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches, his feast day is May 23.

Synnada in Phrygia

Synnada was an ancient town of Phrygia Salutaris in Asia Minor. Its site is now occupied by the modern Turkish town of Şuhut, in Afyonkarahisar Province.

Harun al-Rashid the fifth Abbasid Caliph

Harun al-Rashid was the fifth Abbasid Caliph. His birth date is debated, with various sources giving dates from 763 to 766. His epithet "al-Rashid" translates to "the Orthodox," "the Just," "the Upright," or "the Rightly-Guided." Al-Rashid ruled from 786 to 809, during the peak of the Islamic Golden Age. He established the legendary library Bayt al-Hikma in Baghdad in present-day Iraq, and during his rule Baghdad began to flourish as a center of knowledge, culture and trade. During his rule, the family of Barmakids, which played a deciding role in establishing the Abbasid Caliphate, declined gradually. In 796, he moved his court and government to Raqqa in present-day Syria.

Charlemagne King of the Franks, King of Italy, and Holy Roman Emperor

Charlemagne or Charles the Great, numbered Charles I, was King of the Franks from 768, King of the Lombards from 774, and Holy Roman Emperor from 800. He united much of western and central Europe during the Early Middle Ages. He was the first recognised emperor to rule from western Europe since the fall of the Western Roman Empire three centuries earlier. The expanded Frankish state that Charlemagne founded is called the Carolingian Empire. He was later canonized by Antipope Paschal III.



Michael was much influenced by Patriarch Tarasios of Constantinople, who sent him to a monastery on the coast of the Black Sea. An associate of Saint Theophylact of Nicomedia, once during a harvest in a time of drought, they caused rainfall through their prayers. [2]

Black Sea Marginal sea of the Atlantic Ocean between Europe and Asia

The Black Sea is a body of water and marginal sea of the Atlantic Ocean between the Balkans, Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and Western Asia. It is supplied by a number of major rivers, such as the Danube, Dnieper, Southern Bug, Dniester, Don, and the Rioni. Many countries drain into the Black Sea, including Austria, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey and Ukraine.

Theophylact or Theophylaktos became bishop of Nicomedia in Asia Minor following the Iconoclastic Controversy of the eighth century.

Patriarch Tarasius consecrated Michael Bishop of the city of Synnada. He was present at the Seventh Ecumenical Council at Nicea in 787. [2] At the request of the Emperor, he visited Caliph Harun al-Rashid to conduct peace negotiations. [3] He also carried out diplomatic missions for Byzantium at the court of Charlemagne.

He clashed with the Emperor Leo the Armenian over Leo's policy of iconoclasm, and was exiled, [2] where he died on 23 May, 826, [4] in want and poverty, faithful to Orthodoxy to the end. [3]

Byzantine Iconoclasm two periods in the history of the Byzantine Empire when the use of religious images or icons was opposed by religious and imperial authorities

Byzantine Iconoclasm refers to two periods in the history of the Byzantine Empire when the use of religious images or icons was opposed by religious and imperial authorities within the Eastern Church and the temporal imperial hierarchy. The "First Iconoclasm", as it is sometimes called, existed between about 726 and 787. The "Second Iconoclasm" was between 814 and 842. According to the traditional view, Byzantine Iconoclasm was started by a ban on religious images by Emperor Leo III and continued under his successors. It was accompanied by widespread destruction of images and persecution of supporters of the veneration of images. The Western church remained firmly in support of the use of images throughout the period, and the whole episode widened the growing divergence between the Eastern and Western traditions in what was still a unified church, as well as facilitating the reduction or removal of Byzantine political control over parts of Italy.

He died in 818. [3]


He is an Orthodox and Roman Catholic [5] saint. His feast day is celebrated on May 23. [2] He is invoked for protection of crops from pests. [6]

St. Michael is depicted with St. Athanasius in the Icon of the Mother of God “Economissa”. [7]

See also

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  1. Steven Bigham (editor),Heroes of the Icon: People, Places, Events (2000), p. 111.
  2. 1 2 3 4 "St Michael the Confessor the Bishop of Synnada", Orthodox Church in America
  3. 1 2 3 "St Michael, Bishop of Synnada", Serbian Orthodox Church
  4. Pétridès, Sophrone. "Synnada." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 14. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 25 Jan. 2014
  5. Saint of the Day, May 23
  6. "List of Saints Called Upon for Special Purposes", Orthodox Prayer
  7. Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America