The idea of apostolicity in Byzantium and the legend of the Apostle Andrew

Francis Dvornik



The Idea of Apostolicity and the Andrew Legend in the Controversies between Constantinople and Rome.


The idea of apostolicity as the basis of the pentarchic order — The pentarchic idea at the Ignatian Council of 869-870 —The definition of the duties of emperors and patriarchs in the Epanagoge reflects a new spirit created by the growth of apostolicity — Possibilities of a rapprochement on this new basis — The argument of apostolicity in the controversies of the tenth and eleventh centuries — The position of the see of Constantinople in Church organization and the Western canonists of the eleventh century — Eastern writers of the eleventh and twelfth centuries — The Andrew Legend and the controversies during the thirteenth century — How the character of universal teachers attributed to the apostles by Greek polemists diminished the value of the Andrew tradition for the Greeks — The Andrew Legend in the fourteenth century in Byzantium — The Councils of Lyons and Florence on the see of Constantinople — Acceptance of the Andrew Legend by the Latin West.



Before concluding this investigation, it would be of interest to trace the role played by the growth of the idea of apostolicity and by the Andrew Legend in the relationship between the Eastern and the Western Church. It is quite natural that these developments could not have been viewed with great favor in Rome. They deprived the popes of a strong argument in their contest with Constantinople for the privileged position of Rome in the Church.


This whole problem should, however, be studied from the Byzantine standpoint, and should be viewed especially in the light of Byzantine ideas on the position of the emperor. The prominent place enjoyed by the emperor as the representative of God in the Christian commonwealth should first be borne in mind. On this basis we will have to admit that the final acceptance of the idea of apostolicity in Byzantium represented in reality a victory of the principle for which the Eastern Church had always fought,





with varying degrees of success—the principle that decisions in matters of faith were a responsibility of the bishops as successors of the apostles; not of the emperors, whose role was merely to promulgate these decisions, to secure their acceptance by the faithful, and to defend them.


The acceptance of the principle of apostolicity in Church organization in Byzantium has been shown to have been connected ultimately with the growth of the idea that the direction of Church affairs, especially insofar as they concerned the definition and interpretation of Church doctrine, should be reserved to the incumbents of the principal sees who, at the same time, represented the bishops of their respective dioceses. This privileged position, as has been seen, was gradually assigned to five sees—Rome, Alexandria, Antioch, Constantinople, and Jerusalem—with Constantinople taking precedence over the other three Oriental sees. Thus did the idea of the pentarchy originate, and its main features can be found in the Acts of the Sixth Oecumenical Council. How quickly this principle was adopted in the East may be gathered from Justinian's legislation. On at least three occasions Justinian clearly alludes to the five " archbishops and patriarchs” who are directed to make his legislative measures known to the metropolitans of their dioceses, and to supervise their observance, and if he is relatively temperate in this respect in his famous sixth novel [1] outlining the relationship between the imperium and the sacerdotium, he is very forceful in novel 109 [2] where he expressly mentions the five patriarchs "of the whole universe.” Novel 109 is especially important, for in it the Emperor seems to move toward the idea of apostolicity incorporated in the five patriarchs. Three times in his novel he calls the Church, which he assumes to be directed by the five patriarchs, "catholic and apostolic.” The five "archbishops and patriarchs” are addressed also in novel 123. [3]


Here are the foundations of the pentarchic idea, whose spread in the East was intimately connected with the idea of apostolicity and with the attribution of an apostolic character to the see of Constantinople.



1. Novella 6, epilogus, Corpus Iuris civilis, 3 (Novellae), ed. R. Schoell and J. Kroll (Berlin, 1928), p. 47.


2. Nov. 109, praefatio, ibid., p. 518.


3. Nov. 123, 3, ibid., p. 597.





Justinian had thus, unwittingly, created favorable conditions for the growth of an idea which was destined ultimately to help the Eastern Church in its struggle for emancipation from imperial interference in matters of faith.


Further clear traces of the growth of the pentarchic idea are to be iound in the works of the seventh-century theologian Maximus the Confessor. In his disputation with Pyrrhus, [4] Maximus assumes that the Church is governed by the patriarchs who are its highest authority. In his letter to John Cubicularius [5] the Saint attempts to coordinate the authority of the patriarchs in the Church with that of the emperor.


It has already been shown that the idea of apostolicity helped the defenders of image-worship in their struggle against the last direct interference of the emperors in matters of faith. During this struggle the doctrine of the pentarchic (five-headed) authority governing the Church was fully developed by the defenders of image-worship, and was vigorously propagated by St. Theodore of Studios, who saw in it one of the most telling arguments against imperial intervention in Church teaching.



This new trend in Byzantine political and ecclesiastical thinking came to full fruition in the ninth century. Then, too, the apostolic character of the see of Constantinople was taken for granted by the Byzantines and at least vaguely recognized by the eastern patriarchs, although its basis does not seem to have been clearly defined in official circles, despite the fact that the Andrew and Stachys tradition was gradually gaining more ground among the faithful and in ecclesiastical circles. This was the final stage in the evolution that began in 381 when the Fathers of the Second Oecumenical Council accorded to the see of Constantinople a rank second only to that of Rome.


It was during the ninth century also that the new doctrine of the pentarchic authority in the Church was fully developed on the basis of the apostolic principle. This new conception is best mirrored in the Acts of the Ignatian Council of 869-870, called the Eighth Oecumenical Council.



4. Disputatio cum Pyrrho, PG, 91, col. 352.


5. Letter 12, ibid., col. 464.





In the Acts of this Council we find the fullest definition of the new doctrine of the pentarchy, as can be shown by quotations of statements made by leading personalities.


The spokesman of the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Elias, attributed the institution of the patriarchs to the Holy Ghost, bringing them into intimate connection with the apostles: [6]


“All of you, friends of Christ and brethren, know that the Holy Ghost who spoke through the prophets, has also spoken through the intermediary of the apostles, and that all which in the past was done by our Fathers is not only laid down as law, but also remains enacted by spiritual grace. And therefore the Holy Spirit instituted as heads of the world the patriarchs that, through them, the scandals which multiply in the Church might be eradicated, and that peaceful conditions might be restored and secured.”


Then Elias enumerated the five patriarchs.


The most prominent supporter of the Patriarch Ignatius, Metrophanes of Smyrna, proclaimed during the sixth session of the Council [7] that


God “the sun of justice ... had instituted the five patriarchs like five great luminaries to illuminate the whole world, that they may preside over day and night and separate the light from the darkness; namely those who perform acts of light, that is of divine justice, from those who perform acts of darkness, that is of injustice....”


During the same session the Emperor Basil addressed the followers of Photius as follows: [8]


“Certainly you know, as does the whole world under the sun, that by the guidance of the one true God the five patriarchs of the whole world are right.... You must, therefore, accept their judgment.”


Basil's representative at the Council, the Patrician Baanes, was even more outspoken when he declared: [9]


“God has established His Church on five patriarchs and He has defined in His Holy Gospels that they would never fail altogether, because they are the heads of the Church.”



6. Mansi 16, cols. 35A, 317E.


7. Ibid., cols. 82C, 344E.            8. Ibid., cols. 86E, 87A.            9. Ibid. col. 140E.





Among the canons voted by the Council, canon twenty-one deals with the patriarchs. [10] The Fathers not only enumerated in this canon the five patriarchs, but launched a solemn anathema against any secular power that might presume to dishonor or dethrone one of the five supreme pastors of the Church. It should be stressed that the patriarchs are enumerated here in the “Greek fashion," the patriarch of Constantinople preceding the three other eastern patriarchs. [11]


The new ecclesiatical order based on the pentarchic idea is confirmed in several other canons voted by the Ignatian Council. In canon ten [12] the Fathers forbade priests to refuse obedience to their bishops, or bishops to their metropolitans or patriarchs, unless such bishops and metropolitans were condemned by a synodal decree. The wording of this canon shows clearly that the Council had in mind the ecclesiastical hierarchy in which the patriarchs occupied the highest positions.


Canon seventeen [13] starts with a quotation from canon six of the First Council of Nicaea. In a very adroit way, however, the see of New Rome is mentioned immediately after that of Old Rome, and before the sees of Antioch and Jerusalem—Alexandria is quoted at the beginning of the canon—in the renewed confirmation of all instructions giving to the five patriarchs the right to punish all metropolitans or bishops of their patriarchates and to convoke them in a synod. In this canon the Fathers seem to regard all patriarchs as “apostolic," enjoining all bishops against refusing the invitation of their apostolicus on the pretext of being prevented by civil power from attending a synod.


Canon twenty-six [14] also favors the pentarchic order.



10. Ibid. col. 174.


11. At the end of this canon the following injuction concerning Rome occurs :

Porro si sinodus universalis fuerit congregata, et facta fuerit etiam de sancta Romanorum ecclesia quaevis ambiguitas et controversia, oportet venerabiliter, et cum convenienti reverentia de proposita quaestione sciscitari, et solutionem accipere, aut proficere, aut profectum facere, non tamen audacter sententiam dicere contra summos senioris Romae pontifices.

This seems to be addressed to the synod of 867. The wording appears to indicate, however, that the target of the condemnation pronounced by the synod was not the see of Rome or the papacy as such, but the person of Nicholas I. See also the shortened Greek text, ibid., col. 405 (Canon 13).


