Showing posts with label History of the Popes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label History of the Popes. Show all posts
Wednesday, October 17, 2018
Pope St. Pontian

Next in the continuing series of posts on the History of the Sovereign Pontiffs, after the death of Pope St. Urban I in 230, St. Pontian was elected as the Supreme Pontiff.

Commemoration (1954 Calendar): November 19

Pope St. Pontian reigned as the Vicar of Christ on earth from 230-235. He holds the distinction of being the first pontiff to abdicate - one of only a few popes to have ever resigned the Holy Office.

He devoted much of his reign to upholding the condemnation of the heretical aspects of Origenism and struggled against the schismatic movement which supported the antipope Hippolytus. In 235, Pontian was arrested by Roman officials at the instigation of the persecution of the Church by Emperor Maximinus I Thrax. With Hippolytus, Pontian was exiled to the infamous mines of Sardinia.  In order to make certain that the Church was not deprived of its leadership while he was in exile, St. Pontian stepped down, the first pope ever to do so, so that a new successor could govern the People of God. Both he and Hippolytus both died on Sardinia. Their remains were returned to Rome under Pope St. Fabian.

Interestingly, Hippolytus is also a saint and a source of inspiration for us to pray for the conversion of those in schism.  When St. Callistus was elected pope, St. Hippolytus accused him of being too lenient with penitents and had himself elected antipope by a group of followers. He felt that the Church must be composed of pure souls uncompromisingly separated from the world: St. Hippolytus evidently thought that his group fitted the description. He remained in schism through the reigns of three popes until 235 when he also was banished to the island of Sardinia. Shortly before or after this event, he was reconciled to the Church and died in exile with Pope St. Pontian.

Regarding the heresy of Origenism, which was led by Origen, a Church Father, who despite his piety and great learning in some respect, ultimately fell away from the Truth.  Wikipedia summarizes one of the most errant aspects of Origenism:
Origen taught that Jesus was a "DEUTEROS THEOS" (second God) He also said the Son was "distinct" from the Father. Finally Origen insisted that the Son is other in substance than the Father. It should be noticed that some of these same references are used to defend the concept of the Trinity. However, Subordinationism is not a differentiation or distinction between persons in the Trinity. In this regard they agree. Subordinationism rather suggests that the Son (and Spirit) are other in substance than the Father.
Thus, we see in the lives of those around St. Pontian the schismatic who is reconciled as well as the Church Father who is lost.  And in St. Pontian we see a man who stayed firm throughout.  It all matters how we end - the state of our soul at death determines our eternal destiny.  So let us pray for the conversion of all and not worry on our past sins which have been forgiven in confession.  Our only goal should be to press ahead to Heaven by staying close to the Church, the Sacraments, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and interior conversion.

St. Pontian, pray for us!


We have offered our gifts to You, O Lord. Let Your light graciously shine upon Your Church, so that this flock may everywhere prosper, and its pastors under Your guidance, may be truly pleasing to You. Through our Lord . . .
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Pope St. Urban I

Pope St. Urban I. Photograph on Wikipedia by User: Pleple2000.  Taken July 12, 2006.

Next in the continuing series of posts on the History of the Sovereign Pontiffs, after the death of Pope St.  Callistus I on October 14, 222, St. Urban I was elected as the Supreme Pontiff.

Pope St. Urban I was a Roman who served as the Successor of St. Peter for nearly nine years.  According to legend, St. Urban baptized Valerian, the husband of St. Cecilia.  But little is known with certainty of his life.  He died in 230 and is buried in the Cemetary of Callixtus.

Concerning St. Urban, Butler's Lives of the Saints offers the following:
The notice in the Roman Martyrology reads : "At Rome on the Via Nomentana, the birthday of Blessed Urban, Pope and Martyr, by whose exhortation and teaching many persons, including Tiburtius and Valerian, received the faith of Christ, and underwent martyrdom therefor ; he himself also suffered much for God's Church in the persecution of Alexander Severus and at length was crowned with martyrdom, being beheaded." 
It is to be feared that even this short notice is mainly apocryphal. The reference to Tiburtius and Valerian is derived from the very unsatisfactory Acts of St Cecilia, from which also the account of Urban in the Liber Pontificalis has borrowed. It is quite certain in any case that Pope Urban was not buried on the Via Nomentana, but in the cemetery of St Callistus, on the Via Appia, where a portion of his sepulchral slab, bearing his name, has been found in modern times. 
Not far from the cemetery of Callistus on the same main road was the cemetery of Praetextatus, and there another Urban, a martyr, had been buried. Confusion arose between the two, and an old building close beside the Praetextatus catacomb was converted into a small church, afterwards known as St Urbano alia Caffarella. The confusion of the two Urbans and the muddle hence resulting in the notices of the Hieronymianum are points full of interest, but too complicated to be discussed here. 
Collect (from his feastday on May 25th):

O Eternal Shepherd, who appointed blessed Urban shepherd of the whole Church, let the prayers of this martyr and supreme pontiff move You to look with favor upon Your flock and keep it under Your continual protection. Through our Lord . . .
Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Pope St. Callistus I

Next in the continuing series of posts on the History of the Sovereign Pontiffs, after the death of Pope St.  Zephyrinus on December 20, 217, St. Callistus I was elected as the Supreme Pontiff with his reign beginning on December 20th.  He would reign for nearly 8 years until his martyrdom which occurred on October 14, 222.

