Prophet Elisha, the son of Saphat, was from the town of Abel-me-oul and had been a husbandman. In the year 908 B.C., at God's command, the Prophet Elias anointed him to be Prophet in his stead. This happened while Elisha was plowing his land, having twelve oxen under yoke. Straightway, Elisha slew the oxen and cooked them, using the wooden plough and the other instruments of husbandry as firewood; then he gave the oxen as food to the people. Bidding farewell to his parents, he followed Elias and served him until the latter was taken up as it were into Heaven (see July 20). When Elisha received his teacher's mantle and the grace of his prophetic spirit twofold, he demonstrated whose disciple he was through the miracles he wrought and through all that is related of him in the Fourth Book of Kings. He departed full of days and was buried in Samaria, about the year 839 B.C. But even after his death God glorified him; for after the passage of a year, when some Israelites were carrying a dead man for burial and suddenly saw a band of Moabites, they cast the dead man on the grave of the Prophet. No sooner had the dead man touched the Prophet's bones, than he came to life and stood on his feet (4 Kings 13:20-21). Mentioning this, Jesus the Son of Sirach says, "He did wonders in his life, and at his death his works were marvellous" (Ecclus. 48:14). It is because of such marvels that the faithful have reverence for the relics of the Saints (see also January 16). His name means "God is Saviour".
St Methodios, Patriarch of Constantinople, was born in Sicily into a rich family. Having a vocation to serve God, he went while still in his youth off to a monastery on the island of Chios and renovated it with his means. During the reign of the iconoclast Leo the Armenian (813-820), Methodios held the high position of "apokrisiaros" ("advocate for Church matters") under the holy Patriarch Nicephoros (June 2). He was dispatched by the patriarch to Rome on a mission to the papacy and he remained there. During this period Leo the Armenian removed Nicephoros from the patriarchal throne and put on it the iconoclast Theodotus of Melissinea, given the nickname "Kassiter" ("Tinman") (815-822). After the death of Leo the Armenian, St Methodios returned, and in the dignity of presbyter he struggled incessantly against the Iconoclast heresy.
The emperor Michael the Stammerer (820-829 AD) at first was noted for his benevolence and he set free many imprisoned by his predecessor for their veneration of icons, but after a while he renewed the persecution against Orthodoxy. St Methodios was locked up in prison in Akrita. After the death of Michael the Stammerer, the ruler was Theophilus (829-842), who also was an iconoclaMore refined a man than his father, he set free St Methodios, who likewise was a man of learning, superbly skilled in matters not only ecclesial, but also civil. Having received his freedom, St Methodios renewed the struggle with the heretics, and for a while the emperor tolerated this.
However, after defeat in a war with the Arabs, Theophilus vented his anger against Methodios, saying, that God had punished him because he had letan "icon-worshipper" come close to him. Methodios objected, saying that the Lord was angry with him for the insults upon His holy icons. They gave the Saint over to tortures, and struck him much about the face, from which his jaw was broken. Ugly scars remained on his face. Methodios was sent off to the island of Antigonos and he was locked up there with two robbers in a deep cave. In this dark prison where the light of day did not penetrate, Methodios languished for 7 years until the death of the emperor Theophilos.
During this time, the holy Confessors Theodore and Theophanes the Branded (commemorated December 27), who had also been sent to prison, sent Methodios greetings in verse, and the prisoner replied with greetings in verse, as well.
After the death of Theophilus, his son Michael III (842-867) began to rule, but not being of mature age, the Byzantine Empire was actually ruled by his mother, the empress Theodora, a venerator of icons.
The empress tired to extirpate the Iconoclast heresy, and gave orders to free the confessors imprisoned for icon veneration. The heretic Annios occupying the patriarchal throne was banished, and St Methodios chosen in his place. At Constantinople was convened a local Council with St Methodios presiding (842). The Council restored icon veneration and established an annual celebration of the triumph of Orthodoxy. The "Synodikon of Orthodoxy" compiled by St Methodios is read on the First Sunday of Great Lent.
Attempting to undermine the authority of St Methodius, and also the love and esteem of his flock for him, the heretics slandered him as having transgressed chastity. The slander was exposed as such, and the enemies of the Saint put to shame. The final years of the Saint passed peacefully, he toiled much, wisely guided the Church and his flock, renovated temples ruined by the heretics, gathered up the relics of Saints scattered about by the heretics, and transferred the relics of Patriarch Nicephorus from the place of his imprisonment back to Constantinople. St Methodius died in the year 846. He was spiritually close to Ioannikos (4 November), who had foretold that he would become patriarch and also the time of his death. Besides the "Synodikon of Orthodoxy," the holy hierarch also compiled a rule for those converted to the Faith, three rites of marriage and several pastoral sermons and church hymns.