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Cyrillos Lucaris

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Cyrillos Lucaris (1572-June 1637) was a Greek prelate and theologian and a native of Crete. He later became Patriarch of Alexandria as Cyril III and Constantinople as Cyril I. He was the first great name in the Orthodox Eastern Church since 1453, and dominated its history in the 17th century.

In youth he travelled, studying at Venice and Padua, and at Geneva coming under the influence of the reformed faith as represented by John Calvin. In 1602 he was elected patriarch of Alexandria, and in 1621 patriarch of Constantinople.

The great aim of his life was to reform the church on Calvinistic lines, and to this end he sent many young Greek theologians to the universities of Switzerland, the northern Netherlands and England. In 1629 he published his famous Confessio (Calvinistic in doctrine), but as far as possible accommodated to the language and creeds of the Orthodox Church. It appeared the same year in two Latin editions, four French, one German and one English, and in the Eastern Church started a controversy which culminated in 1691 in the convocation by Dositheos[?], patriarch of Jerusalem, of a synod by which the Calvinistic doctrines were condemned.

Lucaris was several times temporarily deposed and banished at the instigation of his orthodox opponents and of the Jesuits, who were his bitterest enemies. Finally, when the Ottoman Sultan Murad III was about to set out for the Persian War, the patriarch was accused of a design to stir up the Cossacks, and to avoid trouble during his absence the sultan had him killed by the Janissaries in June 1637. His body was thrown into the sea, recovered and buried at a distance from the capital by his friends, and only brought back to Constantinople after many years.

The orthodoxy of Lucaris himself continued to be a matter of debate in the Eastern Church, even Dositheos, in view of the reputation of the great patriarch, thinking it expedient to gloss over his heterodoxy in the interests of the Church.

This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.

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