|Papacy began||6 or 13 March 251|
|Papacy ended||June 253|
Civitavecchia, Roman Empire
|Feast day||16 September|
Pope Cornelius (died June 253) was the Bishop of Rome from 6 or 13 March 251 to his martyrdom in 253. He was pope during and following a period of persecution of the church and a schism occurred over how repentant church members who had practiced pagan sacrifices to protect themselves could be readmitted to the church. Cornelius agreed with Cyprian of Carthage that those who had lapsed could be restored to communion after varying forms of penance. That position was in contrast to the Novationists, who held that those who failed to maintain their confession of faith under persecution would not be received again into communion with the church. That resulted in a schism in the Church of Rome that spread as each side sought to gather support. Cornelius held a synod that confirmed his election and excommunicated Novatian, but the controversy regarding lapsed members continued for years.
The persecutions resumed in 251 under Emperor Trebonianus Gallus. Cornelius was sent into exile and may have died from the rigours of his banishment, but later accounts say that he was beheaded.
Emperor Decius, who ruled from 249 to 251 AD, persecuted Christians in the Roman Empire rather sporadically and locally, but starting in January of the year 250, he ordered all citizens to perform a religious sacrifice in the presence of commissioners, or else face death.Many Christians refused and were martyred, (including Pope Fabian on 20 January 250), while others partook in the sacrifices in order to save their own lives.
Two schools of thought arose after the persecution. One side, led by Novatian, a priest in the diocese of Rome, believed that those who had stopped practising Christianity during the persecution could not be accepted back into the church, even if they repented. He held that idolatry was an unpardonable sin, and that the Church had no authority to forgive apostates, but that their forgiveness must be left to God; it could not be pronounced in this world.The opposing side, including Cornelius and Cyprian of Carthage, believed that the lapsi could be restored to communion through repentance, demonstrated by a period of penance.
During the persecution it proved impossible to elect a successor, and the papal seat remained vacant for a year. During this period the church was governed by several priests, including Novatian. However, when Decius left Rome to fight the invading Goths, the Roman clergy chose a new bishop.In the fourteen months without a pope, the leading candidate, Moses, had died under the persecution. Novatian believed that he would be elected; however, the more moderate Cornelius was unwillingly elected the twenty-first pope in March 251.
Those who supported a more rigorist position had Novatian consecrated bishop and refused to recognize Cornelius as Bishop of Rome.Both sides sent out letters to other bishops seeking recognition and support. Cornelius had the support of Cyprian, Dionysius, and most African and Eastern bishops while Novatian had the support of a minority of clergy and laymen in Rome. Cornelius's next action was to convene a synod of 60 bishops to acknowledge him as the rightful pope and the council excommunicated Novatian as well as all Novatianists. Also addressed in the synod was that Christians who stopped practising during Emperor Decius's persecution could be re-admitted into the Christian community only after doing penance.
The verdict of the synod was sent to the Christian bishops, most notably the bishop of Antioch, a fierce Novatian supporter, in order to convince him to accept Cornelius as bishop of Rome. The letters that Cornelius sent to surrounding bishops provide information of the size of the church in Rome at that time. Cornelius mentions that the Roman Church had, "forty six priests, seven deacons, seven sub-deacons, forty two acolytes, fifty two ostiarii, and over one thousand five hundred widows and persons in distress."His letters also inform that Cornelius had a staff of over 150 clergy members and the church fed over 1,500 people daily. From these numbers, it has been estimated that there were at least 50,000 Christians in Rome during the papacy of Pope Cornelius.
In June 251, Decius was killed in battle with the Goths; and persecutions resumed under his successor, Trebonianus Gallus. Cornelius was exiled to Centumcellae, Italy, where he died in June 253. The Liberian catalogue lists his death as being from the hardships of banishment; however, later sources claim he was beheaded. Cornelius is not buried in the chapel of the popes, but in a nearby catacomb, and the inscription on his tomb is in Latin, instead of the Greek of his predecessor Pope Fabian and successor Lucius I. It reads, "Cornelius Martyr." The letters Cornelius sent while in exile are all written in the colloquial Latin of the period instead of the classical style used by the educated such as Cyprian, a theologian as well as a bishop, and Novatian, who was also a philosopher.This suggests that Cornelius did not come from an extremely wealthy family and thus was not given a sophisticated education as a child. A letter from Cornelius while in exile mentions an office of "exorcist" in the church for the first time. Canon law has since then required each diocese to have an exorcist.
