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November 17, 2017

Saint Maximos III, Patriarch of Constantinople (+ 1482)

St. Maximos III of Constantinople (Feast Day - November 17)


Maximos was in anguish and bore children,
After acts of purity he departed pure from this life.

Ecumenical Patriarch Maximos III was a scholar, polyglot and ascetic Hierarch. He shepherded the patriarchal see with wisdom during the difficult first years after the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, from 1476 to 1482.

Maximos was born Manuel Christonymos and was probably a native of the Peloponnese in Greece. He became Grand Ecclesiarch (i.e. Head Sacristan) of the Patriarchate in Constantinople. This ministry soon after the Fall of Constantinople (1453) took the functions also of the Skeuophylax, taking care of the holy treasures and relics of the Patriarchate, and in this position Manuel clashed with Patriarch Gennadios Scholarios on economical issues. Under the patronage of the secretary of the Ottoman Sultan, Demetrios Kyritzes, Manuel, together with the Great Chartophylax George Galesiotes, influenced the life of the Church of Constantinople for more than twenty years.

In 1463 he sided with Patriarch Joasaph I against the request of the politician George Amiroutzes, a Greek nobleman from the former Empire of Trebizond, to marry a second wife because it was a case of bigamy under Orthodox Christian canon law. As punishment for his support of Joasaph, Manuel had his nose cut by order of Sultan Mehmed II.

In autumn 1465 (or early 1466) Manuel sponsored the election to the Patriarchate of Mark II, and later he opposed the patriarchs supported by other factions, such as Symeon of Trebizond and Dionysios I, who on 15 January 1467 stripped him and George Galesiotes of their posts in the administration of the Church.

However they soon regained their influence. Manuel was successful in recovering the esteem of Sultan Mehmed II, and in spring 1476 he himself was elected as Patriarch of Constantinople. He was still a lay person, so he first became a monk taking the name of Maximos, and the next day he received consecration as a bishop and he was enthroned as Patriarch by the Metropolitan of Heraclea. His reign ended a period of troubles for the Church in the region, and was marked by peace and consensus.

Among his accomplishments was to bring peace to the disputes among the clergy, issued regular provisions and letters, preached regularly in the churches, and translated the Symbol of Faith (the Creed) into the Turkish language. He sent a letter to the Duke of Venice calling for the oppression of the Orthodox in the Venetian occupations to cease, and in about 1481 sent Metropolitan Daniel of Ephesus to the Eastern Patriarchates in order to settle disputes with the Latins who had already penetrated into Jerusalem and had been authorized by the authorities to operate in the southern part of Golgotha, just like the Orthodox. Also in 1481 he convened a Synod on the revocation of the decisions of the Ferrara-Florence Synod with the participation of the other Patriarchs and 20 Metropolitans.

Maximos reposed in peace on 3 April 1482. His main literary work is the "Monody on the Capture of Constantinople".