Joseph I (Galesiotes) of Constantinople

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Joseph I (Galesiotes) of Constantinople was the Patriarch of Constantinople from 1266 to 1275. Patr. Joseph's action of lifting the excommunication by Patr. Arsenius of emperor Michael VIII Palaeologus for the blinding of his co-emperor John IV Laskaris resulted in the "Arsenite Schism" that was not reconciled until 1315. Patr. Joseph was a foe of Michael's reconciliation with the Pope of Rome at the Second Council of Lyons.


The early life of Patr. Joseph is unknown. He was a married priest at the private chapel of empress Irene, the first wife of emperor John III Doukas Vatatzes of Nicea. After the death of his wife, Joseph was tonsured a monk at the monastery at Mount Galesios, which was near Ephesus. He subsequently was abbot of the monastery. Emperor Michael VIII Palaeologus later appointed him as a father confessor to his court in Nicea. The appointment was done without the knowledge of Patr. Arsenius who had excommunicated the emperor for the blinding of the co-emperor John IV Lascaris to make him ineligible to succeed as emperor.

In view of Patr. Arsenius' opposition to emperor Michael's action, the emperor deposed Arsenius and replaced him with Germanus (Lazos Markutzas) III in 1265. Under heavy pressure from supporters of Patr. Arsenius who strongly opposed his uncanonical appointment, Germanus resigned the following year. Then, emperor Michael VIII appointed his confessor, Joseph, as Germanus' successor on February 2, 1267. Patr. Joseph I quickly absolved emperor Michael of blinding John Laskaris and lifted the excommunication imposed by Patr. Arsenius.

Supporters of Patr. Arsenius strongly rejected and opposed Patr. Joseph and the Emperor, creating a split between the Arsenites and the imperial patriarchate, thus initiating the Arsenite schism. Their actions were based on personal loyalty as well as the canon law of the Church. In the meantime, Patr. Joseph, who was noted for his mildness and affability of character, came to be influenced by emperor Michael's sister, Eulogia, who had taken monastic vows, but developed considerable influence in the worldly affairs of the court and strongly opposed the union with Rome. In time, Patr. Joseph, in support of Eulogia, took an oath never to agree to the union.

During the late 1260s Charles of Anjou was expanding his domains beyond his conquest of Sicily in 1266. As a defense against the supporters of the Latin Empire, Emperor Michael VIII decided to drive a wedge between the Latins and the pope of Rome by joining in a union with the Latin Church. Initially, Patr. Joseph did not take a position against union of East and West. Against the determined opposition of the clergy and faithful of the Orthodox Church, the Second Council of Lyons was held in 1274. During a Mass celebrated by Pope Gregory X, in which both sides took part, the Orthodox clergy sang the Nicene Creed with the addition of the Filioque clause three times.The council was seemingly a success. Patr. Joseph was not in attendance. The council was seen as a further betrayal of Orthodoxy and further exacerbated the Arsenite schism.

After the council, Patr. Joseph would not accept the union and abdicated under pressure early in 1275. His date of his reposed is unknown.

Succession box:
Joseph I (Galesiotes) of Constantinople
Preceded by:
Germanus III
Patriarch of Constantinople
Succeeded by:
John XI Bekkos
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