Some saints, like St. George or St. Joan of Arc, defended the Church during war against the armies of its enemies. Other saints, including today’s saint, fought in a different way. They defended the Church against heretics, who tell lies about what the Church believes.
Saint Methodius was born in the eighth century in southern Italy. His family was very rich and Methodius wanted to serve in the court of the Emperor. When he got there, he met a monk who convinced him to change his mind and become a monk instead. Soon after Methodius joined the monastery, the Emperor made a law that there could not be any images (paintings or statues) of Jesus or the saints. He believed that having holy images was against the teachings of the Church and he ordered his soldiers to go into churches and destroy paintings and statues. Many monks, including some of Methodius’ friends, were killed while defending their churches. Methodius wrote many letters and preached sermons explaining why the emperor was wrong and he was arrested and kept in prison for seven years.
Finally, a new emperor came into power and the persecutions stopped. Methodius was released from prison and became the head of the Eastern Church. He made sure that all of the priests and bishops understood that icons and other art can lead us to greater devotion to God and His saints. On February 19, 842, the images were brought back into the churches with great processions. Methodius died four years later, in 846.
Saint Methodius was a fierce defender of holy images against the iconoclasts, and today would be a good time to spend some time with religious art.
- Find the holy images of Christ, saints or angels in your own home and think about how having them there reminds you to follow their holy examples.
- Have your children paint a water color picture of their favorite saint or religious scene.
- They could build a religious statue using model magic or clay and then paint it.