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St. Mark of Ephesus and the False Union of Florence

Part III of His Life

by Archimandrite Amvrossy Pogodin


TO THE OTHER afflictions which the Orthodox delegation suffered in Florence was added the death of the Patriarch of Constantinople. The Patriarch was found dead in his room.

On the table lay (supposedly) his testament, Extrema Sententia, consisting in all of some lines in which he declared that he accepted everything that the Church of Rome confesses. And then: "In like manner I acknowledge the Holy Father of Fathers, the Supreme Pontiff and Vicar of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Pope of Old Rome. Likewise, I acknowledge purgatory. In affirmation of this, I affix my signature."

There is no doubt whatever that Patriarch Joseph did not write this document. The German scholar Frommann, who made a detailed investigation of the "Testament" of Patriarch Joseph, says: "This document is so Latinized and corresponds so little to the opinion expressed by the Patriarch several days before, that its spuriousness is evident." [1] The ''Testament" appears in the history of the Council of Florence quite late; contemporaries of the Council knew nothing of it.

And so the Greek delegation lost its Patriarch. Although the Patriarch was no pillar of Orthodoxy, and though one may reproach him in much, still one cannot deny that with his whole soul he grieved for Orthodoxy and never allowed himself or anyone else to injure St. Mark. Being already in deep old age [2], he lacked the energy to defend the Church of which he was head, but history cannot reproach him for betraying the Church. Death spared him from the many and grievous humiliations which the Orthodox Church subsequently had to endure. And on the other hand the absence of his signature on the Act of Union later gave occasion for the defenders of Orthodoxy to contest the pretension of the Council of Florence to the significance and title of ''Ecumenical Council," because the Act of every Ecumenical Council must be signed first of all by the Patriarchs.

After the death of the Patriarch, as Syropoulos informs us, Emperor John Paleologos took the direction of the Church into his own hands. This anticanonical situation, although often encountered in Byzantine history, as well in a positive as in a negative manifestation, was strictly condemned by St. Mark in one of his epistles, where he says: ''Let no one dominate in our faith: neither emperor, nor hierarch, nor false council, nor anyone else, but only the one God, Who both Himself and through His Disciples has handed it down to us." [3]

Let us set forth in brief the further history of the negotiations between the Orthodox and the Latins—or, to speak more truly, the history of the capitulation of the Orthodox. The Orthodox were obliged to accept the Latin teaching of the filioque and acknowledge the Latin dogma of the Procession of the Holy Spirit, in the sense of His Existence, from the Two Hypostases. Then the Orthodox were obliged to declare that the filioque, as an addition within the Symbol of Faith, had always been a canonical and blessed act. By this alone there were reduced to naught all the objections of the Greeks from the time of Patriarch Photios, as well as the works of St. Mark of Ephesus and the interdictions for changing the Symbol of Faith which had been made at the Third and Fourth Ecumenical Councils. One should also note that not all the Roman Popes had approved of the filioque, and several had considered its introduction into the Symbol of Faith completely uncanonical. But now all this was forgotten. Everything was sacrificed to the demands of Pope Eugenius and his cardinals.

Further, it was demanded of the Orthodox to accept the Latin teaching concerning the consecration of the Holy Gifts and renounce their own as expressed in the performance of the Divine Liturgy of the Eastern Church. [4] Besides, this was expressed by the Latins in disdainful declarations concerning the Liturgical practice of the Eastern Church.

Finally, the Orthodox were obliged to sign and acknowledge a confession of Papism, expressed thus: "We decree that the Holy Apostolic Throne and Roman Pontiff possess a primacy over the whole earth, and that this Roman Pontiff is the Successor of the blessed Peter, Prince of the Apostles, and is the true Vicar of Christ, the Head of the whole Church, Pastor and Teacher of all Christians; and that our Lord Jesus Christ in the person of St. Peter has given him full authority to shepherd, direct and rule the whole Church, as is likewise contained in the acts of the Ecumenical Councils and in the holy canons." [5] The Orthodox were likewise forced to acknowledge purgatory.

And so Orthodoxy was to cease to exist. Something even more painful was the fact that Orthodoxy had been sold, and not merely betrayed. For when a majority of the Orthodox delegates had found that the Vatican's demands were completely unacceptable, certain warm partisans of the Union had asked the Pope to inform them openly what advantages Byzantium would derive from the Union. The Pope grasped the "business" side of the question and offered the following: (1) The Vatican would provide the means to send the Greeks back to Constantinople. (2) 300 (!) soldiers would be maintained at Papal expense in Constantinople for the defense of the capital against the Turks (3) Two ships would be maintained on the Bosphorus for defense of the city. (4) A crusade would go through Constantinople. (5) The Pope would summon the Western sovereigns to the aid of Byzantium. The last two promises were purely theoretical. However, when the negotiations came to a dead end, and the Emperor himself was ready to break off further negotiations, the whole affair was settled by four metropolitans, partisans of the Union; and the affair was concluded with a lavish entertainment given by the Pope; theological disputes concerning the privileges of the See of Rome were conducted over wineglasses.