|Pope and Martyr|
Civitavecchia, Roman Empire
|Venerated in||Catholic Church|
Some of his relics were taken to Germany during the Middle Ages; his head was claimed by Kornelimünster Abbey near Aachen.In the Rhineland, he was also a patron saint of lovers. A legend associated with Cornelius tells of a young artist who was commissioned to decorate the Corneliuskapelle in the Selikum quarter of Neuss. The daughter of a local townsman fell in love with the artist, but her father forbade the marriage, remarking that he would only consent if the pope did as well. Miraculously, the statue of Cornelius leaned forward from the altar and blessed the pair, and the two lovers were thus married.
Cornelius, along with Quirinus of Neuss, Hubertus and Anthony the Great, was venerated as one of the Four Holy Marshals in the Rhineland during the late Middle Ages.
A legend told at Carnac states that its stones were once pagan soldiers who had been turned into stone by Cornelius, who was fleeing from them.
The Catholic Church commemorated Cornelius by venerating him, with his Saint's Day on 16 September, which he shares with his friend Cyprian.His Saint's Day was originally on 14 September, the date on which both Cyprian and Cornelius were martyred, according to Jerome. Cornelius's saintly name means "battle horn", and he is represented in icons by a pope either holding some form of cow's horn or with a cow nearby. He is the patron against earache, epilepsy, fever, twitching, and also of cattle, domestic animals, earache sufferers, epileptics, and the town of Kornelimünster, Germany, where his head is enshrined.
Pope Cornelius, a reconciler, had a hard road.
Pope Alexander I was the Bishop of Rome from c. 107 to his death c. 115. The Holy See's Annuario Pontificio (2012) identifies him as a Roman who reigned from 108 or 109 to 116 or 119. Some believe he suffered martyrdom under the Roman Emperor Trajan or Hadrian, but this is improbable.
Pope Stephen I was the Bishop of Rome of the Roman Catholic Church from 12 May 254 to his death in 257. Of Roman birth but of Greek ancestry, he became bishop after serving as archdeacon of Pope Lucius I, who appointed Stephen his successor.
Pope Eusebius was the Bishop of Rome from 18 April 310 until his death four months later.
The 250s decade ran from January 1, 250, to December 31, 259.
Cyprian was bishop of Carthage and a notable Early Christian writer of Berber descent, many of whose Latin works are extant. He is also recognised as a saint in the Christian churches. He was born around the beginning of the 3rd century in North Africa, perhaps at Carthage, where he received a classical education. Soon after converting to Christianity, he became a bishop in 249. A controversial figure during his lifetime, his strong pastoral skills, firm conduct during the Novatianist heresy and outbreak of the Plague of Cyprian, and eventual martyrdom at Carthage established his reputation and proved his sanctity in the eyes of the Church. His skillful Latin rhetoric led to his being considered the pre-eminent Latin writer of Western Christianity until Jerome and Augustine.
Pope Pontian was Pope from 21 July 230 to 28 September 235. In 235, during the persecution of Christians in the reign of the Emperor Maximinus Thrax, Pontian was arrested and sent to the island of Sardinia. He resigned to make the election of a new pope possible.
Pope Fabian was the Bishop of Rome from 10 January 236 to his death in 250, succeeding Anterus. He is famous for the miraculous nature of his election, in which a dove is said to have descended on his head to mark him as the Holy Spirit's unexpected choice to become the next pope. He was succeeded by Cornelius.
Hippolytus was one of the most important second-third century Christian theologians, whose provenance, identity and corpus remain elusive to scholars and historians. Suggested communities include Palestine, Egypt, Anatolia, Rome and regions of the mideast. The best historians of literature in the ancient church, including Eusebius of Caesarea and Jerome, openly confess they cannot name where Hippolytus the biblical commentator and theologian served in leadership. They had read his works but did not possess evidence of his community. Photios I of Constantinople describes him in his Bibliotheca as a disciple of Irenaeus, who was said to be a disciple of Polycarp, and from the context of this passage it is supposed that he suggested that Hippolytus so styled himself. This assertion is doubtful. One older theory asserts he came into conflict with the popes of his time and seems to have headed a schismatic group as a rival to the Bishop of Rome, thus becoming an Antipope. In this view, he opposed the Roman Popes who softened the penitential system to accommodate the large number of new pagan converts. However, he was reconciled to the Church before he died as a martyr.
