On Icons, Set Forth by the Seventh Ecumenical Council

From Our father among the Saints, the Holy Martyr Stephen the New (Nov. 28)

The Great Collection of The Lives of the Saints
Hearken to what the divine Scriptures relate concerning Elijah...

At that time, the Emperor and Patriarch sent to the monastery where the saint was imprisoned leaders of the iconoclastic heresy: Theodosius, Bishop of Ephesus; Constantine of Nicomedia; Nicholas; Sisinius; Basil; the aforementioned Callistus; and other rhetoricians, commanding them to debate with Stephen concerning the faith. These men had the blessed Stephen brought before them, fettered in irons so heavy that he could neither walk nor stand without support on either side. Theodosius, the Bishop of Ephesus, began by asking, “On what basis do you number us among the heretics, setting yourself above emperors, patriarchs, bishops, and all other Christians? Are we all in error, destined for perdition?”

“Hearken to what the divine Scriptures relate concerning Elijah,” Saint Stephen replied in a meek voice. “The prophet said to Ahab, King of Israel: I have not troubled Israel; but thou and thy father’s house. Likewise, it is not I who trouble the Church, but you who violate the traditions of the Holy Fathers of old and introduce new dogmas into her, for Basil the Great says,

Everything handed down from antiquity by the Holy Fathers is worthy of esteem, but what is recently established is worthless and untrustworthy
 (From Basil the Great’s First Homily on Fasting). Such are your decrees against the veneration of the holy icons, which were promulgated not by sons of the Holy Church but by godless adulterers. Certain is the prophet’s saying: The rulers of the people were assembled together (Ps. 2) with false shepherds and hirelings against Christ and His precious icon!”

At this, Constantine, Bishop of Nicomedia, rose from his seat and kicked Stephen (who was sitting on the floor) in the face. Then one of the guards began to kick the saint in the belly. The blessed one fell over, and the guard proceeded to trample upon his chest.

The Great Collection of The Lives of the Saints

This offering of the famous Russian collection of Lives of the Saints by Saint Demetrius of Rostov (1651-1709) marks the first time any of these national collections have been published in their entirety in the English language.