12. Ibid., col. 166.            13. Ibid., cols. 170E, 171 A.            14. Ibid., cols. 177, 178.





In this the Fathers set forth the rules concerning the right of appeal to the patriarch by clerics condemned by their bishops, and strictly forbid any appeal to the judgment of metropolitans or bishops outside the clerics' own provinces. The only proper judge was the patriarch in whose diocese the clerics lived, and his decision was final. Curiously enough there is in this canon no mention of an appeal to the first patriarch of Old Rome, although the Synod of 861—condemned, of course, by that of 869-870—had clearly acknowledged the see of Rome as the supreme judge over a. patriarch.


It is interesting to note that Pope Hadrian II, in his letter to Emperor Basil I, manifested no disapproval of these canons. He expressed, on the contrary, his joy over the fact that at the Council 'The catholic and true faith was defined, and the tradition of the Fathers and the rights which will profit the Church were established and confirmed for all future time." The Pope's words cannot, of course, be interpreted as a confirmation of the Council, but it is reasonable to conclude from them that he was not altogether hostile to the pentarchic idea with which the canons that he had praised were permeated.


Ideas similar to those expressed in the Acts of the Ignatian Council can also be found in the passage, quoted above, of Photius' letter to Zachary of Armenia, which seems to be genuine. The declaration that God established the four patriarchates, to which the fifth was added, "by which the Apostolic and Catholic Church is governed," is almost identical with the eloquent statements on the five patriarchs made during the Council of 869-870.


The same spirit animates too the statements about the first Four General Councils in the second part of the letter to Zachary. [15] This, however, does not appear to be genuine, although it reflects ideas on councils similar to those expressed by Photius in his letter to the Bulgarian Khagan Boris-Michael. [16]



15. This part is reprinted in PG, 102, cols. 707-714 from A. Mai’s Latin translation.


16. PG, 102, cols. 631, seq. G. Garitte, “La Narratio de rebus Armeniae. Edition critique et commentaire,” CSCO., 132, pp. 107 seq., has shown convincingly that in the dating of the Councils the author of the letter to Zachary copies the same mistakes found in the Narratio de rebus Armeniae.





The idea of the five patriarchs' supremacy in the Church is expressed even more forcibly in this part of the letter to Zachary. Its author, in listing Alexander of Constantinople [17] among the patriarchs present at the Council of Nicaea, endows Constantinople with patriarchal dignity before that Council. Even if it be assumed that this part of the letter was, like the first part, doctored by an Armenian interpolator, the tendency manifested in stressing the leading role of the five patriarchs in the Church is significant. [18] The author added the catholicos of Armenia as the sixth patriarch.



The extent of the increased prestige of the Church authorities in Byzantium after the victory over Iconoclasm is best illustrated by the definition of the patriarch's duties in the third title of the Epanagoge. This document is one of two that had been drafted and submitted as a new legislative handbook by two imperial committees appointed by Basil I. It was not the Epanagoge, but the alternative document, the Procheiron, that was finally chosen by the Emperor. [19] In spite of this, however, the Epanagoge was also used, and exercised some influence.


Titles two and three of the Epanagoge [20] define the functions of the emperor and the patriarch in Byzantine fife and are followed by other titles determining the functions of other state officials, of bishops, and of monks. The importance of this document in the evolution of the relations between Church and State in Byzantium is often exaggerated. In reality many of these definitions can be traced to Justinian's novels. Chapter eight of the third title shows clearly that the author of this title was inspired by the introduction to Justinian's sixth novel. [21]



17. Alexander’s presence at the Council of Nicaea is also noted in the letter to Boris-Michael, but there he is called only the administrator of this see. This is entirely credible, for Bishop Metrophanes was too old to be present. It should be stressed, too, that in this part of the letter to Zachary the popes are always listed first, as if they had assisted in person at each Council.


18. A clear echo of the pentarchic doctrine can also be detected in the Life of St. John, Bishop of Gothia, written in the ninth century (AS Junius, dies 26, 7, chap. 4, p. 168).


19. See on this problem the well-documented study "O pravni naravi Epanagoge," published by C. Kržišnik in Slovenski pravnik, 49 (Ljubliana, 1935), pp. 335-349·


20. Ed. C. E. Zachariae von Lingenthal, in J. Zepos, P. Zepos, Jus Graecoromanum, 2 (Athens, 1931), p. 242.





However, a new tone can be discerned in chapter three of the third title:


"The patriarch alone is entitled to interpret the rules of the old patriarchs, the prescriptions of the Holy Fathers and the decisions of the holy synods."


The duties of the emperor are set out in the fourth chapter of the second title:


"The emperor must defend and enforce, first, all that is written in the Holy Writ, then, all dogmas approved by the holy councils, and also the selected Roman laws."


This demonstrates clearly the tendency to limit imperial intervention in religious matters purely to the defense and enforcement of the accepted definitions of faith : only the Church—here incarnate in the patriarch—has the right to interpret synodal definitions.


This right was of course basically recognized by the emperors, but they often provoked or backed decisions made by heretical bishops. The defeat of the last direct imperial intervention in matters of faith during the iconoclastic controversy encouraged the author of this part of the Epanagoge to make this bold interpretation which, it was hoped, would put a definite end to such interference.


This part of the Epanagoge seems to have been inspired by the Patriarch Photius, who had contributed considerably to the final liquidation of Iconoclasm in Byzantium. [22] It would be, however, an exaggeration to see in this definition an attempt to emancipate the Church from the tutelage of the State, or the beginning of a new era in the relations between Church and State in Byzantium. [23]



21. Nov. 6, ed. Krüger, 3, pp. 35 seq. :


“God's greatest gifts to men stem from His infinite goodness and watch over them . . . the sacerdotium and the imperium, of which the first serves divine, the second human, interests ; both derive from the same principle and perfect human life. Hence nothing claims the emperor's care so much as the honor of the priests, since these continually pray God for him. If the clergy is sound and fully trusts in God, and if the emperor rules the Republic entrusted to him with justice and honor, mutual harmony will arise, which can prove only useful to the human race. ..."


Chapter eight of the third title of the Epanagoge (op. cit., p. 242) :


“The State is composed, like Man, of parts and members. The greatest and most important members are the emperor and the patriarch. Therefore harmony in all things and symphony between the imperium and the sacerdotium will bring the subjects spiritual and material peace and prosperity."


Similar emphasis on harmony and cooperation between the sacerdotium and the imperium can be detected also in nov. 42 (ibid., p. 263).


22. See F. Dvornik, “The Patriarch Photius and Iconoclasm," Dumbarton Oaks Papers, 7 (1953), pp. 67-97.





Nevertheless, it must be recognized that, although the Epanagoge did not become an official law handbook for Byzantine courts, the principles stressed in titles two and three did exercise a marked influence. The Epanagoge was used as a source by later compilers of law handbooks, and many of its titles were incorporated into later Byzantine law books.


With regard to titles two and three, the Epitome legum, a law book dating from the beginning of the tenth century, contains chapters one and three of the Epanagoge s title two, listed as the twentieth and twenty-first scholia to the first part of the handbook. [24]



23. Such is the opinion of G. Vernadsky as expressed in his studies “Vizantijskija učenija o vlasti car ja i patriarcha," in Sbornik statej posveščennych pamjati N. P. Kondakova (Prague, 1926), pp. 143-154, and “Die kirchlichpolitische Lehre der Epanagoge und ihr Einfluss auf das russische Leben im XVII. Jahrhundert,” Byzantinisch-neugriechische Jahrbücher, 6 (1927), pp. 119-142.


H. F. Schmid expressed a different opinion in his review of Vernadsky’s first study (Zeitschrift für Savigny-Stiftung und Rechtsgeschichte, Kanon. Abt. 16 [1927], pp. 530-535). Similar ideas to those of Vernadsky are found in G. Ostrogorsky’s study “Otnošenie cerkvi i gosudarstva v Vizantii,” Seminarium Kondakovianum, 4 (1931), pp. 121-134. These were rightly criticized by F. Dölger (Byzantinische Zeitschrift, 31 [1931], pp. 449-450). All the more surprising therefore is Dölger’s statement in his “Europas Gestaltung im Spiegel der fränkisch-byzantinischen Auseinandersetzung des 9. Jahrhunderts” (published in Der Vertrag von Verdun 843, ed. Th. Mayer [Leipzig, 1943], pp. 228 seq., and reprinted in F. Dölger, Byzanz und die europäische Staatenwelt [Speyer a. R., 1953], pp. 315 seq.):


“Das Lebensziel des Photios war nicht nur... die Primatsansprüche des römischen Papstes zu brechen, sondern auch, das im Westen zum Durchbruch gekommene Prinzip einer der weltlichen selbständig gegenüberstehenden geistlichen Gewalt auch in Byzanz zur Geltung zu bringen, also ein östlicher Papst zu werden.... Ein Beweis für seine Absichten hinsichtlich der Emanzipation des Patriarchats aus der geistlichen Oberleitung des byzantinischen Kaisers findet sich in Prooimium zur Epanagoge.... Da sich zu dieser Beobachtung noch andere Indizien für das ehrgeizige Streben des Patriarchen Photios gesellen, dürfen wir annehmen, daß er versuchte, ein Recht, das dem Wesen des byzantinischen Kaisertum widersprach, in ein allgemeines Gesetzwerk sozusagen einzuschmuggeln.”