Interestingly, the best information we have that is historically verifiable on St. Callistus comes from one of his greatest enemies: St. Hippolytus.  St. Hippoltyus was an early antipope of the Church who, after his conversion and repentance, would go on to die as a martyr for the True Faith.

The following is taken from Fr. Don Miller, OFM:
St. Callistus was a slave in the imperial Roman household. Put in charge of the bank by his master, he lost the money deposited, fled, and was caught. After serving time for a while, he was released to make some attempt to recover the money. Apparently he carried his zeal too far, being arrested for brawling in a Jewish synagogue. This time he was condemned to work in the mines of Sardinia. He was released through the influence of the emperor’s mistress and lived at Anzio.

After winning his freedom, Callistus was made superintendent of the public Christian burial ground in Rome (still called the cemetery of Saint Callistus), probably the first land owned by the Church. The pope ordained him a deacon and made him his friend and adviser.

He was elected pope by a majority vote of the clergy and laity of Rome, and thereafter was bitterly attacked by the losing candidate, Saint Hippolytus, who let himself be set up as the first antipope in the history of the Church. The schism lasted about 18 years.

Hippolytus is venerated as a saint. He was banished during the persecution of 235 and was reconciled to the Church. He died from his sufferings in Sardinia. He attacked Callistus on two fronts—doctrine and discipline. Hippolytus seems to have exaggerated the distinction between Father and Son (almost making two gods) possibly because theological language had not yet been refined. He also accused Callistus of being too lenient, for reasons we may find surprising: 1) Callistus admitted to Holy Communion those who had already done public penance for murder, adultery, and fornication; 2) he held marriages between free women and slaves to be valid—contrary to Roman law; 3) he authorized the ordination of men who had been married two or three times; 4) he held that mortal sin was not a sufficient reason to depose a bishop; 5) he held to a policy of leniency toward those who had temporarily denied their faith during persecution.
Callistus was martyred during a local disturbance in Trastevere, Rome, and is the first pope (except for Peter) to be commemorated as a martyr in the earliest martyrology of the Church.
St. Callistus's decree that a marriage between a woman and a slave could be valid put the Holy Father in direct conflict with Roman civil law, but he stated that in matters concerning the Church and the Sacraments, Church law trumped civil law. He taught what the Church has taught for centuries, including today, and though a whole host of schismatics wrote against him, his crime seems to have been that he practiced pure, orthodox Christianity.  While he was vigorously opposed to heresy, his charitable attitude toward repentant sinners incurred the wrath of contemporary rigorists.

May St. Callistus pray for us in our world today that we have the courage to defend the unchanged teachings of the Church and the Faith even against enemies inside and outside of the Church.

Collect from his feastday on October 14th:

O God, You see that we fail because of our weakness. Be merciful to us and let the example of Your saints renew our love of You. Through our Lord . . .
Tuesday, December 20, 2016
Pope St. Zephyrinus

Next in the continuing series of posts on the History of the Sovereign Pontiffs, we pick up after Pope St. Victor I and come to the 15th Sovereign Pontiff: Pope St. Zephyrinus.

A native of Rome, St. Zephyrinus reigned as Pope from 199 to 217 AD. During part of his rule, the Church endured the bloody persecution of Emperor Septimus Severus. Pope Zephyrinus rejoiced in the triumphs of the martyrs, but he had much to suffer from current heresies and apostasies. It was his glory that the heretics called this holy Pope the principle defender of Christ's divinity.

St. Zephyrinus is remembered especially for his combat against the adoptionist heresies of the followers of Theodotus the Byzantium who were ruled by Theodotus, the Money Changer and Asclepiodotus.  Although not physically martyred, St. Zephyrinus is called a martyr for the suffering he endured.

Thus we see in the first 15 Popes of the Catholic Church covered so far in this series the presence of great afflictions imposed by the enemy, yet these men remained steadfast in serving Christ and furthering the Faith against heresies, schisms, and paganism.  May they continue to pray for the Church Suffering and the Church Militant today.

