Latin Patriarchate of Constantinople

The Latin Patriarchate of Constantinople was an office established as a result of the Fourth Crusade and its conquest of Constantinople in 1204. It was a Roman Catholic replacement for the Eastern Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, and remained in the city until the reconquest of Constantinople by the Byzantines in 1261, whereupon it became a titular see. The office was finally abolished in 1964.


Before the East–West Schism in 1054, the Christian Church within the borders of the ancient Roman Empire was effectively ruled by five patriarchs (the "Pentarchy"): In descending order of precedence: Rome by the Bishop of Rome (who rarely used the title "Patriarch") and those of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem.

In the West the Bishop of Rome was recognized as having superiority over the other Patriarchs, while in the East, the Patriarch of Constantinople gradually came to occupy a leading position. In the East the pope was generally considered first among equals, but not a direct superior. The sees of Rome and Constantinople were often at odds with one another, just as the Greek and Latin Churches as a whole were often at odds both politically and in things ecclesiastical. There were complex cultural currents underlying these difficulties, including the fact that in the West feudal models began to influence the way of viewing relations within the Church. The tensions led in 1054 to a serious rupture between the Greek East and Latin West called the East–West Schism, which while not in many places absolute, still dominates the ecclesiastical landscape.

In 1204, the Fourth Crusade invaded, seized and sacked Constantinople, and established the Latin Empire. This was not the doing of the Bishop of Rome, the Pope. Initially he spoke out against the fourth crusade. In writing to his legate the pope said, in part "How, indeed, is the Greek church to be brought back into ecclesiastical union and to a devotion for the Apostolic See when she has been beset with so many afflictions and persecutions that she sees in the Latins only an example of perdition and the works of darkness, so that she now, and with reason, detests the Latins more than dogs?"[1][2] However the popes accepted the acts of the accompanying Catholic clergy who set up a patriarchate subservient in the Western manner to the Pope, in similar manner to what had already occurred in the Crusader states of the Holy Land. The pope recognised these "Latin" sees at the Fourth Council of the Lateran. Furthermore, those Orthodox bishops left in their place were made to swear an oath of allegiance to the pope.[3]

When the last Latin emperor Baldwin II fled from Constantinople he was well received in Rome by Pope Urban IV who promised him support to regain the throne. This threat of continued support prompted the new Greek emperor to seek out a reunion. Understanding the situation of 1204 helps with the context of the reunion council.[4]

By establishing communion with the Latin Patriarchs the Papacy in effect made official their position within the Roman Catholic Church. This act was part of a more general picture in which the Crusaders on the one hand established Latin Kingdoms officially acknowledged by the Roman Catholic Church, in the Middle East and in Greece and the Greek Islands, and also in parts of the Balkans. Included were a similar array of Latin episcopal sees.

However, the Latin Empire in Constantinople was eventually defeated and dispossessed by a resurgent Byzantium in 1261, and since that time Latin Patriarch Pantaleonе Giustinian (d. 1286) resided in the West, but continued to oversee the remaining Latin Catholic dioceses in various parts of Latin Greece.[5] After the Union of Lyon (1274), John Bekkos was installed as a Greek Catholic Patriarch of Constantinople in 1275, but that did not affect the position of Pantaleonе Giustinian. His Greek Catholic counterpart was deposed in 1282 by Eastern Orthodox hierarchy, thus ending a short lived union. in 1286, Latin Patriarch Pantaleonе Giustinian was succeeded by Pietro Correr who was the first holder of that office in a new form of a titular see.

On 8 February 1314, Pope Clement V united the Patriarchate with the episcopal see of Negroponte (Chalcis), hitherto a suffragan of the Latin Archbishopric of Athens, so that the patriarchs could once more have a territorial diocese on Greek soil and exercise a direct role as the head of the Latin clergy in what remained of Latin Greece.[6]

For a time, like many ecclesiastical offices in the West, it had rival contenders who were supporters or protégés of the rival popes. As to the title Latin Patriarch of Constantinople, this was the case at least from 1378 to 1423. Thereafter the office continued as an honorific title, during the later centuries attributed to a leading clergyman in Rome, until it ceased to be assigned after 1948 and was finally abolished in 1964.

A Vicariate Apostolic of Istanbul (until 1990, Constantinople) has existed from 1742 into the present day.

List of Latin Patriarchs of Constantinople

This title was officially abolished in 1965.

See also


  1. Phillips, J., (2009) Holy Warriors: A Modern History of the Crusades (Vintage Books; London), p195.
  2. Pope Innocent III - To Peter, Cardinal Priest of the Title of St. Marcellus, Legate of the Apostolic See. However, on the way to attack Constantinople the crusaders attacked another Christian city, Zara, and received papal absolution for this. de Villehardouin, G., (1908) Memoirs or Chronicle of The Fourth Crusade and The Conquest of Constantinople (J.M. Dent; London), p26.
  3. Papadakis, A., (1994) The Christian East and the Rise of the Papacy, (St Vladimir’s Seminary Press; Crestwood, NY), p204.
  4. Herrin, J., (2007) Byzantium: The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire (Princeton University Press; Princeton, NJ), pp. 300–1.
  5. Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, 57 (2001): Giustinian, Pantaleonе
  6. Loenertz 1966, pp. 266–267.
  7. "Constantinople (Titular See)" David M. Cheney. retrieved March 24, 2016
  8. "Titular Patriarchal See of Constantinople" Gabriel Chow. Retrieved March 24, 2016
  9. Wolff 1954.
  10. Hazlitt, W. Carew (1860). History of the Venetian republic: her rise, her greatness, and her civilisation, Vol. IV. London: Smith, Elder and Co., 65, Cornhill. p. Chapter 22. Contarini was at the Council of Constance in November 1414.
  11. "Patriarch Bonaventura Secusio, O.F.M. Obs." David M. Cheney. Retrieved September 30, 2016
  12. "Patriarch Ascanio Gesualdo" David M. Cheney. Retrieved March 21, 2016
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