Lecture for ChD 604 Church Development Part IV
Lecture for ChD 604 Church Development Part IV
Topic: A survey of the lives and major events of the period from the fifth to early sixth centuries. in the development of the early Orthodox Catholic Church
by Brother Macfonse Osmond, OSM
John Cassian (the Eremite) (circa 415AD) in Constantinople and founding of the Abbey of St. Victor in France;
Saint John Cassian (ca. 360 - 435) (Joannes Massiliensis), John the Ascetic, or John Cassian the Roman, is a Christian theologian celebrated in both the Western and Eastern Churches for his mystical writings. He is known both as one of the "Scythian monks" and as one of the "Desert Fathers."
Born 360 in the region of Scythia Minor (now Dobruja in modern-day Romania), as a young adult, he and an older friend, Germanus, traveled to Palestine, where they entered a hermitage near Bethlehem for three years. Later, they journeyed to Egypt and visited a number of monastic foundations. Approximately fifteen years later, in c.399, Cassian and Germanus with about 300 other Origenist monks fled the Anthropomorphic controversy provoked by Theophilus, Archbishop of Alexandria,. John Cassian and Germanus went to Constantinople, and appealed to Saint John Chrysostom, the Patriarch of Constantinople, for protection. John Cassian was ordained a deacon and was made a member of the clergy attached to the Patriarch while the struggles with the Imperial family lasted. However the Patriarch was forced into exile from Constantinople in 404, the John Cassian was sent to Rome to plead his cause before Pope Innocent I.
While he was in Rome John Cassian accepted the invitation to found an Egyptian style monastery in southern Gaul, near Marseille. He also may have spent time as a priest in Antioch between 404 and 415. Whatever the case, he arrived in Marseille around 415. His foundation, the Abbey of St Victor, a complex of monasteries for both men and women, was one of the first such institutes in the west, and served as a model for later monastic development. His writings influenced St. Benedict, who incorporated many of the same principles into his monastic rule, and recommended to his own monks that they read the works of Cassian. Since Benedict's rule is still used by Benedictine, Cistercian, and Trappist monks, the thought of John Cassian still guides the spiritual lives of thousands of men and women in the Western Church.
John Cassian died in the year 435 in Marseille. He is a saint of the Eastern Orthodox Churches. His feast day is traditionally celebrated on February 29. Due to its leap year status, official Church calendars often transfer his feast to another date (usually the day before February 28).
The Roman Catholic Church also recognizes John Cassian as a saint, including him in the Roman Martyrology with a feastday on 23 July. The Archdiocese of Marseilles and some monastic orders celebrate his memorial on that day.
John Cassian's relics are kept in an underground chapel in the Monastery of St Victor in Marseilles. His head and right hand are in the main church there.
St. John Chrysostom, archbishop of Constantinople (circa 403 AD);
St. John Chrysostom, one of the greatest Early Church Fathers of the 5th Century, was born around 347 AD. St. John became a monk and was ordained a priest to serve the Church in Antioch where his eloquent preaching on the Sacred Scriptures earned him the title of "Chrysostom," meaning golden-mouthed." In 398, Chrysostom was called upon to assume the responsibilities of the Patriarch Archbishop of Constantinople,much to his chagrin. This reluctant patriarch nevertheless fulfilled his duty with extraordinary energy and courage. St. John Chrysostom's call to repentance and moral reform won him the emnity of the nominally Christian Empress who had him deposed and exiled on trumped-up charges. But his preaching and intrepid boldness inspired the hearts of the people of Constantinople who held him in great affection. His devotion to the written Word of God was matched by a love of the Eucharist and of divine worship.
St. John Chrysostom is known in Christianity chiefly as a preacher, theologian and liturgist, particularly in the Eastern Orthodox Church. Among his sermons, eight directed against Judaizing Christians remain controversial for their impact on the development of Christian antisemitism. He was also active in destruction of pagan symbols and places of worship, including the temple of Artemis at Ephesus, one of the seven wonders of the world.
To this day, the principal "Byzantine" liturgy celebrated by most Slavic, Greek, and middle-eastern Christians is known as the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. St. John Chysostom, who died under the harsh conditions of his exile in 407, will always be remembered as one of the greatest of the Early Church Fathers and one of the greatest preachers of all time.
The Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches honor him as a saint (feast days: November 13 and January 27) and count him among the Three Holy Hierarchs (feast day, January 30), together with Saints Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzus. He is recognized by the Roman Catholic Church as a saint and Doctor of the Church. Churches of the Western tradition, including the Roman Catholic Church, some Anglican provinces, and parts of the Lutheran Church, commemorate him on September 13.
St. Agustine of Hippo (354-430) and The City of God;
Augustine of Hippo (Latin: Aurelius Augustinus Hipponensis;) (November 13, 354 - August 28, 430), Bishop of Hippo Regius, also known as St. Augustine or St. Austin , was a Berber philosopher and theologian.
Augustine, a Latin Church father, is one of the most important figures in the development of Western Christianity. Augustine was heavily influenced by the Neo-Platonism of Plotinus. He framed the concepts of original sin and just war. When the Roman Empire in the West was starting to disintegrate, Augustine developed the concept of the Church as a spiritual City of God (in a book of the same name) distinct from the material City of Man. His thought profoundly influenced the medieval worldview. Augustine's City of God was closely identified with the church, and was the community which worshipped God.
Augustine was born in the city of Thagaste, the present day Souk Ahras, Algeria, to a Catholic mother named Monica. He was educated in North Africa and resisted his mother's pleas to become Christian. Living as a pagan intellectual, he took a concubine and became a Manichean. Later he converted to the Catholic Church, became a bishop, and opposed heresies, such as the belief that people can have the ability to choose to be good to such a degree as to merit salvation without divine aid (Pelagianism).
