Revista Teologică 3 / 2012

Cum citam: Archdeacon Ioan I. ICĂ jr, " The Kallistoi of the Philokalia and Their Hesychastic Writings - Enigmas, Discoveries and Recent Restitution", Revista Teologica, nr.3/2012, p.211-237

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“The Kallistoi” of the Philokalia and Their Hesychastic Writings - Enigmas, Discoveries and Recent Restitution

Archdeacon Ioan I. ICĂ jr*


In 1782 in Venice was published a massive tome of XV+1207 pages with the title Philokalia tōn hierōn nēptikōn [Philokalia or love of beauty/ or beautiful growing/ of those who learn the holiness in watchfulness]. The entire number of copies was loaded and transported to Greece, the tome remaining unknown to the Western scholars. Only in 1860, abbot J.P. Migne, the caretaker of the series Patrologia Graeca”, with great difficulty, obtained a copy to insert in his series the writings covered by it. The editors of the tome – mentioned neither on the first page, nor in the text, but between the monks from the East known as the saints Makarios of Corinth (1731-1805) and Nikodemos the Hagiorite (1749-1809) – published in the Philokalia a real library (summa) of ascetico-mystical writings grouping in an approximately chronological order 32 of Patristic and Byzantine spiritual writers, distributed during a millennium, from Saint Anthony the Great († 356) and concluding with Saint Simeon of Thessalonica († 1429) as follows[1]:

Philokalia of Venice 1782 – Structure of an Ascetico-Mystical Summa

<Part I>

no. 1 Saint Anthony the Great: 170 Chapters on Moral Teachings (pp. 11–30)

no. 2 Isaiah the Solitary: On Guarding the Intellect in 27 Chapters (short selection from Abba Isaiah’s Asketicon) (p. 33-­37)

no. 3 Evagrius the Solitary:

a) Outline Teaching on Ascetism and Stillness in the Solitary Life (pp. 41–46);

b) 22 Texts on Discrimination in Respect of Passions and Thoughts (pp. 46–56);

c) 5 Extacts from the Texts in Watchfulness on Prayer (pp. 56–57)

no. 4 John Cassian:

a) On the Eight Vices. Written for Bishop Kastor (abridged translation of the Egyptian monks of Establishments of the Egyptian Monks V–XII) (pp. 61–80);

b) For Abba Leontios On the Holy Fathers of Sketis and on Discrimination (abridged translation of Dialogues I–II) (pp. 81–93)

no. 5 Mark the Ascetic:

a) 200 Texts On the Spiritual Law (pp. 91–100) and

b) 226 Chapters On Those Who Think that They Are Made Righteous by Works (pp. 100–113);

c) Letter to Nicolas the Solitary (pp. 113–123)

no. 6 Hesychios the Priest: On Watchfulness and Holiness. Written for Theodoulos (pp. 127–152)

no. 7 Saint Neilos the Ascetic:

a) 153 Chapters on Prayer [=Evagrius the Solitary] (pp. 155–165);

b) Ascetic Discourse (pp. 166–200)

no. 8 Saint Diadochos of Photiki: 100 Chapters on Spiritual Knowledge and Discrimination (pp. 205–237)

no. 9 John of Karpathos: 100 Chapters for the Encouragement of the Monks in India (pp. 241–257); Ascetic Discourse Sent at the Request of the Same Monks in India (pp. 258–261)

no. 10 Saint Theodoros the Great Ascetic and Bishop of Edessa:

a) A Century of Spiritual Texts (pp. 265–281);

b) Theoretikon (pp. 281–287)

no. 11 Maximus the Confessor:

a) 400 Chapters on Love (pp. 291–330);

b) 200 Chapters on Theology and Economy (pp. 331–362);

c) Other 500 Chapters on Theology and Economy, Virtues and Vices [extracts from Answers to Thalassios] (pp. 362–439;

d) On the Lord’s Prayer (pp. 440–453)

no. 12 Saint Thalassios the Libyan: 400 Chapters on Love, Self-control and Life in Accordance with the Intellect (pp. 457–473)

no. 13 Saint John of Damaskos: On the Virtues and the Vices (pp. 492–466)

no. 14 A Discourse on Abba Philimon (pp. 485–495)

no. 15 Theognostos: 65 Chapters on the Practice of the Virtues, Contemplations and Priesthood (pp. 499–451)

no. 16 Saint Philoteos of Sinai: 40 Chapters on Watchfulness (pp. 515–525)

no. 17 Saint Ilias the Presbyter: 240 Texts. A Gnomic Anthology (pp. 529–548)

no. 18 Theophanis the Monk: The Ladder of Divine Grace (pp. 549–550)

<Part II>

no. 19 Peter of Damaskos:

a) Book I (p. 555–564);

b) Book II: 24 Discourses (pp. 565–595)

no. 20 Saint Symeon Metaphrastis: Paraprase on the Homilies of St. Makarios of Egypt (adjustment in six speeches of the fourth Macarian collection, with omission of the first speech on Guarding of the Heart) (pp. 694–751)

no. 21 Saint Symeon the New Theologian: 155 Practical and Theological Texts (pp. 755–782)

no. 22 Nikitas Stithatos: 300 Practical, Physical and Theological Texts (pp. 785–851)

no. 23 Theoliptos, Metropolitan of Philadelphia:

a) On Inner Work in Christ (pp. 855–862);

b) 9 Texts with no Title (pp. 863–865)

no. 24 Nikiphoros the Monk: On Watchfulness and Guarding of the Heart (pp. 869–876)

no. 25 Saint Gregory of Sinai:

a) 137 Texts on Commandments and Doctrines; Warnings and Promises; on Thoughts, Passions and Virtues and also on Stillness and Prayer (pp. 879–905);

b) Further Texts (pp. 905–907);

c) On Prayer in 8 Chapters (pp. 907–910);

d) On Stillness – 15 Chapters (pp. 911–917);

e) On the Hesychasm (pp. 918–925)

no. 26 Saint Gregory Palamas:

a) To the Most Reverent Nun Xenia (pp. 929–949);

b) A New Testament Decalogue (pp. 949–954);

c) In Defense of Those Who Devoutly Practice a Life of Stillness [=Triada I, 2] (pp. 955–961);

d) 3 Texts on Prayer and Purity of the Heart (pp. 962–963);

e) 150 Physical, Theological, Ethical and Practical Texts (pp. 964–1009);

f) The Declaration of the Holy Mountain (pp. 1009–1013)

no. 27 Patriarch Kallistos and St. Ignatios Xanthopoulos: Method and Exact Canon on Hesychastic Life in 100 Chapters (pp. 1017–1099)

no. 28 Patriarch Kallistos: 14 Chapters on Prayer (pp. 1100–1102)

[no. 28a: Patriarch Kallistos, Chapters on Prayer, which are missing, no. 15–83; added in the second edition, 1893]

no. 29 Kallistos Telikudes: On Hesychastic Life (pp. 1103–1107)

no. 30 Short Selection from the Holy Fathers on Prayer and Care (pp. 1107–1109)

no. 31 Kallistos Kataphygiotes: Chapters Preserved [92] on the Union with God and the Contemplative Life (pp. 1113–1159)

no. 32 Saint Symeon of Thessalonica:

a) On the Holy Prayer [of Jesus] and

b) All Christians Must Pray in the Name of Jesus [=no. 296–297 from Dialogue on Heresy and Holy Sacraments] (pp. 1160–1161, 1162)

<Part III: Texts in Popular Greek >

no. 33 Anonimous Word Eplaining Jesus’ Prayer (pp. 1163–1167)

no. 34 Anonimous Word Explaining „Kýrie, eléison” (pp. 1168–1170)

no. 35 Saint Symeon the New Theologian:

a) On Faith [=Catechesis 22] (pp. 1171–1177) şi

b) On the Three Ways of Praying [The Method] (pp. 1178–1185)

no. 36 Saint Gregory of Sinai: On How One Should Pray [=no. 25e+cap. 99, 101, 103, 104, 108, 106 din 25a] (pp. 1186–1197)

no. 37 Extract from the Life of Pious Maximus of Kavsokalivit (pp. 1198–1201)

no. 38 Extract from the Life of St. Gregory Palamas, All Christians Must Pray Unceasingly (pp. 1202–1206).

The Four Philokalia „Kallistoi”and Their Enigma

Placed within the seven decades between Saint Gregory Palamas (†1359) – number 26 – and Saint Symeon of Thessalonica (†1439) – number 32 –, the four mystical Byzantine authors published from position 27 to 31 bear all the same name: Kallistos”, and all are authors of writings with an unmistakable hesychast character:

– no. 27: “Of those among monks Kallistos and Ignatios Xanthopoulos, Method and Exact Canon on Hesychastic Life in 100 Chapters[2];

– no. 28: “Of Blessed Patriarch Kallistos, 14 chapters on prayer”[3]; to these, the second edition of Philokalia, Athens, 1893, vol. II, pp. 412–455, added another 69 chapters (no. 15–83) published as:

– no. 28A: “Of the Blessed and sang/ glorified Patriarch Kallistos, the missing chapters on prayer”[4];

– no. 29: “Of Mr. Kallistos Telikudes [word] on the hesychastic life”[5];

– no. 31: “Kallistos Kataphygiotes’ kept chapters [no. 1-92] of the syllogistic and sublime ones on divine union and contemplative life”[6].

