John I Talaia of Alexandria

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His Beatitude John I Talaia of Alexandria was the Patriarch of Alexandria of the Church of Alexandria from 481 to 482. A convinced Chalcedonian, he was recommended by Patr. Timothy III Salofacioius as his successor, but quarreled with Patr. Acacius of Constantinople.


The early life of John is largely unknown. He was a monk at the monastery in Canopus, east of Alexandria, and megas oikonomos (administrator) of the diocese under the Patr. Timothy Salofaciolus. John gained the favor of emperor Zeno during visits to Constantinople representing Patr. Timothy. However, animosity developed between him and Patr. Acacius. Angered, Acacius shut himself off from John and waited a chance for revenge.

Recommended as his successor by Patr Timothy III, John, who was at the time still in the favor of emperor Zeno, was elected patriarch of the see of Alexandria. On his ascension to the patriarchal throne in 481, however, John failed to send the customary announcement of his succession to Constantinople at the time it was sent to Rome and Antioch, but depended instead on a message through a courtier who delivered it late. So, the people of Constantinople learned of John's succession before Zeno received an official announcement. Emperor Zeno took this as a personal affront which Acacius took to his advantage.

Adding to the emperor's ire, in 482, John refused to sign the Henoticon, promulgated by the emperor that glossed over the Fourth Ecumenical Council at Chalcedon. Even though John was unimpeachably Orthodox, Patr. Acacius then persuaded Zeno that John had broken his oath in accepting election as patriarch, and also that he had advised his clergy to restore the name of the Monophysite champion, Dioscorus, to their diptychs.

Thus in 482, Zeno expelled John as patriarch and recognized Peter III Mongus, the Miaphysite claimant, who had already been elected patriarch by his own party, as the legitimate Patriarch on the condition that he sign the Henoticon, which he quickly did.

Expelled, John fled to Rome to explain the situation to Pope Felix II[1] and to seek redress from him. John persuaded the pope to write two letters to Acacius denouncing Peter Mongus. Also, the pope excommunicated Patr. Acacius. John remained in Rome and helped the papal court of Felix II with his advice and knowledge of Eastern affairs as the dispute led to the Acacian schism between Rome and Constantinople.

John was unable to recover his see and apparently remained a councilor to the pope and, perhaps, become Bishop of Nola in Italy. The date of his repose is unknown.


  1. Also numbered Felix III following an antipope Felix II (355-365)
Succession box:
John I Talaia of Alexandria
Preceded by:
Timothy III Salofaciolus
Patriarch of Alexandria
Succeeded by:
Peter III
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