Arsacius of Tarsus

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Arsacius of Tarsus was the Archbishop of Constantinople, succeeding St. John Chrysostom in 404. He was not accepted by the people of Constantinople due the conditions under which he was elected and served only for a little more than one year. He was the brother of Archbishop of Constantinople Nectarius. His feast day is October 11, with Abp. Sisinus.


Abp. Arsacius was a native of Tarsus in Kikilia. He was probably born in the latter part of the second decade of the fourth century. Little is known of his early life. His brother, Nectarius, who was the immediate predecessor of St. John Chrysostom, had selected Arsacius to be Bishop of Tarsus. However, he refused the appointment, allegedly because he had designs on succeeding his brother as Archbishop of Constantinople.

He served as an archpriest under John Chrysostom. An opportunity opened for him to ascend to the throne of the see of Constantinople when the intrigues of Aelia Eudoxia and Theophilus of Alexandria resulted in the exile of John Chrysostom. Triumphant in her success against St. John, Eudoxia and her party wanted for archbishop a person who was malleable. In Arsacius they found such a person, particularly as he had testified against St. John in his trial before the Synod of the Oak.

When Arsacius was consecrated archbishop on June 27, 404, Abp. Chrysostom denounced him "as a spiritual adulter, and a wolf in sheep's clothing."[1] Soon the people of the diocese made it plain that they considered Arsacius an intruder. The churches became empty as the people of Constantinople refused to attend any religious event at which Arsacius might be present. Instead the people gathered in the open air in the outskirts of Constantinople. As the intensity of the protests increased, Arsacius appealed to Emperor Arcadius. Soldiers, under orders from the emperor, dispersed these assemblies and apprehended those who led them. Those arrested were then tortured, and a persecution began of those who were followers of John Chrysostom.

While Arsacius was not personally responsible for the cruelties, his lack of strength of character to oppose the proceedings of his clergy, allowed them to do as they pleased. Yet, Arsacius still took the blame. [2]

His position became increasing intolerable. All the bishops and clergy who supported Abp. John refused to recognize him were driven from the eastern part of the empire, which further increased the dissension. The episcopate of the Church in the West also refused to recognize him and Innocent I of Rome, who had supported St. John's interests, wrote to the clergy and laity of Constantinople condemning strongly Arsacius' intrusion and exhorting them to persevere in their support of their true archbishop. [3]

In such a great atmosphere of chaos the episcopate of Arsacius did not last long. A feeble character worn out by old age soon brought an end to his reign, Arsacius reposed on November 11, 405.


  1. (Ep.. cxxv.)
  2. Sozomen, (H. E. viii. 23)
  3. (Soz. H. E. vi. 22, 26)
Succession box:
Arsacius of Tarsus
Preceded by:
John I Chrysostom
Patriarch of Constantinople
Succeeded by:
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