Photius, patriarch of Constantinople, and principal author of the Greek schism, died about 891. The place and time of his birth are unknown. He was related by the marriage of his uncles to the patriarchal and Byzantine imperial houses; and in 857 he was secretary of state to the emperor Michael III. He had made himself necessary both to the emperor and to his minister Bardas. On the deposition of Ignatius, patriarch of Constantinople, on account of his opposition to the court, Photius was installed as his successor (858). The election was made by the will of Bardas and not by the authorities of the church; the candidate was a layman, and moreover already a schismatic, adhering, as it was said, to the party of the Sicilian bishop against the Byzantine primate. Yet in six days he passed through the various grades, and was ordained patriarch. The consent of the neighboring bishops was obtained with difficulty. A council at Constantinople of 318 bishops, in 861, confirmed the election, deposing Ignatius. But this decree was soon annulled by another council, called at Rome by Pope Nicholas I., in which Photius was anathematized and ordered to relinquish his claim.
Photius called at Constantinople still another council in 867, in which he excommunicated the pope, and accused the Roman church of heresy. On the death of the emperor Michael and the accession of Basil, Photius was banished and Ignatius restored; and in a council held in 869 the acts of the unlawful council held by Photius were solemnly abrogated and its records burned. After an exile of eight years, Photius was allowed to return to Constantinople; and in 878, on the death of Ignatius, he obtained the consent of both emperor and pope to his assumption of the patriarchal place. But he opposed the restoration of the Bulgarians to the jurisdiction of the Latin church, and did not recant his own heresies. A new excommunication came from Rome, the sentence of the former Roman council was reaffirmed, and in 886 Photius was finally banished by the emperor Leo to an Armenian convent, where he died. - Photius has importance in history as the founder of the Greek schism, as a dogmatist, as a philosopher, and as a literary critic. Though he did not consummate the separation between the Greek and Latin churches, he created a division which was never healed, and after him, with a few transient exceptions, no confession of supremacy could he wrung by the pope from the Greek patriarchs.
He drew up charges against the Latin church, that they shortened the season of Lent, refused to allow married men to enter the priesthood, and denied to priests the right to administer the chrism, and above all that they taught the double procession of the Holy Spirit. Of his numerous works, the most important is the Bibliotheca, which contains fragments of nearly 300 Greek prose writers, most of whose works are lost, with critical remarks thereon. Editions of this work have been published in Augsburg (1601), in Geneva, with a Latin translation (1612), and in Berlin by Bekker (1824-'5). He also left a " Lexicon" (Leipsic, 1808; London, 1822); the"No-mocanon," a collection of canonical decrees, epistles, and statutes concerning the church (Paris, 1615); a collection of 248 letters (London, 1651); theological tracts, contained in Combefis's supplement to the Bibliotheca Pa-trum; and a treatise on " Consolation," edited by Rittershusius (Nuremberg, 1601). Some additional fragments of his writings are contained in the collection published by Cardinal Mai in 1825-"7 from the MSS. in the Vatican. An excellent monograph on Photius, by the abbe Jager, was published at Paris in 1845. See also Hergenrother, Photius von Konstanti-nopel (3 vols., Ratisbon, 1867-9).