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Gennadius I of Constantinople

Our father among the saints Gennadius I of Constantinople, (Greek Άγιος Γεννάδιος), was the Patriarch of Constantinople from 458 to 471. He was a follower of the Antiochene school of literal exegesis. His feast day is August 31.


The early life of St. Gennadius is largely unknown. Gennadius was a presbyter at Constantinople before he succeeded Patr. Anatolius. He ascended the throne of the Church of Constantinople as Patriarch of Constantinople in the year 458, during the reign of emperor Leo I the Great. From the beginning of his episcopate Gennadius proved his zeal for the Christian faith and the maintenance of discipline.

He was a writer of note but only a few of his works has survived. His first public writing was quoted by Facundus (Defensio, II, iv) against St. Cyril of Alexandria in two works, probably in 431 or 432, that included a passage to show that Cyril's work was more violent even than the letter of Ibas of Edessa. In 433, Gennadius apparently reconciled with St. Cyril.

Timothy II Aelurus, a Monophysite who made himself the Patriarch of Alexandria and was later exiled from the Patriarchate by order of emperor Leo, came to Constantinople intending, by claiming his adoption of the Chalcedon doctrine, to re-establish himself on the patriarchal throne. On June 17, 460, Pope Leo I warned Patr. Gennadius against Timothy Aelurus, noting he was disqualified for having "invaded so great a see during the lifetime of its bishop". Timothy Aelurus was banished first to Gangra in Anatolia and then to Chersonese. Timothy Solofaciolus was chosen for the see of Alexandria in his stead. About the same time, Gennadius' liberality, penetration, and desire for order was observed in his appointment of Marcian, a Novatianist who had come over to the Orthodox church, the chancellor of the goods of the Church of Constantinople.

He was noted for his mildness, tolerance, purity, and abstinence. An example of the power of his prayer was demonstrated in his handling of the disreputable reader Charisius. The Church of St. Eleutherius at Constantinople was served by Carisius, who led a disorderly life. Gennadius admonished him with gentleness and patience, but in vain. Then, the Patriarch resorted to strictness and gave orders to chastise and discipline the disreputable cleric. Even after the punishment, he did not correct himself. Then, Gennadius sent, in his name, one of his officers to the Church of St. Eleutherus, where Charisius served, to pray before the holy martyr. Entering the temple, the officer stood before the altar, stretched out his hand to the grave of the martyr and said, "Holy Martyr Eleutherius! Patriarch Gennadius declares to you, through me a sinner, that the cleric Charisius, serving in your temple, does much iniquity and creates great scandal; therefore, either improve him or cut him off from the Church." The next day Carisius was found dead, to the terror of the whole town.

About the same time St. Daniel the Stylite began to live on the column of Pharos near Constantinople, apparently without the Patriarch's leave, and certainly without the permission of Gelasius, the owner of the property where the pillar stood, who strongly objected to this strange invasion of his land. The emperor Leo protected the ascetic, and some time later sent Patr. Gennadius to ordain him a priest, which he is said to have done standing at the foot of the column because Daniel objected to being ordained and refused to let the bishop mount the ladder. At the end of the rite, however, the patriarch ascended to give Holy Communion to the stylite and to receive it from him. Whether he then imposed his hands on him is not said. Possibly he considered it sufficient to extend them from below towards Daniel.

According to Theodorus Lector, Gennadius would allow no one to become a member the clergy unless he had learned the Psalter by heart. He made St. Marcian oeconomus of the Church of Constantinople. Theodorus also relates how a painter, presuming to depict the Saviour under the form of the Roman god Jupiter, had his hand withered, but was healed by the prayers of Gennadius.

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Gennadius I of Constantinople
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Patriarch of Constantinople
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