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Nectarius

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Nectarius (Greek: Nechtarios), Patriarch of Constantinople, (381-397), d. September 27, 397, eleventh bishop of that city since Metrophanes, and may be counted its first patriarch. He came from Tarsus of a senatorial family and was praetor at Constantinople at the time of the second general council (381). When St. Gregory Nazianzen resigned his occupation of that see the people called for Nectarius to succeed him and their choice was ratified by the Council (Socrates, “H. E.” V), before August, 381. Sozomen (H. E., VII, 8) adds that Nectarius, about to return to Tarsus, asked Diodorus, Bishop of Tarsus, if he could carry any letters for him. Diodorus, who saw that his visitor was the most suitable person to become Bishop of Constantinople, persuaded Meletius, Bishop of Antioch, to add his name to the list of candidates presented by the council to the emperor. The emperor then, to every one’s surprise, chose Nectarius, who was not yet baptized, and in neophyte’s robe he was consecrated bishop. Tillemont (Memoires, IX, 486) doubts this story. Soon after Nectarius’ election the Council passed the famous third canon giving Constantinople rank immediately after Rome. A man of no very great power, Nectarius had an uneventful reign with which St. Gregory was not altogether pleased (“Ep.” 88, 91, 151, etc.; Tillemont, op. cit., IX, 488). Suspected of concessions to the Novatians (Socrates, V, 10; Sozomen, VII, 12), he made none to the Arians, who in 388 burnt his house (Socrates, V, 13). Palsamon says that in 394 he held a synod at Constantinople which decreed that no bishop should be deposed without the consent of several other bishops of the same province (Harduin, I, 955). The most important event, however, is that, according to Socrates (V, 19) and Sozomen (VII, 16), as a result of a public scandal Nectarius abolished the discipline of public penance and the office of penitentiary hitherto held by a priest of his diocese. The incident is important for the history of Penance. Nectarius preached a sermon about the martyr Theodore still extant (“P.G.” XXXIX, 1821-40; Nilles “Kalendarium manuale,” II, 96-100). He was succeeded by St. John Chrysostom and appears as St. Nectarius in the Orthodox Menaion for October 11 (Nilles, op. cit. I, 300; “Acts SS.” May, II, 421).

ADRIAN FORTESCUE


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