He was one of the most important Patriarchs of the modern period. Born in Constantinople in 1834, he received a prominent education. He pursued further education in Vienna, where he served as a deacon in the holy temple of St George (1858-1861) and as protosyngellos of Joachim II.
During his first patriarchacy (1878-1884) he fought hard for the organisation of the patriarchate's offices, for the improvement of its financial state, and for its spiritual radiance. In 1880 he founded the patriarchal typography, the magazine Truth and the library, he built a wonderful palace for the Great School of the Nation, and re-organised the educational and philantropic charities of Constantinople. After his dissosiation from the throne, he stayed initially in Constantinople (1884-1889) and then went to the Holy Mount Athos (1889-1901).
During his second patriarchacy (1901-1912), he continued his creative organisational and spiritual word; he cultivated intra-orthodox relations by sending out Encyclical Letters (1902, 1904). He solved the stale governing problems (of Greece, Serbia, etc.). More generally, he formed new horizons for the mission of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the modern times.