The end came at last. An Act of Union was drawn up in which the Orthodox renounced their Orthodoxy and accepted all the Latin formulas and innovations which had only just appeared in the bosom of the Latin Church, such as the teaching on purgatory. They accepted also an extreme form of Papism, by this act renouncing the ecclesiology that was the essence of the Orthodox Church. All the Orthodox delegates accepted and signed the Union, whether for themselves or, in the case of some, for the Eastern Patriarchs, by whom they had been entrusted to represent them. The signing, on July 5, 1439, was accompanied by a triumphant service, and after the solemn declaration of the Union, read in Latin and Greek, the Greek delegates kissed the Pope's knee.

Administratively speaking, the whole Orthodox Church signed: Emperor John, the metropolitans and representatives of the Eastern Patriarchs, the Metropolitan of Kiev Isidore, and the Russian Bishop Abraham. Only one hierarch did not sign. It would be superfluous to mention his name: St. Mark of Ephesus. But no one paid the least attention to him. What was one man, and he humiliated and fatally ill, in comparison with the all powerful Vatican, headed by the mighty Pope Eugenius IV? What was this one Greek in comparison with the whole multitude of Greek dignitaries headed by Emperor John, and the Greek metropolitans? There is a Russian proverb: ''One alone on the field is no warrior." However, in this one man was represented the whole might of the Orthodox Church. This one man represented in himself the whole Orthodox Church. He was a giant of giants, bearing in himself all the sanctity of Orthodoxy and all its might! And this is why, when Pope Eugenius was solemnly shown by his cardinals the Act of Union, signed by all the Greek delegates, he said, not finding on it the signature of St. Mark: "And so we have accomplished nothing." All the success of the Vatican was illusory and short-lived. The Pope attempted by every means to compel St. Mark to sign the Union, a fact that is attested both by Andrew of Rhodes [6] and Syropoulos. [7] The Pope demanded that St. Mark be deprived of his rank then and there for his refusal to sign the Act of Union. But Emperor John did not allow him to be harmed, because in the depths of his heart he respected St. Mark.

Syropoulos relates the final meeting of St. Mark with the Pope. "The Pope asked of the Emperor that St. Mark appear before him. The Emperor, having summoned him beforehand, persuaded him, saying:'When the Pope asks you to appear before him already two and three times, you must go to him; but have no fear, for I have spoken and requested and arranged with the Pope so that you will be given no offense or injury. And so, go and listen to everything he says, and reply openly in whatever manner will seem to you the most suitable.' And so Mark went to appear before the Pope, and finding him sitting informally in his own quarters with his cardinals and his bishops, he was uncertain in what fashion he should express respect to the Pope. Seeing that all who surrounded the Pope were sitting, he said: 'I have been suffering from a kidney ailment and severe gout and have not the strength to stand,' and proceeded to sit in his place. The Pope spoke long with Mark; his aim was to persuade him also to follow the decision of the Council and affirm the Union, and if he refused to do this, then he should know that he would be subject to the same interdictions which previous Ecumenical Councils laid upon the obstinate, who, deprived of every gift of the Church, were case out as heretics. To the Pope's words Mark gave an extensive, commanding reply. Concerning the interdictions with which the Pope threatened him, he said: 'The Councils of the Church have condemned as rebels those who have transgressed against some dogma and have preached thus and fought for this, for which reason also they are called ''heretics''; and from the beginning the Church has condemned the heresy itself, and only then has it condemned the leaders of the heresy and its defenders. But I have by no means preached my own teaching, nor have I introduced anything new in the Church, nor defended any foreign and false doctrine; but I have held only that teaching which the Church received in perfect form from our Saviour, and in which it has steadfastly remained to this day: the teaching which the Holy Church of Rome, before the schism that occurred between us, possessed no less than our Eastern Church; the teaching which, as holy, you formerly were wont to praise, and often at this very Council you mentioned with respect and honor, and which no one could reproach or dispute. And if I hold it and do not allow myself to depart from it, what Council will subject me to the interdiction to which heretics are subject? What sound and pious mind will act thus with me? For first of all one must condemn the teaching which I hold; but if you acknowledge it as pious and Orthodox, then why am I deserving of punishment?' Having said this and more of the like, and listened to the Pope, he returned to his quarters." [8]


