Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature to the End of the Sixth Century/Fravitta, bp. of Constantinople

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Fravitta, 23rd bp. of Constantinople a.d. 489. Our chief authority is Nicephorus Callistus, who relates that on the death of Acacius, the emperor Zeno placed on the altar of the great church of Constantinople two sheets of paper. On one was written a prayer that God would send an angel to inscribe on the blank sheet the name of him whom He wished to be the patriarch. A fast of 40 days with prayer was ordered. The church was given into the custody of a confidential eunuch, the imperial chamberlain, and the imperial seal set on the casket containing the papers. A presbyter named Fravitta was in charge of the suburban church of St. Thecla. Fired with ambition, he paid the eunuch large sums, and promised him more, to write his name on the blank sheet. At the end of the 40 days the casket was opened; the name of Fravitta was found, and he was enthroned amid universal acclamations. Within 4 months he died, and the powerful eunuch was pressing his executors for the promised gold. They revealed the odious tale to the emperor. The forger was turned out of all his employments and driven from the city. Zeno, ashamed of his failure, entrusted the election of the new patriarch to the clergy.

Such is the account of Nicephorus Callistus. In the correspondence between Zeno, Fravitta, and pope Felix on the appointment there is no trace of this story.

Fravitta at one and the same time wrote letters to Peter Mongus asking for his communion, and a synodal to pope Felix begging his sanction and co-operation. This document was carried to Rome by Catholic monks of Constantinople who had always kept separate from Acacius and his friend Mongus. An accompanying letter of Zeno showed great affection for Fravitta; Zeno had only laboured for his appointment because he thought him worthy and to restore peace and unity to the churches. Pope Felix, delighted with the letters, had Zeno's read aloud to the deputation and all the clergy of Rome, who expressed loud approval. When the pope, however, wished the monks from Constantinople to undertake that the names of Acacius and Mongus should be rejected from the diptychs, they replied that they had no instructions on that point. The joy of the pope was finally destroyed by the arrival at Rome of a copy of the letter which Fravitta had sent to Mongus. Directly contrary to that which Felix had received, it actually denied all communion with Rome. The pope would not hear a word more from the monks. Whether the story of Nicephorus Callistus be true or not, Fravitta stands disgraced by this duplicity. Niceph. Cellist. xvi. 19, Patr. Gk. cxlvii. § 684. p. 152; Joann. Zonar. Annal. xiv. iii. Patr. Gk. cxxxiv. § 53, p. 1214; Liberat. Diac. Brev. xviii. Patr. Lat. lxviii.; Felicis Pap. Ep. xii. and xiii. Patr. Lat. lviii. p. 971; Evagr. iii. 23, Patr. Gk. lxxxvi. part ii.; Theoph. Chronogr. 114, Patr. Gk. cviii. p 324.

[W.M.S.]