The following is taken Lives of the Saints by Alban Butler
ZEPHYRINUS, a native of Rome, succeeded Victor in the pontificate, in the year 202, in which Severus raised the fifth most bloody persecution against the Church, which continued not for two years only, but until the death of that emperor in 211. Under this furious storm this holy pastor was the support and comfort of the distressed flock of Christ, and he suffered by charity and compassion what every confessor underwent. 
The triumphs of the martyrs were indeed his joy, but his heart received many deep wounds from the fall of apostates and heretics. Neither did this latter affliction cease when peace was restored to the Church. Our Saint had also the affliction to see the fall of Tertullian, which seems to have been owing partly to his pride. Eusebius tells us that this holy Pope exerted his zeal so strenuously against the blasphemies of the heretics that they treated him in the most contumelious manner; but it was his glory that they called him the principal defender of Christ's divinity. 
St. Zephyrinus filled the pontifical chair seventeen years, dying in 219. He was buried in his own cemetery, on the 26th of August. He is, in some Martyrologies, styled a martyr, which title he might deserve by what he suffered in the persecution, though he perhaps did not die by the executioner.
Reflection: God has always raised up holy pastors zealous to maintain inviolable the faith of His Church, and to watch over the purity of its morals and the sanctity of its discipline. We enjoy the greatest advantages of divine grace through their labors, and owe to God a tribute of perpetual thanksgiving and immortal praise for all the mercies He has accorded His Church.
Collect from his feastday on August 26th:

O Eternal Shepherd, who appointed blessed Zephyrinus shepherd of the whole Church, let the prayers of this martyr and supreme pontiff move You to look with favor upon Your flock and to keep it under Your continual protection. Through our Lord . . .
Friday, December 9, 2016
Pope St. Victor I

SemiDouble (1954 Calendar): July 28

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!


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 . . .
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
Pope St. Eleuterus

Continuing my series of posts on the History of the Sovereign Pontiffs, I now pick up with the 13th Pope: St. Eleuterus. 

In the year 174, St. Eleuterus succeed Pope St. Soter as the Vicar of Christ after St. Soter suffered martyrdom.  Previously, he served as a Deacon under Pope St. Anicetus.

Under his reign, the most notable occurrences included his declared opposition to Gnostics and the Montanists, the sending of Fugatius and Damjan to convert the Britons, and the abrogation of some Jewish dietary customs for Christians.

On St. Eleuterus, the New World Encyclopedia writes:
Eleuterus' most important contribution to church history seems to have been his manner of dealing the Montanism hereasy. At first disposed to tolerate the movement, he was eventually persuaded to condemn it, resulting in the Catholic Church's rejection of prophetic movements in general, as well as solidifying its doctrine that the true teaching authority of the Church resided with the bishops.

The Montanist movement, which originated in Asia Minor, made its way to Rome and Gaul in the second half of the second century, around the reign of Eleuterus. Its peculiar nature, affirming the continuation of Christian prophecy and urging a high standard a piety among its members, made it difficult for Christians to take a decisive stand against it.

According to Tertullian, who himself accepted Montanism in his later years, Eleuterus was at first favorably inclined to this movement, but in the end he rejected it. During the violent persecution of Christians by imperial authorities at Lyon in 177, local confessors wrote from their prison concerning the new movement to the Asiatic and Phrygian communities, and also to Eleuterus as the bishop of Rome. The bearer of the letter to Eleuterus was the presbyter Irenaeus, soon to become bishop of Lyon. It appears from statements of Eusebius concerning these letters that the Christians of Lyon, though opposed to the Montanist movement, advocated patience and pleaded for the preservation of ecclesiastical unity rather than the expulsion of the alleged heretics.

Exactly when the Roman Catholic Church took its definite stand against Montanism is not known with certainty. It would seem from Tertullian's account (adv. Praxeam, I) that a Roman bishop did send some conciliatory letters to the Montanists, but these letters, says Tertullian, were subsequently recalled. The bishop to whom he refers is probably Eleuterus, who long hesitated to anathematize Montanism but eventually declared against them.

Meanwhile, at Rome, the Gnostics and Marcionites continued to preach against the Catholic version of Christianity. The Liber Pontificalis ascribes to Pope Eleuterus a decree that no kind of food should be despised by Christians (Et hoc iterum firmavit ut nulla esca a Christianis repudiaretur, maxime fidelibus, quod Deus creavit, quæ tamen rationalis et humana est). Some believe the decree was directed against the Montanists, who often abstained from rich foods. It would also fit with the Church's position against those forms of Christian Gnosticism which practiced vegetarianism, as well as against Jewish Christians who refused to eat non-kosher foods, and even against otherwise orthodox Christians who adhered to the dictum of James in Acts 15:29: "You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals." Some scholars, however, suspect that the decree is anachronistic. In this theory, the writer of the Liber Pontificalis attributed Eleuterus a decree similar to one issued about the year 500.
It is worth remembering the error of Montanism that the Church has condemned:  "The fundamental flaw of Montanism, which it shared with Gnosticism as well as many other heretical movements, was its rejection of the notion of clergy. Montanus taught 'the Priesthood of the People,' and this was a threat to the existing Church clergy. Much of the history of Christianity has been determined by this repetitive struggle between the clergy of the Church and those who would do away with it" (Early Christian History).  In fact, this same idea has caused the widespread errors of Protestantism in our world as these ideas reject our Divine Lord's establishment of an ordained priesthood.

