John IV the Faster, Patriarch of Constantinople
JOHN IV THE FASTER, PATRIARCH OF CONSTANTINOPLE
Consecrated April 12, 582; d. Sept. 2, 595. John is known chiefly for his part in the controversy over the title "ecumenical patriarch" (see byzantine church, histo ry of). According to the synaxary and the patriarchal lists, he was born in Constantinople, earned his living as a coinmaker, and was ordained deacon by john iii Scholasticus and appointed sacellarius (in the early Byzantine period the official in charge of funds for the care of the poor). He was famous for his asceticism and was chosen to succeed eutychius i shortly before the death of Emperor Tiberius II. He was present in his official capacity when Tiberius solemnly proclaimed maurice coemperor and successor, and he blessed the wedding of Maurice and Tiberius's daughter. Though Tiberius himself had crowned Maurice when he raised him to the imperial rank, in keeping with customary procedure, when Maurice co-opted his 4-year-old son, Theodosius, it was John the Faster who crowned the boy. This was a most unusual procedure, introduced, no doubt, because the monarch wished to make the succession more secure.
It was the patriarch who, according to John of Nikiu, led the opposition to Maurice's restoration of Chosroes II to the throne of Persia and forced a postponement of longer than a year. When the emperor advocated clemency toward two men accused of sorcery, the patriarch insisted on the death sentence. John, however, is supposed to have favored tolerance of the Monophysites.
Maurice had a very high personal regard for John because of his asceticism and charity; and esteem for the prelate's virtue may have influenced the emperor as much as self-interest when he supported the patriarch against Pope gregory i in the dispute over the title "ecumenical." The Byzantine Church canonized John and commemorated him on September 2. Of the various works on Confession ascribed to him, only the sermon on penitence (Patrologia Graeca, ed. j. p. migne, 88:1937–78) may be authentic.
Bibliography: theophylactus simocattes, Historiae, ed. c. de boor (BT; 1887) 1.1.2:22; 1.10:2–3; 1.11:14–21; 7.6:1–5. theophanes the confessor, Chronographia, ed. c. de boor, 2 v. (Leipzig 1883–85) 6074.23–24; 6082.26–27; 6086, cf 6087; 8–10, cf. 28. Synaxarium ecclesiae Constantinopolitanae. Propylaeum ad Acta sanctorum novembris, ed. h. delehaye (Brussels 1902) September 2:2. The Chronicle of John, Bishop of Nikiou, tr. r. h. charles (London 1916). m. j. higgins, The Persian War of the Emperor Maurice, v.1 (Washington 1939) 43–45. h. g. beck, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (2d, new ed. Freiburg 1957–65) 5:1065–66.
[m. j. higgins]
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