Typikon of the Pantokrator Monastery, Constantinople

Introduction: The foundation document (Greek typikon) of the Pantokrator Monastery in Constantinople was composed by Emperor John II Komnenos himself in 1136. It stipulates that the large monastery was to house eighty monks and include a hospital, an old-age home, and a facility for lepers. Two churches, dedicated to the Theotokos Eleousa (Tenderness or Mercy) and Christ Pantokrator, flanked a smaller one dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel that was to serve as a dynastic mausoleum; in the typikon it is called a heroon, or “hero’s shrine.” The typikon also includes instructions about how to light the churches’ figural images, both mosaics and portable icons, all of which are now lost.

Excerpted, with permission, from Robert Jordan, trans., “Pantokrator: Typikon of Emperor John II Komnenos for the Monastery of Christ Pantokrator in Constantinople,” in Byzantine Monastic Foundation Documents: A Complete Translation of the Surviving Founders’ Typika and Testaments, ed. John Philip Thomas and Angela Constantinides Hero (Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 2000), 725–81. © 2000 Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Trustees for Harvard University.

Translation: Some passages have been simplified and words added in brackets to aid comprehension.
The [Pantokrator] church should be lit like this. Some lamps should burn continuously—two in the sanctuary, one standing lamp in the synthronon [built-in seats for clergy] below and another in the triple lamp of the sanctuary, two before the [image of the] Pantokrator, one before the Resurrection and another before the Crucifixion, one in the triple lamp of the dome, one in the apse on the right of the sanctuary where the Last Supper is, another in the apse on the left where the Washing of the Feet is, and another before the beautiful doors [between the naos and sanctuary] where the Dormition of the Mother of God is. The following lamps also should burn continuously at night—one in the narthex, another in the exonarthex, and another before the [representation] of the ecumenical councils. But during the services of matins, the liturgy [Eucharist], and vespers all the crater lamps of the choros, sixteen in number, should be lit all around as well as lamps of the templon, four of the triple lamps, four lamps in the four vaults, three in the narthex in addition to the night-lamp, and two in the exonarthex in addition to the night-lamp there too.

Candles should burn continuously, one in the conch of the apse, two before the Pantokrator, one before the Resurrection, one before the Crucifixion, one before the Washing of the Feet, one before the Last Supper, and another one above the beautiful doors, and the candle in the dome along with the others. During the services three lighted ones should stand on the templon, one on the little templon and another one at the altar, two others before the Pantokrator and another one before each of the two icons set out for veneration. But on Sundays during matins and the liturgy and furthermore during vespers on Saturdays seven candles should be lit on the middle templon and three candles before the templon on the right at the small sanctuary. The same things should be done during ordinary feasts.

. . . Since my majesty wished a church also to be built near this monastery dedicated to my most holy Lady and Mother of God Eleousa, and between this church and the monastery another chapel in the form of a heroon dedicated to Michael the commander of the heavenly armies, in which we have decreed our tomb to be placed, now at this point I must discuss matters concerning the procedure in these two churches.

. . . In the church of [St. Michael] the Incorporeal one candle will be lit to burn continuously in the conch of the apse and another before the tomb of my most beloved wife and one before that of my majesty. . . . I wish the holy icon of my most pure Lady and Mother of God Hodegetria to be taken into the monastery on the days of our commemorations—that is, those for the most beloved wife of my majesty, for my majesty itself, for my most beloved son and basileus, Lord Alexios, if he will want to be buried with me.

. . . Women will not enter the monastery and the monastery will be a forbidden area for them, even if they are distinguished ladies and are adorned by a devout life and a noble birth. But if some must enter, perhaps for the burial of their relations or their commemoration, they will not enter by the monastery gate but by the gate of the church of the Eleousa.

If anyone is so sick that he is bedridden and cannot walk, the appropriate care should be provided in his cell. Also the superior should with sincerity take care of all those who are ill, securing a doctor to visit the monastery and provide soothing plasters and oils so that they can be stored up in the sick room; and he himself should call, often visiting those who need care, ministering to all their needs with white bread, the best wine, and other things that can comfort those who are ill.

. . . The [lepers’] sanatorium should have six made-up beds for those who wish to lie down and another for the doctor who will stay here too to care for the sick whenever necessity demands. Useful articles for washing oneself should be placed in it in sufficient quantity—I mean basins, ewers, and soap dishes, towels, hair wipers, hand towels, etc.—and enough for six to wash at the same time; and not only will those who are ill use these things but also in fact all the monks.

. . . Since my majesty also prescribed a hospital which should shelter fifty bedridden sick people, I wish and decree that there should be that number of beds for the comfort of these sick people. Of these fifty beds, ten will be for those suffering from wounds or those with fractures, eight others for those afflicted with ophthalmia and those with sickness of the stomach and any other very acute and painful illnesses; twelve beds will be set aside for sick women and the remainder will be left for those who are moderately ill. But if from time to time there is a lack of people ill either from wounds or from ophthalmia and other very acute illnesses, the number will be made up from other sick people afflicted with simply any disease whatever.

. . . Since I also wish there to be an old age home in this monastery, in it will be twenty-four old men being looked after, all of them crippled, lame, infirm, and suffering in other ways. Six orderlies will give them assistance.

. . . The present rule of my own monastery of Christ Pantokrator was signed by my majesty in the month of October, of the fifteenth indiction, and of the six thousand six hundred and forty-fifth year [1136 CE].

John Komnenos in Christ our God a faithful emperor Born-in-the-Purple, and Emperor of the Romans.

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Pantokrator Monastery, plan of three churches