Editors’ solution

Philokalia’s editors in 1782 wrote for every author a short biographical note. Made by the young, then a monk, Nicodemus, they are limited to some data meant to situate the published authors in time, starting from generally inaccurate and precarious information, existant at the time of and under the circumstances available around 1780 in the Holy Mountain.

According to the Greek editors of the Philokalia the hesychastic writings published under the name of various “Kallistoi” – “Xanthopoulos”, “the Patriarch”, “Telikudes” and “Kataphygiotes” – all belong to one and the same author: a hesychast monk became patriarch of Constantinople. As shown in the “short biography of the monks Kallistos and Ignatios Xanthopoulos”[7], he is identified in the person of Kallistos, Athonite monk, disciple of the pious Gregory of Sinai (1276-1346) and later became Ecumenical Patriarch Kallistos I (1350-1353, 1355-1363). But publishers are less confident in the case of the Kallistos Kataphygiotes. Although the Philokalia style and the different topic of its chapters regarding the contemplative union with God suggests another unknown author, their belief is – as shown in the “short biography of Kallistos Kataphygiotes”[8] – that “this Kallistos is Kallistos Xanthopoulos, who was Patriarch of Constantinople and who wrote the 100 chapters and more”. More specifically these contemplative chapters would be the second part of a spiritual synthesis, whose first part, the practical one, would be the hesychastic “method or rule” of Kallistos-Ignatius Xanthopoulos[9].

Steps to Solve the Enigma

The subjective tone and the personal testimony of the evocation of Kallistos and Ignatios by Symeon of Thessalonica cited by the editors of the Philokalia in their biographical note would have been for them a sufficient indication however to suggest another track to identify this Kallistos. Certainly known by Symeon who was Archbishop of Thessalonica between 1416-1429, the monk Kallistos, the extremely popular author of the “methods” or rules of the hesychastic life in 100 chapters, become patriarch of Constantinople, could only be Kallistos II. About this we know only that he was elected patriarch in May 1397 when he was still a simple monk[10], however dying the same year, after a pastorate of five months (in October he had already a successor in the person of Matthew I). The author’s identity of the famous Hesychastic Rules imposed itself between specialists and it is nowadays widely accepted[11].

Clarifications on the other “Kallistoi” and their writings could come however only from studying the catalogs and the funds with Byzantine manuscripts from the libraries in the West and East. And they came first from one of the best connoisseurs of the funds of all time who was the Roman-Catholic erudite historian and specialist in Byzantine lore, the Monsignor Albert Ehrhard (1862-1940). At only 35 he was invited by Karl Ehrhard Krumbacher (1856-1909), founder of modern byzantinology, to write the chapter on Theology in the second edition of his monumental first history of Byzantine literature. In the Chapter reserved to “ascetic and mystique” Ehrhard also remembered the issue of “Kallistoi” offering the first authentic scientific tracks for its solving. [12]. Kallistos (become patriarch of Constantinople in 1397) and Ignatius Xanthopouloi are listed as authors “at the end of the fourteenth century” of an attempt (unsuccessful, because it has remained a simple compilation) “to produce a system of monastic doctrine.” The little study “about the hesychastic life of Mr. Kallistos Telikudes” is considered “originating from the same circle.” In no circumstances “the Patriarch Kallistos can be mistaken for” Kallistos Kataphygiotes, the author of the 92 chapters on divine unity, they have a totally different style, a far higher content, having to be “counted among the best products of the Byzantine mystique.” But “this Kallistos [Kataphygiotes] is totally unknown” their content not providing evidence for a more exact location in time. By contrast, Ehrhard points out that “in the Greek codices 736 from the Vatican Library are kept 30 hēsychastikēs paraklēseōs logoi [words of hesychastic comfort] of a Kallistos Meliteniotes, probably belonging to the family of the Meliteniotes who flourished in the fourteenth century”.[13]

The tracks indicated by Ehrhard in 1897 were followed closely by another famous Roman-Catholic scholar of the twentieth century, namely Giovanni Mercator (1866-1957), “script graecus” of the Vatican Library and its director since 1936 and cardinal. The results of his investigation were presented in an article published in 1915[14]. Consulting Cod. Vatic. gr. 737 (end of sec. XIV), 449f. including the thirty logoi hēsychastikēs paraklēseōs allowed some capital clarifications. Firstly the author of this voluminous original hesychastic work[15] is not called Kallistos Meliteniotes, as Ehrhard wrote, but Kallistos Melenikeotes ie “from Melenikon”. (City in Macedonia on the north of Serres, after the Balkan wars Melenikon was ceded in 1913, with transfer of population to Bulgaria, presently located in the south of the country under the name of Melnik.) Secondly, Kallistos Telikudes is a corruption of the name Kallistos Angelikudes. Thirdly, “word on the hesychastic life” (peri hēsychastikēs Tribes) published in the Philokalia under the name of Kallistos Telikudes is found as the logos 22 between the 30 logoi paraklēseōs hēsychastikēs of Kallistos Melenikeotes. The fair conclusion made ​​by Giovanni Mercati is therefore that all these Kallistos are the same person: Kallistos Angelikudes Melenikeotes, Angelikudes being his surname and Melenikon the appellative given after the name of the village in which we lived.

In this respect the necessary clarification had come from the patriarchal register published since 1860, where are transcribed two explanatory documents signed by the hesychast patriarch Philotheos II Kokkini (in his second pastorate, 1364-1376): a letter in which the patriarch gives the monk Kallistos Angelikudes the permission to receive confessions as spiritual father from his monks, and a patriarchal decree [sigillion] granting the monastic settlement [Kathisma] established by the monk Kallistos Angelikudes near Melenikon, the status of patriarchal monastery and the confirmation of prior donations[16].

Enigma Partly Solved by Finding an Unknown “Kallistos”: Kallistos Angelikudes Melenikeotul, the Controversial Hesychast and His Unique Work

In the catalogs with Greek manuscripts from the libraries this Kallistos Angelikudes Melenikeotul appears therefore as author not only of the a voluminous hesychastic unique work in two parts, of which Cod. Vatic. gr. 736 preserved us completely only the second, but also – G. Mercati drew attention based on the second volume of the Holy Mountain catalog of manuscripts published in 1906 by Spyros Lambros – as the author of an ample critique of the famous Summa contra Gentiles [Summa against the Gentiles] of Thomas Aquinas († 1274), critique preserved also in a single manuscript: Athonite codex number 4457, Iviron 337, 175f.

The anti-Thomist polemic of Kallistos Angelikoudes drew the attention between 1960-1970 of the young, then Athenian patristic scholar, Stylianos Papadopoulos (1933-2012). Kallistos Angelikudes (ca. 1325-1395) was first the subject of the last chapter of his doctoral thesis published in 1967[17], dedicated to the translations of Thomist works in Byzantium and to the intellectual confrontations between the anti-Thomist and Thomist Byzantine scholars. The anti-Thomist critique of Kallistos Angelikoudes subsequently made the subject of a special monography of Professor S. Papadopoulos, appeared in 1970[18], when the Athenian patristic scholar published its text in the critical edition[19].

The hesychastic work of Kallistos Angelikudes was studied by the Greek Archimandrite Symeon Koutsas in a doctoral thesis presented in 1984 at the Roman-Catholic Theological Faculty in Strassbourg and published between 1996-1997 in the Athenian Magazine Theologia[20]. The nucleus of the thesis is constituted by the publication of four out of the 30 unique hesychastic words[21] of Kallistos Angelikudes of Vatic. gr. 737: no. 22, 23, 16 and 5. The edition is prefaced by three studies: a biographical outline, a preliminary presentation of the spiritual doctrine and an analysis of Kallistos Angelikoudes’ literary work. A closer study of the libraries with Byzantine manuscripts revealed the existence – in addition to Vatic. gr. 737 with 30 “words” hesychastic – of three other old codices containing spiritual writings of Kallistos Angelikoudes:

Cod. Arundel 520 (15th century), 210 f. With 7 words” of the 30 from Vatic. gr. 737;

– the significant Cod. Barberini gr. 420 (14th-15th centuries), 357 mutilated and unmentioned in the published catalogs, containing originally 18 “logoi” (7 lost, 8 of the 11 texts transmitted being known from the Vatic. gr. 737, and three of them known from this codex), and also a number of 219 “chapters” (kephalaia): 50 of these are in the Philokalia among “the missing ones of the patriarch Kallistos on prayer”, 89 are among those about “the divine unity of Kallistos Kataphygiotes”, and the rest of 69 “chapters” are known from here only. It is also

– Iviron 506 (15th century) which on ff. 3421–388r transcribes 115 “chapters of Kallistos Antilekoudes (!)”, all of them published already in the Philokalia (76 under the name of Patriarch Kallistos, and 38 under the name of Kallistos Kataphygiotes).

