|Bishop of Rome|
|Papacy began||10 January 236|
|Papacy ended||20 January 250|
|Died||20 January 250|
Rome, Roman Empire
|Feast day||20 January (Catholic Church)|
5 August (Orthodox Church)
7 & 11 Meshir (Coptic Christianity)
|Venerated in|| Catholic Church |
Eastern Orthodox Church
Pope Fabian (Latin : Fabianus) was the bishop of Rome from 10 January 236 to his death on 20 January 250, succeeding Anterus. 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.
Most of his papacy was characterized by amicable relations with the imperial government, and the schism between the Roman congregations of Pontian and Hippolytus was ended. He divided Rome into diaconates and appointed secretaries to collect the records of the martyrs. He sent out seven "apostles to the Gauls" as missionaries, but probably did not baptize Emperor Philip the Arab as is alleged. He died a martyr at the beginning of the Decian persecution and is venerated as a saint by the Catholic Church.
According to the Liber Pontificalis, Fabian was a noble Roman by birth, and his father's name was Fabius. Nothing more is known about his background. The legend concerning the circumstances of his election is preserved by the fourth-century writer Eusebius of Caesarea ( Church History , VI. 29).One authority refers to him as "Flavian".
After the short reign of Pope Anterus, Fabian had come to Rome from the countryside when the new papal election began. "Although present", says Eusebius, Fabian "was in the mind of none". While the names of several illustrious and noble churchmen were being considered over the course of thirteen days, a dove suddenly descended upon the head of Fabian. To the assembled electors, this strange sight recalled the gospel scene of the descent of the Holy Spirit on Jesus at the time of his baptism by John the Baptist. The congregation took this as a sign that he was marked out for this dignity, and Fabian was at once proclaimed bishop by acclamation.
During Fabian's reign of 14 years, there was a lull in the storm of persecution which had resulted in the exile of both Anterus' predecessor Pontian and the antipope (and later saint) Hippolytus. Fabian had enough influence at court to effect the return of the bodies of both of these martyrs from Sardinia, where they had died at hard labor in the mines. The report that he baptized the emperor Philip the Arab and his son, however, is probably a legend, although he did seem to enjoy some connections at court, since the bodies of Pontian and Hippolytus could not have been exhumed without the emperor's approval.
According to the sixth-century historian Gregory of ToursFabian sent out the "apostles to the Gauls" to Christianise Gaul in A.D. 245. Fabian sent seven bishops from Rome to Gaul to preach the Gospel: Gatianus of Tours to Tours, Trophimus of Arles to Arles, Paul of Narbonne to Narbonne, Saturnin to Toulouse, Denis to Paris, Austromoine to Clermont, and Martial to Limoges. He also condemned Privatus, the originator of a new heresy in Africa.
The Liber Pontificalis says that Fabian divided the Christian communities of Rome into seven districts, each supervised by a deacon. Eusebius (VI §43) adds that he appointed seven subdeacons to help collect the acta of the martyrs—the reports of the court proceedings on the occasion of their trials.There is also a tradition that he instituted the four minor clerical orders: porter, lector, exorcist, and acolyte. However most scholars believe these offices evolved gradually and were formally instituted at a later date.
His deeds are thus described in the Liber Pontificalis :
Hic regiones dividit diaconibus et fecit vii subdiacones, qui vii notariis imminerent, Ut gestas martyrum integro fideliter colligerent, et multas fabricas per cymiteria fieri praecepit. ("He divided the regiones into deaconships and made seven sub-deaconships which seven secretaries oversaw, so that they brought together the deeds of the martyrs faithfully made whole, and he brought forth many works in the cemeteries.")
The Liberian Catalogue of the popes also reports that Fabian initiated considerable work on the catacombs, where honored Christians were buried, and where he also caused the body of Pontian to be entombed at the catacomb of Callixtus.[ citation needed ]
With the advent of Emperor Decius, the Roman government's tolerant policy toward Christianity temporarily ended. Decius ordered everyone in the Empire, with the exception of Jews, to demonstrate their loyalty to Rome by offering incense to the cult images of deities which represented the Roman state. This was unacceptable to many Christians, who, while no longer holding most of the laws of the Old Testament to apply to them, took the commandment against idolatry with deadly seriousness. Fabian was thus one of the earliest victims of Decius, dying as a martyr on 20 January 250, at the beginning of the Decian persecution, probably in prison rather than by execution.The Coptic Orthodox Church teaches that Fabian was martyred twice in one week.
