Benjamin I of Constantinople

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Benjamin I was Patriarch of Constantinople from 1936 until 1946.

Benjamin was born in 1871 in Stypsi, Lesbos. His surname in the world was Kyriakou. He studied at the Chalki Seminary graduating in 1896.

In 1912, he was elected Metropolitan of Rhodes; in 1913 Metropolitan of Sylivria; later in 1913, Metropolitan of Philippoupolis; in 1925, Metropolitan of Nicaea and, in 1933, Metropolitan of Heraclea.

On December 29, 1935, Patriarch Photius died. On his deathbed, Photius expressed the wish that he be succeeded by his close associate Metropolitan Maximus of Chalkedon. However, the election did not turn out that way: Istanbul district leader, Muhittin Ustundag, intervened and eliminated Maximus, as well as the second likeliest candidate, Ioakeim, from contention. The interference was attributed to Turkish Interior Minister, Sukru Kaya's, preference to see Metropolitan Iakovos of Imvros and Tenedos as Patriarch.

On January 18, 1936, after a controversial vote, Benjamin was elected Ecumenical Patriarch. He was aged 64 at the time, chronically ill and, due to the controversy surrounding his election, unpopular. During his reign, the churches of Albania and Bulgaria were recognised as autocephalous within the Eastern Orthodox Church (1937 and 1945 respectively), World War II broke out, the Greek minority in Turkey was subjected to persecution and the harsh Varlik Vergisi was passed and imposed on his flock. In general, it is agreed that, as Patriarch, he was not up to the challenge.

Benjamin died on February 17, 1946. He was succeeded three days later by Maximus of Chalkedon.