See also F. Dölger, “Rom in der Gedankenwelt der Byzantiner” (Zeitschrift für Kirchengeschichte, 56 [1937], p. 32, reprinted in his Byzanz und die europäische Staatenwelt, p. 103) :


“Er war es auch, der in Byzanz selbst versuchte, eine der sichersten Säulen des byzantinischen Staatsrechts, die Unterordnung der Kirche unter den Staat, zu stürzen; die Spuren davon finden wir in der unter seiner Leitung zusammengestellten Epanagoge....”


This is something of an overstatement. Photius tried to define clearly a principle for which his Church was always fighting, namely that the definition of faith and the interpretation of conciliar decrees belonged to the Church, represented in the East by the patriarch of Constantinople— in the ninth century the most prominent of the four eastern patriarchs. In this respect however Photius did not succeed, because his formulation of the rights of a patriarch—as Dölger rightly remarks—appeared strange to the Emperor and to the Byzantines in general.





Some manuscripts of the Synopsis Basilicorum, an abridgment of the Basilica, composed in alphabetical order during the second half of the tenth century, added to the text some marginal notes from the two titles of the Epanagoge. [25]


In the Synopsis minor quotations from the two titles in question are incorporated into the text of the collection. The first five chapters defining the duties of the emperor, and chapters one to four and eight of title three, [26] on the patriarch, are to be found there. It is characteristic that chapter five stressing the prerogative of the patriarch to interpret the definitions of the councils is not reproduced by the anonymous author of the Synopsis minor. Matthew Blastares, who composed his Syntagma about the middle of the fourteenth century, also incorporated into his handbook of canon law the first four chapters of the third title of the Epanagoge plus chapter eight, later adding chapters nine and ten. [27] Again we note that he omitted chapter five.


Is the omission of chapter five from the Synopsis minor and the Syntagma due simply to coincidence? Possibly; but it could also be that the prerogative granted to the patriarch in chapter five had encountered some opposition in Constantinople from bishops who presumed to participate in the explanation of the conciliar definitions. Such a supposition would conform to the thinking prevalent in Constantinople, where it was always customary to grant only to bishops assembled in council the right to interpret the true doctrine. If this was so, it must be acknowledged that the author of this chapter—probably Photius [27a],—did not achieve what he intended.



24. C. E. Zachariae von Lingenthal, op. cit., 2, p. 291, ed. J. Zepos, P. Zepos, 4, p. 289.


25. Op. cit., 5, pp. 130, 542; ed. J. Zepos, P. Zepos, 5, pp. 125, 462. The Codex Lipsinus and the Codex Parisiensis 1351 add to part B, III, 2, chapters one to seven of the second title of the Epanagoge, and to part Π, X, 1, chapters one to six of the third title concerning the patriarch. Codex Labbaeus adds to its part B, III, 2, chapters one to four of the second title of the Epanagoge. Cf. C. Kržišnik, op. cit., p. 345.


26. Ed. Zachariae von Lingenthal, op. cit., 2, pp. 41 seq., 206 seq; ed. J. Zepos, P. Zepos, 6, pp. 354 seq. (B, 21-25), p. 498 seq., (17, 63-66).


27. Matthaeus Blastares, Syntagma canonum, PG, 14s, cols. 108, 109 (Title II, chap. 8).


27a. J. Scharfs comparison of the Epanagoge's wording and style with those of Photius’ writings (“Photius und die Epanagoge,” BZ, 49 [1956], pp. 385-400) makes Photius’ authorship of this document most probable. The author’s evaluation of title three of the Epanagoge (pp. 399, 400) is, in general, justified.





The increased patriarchal privileges granted in chapter five might also have been one of the reasons why Basil did not choose the Epanagoge as an official handbook of law, for he saw in its definition a dangerous possibility of further reduction of imperial influence in Church affairs, and, in making his choice, he may have had the support of some ecclesiastical dignitaries who, too, were not favorably disposed toward a further increase of patriarchal rights.


It is also interesting to find that there is no mention of the other four patriarchs in the introduction to the Epanagoge. The Roman, as well as the three eastern patriarchs, are ignored. This is far removed from Justinian's attitude, and illustrates the fact that the Byzantines were becoming accustomed to the restriction of their political and religious interests to lands under the direct rule of the emperor. This proposed new law handbook lacks the universal outlook, so obvious in Justinian's legislative work. It was intended only for Greek-speaking subjects of the Empire.


Here again it would be an exaggeration to see in this the negation of the new pentarchic theory or an attempt to promote the patriarch of Constantinople to the head of the whole Church, at the expense of the see of Rome. This document must be studied in connection with other events that occurred in Byzantium during the ninth century, and in the light of other documentary evidence on the relations between Rome and Constantinople at that period.


In spite of the spread of the new pentarchic theory and of the conception of Byzantium's apostolic character, one can quote numerous statements by Photius and by other responsible ninthcentury Byzantine churchmen, stressing the supreme position of Peter as Prince of the Apostles, [28] and revealing their awareness of the significance, for the organization of the Church, of Christ's words reported by Matthew (18:16).



28. Cf. F. Dvornik, The Photian Schism, pp. 182 seq., and especially J. Jugie, Theologia dogmatica Christian, oriental., 1, pp. 119-128. Cf. also an interesting passage in the Vita S. Euthymii iunioris (ed. L. Petit in Revue de l’Orient chrétien, 8 [1903], p. 204) where Peter is called τῆς ἐκκλησίας ἀρωγὸς καὶ θεμέλιον and Andrew πρωτόκλητος ... ὡς τῆς ποίμνης ἐξάρχων·





The new evolution in Byzantine thinking that appeared after the defeat of the iconoclasts, brought about with the help of Rome, provided unexpected support to Roman claims in yet another respect. Asbestas, Bishop of Syracuse, and his associates, when condemned by the Patriarch Ignatius, appealed to the Patriarch of Rome, thus recognizing de facto the canons of the Synod of Sardica which acknowledged the supreme position of Rome and established the right of appeal to the Pope as representing the ultimate authority in the Church. The Synod of 861 marked another considerable step forward. The Byzantine Church, in consenting to the judgment of its Patriarch by the legates of the Pope, recognized Rome as the supreme tribunal of the Church in disciplinary matters. Some declarations made during that Synod, and still preserved in the abridged Acts salvaged by Cardinal Deusdedit, [29] amount, indeed, to an official acceptance of the famous canon of the Synod of Sardica.


When we view this evolution in the perspective of history, we might assume it to have been a cause of rejoicing for the whole Church, especially for Rome; also, a tacit acceptance of Constantinople's “apostolicity” might seem to have been a worthwhile concession on the part of Rome. But Pope Nicholas I could not see it in this light, which is not surprising, for his own conception of the Roman primacy was much more advanced, and it was hard for him to content himself with the concessions offered by Byzantium, although they provided a gratifying acceptance of the basic claims of Roman primacy.


During the conflict between Nicholas and Photius over the succession to Ignatius, the Roman and Byzantine conceptions of primacy in the Church were tested. The passionate verdicts voiced in Rome at the Synod of 863 and at Constantinople at the Synod of 867 augured ill for the future of the Church.


But the principle of unity in the Church, represented by the five patriarchs, was so strongly implanted in the minds of Christians of both West and East that the conflict ended in mutual agreement. The fact that Photius himself offered his hand in reconciliation shows that the prominent position of Rome in the Church was fully recognized in Byzantium at that period.



29. Cf. supra pp. 238, 239.





The Synod of 879-880 gave renewed support to Roman claims, but the Byzantine Church made it clear that it accepted only the basic principles of the primacy, and spiritedly defended its own administrative autonomy.


It appeared as if the pentarchic principle offered a basis for a satisfactory modus vivendi between Rome and Constantinople. The new principle must also have found followers in Rome, as can be gathered from the preface of Anastasius the Librarian to his translation of the Acts of the Ignatian Council. He defines the Roman conception of the pentarchy as follows: [30]


"Because Christ has placed in His Body, which is the Church, the same number of patriarchal sees as there are senses in any mortal body, nothing will be lacking in the general welfare of the Church if all those sees are of one will, as nothing is lacking in the function of the body when all the five senses remain whole and healthy. Because the Roman see is naturally pre-eminent among them, it is compared, quite reasonably, to sight, which is the first among all the senses, is more vigilant than [the others] and is in communion with all of them to a greater degree than they are with each other."


Anastasius' words are the more significant for his being a faithful follower of Nicholas I, and for his sharing in every respect Nicholas' high conception of the primacy of the Roman see in the Church. This explains why, in the same preface, Anastasius rebukes the Byzantines for having tried to promote their see above the other eastern sees at the Second and Fourth Oecumenical Councils. [31] In spite of this, the important position of Constantinople in the pentarchy is, at least tacitly, acknowledged.


Anastasius' testimony does not, apparently, stand alone. Other examples may be quoted to show that some progress toward a final understanding between the Churches on the basis of the pentarchic patriarchal authority in the Church was made in Rome in the ninth and tenth centuries. The conciliatory spirit which characterizes the reign of John VIII seems reflected in the collection of Canon Law called Anselmo dedicata, which quotes canon three of the Second Oecumenical Council and Justinian's novel 130, both granting to the see of Constantinople second place in the patriarchal pentarchy.