Summarizing the results of Archimandrite Koutsas’ investigations, the hesychastic work of Kallistos Angelikoudes preserved only partially in manuscripts is still a considerable one, consisting of 33 logoi and 210 kephalaia. Of these, only four logoi are published in critical edition by Koutsas, which are added to the 159 kephalaia published in the Philokalia (68 as “the missing ones of Patriarch Kallistos” and 92 “of Kallistos Kataphygiotes”), where under the name of “Kallistos Telikudes” is edited the logos on the hesychastic life [peri hēsychastikēs Tribes].

Apart from the Greek Archimandrite Symeon Koutsas the whole Philokalia file regarding the “Kallistoi” was resumed in the early 1990s by the Italian Byzantine scholar Rigo Antonio (b. 1958); the Venetian Professor is preparing, together with Andrei Vinogradov and Oleg Rodionov, a critical edition of the entire “Kalistoi” corpus. A first result of the preliminary investigation was the “prozopographic note”, about this Byzantine author, presented in September 1994 at the Second Symposium of Orthodox Spirituality held at the Monastic Community of Bose[22]. The brief analysis of the manuscript tradition now allows a conclusion of definitive value [23]: the three “Kalistoi” of Philokalia are the same person and the various series of chapters published here under their names (“the missing chapters of Patriarch Kallistos”, “those preserved of Kallistos Kataphygiotes on the divine union” and “word about divine life of Kallistos Telikudes”) are selections of a spiritual bodydisorderly transmitted with a single author: the monk Kallistos Angelikoudes[24], known as “Melenikeotes”, originating in Melenikon or “Kataphygiotes”, as the founder, in the years 1350-1360, of a small monastery dedicated to Virgin Mary our Refuge or Shelter (Kataphygion). The monastery was located on the south hill of the Macedonian town Melenikon (today Melnik in Bulgaria) and had enjoyed the Serbian despot donations Ioan Uglieşa Mrnjacevic (1365–1371), confirmed in 1371 by the Ecumenical Patriarch Philotheos Kokkina in the act by which the monastery was removed from under the jurisdiction of the local bishop putting it under his direct command.

Due to recent investigations of A. Rigo (1994/1995) and S. Koutsas (1984/1996) who followed the tracks indicated by G. Mercator (1915) and A. Ehrhard (1997), we accurately know now – totally different of the editors’ ideas of 1782 Philokalia – that:

– the author of the well-known “method or rule” of hesychastic life in 100 chapters, from the position 27 is not the Patriarch Kallistos I (†1363), but the hesychastic monk who became for only several months, in 1397, the Ecumenical Patriarch Kallistos II, on the seat of the Great Church of Constantinople; and

– the two series of 69+82 contemplative “chapters” from the positions 28a and 31 and “the word” about the hesychastic life from the position 29 belong all to the same author: the hesychastic monk Kallistos Angelikudes, from the second part of the 14th century, from the Monastery Kataphygion, near Melenikon (Macedonia).

The Persistent Enigma of the 14 Chapters on Prayer

The authorship of the “14 chapters on prayer of the Blessed Patriarch Kallistos” from the position 28, continues to remain obscure. As seen, most scholars inclined to attribute them also to the author of the “method or rule”, therefore to the Patriarch Kallistos II Xanthopoulos. Earlier researchers – as Bessarabian Slavicist Polihroni Sîrku (1855-1905) in his monography from 1898 on the life and the epoch of the Bulgarian Patriarch of Târnova between 1375-1393, the erudite hesychast monk Eftimie († ca 1404) – pleaded for the hesychast Patriarch Kallistos I (1350-1353, 1355-1363). Hesychast monk from Iviron, disciple of Saint Gregory of Sinai (1275-1346), whose “Life” he wrote, this Kallistos has chaired as patriarch the great Synod of Constantinople in 1351 that dogmatized the teaching of Saint Gregory Palamas on uncreated energies, which he supported intensely. This is shown also by his unique work, still preserved in a single Athonite codex: Chilandari 8 described in 1895 by S. Lambros and containing 52 homilies. The work of Saint Patriarch Kallistos I[25] was in 1979 subject of a doctoral thesis of the Greek church historian and Slavicist Dimitrios Gonis[26], later professor at the Faculty of Theology in Athens. Double major in Byzantinology and Slavonic studies was imposed by the fact that some of the writings of this Kallistos also circulated in the Slavic area. Kallistos, the hesychast monk appears as author of two “lives” of hesychast saints: “The Life” of Saint Gregory of Sinai preserved both in Greek and Slavonic translation, his disciple Theodosius of Târnovo kept only in Slavonic. Patriarch Kallistos I apears as author of 13 prayers[27] and of 64 homilies (10 for Sundays and holy days, 22 dogmatic and polemical, 14 of which against Gregoras and 4 against the Latins, and 24 ethical, practical and occasional)[28]. A final chapter is reserved for the works lost, doubtful or wrongly attributed to Patriarch Kallistos I. Among the former is mentioned the codex Λ. III. 5 (581) from the library of Escorial (near Madrid), disappeared in the fire of 1671, and which contained three dogmatic homilies against the antipalamists Athanasius and Nicephorus Gregoras, and also “106 chapters on how to purify the soul until seeing God” (Capita 106 ad interrogationem quomodo animae purgentur usque ad visionem Dei)[29], writings considered lost. Among the writings wrongly ascribed are inventoried Philokalia texts published under the name of the various “Kallistoi”. According to Gonis, none of them actually belongs to Patriarch Kallistos I, but either to Kallistos II or Kallistos Angelikudes. Not even the “14 chapters on prayer”. While recognizing that since in the title does not appear the name Xanthopoulos, “normally the opusculum would be attributed to our Kallistos [Kallistos I], but there are reasons which compel us to admit that it never went out of his pen. The main argument against the authenticity is the tone. This is not kallistian.”[30].

A manuscript of a Byzantine Proto-Philokalia rediscovered in Epirus and its revelations

This skepticism was, however, to be denied by the surprise rediscovery in the mountains of Epirus of an important Byzantine hesychast codex manuscript of the fourteenth century. He had been discovered in 1970 in the library of Saint Paraskevi Church, in the village of Matsuki, at over 1000 meters altitude, on the western slope of the mountains Tsumerka, and came from the book fund of Vylizas Monastery (founded around 1780) in the vicinity. The monastery had been visited in 1886 by the erudite philologist Spyros Lambros who, in 1892, published a brief inventory of the 24 manuscripts found in Vylizas, the others being scattered. In 1970 one of the latter was found in the church of the village Matsuki, and its content was described in an article published in 1983[31].

The voluminous codex of 1092 pages, with a neatly written text on two columns, each of it with 46 rows per page is a veritable Byzantine proto-Philokalia, consisting of an assembly of three independent sections, but revealing for the reading system of the Byzantine hesychast monks of the 14th century:

I. f. 1–105 Isaac of Syria, 55 “logoi” (no. 1)

II. f. 106–207 John of Sinai, “The Ladder” in 30 “logoi–steps” with scholia (no. 6), with introductory correspondence and Word for the Shepherd (no. 2–5)

III. f. 207–568 [=520 pages with text on two columns!] Byzantine “Philokalia”: ascetico-mystical anthology of almost all the authors included later in the 1782 Philokalia retaining with obvious predilection obvious their writings in the form of “chapters” (kephalaia) resulting in an extensive spiritual encyclopedia in contemplative and practical judgments as follows:

– no. 7 Neilos [=Evagrius the Solitary] (ff. 207–254) with: Epistles about intonation and praying [of abba Neilos]; Chapters on thoughts; 153 Chapters on prayer; Other chapters; Alphabetical judgments; To Evlogius the monk; On the eight thoughts;

– no. 8 John Cassian (ff. 255–272) with: On the eight thoughts and To Leontius;

– no. 9 Symeon the New Theologian (f. 272–288): On the different attention and prayers [The method”]; 255 Practical, theological and gnostic chapters;

– no. 10 Nikitas Stithatos (f. 289–316): 300 Practical, physical and gnostic chapters;

– no. 11 Ilias the Presbyter (f. 316–324): 250 Practical and theoretical chapters;

– no. 12 Hesychios the Priest of Sinai (f. 324–334): 200 Chapters to Theodulus on watchfulness and virtues;

– no. 13 Philoteos of Sinai (f. 334–338): 40 Chapters on watchfulness and guarding of the heart;

– no. 14 Mark the Ascetic (f. 338–348): 200 Chapters on guarding of the mind [about the spiritual law];

– no. 15 Thalassios the Libyan (f. 348–353): 400 Chapters on love and abstinence;

– no. 16 Diadochos of Photiki (f. 353–366): 100 Practical, gnostic and on the spiritual discernment chapters;

– no. 17 Makarios the Great (f. 366–387): 32 Chapters on completion of the spirit;

– no. 18 Kallistos the Patriarch of Constantinopole (f. 387–393): 100 Chapters on the purity of the soul, how it purifies gradually and ascends to contemplation;

– no. 19 Theodoros the Great Ascetic and Bishop of Edessa (f. 393–400): 100 Practical chapters;

– no. 20 John of Karpathos (f. 400–413): 100 Chapters on love;

