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Patriarch John XIV of Constantinople

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Title: Patriarch John XIV of Constantinople  
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Subject: List of Ecumenical Patriarchs of Constantinople, Gregory Palamas, Fifth Council of Constantinople, Patrologia Graeca, Zealots of Thessalonica, Basil of Trebizond, Palamism, Alexios Apokaukos
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Patriarch John XIV of Constantinople

John XIV, surnamed Kalekas (Greek: Ίωάννης ΙΔ' Καλέκας) was the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople from 1334 to 1347. He was an anti-hesychast and opponent of Gregory Palamas. He was an active participant in the Byzantine civil war of 1341–1347 as a member of the regency for John V Palaiologos, against John VI Kantakouzenos.

Personal life

John Kalekas was born about the year 1282 in Apros, Thrace. After having grown up in modest circumstances, John was married and had a son and daughter.


He was ordained a priest. John came under the patronage of John Kantakouzenos, the chief minister of emperor Andronikos III Palaiologos and later megas domestikos, who introduced him to the imperial court. In 1334, against the resistance of the Patriarchal Synod John Kantakouzenos led John Kalekas to his election, first, as Metropolitan of Thessalonica and, then, as patriarch of Constantinople, where he succeeded Isaias.

About the year 1337, during the patriarchate of John Kalekas, a Calabrian monk, Barlaam, who was the abbot of the Monastery of the St. Savior in Chora, learned of the practice of hesychasm during a visit to Mount Athos. Barlaam, trained in western scholastic theology, was scandalized and began to campaign against the practice and its advocate Gregory Palamas. The dispute grew until in 1341, emperor Andronikos III, a supporter of Gregory Palamas, convened the Fifth Council of Constantinople at which Patr. John, while supportive of Barlaam, did not resist his condemnation. After his condemnation Barlaam left Constantinople permanently. Thereafter, Barlaam's cause was taken up by Gregory Akindynos. In 1344, in a synod convened by John Kantakouzenos, without the presence of Patr. John Kalekas, Gregory Akindynos was also condemned.

In 1345, having finally committed to the Barlaam party, Patr. John Kalekas convened a synod that excommunicated Gregory Palamas from the Church and had him imprisoned for three years, until after Patr. John's death in 1347. During the same synod, Patr. John had Bishop Isidore elect of Monembasia, a disciple of Gregory, also excommunicated.

In June 1341, after the death of emperor Andronikos III, two factions emerged at the imperial court that were concerned with the succession to the imperial throne. The factions divided over the regency for the infant co-emperor John V Palaiologos. Aided by the intrigues of Alexios Apokaukos, the two sides engaged in a Byzantine civil war that lasted until 1347. After some maneuvering one faction formed around John Kantakouzenos, who was a supporter of Gregory Palamas, and included the provincial magnates from Macedonia and Thrace. The other faction, which seized imperial power, was led by Patr. John XIV Kalekas and Alexios Apokaukos, and formed around Andronikos's widow Anna of Savoy in a new regency for the young John V Palaiologos. In forming the faction, Anna made Patr. John XIV Kalekas a regent and appointed Alexios Apokaukos an eparchos (urban prefect).

Initially, the regency held the upper hand, but by 1345 John Kantakouzenos, aided by help from Orhan I of the Ottoman emirate and the murder of Alexios Apokaukos, dealt the regency a severe blow. In 1346, John VI Kantakouzenos was crowned co-emperor in Adrianople and entered Constantinople in February 1347. Then, the regency war ended with the agreement that John Kantakouzenos would be the senior emperor and regent for John V Palaiologos until he was old enough to rule on his own.

Synod of 1347

A synod was held in February 1347 which deposed the John XIV and exiled him to Didymoteicho. It also excommunicated Gregory Akindynos. Isidore Buchiras, who had been excommunicated by the synod of 1344, was now made patriarch.[1]

Within days after the end of the concilabulum, John VI Kantakouzenos, victoriously entered Constantinople and forced his opponents to crown him co-emperor. One of his first acts was to confirm the deposition of John XIV and to approve the synodal tome that had just been issued against him.[1]

The hesychasm dispute continued through a synod convened by Barlaam supporters that refused to accept Patriarch Isidore before a finally settlement of the dispute came about at a sixth synod in 1351 during the patriarchate of Callistus I.

Final years

In the latter part of 1347, the deposed John Kalekas was returned from exile to Constantinople where he died later in the year.


  • Catholic Encyclopedia: Hesychasm
  • Sainted Gregory Palamas, Archbishop of Thessalonika


External links

  • Dumbarton Oaks: Independent and Self-Governing Monasteries of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries Chapter 9, p1491
Orthodox Church titles
Preceded by
Patriarch of Constantinople
1334 – 1347
Succeeded by
Isidore I
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