30. Mansi, 16, col. 7.


31. Loc. cit., cols. 12E, 13A.





The same novel is also quoted in the Collectio Vallicelliana composed between 912 and 930, and in the Collection of Nine Books, also dating from the tenth century. [32] This is particularly remarkable because these collections also quote the Damasian order of apostolic sees according to the Petrine principle. [33] All of this reveals the confusion created in many western minds, on the one hand, by the Pope's continuous emphasis of the Petrine principle and, on the other, by the endeavor, apparent in western thinking, to adapt itself to the existing situation.



During the tenth century there seems to have been hardly any recourse to the argument of apostolicity, either by Rome or by Constantinople. Nevertheless, the history of the tetragamy conflict provoked by the fourth marriage of Leo VI shows that the right of appeal to the Roman see in disciplinary matters continued to be recognized in principle. Actually the Emperor's appeal to Rome, when the Patriarch Nicholas Mysticus refused to allow this marriage, must be interpreted in this light, although it was ignored by the Patriarch and his followers. The request of the Emperor Romanus I Lecapenus for Roman confirmation of the election of his son Theophylactus to patriarchal dignity was a feeble reflection of a principle which had been more readily recognized by the Byzantines in the ninth century.


The Andrew Legend appears then to have been either unknown or disregarded in the West, though when Liutprand of Cremona visited Constantinople in 968 as the ambassador of Otto II, he must have learned something about it. However, he mentions Andrew only once in his angry report on the embassy. [34] Upon his return from Constantinople he expressed his regret at not having been able to stop at Patras on his way back to Rome to venerate the scene of the Apostle's martyrdom, as he had done on his outward journey.



32. For details and bibliography see F. Dvornik, op. cit.f pp. 284 seq., 289 seq.


33. The Collectio Anselmo dedicata quotes (bk. 10, chap. 108) Damasus' declaration on the Petrine sees, and the Vallicelliana (chap. 378) the Decretum Gelasianum. Cf. A. Michel, “Der Kampf um das politische oder petrinische Prinzip der Kirchenführung," Das Konzil von Chalkedon, 2, ed. by H. Grillmeier, H. Bacht (Würzburg, 1953), pp. 522-524.


34. Legatio, chap. 60, MGH, Ss. 3, p. 361; F. A. Wright, The Works of Liutprand of Cremona (London, 1930), p. 272.





The prestige and self-confidence of the Byzantine Church must have grown considerably during the apparent decadence of the Roman papacy, and when the Ottos had restored order in Roman affairs, the relations between Rome and Constantinople took quite a different turn. The Byzantines did not object in principle to the role which the Roman aristocracy, often pro-Byzantine, played in the elections of popes, but they strongly objected to the appointment of the popes by German rulers who had usurped the title of Roman emperors. [35]


It could have been expected that the Reformists, who had taken the government of the Church into their own hands under Leo IX, would return to the old Petrine principle, but the controversy shifted to other points of disagreement and Byzantium now took the offensive, attacking different Western usages in liturgy and discipline. Cardinal Humbert, the most prominent Latin protagonist, was kept very busy countering these attacks, but the questionable apostolic character of the see of Constantinople and its rank in the Church hierarchy were not overlooked by him.


It is, therefore, hardly surprising that a strong echo of the old Petrine thesis should have arisen in the correspondence of Leo IX with the East, which was directed by Humbert. The Antiochene see, having been founded by St. Peter, is hailed as the third in the Church hierarchy in the papal answer [36] to the inthronistica sent to Rome by the Patriarch Peter of Antioch. The latter is exhorted by the Cardinal to defend valiantly the rights confirmed to his see by the Councils, against the actions of those who were anxious to rob Antioch of its privileges—a clear allusion to the Patriarch of Constantinople.


A reproach for similar affronts to Antioch is made by the Cardinal in the letter that he drafted, in the name of the Pope, to Michael Cerularius. [37]



35. See F. Dvornik, "Constantinople and Rome,” to appear in Cambridge Medieval History, 4. Cf. V. Grümel, “Les préliminaires du schisme de Michel Cérulaire ou la question romaine avant 1054,” Revue des études byzantines, 10 (1953), pp. 5-23.


36. PL, 143, cols. 770B-D; Ed. A. Michel, Humbert und Kerularios, 2 (Paderborn, 1924-1930), p. 460.





Because of his attempts to subjugate Alexandria and Antioch, Michael is accused of disrupting the divine plan according to which the Church was built upon three pillars, i.e. the three Petrine patriarchates: Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch. The papal letter to Emperor Constantine IX Monomachus repeats the accusations made against the Patriarch of Constantinople. [38] When writing these missives Humbert forgets or overlooks the whole historical background of this controversy, making it appear that Michael was the first to try to supersede Alexandria and Antioch.


In the long letter to Michael Caerularius, which was not sent to the Patriarch, but was published in Constantinople as a pamphlet, Humbert states that, by the Donatio Constantini, Constantine the Great had elevated Rome above the other four patriarchs, all of whom are named; Constantinople being, of course, listed last of the five sees. The following passage [39] in the same document is, therefore, especially surprising:


"Although the Church of Constantinople is by no divine or human privilege more honorable or glorious than other Churches, and [although] the Churches of Antioch and of Alexandria are in possession of special rights of dignity owing to the reverent respect [due] to the first of the apostles, nevertheless the pious mother, that is the Roman Church, anxious not to see her beloved daughter deprived of all dowry of honor, took care through the intermediary of some of our holy predecessors that in some synods it should be decided that, provided the old dignity of the principal and apostolic sees be fully respected, the archbishop of Constantinople should be honored as the bishop of the Imperial City, although Justinian, the pious Augustus, wished to determine by human laws that the bishop of Constantinople be seated after the pope of Rome. And indeed it [Constantinople] has obtained this through no prerogative of merit, but only because the Church of Rome, for love of the venerable Constantine, who had revered it and exalted it as highly [and as often] as he could through human benevolence alone, desired to distinguish his city by this privilege of honor.”



37. Epist. 2, ad Michaelem Caerul., PL, 143, col. 774A,B.


38. PL, 143, col. 780B.


39. PL, 143, chap. 28, col. 763.





This is a very curious statement, difficult to reconcile with historical facts. Yet it shows that, despite past events, certain progress had been made in the West toward acknowledging the prominent position of Constantinople in the patriarchal pentarchy. [40] The statement is particularly interesting because Humbert usually avoided giving the bishop of Constantinople the title of “patriarch,” contenting himself with the epithet regiae civitatis episcopus, or Constantinopolitanus archiepiscopus. [41]


Dominicus of Grado also recalled the old Petrine tradition in his letter to Peter of Antioch, [42] and the same ideas are echoed in a sermon [43] of Peter Damian, who became Cardinal of Ostia in 1057. Praising St. Mark, Peter attributes second place in the Church hierarchy to Alexandria, not so much because its see was founded by Mark, but because of Peter whose disciple Mark was. Antioch is allotted third place, Constantinople fourth, and Jerusalem fifth.


Peter Damian also wrote two sermons in honor of the Apostle Andrew. He regards Andrew as second in the apostolic choir, and praises the zeal with which he communicated to his brother Peter the good news that he had found the Messiah. Both had relinquished all wordly goods, but now "they hold the government of the whole world.” [44] After their call to Christ, they did not show more familiarity to each other than to other apostles; they were not allotted the same provinces for preaching and, what is more important,


“Andrew, who was first in faith, was not offended when he was allotted second place in dignity. He was not jealous of the fact that Peter, who was second in believing under his leadership, had obtained the primacy over all apostles, although he [Andrew] had preceded him in believing.'' [45]



40. Humbert is most probably influenced here by the Italian collections of Canon Law which, as mentioned supra p. 278, quoted Justinian’s Novel concerning the status of the see of Constantinople. Cf. A. Michel, "Schisma und Kaiserhof im Jahre 1054. Michael Psellus,” in L’Eglise et les Eglises, 1054-1954, i (Chevetogne, 1954), p. 391.


41. This had already been pointed out by A. Michel, Humbert und Kerularios, 1, pp. 49, 58, 92. Cf. especially how Humbert in his bull of excommunication calls Cerularius: abusive dictum patriarcham, abusivus patriarcha, PL, 143, cols. 1003A, 1004B.


42. PG, 120, col. 752A,B.


43. Petrus Damianus, Sermo XIV, PL, 144, col. 575B.


44. Sermo LVII, PL, 144, cols. 823B,C, 827B:

et quos in terra positos ipsa terrenarum rerum copia destituerat, nunc et totius orbis monarchiam tenent et in illa coelesti Hierusalem justiciariae potestatis soliis praesident.





Damian's words do not disclose whether he knew anything about the Constantinopolitan tradition concerning Andrew. In his second sermon he speaks only in general terms of Andrew's passion, assuming that his life and martyrdom are well known to everybody. [46] If he had read the work by Gregory of Tours, he must have found Byzantium mentioned as one of the cities visited by Andrew. Should his insistence on Andrew's submission to Peter be taken as an indication that he knew about Constantinople's claims and that he tried to answer them by emphasizing Andrew's subordination to Peter?


