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Gennadios I of Constantinople

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Saint Gennadios,in Greek Άγιος Γεννάδιος,was the twenty-first Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople (458 - 471). Gennadios is seen to have been a learnt writer and followed the Antiochene school of literal exegesis although little writings has been left about him. He is celebrated in the Greek Orthodox Church on November 17, but is not listed in the Roman Martyrology.[1]


His first public writing was quoted by Facundos (Defensio, II, iv) against Saint Cyril of Alexandria in two works, probably in 431 or 432, including a passage to show that his work was more violent even than the letter of Ibas. The Anathemas of Cyril and Two Books to Parthenios were criticized. In the latter he exclaims, "How many times have I heard blasphemies from Cyril of Egypt? Woe to the scourge of Alexandria!" In 433 Gennadios probably reconciled with Cyril. If Saint Cyril's letter of 434 (Ep. lvi) is to the same Gennadios, they were friends in that year. Gennadios was a presbyter at Constantinople when he succeeded Anatolios in 458 as the Bishop of Constantinople. From the beginning of his episcopate Gennadios proved his zeal for the Christian faith and the maintenance of discipline. His discretion was before long tested.

Timotheos Aeluros, the Monophysite who made himself the Patriarch of Alexandria and was later chased from the Patriarchate by order of the Roman emperor, had obtained leave to come to Constantinople, intending, by a pretence of Ecumenisim, to re-establish himself on his throne. On June 17, 460, Pope Leo I warned Gennadios (Ep. clxx) against Timotheos Aeluros and urged him to do his utmost to prevent the voyage of Timotheos, and to secure the immediate consecration of an Orthodox prelate for Alexandria. All happened as Leo desired; Timotheos Aeluros was banished to the Chersonese, and Timotheos Solofakiolos was chosen bishop of Alexandria in his stead. About the same time, Gennadios' liberality, penetration, and desire for order was observed in his appointment of Markianos, a Novatianist who had come over to the Orthodox church, the chancellor of the goods of the church of Constantinople.

Two Egyptian solitaries told Ioannis Moschos a story which is also recorded by Theodoros Lector. The church of Saint Pope Eleutherios at Constantinople was served by a reader named Carisios, who led a disorderly life. Gennadios severely reprimanded him in vain. According to the rules of the church, the patriarch had him flogged, which was also ineffectual. The patriarch sent one of his officers to the church of Saint Eleftherios to beg that holy martyr either to correct the unworthy reader or to take him from the world. Next day Carisios was found dead, to the terror of the whole town. Theodoros also relates how a painter, presuming to depict the Saviour under the form of Zeus, had his hand withered, but was healed by the prayers of Gennadios.

About the same time Saint Daniel the Stylite began to live on a column of Pharos near Constantinople, apparently without the Patriarch's leave, and certainly without the permisslon of Gelasios, the owner of the property where the pillar stood, who strongly objected to this strange invasion of his land. The Emperor Leo protected the ascetic, and some time later sent Gennadios to ordain him priest, which he is said to have done standing at the foot of the column, because Saint Daniel objected to being ordained and refused to let the bishop mount the ladder. At the end of the rite, however, the patriarch ascended to give Holy Communion to the stylite and to receive it from him. Whether he then imposed his hands on him is not said. Possibly he considered it sufficient to extend them from below towards the saint. According to Theodoros Lector, Gennadios would allow no one to become a cleric unless he had learned the Psalter by heart. He made Saint Markianos oiconomos of the Church of Constantinople.

The buying and selling of holy orders was a crying scandal of the age. Measures had been taken against simony by the Council of Chalcedon. It seems not later than 459, Gennadios celebrated a great council of eighty-one bishops, many of whom were from the East and even from Egypt, including those who had been dispossessed of their sees by Timotheos Aeluros. The letter of this council against simony is still preserved (J. D. Mansi, VII, 912). An encyclical was issued, adding anathema to the former sentence.

He stands out as an able and successful administrator whom historians have roundly praised.

Gennadios is said to have died in Cyprus at the village of Moro Nero, in the Paphos district. A church to his name was built over his grave where it stands in ruins to this day. The story is as follows:

