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Johannes IV. "der Faster"

lateinischer Beiname: "Ieiunator"

griechischer Beiname: "Nesteutes"

Gedenktag katholisch: 2. September *

Gedenktag orthodox: 18. Februar, 2. September

Gedenktag armenisch: 2. September

Name bedeutet: Gott ist gnädig (hebr.)

Patriarch von Konstantinopel

  • um 515 in Konstantinopel, heute Ístanbul in der Türkei

† 2. September 595

Johannes war Handwerker in einem Feinmetallbetrieb, vielleicht in der Münzanstalt, bevor er um 570 Leiter der Finanzverwaltung der Hagia Sophia in Konstantinopel und damit einer der wichtigsten Diakone der Hauptkirche des Patriarchats wurde. 582 wurde er auf den Sitz des Patriarchen erhoben. Zeitgenossen rühmten seinen streng asketischen Lebenswandel und seine caritativen Leistungen für die Armen der Stadt, möglicherweise war er zuvor eine Zeit lang Mönch gewesen.

Papst Gregor I. verwickelte Johannes in einen Streit um die Vorrechte Roms indem er monierte, Johannes habe sich den Titel "ökumenisch" im Sinn von "universal" widerrechtlich angeeignet. Johannes werden bedeutende Schriften zur Bußdisziplin zugeschrieben, was aber historisch unhaltbar ist. Er starb in großer Armut; all seinen kärglichen Besitz hatte er als Sicherung von Krediten zugunsten der Armen an den Kaiser verpfändet. In seiner Regierungszeit, nämlich im Jahr 391, wurde der Überlieferung zufolge der "heilige Rock" aufgefunden.

602 verfasste ein Presbyter der Hagia Sophia eine Biografie über Johannes, von der durch die Akten des 2. Konzils von Nicäa noch ein Fragment überliefert ist.

  • Die Acta Sanctorum bezeichnen Johannes trotz seiner Auseiandersetzung mit Papst Gregor I. am 2. September als "heilig", am 5. Mai im Zusammenhang mit der Auffindung des "heiligen Rocks" als "selig".


John the Faster

(o nesteutés, jejunator)

Patriarch of Constantinople (John IV, 582-595), famous chiefly through his assumption of the title "œcumenical patriarch"; d. 2 September, 595. He was brought up (apparently also born) at Constantinople. Under the Patriarch John III (Scholasticus, 565-577) he was deacon at the Hagia Sophia church; then he became sakellarios (an official who acts as patriarchal vicar for monasteries). He had little learning, but was so famous for his ascetical life that he was already called "the Faster". Under Eutychius I (restored to the patriarchate when John III died, 577-582) he became an important person among the clergy of the city. At Eutychius's death he was made patriarch by the Emperor Tiberius II (578-582). Under the next emperor, Maurice (582-602), he was still a favourite at court. There is little to tell of his life besides the great question of the title. He is said to have been tolerant towards the Monophysites; but he persuaded Maurice to have a certain wizard, Paulinus, burnt. He had always a great reputation for asceticism and charity to the poor.

The dispute about the title was this: it was not new in John IV's time; till then the Bishop of Constantinople had commonly been called ’archiepískopos daì patriárches, but at various times he (and other patriarchs) had been addressed as o‘ikoumenikòs patriárches. H. Gelzer (Der Streit um den Titel des ökumenischen Patriarchen) thinks that it became usual in the time of the Acacian schism (484-519). The first known use of it applied to Constantinople is in a letter from the monks of Antioch to John II (518-520) in 518. Before that the Patriarch of Alexandria had been so called by one of his bishops at the Robber Synod of Ephesus (in the year 449; Gelzer, op. cit., p. 568). Since 518 the whole combination, ’archiepískopos kaì o‘ikoumenikòs patriárches, is not uncommonly used in addresses to the Byzantine patriarchs. But they had not called themselves so before John IV. There is a real difference between these two uses of a title. In addresses to other people, particularly superiors, one may always allow a margin for compliment - especially in Byzantine times. But when a man uses a title himself he sets up a formal claim to it. In 588 John the Faster held a synod at Constantinople to examine certain charges against Gregory, Patriarch of Antioch (in this fact already one sees a sign of the growing ambition of Constantinople. By what right could Constantinople discuss the affairs of Antioch?). The Acts of this synod appear to have been sent to Rome; and Pope Pelagius II (579-590) saw in them that John was described as "archbishop and œcumenical patriarch". It may be that this was the first time that the use of the title was noticed at Rome; it appears, in any case, to be the first time it was used officially as a title claimed - not merely a vague compliment. Pelagius protested against the novelty and forbade his legate at Constantinople to communicate with John. His letter is not extant. We know of it from Gregory's letters later (Epp., V, xliii, in P. L., LXXVII, 771).

