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Monday, August 7, 2006
Pope St. Sixtus II and companions

Optional Memorial (1969 Calendar): August 7

Today is the Optional Memorial of St. Sixtus II, who was pope from August 30, 257 - August 6, 258 AD, following Pope Stephen I. Even though his reign was short, he restored relations with the African and Eastern churches following strained relations under Pope Stephen I. The issue that caused the dispute was the rebaptism of heretics. Pope St. Sixtus II believed that anyone who was baptised with a desire to be a Christian, even if the Baptism was performed by a heretic, was truly baptised into the faith; the validity of his faith was based on his own desire and actions, not the errors of the person who performed the sacrament. Thankfully, St. Sixtus II restored relations with the churches that disagreed with Rome. Remember, at this time all churches still remained in union with Rome - the Holy Catholic Church.

Yet, not one year after his elevation to the papacy, he was beheaded by order of Emperor Valerian I in 258. Emperor Valerian I had issued a decree shortly before the pontificate of Sixtus II forbidding Chrisitians to gather in cemeteries and demanding them to worship pagan gods. In early August 258, Emperor Valerian ordered the excecution of priests, bishops, and deacons. Pope Sixtus II was one of the first victims of the persecutions by Emperor Valerian I. Four deacons, Januarius, Vincentius, Magnus, and Stephanus, were apprehended at the same cemetery as Pope Sixtus II and beheaded. Pope Sixtus II was beheaded in his chair, which was later enshrined behind his tomb. Two other deacons, Felicissimus and Agapitus, were martyred the same day. Today we remember Sts. Sixtus II and his 6 companions that died for the Faith.

Before Pope St. Sixtus II was martyred, his deacon St. Lawrence, came to him:

St. Lawrence said: "Father, where are you going without your son? Where are you hastening, O priest, without your deacon? Never before did you offer the holy Sacrifice without assistants. In what way have I displeased you? In what way have you found me unfaithful in my office? Oh, try me again and prove to yourself whether you have chosen an unworthy minister for the service of the Church. So far you have been trusting me with distributing the Blood of the Lord." To this Pope Sixtus II replied, "I am not forsaking you, my son; a severer trial is awaiting you for your faith in Christ. The Lord is considerate toward me because I am a weak old man. But for you a most glorious triumph is in store. Cease to weep, for already after three days you will follow me"


del_button August 7, 2006 at 4:40 PM
Saint Peter's helpers said...

I didn't realize he was martyred in his chair!

del_button August 8, 2006 at 8:04 AM
The Epiphany Artist said...

It is amazing... the amount of martyrs :(

del_button August 10, 2006 at 8:04 PM
Moneybags said...

There were so many martyrs, but there suffering is over. Now they rejoice in Heaven forever!

del_button October 6, 2010 at 4:56 PM
Anonymous said...

totally didn't know he was beheaded in his chair

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