Saint Gennadios selected Cyprus to make his hermitage. Thus, after he foresaw his end, he hurried and enthroned a successor for the Patriarchate and withdraw. His successor was Akakios,a man of recognized ability and virtue. He put on a leather bag for hermits, and left at night from Constantinople. Along with his devoted monk, Nile, he went to the Holy Land. After he saw and paid his respects to the Golgotha, and the Grave of Christ, he proceeded for Cyprus. He reached Paphos and without any delay he left monk Nile there, and alone he began to go to the mountain which before the hermit Hilarionas the Great had set up his hermitage there. The distance from the city was big. Tired,the old man walked slowly. Thus before he reached his destination, it began to get dark and a snow storm started. In order to find shelter from the storm,he started to walk faster and reached the village of Kissopetra (the old name of the village of Moro Nero) which was near to where he wanted to go. He asked for shelter in a house where a widow with her two children lived. He knocked the door of house many times. He called and requested for help,but no one opened for him. The result is not difficult for us to conclude. The Saint froze to death from the cold during the night and died. In the morning of the next day they found him dead. The merciless widow and her children were also half dead from the cold. Someone from the village took the news to the Bishop of Paphos. Bishop Iperorios sent a priest and another man to the village in order to arrange the burial of the monk. This is the impression that the dead hierarch gave. The man reached first before the priest and announced to everybody in the village the coming of the priest whom they waited for. However,when the priest reached outside the village,where a waterspring was situated, he was forced to stop because instead of the water spring,he saw a big and an immense river in front of the village. He was afraid to return back and another envoy from the village run to the Bishop and reported to him that the priest did not go and asked the Bishop to take care for the funeral of the monk. At that moment the priest also arrived and he explained that the reason that he did not go to the village was the existence of a very big river,which was found in front of the village. This explanation took the curiosity of the Bishop, and after he called all the priests of city, he began along with them, and with crowds of people, to head for the village. Truly, when they reached near the water spring, they saw with big surprise that in the place of the water spring there was an enormous river, but also a darkness above the water. The Bishop understood that the deceased for whom they spoke about, could not have been a common monk. He was certain that he was a great saint and that they could not reach him because they were unworthy to approach him. After long and devoted prayers, the river disappeared, the darkness was dissolved and the water spring appeared once again. The bishop named the spring Homoron Hydor (that is to say Adjacent Water). Thus,this is today the name of the known village of Moro Nero which is near Episkopi in Paphos. After the disappearance of the river, the Bishop along with the priests and the people went to the place where Gennadios was found dead. When they reached his body, they kissed it with devotion and the Bishop ordered for the motionless and half dead widow with her children,to be brought and be put near the Saint's body. After that,the devoted Bishop Iperorios knelled in front of the body and prayed. From her part the woman asked from the foreign monk to forgive her and have her health back again. The miracle happened at once . The half-dead woman and her children got their life back in a moment's time. They could move, they could get up, they could walk. Young and old, they all burst out in chatting and with teardrops they glorified God and his unknown Saint. In a short time crowds of people from the city and the neighbouring parts who had heard what had happened, began to arrive up to the small village in order to see and kiss the miracle giving monk. Among the ones who came was also Gennadio's devoted monk Nile. A very moving scene followed after he saw the dead hierarch. He fell over the Saint's body and with cries and shoutings he was mourning for his spiritual father-his Geronda. This is how he called the dead monk. Bishop Iperorios called monk Nile and asked to tell him the identity of the dead monk.In the beginning Nile denied to tell him.Later however, he revealed who the mysterious monk was." My Bishop", he said to him, "this foreign and humble monk, is Gennadios, the previous Patriarch of Constantinople" In hearing of the name,Bishop Iperorios got up and deeply moved, gave command for the appropriate coffin for the dead Patriarch to be prepared. Later, after they placed the saint's body in it, with hymns and incense, they raised it with candles and in a holy procession they transported him in order to be buried at the Bishopric. As soon as the men who held the coffin moved and reached the spot where later the church of Saint Gannadios was built, they felt a big tiredness overtaking them and they put down the coffin in order to rest a little. Later,when they tried to raise him again and move, it became impossible. The coffin could not be moved. No-one could believe how it got rooted in the ground. This made them understand that the Saint wanted to be buried in that place. This is what took place. They buried him there and later the people built a church to his name. In this church, his traveling companion Saint Nile, was ordained into a sub deacon before he died a little afterwards. The ruins of this church which was build in Saint Gennadios memory survive at the village of Moro Nero to this day.

The Memory of Saint Gennadios is celebrated on November 17.

Biblical works

Ioannis Moschos said of Gennadios that he was very mild and of great purity. Gennadios of Marseilles said of Gennadios was lingua nitidus et ingenio acer, and so rich in knowledge of the ancients that he composed a commentary on the whole Book of Daniel. The continuation of Jerome's Chronicle by Marcellinus Comes tells us (according to some manuscripts) that Gennadios commented on all epistles of Saint Paul.

Principal fragments of his biblical works include Genesis, Exodus, Psalms, Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, and Hebrews, and are interesting specimens of 5th century exegesis. Some fragments are collected in Migne, Patrologia Graeca, LXXXV, chiefly from the two catenae of John Antony Cramer on Romans; a few passages are found in the catena of Oecumenios, others in the catenae of Nikiphoros Kallistos Xanthopoulos, and a few in the Vienna MS. gr. 166 (46). The text on Romans, a series of explanatory remarks on isolated texts, is the most important.


  1. Martyrologium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2001 ISBN 88-209-7210-7)



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Preceded by
Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople
Succeeded by
ca:Gennadi I de Constantinobleka:გენადი I (კონსტანტინოპოლის პატრიარქი)

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