St. Mark returned to Constantinople with Emperor John on February 1,1440. What a sorrowful return it was! No sooner had the Emperor managed to set foot on land than he was informed of the death of his beloved wife; after this the Emperor out of sorrow did not leave his quarters for three months. None of the hierarchs would agree to accept the post of Patriarch of Constantinople, knowing that this post would oblige one to proceed with the Union. The people who met them, as the Greek historian Doukas testifies, asked the Orthodox delegates who had signed the Union: "How did the Council go? Were we victorious?" To which the hierarchs replied: "No! We sold our faith, we bartered piety for impiety (i.e., Orthodox doctrine for heresy) and have become azymites." The people asked then: "Why did you sign?" "From fear of the Latins," ''Did the Latins then beat you or put you in prison?" ''No. But our right hand signed: let it be cut off! Our tongue confessed: let it be torn out!" [9]

A painful silence set in. Despite the Great Lent, the season most filled with prayer, churches were empty and there were no services: no one wished to serve with those who had signed the Union. In Constantinople revolution was ripening. St. Mark alone was pure in heart and had no reproach on his conscience. But he too suffered immeasurably. Around him united all the zealots for Orthodoxy, especially the monks of the Holy Mountain (Athos) and the ordinary village priests. The whole episcopate, the whole court—all was in the hands of the Uniates, in absolute submission to the representatives of the Vatican, who came often to inspect how the Union was being carried out among the people. The Church was in extreme danger; as St. Mark wrote: "the night of Union encompassed the Church." [10]

St. Mark became weak in body, but in spirit he burned, and because of this, as John Eugenikos writes, "by Divine Providence he miraculously escaped danger, and the radiant one radiantly returned and was preserved for the fatherland, being met by a universal enthusiasm and respect." [11] The Byzantine people did not accept the Union: while all the exhortations of the partisans of the Union were ignored, the flaming sermons of St. Mark found an enthusiastic response, as Professor Ostrogorsky notes. [12] Contemporaries of these events, passionate Uniates, note with indignation and perplexity St. Mark's activity for the harm of the Union. Thus Joseph, Bishop of Methonensis, writes: ''Having returned to Constantinople, Ephesus disturbed and confused the Eastern Church by his writings and addresses directed against the decrees of the Council of Florence." [13] Andrew of Rhodes calls the letters of St. Mark, which he sent out for the strengthening of Orthodoxy, ''most noxious" and ''seductive." [14] And present-day Church historians, both Orthodox and Latin, acknowledge that the shattering of the Union of Florence was due to the writings and activity of St. Mark. [15]

St. Mark did not remain long in Constantinople, but soon, without informing the Emperor, left for Ephesus, his see, which it is possible he had not yet visited, since immediately after his consecration in Constantinople he had left for the Council in Italy. [16] Two reasons, it would appear, impelled St. Mark to leave Constantinople for Ephesus: pastoral concern for his flock, which found itself under the Turks in the most woeful circumstances; and the desire to unite spiritually around himself those who were zealous for Orthodoxy, in so far as in Constantinople he had actually been under house arrest. It would appear that it is precisely from Ephesus that St. Mark sent his letters, his confession of faith, and his account of his activity at the Council of Florence. All these documents are to be found in my book in Russian translation.

Concerning the activity of St. Mark in Ephesus, John Eugenikos writes briefly thus: "Actively traveling everywhere throughout the regions of the great Evangelist and Theologian John, and doing this over long periods and with labor and difficulty, being sick in body; visiting the suffering holy churches, and especially constructing the church of the metropoly with the adjoining buildings; ordaining priests; helping those suffering injustice, whether by reason of persecution, or of some trial from the side of the unrighteous; defending widows and orphans; shaming, interdicting, comforting, exhorting, appealing, strengthening: he was, according to the divine Apostle, everything for everyone." [17] John Eugenikos further declares that inasmuch as the Saint had sufficiently sacrificed himself for his flock, while his constant desire had been monastic solitude and seclusion, he finally desired to go to the Holy Mountain. But there was yet another reason, a more weighty one, about which John Eugenikos was silent for political reasons; St. Mark himself relates this in one of his letters: he had no mandate from the authorities and for this reason his stay in Ephesus was as it were illegal, and he was compelled to leave his flock, this time forever. [18]