St. Gregory I (599-604), who succeeded Pelagius II, was at first on good terms with John IV. He had known him at Constantinople while he had been legate (apocrisiarius) there (578-584), and had sent him notice of his succession as pope in a friendly letter (Epp., I, iv, in P. L., LXXVII, 447). It has been thought that the John to whom he dedicates his "Regula pastoralis" is John of Constantinople (others think it to be John of Ravenna, Bardenhewer, "Patrology", tr Shahan, St. Louis, 1908, p. 652). But in 593 this affair of the new and arrogant title provoked a serious dispute. It should be noticed that Gregory was still old-fashioned enough to cling to the theory of three patriarchates only, although officially he accepted the five (Fortescue, "Orthodox Eastern Church", p. 44). He was therefore not well-disposed towards Constantinople as a patriarchate at all. That it should claim to be the universal one seemed to him unheard-of insolence. John had cruelly scourged two priests accused of heresy. They appealed to the pope. In the correspondence that ensued John assumed this title of œcumenical patriarch "in almost every line" of his letter (Epp., V, xviii, in P. L., LXXVII, 738). Gregory protested vehemently against it in a long correspondence addressed first to John, then to the Emperor Maurice, the Empress Constantina, and others. He argues that "if one patriarch is called universal the title is thereby taken from the others" (Epp., V, xviii, ibid., 740). It is a special effrontery for the Byzantine bishop, whose existence as a patriarch at all is new and still uncertain (Rome had refused to accept the third canon of the First Council of Constantinople and the twenty-eighth canon of Chalcedon), to assume such a title as this. It further argues independence of any superior; whereas, says Gregory, "who doubts that the Church of Constantinople is subject to the Apostolic See?" (Epp., IX, xii, ibid., 957); and again: "I know of no bishop who is not subject to the Apostolic See" (ibid.).

The pope expressly disclaims the name "universal" for any bishop, including himself. He says that the Council of Chalcedon had wanted to give it to Leo I, but he had refused it (Epp., V, xviii, ibid., 740, xx, 747, etc.). This idea rests on a misconception (Hefele-Leclercq, "Histoire des Conciles", II, Paris, 1908, pp. 834-5), but his reason for resenting the title in any bishop is obvious throughout his letters. "He understood it as an exclusion of all the others [privative quoad omnes alios] so that he who calls himself œcumenic, that is, universal, thinks all other patriarchs and bishops to be private persons and himself the only pastor of the inhabited earth" (so Horace Giustiniani at the Council of Florence; Hergenröther, "Photius", I, 184). For this reason Gregory does not spare his language in denouncing it. It is "diabolical arrogance" (Epp., V, xx, in P. L., XXVII, 746, xxi, 750, etc.); he who so calls himself is antichrist. Opposed to it Gregory assumed the title borne ever since by his successors. "He refuted the name 'universal' and first of all began to write himself 'servant of the servants of God' at the beginning of his letters, with sufficient humility, leaving to all his successors this hereditary evidence of his meekness" (Johannes Diaconus, "Vita S. Gregorii", II, i, in P. L., LXV, 87). Nevertheless the patriarchs of Constantinople kept their "œcumenical" title till it became part of their official style. The Orthodox patriarch subscribes himself still "Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome, and Œcumenical Patriarch". But it is noticeable that even Photius (d. 891) never dared use the word when writing to Rome. The Catholic Church has never admitted it. It became a symbol of Byzantine arrogance and the Byzantine schism. In 1024 the Emperor Basil II (963-1025) tried to persuade Pope John XIX (1024-1033) to acknowledge it. The pope seems to have been ready to do so, but an outburst of indignation throughout the West and a stern letter from Abbot William of Dijon made him think better of it (Fortescue, "Orthodox Eastern Church", p. 167). Later again, at the time of the final schism, Pope Leo IX writes to Michael Cærularius of Constantinople (in 1053): "How lamentable and detestable is the sacrilegious usurpation by which you everywhere boast yourself to be the Universal Patriarch" (op. cit., p. 182). No Catholic bishop since then has ever dared assume this title.

