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St. George

Lecture for ChD 602 Church Development Part II

Lecture for ChD 602 Church Development Part II
by Akinnugba Macfonse Osmond, OSM

Topic: A survey of the lives and major events of the period from the late second to the early fourth century in the development of the early Orthodox Catholic Church.

St. Ignatius of Antioch also known as Theophorus – God bearer, was Bishop of Antioch after Saint Peter and St. Evodius, this disciple of the beloved Disciple John was consecrated Bishop by the Apostle Peter. A holy man, deeply loved by the Christian faithful and always made it his special care to defend “orthodoxy” (right teaching) and “orthopraxy” (right practice) among the early Christians. Little is known of his life before his last journey on foot from Antioch to Rome, where he was to be executed for being a Christian. On his way, many churches sent representatives out to talk with him. He encouraged them in their faith and strengthened the churches, sending letters back to them. The content of the letters addressed the hierarchy and structure of the Church as well as the content of the orthodox Christian faith. It was Bishop Ignatius who first used the term “catholic” to describe the whole Church. These letters connect us to the early Church and the unbroken, clear teaching of the Apostles which was given to them directly by Jesus Christ. They also reveal the holiness of a man of God who became himself a living letter of Christ. The shedding his blood in the witness of holy martyrdom was the culmination of a life lived conformed to Jesus Christ. Ignatius sought to offer himself, in Christ, for the sake of the Church which he loved. His holy martyrdom occurred in the year 107 during the reign of Emperor Trajan.

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Development of the Episcopacy,

In the First Century, the Church leaders who were Elder-Bishops and deacons in each church were under the supervision of the apostles. In the Early second century during the reign of Ignatius, Elders and Bishops were differentiated. Each congregatioon was governed by Bishop, elders and deacons. Yet in the second century with Irenaeus and Tertulian, Diocesan Bishops - a Bishop now oversaw a group of congregations in a geographical area; they were thought to be successors of the apostles. In the Mid third century, during St cyprain, Presbyters come to be seen as sacrificing priests and the Primacy of Rome was asserted. Early fourth century at the council of Nicea, Metropolitan Bishops (Archbishops) by virtue of their location in population centres gained ascerdancy over chorepiscopi (country Bishops) While Late fourth century, at the council of Constantinople, Patriachs, special honor was given the bishops of Rome, Alexandria, Antioch, COnstantinople and Jerusalem. Patriach of Constantinople was given primacy next to the Bishop of Rome.

It is matter of fact that the episcopal form of government was universally established in the Eastern and Western church as early as the middle of the second century. Even the heretical sects, at least the Ebionites, as we must infer from the commendation of the episcopacy in the pseudo-Clementine literature, were organized on this plan, as well as the later schismatic parties of Novatians, Donatists, etc. But it is equally undeniable, that the episcopate reached its complete form only step by step. In the period before us we must note three stages in this development connected with the name of Ignatius in Syria (d. 107 or 115), Irenaeus in Gaul (d. 202), and Cyprian in North Africa (d. 258).

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The docetists,

Diatessaron by Tatian (d. circa 185),

Tatian is an Assyrian, born in the frontier district between the Roman Empire and Parthia. Trained in "mythology, history, poetry, and chronology" he became disgusted with paganism was converted by reading the Hebrew Scriptures while in Antioch and Rome. In Rome he joined the school of Justin Martyr, (between 150-165) whom he held in high regard. Tatian was a man of fiery temperament and seems to have found in Christianity a means by which to attack not only "pagan religion, but also… the Roman system of law and government." He was apparently the first Christian writer to declare that God created matter by the power of the Logos: "And as the Logos, begotten in the beginning, begat in turn our world, having first created for Himself the necessary matter..." From this it was only a small step for later Christian thinkers to arrive at the doctrine of creation out of nothing. Unlike his teacher Justin he did not link the Greek hero Deucalion with Noah.
After Justin’s martyrdom Tatian’s teaching gradually became more and more ascetic, until he broke with the Church in about 172 and returned to Mesopotamia. Here (according to Eusebius and Jerome) he founded the sect of the Encratites. Who, it was alleged, abstained from meat and rejected worldly goods, substituting water for wine in the Eucharist. He was opposed by many of the early church fathers, including Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Hippolytus and Origen. This probably explains why all but two of his numerous works have perished, so we have little opportunity to examine at first hand the claims of heresy levelled at him. Irenaeus summarises the false teachings of Tatian as follows: "He invented a system of certain invisible Aeons [or powers], like the followers of Valentinus...", Like Marcion and Saturninus, he declared that marriage was nothing else than corruption and fornication...” and ”...his denial of Adam’s salvation..."20 Irenaeus notes that Tatian was the source of this last heresy. Tatian’s reasoning that : "...since immortality is obtainable only where a soul forms a union… with the divine Spirit (13.2), and since the divine Spirit was lost by the same man (7.3), the first man Adam cannot have been saved." Perhaps more interesting than Tatian’s reasoning is the obvious inference that if Irenaeus was able to class the denial of Adam’s salvation as heresy (and Scripture is silent on this point) then the orthodox position at that time must have been that Adam was saved after the fall. It may well be that this doctrine was considered important because it countered Gnostic teaching to the contrary.
It is not surprising that Tatian’s teaching on creation was misinterpreted when he made use of Gnostic terminology. An example of this is Tatian's statement that the Logos, begotten by the Father, in turn 'begot' the creation (5.2). Further evidence of allegedly Gnostic teaching is found in Address 20:
The demons were driven forth to another abode; the first created human beings were expelled from their place: the one, indeed were cast down from heaven; but the other were driven from the earth, yet not out of this earth, but from a more excellent order of things than exists here now.
The phrase "not of this earth, but from a more excellent order of things..." may suggest to some a higher level of existence, but could equally be well be taken as a reference to the physical Eden, which is no longer part of this world.
The charge that Tatian was a Gnostic is difficult to substantiate. Tatian clearly declared his belief in Christ’s incarnation, His suffering and bodily resurrection. We can only guess at the real reason for Tatian’s condemnation at the hands of Irenaeus. Some have suggested that it may have been his status as an independent Christian teacher. In such a position he was outside of the control of the church hierarchy and may well have been seen as a threat to orthodoxy; "orthodoxy" at that point in history being increasingly defined as that which the bishops believed.