– no. 21 Maximus the Confessor (f. 413–429): 400 Chapters on love;

– no. 22 Evagrius the Solitary (f. 429–439): Life in short (from the Lausiac history) and 100 Practical chapters [Praktikos];

– no. 23 Basil the Great (f. 439–444): Practical chapters;

– no. 24 John Chrysostom (f. 444–448): [Epistle] On watchfulness and prayer;

– no. 25 Nikiphoros the Monk (f. 448–451): [Hesychastic method] On watchfulness and guarding of the heart;

– no. 26 Gregory of Sinai (f. 451–476): The complete ascetico-hesychastic writings: Gregory of Sinai pious life (fragment); 153 Chapters in acrostic; Another 4 chapters; Another 5 chapters; On submission and obedience; On how sits the hesychast; Little notice on hesychasm; Exact notice on hesychasm and prayer; On the the four hierarchies;

– no. 27 Abba Isaiah (f. 476–477): Practical and neptic chapters;

– no. 28 Theodore the Studite (f. 477–479): On guarding of the heart and the mind;

– no. 29 Mark the Ascetic (f. 479–488): On repentance;

– no. 30 Philoteos of Sinai (f. 488–490): On God’s Commandments;

– no. 31 Symeon the Metropolitan of Evhaita (f. 490–493): Epistle to John the monk;

– no. 32 Abba Peter of Damaskos (f. 493–496): fragment;

– no. 33 Maximus the Confessor (f. 496–5049: Ascetic word;

– no. 34 Fragment without title (f. 504–511);

– no. 35 Abba Zosima (f. 511–514): Word on not remembering the evil;

– no. 36 Abba Isaiah (f. 514–517): Word on guarding of the heart;

– no. 37 Mark the Ascetic (f. 517–526): Questions about the Holy Baptism;

– no. 38 Abba Ammonas (f. 526–527): From his teachings;

– no. 39 John of Damaskos (f. 527–529): Word that man is dual;

– no. 40 Athanasius of Alexandria (f. 529–547): Responses to Duke Antiochus;

– no. 41 Julius Africanus (f. 547–548): fragment;

– no. 42 Hippolytus of Thebes (f. 548–550): fragment;

– no. 43 The dialogue between the Saints Basil the Great and Gregory the Theologian/ of Nazianzus (f. 550–551);

– no. 44 From the Lavsaikon (The Lausian History) (f. 551–552);

– no. 45 From the Patericon (f. 552–558).

The Matsuki manuscript was studied with exemplary exactness by the Venetian Byzantine scholar Antonio Rigo in the edition accompanied by extensive and thorough reviews, edition that was published recently, having at its center the opusculum “about hierarchy”[32] of Saint Gregory of Sinai. Known in the old Slavonic translation, the latter is transmitted in the original Greek only in the manuscript Matsuki (and a later copy from Iviron arrived in Moscow in 1654).

The fact that it was used by a copyist from Iviron in the 15th century links to the fact that the voluminous codex bought by Vylizia Monastery in the 18th century was copied at the Athos. The Athonite origin is suggest by its hesychastic “Philokalia” structure and attested also in other Athonite manuscripts of the 14th century The particularity and uniqueness of the codex Matsuki is given however by the presence of some texts nearly contemporary with its realization and originated in “the school” of Saint Gregory of Sinai and his followers, the most important of them being Patriarch Kallistos I, his biographer (no. 26 and 18). The Athonite origin and the circulation of the Philokalia hesychastic codex from Matsuki in the circles related to St. Gregory of Sinai are proved also by the presence of some lexical glosses with synonyms for rare Greek phrases which indicates its use by the readers who did not speak perfectly Greek. All this suggests that the Philokalia manuscript from Matsuki was copied and read around the years 1364-1375 in the Athonite hesychastic circles related to the school” of Saint Gregory of Sinai, which consisted mainly of Slavic monks[33].

The 109 Chapters on the Purity of the Heart of Patriarch Kalistos I:
Restitution of a Hesychastic Wwork Considered Lost

Already important through structure and its source, the codex Matsuki is unique also through the documentary revelation brought by its rediscovery. It is the only manuscript due to which two works of the Byzantine hesychastic spirituality from the 14th century, considered lost, reached to us.:

– the opusculum “On hierarchies” of Saint Gregory of Sinai and

– the hesychastic “chapters” on “purity of the heart” of patriarch Kallistos (surely Kallistos I). Both writings were published by Antonio Rigo.

In the introductory study which prefaced the edition of the opusculum “On hierarchies” the Italian Byzantine scholar pointed out that in the codex Matsuki ff. 387v-393v “is present a series of chapters with neptic content completely unknown to this day of the same Kallistos”, the author of “The Life” of Saint Gregory of Sinai, promising to come back on it somewhere else[34]. The Venetian professor returned indeed on the “chapters” of Patriarch Kallistos I first in a small article published in 2007[35] and in 2010 with their critical edition inserted and commented upon[36].

The article in 2007 begins by recalling briefly the issue of “Kallistoi” from the Philokalia and summarizes the discovery of the Codex Matsuki. The “100 chapters on the purity of the heart and how it, little by little, purifies and raises to contemplation, of the Blessed Patriarch of Constantinopole kyr Kallistos” are, in fact, 109 chapters. The dating of the codex around 1370 shows that they belong without any doubt to Kallistos I awarding confirmed by the presence of the many parallel passages from the unique Homilies of the Patriarch Kallistos I. Confronting the “109 Chapters on purity of the heart” of the codex Matsuki with the “14 chapters on prayer” published in the Philokalia shows that the latter are a small selection of the first, as follows: chapter 1 of the Philokalia = chapter 17 of Codex Matsuki; 2 = 18; 3 = 19; 4 = 12+13; 5 = 35; 6 = 37; 7 = 34; 8 = 38; 9 = 45; 10 = 46; 11 = 56; 12 = 64; 13 = 87; 14 = 96. The codex Matsuki is currently the only manuscript that still preserves the full text of Chapters on purity of the heart” of Patriarch Kallistos I, as the other manuscript where they were, preserved in the library of Escorial of the King Philip II of Spain, perished in the fire of 1671. The Latin title of the manuscript catalog from 1588: Capitula 106 ad interrogationem quomodo animae purgentur usque ad visionem Dei corresponds literally with a part of the Greek title: Kephalaia R’ [=100]… pōs mikron autē kathairetai kai eis thēorian anagetai. But while the Escorial manuscript title mentioned 106 chapters, the codex Matsuki, although the title mentions only 100, contains 109 chapters. A. Rigo believes that the number 109 has no symbolic significance, and the chapters originally formed a centuria”. The number 109 was reached through successive additions, either by numbering errors from copyists.

The spiritual thinking of the 109 hesychastic chapters of Patriarch Kallistos I[37]

