In 847, after the death of her husband the emperor [[Theophilus the Iconoclast]], Empress [[Theodora (9th century empress)|Theodora]], a staunch [[iconodule]] and regent for her son Michael III, appointed Ignatius Patriarch of Constantinople, succeeding the reposed Methodius I. As patriarch, Ignatius soon became involved is the dispute between the [[Studion Monastery|Stoudites]] and the defenders of former [[iconoclast]]s. Siding with the Stoudites, Ignatius deposed their leader Gregory Asbestas, the [[archbishop]] of Syracuse who then appealed to Pope [[Leo IV of Rome|Leo IV]] in Rome. This action set off a period of conflict in relations between Constantinople and Rome.
As Michael grew up under the regency of his mother, the empress Theodora, he came under the influence of his maternal uncle, Caesar Bardas, who was noted for his sinful life. To improve his position, Bardas undermined the authority of Theodora until, in 855, he convinced Michael to depose his mother and send her to a monastery with her daughters. Ignatius refused to bless their monastic clothing. Ignatius, who had been a strong critic of Bardas, soon lost the support of Michael. In 857,wanting to avoid a conflict between the Church and the government, his bishops advised him to resign. To replace Ignatius, The bishop’s council of both sides recommended to Michael as the new patriarch the layman [[Photius the Great|Photius]] to avoid the election of bishops from rival parties. Over his protests, Photius ordained through the Holy Orders and consecrated as [[patriarch]] on [[December 24]]. 858 by Gregory Asbesta, who had been rehabilitated by the bishop’s council, and two Ignatian bishops. Photius was a scholar and strong opponent of the iconoclasts.
Several months after his exile, some supporters of Ignatius met and appealed to Pope Nicholas I in an attempt to discredit Photius’ appointment. This action further strained relations between Constantinople and Rome as Nicholas used the dispute in an attempt to increase his power over the Eastern church and assert jurisdiction over the newly converted Bulgaria. Councils, one in 859 convened by Photius and a second in 861, convened by Michael with Photius’ concurrence, affirmed that Photius was the lawful and canonical patriarch.
In 867, the rivalries for the emperor’s throne quickly changed the situation as Basil the Macedonian murdered Michael and Bardas and usurped the throne. Photius did not accept the murder of Michael and refused Basil communion. Having raised Basil’s ire Photius was removed from office on [[September 25]], 867. Ignatius was reinstated on [[November 23]].