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Arsenius Autoreianus of Constantinople

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His All-Holiness Arsenius Autoreianus was Patriarch of Constantinople during the middle of the thirteenth century. He excommunicated the usurper Emperor Michael Palaeologus for having blinded the young John IV Laskaris, the son of Michael’s predecessor, the Emperor Theodore II Laskaris.


The early life of Arsenius is unknown. Living during the time of the Latin conquest of Constantinople, he was educated at a monastery in Empire of Nicea, a monastery of which he later became the abbot. Later he took up a life of solitary asceticism with a monastery in Bithynia.

Emperor Theodore, in 1255, called Arsenius from his life of seclusion to become the Patriarch of Constantinople and to take part in the new emperor’s coronation after the death of his father, John III, in November 1254, and he had been acclaimed emperor by the army and the court.

Four years later, after Theodore’s death, Patr. Arsenius became joint guardian for Theodore’s son John with George Muzalon, Theodore’ s megas domestikos. A few days after Theodore’s death, Michael Palaeologus initiated a coup against George Muzalon, murdered him, and became the joint guardian with Patr. Arsenius of the eight year old Emperor John IV Laskaris.

With the murder of Muzalon, Patr. Arsenius fled Nicea and took refuge in the Monastery of Paschasius. He retained his office as patriarch but did not fulfill any of the duties. Nicephorus of Ephesus was appointed by Emperor Michael to replace Patr. Arsenius as patriarch.

After Constantinople was retaken from the Latins in July 1261, the imperial court returned to the city. With the return of Michael and the court to Constantinople, Michael got Patr. Arsenius to reoccupy the patriarchal seat again. By December 1261, the return to Constantinople had been completed except for John IV who was left behind and blinded in an act that ended his claim to the throne. John was then relegated to a monastery. For this deed Michael received from Patr. Arsenius a severe censure, going a far as excommunicating the emperor.

Michael, in vain, sought for pardon from the patriarch. When Patr. Arsenius refused, Michael began false accusations against the patriarch and banished him to Proconnesus. Until his death Patr. Arsenius refused to remove the sentence of excommunication against the emperor. After his repose, it wasn’t until after Josephus became patriarch that Josephus absolved the emperor. This act raised a conflict between parties of “Arsenites” and “Josephites”, a schism that was not reconciled until patriarchate of Nephon I in 1315.

The year of Patr. Arsenius’ reposed is in dispute: 1264 according to Johann Fabricius, the biographer, and 1273 by others.

Preceded by:
Manuel II
Patriarch of Constantinople
Succeeded by:
Nicephorus II
Preceded by:
Nicephorus II
Patriarch of Constantinople
Succeeded by:
Germanus III


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