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The Shepherd of Hermas, the concept of the "mysteries",

The early Christian document Hermas, or Shepherd of Hermas, was known to the early Church Fathers. The Muratorian canon, a list of canonical books from about the 3rd century, says Hermas was written by the brother of Pius, Bishop of Rome, about 140-154. Despite much speculation, the author remains unknown. It was written in Rome and involves the Roman church. The document was composed over a longer period of time. Visions I-IV were composeed during a threatened persecution, probably under Trajan (the Clement of 8:3 could be Clement of Rome). Vision V - Similitude VIII and Similitude X were written perhaps by the same author to describe reprentance to Christians who were wavering. Similitude IX was written to unify the entire work and to threaten those who had been disloyal. This last phase must have occurred before Irenaeus (ca. 175). A preferred date would be 140

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Hippolytus (165-c235) versus Bishop Zephyrinus,

The Roman priest Hippolytus was a vigorous proponent of a Logos doctrine that emphasized the distinction of the Persons of the Trinity. He taught that the Divine Logos that became man in Christ differs in everything from God and is the mediary between God and the world of creatures. This doctrine in the form in which Hippolytus set it forth aroused many doubts, and another theological school appeared in opposition to it, emphasizing the absolute unity of God. This doctrine, known as Monarchianism, affirmed the sole deity of God the Father and considered Christ to be a manifestation of God in the manner (modus) of union with human nature. Consequently they were called Modalists or Patripassians, as according to them it was not the Son of God but the Father who had been crucified. Pope Zephyrinus did not interpose authoritatively in the dispute between the two schools. The heresy of the Modalists was not at first clearly evident, and the doctrine of Hippolytus offered many difficulties as regards the tradition of the Church. Unable to respond adequately to the learned arguments of Hippolytus, Zephyrinus said simply that he acknowledged only one God, and this was the Lord Jesus Christ, but it was the Son, not the Father, who had died.[3]
It is not clear, what, if anything, Zephyrinus had to do with halos. But it is clear that he would not fight the Montanists and would not accept the binitarian view that Christ was not the same as the Father.
The True Church Was Anti-Montanist. The Montanists were apparently not rebuked by Bishop Zephyrinus. This shows that he did not feel he had the doctrinal integrity to stand against them. No bishop of Rome was considered to have had universal authority by most professing Christians by Zephyrinus' time (although his predecessor, Bishop Victor, seemed to feel otherwise).
However, the church leaders in Antioch and Asia Minor took a stand against the Montanists.
In his opposition to Zephyrinus, Hippolytus started the first schism in the history of the Christian Church. When Callixtus, whom Hippolytus blamed for the inaction of Zephyrinus, succeeded Zephyrinus as Pope, Hippolytus and a number of his scholars left the Church, and for over ten years Hippolytus stood at the head of a separate congregation, possibly as bishop, and is sometimes considered the first Antipope.
Then came the persecution under Maximinus the Thracian. Hippolytus and Pontius, who was then bishop, were transported in 235 to Sardinia, where both of them died. Hippolytus returned to the church and his memory was henceforth celebrated in the Church as that of a holy martyr.