With regard to the issue, one should note first that Gregory knew no Greek. He saw the words only in a Latin version: Patriarcha universalis, in which they certainly sound more scandalous than in Greek. How he understood them is plain from his letters. They seem to mean that all jurisdiction comes from one bishop, that all other bishops are only his vicars and delegates. Catholic theology does not affirm this of the pope or anyone. Diocesan bishops have ordinary, not delegate, jurisdiction; they receive their authority immediately from Christ, though they may use it only in the communion of the Roman See. It is the whole difference between diocesan ordinaries and vicars Apostolic. All bishops are not Apostolic vicars of the pope. Nor has any pope ever assumed the title "universal bishop", though occasionally they have been so called in complimentary addresses from other persons. The accusation, then, that Gregory's successors have usurped the title that he so resented is false.

Whether John IV or other patriarchs of Constantinople really meant to advance so arrogant a claim is another question. O’ikoumenikòs patriárches in Greek is susceptible of a milder interpretation. ‘E O’ikoumènes chóra was long a name for the civilized, cultivated land of the Greeks, as opposed to the wild country of the barbarians. It was then often used for the Roman Empire. It is at least probable that the clause ‘upèr tês o’ikouménes in the Greek Intercession of the Byzantine Liturgy means the "empire" (Fortescue, "Liturgy of St. Chrysostom", London, 1908, p. 106). It may be, then that o’ikoumenikòs patriárches meant no more than "imperial patriarch", as the Greeks of Constantinople told Anastasius Bibliothecarius of the time of Photius (see his statement in Gelzer, op. cit., p. 572). Kattenbusch (Konfessionskunde, I, 116) thinks it should be translated Reichspatriarch. Even so it is still false. The Patriarch of Constantinople had no sort of claim over the whole empire. The most that can be allowed is that if "ecumenical" means only "imperial", and if "imperial" means only "of the imperial court", the title (in this case equal to "court patriarch") is no worse than a foolish example of vanity. But even in Greek this interpretation is by no means obvious. In Greek, too, an "œcumenical synod" is one that has authority for the whole Church; the "œcumenic doctors" (St. Basil, St. Gregory of Nazianzus, St. John Chrysostom) are those whose teaching must be followed by all. Pichler's comparison with the form "catholic bishop" ("Geschichte der kirchlichen Trennung", II, Munich, 1865, pp. 647 sq.) is absurd. The humblest member of the Church is (in any language) a Catholic; in no language could he be called œcumenical.

Another dispute between John and Gregory was about some relics, especially the head of St. Paul, that the Court of Constantinople wanted the pope to send to them. Gregory would not part with them; eventually he sent part of St. Paul's chains. The works in Migne attributed to John the Faster [a treatise on Confession (P. G., LXXXVIII, 1889-1918), a shorter work on the same subject (ibid., 1919-1932), "Of Penance, Temperance, and Virginity" (ibid., 1937-1978)] are not authentic. No authentic works of his are extant. He has often been confused with a certain Cappadocian monk, John the Faster, who came to Constantinople about the year 1100. The patriarch, at his death, left no property but a cloak, a blanket, and a praying-stool, which the emperor kept as relics. The Orthodox Church has canonized him and keeps his feast on 2 September.

