Polyeuctus was raised from
being a simple monk to the Patriarchate in 956, as successor to the imperial
Lekapenos, and remained on the
patriarchal throne in Constantinople until his death in 16 January 970. For his
great mind, zeal for the Faith and power of oratory, he was called a
Although he was given his
position byConstantine VIIhe did not show much loyalty to him. He began by
questioning the legitimacy of Constantine's parents' marriage, and then went as
far as to restore the good name ofPatriarch Euthymiuswho had so vigorously opposed that union.
The Russian PrincessSaint Olgacame to Constantinople in the time of Patriarch
Polyeuctus during the reign of Byzantine EmperorConstantine Porphyrogenitus, and was baptised there in 957. The Patriarch baptised her, and the
Emperor stood godfather. St Polyeuctus prophesied: `Blessed art thou among
Russian women, for thou bast desired the light and cast away darkness; the sons
of Russia will bless thee to the last generation.'
He raised bishop Petrus ofOtranto(958) to the dignity ofmetropolitan, with the obligation to establish the Greek Rite
throughout the province; the Latin Rite was introduced again after the Norman
conquest, but the Greek Rite remained in use in several towns of the
archdiocese and of its suffragans, until the 16th century.
Although he had supported his
rise to the throne, against the machinations ofJoseph Bringas, PolyeuctusexcommunicatedNikephoros IIfor having marriedTheophanoon the grounds that he had been the godfather to one or more of her sons.
He had previously refused Nikephorascommunionfor a whole year for the sin of having contracted a
second marriage. Nikephoros' first wife had been dead several years when he
married Theophano, but in the religious views prevalent in the Eastern Roman
Empire, especially in the 10th Century, remarriage after the death of one’s
first wife was a sin only begrudgingly tolerated.
Polyeuctus at least had the
good grace to oppose sin on all fronts. He excommunicated theassassinsof the Emperor Nikephoros
II Phokasand refused to crown the new EmperorJohn I Tzimiskes, nephew of the late Emperor (and one of the
assassins) until he punished the assassins andexiledhis loverEmpress Theophanowho organised her husband's assassin.