St. Eleuterus served as the Vicar of Christ until his death in 189.  Pope Eleutherius died on 24 May and was buried on the Vatican Hill (in Vaticano) near the body of St. Peter. Later tradition has his body moved to the church of San Giovanni della Pigna, near the pantheon. In 1591, his remains were again moved to the church of Santa Susanna at the request of Camilla Peretti, the sister of Pope Sixtus V. His feast is celebrated on May 26th.

Like all of the Popes who preceded him, St. Eleuterus was martyred for the True Faith.  We should often call to mind the lives of all of these holy popes and pray for them to intercede for the Church today.  We should also not cease in praying for their courage in the face of death and torture.

St. Eleuterus, pray for us!  All You Holy Popes, pray for us!
Tuesday, November 8, 2016
Pope St. Soter

Continuing my series of posts on the History of the Sovereign Pontiffs, I pick up with the 12th Pope: St. Soter.  Of St. Soter, Fr. Alban Butler writes of him in his "The Lives of the Saints" (1866 Version):
ST. SOTER was raised to the papacy upon the death of St. Anicetus, in 173. By the sweetness of his discourses, he comforted all persons with the tenderness of a father, and assisted the indigent with liberal alms, especially those who suffered for the faith. He liberally extended his charities, according to the custom of his predecessors, to remote churches, particularly to that of Corinth, to which he addressed an excellent letter, as St. Dionysius of Corinth testifies in his letter of thanks, who adds that his letter was found worthy to be read for their edification on Sundays at their assemblies to celebrate the divine mysteries, together with the letter of St. Clement, pope. St. Soter vigorously opposed the heresy of Montanus, and governed the church to the year 177.
One of Saint Soter’s ordinances required all Christians except those in public penance to receive Communion on Holy Thursday. It would be good for us to reflect if we make an effort to go to Mass now on Holy Thursday - even if it is not presently a Holy Day of Obligation.

He was martyred on April 22, 170, under the emperor Marcus Aurelius and is buried on the Appian Way in the cemetery of Callixtus. His feastday is April 22.  For more information on St. Soter and St Caius who is also celebrated on April 22nd, see my post on his feast day.

May all the Holy Popes pray for us!
Friday, April 22, 2016
Ss Soter and Caius

SemiDouble (1955 Calendar): April 22

Pope St. Soter succeeded Pope St. Anicetus as the head of the Holy Catholic Church in 167 and served as the Vicar of Christ until his martyrdom in 175 AD.
We possess a fragment of an interesting letter addressed to him by St. Dionysius of Corinth, who writes: "From the beginning it has been your custom to do good to all the brethren in many ways, and to send alms to many churches in every city, refreshing the poverty of those who sent requests, or giving aid to the brethren in the mines, by the alms which you have had the habit of giving from old, Romans keeping up the traditional custom of the Romans; which your blessed Bishop Soter has not only preserved, but has even increased, by providing the abundance which he has sent to the saints, and by further consoling with blessed words with brethren who came to him, as a loving father his children. Today, therefore, we have kept the holy Lord's day, on which we have read your letter, which we shall always have to read and be admonished, even as the former letter which was written to us by the ministry of Clement" (Eusebius, Church History IV 24).
The Roman Breviary reading during Matins writes: "He ordered that consecrated virgins should not touch the sacred vessels and palls, nor act as thurifers in the church. He also decreed that all Christian should receive the body of Christ on Holy Thursday, except those forbidden to do so by grave sin."

St. Caius served as the holy pontiff from December 17, 283, until April 22, 296.  The Roman Breviary writes: "Caius was a Dalmatian, of the kindred of the emperor Diocletian. He decreed that these several orders and grades of honor in the Church should lead up to the episcopate, namely: doorkeeper, lector, exorcist, acolyte, subdeacon, deacon, and priest. Feeling from the cruelty of Diocletian towards the Christians, he hid himself for some time in a cave; then, after with years, received the crown of martyrdom together with this brother Gabinus and was buried in the cemetery of Callistus."

Like all the Vicars of Christ in the first centuries, Sts. Soter and Caius were constant in uniting their sufferings to those of the Divine Redeemer and "in Him bore much fruit".
Friday, December 29, 2006
Pope St. Anicetus

Simple (1955 Calendar): April 17

Pope St. Anicetus was the 11th pope, who reigned from c. 154 - c. 167 AD. St. Anicetus' papacy was marked by a conflict with the Christians under St. Polycarp of Smyrna, who wanted to celebrate Easter three days after Passover. The Church since the time of St. Peter had instead always ensured the celebration of Easter would be on a Sunday. To alleviate the situation, Pope St. Anicetus allowed the Christians under St. Polycarp to celebrate Easter their way. They continued to do so until the Council of Nicea, which suppressed such practices.