At a first reading we find that purity of the heart, purpose of hesychastic life and the theme of the Kallistian chapters, is seen by the hesychast patriarch as an intelligent uphill [noera anodos] of the man who ascends to God through purification and contemplation as climbing a ladder [klimax] whose steps are the virtues (chapter 1). It is an uphill governed by a precise order [taxis], his first steps with introductory and ethical character, the latter being of contemplative and mystical nature (2). In view of Patriarch Kallistos I the spiritual life has a quadripartite structure consisting of an introductory life, a moral, a practical and a contemplative one [eisagōgikē, ēthikē, praktikē, theorētikē] (cf. 40). Specifically, the monk who lives according to God’s will begins with fear of God and withdrawing from the world, then ascends on the running track of perfection through obedience and submission, crossing the practical steps of the virtues up to humbleness through which reaches the border of un-suffering. Once the body movements are calmer, and also those of its own intelligence, the mind enters the contemplative life, conceived by Patriarch Kallistos I as an inner liturgy (2): temple [naos] and altar [thysiastērion] is the inner speaking-rational man [logikos anthrōpos], priest is the rulling/ leading mind [nous hēgemonenōn], and Levite is the discursive thinking [dianoia] (3–4; cf. 30). On this inner altar the leading/ ruling mind, as a priest, brings to God, through purification, the sacrifices of intellect, as over it to renew a right spirit and ruler [Psalms 50, 12.14]. The effect of this inner Liturgy is the transformation and transfiguration that make man perfect, reaching the age of the fulness of Christ [Ephesians 4, 13] (2). The practice of the commandments humbles the body and soul, and remembering God [mnēmē Theou] – the hesychastic prayer – sanctifies and unifies the three parts of the soul that ascend gently towards the contemplative (6). The contemplative ascent of the mind has as premise the unification and harmonization in a spiritual decalogue of the five senses of body and soul (8). The practice of the Commandments gathers in the soul a lots of virtues, like wood and coal, which ignite and burn under the incandescence of inner prayer’s fire (5), making it the face of the hesychasts shine like that of Moses after seeing God on Sinai [Exodus 34] (7). The fire of inner praying, through which the soul exceeds feeling, rivals the angels and becomes part of the glory of God, makes the soul created in God’s image” to get the state after His likeness” for image attracts likeness as a magnet the iron (10, 15–16). The mind that comes to reign over the senses of the body through the hesychastic prayer becomes eye of the soul (11) and makes of the heart the land of Water springing up into everlasting Life [cf. John 4, 14] (12; cf. 35, 37, 74–75), Water which is Father’s Light, but also the light clothing that Adam worn before losing it through disobedience (13–14). The hesychast in prayer is compared to a guitarist who, leaning his head, plays a guitar that is the heart, whose strings are the senses and the plectrum is the mind that hits continuously the heart strings, through mentioning God with the awakened mind in his heart, where, reflecting the brightness of God, produces, to the soul in love with God, the unspeakable pleasures of its union with God (9–11, 17–19). This transforming and transfigurative union (20) was shown clearly, but briefly on Tabor by Christ to His disciples, and after that it was hidden as to provoke longing (21), concealment and cover known also in the lives of saints (22). The glorification of Christ’s face on Tabor was not one through grace and prefiguration, like Moses on Sinai (23), but a natural one, a revelation of His hidden divinity (24). Becoming members of the Body of Christ (25 and 26) they reach the likeness of God and the transformative change in their face, like Paul (1 Corinthians 12); the same happens with the Christians who climb the mountain of practical virtues and enter its top, in the mysterious darkness of the contemplative vision of God (25). This is achieved by those who pray not with our spirit, but with the Spirit of God, having previously been surrounded themselves, just like with a wall, with the name of Christ (27-28). Away from the contemplative vision of God, the mind becomes either animalic, leaving itselft carried by the lusts of the flesh, or demonic being dragged by petulance or pride (29). But when it comes into the treasury room, [tameion] the most inward, where the inner altar is, the soul clings to God as to a center, combining itself with the immaterial and the uncreated, and becomes like Him being fully united with Him (30). Because the natural and essentially energy of God is attractive and makes the ​​hesychasts fall in love with it (31). Such as an axis of the vault of heaven, the mind, cleaned of those from outside, remains still and sees in the depths of heart as towards a center watching it with the missiles of thought that get out of there the divine meanings (32-34); just like the sun illuminates, warms or dries the marshes, so the cleaned mind dries the defilement of the soul and makes it shine both with his first natural glow and with that of its supernatural recreation (36). The divine Light floods the soul at the same time, springs and gushes from deep inside as a living, flowing water (32, 35): set in everlasting motion by the awakened mind Spirit, this paradoxical Water of the Spirit makes the inner man full of divine dew and the outside man of fire (37). But no one should touch these things before their time (38), for it is ridiculous to talk about geometry and astronomy he who does not know grammar (39). It is therefore imperative the order respecting of the four phases (the introduction, the moral, the practice, the contemplation) of spiritual life, phases which correspond both to the four cardinal virtues that complete the married couples, and the four virtues, that complete the monks (40). Disobeying the Fathers’ laws leads to the disobedience punishment, like Adam (41). In the best philosophy of mind it is not introduced any grammar or science, but the cut off of the ascetic movement of the body and sensitivity (42), and the uplifting humbleness (43). Just as the light of a candle rises in the air, from a lit fuse, and it feeds itself from its wax, so the light of the Holy Spirit goes to heaven, from a burning soul, feeding from the virtues gathered in it (44). The Light of the Spirit that illuminates, transforms and transfigures the heart of he who cries out to God “Abba! Father!” is however shapeless (45, cf 77). The purity of mind through waking can be lost but if there is continuous remembrance of Jesus Who unravels it of all those external (46). The detachment is the core of the life in the desert, and is the precondition of seeing God, as shown in the life of Moses, who sees God in the pyre in the wilderness [Exodus 3] (47), and after that on the Sinai his face comes in the glory of God, and He hides It with a veil, so It can be seen by the Israelites. If in the times of Moses, the Jews saw His Glory, but they could not see His Face, in the time of Jesus, everybody could see His Face, but no one could see His Glory (48), because Adam’s sin is spread over the soul just like a spiritual cloud (49). The abolition of the veil and cloud in Tabor makes the soul of the Apostles to change its image recâştigându not only the first natural nobility (Adam’s), but also the supernatural, but still unbearable because of their lack of prior purification (50-51); but later they became clean, partakers of God’s fire, and they had in them, cleaned, the clean One (52).

As the flint struck by an iron gives iron, which then ignites a flame, so the soul hit with the invocation and continuous mention of Jesus lights up with the falling in love with God and irradiates its natural beauty (53). The prayer is seeking and knocking at the door of the kingdom of heaven within us [Luke 17, 21] (54-55), and it leads to warming the heart and lighting the fire in her meditation [Psalms 38, 4] (54). Stopping the passions is possible to those living in the world also, but deleting them is impossible (56), because passions of the flesh/ meat are like a fire that goes off when there is no wood, but lights up when approaching the wood of pleasure (57). Who wants to taste the sweetness of honey should not forget the labors of and the needle of the bee (58), who does not know how to swim can not dive and see with open eyes the fish there, as do experienced divers (59-60). So, the hesychasts mind flies like a worker bee to the height of the contemplative vision of God, then dives deep down the soul to see the thoughts in there (61). As a transparent mirror the purified mind both sees and reflects the spiritual stains of others (62). There is a radical difference between the contemplation [theoria] of pagan philosophers, purely mental, technical and hypothetical, and the contemplation of God and of those who are, which leads to true wisdom and understanding, particular to hesychasts (63-65). Knowing the existences puffs the mind [1 Corinthians 8, 1], and the knowledge of God leads to humility, but the one who rightly united the first, as a maid, with her ​​mistress has both the moon and the sun from which the moon receives its light (66). As eclipses and clouds darken the moonlight, so the sin and its shadow darken and kept in a darkness the whole soul (67). As Christ has transfigured His face and showed His glory on the mountain, over the uproar of life, so we have to climb the mountain of knowledge and asceticism and enter through love into the darkness of the mystery and vision of God (68), which is a resurrection of the soul before the resurrection of the body (69). Great work and great creature is man, because he received God’s grace three times: breathed upon him at his creation [Genesis 2, 7], over the Apostles [John 20, 22] when Christ came, for His re-building, and over everyone to revive her through Baptism, followed by the invocation of the Holy Trinity (70-72). Adam’s disobedience has extinguished the first beauty of man; he has lost his brightness and the garment woven by God, which were renewed/ restored by Christ, deified through participating in Him and showing that man is really great and beyond every word and wonder (73). Fast flowing water can not be muddy, being cleaned easily by its movement; but the slow flowing remains muddy because of its stillness; the same goes with the water that flows from the heart, it cleans itself if it moves lively through working the commandments (74-75 ). The demon is an archer who always throws at us the arrows of shameful desires to give us reasons, but they are scattered when the hesychast throws back at them the arrows of Jesus’ calling and those of guarding of the mind (76). The Divine without form takes form in mind through the immaterial similarities created in it through fulfilling the commandments as it amounts from the image to the likeness of God (77). Purified, the mind receives the form of an angel (78). The Incarnation of Christ gave to the angels the grace of un-changing, which takes place also in the soul that, wounded by Christ, reaches the perfect love, and cannot go back (79). But, just like gold, the soul can be purified only if passed through the oven of tests or disturbances brought by the demon (80), like the children in the fiery furnace of Babylon (81). Because, like the Israelites, no one reaches the Jerusalem of peace unless leaving the Egyptian sin, eating bitter herbs and unleavened bread (82). When properly conducted, the two great powers of the soul: lust [epithymia] and irritability [Thyme] are part of the soul, but when they deviate from the right path they become part of the body. Then they become terrible. They are abolished through crying, piercing of the heart and humbleness, after which comes the cleansing of the body (83). Like any house, the house of soul is built only from materials gathered in advance (84). Everything is done for God rises to perfection, as shows the relationship between Martha and Mary [Luke 10, 39-42], because Mary is mentioned through Martha and Christ remembers Mary through Martha (85). If the reduction of passions is done in many ways, their abolition is done only when the freedom remains firm within the obedience (86). The demon comes in different ways: to beginners and to those in the practical life, through inarticulate noises and sounds, and to those dedicated to contemplation through imagination, colors, lights (87), in which the demon turns misleadingly so that to deceive the pure one to receive through this light, the darkness (88). But when appears as Christ or a saint, it makes it to disturb the soul that prays (90), but the one who lives in simplicity, like a child, insensitive to praise and reproach, knows how to escape the fantastic images of demons (91). As he who has lost a coat, remembers its color, so the soul inclines towards the light, even when the demons show it to him, for he has the memory of the light garment in which Adam was clothed as with a coat, woven by God, and which that he had within him, but wrapped the whole body like a mirror (92–93). Through His Incarnation as the second Adam, God’s Word has reignited the divine light fuse and cleaned the body mirror blackened by Adam’s fall, making it like a sun, so that now the Kingdom of heaven is within us [Luke 17, 21] (94). If those in practical life must pray seven times [Psalms 118, 64], the one entered in contemplative life must pray forever, always remembering Jesus, in all circumstances, even when asleep, because prayer, as an activity of the mind, knows no limit (95). The quality of a pure prayer is shown by carefully observing its end, which is a continuous tearing, crushing of the heart and love for our neighbor (96). The purity of the mind has external symbols (in clothing, behavior, speech), but it’s mostly defined by inner humbleness, which is uplifting (97). The one who did not reach the peace of thoughts did not reach purity either (98), as he who has not reach the gates of Jerusalem has not yet seen the Zion, did not kiss the Holy Grave and never rejoiced in the divine Light that comes from It (99). Awakening can not be revealed without the work of mind that smoothes the roughness of the soul (100), and the continuous meditation on the Scriptures fills the soul conquered by God with joy (101). But when the sentinel mind dozes, the city of the soul is conquered by the roughness, hardness, shame, fantasy, fight, and inappropriate zeal (102). But when it is fully occupied by the Spirit, the mind lights up, in the most inner room of the soul, the divine fire and then the whole man is filled with light and the very bones praise God [Psalms 34, 10] (103). The last chapters (104-108) are devoted to the thoughts through which the demons try to trap and turn back those who fight: between them are highlighted the terrible passion of concupiscence or the sexual lust (105) and the despair (106). In all these attempts however patience is required, because without their pedagogy there is no salvation (108). The end is dedicated to an extended explaining of the commandment “Be fruitful, and multiply!” [Genesis 1, 22] given by God to man at creation, text presented as a great difficulty to ascetics and contemplatives. For Patriarch Kallistos I it applies both to married couples and to those who live in chastity because it has a natural sense, which indicates reproduction and natural succession of people, but also the supernatural man, through whom refers to the endless glory of sharing/ participation to God. The defeat of the human being through fall brought with it the passionate reproduction of the human nature, which rolled towards the para-natural, the man serving two laws: natural and para-natural. The natural law knows how to follow the law of God and the Gospel’s, which honors marriage, but embraces chastity also. The natural law fills the world below and the supernatural law fills the world above, because falling in love with God [the divine eros] draws the natural law towards the supernatural one. The latter is the grace of the Holy Spirit that defeats the body and combats the para-natural law of pleasure hidden in the inner man and who struggles in him against the Spirit, making him a slave of sin. Healing comes through guarding the commandments and the mind’s work of repeated calling of Jesus, that, through waking and remembering God, fries, in the radiance of the divine light, every passionate thought, transforming it in powder (109).