In the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion, he is a saint and pre-eminent Doctor of the Church, and the patron of the Augustinian religious order; his memorial is celebrated 28 August. In the Eastern Orthodox Church he is blessed, and his feast day is celebrated on 15 June, though a minority is of the opinion that he is a heretic, primarily because of his statements concerning what became known as the filioque clause. Among the Orthodox he is called Blessed Augustine, or St. Augustine the Blessed.
For the last several decades, not just his theology but Augustine himself has been regarded as heretical by some theologians in the Orthodox Church.
It is true that some of his teachings were highly criticized and branded as heretical, but this occurred after his death. The most important doctrinal controversy surrounding his name is the filioque . Other doctrines that were unacceptable to the Church are his view of original sin, the doctrine of grace, and predestination.
St. Cyril of Alexandria (375-444 AD) v. Nestorius, Synod of Constantinople 448AD and condemnation of Eutyches;
Cyril was born about 378 in the small town of Theodosios, Egypt, near modern day Malalla el Kobra. His uncle, Theophilus, was a priest who rose to the powerful position of Pope of Alexandria. Cyril was well educated. His education showed through his knowledge, in his writings, of Christian writers of his day, including Eusebius, Origen, Didymus, and writers of the Alexandrian church. He showed a knowledge of Latin through his extensive correspondence with the Bishop of Rome, Pope Celestine. His formal education appeared normal for his day: 390-392 grammatical studies at ages 12 to 14, 393-397 Rhetoric/Humanities at ages 15 to 20, and 398-402 Christian theology and biblical studies.
He was tonsured a reader by his uncle, Theophilus, in the Church of Alexandria and under his uncle's guidance advanced in knowledge and position. He supported his uncle in the removal of St. John Chrysostom as archbishop of Constantinople, although this was justified as an administrative, not doctrinal, issue, as later Cyril supported John's return as when he contrasted Nestorius' unorthodoxy to Chrysostom's purity of doctrine to the imperial court.
Theophilus died on October 15, 412, and Cyril was made pope on October 18, 412, over stiff opposition by the party for the incumbent Archdeacon Timothy in a volatile Alexandrian atmosphere. Thus, Cyril followed first Athanasius and then Theophilus as the Pope of Alexandria in the position that had become powerful and influential, rivaling that of the city Prefect.
His early years as pope were caught up in the problems of a cosmopolitan city where the animosities among the various Christian factions, Jews, and pagans brought frequent violence. In addition, there was the rivalry between Alexandria and Constantinople and a clash between Alexandrian and Antiochian schools of ecclesiastical reflection, piety, and discourse. These issues came to a head in 428 when the see of Constantinople became vacant. Nestorius, from the Antiochian party, was made Archbishop of Constantinople on April 10, 428, and stoked the fires by denouncing the use of the term Theotokos as not a proper rendition of Mary's position in relation to Christ.
Thus, Cyril and the Alexandrian party crossed swords with those of the Antiochian party in the imperial home court. After much in-fighting, Augusta Pulcheria, older sister of the Emperor Theodosius II, sided with Cyril against Nestorius. To rid himself of Cyril, Nestorius recommended to the emperor a council in Constantinople. But, when Theodosius called the council it was in Ephesus, an area friendly to Cyril. After months of manuevering the Council of 431 ended with Nestorius being removed from office and sent into exile.
Cyril died on June 27, 444, but the controversies were to continue for decades, from the Robber Council of Ephesus in 449 to the Council of Chalcedon in 451 and beyond. He was declared a doctor of the Church by Pope Leo XIII in 1882. His feast day is June 27th
Eutyches was an archimandrite and heretic who lived in the fifth century at a monastery near Constantinople. A staunch foe of Nestorianism he took an extreme view in the opposite direction, to a form of monophysitism called Eutychianism, during the Christological controversies of the fifth century. His nonnegotiable position ended in his being anathematize by both the Chalcedonian and non-Chalcedonian sides of the controversy.
Clovis I, king of the Franks, converts to the Orthodox Catholic faith (496AD);
Clovis (c. 466-511) was the first King of the Franks to unite all the Frankish tribes under one king. He also introduced Christianity. He was the son of Childeric I and Basina. At age 16, he succeeded his father, in the year 481. The Salian Franks were one of two Frankish tribes who were then occupying the area west of the lower Rhine, with their center in an area known as Toxandria, between the Meuse and Scheldt. Clovis' power base was to the southwest of this, around Tournai and Cambrai along the modern frontier between France and Belgium, Clovis conquered the neighboring Salian Frankish kingdoms and established himself as sole king of the Salian Franks before his death. The small church in which he was baptized is now named Saint Remy, and a statue of him being baptized by Remigius can be seen there. Clotiar I and his son Sigebert I were both buried in Soissons, St Waast. Clovis himself and Clothilde are buried in the St. Genevieve church (St. Pierre) in Paris. An important part of Clovis' legacy is that he reduced the power of the Romans in 486 by beating the Roman ruler Sygrius in the famous battle of Soissons.
Clovis was converted to Western Christianity, as opposed to the Arian Christianity common among the Germanic peoples at the time, at the instigation of his wife, Clotilda, a Burgundian. He was baptized in a small church which was on or near the site of the Cathedral of Rheims, where most future French kings would be crowned. This act was of immense importance in the subsequent history of Western and Central Europe in general, for Clovis expanded his dominion over almost all of the old Roman province of Gaul (roughly modern France). He is considered the founder of the Merovingian dynasty which ruled the Franks for the next two centuries.
