Skip to main content

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, 88:193778) may be authentic.

Bibliography: theophylactus simocattes, Historiae, ed. c. de boor (BT; 1887) 1.1.2:22; 1.10:23; 1.11:1421; 7.6:15. theophanes the confessor, Chronographia, ed. c. de boor, 2 v. (Leipzig 188385) 6074.2324; 6082.2627; 6086, cf 6087; 810, 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) 4345. h. g. beck, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (2d, new ed. Freiburg 195765) 5:106566.

[m. j. higgins]

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"John IV the Faster, Patriarch of Constantinople." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . 17 Feb. 2019 <>.

"John IV the Faster, Patriarch of Constantinople." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . (February 17, 2019).

"John IV the Faster, Patriarch of Constantinople." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . Retrieved February 17, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.