Philotheus Coccinus, Patriarch of Constantinople

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Patriarchate from 1353 to 1354 and from 1364 to 1376; Byzantine theologian and Hesychast; b. Thessalonica, c. 1300; d. apparently Constantinople, 1379. Born of a Jewish mother in poor circumstances, Philotheus paid for his education by serving as cook to his preceptor, Thomas Magistros. He became a monk on Mt. Sinai, then entered the Grand Laura on mount athos, where he served as abbot and defended the Hesychastic doctrine of Gregory palamas. Although he had been appointed bishop of Heraclea in Thrace, he spent most of his time in Constantinople and was not present for the sacking of his episcopal city by the Genoese in 1352. He was appointed patriarch of Constantinople by Emperor John VI Cantacuzenus (November 1353), but with the fall of the emperor, Philotheus was forced to resign and was imprisoned for treason. Eventually he was allowed to return to his former bishopric of Heraclea, and through the good graces of the high official Demetrius cydones was rehabilitated (1363) and reappointed patriarch the following year. He took a vigorous part in the political affairs of the empire, and he strongly opposed the efforts made by the restored emperor John V Palaeologus (135476) in favor of union with Rome. This gained him the enmity of Demetrius Cydones, particularly when Philotheus called a synod (1368) to condemn his brother Prochorus cydones.

Asserting the independent primacy of his patriarchate, Philotheus canonized Gregory Palamas in the synod of 1368 and declared him a doctor of the Church. Pursuing his ecclesiastical policy, he successfully won the allegiance of the Orthodox Serbs, Bulgarians, and Russians to the empire faced with the Turkish menace, and took repressive measures against Byzantine Catholics. In 1376 he resigned his position as patriarch because of age and ill health.

While still a monk on Mt. Athos, Philotheus seems to have written two tracts against Gregorius Akindynos (d. 1349) in favor of Taborite spirituality; and as bishop of Heraclea he wrote 14 Kephalaia, or chapters, against the heresies of Akindynos and the Calabrian monk Barlaam. At the suggestion of Emperor John Cantacuzenus (before 1354) he produced the most imposing of his polemical works, the 15 Antirrhetica, or diatribes, against the historian Nicephorus Gregoras, a severe opponent of Palamitism in Constantinople. This work appeared in separate sections: books 1 and 2 with an epilogue (book3) were published first; then the succeeding 12 books were published. From this period there is also an unedited letter to the Barlaamite monk Petriotes on the Divinity (Paris MS Gr 1276).

Philotheus was the author of one of the weightiest Palamite documents, the Hagiorite Tome, written c. 1339 and used by Palamas in his own defense in 1441. With Nilus cabasilas he prepared a second tome for the synod of 1351; and as patriarch he produced the Synodal Tome of 1368, in which Prochorus Cydones was condemned. He also edited a confession of faith for bishops, and the anathemas for the Synodicon (1352) for the celebration of Orthodox Sunday.

His hagiographical writings are numerous and seem to have been aimed primarily at preventing the anti-Palamite writings of Nicephorus Gregoras from affecting the liturgy. Philotheus wrote a life of St. Anysia of Thessalonica, the martyr Febronia, the monk Germanus, his predecessor Isidore, Onuphrius, and Sabas the Younger. He preached Encomia in favor of the 12 Apostles, St. Demetrius, the Three Hierarchs, All Saints, his spiritual father Nicodemus the Younger (d. 1321), the martyr Phocas, and sermons honoring St. John Chrysostom, Theodore Teron, and St. Thomas the Apostle. He wrote the life and the liturgical office of Gregory Palamas, whom he had canonized. His sermons on the Feast of the Transfiguration, on orthodoxy, on the Koimesis, and on the Holy Cross have been preserved. He was the author of two canons or liturgical hymns and an Acoluthion for the Fathers of Chalcedon. However the Homiliary formerly attributed to Philotheus was actually a reelaboration of the Patriarchal Homiliary, whose author was Patriarch John IX Agapetus (111134); and the 40 ascetical chapters under his name in the Philocalia were the work of Philotheus of the Thorn Bush Monastery on Mt. Athos (twelfth century). The same is true of 21 chapters on the Lord's Prayer.

While still abbot of the Grand Laura on Mr. Athos, Philotheus had written a Précis of Divine Liturgy and an Order of Service for the Diaconia. He attacked the validity of the anathemas passed against the canonical Hexabiblos of George Harmenopoulus (d. 1383), and he is said to have written scholia for that work. Of his exegetical writings, three homilies on wisdom (Prv 9.1) are known and two on the woman of the Gospel cured of a curvature of the spine (Lk 13.10). He wrote a homily on Psalm 37 and apparently an explanation of the Psalms, as well as a tract on circumcision, three letters on the beatitudes, an address to Empress Helene (wife of John V), and a sermon and consolatory epistle to Heraclea on the occasion of its sacking by the Genoese. Two anti-Roman polemical pieces ascribed to him are not authentic: the Kata Latinos belongs to Nilus Cabasilas; and the Diologue on Dogmatic Theology belongs to Philotheus of Selymbria. Many of Philotheus's works are still unedited; but his writings in favor of Palamitism and his patriarchal acts asserting the primacy of his see had a lasting effect on the development of the Orthodox churches.

Bibliography: v. laurent, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, 15 v. (Paris 190350) 12.2:14981509; Revue des études byzantines 10 (1952): 113123. r. janin, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, 10 v. (Freiburg 195765) 8:478479. h. g. beck, Kirche und theologische Literatur im byzantinischen Reich (Munich 1959) 723727. Patrologia Graeca, 161 v. (Paris 185766) 151:551656, 6931186; 152:13031460; 154:719826. f. miklosich and j. mÜller, eds., Acta et diplomata graeca medii aevi, v. 1 (Vienna 1860) 325350, 448594. g. mercati, "Notizie di Procoro e Demetrio Cidone," Studi e Testi 56 (1931) 243246. p. joannou, ed., "Germanus the Athonite" Analecta Bollandiana (1952) 35115. o. halecki, Un Empereur de Byzance à Rome (Warsaw 1930) 152154, 235242. f. dÖlger, Historisches Jahrbuch der Görres-Gesellschaft 72 (1953) 205221. e. honigmann, Byzantinische Zeitschrift 47 (1954) 104115.

[f. chiovaro]

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Philotheus Coccinus, Patriarch of Constantinople

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