In Europe, one of the major events of the year 508 was the conclusion of the war between Clovis, king of the Franks (later France).In that year Clovis, king of the Salian or Merovingian Franks, became the first of the pagan barbarians to adopt Catholicism. The Anglo-Saxons were still pagan, but all the other Germanic kingdoms had accepted the Arian form of Christianity. In the conversion of Clovis, the Catholic Church acquired a champion upon whose military might would hang the theological future of Europe
Boethius, philosopher (circa 524) and Consolation of Philosophy;
BOËTHIUS, Anicius Manlius Severinus a Christian phylosopher, born. in Rome, 480; beheaded at Pavia, 525; descended from a wealthy and prominent Roman family; studied in Athens, and occupied for several years a very important position in the Roman world, equally revered by the people, and esteemed by the Ostrogothic king, Theodoric, the ruler of Italy. The decree of the Emperor Justin against the Arians was the first event which made Boëthius suspected; but Theodoric now banished him to Pavia, where he afterwards had him confined in a dungeon, and finally beheaded.
By his translations of Aristotle’s Analytica, Topica, Soph. Elench., and of the Isagoge of Porphyry, by his elaborate commentaries on these works, and by his own independent writings, Introductio ad Categoricas Syllogismos, De Syllogismo Categorico, De Syllogismo Hypothetico, De Divisione, De Definitione, etc., Boëthius became the connecting link between the logical and metaphysical science of antiquity and the scientific attempts of the middle ages; and a still greater influence he came to exercise on medieval thought by his De Consolatione Philosophæ and the various theological writings which were ascribed to him. The Consolatio Philosophicæ was written during the imprisonment of the author at Pavia; but though it is certain that Boëthius was a Christian, at least nominally, it never touches Christian ground: all the comfort it contains it owes to the optimism of the neo-platonic school and to the stoicism of Seneca. Nevertheless, during the Middle Ages this book was read with the greatest reverence by all Christendom.
St. Benedict of Nursia (circa 535) and the Rule;
Benedict of Nursia (Italian: San Benedetto da Norcia) (480 – 547), the founder of Western Christian monasticism, and a rule-giver for cenobitic monks. His purpose may be gleaned from his Rule, namely that "Christ ... may bring us all together to life eternal”
Benedict founded twelve communities for monks at Subiaco, about 40 miles to the east of Rome, before moving to Monte Cassino in the mountains of southern Italy. There is no evidence that he intended to found a religious order. The Order of St Benedict is of modern origin and, moreover, not an "order" as commonly understood but merely a confederation of autonomous congregations.
Benedict's main achievement is his "Rule", containing precepts for his monks. It is heavily influenced by the writings of John Cassian, and shows strong resemblance with the Rule of the Master. But it also has a unique spirit of balance, moderation and reasonableness and this persuaded most religious communities founded throughout the Middle Ages to adopt it. As a result, the Rule of Benedict became one of the most influential religious rules in Western Christendom. For this reason Benedict is often called the founder of western Christian monasticism. Benedict was canonized by Pope Honorius III in the year 1220.
Cassiodorus (545AD) and the Vavarium monastery in Italy;
Cassiodorus was born at Scylletium, near Catanzaro in southern Italy. He began his career as councillor to his father, the governor of Sicily, and made a name for himself while still very young as learned in the law. During his working life, as quaestor c. 507-511, as a consul in 514, then as magister officiorum under Theodoric, then under the regency for Theodoric's young successor, Athalaric, Cassiodorus kept copious records and letter books concerning public affairs. At the Gothic court, his literary skill that seems so mannered and rhetorical to a modern reader was accounted so remarkable that, whenever he was in Ravenna, significant public documents were often entrusted to him for drafting. His culminating appointment was as praetorian prefect for Italy, effectively the prime ministership of the Ostrogothic civil government and a high honor to finish any career.
His last letters were drafted in the name of Witigis. Cassiodorus' successor was appointed from Constantinople.
Around 537-38, he left Italy for Constantinople where he remained almost two decades, concentrating on religious questions. He noticeably met Junilius, the quaestor of Justinian. His Constantinopolitan journey contributed to the improvement of his religious knowledge.
He spent his career trying to bridge the cultural divides that were causing fragmentation in the 6th century between East and West, Greek culture and Latin, Roman and Goth, and Catholic people with their Arian ruler. He speaks fondly in his Institutiones of Dionysius Exiguus, the calculator of the Anno Domini era.
In his retirement he founded the monastery of Vivarium on his family estates on the shores of the Ionian Sea, and his writings turned to religion. The twin structure of the Vivarium was to permit coenobitic monks and hermits to coexist. Cassiodorus also established a library where, at the very close of the classical period, he attempted to bring Greek learning to Latin readers and preserve texts both sacred and secular for future generations. As its unofficial librarian, Cassiodorus not only collected as many manuscripts as he could, he also wrote treatises aimed at instructing his monks in the proper uses of reading and methods for copying texts accurately.
Justinian Caesar and Augustus (525 AD) and Theodora;and the Justinian Codex and legal reforms;
JUSTINIAN I. (Roman emperor, Aug. 1, 527 - Nov. 14, 565), b. at Tauresium in Illrium, May 11, 483; was a Slav by descent; his original name was Uprauda. He received an excellent education; and, though he never learned to speak Greek without a foreign accent, he was well prepared when he succeeded to the throne.
The most brilliant feature of the reign of Justinian I. was his legislation, or rather his codification of the already existing Roman law, executed by several committees, of which Trebonius was the inspiring soul, and resulting in the so-called Corpus Juris Justiani. By this work he conferred a great and lasting benefit, not only on the Roman Empire, but on civilization at large.
He conquered Africa, Southern Spain, and Italy, by his two famous generals, Belisarius and Narses, but he was unable to give the conquered countries a better government than that they had enjoyed under their barbarian rulers.