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Calixtus,

Little is known of Callixtus I, pope from about 217 to 222 AD, during the reigns of the Emperors Heliogabalus and Severus. His contemporary Saint Hippolytus says that when Callixtus, a young Christian slave, was put in charge of a bank by his Christian master Carpophorus, he lost the money deposited with him by other Christians. He fled from Rome but was caught on board a ship off Portus. To escape capture, he jumped overboard into the sea. He was rescued and taken back to Carpophorus. He was released at the request of the creditors, who hoped he might be able to recover some of the money, but was rearrested for fighting in a synagogue when he tried to borrow or collect debts from some Jews. Denounced as a Christian, Callixtus was sentenced to work in the mines of Sardinia. Finally, he was released with other Christians at the request of Marcia, a mistress of Emperor Commodus. His health was so weakened that his fellow Christians sent him to Antium to recuperate and he was given a pension by Pope Victor I.

Callixtus established the practice of the absolution of all repented sins. Hippolytus was especially upset by the pope's admitting to communion those who had repented for murder, adultery, and fornication.

A spot on which he had built an oratory was claimed by tavern keepers, but the Emperor decided that the worship of any god was better than a tavern. This is said to have been the origin of Santa Maria in Trastevere. In fact the Church of St. Callistus is close by, containing a well into which legend says his body was thrown, and this is probably the church he built.

It is possible that Callixtus was martyred around 222, perhaps during a popular uprising, but the legend that he was thrown down a well has no authority. He was buried in the cemetery of Calepodius on the Aurelian Way. His relics were translated in the ninth century to Santa Maria in Trastevere.

He is honored as a martyr in Todi, Italy, on August 14. Saint Callixtus is depicted in art wearing a red robe with a tiara (sign of a pope); or being thrown into a well with a millstone around his neck; or with a millstone around his neck. Often there is a fountain near him.

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Urban I

Reigned 222-30, date of birth unknown; died 23 May, 230. According to the "Liber Pontificalis," Urban was a Roman and his father's name was Pontianus. After the death of Callistus I (14 October, 222) Urban was elected Bishop of Rome, of which Church he was the head for eight years, according to Eusebius (Church History VI.23). The document called the Liberian catalogue of popes puts the beginning of his pontificate in the year 223 and its close in the year 230. The dissension produced in the Roman Church by Hippolytus continued to exist during Urban's pontificate. Hippolytus and his adherents persisted in schism; it was probably during the reign of Urban that Hippolytus wrote his "Philosophumena", in which he attacked Pope Callistus severely. Urban maintained the same attitude towards the schismatical party and its leader that his predecessor had adopted. The historical authorities say nothing of any other factious troubles in the life of the Roman Church during this era. In 222 Alexander Severus became Roman emperor. He favoured a religious eclecticism and also protected Christianity. His mother, Julia Mammaea, was a friend of the Alexandrine teacher Origen, whom she summonded to Antioch. Hippolytus dedicated his work on the Resurrection to her. The result of the favourable opinion of Christianity held by the emperor and his mother was that Christians enjoyed complete peace in essentials, although their legal status was not changed. The historian Lampridius (Alex. Sever., c. xxii) says emphatically that Alexander Severus made no trouble for the Christians: "Christianos esse passus est." Undoubtedly the Roman Church experienced the happy results of these kindly intentions and was unmolested during this emperor's reign (222-235). The emperor even protected Roman Christians in a legal dispute over the ownership of a piece of land. When they wished to build a church on a piece of land in Rome which was also claimed by tavern-keepers, the matter was brought before the imperial court, and Severus decided in favour of the Christians, declaring it was better that God should be worshipped on that spot

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Pontian,

Pope Saint Pontian or Pontianus, was pope from 21 July 230 to 29 September 235.
A little more is known of Pontian than his predecessors, apparently from a lost papal chronicle that was available to the compiler of the Liberian Catalogue of bishops of Rome, made in the fourth century (Catholic Encyclopedia).
During his pontificate the schism of Hippolytus came to an end. Pontian and other church leaders, among them Hippolytus, were exiled by the emperor Maximinus Thrax to Sardinia, and in consequence of this sentence he resigned on 25 September or 28 September 235. It is unknown how long he lived in exile: according to Liber Pontificalis he died due to the inhuman treatment he received in the Sardinian mines. According to tradition, he died on the island of Tavolara.
His feast day was 19 November, but he is now celebrated jointly with his erstwhile adversary and rival, Hippolytus of Rome, on 13 August.[1]

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St.Irenaeus of Lyon and Against the Heresies (circa 180);