The ship on which St. Mark sailed to Athos put in at the island of Limnos, one of the few islands that still belonged to Byzantium. Here St. Mark was recognized by the police authorities and, by a directive which they already possessed from Emperor John Paleologos, was arrested and imprisoned. For the space of two years St. Mark suffered in confinement. John Eugenikos thus informs us of this period in the Saint's life: "Here who would not deservedly marvel, or would not acknowledge the greatness of soul and enduring of misfortunes which he showed: suffering in the burning sun and struggling with privations of the most necessary things and tormented by diseases that came one upon the other, or enduring painful confinement while the fleet of the impious Moslems surrounded the island and inflicted destruction." [19] Once the island was threatened by imminent disaster from a Turkish fleet which surrounded the island. But the danger unexpectedly passed, and the saved inhabitants ascribed their salvation to the prayers of St. Mark, imprisoned in the fortress. [20]

St. Mark never complained about his miserable condition; only in one letter can we see how he suffered and how he was wanting in support from people. He writes thus to the Pro-hegumenos of Vatoped Monastery: "We have found great consolation from your brothers who are here, the most honorable ecclesiarch and the great economos and others, whom we have seen as inspired images of your love and piety; for they have shown us love and have calmed and strengthened us. May the Lord grant you a worthy reward for their labor and love!" [21]

Finding himself in such painful circumstances, St. Mark continued his battle for the Church, as he writes in one of his letters: "I have been arrested. But the word of God and the power of Truth cannot be bound, but all the stronger flow and prosper, and many of the brethren, encouraged by my exile, overthrow the reproaches of the lawless and the violators of the Orthodox Faith and the customs of the fatherland." [22] He knew that his confession was indispensable, because, as he wrote: "If there had been no persecution, the martyrs would not have shone, nor would the confessors have received the crown of victory from Christ and by their exploits strengthened and gladdened the Orthodox Church." [23] In two years Emperor John ordered St. Mark released and allowed to go where he wished. This liberation occurred on the day when the Seven Martyr-youths of Ephesus are commemorated, and St. Mark dedicated to them a poem of thanksgiving. [24] St. Mark no longer had the physical strength for ascetic labors on the Holy Mountain; he had become quite feeble, and so he left for his home in Constantinople.

The last year and one-half or two years of his holy life St. Mark spent in painful circumstances of disease and persecution by the Uniate episcopate and Court. At this time he restored many to Orthodoxy by his personal influence. [25] Especially beneficial for the Church was the return of George Scholarios, who subsequently occupied the position of leader in the battle for Orthodoxy; after the fall of Constantinople he was elected Patriarch of Constantinople.

During this time, i.e., the last two years of St. Mark's life, much happened. The Eastern Patriarchs condemned the Council of Florence and named it "tyrannical and foul," and refused to recognize the Union. When Metropolitan Isidore, one of the most unprincipled betrayers of Orthodoxy, appeared in Moscow preceded by the Papal cross, he was arrested by the Grand Prince of Moscow Vassily Vassilievich, and subsequently he was helped to flee to Rome, where he received a cardinal's hat. A tradition is preserved that St. Mark was much gladdened by the conduct of the Grand Prince of Moscow and set him up as an example to the Byzantine authorities. [26]

In Constantinople itself, however, the Union was being significantly strengthened. One may say that the Union not only became the State Church of Byzantium, but also gradually took possession, through the episcopate, of the whole of Church life. Only certain individuals, grouped around St. Mark, represented at that time the Orthodox Church. Permanent representatives of the Vatican, including Cardinal Isidore, saw to the official loyalty to the Union of the Byzantine Church and Court, placing in connection with this the fulfillment also of the Papal promises to Byzantium. The danger to the Church was immense, and St. Mark was aware of this. He was aware that before everything else should be placed the battle for Orthodoxy, for, as he said, ''murdered souls which have been tempted concerning the sacrament of Faith." [27] And he, the leader of the battle, marching at the head of the army, was scarcely able to walk, exhausted by disease and harassed by the wiles of men. But the power of God is accomplished in weakness!


St. Mark died on June 23, 1444, [28] at the age of 52. George Scholarios writes thus of St. Mark's death: ''But our sorrow was increased yet more by the fact that he was taken away from our embrace before he had grown old in the virtues which he had acquired, before we could sufficiently enjoy his presence, in the full power of this passing life! No defect nor cunning had the power to shake his mind, nor to lead astray his soul, so strongly was it nourished and tempered by virtue! Even if the vault of heaven should fall, even then the righteousness of this man would not be shaken, his strength would not fail, his soul would not be moved, and his thought would not be impaired by such difficult trials." [29]