Justinian I. was a Christian, orthodox, full of zeal for the purity of the faith, and waging a perpetual war against Paganism and heresy. The lower classes of the population were still Pagan in many places, as, for instance, in Peloponnesus and the interior of Asia Minor; and in the upper strata of society there reigned a widespread religious indifference. The latter, Justinian I. compelled to conform, at least externally, to Christianity; and with respect to the former he boasted of conversions by the thousands. He closed he philosophical schools of Athens in 529, and banished the teachers. They went to Persia; but, by the intercession of Chosroes, they were afterwards allowed to return. Less leniently he treated the Christian heretics, - the Montanists, Nestorians, Eutychians, and others; and the marvellous success of the Mohammedan invasion of Egypt and Syria half a century later is generally ascribed to the total disaffection of the population, which resulted from the ecclesiastical policy of Justinian.
The inhabitants of Egypt, Syria, and parts of Asia Minor, were Monophysites, and rejected the decrees of the Council of Chalcedon (451) as tainted with Nestorianism. Between orthodoxy and Monophysitism a compromise was brought about by Zeno’s Henotikon (482); but that document, which the bishops of the Eastern Church had been compelled to subscribe to, was absolutely rejected by the Western Church, and formally anathematized by Felix II. In order to heal the schism thus established between the Eastern and the Western Church, Justinian repealed the Henotikon immediately after his accession. But then something had to be done with the Monophysites in order to prevent a schism within the Eastern Church. The empress Theodora, who was a secret Monophysite, persuaded her husband that the true reason why the Monophysites refused to accept the decrees of the Council of Chalcedon, was that the writings of Theodore of Mopsuestia, Theodoret, and Ibas, had not been condemned; and that non-condemnation the Monophysites considered as implying a positive confirmation. The emperor then issued a decree condemning the above writings, and the condemnation was repeated by the fifth oecumenical Council of Constantinople (553). The Monophysites were satisfied; but what was won in the East was lost in the West by the breaking-out of the Three Chapter controversy, so called because, in Justinian’s decree of condemnation, there were three parts, or "chapters," relating to Theodore’s writings and person, to Theodoret’s treatise, and to Ibas’ letter respectively…
At last the old emperor himself lapsed into heresy. He adopted the Aphthartodocetic views of the incorruptibility of the human body of Christ, and issued a decree to force them upon the Church. But Aphthartodocetism is simply Monophysitism, and thus his principal dogmatical labors met with a somewhat similar fate to that which has overtaken his chief architectural monument. He built the Church of St. Sophia in Constantinople; and this church, once the most magnificent cathedral of Christendom, is now a Turkish mosque.
Church of the Holy Wisdom completed (537 AD);
Hagia Sophia ; "Holy Wisdom"; Latin: Sancta Sophia or Sancta Sapientia) is a former patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey. Famous in particular for its massive dome, it is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture and to have "changed the history of architecture." It was the largest cathedral in the world for nearly a thousand years, until the completion of the Seville Cathedral in 1520. The current building was originally constructed as a church between 532 and 537 A.D. on the orders of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian, and was in fact the third Church of the Holy Wisdom to occupy the site (the previous two had both been destroyed by riots). It was designed by two architects, Isidore of Miletus and Anthemius of Tralles. The Church contained a large collection of holy relics and featured, among other things, a 15m (49 foot) silver iconostasis. It was the patriarchal church of the Patriarch of Constantinople and the religious focal point of the Eastern Orthodox Church for nearly one thousand years.
In 1453, Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Turks and Sultan Mehmed II ordered the building to be converted into a mosque. The bells, altar, iconostasis, and sacrificial vessels were removed, and many of the mosaics were eventually plastered over. The Islamic features — such as the mihrab, the minbar, and the four minarets outside — were added over the course of its history under the Ottomans. It remained as a mosque until 1935, when it was converted into a museum by the Republic of Turkey.
Although it is sometimes referred to as Santa Sophia, the Greek name in full is Church of the Holy Wisdom of God. It was to this, the Holy Wisdom of God that the Church was dedicated ("Sophia" being the phonetic spelling in Latin of the Greek word for wisdom). So Santa Sophia should be understood as the italianate title of the church, Holy Wisdom; not as a reference to any saint named Sophia, but as a reference to the philosophical and theological concept of "Sophia".
Pope Saint Innocent I was pope from 401 to March 12, 417.
He was, according to his biographer in the Liber Pontificalis, the son of a man called Innocens of Albano; but according to his contemporary Jerome, his father was Pope Anastasius I (399-401), whom he was called by the unanimous voice of the clergy and laity to succeed (he had been born before his father's entry to the clergy, let alone the papacy).
Innocent I lost no opportunity of maintaining and extending the authority of the Roman see as the ultimate resort for the settlement of all disputes; and his still extant communications with Victricius of Rouen, Exuperius of Toulouse, Alexander of Antioch and others, as well as his actions on the appeal made to him by John Chrysostom (397-403) against Theophilus of Alexandria, show that opportunities of the kind were numerous and varied. He took a decided view on the Pelagian controversy, confirming the decisions of the synod of the province of proconsular Africa, held in Carthage in 416, which had been sent to him, and also writing in the same year in a similar sense to the fathers of the Numidian synod of Mileve who, Augustine being one of their number, had addressed him.
Among Innocent I's letters is one to Jerome and another to John II, Bishop of Jerusalem, regarding annoyances to which the former had been subjected by the Pelagians at Bethlehem. He died on 12 March 417. Accordingly, his feast day is 12 March. His successor was Zosimus.
Pope Saint Zosimus was pope from March 18, 417 to December 27,
He succeeded Innocent I, and was followed by Boniface I.