One of his clergy, PROTINOS, wrote his life soon after his death. Fragments of this are preserved in the Acts of the Second Council of Nicæa, for which see MANSI, XIII, 80-85; LEQUIEN, Oriens Christianus, I (Paris, 1740), 226; GEDEON, Patriarchikoì Pìnakes (Constantinople, 1890), 232-36; HERGENRÖTHER, Photius, I (Ratisbon, 1867), 178-90; GRISAR, Oekumenischer Patriarch und Diener der Diener Gottes in Zeitschrift für kath. Theologie, IV (Innsbruck, 1880), 468-523; GELZER, Der Streit um den Titel des ökumenischen Patriarchen in Jahrbücher für prot. Theologie, XIII (1887), 549-584; KATTENBUSCH, Konfessionskunde, I (Freiburg im Br., 1892), 111-17.

Englisch 2

Our father among the saints John IV of Constantinople, also known as John the Faster, John the Abstainer, and John Nesteutes, was the 33rd bishop or Patriarch of Constantinople. He is noted for his penitential nomokanon and as the first bishop of Constantinople to assume the title Ecumenical Patriarch. His feast day is on September 2.


The date of Joannes' birth is unknown. He probably was born in Constantinople where he was raised by artisan parents. He was not well educated. He became famous for his ascetical life which led to his being called "the Faster". He was a deacon at Hagia Sophia under Patriarch John III (Scholasticus) before becoming a skallarios, that is, an official who was the patriarchal vicar for monasteries. Under Patriarch Eutychius I, who was restored as patriarch, after John Scholasticus died in 577, Joannes became esteemed among the clergy of Constantinople. Upon the death of Eutychius in 582, he was named patriarch as John IV by Emperor Tiberius II on April 11, 582. He remained in the good graces of Emperor Maurice who succeeded Tiberius later in 582.

In 588, John IV convened a council in Constantinople to investigate certain charges against Patriarch Gregory of Antioch, of which he was acquitted. The summons to the bishops of the East was done in the name of John IV as Ecumenical Patriarch. While this title, in a context of a compliment, had been used as early as reign of Acacius (471 to 489) in reference to the Patriarch of Constantinople, its use by John IV as a title in documents of his office was a first. The title was used in the acts of the council, to which Pope Pelagius II of Rome objected. Again, in 595, Pope Gregory I, objected to the use of the title, although Gregory previously had been on good terms with John.

Patriarch John the Faster reposed on September 2, 595 in Constantinople.

Penitential nomokanon

Within the Church, John IV is most noted as the compiler of a penitential nomokanon, that is a rule for penances. The rules are instructions for priests on how to hear confessions of secret sins that are either sins of commission or sins of intentions. While old church rules addressed the manner and duration of public penances, it was necessary to adapt these rules for confession of undetected sins. John IV issued his nonokanon so that confessions of sins unknown to the world that testify to the good intentions of the sinner and his conscience in his reconciliation with God are reflected in reduction of penances as established by the ancient Fathers, reductions that amounted to half or more. Also, he defined more exactly the character of the penances, such as severity of fasting, the daily performance of a set number of prostrations, and the distribution of alms. The length of the penances would be determined by the priest. A principal purpose of the nomocanon was to adjust the degree of repentance to reflect the spiritual state of the person who confesses.


External link


Cel întru sfinți părintele nostru Ioan al IV-lea al Constantinopolului, cunoscut adesea sub numele de Ioan Postitorul, a fost al 23-lea episcop al Constantinopolului, între anii 582–595. A rămas în istorie drept primul episcop al Constantinopolului care a luat titlul de „patriarh ecumenic”, dar și pentru nomocanonul său penitențial. Prăznuirea lui se face la data de 2 septembrie în Biserica Ortodoxă.


