Polyeuctus of Constantinople

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Our father among the saints Polyeuctus of Constantinople was the patriarch of Constantinople from 956 to 970. He was noted for the power of his oratory and was called a "second Chrysostom" in his day. His feast day is February 5.


Polyeuctus was born in Constantinople at an unknown date. He was made a eunuch in childhood by his parents who hoped he would be able to enter the civil service of the Eastern Roman Empire. However, instead he became a monk. In his monastic life he distinguished himself for his holiness and learning.

In 956, he was appointed Patriarch of Constantinople by emperor Constantine VII "Porphyrogenitos", as patriarchal successor to the imperial prince Theophylactus Lekapenos. While he gained his position through Constantine VII, Patr. Polyeuctus remained independent of the emperor. He soon questioning the legitimacy of marriage of Constantine's parents and went as far as to restore the good name of Patr. Euthymius I Syncellus who had so vigorously opposed their marriage. [1]

In 957, during the reign of emperor Constantine VII, the Russian Princess Olga came to Constantinople while Polyeuctus was patriarch. Patr. Polyeuctus baptized her, while emperor Constantine stood as her godfather, and prophesied: "Blessed are you among all the women of Russia, for you have rejected darkness and desired the light. Moreover, the children of the Russian land will bless you in every generation."

Although he had supported Nikephoros II Phokas in his rise to the throne against the machinations of Joseph Bringas, Patr. Polyeuctus excommunicated Nikephoros for having married the empress Theophano on the grounds that he had been the godfather to one or more of his sons. The patriarch had previously refused Nikephoras communion for a year for the sin of having contracted a second marriage. Although his first wife had been dead several years when he married Theophano, the religious views prevalent in the Eastern Roman Empire of the tenth century only begrudgingly tolerated remarriage, which was considered a sin, after the death of ones first wife.

Patr. Polyeuctus had the good grace to oppose sin on all fronts. He excommunicated the assassins of the emperor Nikephoros and refused to crown the new emperor John I Tzimiskes, who was the nephew of the late Emperor and one of the assassins, until he had punished the assassins and exiled John I's lover the empress Theophano who organized the assassination of her husband.

St. Polyeuctus fell reposed peacefully in 970.


  1. Norwich, John Julius, Byzantium, The Apogee, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1992) p. 173.
Succession box:
Polyeuctus of Constantinople
Preceded by:
Patriarch of Constantinople
Succeeded by:
Basil I Skamandrenus
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