Pope St. Anicetus also forbade priests from having long hair because the Gnostics at this time were characterized by their long hair. It was a decree that allowed the faithful to recognize the difference between the Gnostics and the orthodox Christians.

Also in the papacy of St. Anicetus, Montanism was finally condemned. It was a heresy of the time with many differences with Catholicism - Catholicism is the original and true form of Christianity. Most notable of all the adherents to Montanism was Tertullian, the famous Early Christian writer who fell into such heresy later in his life.

Pope St. Anicetus died in c. 167 AD, and his feastday is April 17.


Look forgivingly on Thy flock, Eternal Shepherd, and keep it in Thy constant protection, by the intercession of blessed Anicetus, Thy Martyr and Sovereign Pontiff, who Thou didst constitute Shepherd of the whole Church. Through our Lord.

Prayer Source: 1962 Roman Catholic Daily Missal
Friday, September 29, 2006
Pope St. Pius I

Pope St. Pius I was the tenth pope of the Holy Catholic Church from c. 140 - 154 AD. His feastday is traditionally observed on July 11th. Unfortunately it was removed from the Novus Ordo calendar like far too many other saints after the Second Vatican Council.

St. Pius I is remembered as the pope that helped build the Church of St. Pudenziana in Rome. He is rumored to have been the brother of the author of The Shepard of Hermas, which was considered canonical (on the same level as Scripture although it was not part of the Bible).

He died in c. 154 AD and is considered a martyr, which is an unproven assertion. The papacy of Pope St. Pius I also saw the rise to one of the greatest heretics in human history - Marcion of Sinope, who said that the Old Testament God was not the same as the New Testament God. He also formed his own Bible consisting of the Gospel of St. Luke and some of St. Paul's letters, but he modified them to exclude all references to Jesus fulfilling Old Testament prophecy. The Catholic Encyclopedia says of the Marcionites: "they were perhaps the most dangerous foe Christianity has ever known."
Friday, September 15, 2006
Pope St. Hyginus

Commemoration (1954 Calendar): January 11

Pope St. Hyginus was pope from c. 139 - 140 AD. He was born in Athens, Greece, and during his papacy, he determined the different prerogatives of the clergy and defined the grades of the ecclesiastical hierarchy. Hyginus also started the practice of including godparents at Baptism to assist the newly born during his Christian life. He also decreed that all churches be consecrated. It is rumored that he became a martyr under the persecutions of Marcus Aurelius. 

"The Church makes commemoration, today, of the holy Pope and Martyr Hyginus. He held the Apostolic Chair under the reign of Antoninus, and closed his four years’ Pontificate by martyrdom. We have no history of his life, but we venerate in him one of the links of that grand chain of Pontiffs which unites us, by St. Peter, to our Lord Jesus Christ. The whole weight of the government of the Church was upon his shoulders, and he was courageous and faithful in the discharge of his duties; his reign was during the age of Persecution, when to be Pope was to be a victim of tortures and death. As we have already said, he soon won his Palm, and was associated in heaven with the three Magi, who had, before leaving this world, preached the Gospel in Greece, the country of our Saint. Let us ask him to bless the offerings we are making to the Divine Infant of Bethlehem, and to pray for us, that we may obey this sweet King, who asks us to give him not our blood by martyrdom, but our hearts by charity."


O Eternal Shepherd, who appointed blessed Hyginus shepherd of the whole Church, let the prayers of this martyr and supreme pontiff move You to look with favor upon Your flock and to keep it under Your continual protection. Through Our Lord . . .
Saturday, August 12, 2006
Pope St. Telesphorus

1954 Calendar (Commemoration): January 5

Pope St. Telephrous was pope from c. 127 - c. 137 AD. His feastday is commemorated on January 5th, the Vigil of the Epiphany

According to Tradition, Pope St. Telephorus established the 7-week lenten season that precedes the celebration of Easter. He also was the first pope to establish the Christmas midnight Mass. He made the Gloria part of the liturgy; however, the Gloria was only to be sung on Christmas.

Pope St. Telephorus is probably best known, though, for stating that Easter should always be celebrated on a Sunday. Before this point, Easter was celebrated three days after Passover and did not necessarily fall on a Sunday. However, since Jesus rose from the dead on Sunday, he decreed that Easter should always be celebrated on a Sunday.

He was martyred for the faith in 136, possibly for the many conversions attributed to his preaching.