Decius, also known as Trajan Decius, was Roman Emperor from 249 to 251.
Trebonianus Gallus, also known as Gallus, was Roman Emperor from June 251 to August 253, in a joint rule with his son Volusianus.
Novatianism was an Early Christian sect devoted to the theologian Novatian that held a strict view that refused readmission to communion of Lapsi. The Church of Rome declared the Novatianists heretical following the letters of Saint Cyprian of Carthage.
Novatian was a scholar, priest, theologian and antipope between 251 and 258. Some Greek authors give his name as Novatus, who was an African presbyter.
Volusianus, also known as Volusian, was a Roman Emperor from November 251 to August 253. His father, Trebonianus Gallus, became Roman Emperor after being elected in the field by the legion, following the deaths of the previous co-emperors Decius and Herennius Etruscus. Trebonianus Gallus raised Hostilian, the son of Decius, to augustus, making him his co-emperor in June 251. Volusianus was elevated to caesar in the same month. After the death, or murder, of Hostilian in November 251, Volusianus was raised to augustus, co-ruling with his father. The short reign of Trebonianus Gallus and Volusianus was notable for the outbreak of a plague, which is said by some to be the reason for Hostilian's death, the invasion of the Sasanian Empire, and the raids of the Goths. Volusianus was killed alongside his father in August 253 by their own soldiers, who were terrified of the forces of the usurper Aemilian which were marching towards Rome.
Saint Dionysius the Great was the 14th Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria from 28 December 248 until his death on 22 March 264. Most information known about him comes from his large surviving correspondence. Only one original letter survives to this day; the remaining letters are excerpted in the works of Eusebius.
The Councils of Carthage were church synods held during the 3rd, 4th, and 5th centuries in the city of Carthage in Africa. The most important of these are described below.
Saint Firmilian, Bishop of Caesarea Mazaca from ca. 232, was a disciple of Origen. He had a contemporary reputation comparable to that of Dionysius of Alexandria or Cyprian, bishop of Carthage. He took an active part in the mid-3rd century controversies over rebaptising heretics and readmitting lapsed Christians after the persecutions of Decius and was excommunicated by Pope Stephen I for his position. A single letter of Firmilian to Cyprian survives among Cyprian's correspondence. Jerome omits Firmilian from De viris illustribus. "To his contemporaries his forty years of influential episcopate, his friendship with Origen and Dionysius, the appeal to him of Cyprian, and his censure of Stephanus might well make him seem the most conspicuous figure of his time" (Wace).
Papal supremacy is the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church that the Pope, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ and as the visible foundation and source of unity, and as pastor of the entire Christian Church, has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered: that, in brief, "the Pope enjoys, by divine institution, supreme, full, immediate, and universal power in the care of souls."
Saints Cyprian and Justina are honored in the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church and Oriental Orthodoxy as Christians of Antioch, who in 304, during the persecution of Diocletian, suffered martyrdom at Nicomedia on September 26. According to Roman Catholic sources, no Bishop of Antioch bore the name of Cyprian.
Lay communion is a term applied in the Catholic Church, to describe the status of a cleric who is in communion with the Church, but only with the standing of a lay person. In modern times lay communion is sometimes imposed, but only in exceptional cases.
The Archdiocese of Carthage, also known as the Church of Carthage, was a Latin Catholic diocese established in Carthage, Roman Empire, in the 2nd century. Agrippin was the first named bishop, around 230 A.D. The importance of the city of Carthage had previously been restored by Julius Caesar and Augustus. When Christianity became firmly established around the Roman province of Africa Proconsulare, Carthage became its natural ecclesiastical seat. Carthage subsequently exercised informal primacy as an archdiocese, being the most important center of Christianity in the whole of Roman Africa, corresponding to most of today's Mediterranean coast and inland of Northern Africa. As such, it enjoyed honorary title of patriarch as well as primate of Africa: Pope Leo I confirmed the primacy of the bishop of Carthage in 446: "Indeed, after the Roman Bishop, the leading Bishop and metropolitan for all Africa is the Bishop of Carthage."
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Pope Cornelius .|
|Titles of the Great Christian Church|
| Bishop of Rome |