Photius of Constantinople

Chief author of the great schism between the East and West. Born Constantinople, c.815; died 897. Having previously held high offices in the Byzantine Court he was intruded into the patriarchate of Constantinople in place of the rightful patriarch, Ignatius, who had been deposed and banished for seeking to correct the vices of Bardas, regent for the young emperor, Michael the Drunkard. Pope Nicholas I declared his election illegal, but Photius denied his authority and retaliated by excommunicating the Pope and the Latins, proclaiming as his chief reason for so doing that they had added filioque to the Creed. Upon the death of Michael III, Photius was deposed and banished, and Ignatius was restored to the Patriarchate. Photius, however, succeeded in ingratiating himself with the new Emperor Basil I and organized a strong party, which, upon the death of Ignatius, demanded his appointment to the see. Pope John VIII agreed, absolved him from all censure, and acknowledged him as patriarch. Photius immediately renewed the old quarrel and at a synod held in Saint Sophia's (879) which he had persuaded the pope to call, repeated all his accusations against the Latins, dwelling especially on the filioque-grievance. He was again excommunicated, and upon the accession of Pope Leo VI to the throne was deposed and sent into exile, where he died. Of Photius' prolific literary production may be mentioned the Myriobiblion or Bibliotheca, a collection of notes on, and extracts from 280 volumes of classical authors, the originals of which are now in large part lost; and Amphilochia, a collection of questions and answers on biblical, philosophical, and theological difficulties.

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