Nothing is known of the life of Zosimus before his elevation to the papal see. His consecration as Bishop of Rome took place on March 18, 417. The festival was attended by Patroclus, Bishop of Arles, who had been raised to that see in place of Bishop Heros of Arles, who had been forcibly and unjustly removed by the imperial general Constantine. Patroclus gained the confidence of the new pope at once; as early as 22 March he received a papal letter which conferred upon him the rights of a metropolitan over all the bishops of the Gallic provinces of Viennensis and Narbonensis I and II. In addition he was made a kind of papal vicar for the whole of Gaul; no Gallic ecclesiastic being permitted to journey to Rome without bringing with him a certificate of identity from Patroclus.
In the year 400, Arles had been substituted for Trier as the residence of the chief government official of the civil Diocese of Gaul, the "Prefectus Praetorio Galliarum". Patroclus, who enjoyed the support of the commander Constantine, used this opportunity to procure for himself the position of supremacy above mentioned, by winning over Zosimus to his ideas. The bishops of Vienne, Narbonne and Marseille regarded this elevation of the See of Arles as an infringement of their rights, and raised objections which occasioned several letters from Zosimus. The dispute, however, was not settled until the pontificate of Pope Leo I.
Pope Saint Boniface I was pope from December 28, 418 to September 4, 422.
He was a contemporary of Saint Augustine of Hippo, who dedicated to him some of his works.
On the death of Pope Zosimus, two parties put forward their own candidate for Pope, one for Boniface, the other for Eulalius. Galla Placidia, the Empress consort of Constantius III, the Western Roman Emperor, asked the emperor Honorius to intervene, and he sent an edict instructing both men to leave Rome. At the following Easter, Eulalius returned to the city to perform baptisms and celebrate the feast; when the emperor heard of this, Eulalius was stripped of his rank and banished from Rome, and on December 28, 418 Boniface became pope.
Boniface continued the opposition to Pelagianism, persuaded Emperor Theodosius II to return Illyricum to Western jurisdiction, and defended the rights of the Holy See.
Pope Saint Celestine I was pope from 422 until April 6, 432.
Celestine I was a Roman son of Priscus. He is said to have lived for a time at Milan with St. Ambrose. The first notice, however, concerning him that is known is in a document of Pope Innocent I, in the year 416, where he is spoken of as Celestine the Deacon.
Various portions of the liturgy are attributed to him, but without any certainty on the subject. Though he did not attend personally, he sent delegates to the First Council of Ephesus in which the Nestorians were condemned, in 431. Four letters written by him on that occasion, all dated March 15, 431, together with a few others, to the African bishops, to those of Illyria, of Thessalonica, and of Narbonne, are extant in retranslations from the Greek, the Latin originals having been lost.
St. Celestine actively condemned the Pelagians, and was zealous for orthodoxy. He sent Palladius to Ireland to serve as a bishop in 431. Bishop Patricius (Saint Patrick) continued this missionary work. Pope Celestine raged against the Novatians in Rome, imprisoning their bishop, and forbidding their worship. He was zealous in refusing to tolerate the smallest innovation on the constitutions of his predecessors, and is recognized by the Church as a saint.
St. Celestine died on July 27, 432. He was buried in the cemetery of St. Priscilla in the Via Salaria, but his body, subsequently moved, now lies in the Basilica di Santa Prassede.
Pope Saint Sixtus III was pope from July 31, 432 to August 18, 440.
The name of Sixtus is often connected with a great building boom in Rome: Santa Sabina on the Aventine Hill was dedicated during his pontificate and he built Santa Maria Maggiore, whose dedication to Mary the Mother of God reflected his acceptance of the Ecumenical council of Ephesus which closed in 431. At that council the debate over Christ's human and divine natures turned on whether Mary could legitimately be called the "Mother of God" or only "Mother of Christ". The council gave her the Greek title Theotokos (literally "God-bearer", or "Mother of God"), and the dedication of the large church in Rome is a response to that.
Prior to being made pope Sixtus was a patron of Pelagius, who was later condemned as a heretic. One of his main concerns was in restoring peace between Cyril of Alexandria and the Syrians. He also maintained the rights of the pope over Illyria and the position of the archbishop of Thessalonica as head of the Illyrian church.
St. Leo I (the Great) (440-61)
Leo the Great (440 - 461), also known as Leo I, played an important role in the development of the doctrine of papal primacy. Leo argued that popes were direct successors of the original apostles into whose care Jesus had entrusted the care and growth of Christianity. Hence, anyone who rejected papal authority was placed him- or herself outside the "body of Christ."
Leo I (440-461) and Gregory I (590-604) are the only two bishops of Rome commonly called "the Great." Leo, at a time when the capital of the Empire had been moved to Constantinople, and the government even in Italy no longer had its headquarters at Rome, was the most important official in the city. When Attila and the Huns invaded Italy in 452, he negotiated their withdrawal, and when Gaiseric (or Genseric) the Vandal captured Rome three years later, it was Leo who prevented the total destruction of the city. It is perhaps not surprising that the theory of papal supremacy gained much ground in his day.
In his day there were disgreements about the correct way to state the truth that Jesus Christ is both God and man. In 449 Leo wrote a letter (known as the Tome of Leo) to Bishop Flavian of Constantinople, in which he affirmed that Christ has two Natures in one Person. The letter was read in 451 by the Council of Chalcedon (the fourth Ecumenical Council), and judged by them to be sound doctrine. It contributed much to the creedal statements of that council.
Leo got the name "the Great" because of his political achievements
St. Hilarius (461-68)
Hilarius of Arles A relative of Honoratus of Arles, St. Hilarius succeeded him as bishop of Arles in 429 and wrote the only extant life of his kinsman. Hilary presided at several councils and was interested in church reform. Prosper of Aquitaine accused him of being a "semi-Pelagian" because Hilarius did not share Augustine's thoughts on grace. Hilarius incurred the wrath of Pope Leo I when he removed three bishops from their sees and appointed new bishops. Leo demoted Arles from a metropolitan see to a bishopric to assert papal power over the church in Gaul. Although Leo also restored the deposed bishops, he did not remove Hilarius from office. Hilary died in 449, and Leo restored Arles as a metropolitanate a year later.
