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Sergius I, Patriarch of Constantinople


April 18, 610, to Dec. 9, 638. Of Syrian provenance, Sergius proved one of the most effective and individual personalities ever to head the Patriarchate of constanti nople. He took the patriarchal throne at the very time Emperor heraclius began his rule, and patriarch and emperor maintained the closest of ties throughout their long reigns. On the political level, for example, Heraclius formed a regency of Sergius and a civil official to rule Constantinople while he fought the Persians from 622 to 628. It was in this position that Sergius galvanized Byzantine resistance to beat the avars back effectively from the capital in 626. In religious affairs Sergius's all pervading problem was the reconciliation of the continuing split between orthodox, or Chalcedonian, Christology and the Monophysitic viewpoint (see monophysitism), which was very strongly represented in the eastern provinces of the byzantine empireprovinces contemporarily being recovered from the Persians. With the strong support of Cyrus, patriarch of Egypt, Sergius first produced (c. 633) a formula that attributed to Christ two natures with but one energy. This was temporarily tolerated by Pope honorius i, but the Orthodox spokesman Sophronius, the recently appointed (634) patriarch of Jerusalem, strongly denounced it. Thus before he died in 638, Sergius was instrumental in formulating a compromise that took cognizance of the objections of Honorius and Sophronius and de-emphasized the single Energy, taking the position that Christ had two natures but one will (see monothelitism). This compromise, which was incorporated in Heraclius's Ecthesis, was ineffective: it was rejected completely by the Monophysitic opposition and by the new patriarch of Jerusalem, and was not acceptable to the Roman See. Sergius, together with his successors the Monothelite patriarchs pyrrhus i and paul ii, was declared anathema by the Latin Church in 649 and again by both East and West in the General Council of constantinople iii (681). In both the Eastern and Western Churches, Sergius became the symbol of cooperation between Church hierarchy and emperor and also, to an extent, a symbol of the independence of the patriarch of Constantinople vis-à-vis the patriarch of the West.

Bibliography: j. pargoire, L'église byzantine (Paris 1905). v. grumel, "Recherches sur l'histoire de monothélisme," Échos d'Orient 27 (1928) 616, 257277; 28 (1929) 1934, 272282; 29 (1930) 1628. v. grumel, Les Regestes des actes du patriarcat de Constantinople. g. ostrogorsky, History of the Byzantine State, tr. j. hussey from 2d German ed. (Oxford 1956); American ed. by p. charanis (New Brunswick, N.J. 1957) 9098. h. g. beck, Kirche und theologische Literatur im byzantinischen Reich (Munich 1959) 292295.

[d. a. miller]

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