Patriarch Jeremias II of Constantinople

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Patriarch Jeremias II of Constantinople : biography

– 1595

Jeremias II Tranos (c.1530 – September 1595) was Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople three times between 1572 and 1595.


Jeremias Tranos was born in Anchialos, from an influential Greek family. The exact date of birth is not known, most probably 1530, but some scholars suggest 1536. He studied with the best Greek teachers of his age, and in his youth he became a monk. Supported by the rich Michael Cantacuzene, he was appointed bishop of Larissa on about 1568.

When Michael Cantacuzene obtained the deposition of Patriarch Metrophanes III, Jeremias, supported by Cantacuzene, was elected for the first time to the Patriarchate on 5 May 1572. Jeremias’ first concern was the reform of the his Church, and he summoned a synod with the aim to root out the simony. He also made restored his cathedral, that at the time was the Pammakaristos Church. During this his first reign Jeremias also had the first contacts with the Lutherans which ended in a deadlocked disagreement. On 3 March 1578 his patron, Michel Cantacuzene was executed, and so Jeremias position became weak. On 23 (or 29) November 1579 Jeremias was deposed and excommunicated, and his rival Metrophanes III returned on the Patriarchal throne.

Metrophanes III died on August 1580, and Jeremias returned for the second time on the throne, probably on 13 August. From 1580 to 1583 there were contacts between Jeremias and envoys of the pope in regard to the introduction in Greece of the Gregorian calendar: Rome was almost sure about a positive solution, but on the contrary the final position of Jeremias was negative. In 1584 Jeremias offered as a gift to Pope Gregory XIII two pieces of relics from the bodies of Saint John Chrysostom and Saint Andrew of Crete.

In the winter between 1583 and 1584 Jeremias was subject of a conspiration of some Greek bishops against him, led by Pachomius of Kaisaria and Theoleptus of Philippoupolis, that accused him to have supported a Greek uprise against the Ottoman Empire, to have baptized a muslim and to be in correspondence with the papacy. Jeremias was arrested and beaten, and three trials followed: the first charge resulted false, but the last resulted in his deposition on 22 February 1584 and in his exile in Rhodes.

Thanks to the intercession of the French ambassador, in 1586 Jeremias obtained the freedom from the exile in Rhodes and started his travel through Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth (which included also Ukraine) and the Tsardom of Russia to raise founds. During his travel, he arrived in Moscow on the 11 July 1588, and after negotiations with Boris Godunov (the Regent for Tsar Feodor I of Russia) on 26 January 1589 Job of Moscow was enthroned as the first Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia. On his way back to Constantinople, Jeremias deposed the Metropolitan of Kiev Onesiphorus Devochka, and in his place appointed and consecrated Michael Rohoza.

In the meantime, after 1584 Jeremias’ deposition two other patriarchs followed, Pachomius II and Theoleptus II, who was deposed on May 1586. The Church was governed by a supporter of Jeremias, the deacon Nicephorus (died 1596), and for ten days by the deacon Dionysios (later Metropolitan of Larissa, died 1611). In April 1587 Jeremias was formally re-elected as Patriarch, but due to his absence for his travel the Church went on being governed by locum tenens deacon Nicephorus. On 4 July 1589 the Sultan formally appointed of Jeremias as Patriarch of Constantinople (third time). Jeremias was informed to be again elected patriarch only in 1589 in Moldova when he was on the way back to Istanbul where he arrived in 1590.

On 12 February 1593 a synod in Constantinople sanctioned the Autocephaly of the Patriarchate of Moscow. The exact date of Jeremias’ death is not known, but it occurred between September and December 1595, in Constantinople.


He is known for his role in establishing the Moscow Patriarchate during his trip to Russia in 1589. Jeremias initially suggested himself as a candidature for the first Patriarch of Moscow, but Boris Godunov suggested that his residence should be Vladimir, a largely impoverished town at this time. Jeremias instead consecrated Boris’s associate, Metropolitan Job, as Patriarch.

Patriarch Jeremias also obtained certain privileges for the Greek communities within the Ottoman Empire, one of which was the establishment of schools. Until Jeremias’ time, there was only one Greek-language school in the Ottoman Empire, the "Great School of the Nation". With Patriarch Jeremias’ influence seven schools opened in the late 16th century, in Athens, Livadia, Chios, Smyrna, Kydonies, Patmos and Yanina. Subsequently, another 40 schools opened across Greece and Asia Minor: in Skopje, Philipopolis, Andrianople, Sozopolis, Anchialos, Constantinople, Aenos, Serres, Giannitsa, Korytsa, Vlachokleisoura, Veria, Thessaloniki, Kalipolis, Kozani, Hieromerio, Tirnavo, Trikala, Paramytha, Agrafa, Arta, Karpenisi, Varnakova, Aetoliko, Thebes, Chalkida, Argos, Nafplio, Koroni, Monemvasia, Methoni, Kythera, Kerkyra, Zakynthos, Chandax (Heraklion in Crete), Rodes, Kos, Patmos, S. Lemonias and Myrtinisiotisses (Lesvos), Mykonos, Naxos. (See "Holy David and School Master Monks of Varnakova during Turkish Rule" by Holy Metropolis of Phocis, page 89.)

The Greek Augsburg Confession

From 1576 to 1581 he conducted the first important theological exchanges between Orthodoxy and Protestants. On 24 May 1575, Lutherans Jakob Andreae and Martin Crusius from Tübingen presented the Patriarch with a translated copy of the Augsburg Confession. Jeremias II wrote three rebuttals known as ‘Answers,’ which established that the Orthodox Church had no desire for reformation. The Lutherans replied to the first two letters, but the third letter ended in a deadlocked disagreement between the parties. The significance of the exchanges were that they presented, for the first time in a precise and clear way, where the Orthodox and Reformation churches stood in relation to each other.