Cyril Lucaris

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[[ro:Chiril Lucaris]]

Revision as of 05:34, August 5, 2010

Cyrillos Lukaris, also Cyril I Lucaris or Cyril Lucar, was a Greek prelate and theologian. He was Patriarch of Alexandria as Cyril III from 1601 to 1620 and Patriarch of Constantinople as Cyril I for five different periods from 1620 until 1638. He was the first great name in the Orthodox Church after the fall of Constantinople in 1453, and dominated its history in the seventeenth century. His Calvinist confession caused great controversy in the Orthodox Church.

Contents

Life

Cyril Lucaris was born in Candia (Heraklion), Crete on November 13, 1572 during the time Crete was occupied by the Venetian Republic. In his early youth he studied under a number of eminent scholars including Maximus Marguius, Bishop of Kythira. For his later education he traveled through Europe, studied at Venice, Padua, and Geneva. In Geneva, he came under the influence of the reformed faith as represented by John Calvin. He developed a great antipathy toward Roman Catholicism after he had pursued theological studies in Venice, Padua, Wittenberg, and Geneva. In addition to being fluent in Greek, he learned Latin thoroughly during his student days.

He was ordained a deacon in 1593, when he was 21 years old and, later, was ordained a priest by Patriarch Meletius Pegas, Patriarch of Alexandria.

Patr. Meletius Pegas sent Cyril to Poland in 1596 to lead the opposition by the Orthodox to the Union of Brest that proposed a union of Kiev with Rome. During this time, he was a professor at the Orthodox academy in Vilnus, now the capital of Lithuania. In 1601, he was elected Patriarch of Alexandria, succeeding Patr. Meletius Pegas, a position he filled with dedication for nineteen years. During this time he re-organized the finances of the patriarchate and repaired churches in addition to preaching and maintaining constant correspondence with the Patriarch of Jerusalem and Cyprus.

In 1612, he was locum tenens of the Church of Constantinople for a short time. On November 4, 1620, the Holy Synod of Constantinople elected Cyril Patriarch of Constantinople. His patriarchate was broken into five different periods: 1620 to 1623, 1623 to 1633, 1633 to 1634, 1634 to 1635, and 1637 to 1638, by intrigues involving the the papacy, reformists, Jesuits, and the Ottoman sultan that included schemes against Cyril to discredit him by spreading rumors he was a Calvinist. After each deposition, Patr. Cyril was re-elected by the clergy supported by the Orthodox population.

It is alleged that the great aim of his life was to reform the Church on Calvinistic lines, and to this end he sent many young Greek theologians to the universities of Switzerland, the northern Netherlands and England. In 1629, his famous Confessio (Calvinistic in doctrine) was published in Latin, but as far as possible accommodated to the language and creeds of the Orthodox Church. From 1629 to 1633, it appeared in two Latin editions, four French, one German and one English. The "Confession" started a controversy in the Eastern Church which culminated in 1672 in the convocation by Dositheus, Patriarch of Jerusalem, of a synod by which the Calvinistic doctrines were condemned. Since then, eminent historians, theologians, and researchers have attempted to clarify whether Cyril Lucaris was the actual author of the "Confession" attributed by the Calvinists to him. While Cyril denied it verbally a number of times and proclaimed his Orthodox faith in his letters as well by his attitude, he did not disavow the "Confession" in writing. The orthodoxy of Cyril Lucaris himself has continued to be a matter of debate in the Eastern Church. Even Dositheus, in view of the reputation of the great patriarch, thought it expedient to gloss over his heterodoxy in the interests of the Church.

Cyril was also particularly well disposed towards the Anglican Church, and his correspondence with the Archbishops of Canterbury is extremely interesting. Through his contacts with the Church of England, he also set up a program of sending young Greeks to England to study. Among these students was the youth from Macedonia, Metrophanes Kritopoulos who later would become Patriarch of Alexandria. Both Cyril and Metrophanes were lovers of books and manuscripts, and acquired manuscripts that today adorn the Patriarchal Library. Cyril also presented King James I of England with a fine manuscript of the Holy Bible, known as Codex Alexandrinus. He also sent a manuscript of the Pentateuch, with Arabic translation, to Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury.

While Cyril was several times deposed temporarily and banished at the instigation of his orthodox opponents and of the Jesuits, who were his bitterest enemies, his death came suddenly. When the Ottoman Sultan Murad IV was about to set out for the Persian War, the patriarch was accused of a design to stir up the Cossacks. Thus, to avoid trouble during his absence, the sultan had Cyril strangled by the Janissaries in June 27, 1638. His body was thrown into the Bosporus and was later recovered after being washed ashore on Halki Island. His body was buried at the Monastery of Panagia Kamariotissa on Halki by Patr. Parthenius I.


Succession box:
Cyril Lucaris
Preceded by:
Meletius I
Patriarch of Alexandria
1601-1620
Succeeded by:
Gerassimus I
Preceded by:
Neophytus II
Patriarch of Constantinople
locus tenens

1612-1612
Succeeded by:
Timothy II
Preceded by:
Timothy II
Patriarch of Constantinople
1620-1623
Succeeded by:
Gregory IV
Preceded by:
Anthimus II
Patriarch of Constantinople
1623-1633
Succeeded by:
Cyril II Kontares
Preceded by:
Cyril II Kontares
Patriarch of Constantinople
1633-1634
Succeeded by:
Athanasius III Patelaros
Preceded by:
Athanasius III Patelaros
Patriarch of Constantinople
1634-1635
Succeeded by:
Cyril II Kontares
Preceded by:
Neophytus III
Patriarch of Constantinople
1637-1638
Succeeded by:
Cyril II Kontares
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