Saint Irenaeus (Greek: Εἰρηναῖος), (2nd century AD - c. 202) was a Christian Bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul, then a part of the Roman Empire (now Lyons, France). He was an early church father and apologist, and his writings were formative in the early development of Christian theology. He was a disciple of Polycarp, who was said to be a disciple of John the Evangelist.
Irenaeus (c. 130–202) was the first to argue that his "proto-orthodox" position was the same faith that Jesus gave to the apostles, and that the identity of the apostles, their successors, and the teachings of the same were all well-known public knowledge. This was therefore an early argument supported by apostolic succession. Irenaeus first established the doctrine of four gospels and no more, with the synoptic gospels interpreted in the light of John.
Irenaeus's best-known book, Adversus Haereses or Against Heresies (c. 180) is a detailed attack on Gnosticism, which was then a serious threat to the Church, and especially on the system of the Gnostic Valentinus. As one of the first great Christian theologians,[citation needed] he emphasized the traditional elements in the Church, especially the episcopate, Scripture, and tradition. Irenaeus wrote that the only way for Christians to retain unity was to humbly accept one doctrinal authority—episcopal councils. Against the Gnostics, who said that they possessed a secret oral tradition from Jesus himself, Irenaeus maintained that the bishops in different cities are known as far back as the Apostles — and none of them were Gnostics — and that the bishops provided the only safe guide to the interpretation of Scripture. His writings, with those of Clement and Ignatius, are taken to hint at papal primacy. Irenaeus is the earliest witness to recognition of the canonical character of all four gospels.
Irenaeus is recognized as a saint by both the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church. His feast day is celebrated on June 28.

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The Catechetical School of Alexandria founded by Pantaenus (circa 180);

The Catechetical School of Alexandria was founded about the year 180 by Pantaenus, of whom little is known. What is known of him is given by Eusebius in his History of the Church (5, 10-11): he was a Hebrew of Palestine who traveled to Egypt and there studied Stoic philosophy.
The Catechetical School of Alexandria was and is a place for the training of Christian theologians and priests in Alexandria. The teachers and students of the school (also known as the Didascalium) were influential in many of the early theological controversies of the Christian church.
The earliest recorded instructor at the school, and the probable founder, was Saint Pantaenus. He was succeeded as head of the school by his student Saint Clement.

Other notable theologians with a connection to the school include Origen, Gregory Thaumaturgus, Athenagoras, Heraclas, Dionysius "the Great", and Didymus the Blind. Others, including Jerome and Basil, made trips to the school to interact with the scholars there. The Theological College of the Catechetical School of Alexandria was re-established in 1893 as the Coptic Theological Seminary‎. The new school currently has campuses in Alexandria, Cairo, New Jersey, and Los Angeles, where Coptic priests-to-be and other qualified men and women are taught on subjects including Christian theology, history, Coptic language and art - including chanting, music, iconography, and tapestry.Currently, the dean of the Catechetical School of Alexandria is His Holiness Pope Shenouda III.

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Paul the Hermit in the Egyptian Desert (circa 250);

The life of St. Paul of Thebes was recorded early, but has always been intertwined with fabulous legends. Born into a wealthy family, Paul abandoned civilization and fled the Decian persecution around 250 AD, when he was only 16 years old, to become a hermit in the Eastern Desert.
Living a life of extreme austerity from until his death at the ripe old age of 113, the hermit is said to have been fed a half-loaf of bread each day by a raven.
In the most famous episode of his life, Paul was visited by the desert monk St. Anthony around 345 AD. Nearing the end of his own life of austerity, Anthony had become tempted by vanity in thinking he was the first of the Desert Fathers. So God led him to meet one who had preceded him.
Paul died during Anthony's visit. According to one version of the legend, Anthony requested two lions to dig a grave. Another version says that, before his death, Paul requested the robe of Pope Athanasius be brought to him for burial, then died while Anthony was away on the errand. Either way, two lions dug the grave and St. Anthony buried the hermit there, designating him a saint.

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St. Anthony of Egypt (circa 285);

St. Anthony of Egypt, abbot, was born in Coma, Upper Egypt. While still young he got rid of all his possessions and lived among the local ascetics, and then withdrew into the desert, where he lived in complete solitude and was repeatedly tempted by the devil. Remaining steadfast, he attracted a number of disciples to a hermit's life in the desert and a small monastery was formed at the place. From there he, in 311, went to Alexandria to encourage the confessors during the persecution of the Emperor Maximinus Daia (emperor in the east 310-313).
St. Anthony was reputed to be a miracle-maker and many were converted by him. His surviving works include a letter to the Emperor Constantine and several ones to different monasteries. In St. Jerome's account of the life of St. Paul the Hermit, there is a description of the meeting of the two hermits, Paul and Anthony in the desert, and the episode found its reflection in fine arts.

Anthony lived a long and righteous life and died at the age of 105. In 561 his relics were transferred to Alexandria, and much later, they were claimed by Constantinople and by La Motte, where the Order of Hospitallers of Saint Anthony was founded c. 1100. The hospitallers wore black robes with a blue Tau-cross; they used to ride about ringing little bells to attract alms; those little bells were also put on animals' necks, often pigs, to protect them from disease. These hospitallers' attributes found their reflection in St. Anthony's iconography: he is generally represented as an old man wearing the black habit, carrying a cross in the shape of a T and, occasionally, a little bell, and accompanied by a pig.