It is known that St. Peter Damian was one of the most gentle and restrained of the Reformists, while Humbert and Gregory VII were the most passionate of zealots. Damian had also shown more restraint than Humbert concerning the rank of Constantinople in the Church hierarchy, but Pope Gregory VII surpassed even the vehemence of Cardinal Humbert. In his letter to the Venetians appealing for help for the Patriarch of Grado, [47] Gregory showed particular disregard for Eastern tradition, by attributing the patriarchal title to only four sees; these being, evidently, Rome, Alexandria, Antioch, and Grado. The latter is praised as the most important in the West after Rome. The Petrine principle as echoed here, apparently included Grado. In only one instance did Gregory mention Antioch as a Petrine foundation. [48]



In spite of the negative attitude on the part of Gregory VII, all the Reformists who gatherered around him were not disrespectful of the position occupied in the Church by the see of Constantinople. One of the first canonists of the Gregorian reform, Anselm of Lucca, included in his collection of Canon Law the Petrine thesis contained in the Decree of Damasus. [49]



45. Ibid., col. 828B.


46. Sermo LVIII, ibid., col. 830A: Vocatio ejus, vita et passio cognita sunt vobis, et nunc, quid superest ut a me amplius expectetis ?


47. Gregorius VII, Registrum, Epist. 2, 39; ed. E. Caspar, Das Register Gregors VII, p. 175 (MGH, Epistolae selectae [Berlin, 1920]).


48. Ibid., Epist. 9, 18 (from 1081), ed. E. Caspar, p. 599. A. Michel is right in stating that Gregory VII was here following Gregory the Great (“Prinzip der Kirchenführung," op. cit., p. 521).





In spite of this, however, he also copied canon twenty-one of the Council of 869-870, [50] which has been shown to be permeated with the pentarchic idea, and which enumerates the patriarchs “in the Greek fashion," Cardinal Deusdedit copied only the Decree of Damasus, [51] leaving out canon twenty-one, but attributing to Constantinople fourth rank in the Church hierarchy. [52] Curiously enough, canon twenty-one was copied from Anselm's collection by Gratian, whose Decretum, composed about the year 1150, had superseded all other collections of Canon Law, and had become the official Canon Law handbook of the Middle Ages.


Gratian's attitude toward this problem is rather interesting. In his twenty-second distinction [53] he quoted the main documents concerning Constantinople, which he found in other collections. In chapter one he copied a passage from the letter of Pope Nicholas II to the citizens of Milan, stressing the divine and Petrine origin of the Roman primacy. In chapter two he transcribed from Anselm's collection the passage, here falsely attributed to Anacletus, emphasizing the Roman primacy and attributing second rank to Alexandria and third to Antioch. Gratian accompanied this canon with the following remark:


“Through this authority the Church of Alexandria is regarded as having the second place after the first. But later, at the Council of Constantinople, the Church of Constantinople obtained the second place after the apostolic see. The same Synod, therefore, arrived at the following decision [canon three] : Constantinople gains second place after the apostolic see. Because the city of Constantinople is the New Rome, its bishop must possess the honor of primacy after the bishop of Rome."


The next two canons of the same distinction emphasize the subordination of the see of Constantinople to the apostolic see.



49. Anselmus Lucensis, Collectio canonum, i, canon 66, ed. F. Thaner (Innsbruck, 1906), p. 34. Here falsely attributed to Anacletus.


50. Ibid., 2, canon 72, ed. F. Thaner, pp. 109, 110.


51. Also attributed to Anacletus. Ed. V. Wolf von Glanvell, Die Kanonessammlung des Kardinals Deusdedit (Paderborn, 1905), bk. i, canon 61, p. 63.


52. Ibid., p. 6 (Prologus), ed. V. W. von Glanvell, bk. 1, canon 250, p. 144; Deusdedit quotes here from the Liber Pontificalis, the confirmation of the Roman primacy by Phocas to Boniface III : quia ecclesia Constantinopolitana primam se omnium ecclesiarum scribebat.


53. Decretum Magistri Gratiani, ed. E. Friedberg, 1 (Leipzig, 1879), pp. 72-76.





Canon six, however, quotes the decision of the Quinisexta Synodus (692), confirming to the see of Constantinople the privileges of the Roman see and its precedence before Alexandria and Antioch. Gratian comments on this canon as follows:


“It must be understood from this that the Church of Alexandria was made the third see from the second, and that of Antioch the fourth from the third, unless one wishes to assume that there are two second sees, thereby attributing to both Constantinople and Alexandria positions of equal dignity.”


Then Gratian quotes the part of the twenty-first canon of the Ignatian Council (869-870) forbidding offenses against the patriarchs, “first the most holy pope of Old Rome, then the patriarch of Constantinople, then of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem.”


Gratian’s attitude is very significant and illustrates the confusion on this point that prevailed in the minds of medieval canonists. His benevolent attitude toward the position of Constantinople in the Church probably influenced the further evolution of the attitude of the Western Church toward the see of Constantinople.


Gratian's influence can be noted first of all in the Summa Decretorum, published about 1157-1159 by the Magister Rufinus. [54] The patriarchal sees are enumerated “according to the old institutions” in the Petrine tradition—Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch. But Rufinus continues: “Because, however, in the course of time the imperial throne was transplanted from Rome to Constantinople, the Church of Constantinople was assigned the second see, Alexandria the third, and Antioch the fourth.” Jerusalem is omitted.


Yet Rufinus knew well that there were five patriarchal sees, and he enumerated them all in his allocution to the Third Council of the Lateran in 1179. [55] His allocution, moreover, forcefully reflects the pentarchic idea. When interpreting Isaiah's words on the five cities in Egypt (Isa. 19:18), Rufinus says that, instead of the old five cities, the Lord “ordained that new cities, which are the Churches, should be built by the apostolic architects.”



54. Summa Decretorum, Distinctio XXII, ed. H. Singer (Paderborn, 1902), pp. 47-49.


55. D. Germain Morin, “Le discours d’ouverture du Concile général du Latran (1179) et l’oeuvre littéraire de Maître Rufin, évêque d’Assise,” Atti della Pontificia Accademia Romana di Archeologia, 3rd ser., Memorie, 2 (Rome, 1928), pp. 113-133. The passage quoted is on p. 117.





Of these five were given preference as five royal cities which were granted major privileges and could claim for themselves primacy of honor among other Churches,


"such as the metropolitan see of Antioch, that of Alexandria, also Byzantium, and even that of Jerusalem; much more however, the one which should always be praised with most exalted words, that is the most holy Church of Rome, which, because she is the head of all sees, because she is the mother of all churches and also the teacher of all, has deserved most worthily to obtain, herself alone, the primacy among all Churches."


It must be noted that in this oratorical passage Rufinus does not follow the usual order in enumerating the five patriarchal sees. In another passage the orator calls Pope Alexander III summus patriarcha [56]—a title which he also gives to the Pope in his Summa [57]— and stresses that, while "all other patriarchal sees had been confirmed by human authority,” the Roman Church owes its supreme position, not to synodal decrees or human ordinances—an echo of the Gelasian Decree—but to the will of the Lord himself, who had built His Church on Peter (Matt. 16:18).


It is certainly interesting to find such clear evidence of the pentarchic theory in a twelfth-century Latin sermon, especially since this sermon was addressed to the general assembly of the Roman Church, and it is remarkable that Constantinople was still counted among the five sees in spite of the break between Byzantium and Rome. Perhaps the hopes, albeit vain, aroused in Rome by the negotiations of Alexander III with Manuel I Comnenus in 1160/61 and 1161/62 had somewhat softened the Roman attitude toward Constantinople.



In the East the pentarchic idea was still very much alive in the eleventh century. This is particularly apparent in the letter of Peter, Patriarch of Antioch, to Dominicus of Aquileia who also had laid claim to the patriarchal dignity. Peter refuses to yield to his correspondent, arguing that there are only five patriarchs in the Church, as there are only five senses in the human body—a favorite simile of the pentarchic theory. [58]



56. Ibid., p. 118.


57. See the evidence quoted by D. G. Morin, ibid., p. 126.





In his enumeration of the patriarchal sees, Peter places Constantinople second after Rome, although Dominicus, in the spirit of the Petrine tradition, had allotted third place to Antioch, after Rome and Alexandria. [59] Peter however gives to the bishops of Rome and Alexandria the title of papas, and to the titularies of Constantinople and Jerusalem that of archbishop, stressing that the title of patriarch had always been a special distinction of the bishop of Antioch. But elsewhere he gives the title of patriarch to the bishops of all the five sees.


The question of the apostolic character of the Byzantine see was not even touched on in the first polemical writings of Nicetas Pectoratus, nor in Humbert’s reply. [60] Anselm of Havelberg, who, in 1135 held a discussion in Constantinople with Nicetas of Nicomedia, used the old Petrine argument for the prominence in the Church of Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch, [61] while his opponent invoked on his side the “imperial” argument for the prominence of Constantinople. [62] Anselm pointed out, however, that Leo I did not accept the Chalcedonian decision concerning the status of Constantinople in the Church. [63] The question of apostolicity did not arise at all in the discussion, and the Apostle Andrew was mentioned only en passant, with the Apostles John and James. [64]


The apostolic character of Constantinople was stressed in the letter written by Basil of Achrida to Pope Hadrian IV (1154-1159), [65] but the Pope’s reactions to this claim are not known. In any case the main subjects of discussion here, too, were the differences in liturgical practice and the Filioque.



