Dionysios II of Constantinople

1. Descent – Career

Patriarch Dionysios II became known as “Galatianos” or “Galatiotis”, named after his birthplace, Galata of Constantinople (Istanbul). There is no information about his life and ascension to the ecclesiastical hierarchy until he became a metropolitan of Nicomedia circa 1540. Then, after having secured the support of some influential compatriots and Cantakouzenos Monairetos, he was elected patriarch of Constantinople on April 15, 1546. His election did not find full acceptance and met with reactions from certain circles. Gedeon refers to a previous patriarchal tenure in 1537, which is not evidenced and has not been accepted by contemporary researchers.1

2. The mission of Metrophanes to Venice

Moderate and rather well-disposed towards the Catholic Church, Dionysios II immediately after his election appointed his friend Metrophanes from Hasköy, a pro-Latin prelate, as metropolitan of Kaisareia. Then, in 1546, Dionysios sent him to Venice as an exarch of the Orthodox community there and assigned him with the task of raising money and keeping track of ecclesiastical developments in the West, mainly those related to the Protestant movement. However, Metrophanes’ activities in Italy, particularly when he rather arbitrarily went to Rome and met the Pope, fuelled various rumours among Orthodox populations, which led to great outcry against the patriarch. Serious incidents against Dionysios II, instigated by opponents to his election, took place in Constantinople in 1548 and eventuated in an attempt to murder him, thus causing him to nearly resign. Finally, he managed to go through the crisis and remained in the patriarchal throne until he died in July 1556.2

3. Other activity

The crisis connected with Metrophanes was the most important event in the tenure of Dionysios II and has somehow put into the shade the rest of his activities. He founded the monastery of the Panagia Kamariotissa on Chalki Island, where he was buried, and cautioned Stephanos, metropolitan of Kaisareia, who, according to evidence, had adopted an improper attitude and organised non-approved fund-raisings.

1. Γεδεών, Μ., Πατριαρχικοί Πίνακες: Ειδήσεις Ιστορικαί Βιογραφικαί περί των Πατριαρχών Κωνσταντινουπόλεως από Ανδρέου του Πρωτοκλήτου μέχρις Ιωακείμ Γ' του από Θεσσαλονίκης, 36-1884 (Constantinople 1890), p. 504

2. The date is confirmed by Venetian documents; see Μέρτζιος, Κ.Δ., Πατριαρχικά ήτοι Ανέκδοτοι Πληροφορίαι Σχετικαί προς τους Πατριάρχας Κωνσταντινουπόλεως από του 1556-1702 (Athens 1951), p. 3. Komninos Ypsilantis believes he died several years earlier, in 1549, which is not accepted though. See Κομνηνός Υψηλάντης, Α., Πολιτικών και Εκκλησιαστικών ... Τα Μετά την Άλωσιν (Constantinople 1870), p. 96.