Pope Saint Simplicius was pope from 468 to March 10, 483.
He was born in Tivoli, Italy, the son of a citizen named Castinus. Most of what is known of him is derived from the Liber Pontificalis.
St. Simplicius defended the action of the Council of Chalcedon against the Eutychian heresy (and its confirmation of the equality to the Bishop of Rome of the eastern patriarchs), labored to help the people of Italy against the marauding raids of barbarian invaders, and saw the Heruli mercenaries revolt and proclaim Odoacer king of Italy in 476, having deposed Romulus Augustulus, the last Western Roman Emperor. Odoacer made few changes in the administration in Rome, firmly in the hands of its Bishop, St. Simplicius. He worked to maintain the authority of Rome in the West.
St. Simplicius is credited for the construction of a church named in memory of the virgin and martyr St. Bibiana. St. Simplicius's feast day is celebrated on 10 March,  the day of his death.
St. Felix III (II) (483-92)
He was born into a Roman senatorial family and said to have been a great-great-grandfather of Saint Gregory the Great. Nothing certain is known of Felix until he succeeded St. Simplicius.
His first act was to repudiate the Henoticon, a deed of union originating with Patriarch Acacius of Constantinople and published by Emperor Zeno with the view of allaying the strife between the Miaphysite Christians and Chalcedonian Christians. He also addressed a letter of remonstrance to Acacius. The latter proved refractory, and sentence of deposition was passed against Acacius.
In his first synod, Felix excommunicated Peter the Fuller who had assumed the See of Antioch against Papal wishes. In 484, Felix also excommunicated Peter Mongus, who had taken the See of Alexandria—an act which brought about a schism between East and West that was not healed until 519.
Felix is often quoted as saying “Not to oppose error is to approve it; and not to defend truth is to suppress it, and, indeed, to neglect to confound evil men - when we can do it - is no less a sin than to encourage them”
St. Gelasius I (492-96)
Pope Gelasius I (492 - 496), the second pope to come from Africa, was important to the development of papal primacy, arguing that a pope's spiritual power was superior to the authority of any king or emperor. Because the pope derives his authority directly from God, there can be no appeals for decisions reached by a pope. Thus, kings and emperors are subordinate to popes and must submit to them in any decisions they make.
Gelasius was also insistent in his refusal to accept any compromise with church authorities in the East, even going so far as to warn his legate to Constantinople about the trickery of the "Greeks". He aligned himself with the Ostrogoth leader Theodoric, successor to Odoacer, which further underscored the separation from political leaders in Constantinople. One reason for this alliance may, ironically, have been because Theodoric was a heretic. In this position, he allowed Gelasius a great deal of freedom in administering the church and regulating doctrine.
Anastasius II (496-98)
Anastasius II was Pontiff in the time of the schism of Acacius. He showed some tendency towards conciliation, and thus brought upon himself the lively reproaches of the author of the Liber Pontificalis. On the strength of this tradition, Dante placed this pope in Hell. According to historian Richard P. McBrien, the view of Anastasius II as a traitor is unjust. Anastasius II had entered in communion with a supporter of Acacius, bringing condemnation from some of the clergy of Rome, who denounced Anastasius II. His death in 498 at the height of the crisis was seen as divine retribution. Anastasius is the second Pope since Peter not to be recognized as a saint (the first was Liberius).
Pope Saint Symmachus was pope from 498 to 514.
He was born on Sardinia, the son of Fortunatus. He was baptized in Rome, where he became archdeacon of the Church under Pope Anastasius II.
Symmachus was elected pope on November 22, 498. The archpriest of Santa Prassede, Laurentius, was elected pope, that same day, by a dissenting minority faction with Byzantine sympathies. Laurentius was supported by Emperor Anastasius, but the Gothic King Theodoric the Great, in the end, ruled against him and in favor of Symmachus.
At a synod held at Rome on March 1, 499, Symmachus bestowed on Laurentius the diocesis of Nuceria in Campania. The synod also ordained that any cleric who sought to gain votes for a successor to the papacy during the lifetime of the pope, or who called conferences and held consultations for that purpose, should be deposed.
In 501, senator Festus, a supporter of Laurentius, accused Symmachus of various crimes. The pope refused to appear before the king to answer the charges, asserting that the secular ruler had no jurisdiction over the supreme pontiff. A synod, called Synodus Palmaris, convoked by King Theodoric on 23 October 502 confirmed this view, declaring that the decision "must be left to the judgment of God" and that Symmachus was to be regarded "as free from all the crimes of which he was accused". The synod also confirmed Symmachus' right to the papacy.
Nonetheless, Theodoric installed Laurentius in the Lateran Palace as pope. The schism continued for four years until Theodoric, deciding that the adherents of Laurentius were too pro-Byzantine, withdrew his support of Laurentius and had him removed from Rome, and opposition to Symmachus eventually was stilled.
The pope contributed large sums for the support of the Catholic bishops of Africa who were persecuted by the rulers of the Arian Vandals. He also aided the inhabitants of upper Italy who suffered from the invasions of barbarians.
St. Hormisdas (514-23)
Pope Saint Hormisdas was pope from July 20, 514 to 523.
He was born at Frosinone, Campagna di Roma, Italy. Saint Hormisdas was a widower and a Roman deacon at the time of his accession to the papal throne. His son became pope under the name of Silverius.
