Gregory VI of Constantinople

Gregory VI
Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople
Patriarch Gregory VI of Constantinople.jpg
ChurchChurch of Constantinople
SeeEcumenical Patriarchate
InstalledSeptember 26, 1835; February 10, 1867
Term endedFebruary 20, 1840; June 10, 1871
PredecessorKonstantios II, Sophronius III
SuccessorAnthimius IV, Anthimius VI
Personal details
Birth nameGeorgios Fourtouniadis (Γεώργιος Φουρτουνιάδης)
BornMarch 1, 1798
Fanaraki (Rumelifeneri), Turkey
DiedJune 8, 1881
Arnavutköy, Turkey
BuriedHoly Church of Asomati
DenominationEastern Orthodox Church
ParentsAngelos and Soultana Fourtouniadis
OccupationEcumenical Patriarch

Gregory VI (Greek: Γρηγόριος ΣΤ΄), baptismal name Georgios Fourtouniadis (Greek: Γεώργιος Φουρτουνιάδης; 1 March 1798 – 8 June 1881) was Ecumenical Patriarch in the periods 1835-1840 and 1867-1871.

He was born on March 1, 1798 in the village Fanaraki (now known as Rumelifeneri) on the Bosphorus. In 1815 he was ordained deacon of the Metropolis of Durusu (Derkos/Δέρκος), adopting the name Gregory. On September 24, 1824, he was designated great archdeacon of the Patriarchate by Chrysanthos of Constantinople. In 1825, he was ordained great protosyncellus and on October 21 that same year he was made metropolitan bishop of Pelagonia (modern-day Bitola). In August 1833, he was elected metropolitan bishop of Serres. After much discussion and recriminations and with the support of representatives of the guilds (esnaf) [1] he was elected Ecumenical Patriarch on September 26, 1835.

In the opinion of a contemporary, the historian Manouil Gedeon Μανουήλ Γεδεών, the new patriarch was characterized by a deep "zeal for the Church and austerity in his customs - but also by an unforgivable inflexibility in his own ideas" ("Τον Γρηγόριον ΣΤ' εχαρακτήριζε ζήλος υπέρ της Εκκλησίας, αυστηρότης εν τοις ηθεσιν, άλλ' ασύγγνωστος εμμονή εις πάσαν αυτόυ ιδέαν").[2] Gregory published canonical provisions concerning marriages (matchmaking, dowry), the education of monks and dogmatic differences with the Catholic Church and the Protestants, he forbid burial inside churches and he condemned the translation of the Bible in a simpler form of the Greek language. On December 19, 1839 he published a Patriarchal and Synodic newsletter («Περί της νεωστί αναφανείσης αντιχρίστου διδαλίας του Θεοσεβισμού») against Theophilos Kairis and his teaching.

The increasing appearance of Protestant tracts and missionaries in the eastern Mediterranean following the end of the Napoleonic Wars was particularly distressing to Patriarch Gregory VI. The vigour of Gregory's efforts to insulate his flock, not only in the Ottoman Empire but also in the Kingdom of Greece and the United States of the Ionian Islands, from heterodox religious influences incurred the displeasure of all governments in the region during the late 1830s. In 1839, these tensions came to a head when the patriarch issued an encyclical condemning various uncanonical changes to family law promulgated by the British colonial authorities on the Ionian Islands. The British ambassador, John Ponsonby, 1st Viscount Ponsonby, bluntly demanded the removal of Gregory and threatened to leave Istanbul over the matter. Under duress, the Ottoman foreign minister Mustafa Reşid Pasha agreed to Ponsonby's demand. The minister insisted, however, on delaying the dismissal until the Ottoman government could first legitimize its action by carrying out a formal judicial inquiry into Gregory VI's alleged misbehaviour.[3]

Gregory VI was finally deposed by Sultan Abdülmecid I on February 20, 1840 and retired to his house in Arnavutköy. He was reelected 27 years later, after the resignation of Sophronius III of Constantinople, on February 10, 1867 and resigned on June 10, 1871. He died on June 8, 1881. He was buried in the forecourt of the Holy Church of Asomati in Arnavutköy and in 1906 his bones were recovered.



  1. ^ E. Βουραζέλη Μαρινάκου, Αι εν Θράκη συντεχνίαι των Ελλήνων κατά την Τουρκοκρατίαν, Θεσσαλονίκη 1950
  2. ^ Μανουήλ Γεδεών. Πατριαρχικοί Πίνακες Ειδήσεις ιστορικαί βιογραφικαί περί των Πατριαρχών Κωνσταντινουπόλεως (Constantinople: Lorenz & Keil, 1890), p. 693.
  3. ^ Jack Fairey, " 'Discord and Confusion...under the Pretext of Religion': European Diplomacy and the Limits of Orthodox Ecclesiastical Authority in the Eastern Mediterranean", International History Review 34, no. 1 (2012): 19 - 44.
Eastern Orthodox Church titles
Preceded by
Constantius II of Constantinople
Sophronius III
Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople
Succeeded by
Anthimus IV
Anthimus VI