He suffered terribly for fourteen days before his death. Of St. Mark's death itself there has been preserved the account of his brother, the Nomophilax John, who relates: "Thus, having lived with love of God and in everything excelled in his sojourn from his youth to the divine Skhema: in the most holy Skhema, in the degrees of priestly service, in the hierarchal dignity, in arguments concerning the Orthodox Faith and in devout and passionless confession,—having attained fifty-two years of bodily age, in the month of June on the twenty-third day he departed rejoicing to Him to Whom he wished, according to Paul, to be dissolved to be with Him, Whom he glorified by good works, Whom he theologized in Orthodox fashion, Whom he pleased his whole life long. He was sick for fourteen days, and the disease itself, as he himself said, had upon him the same effect as those iron instruments of torture applied by executioners to the holy martyrs, and which as it were girdled his ribs and internal organs, pressed upon them and remained attached in such a state and caused absolutely unbearable pain; so that it happened that what men could not do with his sacred martyr's body was fulfilled by disease, according to the unutterable judgment of Providence, in order that this Confessor of Truth and Martyr and Conqueror of all possible sufferings and Victor should appear before God after going through every misery, and that even to his last breath, as gold tried in the furnace, and in order that thanks to this he might receive yet greater honor and rewards eternally from the just judge." [30]

Although his agony was painful in the extreme, death itself came easily, and the Saint joyfully gave to God his blessed and radiant spirit. John Eugenikos tells us this: "Long before his death he gave instructions and like a father gave commands to those present concerning the correction of the Church and our piety and open preservation of the true dogmas of the Church, and concerning turning away from innovation; and adding his final words: 'Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, into Thy hands I commit my spirit,' he thus departed to God." [31] Before the end, on the very day of his death, St Mark gave over to his former student and spiritual son the leadership of the Orthodox Church, although George Scholarios was at that time still a secular prince. St. Mark was buried in the Mangana Monastery in Constantinople. "Amidst a throng of people and guards with numerous marks of respect, there was placed in the sacred monastery of Mangana dedicated to the divine Martyr George, with honor, as a treasure, the sacred and greatly honored vessel of a sanctified soul and a temple to the glory of God, Who is glorified and wondrous in His Saints." [32]

From the funeral address of George Scholarios we may see the depth of the sorrow that overcame Orthodox people with the loss of such a great pillar of the Church and such a good and noble man, such a meek and approachable and such a learned man, who, in the expression of John Eugenikos, drew all to himself as a magnet attracts iron. [33] But the triumph of Orthodoxy was accomplished only after the death of St. Mark. The successor of Emperor John, his brother Constantine, openly announced his desire to preserve Orthodoxy in its purity. [34] Not long before the Fall of Constantinople a Council was convoked at which the Union and its promoters were triumphantly condemned and the Union itself overthrown, and the memory of St. Mark honored by all. This Council was more nominal than actual, and was composed of a quite small number of participants; historically it did not present itself as much, but as an expression of the Orthodox Church it has a great significance as the triumphant conclusion of the battle that St. Mark waged, as a Council of the Orthodox Church, however small she may have been at that time. [35]


The solemn commemoration of St. Mark of Ephesus belonged at first to the family Eugenikos. Every year, probably on the day of the Saint's death, the Eugenikos family celebrated a "Service" (Akolouthia) and a synaxarion was read consisting of a short Life of the Saint. It should be noted that in Byzantium the Akolouthia was not necessarily connected with a canonization of the dead; it was simply a eulogy of the dead. Akolouthii were written by students to their teachers, to their benefactors and to people close to them, who were of righteous life. These Akolouthii were for domestic use, and they exist for many who were never canonized by the Church; there is one dedicated to Emperor Manuel II Paleologos that was probably written by St Mark himself. [36]

And so the solemn commemoration of St Mark of Ephesus was celebrated at first in the Eugenikos family circle. A wider glorification of St. Mark was aided by George Scholarios in his capacity of Patriarch of Constantinople Decades passed, and then centuries, and the memory of St. Mark ever more broadly became glorified among devout people, in holy monasteries and churches; and finally, nearly 300 years after the death of the Saint, in 1734, the Holy Synod of the Church of Constantinople, under the presidency of Patriarch Seraphim, brought out a decree of canonization of St Mark of Ephesus January 19 was instituted as the date of the Saint's commemoration. [37] As a result, to the two ancient services that already existed (translated in our book into Church Slavonic for use in Church services), [38] were added six more services, but they are inferior to the ancient services to the Saint.