Sanctify, O Lord, the offerings consecrated to thee: and being appeased thereby, mercifully look upon us, by the intercession of blessed Telesphorus, thy Martyr and Bishop.
Pope St. Sixtus I

Pope St. Sixtus (also spelled Xystus) I was the seventh pope of the Holy Catholic Church from c. 119 - c. 127 AD. He was born in Rome. According to the Liber Pontificalis , he passed the following three ordinances:
  1. No one except the sacred ministers are allowed to touch the sacred vessels (chalice, paten, etc)
  2. Bishops who have been summoned to the Holy See shall, upon their return, not be received by their diocese except on presenting Apostolic letters;
  3. After the Preface in the Mass the priest shall recite the Sanctus with the people.
He is said to have been a martyr, and his feastday is April 6th. He was buried beside the tomb of St. Peter; however, his relics were apparently transferred to Alatri in 1132. He is not the Sixtus mentioned in the Canon of the Mass (Eucharistic Prayer) - that is Pope St. Sixtus II.
Friday, August 11, 2006
Pope St. Alexander I

Pope St. Alexander I was the sixth Pope of the Catholic Church from c. 108 - c. 119 AD. Most of the information on Pope St. Alexander I is not guaranteed completely accurate. What we do know about him is that he inserted words of institution for the Eucharist in the Canon of the Mass. These words are the ones like such: "The day that He suffered, He took bread into His sacred and venerable hands and lifting the bread to You, His Almighty Father, He gave thanks, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to His disciples and said 'Take this, this is my Body..."

He is also attributed to have introduced the use of water mixed with salt to bless homes.

He is said to have been martyred by decapitation on the Via Nomentana in Rome. His remains initially rested in the catacombs on the Via Nomentana but were eventually brought to the basilica of Santa Sabina by Pope Pascal I (817-824).

Under Emperor Hadrian, in A.D. 117, Pope Alexander I suffered martyrdom, together with the priests Eventius and Theodulus. Juvenal, bishop of Narni, was executed on May 3, A.D. 377. His Feastday is May 3rd where he and his companions are commemorated in the Mass.


O Almighty God, today we are celebrating the birthday of Your saints Alexander, Eventius, Theodulus, and Juvenal. Hear their prayers and rescue us from all the dangers that threaten us. Through Our Lord . . .
Thursday, August 10, 2006
Pope St. Evaristus

Simple (1955 Calendar): October 26th

Pope St. Evaristus was the fifth Pope of the Holy Catholic Church. As stated in the "Lives of the Saints" by Rev Hoever:
St. Evaristus succeeded St. Anacletus in the See of Rome, during the reign of the Emperor Trajan, and governed the Church nine years.  He first divided Rome into several parishes, to each of which he assigned a priest.  For this reason some consider him the founder of the institution of cardinal-priests.  He also appointed several deacons to assist the Bishop.  He conferred Holy Orders three times in the month of December, when that holy function was usually performed.

In the Pontificals and in most martyrologies, St. Evaristus is honored with the title of Martyr.  Little is known of his life.  He died in 112 and was buried near St. Peter's tomb... St. Evaristus was the first to decree that altars thenceforward should be of stone and that they should be blessed.  
Traditional Matins Reading:

Evaristus was born in Greece, of a Jewish father, and was sovereign Pontiff during the reign of Trajan. He divided the titles of the churches of Rome among the priests, and ordained that seven deacons should attend the bishop when preaching. He also decreed that, according to the tradition of the apostles, matrimony should be celebrated publicly and blessed by a priest. He governed the Church nine years and three months. He held ordinations four times in the month of December, and ordained seventeen priests, two deacons, and fifteen bishops. He was crowned with martyrdom, and buried near the tomb of the prince of the apostles on the seventh of the Kalends of November.


O Eternal Shepherd, who appointed blessed Evaristus shepherd of the whole Church, let the prayers of this martyr and supreme pontiff move You to look with favor upon Your flock and to keep it under Your continual protection. Through our Lord . . .

Prayer Source: 1962 Roman Catholic Daily Missal
Wednesday, August 9, 2006
Pope St. Clement I

Double (1955 Calendar): November 23

Pope St. Clement I was the fourth pope of the Catholic Church and he was pope from 92 - 99 AD. There is evidence Pope St. Clement I was a disciple of St. Peter. According to Eusebius, St. Jerome, and Origen, St. Clement I is the man mentioned in Philippians 4:3.

According to Tradition, under the persecution of Emperor Trajan, Pope St. Clement I was forced to work in a quarry. While there, he brought many people into the faith. Finally, the Pope was sentenced to death. So, an anchor was wrapped around his feet and he was thrown into the sea and drowned.

After his death, two of his disciples prayed that they could find his remains. In an answer to their prayers, the sea retreated three miles and the two found an angel-built chapel that contained his remains in a chest of stone by an anchor. The sea retreated to reveal the chapel year each, and his remains were kept dry for seven days. Today, his remains have been moved and are kept in the Basilica of St. Clement. His feastday is November 23rd.

He is remembered for his Clementine Literature as well as a letter to the Church in Corinth, often called 1 Clement, and a second epistle, although scholars are not sure he actually wrote the second epistle.

