One of the most explicit defenders of the privilegium Petri and the primacy of the Roman See is the ardent Greek defender of holy images, St. Theodore, monk of Studium.
During the course of his life, he suffered 3 exiles. The first exile was caused by his protest against the Emperor Constantine VI who put away his valid wife Mary the Armenian and had taken Theodote in her place. The reigning Patriarch of Constantinople, Tarasius, likewise protested, but eventually compromised, but refused to take part in the ceremony of “marriage”, which was blessed by a Byzantine priest named Joseph. St. Theodore, accompanied by his uncle Plato, were exiled from the monastery of Saccudion. This exile lasted only a few months until the death of the Emperor. Thereafter, he regained his freedom and brought his monks to a new monastery, called the Studion, named after the founder, the consul Studion.
When Patriarch Tarasius died (806), the new Emperor, Nikephoros I “the Logothete“, had appointed a laymen to take his place, also named Nikephorus (who would later be canonized as a Saint). The Emperor had him rushed through the process of ordination. At the same time, the priest Joseph who had blessed the marriage of the former Emperor and his adulterous wife was rehabilitated and given the status of grand steward after being stripped of his priesthood.
St. Theodore exclaimed to the Patriarch that such a restoration of the presbyter Joseph was against the canons, but nothing was done. The Emperor decided to hold a Synod which justified the invalid re-marriage of Emperor Constantine IV . At this Synod it had been deemed by the heretodox present that the Emperors do not live under the law of the Church, and that the orthodox Monks’ appeal to St. John the Baptist contra Herod and St. John Chrysostom’s preaching against the immorality of the court of Eudoxia were therefore useless.
What interests us here is the letter St. Theodore wrote to Pope St. Leo III . In his appeal to the Pope, the following words are read :
In summary, our blessed Monk of the East accepted the following concerning the Roman See:(1) Peter was given the Keys of the Kingdom in a special and authoritative way
(2) Peter was Chief of the Apostles
(3) The Bishops of Rome are the Successors to Peter and his Primacy
(4) All doctrinal questions threatening the Churches are to be laid before the Pope
(5) Pope St. Leo’s letter were in the character of dogma to Chalcedon contra Eutychios
(6) Councils held without the assent of the Pope are illegal (cf. Constantinople II, pre-Vigilius/Pelagius’ acceptance)
(7) Theodore, his monks, and the Archbishop of Thessaloniki were of the same mind at the time
(8) They all accepted that they were sheep in the fold which is cared for by the Successor of Peter
Now, one might dispute how far less this goes than what is claimed today by the Papists. However, what is said is a great deal, and can hardly be tucked away in some write-off which says he was just exhibiting Byzantine flattery. Nor can his other statements on the divine Pentarchy deflect what he decided to say here when exclusively commenting on Rome and its own Petrine prerogatives.