In the book of Doukake, Iaspis Tou Noetou Paradeisou for the month of January there is found the following miracle performed by St. Mark many years after his death. "A very honorable man named Demetrios Zourbaios had a sister who became grievously ill. Wherefore he called in all the doctors of Mesolongion and spent much money on them. They, however, brought no benefit to his sister, but rather she became worse. For three days she lose all speech and movement, being totally unconscious, so that even the doctors decided that she was going to die. Then he and the rest of her relatives began preparing the necessities for the funeral. But, most unexpectedly, they heard a voice and a great groan coming from her, and turning towards them she said, 'Why don t you change my clothes, since I have been drenched?' Her brother became overjoyed upon hearing her speak, and running to her he asked what was the matter and how she became so wet. She answered, 'A certain bishop came here, took me by my hand, and led me to a fountain and put me inside a cistern. After he had washed me, he said to me, "Return now; you no longer have any illness."' But her brother again asked her, 'Why didn't you ask him that granted you your health who he was?' And she said, 'I asked him, ' Who are you, your holiness? and he told me, "I am the Metropolitan of Ephesus, Mark Eugenikos."' And having said these things, she arose immediately from the bed without any remnant of illness. When they took her to change her clothes, they were all amazed—O, the wonder!—seeing that not only were her clothes soaked, but even the bed and the other blankets upon which she had lain. After this miracle, the above-mentioned woman made an icon of St. Mark for a memorial of the miracle, and having lived piously for fifteen more years, she departed to the Lord. [39]

To this article is appended an extremely valuable document: the appeal of St. Mark to those present on the very day of his death, his special exhortation to George Scholarios, in which he begs him to take upon himself the leadership of the Orthodox Church, and the reply of George Scholarios to St Mark. [40]

We shall conclude our short sketch of the life and activity of St. Mark of Ephesus with the invocation with which the ancient biographer of the Saint ends his Synaxarion:

By thy prayers of St Mark, Christ our God, and all Thy holy Fathers, Teachers and Theologians, preserve Thy Church in Orthodox confession unto the ages!


* "our book" refers to St. Mark of Ephesus and the Union of Florence, by Archimandrite Amvrossy Pogodin (Jordanville: Holy Trinity Monastery, 1963). In Russian.

  1. After Hefele, Histoire des Conciles, vol. VII, pt. II, pp. 1015sq.
  2. See the address of St. Mark to Pope Eugenius, pt. I; in our book, p. 40.
  3. Epistle of St. Mark to the abbot of Vataped Monastery, pt. 2; in our book, p 354
  4. Although this was not included in the Act of Union itself, nonetheless the Orthodox were required to sign a special document concerning this St. Mark wrote a special tractate (Rust tr. in our book, pp. 295-301), in which he demonstrates the correctness of the Orthodox tradition, founded on Apostolic and Patristic tradition.
  5. The Act of Union; Rus. tr. in our book, p. 306.
  6. The Testimony of Archbp. Andrew of Rhodes concerning St. Mark of Ephesus; Rus tr. of the Latin text in our book, pp 109-110.
  7. See the narrative included below from the book of Syropoulos, True History, sec X, ch. 12, ed. Creighton, pp, 299-300; Rus. tr. in our book, pp 312-3.
  8. See preceding note.
  9. In our book, p. 300.
  10. Epistle of St. Mark to George Scholarios, pt. 2; Rus. tr. in our book, p. 341.
  11. From the Synaxarion to St. Mark, p. 322 in our book.
  12. Ostrogorsky, History of the Byzantine State, Oxford, 1956, p. 500.
  13. Josephi Methonensis Episcopi Synaxarium Concil. Florentini. Migne, Patrologia Graeca, vol. 159, col. 1105.
  14. See note 6.
  15. Vogt, Dictionnaire de la Theologie Catholique, vol. 6, p 37. Buzzone in Dizionario Ecclesiastico, 1955, p. 821. Meyer in Realencyclopaedie fuer Protestant Theologie und Kirche, vol. 12, pp. 287-8. Pandelakis in Megale Ellenike Egkuklopaideia, Athens, vol. 11, p 105-6; etc.
  16. I maintain this opinion in my book, pp 28-9.
  17. Rus. tr. of the Synaxarion to St. Mark in our book, p. 325.
  18. Epistle of St. Mark to Hieromonk Theophan on Euboia Island, pt. 1; Rus. tr. in our book, p. 356.
  19. Rus. tr. in our book, p. 326.
  20. Ibid
  21. Pt. 1; p. 354 in our book
  22. See note 18.
  23. Epistle of St Mark to the Ecumenical Patriarch; Rus. tr in our book, p. 352.
  24. Published by Papadopoulos-Kerameus in Anekdota Ellenika, Constantinople, 1884, pp. 102-3; later by Mgr. L. Petit in Revue de l’Orient chretien, Paris, 1923, pp. 414-5; Rus. tr. in our book, pp. 227-8.
  25. Of this the Great Orator Manuel testifies in his Synaxarion to Saint Mark; see in our book, p 354.
  26. According to A. Norov, Journey to the Seven Churches Mentioned in the Apocalypse, St Petersburg, 1847, p. 286.
  27. Epistle of St Mark to George Scholarios, pt. 3; see our book, p. 341.
  28. On the date of St Mark’s death there have been many suppositions and much scholarly debate; we hold to the opinion of Mgr. L. Petit.
  29. From the Funeral Oration of George Scholarios to St. Mark, pt. 10; Rus. tr. publ. by A. Norov in Unpublished Works of Mark of Ephesus and George Scholarios, Paris, 1859.
  30. From our translation of the Synaxarion to St. Mark, p. 366.
  31. Ibid
  32. From the Synaxarion of John Eugenikos.
  33. From the Service to St Mark, Canon, Song 7.
  34. Prof A. Kartashev, Outline of the History of the Russian Church, vol. 1, p. 360.
  35. The question of the Council of Constantinople of 1450 has been a subject of scholarly debate.
  36. See our essay (in Russian) in Orthodox Path for 1966: "From the Writings of the Most Pious Emperor Manuel I Paleologos," pp. 47ff.
  37. Information on the canonization of St. Mark was taken from the essay of Papadopoulos-Kerameus , "Mark os o Eugenikos os Pater Agios tes Orthodoxou Katholikes Ekklesias," in Byzantinische Zeitschrift, 1902, vol. 11, pp. 50-69.
  38. pp. 385-400 in our book; the Rev. Abbot Alypy of Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville, N.Y., helped us in this translation.
  39. K. Doukske, op. cit., Athens, 1889, pp. 397-429; Rus. tr. in our book, pp. 414-5. (The present translation is direct from the Greek, courtesy of Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Boston, Mass.)
  40. For manuscripts and editions of this document, see our book, p. 368, where will be found also the Russian translation from which the following English translation was taken.


