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An apocrisiarius, the Latinized form of apokrisiarios ( ), sometimes Anglicized as apocrisiary, was a high diplomatic representative during Late Antiquity and the early medieval period. The corresponding Latin term was responsalis ("he who answers"). The title was used by Byzantine ambassadors as well as by the representatives of bishops to the secular authorities. The closest modern equivalent is a papal nuncio; the title apocrisiarius is also still employed by the Anglican church.

Byzantine apocrisiarii

An apocrisiarius was a cleric who served as the representative (also described as legate, a less precise term) of a bishop or patriarch to the Byzantine imperial court of Constantinoplemarker. The office existed since the 5th century, but was institutionalized by law only under Justinian I. Several of the more important ecclesiastical sees maintained permanent apocrisiarii in the imperial capital.

Papal apocrisiarius

The most notable apocrisiarii were perhaps those sent from ca. 452 until 743 by the Pope, as Patriarch of Romemarker and head of the Western Church, to the Byzantine capital, Constantinoplemarker. This post was filled by several notable clergymen, some of whom went on to become popes themselves, including Pope Gregory I, Pope Sabinian, Pope Boniface III and Pope Martin I, during the period of the "Byzantine Papacy". The role of this apocrisiarius was to represent the interests of the Roman church at the Imperial court in Rome. Most were former members of the diaconate, as they were the most educated and potentially skilled in diplomatic negotiations. The residence of the Roman apokrisiarios was in the Placidia Palace, build by Galla Placidia near the Armatiou, between the Gate of the Plataea and the later Monastery of the Pantokratormarker.

At the court of the Exarchate of Ravenna, apocrisiarii were the permanent representatives of the Pope and the Byzantine Emperor. In turn, at least during the pontificate of Pope Gregory I, the Archbishop of Ravenna had a special responsalis at the papal court.

Frankish apocrisiarii

From the reign of Charlemagne, the court of the Frankish king/emperor had clerical members styled apocrisiarii. However, they were only royal archchaplains decorated with the title of the ancient papal envoys, since they did not perform any diplomatic duties.

Modern Anglican Church

In the modern Anglican Communion, representatives of the Archbishop of Canterbury to various churches are styled apocrisiarioi.


  1. Kazhdan (1991), p. 136
  2. Kazhdan (1991), pp. 75, 136
  3. Parry (1999), p. 35
  4. Ekonomou, 2007, p. 8.
  5. Ekonomou, 2007, p. 9.
  6. Partners - Apocrisiaroi


  • Ekonomou, Andrew J. 2007. Byzantine Rome and the Greek Popes: Eastern influences on Rome and the papacy from Gregory the Great to Zacharias, A.D. 590-752. Lexington Books.

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