Born in Constantinople ca. 1200, he received his education in Nicaea at a monastery of which he later became the abbot, though not in orders. Subsequently he gave himself up to a life of solitary asceticism in a Bithynian monastery, and is said, probably wrongly, to have remained some time in a monastery on Mount Athos.
From this seclusion he was called by the Byzantine Emperor Theodore II Lascaris to the position of patriarch at Nicaea in 1255, and four years later, upon the emperor's death, became joint guardian of his son John IV Lascaris. His fellow-guardian George Muzalon was immediately murdered by Michael Palaeologus, who assumed the position of tutor.
Arsenius then took refuge in the monastery of Paschasius, retaining his office of patriarch but refusing to discharge its duties. Nicephorus of Ephesus was appointed in his stead. Michael, having recovered Constantinople from the Latin Empire, induced Arsenius to undertake the office of patriarch, but soon incurred Arsenius' severe censure by ordering the young prince John to be blinded. Arsenius went so far as to excommunicate the emperor, who having vainly sought for a pardon, made false accusations against Arsenius which caused him to be banished to Proconnesus, where some years afterwards (according to Fabricius in 1264; others say in 1273) he died.
Throughout these years Arsenius declined to remove the sentence of excommunication which was sentenced on Michael and after his death, when the new patriarch Joseph gave absolution to the emperor, the dispute was carried on between the "Arsenites" and the "Josephists." The "Arsenian schism" lasted till 1315, when a reconciliation was pronounced by the patriarch Nephon I. Arsenius is said to have prepared the decisions of the councils and the works of the Fathers a summary of divine laws under the title Synopsis Canonum. Some hold that Synopsis was the work of another Arsenius, a monk of Athos; the ascription depends on whether the patriarch Arsenius did or did not reside at Mount Athos.
|Orthodox Church titles|
|Patriarch of Constantinople
In exile at Nicaea
Restored to Constantinople