The words of St. Clement are quoted in the Catechism of the Council of Trent in reference to the existence of Confirmation as a true Sacrament instituted by our Lord distinct from Baptism: "All should hasten without delay to be born again unto God, and afterwards to be signed by the Bishop, that is, to receive the seven-fold grace of the Holy Ghost; for, as has been handed down to us from St. Peter, and as the other Apostles taught in obedience to the command and of our Lord, he who culpably and voluntarily, and not from necessity, neglects to receive this Sacrament, cannot possibly be a perfect Christian."

Matins Reading:

Clement was a Roman by birth, son of Faustinus who dwelt in the region of Monte Coelio. He was a disciple of blessed Peter; and is mentioned by St. Paul in his Epistle to the Philippians, in these words: I entreat thee also, my sincere companion, help those women who have labored with me in the Gospel, with Clement and the rest of my fellow-labourers, who names are in the book of life. He divided Rome into seven regions, appointing a notary for each, who was to ascertain and record with the greatest care the acts and sufferings of the martyrs. He wrote many useful and learned works, such as did honour to the Christian name.

He converted many to the faith of Christ by his learning and holiness of life, and was on that account banished by the emperor Trajan to the desert of Cherson beyond the Black Sea. Here he found two thousand Christians, likewise banished by Trajan, who were employed in quarrying marble. Seeing them suffering from want of water, Clement betook himself to prayer, and then ascended a neighbouring hill, on the summit of which he saw a Lamb, pointing out with his right foot a spring of sweet water. At this source they all quenched their thirst; and many infidels were converted by the miracle, and began to revere Clement as a Saint.

On hearing this Trajan was enraged, and sent officers with orders to cast Clement into the sea with an anchor tied to his neck. After the execution of this sentence, as the Christians were praying on the shore, the sea began to recede for the distance of three miles; on approaching they found a small building of marble, in the form of a temple, wherein lay the martyr’s body in a stone coffin, and beside it the anchor with which he had been drowned. The inhabitants of the country were so astounded at the miracle, that they were led to embrace the Christian faith. The holy body was afterwards translated to Rome, under Pope Nicholas I and deposited in the church of St. Clement. A church was also built and dedicated in his honour, on that spot in the island where the miraculous fountain had sprung up. He held the pontificate nine years, six months, and six days. In two ordinations in the month of December, he made ten priests, two deacons, and fifteen bishops for divers places.

Cultural Customs on the Feast of St. Clement quoted from the Latin Mass Society:

"[Today] is the Feast of St Clement (23rd November) and traditionally children would go clementing – knocking on doors begging for apples, pear, and nuts in exchange for reciting rhymes. Indeed, it is believed that is the origin of the nursery rhyme “Oranges & Lemons”.

"Also as Pope Clement 1 is the patron saint of metalworkers and blacksmiths and celebrations on Old Clem’s Night began with a bang, quite literally. Blacksmiths filled a small hole in their anvil with gunpowder. This was then struck with a hammer, creating a shower of sparks and a loud boom. The village blacksmiths would dress up in a wig, mask and cloak to represent Saint Clement and gather in the streets, singing loudly and staggering from tavern to tavern."


O Eternal Shepherd, who appointed blessed Clement shepherd of the whole Church, let the prayers of this martyr and supreme pontiff move You to look with favor upon Your flock and to keep it under Your continual protection. Through our Lord . . .
Tuesday, August 8, 2006
Pope St. Anacletus

Semidouble (1955 Calendar): July 13

Pope St. Anacletus was the third pope of the Holy Catholic Church who reigned c. 80 - c. 92 AD. Many sources (Eusebius, Irenaeus, and Augustine) also claim he was known by the name Cletus. He died as a martyr in Rome c. 92 AD, and his remains are in the St. Linus Church in the Vatican. His feast was sadly removed in 1960 from July 13th, although he remained jointly honored with St. Marcellinus on April 26th.

The Traditional 4th Reading at Matins on July 13th recounts his life:

Anacletus was an Athenian who governed the Church in the time of the Emperor Trajan. He ordained that a Bishop should be consecrated by three Bishops and no less, that clerks should be publicly ordained to Holy Orders by their own Bishop, and that in the Mass, after the Consecration, all should afterwards Communicate. He adorned the grave of Blessed Peter, and ordered a place for burying the Popes in. He held two ordinations in the month of December, wherein he ordained five Priests, three Deacons, and six Bishops. He sat as Pope nine years, three months, and ten days. He received the crown of his testimony, and was buried on the Vatican Hill.


O Eternal Shepherd, who appointed blessed Anacletus, shepherd of the whole Church, let the prayers of this martyr and supreme pontiff move You to look with favor upon Your flock and to keep it under Your continual protection. Through our Lord . . .
Pope Linus

Semidouble (1955 Calendar): September 23

Pope St. Linus was the second pope of the Holy Catholic Church from c. 68 - c. 79 AD. St. Irenaeus says, "After the Holy Apostles founded and set the Church in order (in Rome) they gave over the exercise of the episcopal office to Linus. The same Linus is mentioned by St. Paul in his Epistle to Timothy [II Tim 4:21]. His successor was Anacletus."

