Published online by Cambridge University Press: 16 July 2022
On the first Sunday of Lent in 843, the restoration of the cult of icons was publicly proclaimed in Constantinople by the newly elected Patriarch Methodius. Iconoclasm was condemned as a heresy, joining the numerous other forms of declared religious error that had been anathematized over the centuries. In the following year, the reinstitution of icons was commemorated for the first time in a feast that the Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates to this day as the “Sunday of Orthodoxy” or “The Triumph of Orthodoxy.” Significantly, this festival not only commemorates the reinstitution of icons, but serves as an occasion for the public condemnation of all heresies. In the eleventh century, the historian Michael Attaleiates commented that on the first Sunday of Lent, “The Church is wont to separate the orthodox from the heretics and anathematize the heterodox.” The feast thus commemorates the triumph of the “true religion”; indeed, it was regarded by some as a celebration of the very birth of orthodoxy.