One of the new pope's first cares was to remove the last vestiges of the Laurentian schism in Rome, receiving back into the Church those adherents who had not already been reconciled. Most of his papacy was concerned with healing the schism that had existed since 484 between East and West brought about by the Acacian schism. The schism was the result of Acacius of Constantinople's attempt to placate the Monophysites. The church of Constantinople was reunited with Rome in 519 by means of the confession of faith that is called The Formula of Hormisdas.
St. John I (523-26)
Pope Saint John I was Pope from 523 to 526. He was a native of Siena or the Castello di Serena, near Chiusdino, and was very old and frail by the time he was elected to the papacy.
Despite his protests, he was sent by the Arian King Theodoric the Great of the Ostrogoths to Constantinople to secure a moderation of Emperor Justin's decree of 523 against the Arians. Theodoric threatened that if John should fail in his mission, there would be reprisals against the orthodox Catholics in the West.
When Pope John returned to Ravenna, Theodoric's capital, Theodoric had John arrested on the suspicion of having conspired with Emperor Justin. He was imprisoned at Ravenna, where he died of neglect and ill treatment. His body was transported to Rome and buried in the Basilica of St. Peter. John I is depicted in art as looking through the bars of a prison or imprisoned with a deacon and a subdeacon. He is venerated at Ravenna and in Tuscany. His feast day is May 18, the anniversary of the day of his death (whereas it had formerly been May 27).
Pope Saint Felix IV was pope from 526 to 530.
He came from Samnium, the son of one Castorius. Following the death of Pope John I at the hands of the Ostrogoth King Theodoric the Great, the papal voters gave in to the king's demands and chose Cardinal Felix as Pope. Felix's favor in the eyes of the king caused him to push for greater benefits for the Church. He was elected after a gap of nearly two months after the death of John I.
Imperial edict passed granting that cases against clergy should be dealt with by the Pope. He defined church teaching on grace and free will in response to a request on opposing Semi-Pelagianism in Gaul.
Felix attempted to designate his own successor: Boniface. The reaction of the Senate was to forbid the discussion of a pope’s successor during his lifetime, or the acceptance of such a nomination.
The majority of the clergy reacted to Felix's activity by nominating Dioscorus as Pope, and a minority for Boniface.
Felix built the Santi Cosma e Damiano in the Imperial forums.
Pope Boniface II was pope from 530 to 532.
He was by birth an Ostrogoth, the first Germanic pope, and he owed his appointment to the influence of the Gothic king Athalaric. Boniface was chosen by his predecessor, Pope Felix IV, who had been a strong adherent of the Arian king, and was never elected. Boniface had for some time an antipope, Dioscurus, who had been elected by most of the priests of Rome. Boniface and Dioscorus were both consecrated in Rome on 22 September 530, but Dioscurus died only twenty-two days later. Boniface changed the numbering of the years in the Julian Calendar from Ab Urbe Condita to Anno Domini (GM Arts).
Pope John II (born Mercurius) was pope from 533 to 535.
He was the son of a certain Projectus, born in Rome and a priest of the Basilica di San Clemente on the Caelian Hill. He was made pope January 2, 533. The basilica of St. Clement still retains several memorials of "Johannes surnamed Mercurius". Presbyter Mercurius is found on a fragment of an ancient ciborium, and several of the marble slabs which enclose the schola cantorum bear upon them, in the style of the sixth century, the monogram of Johannes.
He was the first pope to adopt a new name (regnal name) upon elevation to the papacy, as his theophoric birth name honoured the Roman god Mercury.
At this period simony (the purchase or sale of church offices or preferment) in the election of popes and bishops was rife among clergy and laity. During the sede vacante of over two months, "shameless trafficking in sacred things was indulged in. Even sacred vessels were exposed for sale". The matter had been brought before the Senate, and laid before the Arian Ostrogothic Court at Ravenna. The last decree (Senatus Consultum) which the Roman Senate is known to have issued, passed under Boniface II, was directed against simony in papal elections. The decree was confirmed by Athalaric, king of the Ostrogoths. He ordered it to be engraved on marble, and to be placed in the atrium of St. Peter's (533). By one of Athalaric's own additions to the decree, it was decided, that if a disputed election was carried before the Gothic officials of Ravenna by the Roman clergy and people, three thousand solidi would have to be paid into court. This sum was to be given to the poor. John remained on good terms with Athalaric, who, being of the Arian Christianity, was content to refer to John's tribunal all actions brought against the Roman clergy.
The Liber Pontificalis records that the following year John obtained valuable gifts as well as a profession of orthodox faith from the Byzantine emperor Justinian I the Great, a significant accomplishment in light of the strength of Monophysitism in the Byzantine Empire at that time.
The notorious adulterous behavior of Contumeliosus, Bishop of Riez in Provence, caused John to order the bishops of Gaul to confine him in a monastery; until a new bishop should be appointed, he bade the clergy of Riez obey the Bishop of Arles.
Two hundred and seventeen bishops assembled in a council at Carthage (535) submitted to John II whether bishops who had lapsed into Arianism should, on repentance keep their rank or be admitted only to lay communion. The question of readmittance to the lapsed troubled north Africa for centuries: see Novatianism and Donatism. The answer to their question was given by Agapetus, as John II died May 8 535. He was buried in St Peter's Basilica.
St. Agapetus I (535-36) -- also called Agapitus I
Agapetus was born in Rome, although his exact date of birth is unknown. He was the son of Gordianus, a Roman priest who had been slain during the riots in the days of Pope Symmachus.
The pontificate of St. Agapetus I, though short, is filled with interest. He was archdeacon of the Roman clergy when elected. Agapetus was evidently one of the majority which had backed Dioscorus in the struggle against the appointed pope, Boniface II. At any rate, one of the first things he did was to seek the decree which Boniface had issued anathematizing Disocorus and have it publicly burned.