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Marcarius the Great; hermit;(circa 300+)

St. Abba Marcarius the Great (295-392 A.D.; also known as Macarius the Egyptian) was among the most influential Desert Fathers of Egypt, and a disciple of St. Anthony the Great. The Coptic Orthodox Church celebrates his feast day on April 5 (Baramhat 27) and the return of his body to his monastery at Scetis on August 25 (Mesra 19). The day appointed for his feast in Eastern Orthodoxy is January 19, while the Roman Catholic Church celebrates it four days earlier on January 15.
The current Coptic Orthodox Monastery of St. Macarius the Great [1] (video), which lies in Wadi Natrun, the ancient Scetis, 92 kilometers from Cairo on the western side of the desert road to Alexandria, was founded in 360 A.D. by the saint, who during his lifetime was spiritual father to more than four thousand monks of different nationalities-Egyptians, Greeks, Ethiopians, Armenians, Nubians, Asians, Palestinians, Italians, Gauls and Spaniards.
Not to be confused with St. Macarius of Alexandria; and St. Macarius the Martyr and Bishop of Edkao (near Assiut, Upper Egypt). The relics of the three Macarii are today preserved at the aforementioned monastery.

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Gregory the Illuminator (circa 287);
Apostle to Armenia (23 March 332)

The ancient kingdom of Armenia was the first country to become Christian, and it recognizes Gregory as its apostle. Armenia was a buffer state between the powerful empires of Rome and Parthia (Persia), and both of them sought to control it. Gregory was born about 257. When he was still an infant, his father assassinated the King of Parthia, and friends of the family carried Gregory away for protection to Caesarea in Cappadocia, where he was reared as a Christian. About 280 he returned to Armenia, where he was at first treated severely, but eventually by his preaching and example brought both King Tiridates and a majority of his people to the Christian faith. About 300, Gregory was consecrated the first bishop of Armenia. He died about 332. Armenian Christians to this day remember him with honor and gratitude.

Armenians were the first people to adopt Christianity as the state religion. Tertullian and Eusebius of Caesaria suggest that Christianity was practiced in Armenia as early as the 2nd century. Eusebius also mentions an exchange of letters between Jesus Christ and the Armenian king of Edessa Abkar V (the Black) (9-46 A.D). Legend claims for Armenian the graves of four apostles: Bartholomew, Simon, Thaddaeus, and Jude. It was sometime between 288 and 301 that St. Gregory the Illuminator (Grigor Loussavorich : ca. 240-332), who had been subjected to cruel tortures and incarcerated in a deep well (Khor Virab) for 13 years for refusing to participate in pagan rites, converted King Tiridates (238-314). In 302, St. Gregory was ordained bishop, and in 303 he founded the Cathedral of Etchmiadzin, near Mount Ararat, which, to this day, is the seat of the supreme patriarch or catholicos, the head of the Armenian Church. St. Gregory went on to evangelize several other Caucasian nations and baptized the kings of Iberia (Georgia), Lazes and Albania. Sometime before his death he retired to a solitary life in the wilderness. The patron saint of Armenia, he is now venerated in both the Eastern and Latin Church.

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Popes:

St. Eleutherius (175-189)

Buried in the Church of Santa Susanna, he was the twelfth successor of St. Peter. Eleutherius was a Greek from Nicopolis in Epirus and had served as deacon to Pope Anicetus (155-166). It was during his papacy that St. Irenaeus of Lyon visited Rome to discuss the suffering of the Christians of Lyon and to bring a letter critical of the prophesies of the heresy of Montanism. This movement was derived from a series of prophesies which announced the end of the world and demanded that Christians live rigid and severe lives in preparation. Tertullian a prominent convert from North Africa states that Eleutherius was initially attracted to Montanism and only later in his papacy did he come to condemn it.
Eleutherius is listed as a martyr. He died during the reign of the Emperor Commodus (180-192). Commodus was the son of the emperor Marcus Aurelius. The new emperor was insane and during his reign Rome became increasingly violent. Fascinated with eastern mystery religions and violent circus games, a number of Christians, including Eleutherius perished under his misrule.
The body of Eleutherius originally rested in the catacombs and then in the small church of San Giovanni della Pigna, near the Pantheon. In 1591, his body was brought to the Church of Santa Susanna by Camilla Peretti (the sister of Pope Sixtus V). The great fresco over his tomb altar by Giovanni Pozzo (1563-1591) shows Eleutherius being dragged by horses and then burned over a grill while the Emperor Commodus watched. Pope St. Eleutherius' feast day is May 26th.

