John VII Grammaticus of Constantinople

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John VII Grammaticus of Constantinople was the Patriarch of Constantinople from 836 to 843. He was an Iconoclast who was chosen patriarch by the iconoclastic emperor, Theodosius, but was deposed by Theodosius' widow, Theodora.


John was of Armenian origin, born into an aristocratic family. The date of his birth is unknown. His father was Pankaratios Morocharzanios. His brother Arsaber married a sister of the empress Theodora. John's sister, Irene, was the mother of the Patriarch Photius.

John was a painter of icons and was associated with Theodore of Studios. He entered the service of the Church about the year 811. However, by 814 he had become a confirmed iconoclast in the administration of emperor Leo V. Leo chose him to lead a committee that was responsible for collecting patristic texts that supported the theological position of iconoclasm in preparation for a synod that met in 815. With the restoration of iconoclasm, John was rewarded with an appointment to the Monastery of Sergius and Bacchus as its abbot.

John was responsible for the education of Theophilus, the future emperor, during the reign of his father emperor Michael II. He instilling in the young Theophilus strong iconoclast sympathies. After Theophilus succeeded his father as emperor in 829, John was appointed synkellos (patriarch's assistant), a position that made him a likely heir to the patriarchal throne.

After the patriarchal throne became vacant in 836, he was appointed patriarch, as John VII, by Theophilus. John may have been responsible for intensification of the persecution of iconodules during the later part of Theophilus' reign. After the death of Theophilus in 842 he was succeeded by his wife, Theodora, an iconodule who was related to John. John VII was then deposed by Theodora, before the synod in 843 was convened that finally ended iconoclasm. The proclamation of 843 that restored veneration of icons began the feast of the Triumph of Orthodoxy that since has been celebrated by the Orthodox Church each year on the first Sunday of Lent.

The deposed Patr. John VII lived into the 860s. The date of his death is not known.

Succession box:
John VII Grammaticus of Constantinople
Preceded by:
Anthony I
Patriarch of Constantinople
Succeeded by:
Methodius I
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