Patriarch Nephon II of Constantinople

Patriarch Nephon II of Constantinople
Nephon II
Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople
Church Church of Constantinople
In Office end 1486 – early 1488
summer 1497 – Aug 1498
spring 1502
Predecessor Symeon I
Maximus IV
Joachim I
Successor Dionysius I
Joachim I
Pachomius I
Personal details
Born Peloponnese
Died 11 August 1508
Previous post Metropolitan of Thessaloniki
Feast day August 11
Venerated in Eastern Orthodox Church

Nephon II, (or Nifon, Greek: Νήφων Β΄), born Nicholas, was Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople three times: from 1486 to 1488, from 1497 to 1498 and for a short time in 1502.[1] He is honored as a saint in the Eastern Orthodox Church and his feast day is August 11.[2]



He was born in the Peloponnese peninsula in southern Greece, of mixed parentage, his mother being a noble Greek lady and his father an Albanian.[3] He was tonsured a monk at Epidaurus, taking the religious name of Nephon. He was involved in calligraphy and copying manuscripts. He then followed a monk named Zacharias and settled in the Monastery of the Theotokos in Ohrid. When Zacharias was elected Archbishop of Ohrid, Nephon went to Mount Athos and there he was ordained a hieromonk. In 1482 he was elected Metropolitan of Thessaloniki and at the end of 1486 he was elected Patriarch of Constantinople,[4] supported by the wealthy rulers of Wallachia, who thus made their entry in the history of external influences on the Patriarchate's election process.[5]:195

After eighteen months a scandal arose, which led to Nephon's removal. Specifically, the previous Patriarch Symeon I died without making his will. İşkender Bey, one of the sons of Symeon's main sponsor, George Amiroutzes, had converted to Islam and was at the time the treasurer of the Sultan.[6] He requested that all the inheritance of Symeon, which included also ecclesiastic items, should pass to the Sultan's treasury. To avoid this, Nephon pretended that a nephew of the deceased patriarch was the legitimate heir, finding three monks that bore false witness. After discovering the truth, the Sultan Bayezid II confiscated the property of Symeon, punished the clergy involved in the scandal, and exiled Nephon.[7][3] Nephon was exiled to some island in the Black Sea off Sozopol and was deposed in the first months of 1488. According to scholar Steven Runciman, Nephon was a foolish and unsatisfactory Patriarch.[5]:198

In summer 1497 Nephon was elected for the second time to the patriarchal throne, always with the support of Wallachia,[5]:195 but his reign lasted only until August 1498 when he was overthrown by the young Joachim I, who was supported by Constantine II of Georgia.[5]:198 Nephon was sentenced to life imprisonment and exiled to Adrianople.

So great was the reputation of Nephon that the Voivode of Wallachia Radu IV the Great bowed down when he went to visit the jailed patriarch. Shortly after Radu IV obtained bail for Nephon from the Ottoman Sultan. Nephon moved to Wallachia, where he was given a warm welcome by the clergy and laity and where he immediately ordained two bishops. In 1502 the Holy Synod elected him Patriarch of Constantinople for the third time and sent emissaries to Wallachia to inform him, however Nephon resolutely refused the appointment and did not return to Istanbul.[4]

Between 1503 and 1505, Nephon de facto led the Church of Wallachia, until he came into conflict with the prince.[8] The conflict arose because of the intransigence of the patriarch in refusing to celebrate the marriage of Radu's older sister Calpea with the Moldovan boyar Bogdan Logothete, who had already been married. Threatened by Radu, Nephon gathered the people, made a speech, and excommunicated the groom. He also prophesied accidents, left the patriarchal vestments on the altar and departed the church, taking to a deserted hut. In order to avoid the outcry of the people, Radu tried to placate the old man with flattering words, promises and gifts and begged him to forgive his brother-in-law, but Nephon remained adamant and left for Macedonia, taking with him two of his students. In Macedonia he went through all the towns performing missionary preaching. On his return to Mount Athos, he appeared unrecognizable to the monks of the Monastery of Dionysiou, who initially thought him a simple herdsman.

Nephon died in the Monastery of Dionysiou on Mount Athos in 1508. Immediately after his death he was honored as a saint in many areas and the Eastern Orthodox Church recognized him as a saint just nine years later, in 1517, setting his feast day on August 11. His relic is kept in a shrine in the Monastery of Dionysiou, where there is a chapel in his name.


  1. ^ Kiminas, Demetrius (2009). The Ecumenical Patriarchate. Wildside Press LLC. p. 37. ISBN 9781434458766. 
  2. ^ or August 24 according to the Gregorian Calendar
  3. ^ a b B.G.Niebuhr, I.Bekker, ed (1849) [1584]. "Historia Politica et Patriarchica Constantinopoleos". Corpus scriptorum historiae byzantinae, Volume 49. Bonn. pp. 128–132, 134–5,138. (Latin)
  4. ^ a b "Nifon II". Ecumenical Patriarchate. Retrieved 13 August 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c d Runciman, Steven (1985). The Great Church in captivity. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521313100. 
  6. ^ Moustakas Konstantinos. "Symeon I of Constantinople". Encyclopaedia of the Hellenic World, Asia Minor. Retrieved 15 August 2011. 
  7. ^ Stavrides, Theoharis (2001). The Sultan of Vezirs: the Life and Times of the Ottoman Grand Vezir Mahmud Pasha Angelovic. Boston: Brill Academic Publishers. p. 89. ISBN 9789004121065. 
  8. ^ Vergatti, Radu-Ştefa. "Le règne de Radu le Grand". Simpozionul International. Cartea.Romania.Europa 20-23 Sept 2008. pp. 168–169. 

Other sources

  • Μωυσέως Μοναχού Αγιορείτου (2008). Οι Άγιοι του Αγίου Όρους. Εκδόσεις Μυγδονία. pp. 369–370. ISBN 9789607666727. 
  • Προκοπίου Τσιμάνη, Από υψηλή σκοπιά οι Πατριάρχαι Κωνσταντινουπόλεως, Athens 1981, τόμ. Α΄, σελ. 105-109
  • Sathas, Konstantinos (1868). Νεοελληνική Φιλολογία: Βιογραφία των εν τοις γράμμασι διαλαμψάντων Ελλήνων, από της καταλύσεως της Βυζαντινής Αυτοκρατορίας μέχρι της Ελληνικής εθνεγερσίας (1453-1821). Athens: Τυπογραφείο των τέκνων Ανδρέου Κορομηλά. 

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