St. Victor I (189-199)

Victor was the first African pope (i.e., from the Roman provinces of Africa. He could have been a native or a descendant of Roman colonists; Romans were largely colorblind and a person's race was rarely recorded). His reign extended from about 189 to 199. Conscious of the nature of baptism, Victor decreed that anyone baptized in an emergency should be treated as a Christian in full standing, not as a neophyte undergoing catechesis A mistress of the Roman emperor Commodus, Marcia, who was probably a Christian, had considerable influence on the emperor and sympathy for the plight of the persecuted Church. She asked Pope Victor for a list of Christians condemned to the salt mines in Sardinia and secured their release, ushering in a lull in the ongoing persecutions.
A troublesome controversy over when Easter should be celebrated occurred during the reign of Victor, with the result that Christians observed different days for the most important feast of the year. Victor decreed that Easter should be celebrated on a Sunday, but a synod of Asiatic bishops convened by the bishop of Ephesus refused to abandon their custom. Victor excommunicated them, then--under the influence of St. Ireneus--lifted the ban. Nevertheless, the custom of all Christians celebrating Easter on a Sunday soon took hold.
Other controversies arising in St. Victor's reign included a leather seller who denied the divinity of Christ and set up his own church in Rome, as well as continuing problems with the Gnostic heresy, which taught a mystical dualism that made evil as powerful as good. St. Victor upheld on one hand the divinity of Christ and also the infinite power of good over evil.
He was also the first to celebrate Mass in Rome in the language of the people, Latin. Previously, Mass had been celebrated even in Rome in Greek.
According to unconfirmed tradition, St. Victor I died a martyr and most likely is buried in the Vatican near St. Peter, the first pope.

Pope Saint Zephyrinus, born in Rome, was bishop of Rome from 199 to 217. His predecessor was bishop Victor I. Upon his death on December 20, 217, he was succeeded by his principal advisor, bishop Callixtus I.)

Pope Callixtus I or Callistus I, was pope from about 217 to about 222, during the reigns of the Roman Emperors Heliogabalus and Alexander Severus. He was martyred for his Christian faith and is a canonized saint of the Roman Catholic Church.

Pope Saint Urban I was pope from 14 October 222 to 230. He was born in Rome, Italy and succeeded St. Callixtus I who had been martyred. For centuries it was believed that Urban too was martyred, however recent historical discoveries now lead scholars to believe that he died of natural causes.
Much of Urban's life is shrouded in mystery, leading to many myths and misconceptions. Despite the lack of sources he is the first Pope whose reign can be definitely dated. [1] Two prominent sources do exist for Urban's pontificate: Eusebius' history of the early Church and also an inscription in the Coemeterium Callisti which names the Pope.
Urban ascended to the Chair of Saint Peter in the year of the Roman Emperor Elagabalus' assassination and served during the reign of Alexander Severus. It is believed that Urban's pontificate was during a peaceful time for Christians in the Empire as Severus did not promote the persecution of Christianity.
Urban is a canonized saint of the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Pope Saint Pontian or Pontianus, was pope from 21 July 230 to 29 September 235.
A little more is known of Pontian than his predecessors, apparently from a lost papal chronicle that was available to the compiler of the Liberian Catalogue of bishops of Rome, made in the fourth century (Catholic Encyclopedia).
During his pontificate the schism of Hippolytus came to an end. Pontian and other church leaders, among them Hippolytus, were exiled by the emperor Maximinus Thrax to Sardinia, and in consequence of this sentence he resigned on 25 September or 28 September 235. It is unknown how long he lived in exile: according to Liber Pontificalis he died due to the inhuman treatment he received in the Sardinian mines. According to tradition, he died on the island of Tavolara.
His feast day was 19 November, but he is now celebrated jointly with his erstwhile adversary and rival, Hippolytus of Rome, on 13 August.

Pope Saint Anterus, was pope from November 21, 235 to January 3, 236, and succeeded Pope Pontian, who had been deported from Rome along with the antipope Hippolytus to Sardinia.

Anterus was the son of Romulus, born in Petilia Policastro. He was pope for only one month and ten days, and is thought to have been of Greek origin, but the name could indicate that he was a freed slave. He created one bishop for the city of Fondi.

St. Fabian (236-50)

The reign of Pope Pontian started out easily enough, but once emperor Alexander Severus was succeeded by Maximus Thrax, everything changed for him and the Christian communities. Thrax instituted a harsh campaign of repression and persecution. He even had Pontian and antipope Hippolytus shipped off to the mines on Sardina, a place from which few evidently managed to return alive.
This resulted in two "firsts" for the papacy. Pontian was the first pope to ever abdicate. Pontian knew that he would almost certainly die on Sardina and didn't want there to be a long-term power vacuum in the church, so he decided that abdication would be the best course of action. Pontian's abdication also gives us the first certain date in the history of papacy: September 28, 235.
The only other event for which Pontian's papacy is known is his official approval of the condemnation of church father Origen for heresy. It seems likely that if there was a synod in Rome to hear the charges against Origin, then Pontian would have presided over it.