On the final day of his earthly life, the last thoughts of St. Mark were not for himself, but for Orthodoxy, to which he had devoted his whole life. Appealing to his followers to stand firm in the battle for Orthodoxy, he turned especially to one man in whom he hoped to find a successor to himself as leader in this battle. This hope was richly fulfilled in the person of George Scholarios, who became an ardent champion of Orthodox and, as first Patriarch of Constantinople after the fall of Byzantium, was instrumental in freeing the Church from the yoke of the false Union. He was subsequently canonized under his monastic name of Gennadios and is commemorated on August 31.

I WISH TO EXPRESS MY OPINION in more detail, especially now that my death is approaching, so as to be consistent with myself from beginning to end, and lest anyone should think that I have said one thing and concealed another in my thoughts, foe which it would be just to shame me in this hour of my death.

Concerning the Patriarch I shall say this, lest it should perhaps occur to him to show me a certain respect at the burial of this my humble body, or to send to my grave any of his hierarchs or clergy or in general any of those in communion with him in order to take part in prayer or to join the priests invited to it from amongst us, thinking that at some time, or perhaps secretly, I had allowed communion with him. And lest my silence give occasion to those who do not know my views well and fully to suspect some kind of conciliation, I hereby state and testify before the many worthy men here present that I do not desire, in any manner and absolutely, and do not accept communion with him or with those who are with him, not in this life nor after my death, just as (I accept) neither the Union nor Latin dogmas, which he and his adherents have accepted, and for the enforcement of which he has occupies this presiding place, with the aim of overturning the true dogmas of the Church. I am absolutely convinced that the farther I stand from him and those like him, the nearer I am to God and all the saints; and to the degree that I separate myself from them am I in union with the Truth and with the Holy Fathers, the Theologians of the Church; and I am likewise convinced that those who count themselves with them stand far away from the Truth and from the blessed Teachers of the Church. And for this reason I say: just as in the course of my whole life I was separated from them, so at the time of my departure, yea and after my death, I turn away from intercourse and communion with them and vow and command that none (of them) shall approach either my burial or my grave, and likewise anyone else from our side, with the aim of attempting to join and concelebrate in our Divine services; for this would be to mix what cannot be mixed. But it befits them to be absolutely separated from us until such time as God shall grant correction and peace to His Church.


I speak now of the dignitary Scholarios, whom I knew from his early youth, to whom I am well-disposed, and for whom I have great love, as for my own son and friend... In my intercourse and conversation with him even to the present time, I have conceived a clear picture of his exceptional prudence and wisdom and power with words, and therefore I believe that he is the only one to be found at the present time who is able to extend a helping hand to the Orthodox Church, which is agitated by the attacks of those who would destroy the perfection of the dogmas, and likewise, with the help of God, to correct the Church and affirm Orthodoxy, if only he will not wish himself to retreat from the deed and hide his candlestick under a bushel. But I am thoroughly convinced that he will not act thus and, seeing the Church in distress from the waves and the Faith in dependence upon infirm man (I speak according to human standards), and knowing that it is possible for him to help her, he will not to such a degree disobey his conscience as not to haste with all speed and readiness to enter the battle; for being wise, he is not at all unaware that the destruction of the Orthodox Faith would be the general perdition.