From Gaul Agapetus received an appeal from Contumeliosus, bishop of Riez, who had been condemned for immorality by a synod headed by St. Caesarius of Arles. Agapetus ordered St. Caesarius to give the accused bishop a new trial. He ratified the decrees of a council held at Cathage. Of interest to lovers of education is the fact that Agapetus cooperated with Cassiodorus in founding his famous monastery at Vivarium.
The main interest of this pontificate, however, lies in the mission to Constantinople which concluded it. King Theodahad, a nephew of Theodoric, asked the Pope to go to Constantinople to plead with Emperor Justinian to call off the threatened invasion of Italy. The Pope agreed to go, all the more readily because he had learned that the Monophysites once more threatened Constantinople. He even pledged the gold and silver vessels of St. Peter's to raise the funds necessary for the journey.
Justinian gave the Pope a warm welcome, but would not hear of peace. Preparations were far too advanced, he told Agapetus, to call off the invasion. The Pope was more successful in his effort to check Monophysite designs on the Church of Constantinople. Justinian, cultured and serious, was an orthodox ruler, but unfortunately he was under the thumb of his wife, the famous Theodora. Theodora, an actress risen to be empress, had the impudence to meddle in theology. Passionately the little comedian backed up the Monophysites, and at this very time she pulled enough wool over Justinian's eyes to get a creature of hers with Monophysite tendencies made patriarch of Constantinople. This man, Anthimus, had been bishop of Trebizond. Without canonical authority he left his see to become patriarch. Once more the Monophysites threatened Constantinople. But Pope Agapetus came to the rescue. Informed of the Monophysite tendencies and irregular position of the Patriarch, the Pope refused to have anything to do with him. Justinian, moved by Theodora's outcries, became annoyed. He went so far as to threaten the Pope, but St. Agapetus replied that he had come to visit the most Christian Emperor only to find a Diocletian. He added that he was not moved by the imperial threats. Justinian, a good man at heart, thought better of it, and allowed justice to take its course. Pope Agapetus then deposed Patriarch Anthimus, and personally consecrated his successor, Mennas. Once more the papacy saved Constantinople from the threat of heresy. And the Greek Church is grateful. Agapetus is celebrated as a saint not only in the Roman but in the Greek calendar.
The old Pope was ailing and before he could return to Rome, he died at Constantinople on April 22, 536. His remains were brought in a lead coffin to Rome and deposited in St. Peter's Basilica.
There are two letters from Agapetus to Justinian in reply to a letter from the emperor, in the latter of which he refuses to ac¬knowledge the Orders of the Arians; and there are two others: 1. To the bishops of Africa, on the same subject; 2. To Reparatus, Bishop of Carthage, in answer to a letter of congratulation on his elevation to the Pontificate.  
Pope Saint Silverius was Pope from June 8, 536 until March 537.
He was a legitimate son of Pope Hormisdas, born before his father entered the priesthood. He was probably consecrated on June 8, 536.
He opposed the restoration of the monophysite heretic, former patriarch of Constantinople Anthimus, whom Agapetus had deposed, and thus brought upon himself the hatred of Empress Theodora. Theodora then sought to have Vigilius made pope. During Silverius' papacy, it was alleged that he had purchased his elevation to the see of St. Peter from King Theodahad of the Ostrogoths.
On December 9 536, the Byzantine general Belisarius entered Rome, with the approval of Pope Silverius. Theodahad's successor, Witiges, gathered together an army and besieged Rome for several months, subjecting the city to privation and starvation. It was alleged that Pope Silverius wrote to Witiges offering to betray the city.
He was deposed accordingly by Belisarius in March 537 on a charge of treasonable correspondence with the Goths, and degraded to the rank of a simple monk. He found his way to Constantinople, and Justinian I, who entertained his complaint, sent him back to Rome, but Vigilius was eventually able to banish his rival to the prison island Pandataria (Ventotene), where the rest of his life was spent in obscurity. The date of his death is unknown.
According to the Liber Pontificalis, Pope St. Silverius was exiled not to Ventotene, but rather to Palmarola, where he died a couple of months later, on June 20 537.
Pope Silverius was later beatified and made into a saint and is now the patron saint of the island of Ponza, Italy.
Pope Vigilius is widely considered one of lowest points in the papacy. He appears to have designed his entire career around the goal of becoming pope - something he nearly achieved when Pope Boniface II chose him to be his successor. Unfortunately for Vigilius, this decision resulted in a great deal of opposition and the choice had to be rescinded. Boniface's actual successor, Pope Agapetus I, appointed Vigilius to be the papal representative at Constantinople.
Here Vigilius met Empress Theodora and the two began to conspire with each other. Theodora was anxious to get revenge for the setbascks suffered by supporters of the monophysite heresy and Vigilius was anxious to eventually become pope. Theodora promised to support his bid to become pope and to provide large sums of money if, in exchange, Vigilius promised to support Theodora's doctrinal causes.
After Agapetus died, Vigilius headed to Rome to take what he believed was rightfully his. During this time Silverius had been elected pope due to the influence of the Goths. However, once in Rome, Vigilius and the Byzantine commander Belisarius received letters from Theodora explaining the situation and Belisarius proceeded to use his military forces to depose Silverius. After that, military and Byzantine pressure caused Vigilius to be elected pope. Unfortuantely for Silverius, he was put into Vigilius' care and died due to the harsh treatment he had to endure - but it was only after Silverius' death that Vigilius was universally acknowledged as pope by the Christian clergy.
Unfortunately, Vigilius was faced with a problem. He had promised Theodora to support the Monophysites, but Theodras husband - emperor Justinian - opposed the Monophysites. At different times Vigilius expressed his sympathy and support for both sides, but he couldn't maintain his balancing act forever. Over time, he ended up doing more to deepen the divisions within the Church rather than heal them as he tried so hard to do.
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