Council of Constantinople, Hagia Sophia, 5 October 869 – 28 February 870

Pope Hadrian II (center) with Saints Cyril (left) and Methodius (right), detail from the fresco depicting the transfer (in 868) of the relics of St. Clement, 11th century; in the lower basilica of San Clemente, Rome.

Presided over by the legates of Pope Hadrian II, this council condemned Photius (Photios I of Constantinople), whom the Eastern Orthodox uphold as a great saint. Though self proclaimed the “eighth universal synod”, according to the eminent western canonist St. Ivo of Chartes: “The synod of Constantinople which was held against Photius must not be recognized. Pope John VIII wrote to the patriarch Photius (in 879): ‘We make void that synod which was held against Photius at Constantinople and we have completely blotted it out for various reasons as well as for the fact that Pope Hadrian did not sign its acts'”. I include it as an illustration of the tumultuous and vacillating relationship then existing between the Sees of Rome and Constantinople. Image above links to Tanner translation of the decrees. ISBN recommendation: 0-87840-490-2

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