Temporary Assessment

An overall assessment of the hesychastic teaching of Patriarch Kallistos I is still premature, being necessary to wait the publication of the 63 original homilies of the hesychast patriarch, which constitute the core of his work. The publisher of the “Chapters on Purity”, Professor Antonio Rigo, who, in the critical apparatus of his edition, quotes parallel ideas and expressions from the original homilies, limites himself to highlighting only a few specific elements, which may be considered preliminary conclusions:

“For the general framework Kallistos I relies on John Climacus (the only author explicitly cited besides Gregory of Nazianzus) when he sees in the fear of God, the escaping from the world, in obedience and submission the necessary preliminaries of its spiritual itinerary (2).

He resumes several occasions (40, 46, 61, 95) the traditional bipartition between praxis, which is in the ministry of the commandments, and theoria. The latter is articulated, as Evagrius Ponticus said once and for all, in the contemplation of existences and contemplation of God (64–65).

In a different perspective, Kallistos I speaks of four stages or virtues: introductory law, ethics, practice and contemplation (2, 39, 87). According to him, the core activity is the inner practice, that is the prayer accompanied by wakefulness [nepsis] (18, 43, 46, 100) and attention [prosochē] (96). For the prayer he first takes a preliminary analysis of man: senses, soul and strength, intellect, mind and heart. Obedience and harmonization of the senses (5) together with the unification of the three powers of the soul (6) allows ascension to prayer and contemplation. With regard to this process and for prayer he uses several times (9, 11, 17, 18, ​​19) the beautiful image of the guitar and the guitarist.

Indicated as continuous repetition in the heart of the name of Jesus and as state of His persistent remembering of the mind (6, 10, 11, 19, 46, 53, 76) it raises an untold pleasure and a joy (53), transforming into fire the body of the one who prays (37, 44).

In another spirit but with an analogous attitude and the same terms to those of his other works, Patriarch Kallistos returns several times to the theophany of Sinai and the Transfiguration of the Lord on Tabor (20, 21, 23-25, 47-51, 68-69) – topics that were the subject of St. Gregory Palamas’ interventions and in those years were in the center of the theological discussions and especially of the anti-Palamas interventions, as Nikephoros Gregoras. Kallistos I links Sinai and Tabor to the life of separation and loneliness, expressed by the desert and the mountain. Climbing the mountain is the union on the top of practical action (25) or the contemplation of the existences (68). The Transfiguration of Christ is the prayer’s transformation on the top of his spiritual ascent, and the consequence of his ascent on the mountain of practice and contemplation is entering the mysterious place and the vision of God (68).

Patriarch Kallistos I sets his attention on prayer, on repeating the name of God, seen as an inside ministry committed in the heart and consisting in the symphonic cooperation of the three elements forming the inner man: soul (reconverted into his powers), reason and mind. Prayer is what leads to seeing the light and the bright transformation of the one who prays.

It remains to add that in this teaching on prayer as an activity par excellence of the inner man, in the indications about fighting the demonic thoughts and suggestions, as well as other issues, Kallistos I makes himself repeatedly the echo of the teachings presented in the writings of his counselor, Gregory of Sinai. It should be noted, however, that when he deals with the interior prayer and “the descent of the mind into the heart”, Kallistos I never speaks about the psychophysical techniques spread by the books of ps-Symeon the New Theologian, Nicephorus the Hesychasts and his advisor. His allusions to the method, although recognizable, appear shrouded in mistery and difficult to understand for a reader who does not know and is not guided in this regard”[38].

Translated by Ana Monica Cojocărescu


[1]  Cf. Kallistos Ware, “Philocalie”, Dictionnaire de spiritualité XII (1984), col. 1336–1352, here col. 1339–1343. For the prehistory of Philokalia see especially P. Gehin, Le filocalie che hanno preceduto la “filocalia””, in Nicodemo l’Aghiorita e la Filocalia, Atti del VIII Convegno ecumenico internazionale di spiritualità ortodossa, sessione bizantina, Bose, 16-19 settembre 2000 a cura di Antonio Rigo., Comunità di Bose, 2000, pp. 83-102; see also the studies from the Greek Pontifical College International Symposium, Rome, November 1989: Amore del bello. Studi sulla Filocalia, Ed. Qiqajon, Comunita di Bose, 1991. In print the studies volume under the care of Brock Bingaman and Bradley Nassif, The Philokalia. Exploring the Classic Text of Orthodox Spirituality, Oxford University Press, 2012, 368 p.


[2]Philokalia, Venice, 1782, pp. 1017-1099 [PG 147, 1865, 636-812]; Athens, 1961, t. IV, pp. 197–295; translated by fr. prof. D. Stăniloae, Filocalia românească (Romanian Philokalia) [FR], vol. VIII, Bucharest 1979, pp. 17–224.


[3]Philokalia, Venice, 1782, pp. 1100-1102 [PG 147, 813-817]; FR VIII, pp. 227-233.


[4]Philokalia, IInd ed., P. Tzelatis, Athens, 1893, vol. II, pp. 412-459.


[5]Philokalia, Venice, 1782, pp. 1103-1107 [PG 147, 817–825]; 1961, t. IV, pp. 368-372; FR VIII, pp. 377–386.


[6]Philokalia, Venice, 1782, pp. 1113-1159 [PG 147, 836-941]; 1961, t. V, pp. 4-59; FR VIII, pp. 399–527.


[7]Philokalia, 1782, pp. 1015–1016 [PG 147, 633–634]; Athens, 1961, t. IV, pp. 195–196:

“His Grace Kallistos, Patriarch of Constantinople, who is named Xanthopol, flourished during Andronicus II Palaeologus [1328-1341] in the year 1360. His apprenticeship at Gregory of Sinai, he lived his ascetic life in the mountin with the holy name of Athos, in the Magula hermitage, in front of Philotheou Monastery. He lived with his initiation companion Mark altogether 18 years. He was so loved by Ignatius, also called Xanthopol, that seemed to be a soul in two bodies. He later became patriarch. And, starting to Serbia with his clergy for the peaceful unification of the Church from there, passed by the Mountain of holiness, and from there he went on with the prediction of Maximus that is called the huts Burner who said: “This old man lost his old woman” and the burial psalm we sang and ago “Blessed are those whose ways are blameless” [Psalms 118]; and, arriving in Serbia, changed there this life subjected to corruption with the incorruptible one.

About these two talks Simeon of Thessalonica when referring to the deifying prayer “Lord Jesus Christ Son of God” (ch. 295) and says these word by word:

«Exceptionally, nowadays they wrote with the inspiration of the Spirit on it (this prayer), as those who were themselves from God, speakers of God, bearers of God, bearers of Christ and truly deyfied: the one among saints our Father Kallistos, who was from God the patriarch of the imperial city New Rome, and his ascetic companion Ignatius, who, in a book wrote by them, philosophically talked about it, in a spiritual way, thinking about God and very sublime, exposing their perfect knowledge about it in 100 chapters, the number of perfection. As offsprings of this imperial city, leaving all together and living even before in chastity and in monastical obedience, and after that ascetically and heavenly, living inseparable and keeping in themselves exceptionally the unity, for which Christ prayed to Father for us [John 17, 11] they showed themselves, according to Paul, as lights in the world [Philippians 2, 15] keeping in them the word of life. They have accomplished more than many of the saints the union and love in Christ, so that there could never be suspected a difference between them in worship and habits, but maybe for a moment grief, thing impossible among people.

