Callistus I of Constantinople

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Our father among the saints Callistus I of Constantinople, also Kallistos I, was the patriarch of Constantinople for two periods, from 1350 to 1353 and from 1354 to 1363. He was a theologian and hagiographer, as well as a hesychast who continued to support St. Gregory Palamas against the followers of Barlaam of Calabria. St. Callistus is commemorated on June 20.


Nothing is known of Callistus' early life. He was disciple of Gregory Palamas and Gregory of Sinai. He lived an ascetic life as a monk at Mount Athos in the Skete of Magoula of the Monastery of Philotheou for twenty eight years. He also founded the Monastery of St. Mamas at Tenedos, a small island near the Dardanelles.

Callistus was elected to the throne of the see of Constantinople in June 1350, succeeding Patr. Isidore. In 1351, he convened a synod in Constantinople that finally established the Orthodoxy of Hesychasm.

In 1353, Patr. Callistus refused to crown Matthew Kantakouzenos, son of emperor John VI Kantakouzenos, as emperor with his father and, as a result, was deposed. After his deposition, Callistus returned to Mount Athos. In 1354, after John VI abdicated, Callistus returned as patriarch. After his return Patr. Callistus worked to strengthen the administration of the patriarchate. He reorganized the parish system of churches under the surveillance of a patriarchal exarch. He also strove to strengthen patriarchal control over various Orthodox church jurisdictions, even to the extent of excommunicating the Serbian tsar, Stefan Dusan, for establishing the Serbian archbishop as an independent patriarch.

In 1355, Patr. Callistus of Constantinople wrote to the clergy of Trnovo that those Latins who had baptized by single immersion should be re-baptized. He called the baptism by one immersion most improper and full of impiety. His view was based on the Apostolic canons which clearly state that those baptized by one immersion are not baptized and should be re-baptized.

Patr. Callistus died in 1363 while he was en-route to Serres as a member of the embassy of emperor John Paleologos seeking aid from the empress Helena of the Serbians against the Turks. Of note is that St. Maximus of Kapsokalyvia prophesied the death of Patr. Callistus. On his way to Serbia, Callistus traveled through Mount Athos. Seeing him, St. Maximus said, "This elder will never see his flock again for behind him is heard the funeral chant: "Blessed are the undefiled in the way" (Psalm 119:1).


St. Callistus is known as a spiritual writer. With Ignatius of Xanthopoulos, he complied a guide for ascetics. He wrote the hagiography of St. Gregory of Sinai and St. Theodosius of Turnovo as well as numerous homilies. Many of his works appear in the Philokalia.

Succession box:
Callistus I of Constantinople
Preceded by:
Isidore I Buchiras
Patriarch of Constantinople
Succeeded by:
Philotheus I (Kokkinos)
Preceded by:
Philotheus I (Kokkinos)
Patriarch of Constantinople
Succeeded by:
Philotheus I (Kokkinos)
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