58. PG, 120, col. 757C, 760A.


59. Ibid., col. 752.


60. PG, 120, cols. 1011 seq., 1021 seq.


61. Anselmus Havelbergensis, Dialogus, PL, 188, bk. 3, col. 1214.


62. Ibid., col. 1218.            63. Ibid., col. 1221.


64. Ibid., col. 1222B: Nam et Dominus Jesus non Andreae, non Ioannis, non Jacobi, nec alicujus alterius, sed solius Petri naviculam ascendit.


65. PG, 119, col. 932. On the other hand, it is striking to note that the Patriarch Symeon of Jerusalem had been given the title of “apostolicus” in the letter sent by the high clergy from Jerusalem to the Pope in 1098; a letter drafted undoubtedly by the legate Adhemar himself. See H. Hagenmayer, Die Kreuzzugsbriefe aus den Jahren 1088-1100. Eine Quellensammlung zur Geschichte des ersten Kreuzzuges (Innsbruck, 1901), p. 148 (letter 9).





It is surprising that Theophanes Cerameus, a twelfth-century author who wrote a homily in honor of St. Andrew, did not mention the Apostle's activity in Byzantium, especially inasmuch as he was apparently well acquainted with the story of Andrew's travels, having mentioned in his homily both Sinope and Achaea. [66] He probably used as his source Andrew's biographies of the ninth century, or the writings of Metaphrastes. On the other hand, in the work of Nilus Doxopatres, of the same period, there are references of greater interest. In his description of patriarchal thrones, addressed in 1143 to Roger, King of Sicily, he uses the "imperial" argument for the prominent status of Constantinople. [67] Rome, he points out, lost its primacy when it fell to barbarians, and its pre-eminent position then passed to Constantinople :


"As the Roman patriarch had the privilege of judging appeals from other patriarchs and examining accusations, so also may the Constantinopolitan, who received the privileges of Rome, pass sentence over the three patriarchs mentioned above."


Here Nilus means the patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem, and it is thus that he explains canon twenty-eight of the Council of Chalcedon. It should be noted that he limits the use of the privileges of the see of Constantinople to the East, giving the impression that he did not dare extend Constantinople's primacy over Rome. This feeling of caution is apparent also in another passage of the same work [68] where Nilus affirms that both patriarchs—the Roman and the Constantinopolitan—"are justly called oecumenical."


The see of Constantinople is said by Nilus to have been founded by Andrew, the first-called, who instituted there its first bishop, when the city was still called Byzantium. [69] Nilus is also, of course, a firm believer in the pentarchy which according to him was instituted by the Holy Ghost. [70] He employs here the well-known parallel of the five senses in the human body, but declares that "it is impossible to say today which senses the various patriarchates represent."



66. PG, 132, cols. 904D, 905A. Cf. eloquent passages on Peter’s pre-eminence in Cerameus’ homilies [ibid., cols. 465, 705, 964 seq., 1028).


67. PG, 132, col. 1100.


68. Ibid., col. 1101C.            69. Ibid., col. 1105B.            70. Ibid., col. 1097C.





Thus he avoids the comparison, used by the Latins, that the Roman patriarchate should be compared with the sense of vision, the most important of the five senses. The same comparison is also used by Nicetas Seides, who, however, attributes the function of vision to the patriarchate of Jerusalem, because it was the city chosen to see the Lord. [71]


The Petrine argument is turned against Rome also by the Patriarch Michael III of Anchialus (1170-1177) in his dialogue with the Emperor Manuel Comnenus on the union with the Latins. There he repeats Nilus’ theory of the transfer of the primacy from Rome to Constantinople. He says the primacy’s origin cannot be derived from Christ or from Peter, but only from imperial, and therefore human, decrees ; the bishop of Rome is not pre-eminent because of Peter or Paul, as the Latins contend, for Peter was the teacher more of the whole world than merely of Rome; on the other hand, such an argument would attribute the primacy to Antioch rather than to Rome ; furthermore, the honor would go to the bishop of Jerusalem, because Christ had lived there. [72] Michael’s argument concerning Peter as universal teacher was to be developed by later Greek polemists.


The Greek thesis that the primacy of Rome in the Church was not of divine, but of human, origin was considerably strengthened by the Donatio Constantini which the Latins, beginning with the time of Humbert, used constantly in their polemics, and which at least from the twelfth century on, was regarded as genuine by the Greeks also. [73] Michael probably had this pseudo-document in mind when he affirmed the Roman primacy to have been established by imperial decrees, and his contemporary, Andronicus Camaterus, may also have had this in mind when he conceded to the Latins their right to a kind of primacy on the strength of some imperial documents and old tradition.



71. See quotation from Seidas’ unpublished work in M. Jugie, Theologia dogmatica, 4, p. 455.


72. Dialogus patriarchae et imperatoris, ed. Ch. Loparev in Vizantijskij Vremennik, 14 (1907), pp. 344-357.


73. It is possible that the Greeks knew much earlier a slightly different version of the pseudo-document. This version seems to have been used in the discussion between the Greeks and Liutprand of Cremona (Legatio, chap. 51, MGH Ss., 3, p. 202). See, on this problem, the remarks made by F. Dölger (“Rom in der Gedankenwelt der Byzantiner," Byzanz und die europ. Staatenwelt, pp. 108-110) which, so far, are the most informative we have on the use of the Donatio by the Greeks.





Andronicus in his “Holy Armory," published between the years 1170 and 1176, describes a discussion which the Emperor Manuel Comnenus is said to have had with Roman cardinals. As has already been pointed out by Hergenröther in his short résumé of this unpublished work, [74] the Emperor's arguments were those used by the Patriarch Michael III Anchialus against the Roman primacy : Since Peter was the teacher of the whole Church, it is an affront to him to limit his activities to Rome alone as do the Latins. The Petrine tradition, too, is directed against Rome by the Emperor, who points out that prior to his stay there Peter had taught in Antioch, and, in addition, the “imperial argument" is mentioned as further justification of Constantinople's position in the Church.


The Greek canonists of the twelfth century—Aristenus, Zonaras, and Balsamon—also believed in the authenticity of the Donatio Constantini. Aristenus interpreted the third canon of the Council of Constantinople and canon twenty-eight of Chalcedon as though they had already brought about the transfer of the primacy from Rome to Constantinople. [75] The other two canonists accorded greater respect to historical facts, granting to the patriarchate of Constantinople first rank after Rome, [76] but attributing the origin of this primacy to conciliar and imperial decrees, and claiming that the above-mentioned canons confirmed to Constantinople the same privileges enjoyed by Rome. Of course, on becoming a heretic, the Pope had lost all the privileges of his primacy. [77]



These facts lead to the conclusion that during the first phase of the controversy between Rome and Constantinople, the idea of apostolicity and the Andrew Legend played almost insignificant roles. A new phase started however with the conquest of Constantinople by the Latins in 1204. A considerable change is noted first of all in the attitude of the Patriarch Camaterus.



74. Hergenröther, Photius, 3, p. 813. An examination of the Codex Monacensis 229 (thirteenth century) by the present author showed that the Andrew argument was not used by the Emperor.


75. Theodoras Balsamon, Zonaras, Aristenus, In Canones SS. Apostolorum, Conciliorum... commentaria, PG, 137, col. 325D.


76. Ibid., cols. 321C, 325, 485-489.


77. Ibid., cols. 321-324, 485-492, 1433-1444.





In his letter to Innocent III, Camaterus [78] continued to profess the doctrine of the pentarchy, but denied to Rome any superiority over the others, insisting on their equality in everything. He seems also to have had in mind the apostolic foundation of Constantinople when he said:


“many other Churches can contend with Rome over its primacy; those that were founded by different apostles and those that were evangelized by Peter.... There are five great Churches adorned with the patriarchal dignity; the Roman Church is the first among its sisters, equal in honor,"


The Andrew argument was used for the first time with all its implications in an anti-Latin polemic by Nicholas Mesarites. In a disputation that took place August 30, 1206, in the presence of the Latin Patriarch of Constantinople, Thomas Morosini, [79] Mesarites first turned the old Roman Petrine tradition against Rome, proclaiming that Antioch had the better right to primacy because Peter had taught there eight years before he went to Rome. He spoke of Jerusalem too as deserving priority even over Rome, because Christ taught and died within its walls. Then he continues:


“If Rome claims primacy because of Peter, then Byzantium possesses primacy because of Andrew, the first called and [Peter's] older brother by birth; [also] because it was built five hundred years before Rome."


Furthermore, resuming the practice which had been in use in the East in earlier periods, Mesarites denies that Peter was Bishop of Rome. He came to Rome, says Mesarites, in his capacity of universal teacher, but the first Bishop of Rome was Linus, who was elected by the whole apostolic choir. Finally, to weaken further the Roman apostolic argument, Mesarites asserts that the Roman primacy had its origin in the imperial decree of Valerian dealing with the case of Paul of Samosata.


A similar argument against the Roman primacy is used also by Mesarites' brother John, who argued before Cardinal Benedict on September 29th of the same year, [80]



78. See the Codex Parisinus Graecus, 1302 (thirteenth century, on paper, not very legible, fols. 270v—273v). Cf. M. Jugie, op. cit., 4, pp. 341, 386.


