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Friday, December 9, 2016
Pope St. Victor I
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Next in the continuing series of posts on the History of the Sovereign Pontiffs, we pick up after Pope St. Eleuterus and come to the 14th Sovereign Pontiff: Pope St. Victor I.

St. Victor, who reigned as the Supreme Pontiff from 189 until 199 AD, was born in Africa.  In fact, St. Victor is the first Pope to have been of African origin.  It was St. Victor who made Latin the official language of the Roman Catholic Church.

St. Victor was a favorite of the mistress of the Emperor Commodus, and his good relationship with her allowed him to present to her lists of imprisoned Christians.  Through her power, she was able to secure their releases.  Yet, his reign was not without its difficulties.  As stated online:
During his reign, he excommunicated several bishops for celebrating Easter on 14 Nisan.   Prior to his elevation, a difference in dating the celebration of the Christian Passover/Easter between Rome and the bishops of Asia Minor had been tolerated by both the Roman and Eastern churches. The churches in Asia Minor celebrated it on the 14th of the Jewish month of Nisan, the day before Jewish Passover, regardless of what day of the week it fell on, as the Crucifixion had occurred on the Friday before Passover, justifying this as the custom they had learned from the apostles; for this the Latins called them Quartodecimans.

Synods were held on the subject in various parts—in Palestine under Theophilus of Caesarea and Narcissus of Jerusalem, in Pontus under Palmas, in Gaul under Irenaeus, in Corinth under its bishop, Bachillus, at Osrhoene in Mesopotamia, and elsewhere—all of which disapproved of this practice and consequently issued by synodical letters declaring that "on the Lord's Day only the mystery of the resurrection of the Lord from the dead was accomplished, and that on that day only we keep the close of the paschal fast" (Eusebius H. E. v. 23). St. Irenaeus of Lyons criticized St. Victor's severity at times. 
Accounts also show that Victor excommunicated Theodotus of Byzantium for teaching that Christ was a mere man.  Yet, St. Victor remained steadfast and stern as he faced great threats to the True Faith from both gnosticism and monarchianism. 

In 199, St. Victor I ultimately suffered martyrdom under Septimus Severus.  All in all, St. Victor fought for the True Faith and strongly condemned heresies strongly for the uniformity of the Church. 

St. Victor, pray for us!  All You Holy Popes, pray for us!

Collect from his feastday on July 28th:

Defend us, O Lord, through the blessed martyrdom of Your saints Nazarius, Celsus, Victor, and Innocent, and may their merits support us in our weakness. Through our Lord . . .

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