Therefore, reaching the angelic state and keeping and earning in themselves the peace of God, Who is Christ, our Peace, as Paul says [Ephesians 2, 14], Who made both one, and Whose peace surpasses all mind [Philippians 4, 7], moving from here into peace, they feast from the heavenly serenity and see Jesus clearly, Whom they loved from the heart and truly sought Him, and are one with Him and partake without getting tired to His too sweet and divine light, whose earnest they watched it yet here, being purified through practice and contemplation, and reaching the divine illumination from the mountain [of Thessalonica] like the Apostles [Matthew 17, 1-2]. And this was shown clearly to many for witness, being seen with the face lightened as Stefan [Acts 7, 15], because grace was poured not only in their hearts but also on their face and therefore they were seen with the great Moses having their face shining like the sun [Exodus 34, 29-30], as bear witness those who saw. And suffering beautifully this happy passion and knowing them from experience they speak clearly about the divine light, the natural energy and the Grace of God, bringing the witness of the saints, as well as saints’ prayer»”.

[8]Ibidem, pp. 1111–1112 [col. 833]; Athens, t. V, p. 3:

“Who he was, his homeland and where ended his anchoritic life the our blessed father Kallistos called also Kataphygiotes (maybe he got this name from a church of the Theotokos called the Refuge [Kataphygēs]), we could learn nothing from history.

But as it turns in his present chapters he was a man of philosophical both outside and inside culture [secular and Christian] and very insightful in the height, depth and length of the intelligible contemplations. For so much tended the blessed with the cooperation with the divine grace towards the hid and supracosmic One of the over-being Trinity, and he was risen to the sight of God, to the unmediated union with Him, to the silence of the mind and the super-unknown unknowledge, absolutely freed of all because of his purity, that he really appeared as an angel and god by grace on earth.

Some have said that this Kallistos is Kallistos Xantopol who was Patriarch of Constantinople and who wrote the 100 chapters and some other works, using two indices: on the one hand they say that those treat more about practical life and these only about contemplation and the contemplative life, but as practice and contemplation are linked together, it was natural to be the one and the same the one who explains them, and, on the other hand, because many of those appear in the present work, and namely those related to the enthusiasm of the mind, the divine union, the work of the heart and enlightenment.

Others, however, because of the changed style of everyone’s expression say it is another.

But we thought that we should agree more with the first, not being afraid of the style changes. Because for the wise is possible and very easy to harmonize the speech with the themes approached, and express humbly the humble and sublimely and magnificently the sublime.

But really sad is that out of a hundred chapters, as it appears, very large and treating everything related to the contemplative life, and which are very sublime and perfect both in meaning and the greatness of expression and other cultivation, even through the constraints of syllogisms, in the prototype held by us were kept only the present ones”.

[9]  View in part shared by Fr. Prof. D. Stăniloae who thinks that there is a reason to plead for the author’s identity of the “Kallistos and Ignatius’ method” with the other writings of Patriarch Kallistos” (FR VIII, p 11) and “urges not to count improbable the identification with Patriarch Kallistos” (p. 395) of the Kallistos Kataphygiotes’ contemplative chapters, “perhaps the most beautiful of all the Philokalia writings through the theological depth and its fervent feelings” (p. 397).


[10]  In 1862 being published in Vienna the acts of the patriarchal Register from the period 1315-1402, kept in two large codices of the Imperial Library in here (Vindob. hist. 47 and 48) the act of election and the confession of faith of Hieromonk Kallistos the ecumenical Patriarch, dated May 17, 1397, were seen registered (F. Miklosich–J. Müller Publishing, Acta Patriarhatus Constantinopolitani, vol. II, Vindobonae, 1862, pp. 292–295, nr. 519).


[11]  See the introductory study of A.M. Amann S.I. (1892-1947) for the German translation of the “Method” by Kallistos and Ignatius: Die Gotteschau in palamitischen Hesychasmus. Ein Handbuch der spätbyzantinischen Mystik (Das östliche Christentum N. F. 3–4), Würzburg, 1938.

About the small Constantinopolitan monastery (not Athonite) of the Xanthopols and the influential circle of the humanists (N. Cabasilas, D. Kydones) and emperors (Manuel II Palaeologus), see the sketch of D. Balfour, Politico-historical Works of Symeon Archbishop of Tesalonica (1416/17 to 1429) (Wiener byzantinische Studien XIII), Wien 1979, pp. 279–286.


[12] K. Krumbacher, Geschichte der byzantinischen Literatur von Justinian bis zum Ende des oströmischen Reiches (527-1453), 2. Aufl. bearbeitet unter Mitwirkung von A. Ehrhard und H. Gelzer, München 1897, pp. 159-160.


[13]Ibidem, p. 158.


[14]  G. Mercati, “Callisto Angelicudes Meleniceota”, Bessarione 31 (1915), pp. 79–86 reproduced in: Opere minori III (Studi e testi 78), Citta del Vaticano, 1937, pp. 415–420.


[15]  In the preface (protheōria) of this work entitled hēsychastikē paraklēsis Kallistos Melenikeotes mentions a similar previous work called hēsychastikē agōgē.


[16]  Miklosich–Müller Publishing, vol. I, Vindobonae, 1860, p. 552 (no. 298) reproduced in PG 152, 1439; and pp. 569–572 (no. 312) reproduced in PG 152, pp.1447–1449.


[17]  S.G. Papadopoulos, Hellēnikai metaphraseis Thōmistikōn ergōn. Philothomistai kai antithōmistai en Byzantiō. Symbolē eis tēn historian tēs theologias, Athens, 1967, pp. 156–174.


[18]  Idem, Syntantēsis orthodoxou kai scholastikēs theologias en tō prosōpō Kallistou Angelikoudē kai Thōma Akinatou (Analekta Vlatadon 4), Thessaloniki 1970, 198 p.


[19] Kallistou Angelikoudē kata Thōma Akinatou. Eisagogē, keimenon, kritikon hypomnēma hypo Stylianou G. Papadopoulou, Athens, 1970, 322 p.


[20]  Archim. Symeon Koutsas, “Calliste Angelicoudes. Quatre traites hesychastes inédites. Introduction, texte critique et notes”, Theologia 67 (1997), pp. 109–156, 316–360, 518–529, 696–755 and 68 (1998) pp. 212–247 and 536–573 ; and separately as excerpt.


[21]  Here are the titles of the hesychastic “words” from Cod. Vatic. gr. 736, 450 f [= 990 pages!]:

Protheoria [general introduction] of our father Kallistos (f. 1–4);

1. On Invoking Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Meditation that Follows from Here (f. 4v–38);

2. Reply to the one who contradicted and accused him of impiety from those above; answer in which he described himself following the holy Apostles and the holy Fathers, and, first of all, the the teaching of Jesus Christ (f. 38–68v);

3. Spiritual heaven [paradeisos pneumatikos] having God the Word as gate, and the Holy Spirit as the key that opens the gate and allows seeing those in heaven, and that mysteriously ascends the one who contemplates through the Spirit towards two kinds of views (f. 68–84);

4. On entering through Lord in the comprehensible heaven and on the various names given to God through concepts, and how all tend to our glory and salvation (f. 84–100);

5. On how the holy spirit works in believers (f. 100v–111r);

6. Review of a hymn of the divine grace given usually to people (f. 111–116v);

7. Once again about the divine heaven, the gate and its key and on the word “whoever enters through Me will be saved” (f. 116v–130);

8. Wedding song of the pure soul to his Bridegroom Jesus Christ Son of God, our Father by grace, and also on the receipt of the grace (f. 130–194v);

9–11. Three Prayers to Christ (f. 194v–196; 196–197; 197–202);

12. Of What Lies between God and Men (f. 202–204v);

13. On the spiritual pleasure and joy and their reasons (f. 204v–210v);

14. On view [oraseōs] according to our Lord Jesus Christ (f. 210v–212);

15. How we must wisely use the contemplation of [theōria] those around him God (f. 212v–214v);

16. On the war of mind and holy stillness came from it (f. 215–230);

17. On the Three General Vices (f. 230–234);

18. Contemplation of intelligible creatures after being wrapped the susceptible ones, on God’s infinite greatness and the knowledge that leads to Him (f. 234–243);

19. Another contemplation of the sensitive and understandable sight, of the wisdom and imperceptible power of God and of those seen in incomprehensible way around God (f. 234v–250v);

20. About the first heaven, its necessity and appearance, and on reasons of phenomena that appear (f 250-320 a very long treaty of spiritual contemplation of nature in 41 subchapters);

21. On the Hidden Life in Christ (f. 329–334);

22. Hesychastic Life (f. 334–338; partially published in the Philokalia);

23. Memorial of Kallistos’s Angelikoudes on participating in the Spirit [pneumatikēs metochēs] and how we come through it to all the gifts that imitate God (f. 338–360);

24. 100 Chapters on the Practical and the Contemplative [ praktikou kai theōrētikou] (f. 360–372),

25. 22 Chapters on Contemplation (f. 372r–373r);

26. From The Song of Songs (f. 373–380 allegorical interpretation for chapter 1, verses 3, 12 and 13);

27. On the State of Psalms Singing (f. 380v–398);

28. How the sensitive creation and those in it, which is somehow a testimony of God’s works, justly happens to be, as its order, a witness and of the inner human condition that is the image and likeness of God (f. 399-443v, long allegorical interpretation of Genesis 1, 1–28);

29. That the So-called Heaven Is an Icon the Inner Man (f. 444–446r; published in the Philokalia ed. II as chapter 15 “the missing chapters on prayer”);

30. To a Certain Monk on the Unexpected Death of Komninoutsikos (f. 447–449v).

[22]A. Rigo, „Callisto Angelicude Catafighiota Meleniceota e l’esicasmo bizantino del XIV secolo. Una nota prosopografica” în Nil Sorskij e l’esicasmo. Atti del II Convegno ecumenica internazionale di spiritualità russa, Bose 21–24 settembre 1994, edited by A. Mainardi, Qiqajon Publishing, Bose, 1995, pp. 251–268.


