Isidore the Apostate, also known as Isidore of Kiev or Isidore of Thessalonica, (Greek: Ἰσίδωρος τοῦ Κιέβου; Russian: Исидор; Ukrainian: Ісидор) was the Metropolitan of Kiev and Moscow during the time of the Council of Florence in the fifteenth century. He advocated union with the Roman Catholic Church at the council and after return to Russia. Denounced by the rulers and people for his unionist stand, he was arrested and then fled his see.
Isidore was born in Thessalonica in 1385. He became a monk in Constantinople and was named the hegumen of the Monastery of St. Demetrius. He developed a name for himself as an orator and a theologian. He was fluent in Latin and favored a reunion with Rome.
In 1434, the Roman Emperor John VIII Palaeologus sent Isidore as part of an embassy to open negotiations for reunion at the Council of Basel. On return to Constantinople, he continued to further preparations for reunion among the people of Constantinople.
In 1437, Emperor John VIII appointed Isidore Metropolitan of Kiev to draw the Church of Russia into communion with Rome so as to secure aid from the West in protecting Constantinople from the Ottoman Turks. Isidore’s arrival in Moscow was not welcomed by Grand Prince Basil II. Yet, Isidore was able to persuade Basil II to ally with the Catholics for the sake of the Roman Empire and the Church of Constantinople.
In 1437, Patriarch Joseph II of Constantinople, a friend of reunion, named Isidore Metropolitan of Moscow. After receiving funding from Basil II, Isidore headed to Ferrara for the continuation of the Council of Basel. His travels were a grand tour of his territories. He left on September 8, 1437, traveling through, among other cities, Riga and Lubeck. During the trip, Isidore displayed undue friendliness with the Latins and thus offended members of his traveling party. He arrived in Ferrara on August 15, 1438. In the sessions at Ferrara and Florence, to which the council moved in January 1439 due to the plague, he worked with Johannes Bessarion, after Mark of Ephesus had been silenced, trying to sell out Orthodoxy. The only person left to oppose him was the secular representative Thomas of Tver.
Through these times, Isidore received many honors from the Latin church. After the council, Pope Eugene IV made him a cardinal-presbyter and a papal legate for the provinces of Lithuania, Livonia, Russia, and Galicia. His appointment as cardinal is one of the few times that a person not of the Latin rite was so appointed.
On his return to Moscow after the council had approved reunion, Isidore issued in Budapest, in March 1440, an encyclical calling on all the Russian bishops to accept the union. On arrival in Moscow on Pascha 1441, he served his first Divine Liturgy in the Cathedral of the Dormition in the Moscow Kremlin carrying a Catholic cross in front of the procession, naming Pope Eugene IV during the prayers of the liturgy, and then proclaimed the union in the cathedral. He read to the faithful the decree of unification and later passed a message from Rome for Prince Basil requesting that he, the metropolitan, be assisted in spreading the union in Russia. Basil II of Moscow, the clergy, and the people would have nothing to do with his proclamation. Three days later, at Prince Basil’s direction he was arrested and a synod of six bishops deposed Isidore and shut him away in the Chudov Monastery as a prisoner.
Two year later in September 1443, Isidore escaped his imprisonment and fled first to Tver, then to Lithuania, and then finally to Rome. Graciously received in Rome, Pope Nicholas V sent him as a legate to Constantinople in 1452 to negotiate again a reunion. He was in Constantinople when the Ottoman Turks broke the defenses of the city on May 29, 1453. He escaped capture by dressing a dead body in his cardinal’s robes. While the Turks were occupied cutting off the head of the dead body, he was shipped off to Asia Minor, as a slave, with a group of insignificant prisoners. Escaping captivity, Isidore returned to Rome where he was made Bishop of Sabina.
Later, Pope Pius II gave him successively two titles: as Latin Patriarch of Constantinople and Archbishop of Cyprus, neither of which was he able make into a real jurisdiction. In October 1461, he was named the Dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals. Isidore reposed in Rome, Italy on April 27, 1463.
|Metropolitan of Kiev/Moscow|