Data nașterii sfântului Ioan este necunoscută. S-a născut probabil în Constantinopol, unde a fost crescut de părinți creștini, meșteri în lucrul aurului[1]. Nu a avut o educație sau instruire lumească deosebită, dar a devenit faimos pentru viața sa ascetică, care a și făcut să fie supranumit "Postitorul". A fost mai întâi diacon la catedrala Sfânta Sofia din capitala imperiului sub patriarhul Ioan al III-lea (Scolasticul), iar apoi a devenit sachelar (gr. skallarios), adică vicar patriarhal pentru mănăstiri. Sub patriarhul Eutihie I, care a fost reinstalat ca patriarh după moartea lui Ioan Scolasticul în 577, Ioan a devenit din ce în ce mai apreciat de clerul din Constantinopol. La moartea lui Eutihie în 582, el a fost numit patriarh, cu numele de Ioan al IV-lea, de către împăratul Tiberiu al II-lea, pe 11 aprilie 582.

A rămas și în grațiile împăratului Mauriciu, care i-a urmat lui Tiberiu la sfârșitul anului 582.

În 588, Ioan al IV-lea a convocat un sinod în Constantinopol pentru a investiga anumite acuze împotriva patriarhului Grigorie al Antiohiei, care a și fost achitat. Convocarea trimisă către episcopii din Orient a fost făcută în numele lui Ioan al IV-lea, Patriarh Ecumenic. Deși acest titlu mai fusese folosit, drept compliment, și în timpul patriarhatului lui Acachie (471-489), cu referire la Patriarhul de Constantinopol, utilizarea lui de către Ioan al IV-lea ca titulatură oficială în documentele sale de cancelarie a fost o premieră. Titlul de Patriarh Ecumenic a fost utilizat în actele sinodului, ceea ce i-a atras protestul papei Pelagius al II-lea de la Roma. În 595, papa Grigore I a obiectat și el, destul de aspru, față de folosirea acestui titlu[2], deși Grigorie se afla în termeni buni cu Ioan.

Patriarhul Ioan Postitorul adormit în Domnul pe 2 septembrie 595 în Constantinopol.

Nomocanonul penitențial

În cadrul Bisericii, Ioan al IV-lea mai este remarcat și ca fiind compilatorul unui nomocanon penitențial, conținând canoane de pocăință. Canoanele sunt instrucțiuni pentru preoți cu privire la modul în care spovedesc păcatele cu știința și cu neștiința. Deoarece vechile canoane bisericești reglau modalitățile și durata unor penitențe publice, a fost necesar să se adapteze aceste canoane pentru păcatele ascunse și respectiv penitențele individuale. Ioan al IV-lea a scris nomocanonul său în așa fel încât să țină cont de pocăința și de intenția bună a omului care-și mărturisește păcatele, precum și de starea conștiinței lui în procesul de împăcare cu Dumnezeu. În astfel de situații de reală pocăință și conștientizare a păcatului, nomocanomul sfântului Ioan Postitorul reduce penitențele stabilite de Sfinții Părinți din vechime la jumătate sau chiar mai mult. De asemenea, el a definit mai exact caracterul și durata penitențelor, cum ar fi asprimea postului, numărul de metanii pe zi, sau milostenia. Durata penitențelor este stabilită de preotul spoveditor.

Scopul principal al Nomocanonului sfântului Ioan Postitorul a fost tocmai acela de a adapta canoanele de pocăință, astfel încât ele să reflecte starea de spirit a persoanei care se mărturisește.


Tropar (glasul al 4-lea)

Îndreptător credinței și chip blândeților, învățător înfrânării, te-a arătat pe tine, turmei tale, adevărul lucrurilor. Pentru aceasta ai câștigat cu smerenia cele înalte, cu sărăcia cele bogate, Părinte Ierarhe Ioane, roagă pe Hristos Dumnezeu, ca să mântuiască sufletele noastre.



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