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Latin Patriarch of Antioch

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Coin of the Latin Patriarch of Antioch Aymery of Limoges (1139-1193), with bust of Aimery on the obverse

The Latin Patriarch of Antioch was an office created in 1098 by Bohemund, founder of the Principality of Antioch, one of the crusader states.

The seat of the Patriarch of Antioch was one of the oldest and most prestigious in Christendom. At one time it was the principal city of Syria; the third largest city of the Roman Empire, after Rome and Alexandria. When the Great Schism took place in 1054, the four Greek Patriarchs of Antioch, Jerusalem, Constantinople and Alexandria "formed" the Eastern Orthodox Church, while the Pope of Rome "formed" the Roman Catholic Church. ("formed" is used in quotations because neither side started anything new after the schism and both continued unaltered and the same as they did pre-schism - the Western Church being under the jurisdiction of Rome, and the Greek Church under the jurisdiction of Constantinople.)

After 1054, the See of Antioch came under the influence of the Byzantine Empire. As part of his grand strategy, the Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos sought to utilize the military elan and prowess of the Frankish and European princes of the First Crusade in recovering for him the Eastern Roman Empire, including Antioch and its See.

However, in aftermath of the Siege of Antioch in 1098, Bohemund had no intention of submitting Antioch to Byzantine rule and set himself up as Prince of Antioch. In the arguments over ecclesiastical authority, the Greek Patriarch, John the Oxite, was expelled and fled to Constantinople and Bohemund established the Latin Patriarch.

The Byzantine Empire was greatly offended by this and worked towards re-establishing either a joint patriarchate or a single Greek patriarchate; the terms of the Treaty of Devol in 1108 nominally restored a Greek patriarch, although this was never enforced. Under Manuel I Komnenos there was briefly a joint patriarchate when Antioch fell under Byzantine control, but for the most part there was only a Latin patriarch. The Byzantine Empire curiously recognized this de facto control of the See of Antioch and the Latin Patriarch soon played a key role in solidifying ties between the Crusader states and the Byzantine Empire. This represented one of the sole instances of coordinated action by Byzantine and the Franks throughout the crusader period, and led to a number of joint political, diplomatic, military, and marriage alliances. The Latin Patriarch of Antioch was established to serve the Catholic members of the diocese and represent all Christians living in its territory and was one of the major ecclesiastical authorities in the Crusader states. Throughout the Crusader period both Greeks and Latins served under its hierarchy which included numerous suffragan bishops, abbots, cathedrals, monasteries, and churches under its ecclesiastical rule.

The Latin Patriarch remained in Antioch until the principality was captured by the Mamluks in 1268, when seat of the Latin Patriarch moved to Rome. Damascus quickly grew to dominance, eclipsing Antioch, and the Greek Patriarchate's seat was transferred there in 1342.

Both a Latin and Greek Patriarchs continued to be appointed by the Pope and the Byzantine Emperor respectively during the following centuries. However, the Latin Patriarch was a titular office, with its seat at the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome. It continued to play a role in helping to protect various isolated Christian communities in the Near East and eventually secured their unity with Rome. The office fell vacant in 1953 and finally abolished in 1964.

List of Latin Patriarchs of Antioch

This patriarchate was officially abolished in 1964.

See also

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