Not much is known as certain concerning his life. He was reportedly converted to the faith in Rome after hearing St. Peter preach the Gospel. He renounced his noble origins and to serve Christ more perfectly. St. Peter employed Linus in preaching and administering the Sacraments. St. Linus is remembered for his zeal, learning and prudence. In one instance, St. Linus preached against idol worshiping to a group of idolaters, and following this, part of the temple crumbled causing an idol to fall to the group and break into thousands of pieces. The idolaters drove him away from the city.

Following the martyrdom of St. Peter, St. Linus wrote of the martyrdom of both Sts. Peter and Paul. St. Linus then succeeded St. Peter as the Vicar of Christ, the Pope. He reportedly created fifteen bishops and eighteen priests. He also drove many demons out of possessed persons by his faith and sanctity.

His feastday is September 23rd, and many sources, although not St. Iranaeus, say he was a martyr. The Liber Pontificalis which contains most of our knowledge on the early popes, states that he died a martyr on September 23rd in Rome and was buried on the Vatican Hill. In the 7th century, an inscription was found near the confessional of St Peter that contains the name "Linus".


Look forgivingly on Thy flock, Eternal Shepherd, and keep it in Thy constant protection, by the intercession of blessed Linus, Thy Martyr and Sovereign Pontiff, whom Thou didst constitute Shepherd of the whole Church. Through our Lord.

Commemoration of St. Thelca:

Grant, we beseech Thee, almighty God, that we who honor the heavenly birthday of blessed Thecla, Thy Virgin and Martyr, may both rejoice in her yearly festival and profit by the example of so great a faith. Through our Lord.

Prayer Sources: 1962 Roman Catholic Daily Missal - Prayers for September 23rd
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
The Primacy of St. Peter

 Writing on this topic, Fr. John Laux writes in "Catholic Apologetics Book IV":
The protest contention [that the powers bestowed on St. Peter by Christ in Matthew 16 were personal and not permanent] is manifestly wrong; for it is clear from the words with which Our Lord conferred the Primacy on Peter that it was not a personal privilege, such as the power of working miracles or the gift of tongues, but a permanent institution, necessary for the very existence of the Church. 
The Church which Christ founded is to endure till the end of time, and Peter, according to the promise of Christ, is to be the rock foundation of that Church, giving it unity and strength, and securing it against the gates of hell. But the foundation must last as long as the ediface lasts which is built upon it. Hence the power and authority that made Peter the Rock of the Church must remain intact for all time; his Primacy must be perpetuated in the only possible way, that is, by transmission through a continuous line of successors.
Fr. Laux continues:
The Bishops of Rome have always claimed to be the successors of St. Peter, the heirs of his Primacy. No other See in Christendom ever made such a claim. St. Peter ruled the Church of Antioch before he went to Rome, yet Antioch never disputed the right of Rome to the unique dignity of Apostolic Primacy. Ephesus and Smyrna and the other Churches of Asia Minor over which St. John, the Beloved Disciple, presided long after Peter's death never contested the claim of Rome.
This is further shown through a study of history. St. Clement of Rome, the third Successor of St. Peter, governed the Church and exercised the Primacy of the Papal Office for the first recorded time in 96 AD when he dispatched a powerful letter to the Corinthians. This fact of his intervention and jurisdiction is remarkable since the Apostle St. John was himself still alive and presiding over the Church in Ephesus. 
Jesus summoned his Twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness. The names of the Twelve Apostles are these: first, Simon called Peter, and his brother Andrew; James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew, Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddeus; Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus. Jesus sent out these Twelve after instructing them thus,“Do not go into pagan territory or enter a Samaritan town. Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’”   Matthew 10:1-7
We notice St. Peter is always listed first in every list of the apostles in the Gospels - Judas Iscariot is always listed last. This is one point showing the Primacy of Peter - he is higher than all of the other disciples. Peter's name is mentioned 155 times. All of the other eleven disciples combined are listed only 130 times.

Furthermore, we see in John 21:15-19, the discourse between Peter and Jesus. In this discourse, Jesus says, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these [the other disciples]?" Peter says "yes". In that conversation, Peter professes his faith in Christ three times to make up for the three times he denied our Lord during His Passion. Unlike Judas, who lost his soul because he refused to ask God's mercy for his actions, Peter is forgiven because he seeks forgiveness.

In the Acts of the Apostles, Peter is the spokesmen and always speaks for the group. People would lay in the streets just wanting Peter's shadow to fall on them (Acts 5:15). We see that St. Peter was given a higher authority than the other disciples. St. Peter was the first pope - the one that Christ founded His Church upon (Matthew 16:18-20).

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