Fabian was buried in the catacomb of Callixtus in Rome. The Greek inscription on his tomb has survived,and bears the words: "Fabian, Bishop, Martyr". Fabian's remains were later reinterred at San Sebastiano fuori le mura by Pope Clement XI where the Albani Chapel is dedicated in his honour.
Fabian's feast day is commemorated on 20 January in the Catholic Church, the same as Saint Sebastian.Fabian's feast day in the Eastern Orthodox Church is 5 August, and in Coptic Christianity it is 7 and 11 Meshir. The church of Santi Fabiano e Venanzio a Villa Fiorelli (1936) in Rome is named in his honour, and also for Venantius of Camerino who died in the same persecutions.
Fabian was highly esteemed by Cyprian. Cyprian's letter to Fabian's successor, Cornelius, calls him "incomparable" and says that the glory of his martyrdom answered the purity and holiness of his life (Cyprian, Epistle 30). Novatian refers to his nobilissima memoriae, and he corresponded with Origen.
Fabian is honored with a Lesser Feast on the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America on January 4.
Pope Linus was the second bishop of Rome. His pontificate lasted from c. AD 67 to his death. As with all the early popes, he was later canonized.
Pope Marcellus I was the bishop of Rome from May or June 308 to his death. He succeeded Marcellinus after a considerable interval. Under Maxentius, he was banished from Rome in 309, on account of the tumult caused by the severity of the penances he had imposed on Christians who had lapsed under the recent persecution. He died the same year, being succeeded by Eusebius. His relics are under the altar of San Marcello al Corso in Rome. His third-class feast day is kept on 16 January.
Pope Miltiades, also known as Melchiades the African, was the bishop of Rome from 311 to his death on 10 or 11 January 314. It was during his pontificate that Emperor Constantine the Great issued the Edict of Milan (313), giving Christianity legal status within the Roman Empire. The pope also received the palace of Empress Fausta where the Lateran Palace, the papal seat and residence of the papal administration, would be built. At the Lateran Council, during the schism with the Church of Carthage, Miltiades condemned the rebaptism of apostatised bishops and priests, a teaching of Donatus Magnus.
Pope Callixtus I, also called Callistus I, was the bishop of Rome from c. 218 to his death c. 222 or 223. He lived during the reigns of the Roman Emperors Elagabalus and Alexander Severus. Eusebius and the Liberian catalogue gave him five years of episcopate (217–222). In 217, when Callixtus followed Zephyrinus as Bishop of Rome, he started to admit into the church converts from sects or schisms. He was martyred for his Christian faith and is venerated as a saint by the Catholic Church.
Pope Sixtus II was bishop of Rome from 31 August 257 until his death on 6 August 258. He was martyred along with seven deacons, including Lawrence of Rome, during the persecution of Christians by the Emperor Valerian.
Pope Felix I was the bishop of Rome from 5 January 269 to his death on 30 December 274.
Pope Anterus was the bishop of Rome from 21 November 235 to his death on 3 January 236.
Pope Lucius I was the bishop of Rome from 25 June 253 to his death on 5 March 254. He was banished soon after his consecration, but gained permission to return. He was mistakenly classified as a martyr in the persecution by Emperor Valerian, which did not begin until after Lucius' death.
Pope Pontian was the bishop of Rome 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.
Pope Cornelius was the bishop of Rome from 6 or 13 March 251 to his martyrdom in June 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 Novatianists, 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.
Hippolytus of Rome 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.
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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. Novatianism survived until the 8th century
Novatian was a scholar, priest, and theologian. He is considered by the Catholic Church to have been an antipope between 251 and 258. Some Greek authors give his name as Novatus, who was an African presbyter.
August 4 - Eastern Orthodox liturgical calendar - August 6
Saints Marcellinus and Peter are venerated within the Christian churches as martyrs who were beheaded. Hagiographies place them in 4th century Rome. They are generally represented as men in middle age, with tonsures and palms of martyrdom; sometimes they hold a crown each.
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December 1 - Eastern Orthodox liturgical calendar - December 3
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