St. Cornelius (251-53)

Cornelius became pope at a very difficult time for the Catholic Church. His predecessor, Fabian, had died more than a year before. The long delay was due the bitter persecutions being suffered under the reign of emperor Decius. Only after Decius left Rome did church leaders feel comfortable enough to risk electing a new pope. In the meantime the affairs of the church had been governed by a committee, not unlike the circumstances during the church's earliest years.
Unfortunately for Cornelius, his election was not unanimously hailed. The spokesman for the committee, Novatian, objected to the choice and felt that he should have been picked instead. Some of the reason may be due to a desire for power, but there were also serious differences over the governing of the church. In particular, Novatian and Cornelius disagreed over how to deal with lapsed Christians - those who renounced their faith during the persecutions.
In Italy itself the pope got together a synod of sixty bishops. Cornelius advocated readmitting them to the Christian community after a suitable penance but Novatian wanted them shut out permanently. Most sided with Cornelius, but a few agreed with Novatian's harder position and a schismatic movement developed with Novatian as antipope. Eventually all would be excommunicated

St. Lucius I (253-54): Lucius I, Roman Catholic Pope for eight months (253-254), spent a short period of his pontificate in exile. He is referred to in several letters of Cyprian (see Epist. LXVIII, 5) as having been in agreement with his predecessor Cornelius in preferring the milder view on the question as to how the lapsed penitent should be treated. He is the patron saint of Zealand in Denmark, commemorated on the 4th of March.

St. Stephen I (254-257) :Stephen was a priest of Rome elected Pope in March of 752 to succeed St. Zachary; he died of apoplexy (stroke) three days later, before being ordained a bishop. He was a cardinal presbyter, with the titulus of San Crisogono (the same titulus of cardinal Frederick of Dukes of Lorrain, later Pope Stephen IX), chosen by Pope Zachary in 745.

St. Sixtus II (257-258): Pope Sixtus II or Pope Saint Sixtus II (a corruption of Greek Ξυστος, Xystus, "polished") was Pope from August 30, 257 to August 6, 258. He died as a martyr during the persecution by Emperor Valerian.[1]
According to the Liber Pontificalis, he was Greek by birth; however this is uncertain and disputed[1] by modern western historians arguing that the authors of Liber Pontificalis confused him with that of the contemporary author Xystus who was Greek student of Pythagoreanism. He restored the relations with the African and Eastern Orthodox churches which had been broken off by his predecessor on the question of heretical baptism.
In the persecutions under Emperor Valerian I in 258, numerous bishops, priests, and deacons were put to death. Pope Sixtus II was one of the first victims of this persecution, being beheaded on August 6. He was martyred along with six deacons—Januarius, Vincentius, Magnus, Stephanus, Felicissimus and Agapitus [1].

St. Dionysius (260-268) :Pope Saint Dionysius was pope from July 22, 259 to December 26, 268. He may have been born in Magna Græcia, but this has not been verified. Dionysius was elected pope in 259, after the martyrdom of Sixtus II in 258. The Holy See had been vacant for nearly a year due to difficulty in electing a new pope during the violent persecution which Christians faced. When the persecution had begun to subside, Dionysius was raised to the office of Bishop of Rome. Emperor Valerian I, who had led the persecution, was captured and killed by the King of Persia in 260. The new emperor, Gallienus, issued an edict of toleration, bringing the persecution of Christians to an end and giving the Church legal status. The houses of worship, the cemeteries, and other property which had been confiscated by earlier edicts. To the new pope fell the task of reorganizing the Roman church, which had fallen into great disorder. On the protest of some of the faithful at Alexandria, he demanded from the bishop of Alexandria, also called Dionysius, explanations concerning his doctrine regarding the relation of God to the Logos, which was satisfied.
Pope Dionysius sent large sums of money to the churches of Cappadocia, which had been devastated by the marauding Goths, to rebuild and to ransom those held captive. He brought order to the Church and procured a peace after Emperor Gallienus issued an edict of toleration which was to last until 303. Dionysius is the first pope who is not listed as a martyr. He died on December 26, 268.

St. Felix I (269-274) : St Felix was a Roman, the son of Constantius. He was elected pope in 269. A letter to Bishop Maximus of Alexandria was once thought to be his, but later scholars have decided that it was a forgery.
During the pontificate of St. Felix, the capable organizer and clever general Aurelian became emperor. Aurelian has a very interesting connection with the Pope. The pontificate of St. Dionysius had been troubled by the heresy of Paul of Samosata. A council held at Antioch had deposed Paul as bishop of Antioch, but the wily heretic hung on to the Church property and refused to give it up to his successor, Demetrianus. Emperor Aurelian, passing through Antioch, was called upon to settle the matter. The Emperor decided that he was truly the bishop who was in communion with the bishops of Rome and Italy. And so the orthodox Demetrianus was able to take over from the heretical Paul of Samosata.
St. Felix is credited with ordering the celebration of Masses over the sepulchers of the martyrs.