It is true that in the past, considering that the battle which was being conducted by others, especially by me, was sufficient, he did not reveal himself as an open champion of the Truth, being compelled, it may be, by counsels or by individuals. But I too at an earlier time carried nothing or quite little into the battle, having sufficiency neither of strength nor of zeal; and now I have already become nothing: and is there anything less than nothing? And so if then he likewise supposed that we ourselves could set something right, and he considered it superfluous for himself to do what others could do, as well as what, with his completely insignificant help, would be harmful to others, as he often explained to me, asking pardon—then at the present time, when I am departing from hence, I see no other equal to him who could take my place in the Church and the Faith and in the dogmas of Orthodoxy. Therefore I consider him worthy, being called or rather compelled by the times, to reveal the spark of piety hidden in him and fight for the Church and sound doctrine; so that what I could not accomplish, he might set right, with the help of God. For by the grace of God he can do this, with the mind he has been given and his power of words, if he will only desire to use these at the propitious time.

And he is equally obliged in his relation to God and Faith and Church to fight faithfully and purely for the Faith. And I myself lay upon him this battle, so that he would be defender of the Church and leader of sound teaching and champion of right doctrines and the Truth in my place, having support in God and in the Truth itself, about which the very battle is being waged; so that being a participant in this with the Holy Teachers and God.bearing Fathers, the great theologians, he would receive his reward from the Just Judge when He declares victorious all those who fought for Piety. But he himself must with all his strength exert zeal for the well-being of the right doctrines of the Church, as being obliged to give an answer for this on the Judgment Day to God and to me, who have entrusted this to him and have likewise reckoned upon bringing into the Good Land these words with over a hundredfold fruits to come from them. Let him answer me concerning this, so that departing the present life I might have perfect confidence, and that I might not die in sorrow, despairing over the correction of the Church.


I, your Holy Eminence, first of all thank your great holiness for the praises which you have spoken of me; for, having desired to show me favor, you have testified of me such great things as I do not possess, and I am convinced that this is not even near to me. But this proceeds from the height of goodness and virtue and wisdom of your great holiness, in which I myself, seeing it from the beginning, have not ceased to delight even to the present time, as is indeed owing in relation to your great holiness, as a father and teacher and preceptor; and being directed, as by a rule, by your perfect understanding of the dogmas and the justness of the judgments which you have accepted and with which I am in accord, and likewise rejecting without doubt what is not in accord with your judgment, I have never refused to fulfill my duty as a son and disciple in relation to your great holiness. You, your great holiness, are yourself a witness to this. You know that I have always acted thus toward you, and revealing the deeper feelings of my convictions, I have given you these vows.

Concerning the fact that earlier I did not step out openly into the battle which your great holiness was waging, but kept silent, no one knows better the reason for this than your great holiness, for I often confided my arguments to you and sincerely opened my heart concerning this and begged forgiveness, and I was not deprived of it. But now, with God's help, I have come to despise this, and have made myself a sincere and open defender of the Truth, in order fearlessly to proclaim the dogmas of my Fathers and the perfection of Orthodoxy, in accordance with the view of your greatest holiness. I say this not because I see you already taken from hence, for we have not abandoned our last hopes, but we hope in God that you will recover from your infirmity and will be with us and will labor together in this. If, however, by the judgments known to God, you will depart from hence to that place of rest which you have prepared for yourself, and if by reason also of our unworthiness you will go there where you are worthy to dwell,—then, affirming absolutely, I say to you before God and the Holy Angels who now stand invisibly before us, and before the many and worthy men here present, that in everything I shall be in place of you and in place of your tongue, and of that with which you burned and which you handed down with love, I myself, both defending and offering to all, will betray absolutely nothing, but will fight for it to the end, at the risk of blood and death. And although my experience and strength are small, I am nonetheless convinced that your great holiness will fill in my insufficiency with the God-pleasing prayers characteristic of you, both now when you are here with us, and when you shall have departed.

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From Orthodox Word, vol III, pp. 89-106. For further reading on St. Mark see:

  • The Lives of the Pillars of Orthodoxy (Buena Vista, CO: Holy Apostles Convent and the Dormition Skete, 1990). Contains the lives of St. Photios, St. Mark of Ephesus, and St. Gregory Palamas. Over 600 pages.

  • Ostroumoff, Ivan, The History of the Council of Florence (Boston, MA: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1971).