Michael I Cerularius

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Michael I Cerularius
Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople
Michele Cerulario (Michael I Cerularius).jpg
See Patriarchate of Constantinople
Installed 1043
Term ended 21 January 1059
Predecessor Alexius I Studites
Successor Constantine III Lichoudas
Personal details
Birth name Michael Keroularios
Born Constantinople, Byzantine Empire
Died Constantinople, Byzantine Empire
Nationality Byzantine
Denomination Eastern Orthodoxy
Residence Constantinople

Michael I Cerularius or Keroularios (Greek: Μιχαήλ Α΄ Κηρουλάριος; c. 1000 – 21 January 1059) was the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople from 1043 to 1059.

Biography[edit]

Born in Constantinople, Patriarch Michael I Cerularius is noted for disputing with Pope Leo IX over church practices in respect of which the Roman Church differed from Constantinople, especially the use of unleavened bread in the Eucharist.[1]

In 1053, at his instigation,[2] Leo of Ohrid wrote to Bishop John of Trani a letter, intended for all the Latin bishops, including the pope, in which he attacked Western practices such as using unleavened bread for the Eucharist, and fasting rules that differed from those in Constantinople, while Cerularius himself closed all Latin churches in Constantinople.

In response, Pope Leo IX wrote the letter In terra pax of 2 September 1053,[3] addressed to Cerularius and Leo of Ohrid, in which he speaks at length of the privileges granted through Saint Peter to the see of Rome. In one of the 41 sections of his letter he also speaks of privileges granted by the emperors, quoting from the Donation of Constantine document, which he believed to be genuine (section 20).[4] Some scholars say that this letter was never actually despatched, but was set aside, and that the papal reply actually sent was the softer but still harsh letter Scripta tuae of January 1054.[5]

The advance of the Norman conquest of southern Italy constituted a threat to the possessions of both the Byzantine Empire and the papacy, each of which sought the support of the other. Accordingly, conciliatory letters, the texts of which have not been preserved, were written to the pope by the emperor and Cerularius. In his January 1054 reply to the emperor, Quantas gratias,[6] Leo IX asks for his assistance against the Normans and complains of what the pope saw as Caerularius's arrogance. In his reply to Caerularius,[7] he upbraided the patriarch for trying to subject the patriarchs of Alexandria and Antioch to himself and for adopting the title of Ecumenical Patriarch, and insisted on the primacy of the see of Rome.[4]

These two letters were entrusted to a delegation of three legates headed by the undiplomatic Humbert of Silva Candida. They were given friendship and support by the emperor but were spurned by the patriarch. Finally, on 16 July 1054, three months after Pope Leo's death in April 1054 and nine months before the next pope took office,[5] they laid on the altar of Hagia Sophia, which was prepared for celebration of the Divine Liturgy, a bull of excommunication of Cerularius and his supporters. At a synod held on 20 July 1054, Cerularius in turn excommunicated the legates.[4][8]

The resulting East-West Schism led to the end of the alliance between the Emperor and the Papacy, and caused later Popes to ally with the Normans against the Empire. Patriarch Michael closed the Latin churches in his area, which exacerbated the schism. In 1965, those excommunications were rescinded by Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras, when they met in the Second Vatican Council. Although the excommunication delivered by Cardinal Humbert was invalid, this gesture represented a significant step towards restoring communion between Rome and Constantinople.

The short reign of the Empress Theodora saw Michael intrigue against the throne. Michael Psellus notes that while their initial relations had been cordial, once Theodora took the Imperial throne, they entered into open conflict, as Michael "was vexed because the Roman Empire was being governed by a woman", and on this topic "he spoke his mind freely.".[9] The historian suggests that Theodora would have deposed Michael for his open effrontery and sedition, had she lived longer.

Cerularius had a hand in negotiating the abdication of Michael VI Stratiotikos, convincing him to step down on 31 August 1057, in favour of the rebellious general Isaac, for whom the army declared on 8 June.[10] The emperor duly followed the patriarch's advice and became a monk. Having had a role in bringing him to the throne, Cerularius next quarrelled with Isaac I Komnenos over confiscation of church property. Michael went so far as to take the highly symbolic step of donning the purple shoes ceremonially reserved for the Emperor. Michael apparently planned a rebellion, to overthrow the Emperor and claim the Imperial Throne for himself or for his relative Constantine Doukas. Isaac exiled Michael to Proconnesus in 1058 and, as Michael refused to step down, had Psellus draw up the Accusation of heresy and treason against him.[11] Cerularius died before coming to trial.

References[edit]

Sources[edit]

  • Migne's Patrologia Latina, Vol. 143 (cxliii), Leo IX Epistolae Et Decreta .pdf - 1.9 Mb. See Col. 744B-769D (pgs. 76-89) for Leo IX's letter.
  • Mansi's, Sacrorum Conciliorum Nova Amplissima Collectio, Vol. 19 (xix) .pdf - 66 Mb. See Col. 635-656.
  • Michael Psellus, Fourteen Byzantine Rulers (The Chronographia), E.R.A. Sewter, trans. New York: Penguin, 1966.
  • Skylitzes, John (John Wortley, trans. and J-C. Cheynet, notes). Cambridge: University Press, 2010.
Orthodox Church titles
Preceded by
Alexios Stoudites
Patriarch of Constantinople
1043–1058
Succeeded by
Constantine III Leichoudes