79. Published by A. Heisenberg. “Neue Quellen zur Geschichte des lateinischen Kaisertums und der Kirchenunion," in Sitzungsberichte der Bayrischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Phil.-hist. Klasse, 2 (1923), pp. 22-24.


80. Ibid., i, pp. 54 seq.





claiming that the apostles performed oecumenical missions and were not bishops of particular cities, and that the seventy disciples were, on the other hand, assigned to different sees by the apostles. It is interesting to find here the legendary tradition of the seventy disciples inspired by the lists of apostles and disciples.


Of course such arguments did not allow the brothers to exploit the Andrew tradition to the full for the profit of Constantinople. In fact, John admitted that the pope could act as supreme judge in the event of an appeal from a patriarch condemned by a synod of his patriarchate. [81] The pope, of course, could enjoy this prerogative only if he were of orthodox faith ; the prerogative, however, was based not on a divine institution, but only on Canon Law. A similar opinion was voiced by John's brother, Nicholas, in a disputation that took place in 1214. [82]


The pentarchic thesis is invoked also by the Patriarch Germanus II (about 1222-1240) in one of his letters to the Cypriotes. He recognizes only one primacy, that of Christ, and declares that the Romans, in trying to transfer this primacy from Christ to their Pope, thus placing the Pope's throne above the clouds and equating him with the Highest One, [83] were disrupting the pentarchy.


Germanus II seems also to have published some anti-Latin writings. In the Latin treatise against the Greeks composed by the Dominicans in Constantinople (1252), [84] and wrongly attributed to the deacon Pantaleemon, he is said, in one of his writings, to have called St. Paul “Coryphaeus of the Apostles." Although another Greek bishop had characterized such a designation of Paul as insupportable, the Latin polemists tried to make capital of it for their own thesis, stating that the pope is rightly the successor of both Apostles.


“He succeeded to Peter in the power of the keys, to Paul in the judgment of disputes, for as Peter obtained from the Lord the authority to bind and to absolve, so Paul obtained the plenitude of wisdom." [85]



81. Ibid., I, p. 57.            82. Ibid., 3, pp. 34 seq.


83. Epistula II ad Cyprios, PG, 140, cols. 616C-617A.


84. See F. Dvornik, The Photian Schism, p. 347.


85. Tractatus contra Graecos, PG, 140, col. 528B.





Of particular interest in this polemical treatise is its revelation of

the Latin view of Constantinople's claims to apostolicity, even after the city's conquest by the crusaders. The polemists again take full advantage of the Petrine tradition : Antioch obtained its privileges because Peter had stayed there ; Alexandria because he sent Mark to that city as his vicar. Even Caesarea of Palestine is mentioned among the patiarchates, because “Peter convoked a council there." [86] In addition to all this, Jerusalem, too, became the see of a patriarch because the First Oecumenical Council conferred this honor upon it, but here the polemists seem to telescope historical developments, arguing that this decision was made by the Council because the Centurion Cornelius was ordained bishop of that city by Peter and thus became the representative of the Apostle of the Apostles. [87]


As for Constantinople, proprie sedem non habet. According to the polemists it was promoted to patriarchal rank by the Second Council and by the Fourth on the authority of the emperors, but Pope Leo protested against the promotion. Leo’s letters are quoted, after which the polemist emphasizes, in accordance with his declaration, that the Church was divided into four parts: Rome, Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch. [88]


The polemists turn against a thesis which they say is defended by some Latins, namely, that certain sees are termed patriarchal because the apostles had once occupied them. This is interesting because it suggests that some Latins attributed an apostolic character to Constantinople. If this interpretation is correct, it might be deduced that some Latins placed credence even in the Andrew Legend. [89]


But the authors of the treatise object to such an interpretation, explaining that only those sees could be patriarchal wherein Peter had resided either in person or through his representatives. However, not all patriarchal sees can claim that the apostles had resided in them:


“no apostle has resided in Constantinople or Alexandria, but only Peter's disciple St. Mark. But Barnabas, who was elected Apostle of the Gentiles, with the Blessed Paul, resided in Milan, and some other Apostles and especially their disciples resided in other regions.” [90]



86. Ibid., col. 528D.            87. Ibid., cols. 528D, 529A.            88. Ibid., cols. 529B-D, 530A-C.


89. Ibid., col. 530D:

Hic se sic habentibus, multum videtur oppositio quorumdam Latinorum infirmari, quod dicunt, quod patriarchiae dictae sunt, quia in his locis apostoli praesederunt.





If the above thesis had been valid there would have been more than five patriarchal sees. After quoting some other papal and patriarchal documents confirming the pope's primacy, the polemists add, verbatim, their last trump card—the full text of the Donatio Constantini, insisting particularly on the service of a strator rendered, according to this forgery, by Constantine the Great to Sylvester I. [91]


The Apostle Andrew was introduced in an unusual way, by an anonymous Greek, into the polemics against the Latins. [92] The polemist first denies to Rome primacy in teaching, since, Antioch, where Peter had taught first, had the better claim; he then argues that, although Rome based its primacy on Peter's throne, other cities could make similar claims. Ephesus was founded by the Apostle John, whom Christ had loved most; nevertheless its bishop was subject to Constantinople. He cites also the case of Alexandria, and grants that even Patras, because St. Andrew had met his martyrdom there, could consider itself patriarchal.


Mesarites' argument, based on the Andrew tradition, opposing the primacy of Rome was again fully exploited ‘'against those who say that Rome is the first see'' by the anonymous author of the pamphlet so often falsely attributed to the Patriarch Photius. It has, however, been shown that Photius could not have written such a treatise, [93] and that its author must have published his writing sometime during the first decades of the thirteenth century, availing himself of the arguments publicized by Mesarites. [94] The pamphlet is replete with the hatred and exasperation that must have dominated the minds of the Greeks after the Latin conquest of Constantinople.


It is important to note that chapter five of this opuscule echoes strongly the argument used by Mesarites and his brother against Roman primacy, that is, that the apostles were universal teachers and were not confined to special areas as local bishops.



90. Ibid., cols. 530D, 531A.            91. Ibid., cols. 531B-538A.


92. Published by the Metropolitan Arsenius, Tri stat’i neizvestnago grečeskago pisatelja načala XIII věka (Moscow, 1892).


93. See supra, pp. 245-253.


94. M. Gordillo, “Photius et primatus Romanus," Orientalia Christiana Periodica, 6 (1940), pp. 23 seq. See supra p. 253 and infra p. 294.





It states:


“If you come forward to me with the saying Thou art Peter and on this rock I will build my Church' etc., you may know that this was not meant of the Roman Church, not in any respect. It is Jewish and very wrong to circumscribe Grace and its divine character within certain limits and localities, and to deny that it bestows its benefits equally throughout the universe...."


These words “were manifestly used of the rock of the confession proclaiming Christ's divinity and, through it, of the universal Church, extended and well-established through the doctrine of the apostles as far as the confines of the world." [95] This argument, here only alluded to, was generally used by the polemists of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.


Especial interest attaches to the consideration of the primacy by the monk Barlaam, before he joined the Union. He does not dispute Peter's primacy over the apostles, but denies that Peter had transferred this primacy to his successor in Rome. All apostles were ordained priests by Christ, obtaining from Him different charismata, and were instituted by Him as universal bishops. It could be argued that Peter had appointed a successor and heir to his primacy if the other apostles had left heirs and successors to their apostolates and charismata. There is, however, no successor in the apostolic institution. The bishops were ordained for different areas not by Christ, but by the apostles. They are all equal and none can claim jurisdiction over the whole world. [96]


“If the Bishop of Rome alone had been ordained by the Apostle Peter, it might be supposed that he had left it [the primacy] to him. However, he ordained bishops in many other cities also. How, therefore, could this be considered evidence that he made the bishop of Rome master of the others and equal to himself ?" [97]


Moreover, the argument continues, Peter ordained his successor in Rome, but popes cannot ordain their own successors; they are, therefore, not equal to the coryphaeus.



95. It is plausible to see in this tendency another indication that the opuscule could not have been written in the ninth century, for at that time such arguments against the primacy were not used. They were first used, as as far as is known, by the Patriarch Michael III of Anchialus in the twelfth century. All of the chroniclers of the ninth century had accepted the Roman tradition that placed Peter at the head of the line of Roman bishops.


96. Περί τῆς τοῦ πάπα ἀρχῆς. Codex Parisinus Graecus 1218 (fifteenth century), fol. 522. Cf. M. Jugie, op. cit., 4, p. 331.


97. Ibid., fol. 523B; M. Jugie, loc. cit., p. 392.





If the primacy of the Roman bishop were deduced from the fact that Peter had died in Rome, this distinction could be claimed by bishops of all cities in which the other apostles had died. Jerusalem's claim would be the most secure, for Christ died there. Barlaam concludes that the Roman bishop was the equal of other bishops, and that he owed his privileged place in the Church not to succession from Peter, but to the Emperors Constantine—a clear allusion to the Donatio—and Justinian and to the synods. [98]


Barlaam repeats the same arguments in his address to a Latin, [99] which, despite many similarities, differs from the unpublished treatise. At the end of this address he recapitulates his arguments in nine short paragraphs, stressing the fact that the popes had never presided at a synod ; that, on the contrary, the synods had determined the degree of honor and the rights enj oyed by the bishops of Rome. [100]


Nilus Cabasilas, Metropolitan of Thessalonica, adopted all of Barlaam’s arguments against the Roman primacy, stressing that Peter was "a teacher of the whole world," while the pope was only the bishop of Rome and successor of one of the bishops ordained in many areas by Peter. [101] Matthew Angelus Panaretus [102] and Macarius Ancyranus [103] followed their predecessors in their campaigns against the Latins, opposing the Roman primacy with similar arguments.