[23]Ibidem, pp. 257 and 268.


[24]  In this respect it is necessary therefore to review the inaccurate picture of the “Kallistoi” from the standard manual of Byzantine theological literature of Hans-Georg Beck (1910-1991): Kirche und Literatur im byzantinischen theologische Reich, Munich, 1959, pp. 784-785. Resuming A. Ehrhard and G. Mercati, H-G. Beck speaks here of the existence of three “Kalistoi”:

Kallistos Angelikudes Melenikeotes (and Telikudes or Meliteniotes), “Byzantine mysticism theorist”, author of 30 logoi hēsychastikēs paraklēseōs (all original, except the one published in the Philokalia peri hēsychastikēs tribēs, and a word against the Summa against gentiles of Thomas Aquinas, also original;

“another Kallistos wearing the nickname Kataphygiotes (sic!) certainly wrongly identified with Patriarch Kallistos II” and who in the late fourteenth or early fifteenth century wrote a treatise “on the union with God and contemplative life” in 92 chapters;

 “the third Kallistos” was in 1397 for a few months patriarch of Constantinople under the name of Kallistos II, but when he was still simple monk with the monk Ignatius, his colleague from the monastery tōn Xanthopoulōn, wrote the very popular manual of hesychastic practical life in 100 chapters published in the Philokalia, where “along this series passes under the name of Kallistos another series of kephalaia peri proseuchēs”.

In the inventory of the Philokalia made in 1977 for Dictionnaire de Spiritualité XII, col. 1342, His Grace Kallistos Ware (b. 1934) also draws attention, just like H.-G. Beck, that “the three Kallistoi from positions 28, 29 and 31 seem to be different persons”.

A. Rigo’s and S. Koutsas’ researches require revision of these statements.

[25]  Kallistos I appears therefore in “The Great Synaxis” cared for by Nikodemos the Hagiorite but posthumously published: Megas Synaxaristēs, Venice, 1819, Vol. III, pp. 120-121, with the commemoration day on June 20: “our Blessed Father Kallistos of Constantinople died in peace” with the note:

“This Saint Kallistos has forced himself in the ascetic life first in Magula hermitage on Mount Athos, and after that he rose from the ascetic arena to the throne of Constantinople during John [VI] Cantacuzino and John [V] Palaeologus in 1350, after Patriarch Isidore (as Cantacuzino gives witness in Histories, book IV, chap. 3). After two years as Patriarch, he left the throne to those who wanted it and, leaving for the monastery of St. Mamas he spent there in hesychasm, according to the same Cantacuzino, and in his place Philotheos became patriarch. But after Cantacuzino chose the monastic life and John Palaeologus became emperor, Kallistos, coming from Tenedos, where he left, became again patriarch. Sent in 1363 by the emperor to Pherai (Parthia) to see Elizabeth, the Serbian King’s wife, he became seriously ill and died there on June 20; he was buried with honor in the Pherai Metropolitan (Meletius, Ecclesiastical History, tome III, p 203). Pherai was a city from Magnesia in Thessaly, now called Ienitzari or by others Sidro, as Meletius says, while others say Pherai was in Serbia. This Kallistos seems to be a disciple of Gregory of Sinai, who wrote his life, and not Kallistos Xanthopoulos (as he was afterwards, see November 22). Sent to Pherai, he went, it is said, to the Holy Mountain and meeting Maxim Kavsokalivitul, he heard about himself this beautiful prediction: “This old man has lost his old (ie Constantinople)” and when he left, he sang following him that funeral psalm “Blessed are the blameless” [Psalms 118], as seen in the life of that Maxim. See also on November 22 on Kallistos Xanthopoulos.”

In the note from November 22 Nikodemos the Hagiorite indeed identifies hypothetically, but inaccurately, as shown by V. Grumel, „Notes sur Calliste II Xanthopoulos”, Revue des Etudes Byzantines 18 (1960), pp. 199–204, “our venerable Father Kallistos that died in peace” with Kallistos Xanthopol:

“This Saint Kallistos seems (ou) that is Kallistos Xanthopoulos who forced himself in the ascetic life first in the Xanthopoulos monastery, which, according to Meletius (tome III, 203), is located in the Mount Athos – this seems to be the monastery of the Pantocrator, and that monastery is his. Later on he became patriarch. But leaving the Patriarchate of Constantinople, he had Ignatius as a companion, called also Xanthopoulos, and who was born in the same imperial town. And, being united as one soul in two bodies, they philosophized in a spiritual way with divine and very high wisdom on mental prayer, exposing their knowledge concerning it in one hundred chapters, the perfect number, as Saint Symeon of Thessalonica testifies, capita 295, p 240. And these chapters are printed in the holy book of the Philokalia of those who live in wakefulness. This Kallistos is the second one, being patriarch in the time of Manuel Palaeologus in 1392 [in fact 1397], for the first Kallistos was patriarch in 1350, during the reign of John Palaeologus and he is celebrated on June 20. See about him, Meletius, tome III, p. 230”.

Then Nicodemus returns to the issue of the different “Kallistoi” from the Philokalia in these words:

“It should be noted that many say about the chapters placed under the names of Kallistos Telikudes, Patriarch Kallistos and Kallistos Kataphygiotes under the composition and effort of this Kallistos Xanthopoulos, and that one and the same Kallistos, this is called by different names. He was named Catafighiot from the Theotokos monastery called Kataphyghēn [the Refuge, the Shelter], which is in the eparchy of Navpaktos and Art, where it is said from tradition that saint Kallistos lived his ascetic life. But others assign the above mentioned chapters to the first patriarch Kallistos of Constantinople.”

[26]  Dēmētrios Gonēs, To syngraphiko ergo tou oikoumenikou patriarchou Kallistou Α, Athens, 1980, 399 p.


[27]  Two for non-pollution, two for plague, five for the people’s sorrow, five for the king and army, one for the Ascension of the Holy Cross and two for the consecration of the church, all published by J. Goar in Euchologion sive Rituale Graecorum, Paris 1647.


[28]  Extensively analyzed by Gones, op cit , pp. 123–260.


[29]Ibidem, p. 295.


[30]Ibidem, p. 312.


[31]G.N. Giannakē-G.P. Sabbantidē, “To cheirographo tēs Bylizas sto Matsouki Ioanninōn”, Dōdōnē 12 (1983), pp. 253-261.


[32]A. Rigo, Il monaco, la chiesa e la liturgia. I Capitoli sulle gerarchie di Gregorio il Sinaita, Edizioni del Galluzzo, Firenze, 2005, CXVIII (introduction)+80 p. (1–19 Greek text and Italian translation; 21–51 comments; bibliography, pp. 55–80); the Romanian translation of the opusculum in the volume: diac. Ioan I. Ică jr., De la Dionisie Areopagitul la Simeon al Tesalonicului. Integrala comentariilor liturgice bizantine – studii si texte (From Dionysius the Areopagite to Simeon of Thessalonica. Full-Byzantine Liturgical Commentaries – Studies and Texts), Deisis Publishing, 2012, pp. 331-339 text and pp. 323-329 introduction.


[33]Ibidem, p. XXX–XXXIII.


[34]Ibidem, pp. XXXII.


[35]A. Rigo, „ I Capitoli sulla purezza dell’anima del patriarca Callisto I”, Byzantinische Zeitschift 100 (2007), pp. 779–784.


[36]  Idem, “Callisto Patriarca. I 100 (109) Capitoli sulla purezza dell’anima”, Byzantion 80 (2010), pp. 333–407: introduction (pp. 333–343), Greek text having in its apparatus parallels from the unique Homilies of Kallistos I and Italian translation (pp. 344–407) and lexical glosses (pp. 334–341).


[37]  The Romanian translation of the text may be found in this issue, in the Patristics section.


[38]A. Rigo, 2010, p. 336-338.


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