Pope St. Felix is called a martyr by the "Liber Pontificalis," which also says that he built a basilica on the Aurelian Way in which he was buried. Modern scholars, however, do not consider this to be true. Duchesne thinks that it is a confusion of Pope Felix with another Felix who was a martyr and was buried on the Aurelian Way. At any rate, Pope St. Felix died in 274 and was most probably buried in the Cemetery of Calixtus. His feast is kept on May 30.

St. Eutychian (275-283) : Pope Saint Eutychian or Eutychianus was pope from January 4, 275 to December 7, 283 (according to the Annuario Pontificio of 2003).
His original epitaph was discovered in the catacomb of Callixtus (see Kraus, Roma sotterranea, p. 154 et seq.), but almost nothing more is known of him. Even the date of his reign is uncertain. Liber Pontificalis gives a reign of 8 years and 11 months, from 275 to 283. Eusebius, on the other hand says his reign was only 10 months.
He is said to have allowed the blessing of grapes and beans on the altar and to have buried 324 martyrs with his own hands. Some historians doubt these traditions, since there was no persecution after the death of Aurelian in 275 and blessing the produce of the fields is believed to belong to a later period.

St. Caius (283-296) -- also called Gaius Pope Saint Caius
(17 December 283 - 22 April 296) Pope Saint Caius or Gaius was Pope from December 17, 283 to April 22, 296. Christian tradition makes him a native of the Dalmatian city of Salona, today Solin near Split, the son of a man also named Caius, and a member of a noble family related to the Emperor Diocletian.
Little information on Caius is available except that given by the Liber Pontificalis, which relies on a legendary account of the martyrdom of St. Susanna for its information. According to legend, Caius baptized the men and women who had been converted by Saint Tiburtius (who is venerated with St. Susanna) and Saint Castulus. His legend states that Caius took refuge in the catacombs of Rome and died a martyr.

St. Marcellinus (296-304) : Pope Saint Marcellinus, according to the Liberian Catalogue, became bishop of Rome on June 30, 296; his predecessor was Pope St Caius. He is not mentioned in the Martyrologium hieronymianum, or in the Depositio episcoporum, or in the Depositio martyrus.
St Marcellinus’ pontificate began at a time when Diocletian was Roman Emperor, but had not yet started to persecute the Christians. He left Christianity rather free and so the church’s membership grew. Caesar Galerius led the pagan movement against Christianity and arrived to bring up Diocletian against Christianity in the year 302: first Christian soldiers had to leave the army, later the Church's property was confiscated and Christian books were destroyed. After two fires in Diocletian’s palace he took harder measures against Christians: they had either to apostatize or they were sentenced to death.

The Liber Pontificalis, basing itself on the Acts of St Marcellinus, the text of which is lost, relates that during Diocletian’s persecution Marcellinus was called upon to sacrifice, and offered incense to idols, but that, repenting shortly afterwards, he confessed the faith of Christ and suffered martyrdom with several companions. Other documents speak of his defection, and it is probably this lapse that explains the silence of the ancient liturgical calendars. In the beginning of the 5th century Petilianus, the Donatist bishop of Constantine, affirmed that Marcellinus and his priests had given up the holy books to the pagans during the persecution and offered incense to false gods. St Augustine contents himself with denying the affair. The records of the pseudo-council of Sinuessa, which were fabricated at the beginning of the 6th century, state that Marcellinus after his fall presented himself before a council, which refused to try him on the ground that prima sedes a nemine iudicatur ("The first See is judged by none").

According to the Liber Pontificalis, Marcellinus was buried, on April 26, 304, in the cemetery of Priscilla, on the Via Salaria, 25 days after his martyrdom; the Liberian Catalogue gives as the date October 25. The fact of the martyrdom, too, is not established with certainty. After a considerable interregnum he was succeeded by Marcellus, with whom he has sometimes been confused. During his pontificate, Armenia became the first Christian nation in 301.

St. Marcellus I (308-309) : Pope Saint Marcellus I, pope from May 308 to 309, succeeded Marcellinus, after a considerable interval, most probably in May or June 308.
Under Maxentius he was banished from Rome in 309 on account of the tumult caused by the severity of the penances he had imposed on Christians who had lapsed under the recent persecution. He died the same year, being succeeded by Eusebius. His relics are under the altar of San Marcello al Corso, in Rome. His feast day is commemorated on January 16.

St. Eusebius (309 or 310): Pope Saint was pope in the year 309 or 310. His pontificate lasted only from April 18 to August 17, after which, in consequence of disturbances within the Church which led to acts of violence, he was banished by the emperor Maxentius, who had been the ruler of Rome since 306, and had at first shown himself friendly to the Christians. The difficulty arose, as in the case of his predecessor Pope Marcellus I, out of his attitude toward the Lapsed, which represented the milder standpoint.
Eusebius died in exile in Sicily and was buried in the catacomb of Callixtus. Pope Damasus I placed an epitaph of eight hexameters over his tomb; the epithet "martyr" contained in them is not to be taken in the strict sense.

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