This of course does not mean that the Greeks of this period did not believe in the authenticity of the Andrew and Stachys Legend. As has already been pointed out, the Church historian Nicephorus Callistus Xanthopulus copied in his work—probably from Pseudo-Dorotheus’ catalogue—the story of Andrew’s missionary activity in Thrace, Macedonia, and Byzantium, and of Stachys’ ordination by him as Bishop of that city.



98. Ibid., fol. 524C.


99. Barlaam, Contra Latinos, PG, 151, cols. 1255-1280.


100. Ibid., cols. 1276-1278.


101. De primatu papae, PG, 149, cols. 700-705. Cf. the refutation of Nilus’ arguments by Matthew Caryphylus, ibid., 736 seq.


102. Panaretus composed, among his numerous polemic treatises, three that refuted Roman claims to primacy. See the description of the manuscripts in which they are preserved and the resumé of Panaretus’ arguments in P. Risso, “Matteo Angelo Panaretos e cinque suoi opuscoli,” Roma e l'Oriente, 8 (1914), pp. 175, 176. Cf. also Panaretus’ treatise against the azymes published by P. Risso (ibid., 6 [1916]), p. 158.


103. Κατὰ Λατίνων, ed. Dositheus, Τόμος ἀγάπης, pp. 5. seq. He appears to have been the first Greek who did not believe in the authenticity of the Donatio Constantini (ibid., pp. 8-10).





After enumerating the bishops who had occupied the five major sees under Licinius and Constantine the Great, Nicephorus introduced the story as follows:


“upon coming to this point it seems to me advisable to review the names of the bishops of Byzantium from the time of the apostles, and thus to add a kind of divine title to the historical account." [104]


These words show clearly Nicephorus' pride in the apostolic origin of the Byzantine see. Another author of the same period, the chronographer Ephrem, added to his verse chronicle, written about the year 1313, a catalogue of Constantinopolitan bishops beginning with Andrew and Stachys and repeating the catalogue of Pseudo-Dorotheus. [105]


It would be of little value to examine in detail the arguments of other Greek and Latin polemists before and after the Council of Florence, for it has already been clearly shown that the new trend in Greek polemical literature, adopted in the twelfth century and fully developed in the two subsequent centuries, had greatly diminished the usefulness of both Byzantine apostolic origins and the Andrew Legend in Greek opposition to Roman primacy. Once the Greek polemists adopted the old thesis that the apostles had been appointed by Christ as universal teachers rather than as bishops of particular cities, thereby admitting it impossible for them to have transmitted to others their universal mission, it was pointless to argue that the see of Constantinople was of apostolic origin, and that the Apostle Andrew had consecrated its first bishop, Stachys.


It is no wonder, then, that the Greeks began again to emphasize the imperial argument. The Latins unwittingly helped them considerably in this change of attitude. Not satisfied with the arguments taken from the Scriptures and the Petrine tradition—although these were their strongest points, and most embarrassing to their opponents—the Latins sought further to strengthen the position of Rome in the Church by an “imperial” argument, and often turned to the Donatio Constantini in their polemics.



104. Historia ecclesiastica, PG, 146, col. 28C.


105. Verses 9656 seq.; ed. Bonn, pp. 383 seq,; PG. 143, cols. 349C seq.





The Greeks fully accepted this false document at its face value, for it conformed to their own ideas of the emperor's role in Church affairs, [106] and they used it as resourcefully as they could in countering the claims of Rome and furthering those of Constantinople.


There might have been yet another explanation of the change in Greek polemical tactics. After the conquest of Constantinople by the Latins, and the occupation of its see by a Latin prelate, there was no reason for Rome to deny to that see the second place in ecclesiastical hierarchy claimed by the Byzantines for so many centuries. So it happened that the Fourth Council of the Lateran, convoked by Innocent III in 1215, made the following definition in its fifth canon, approved by the Pope:


“In renewing the old privileges of the patriarchal sees, we sanction, with the approbation of the holy Synod, that, after the Church of Rome, which by the disposition of the Lord has the principate of natural power over all others as mother and teacher of all Christian faithful, the see of Constantinople has the first rank, that of Alexandria the second, that of Antioch the third, and that of Jerusalem the fourth, provided each of them keeps its own honor." [107]


It is true that this recognition was given for the benefit of a Latin patriarch, and that the subordination of all other patriarchs to Rome was duly stressed in the last part of the canon ; nevertheless the long controversy over the rank of Constantinople was finally settled, and the Greeks must have learned of it. The Pope acted on his own authority in this instance, but the introductory words of the canon—“renewing the old privileges of the patriarchal sees"—could have been interpreted, at least by the Greeks, as referring to previous conciliar decisions concerning the rank of patriarchs.


The same concession was restated, this time for the benefit of the Greek Patriarch of Constantinople, at the Council of Florence (1439), [108] and another unexpected concession was made later.



106. This was well perceived by W. Ohnesorge in his study, “Die Konstantinische Schenkung, Leo III und die Anfänge der kurialen röm. Kaiseridee,” Zeitschrift der Savigny Stiftung, Germanistische Abteilung, 68 (1951), p. 103.


“...die Methode, die ganz im altrömisch-byzantinischen Staatsdenken wurzelt: Neuordnung der kirchlichen Gewalt—einschließlich der Vergebung der Patriarchate—durch den Kaiser. Die Grundtendenz des Constitutum Constantini ist also griechisch."


107. Mansi, 22, cols. 990 seq., Gratian’s words, in his Decretum, on the rank of the see of Constantinople certainly helped the Fathers to make this decision.





The fact that the Andrew Legend was so little exploited by the Greeks as an argument against the Roman primacy may have also contributed to the eventual acceptance by Rome of the Andrew and Stachys Legend. Unfortunately this occurred only at a very late period, when the acknowlegment of the apostolic character of the see of Constantinople was of little use for the rapprochement of the separated Churches, and it was brought about, strangely enough, by the very man who was most responsible for the misinterpretation of the Photian schism, and who thus placed another obstacle in the way of the Churches’ reunion—Cardinal Baronius. He inserted into his edition of the Roman Martyrologium of 1586, under the date October 31st, the following notice: Constantinopoli sancti Stachis episcopi, qui a beato Andrea Apostolo primus ejusdem civitatis episcopus ordinatus est. [109]


Completing the reversal of Roman opinion about Stachys, Baronius also accepted as a historical figure the legendary martyr Dorotheus, believed to have been the author of the list of Byzantine bishops that began with Stachys and ended with Metrophanes. The Cardinal’s Martyrologium states, under the date of June 5th:


Tyri passio S. Dorothei presbyteri, qui sub Diocletiano multa passus est; et usque ad Juliani tempora superstes, sub eo annum agens septimum supra centesimum, venerandam senectam martyrio honestavit.


This is an unexpected end to a hotly disputed controversy. Even more puzzling, however, is the fact that the names of both Dorotheus and Stachys are still in the Roman Martyrologium, and the life stories of the two men are piously read and believed by many.



108. Mansi, 31A, cols. 1031E, 1034:

Renovantes insuper ordinem traditumin canonibus caeterorum venerabilium patriarcharum, ut patriarcha Constantinopolitanus secundus sit post Romanum Pontificem, tertius vero Alexandrinus, quartus autem Antiochenus et quintus Hierosolymitanus, salvis videlicet privilegiis omnibus, et juribus eorum.


109. C. Baronius, Martyrologium Romanum (2nd ed., Antwerp, 1589), p. 481. Cf. N. Nilles, Kalendarium manuale utriusque ecclesiae, 1 (Innsbruck, 1896), p. 311. Acta Sanctorum Octobris, 13, p. 687. Baronius’ Martyrologium is quoted by A. Du Saussay (Andreas Frater Simonis Petri seu de gloria S. Andreae apostoli, libri XII [Paris, 1656], pp. 155 seq.) as the main argument for the historicity of the Stachys Legend.





In reflecting on this change of attitude on the part of the West toward Byzantine claims regarding the apostolic character of the see of Constantinople, it is a great temptation to conclude these considerations with the remark: Difficile est saturam non scribere. There is, however, nothing satirical in the history of this dispute. From beginning to end this argument over two principles of ecclesiastical organization—that of apostolicity and that of adaptation to the political organization of the Empire—was conducted earnestly and passionately. The lack of understanding of the first and the over-emphasizing of the second on the part of the Byzantines induced the Romans to deny to Constantinople that second rank in Church organization which it rightfully claimed. Similarly, Rome was prevented from recognizing early enough the change in Byzantium that favored the apostolic principle in Church organization. Thus it was that this dispute contributed so considerably toward intensifying the misunderstanding between West and East ; a misunderstanding that, together with other factors, led to the schism so fateful for the history of Christianity.


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