Pope Fabian

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Pope Saint

Fabian
Saint Fabian1.jpg
Saint Fabian by Giovanni di Paolo (c. 1450) wears an anachronistic Papal tiara
Papacy began10 January 236
Papacy ended20 January 250
Predecessor Anterus
Successor Cornelius
Personal details
Birth nameFabianus
Bornc. 200
Died(250-01-20)20 January 250
Rome, Roman Empire
Sainthood
Feast day20 January (Catholic Church)
8 August [1] (Orthodox Church)
Venerated in Catholic Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
Attributes

Pope Fabian (Latin : Fabianus; c. 200 – 20 January 250) was the Bishop of Rome from 10 January 236 to his death in 250, [2] 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. [3] He was succeeded by Cornelius.

Pope leader of the Catholic Church

The pope, also known as the supreme pontiff, is the Bishop of Rome and ex officio leader of the worldwide Catholic Church. Since 1929, the pope has also been head of state of Vatican City, a city-state enclaved within Rome, Italy. The current pope is Francis, who was elected on 13 March 2013, succeeding Benedict XVI.

Pope Anterus pope

Pope Anterus was the Bishop of Rome from 21 November 235 to his death in 236. He succeeded Pope Pontian, who had been deported from Rome to Sardinia, along with the antipope Hippolytus.

Doves as symbols

Doves, usually white in color, are used in many settings as symbols of love, peace or as messengers. Doves appear in the symbolism of Judaism, Christianity and Paganism, and of both military and pacifist groups.

Contents

Most of his papacy was characterized by amicable relations with the imperial government, and Fabian could thus bring back to Rome for Christian burial the bodies of Pope Pontian and the antipope Hippolytus, both of whom had died in exile in the Sardinian mines. It was also probably during his reign that the schism between the two corresponding Roman congregations of these leaders was ended. He was highly esteemed by Cyprian; [4] Novatian refers to his nobilissima memoriae, and he corresponded with Origen. One authority refers to him as Flavian. [5]

Pope Pontian pope

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.

Antipope Person who holds a significantly accepted claim to be pope, without being recognized as pope

An antipope is a person who, in opposition to the one who is generally seen as the legitimately elected Pope, makes a significantly accepted competing claim to be the Pope, the Bishop of Rome, and leader of the Roman Catholic Church. At times between the 3rd and mid-15th centuries, antipopes were supported by a fairly significant faction of religious cardinals and secular or anti-religious monarchs and kingdoms. Persons who claim to be pope, but have few followers, such as the modern sedevacantist antipopes, are not classified with the historical antipopes.

Hippolytus of Rome 3rd-century theologian in the Christian Church

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.

The Liber Pontificalis , a fourth-century document that survives in later copies, says that he divided Rome into diaconates and appointed secretaries to collect the records of the martyrs. He is also said, probably without basis, to have baptized the emperor Philip the Arab and his son. More plausible is the report in the Liberian Catalogue that he sent out seven "apostles to the Gauls" as missionaries.

<i>Liber Pontificalis</i> Book of biographies of popes

The Liber Pontificalis is a book of biographies of popes from Saint Peter until the 15th century. The original publication of the Liber Pontificalis stopped with Pope Adrian II (867–872) or Pope Stephen V (885–891), but it was later supplemented in a different style until Pope Eugene IV (1431–1447) and then Pope Pius II (1458–1464). Although quoted virtually uncritically from the 8th to 18th centuries, the Liber Pontificalis has undergone intense modern scholarly scrutiny. The work of the French priest Louis Duchesne, and of others has highlighted some of the underlying redactional motivations of different sections, though such interests are so disparate and varied as to render improbable one popularizer's claim that it is an "unofficial instrument of pontifical propaganda."

Deacon ministry in the Christian Church

A deacon is a member of the diaconate, an office in Christian churches that is generally associated with service of some kind, but which varies among theological and denominational traditions. Some Christian churches, such as the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Anglican church, view the diaconate as part of the clerical state; in others, the deacon remains a layperson.

Philip the Arab Roman Emperor

Marcus Julius Philippus, also known commonly by his nickname Philip the Arab, was Roman Emperor from February 244 to September 249. He was born in Arabia Petraea, the Roman province of Arabia, in a city situated in modern-day Syria. He went on to become a major figure in the Roman Empire. After the death of Gordian III in February 244, Philip, who had been Praetorian prefect, achieved power. He quickly negotiated peace with the Persian Sassanid Empire. During his reign, the city of Rome celebrated its millennium.

He died a martyr at the beginning of the Decian persecution and is venerated as a saint by the Catholic Church. [2] [3] Fabian's feast day is commemorated on January 20, the same as Saint Sebastian, [6] in whose church his sepulcher lies in Rome.

Decian persecution

The Decian persecution resulted from an edict issued in 250 by the Emperor Decius ordering everyone in the Roman Empire to perform a sacrifice to the Roman gods and the well-being of the Emperor. The edict ordered that the sacrifices be performed in the presence of a Roman magistrate, and a signed and witnessed certificate be issued to that effect. It was the first time that Christians had faced legislation forcing them to choose between their religious beliefs and death, although there is no evidence that Decius' edict was specifically intended to target Christians. The edict appears to have been designed more as an Empire-wide loyalty oath. Nevertheless, a number of Christians were put to death for refusing to perform the sacrifices, many others apostatized and performed the ceremonies, and others went into hiding. The effects were long-lasting and caused tension between Christians who had performed the sacrifices or fled and those who had not, and left bitter memories of persecution.

Saint one who has been recognized for having an exceptional degree of holiness, sanctity, and virtue

A saint is a person who is recognized as having an exceptional degree of holiness or likeness or closeness to God. However, the use of the term "saint" depends on the context and denomination. In Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, Oriental Orthodox, and Lutheran doctrine, all of their faithful deceased in Heaven are considered to be saints, but some are considered worthy of greater honor or emulation; official ecclesiastical recognition, and consequently veneration, is given to some saints through the process of canonization in the Catholic Church or glorification in the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Saint Sebastian 3rd-century Christian saint and martyr

Saint Sebastian was an early Christian saint and martyr. According to traditional belief, he was killed during the Roman emperor Diocletian's persecution of Christians, initially being tied to a post or tree and shot with arrows, though this did not kill him. He was, according to tradition, rescued and healed by Saint Irene of Rome, which became a popular subject in 17th-century painting. In all versions of the story, shortly after his recovery he went to Diocletian to warn him about his sins, and as a result was clubbed to death. He is venerated in the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church.

Early life and accession

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). [7]

Fabia (gens) Families from Ancient Rome who shared the Fabius nomen

The gens Fabia was one of the most ancient patrician families at Rome. The gens played a prominent part in history soon after the establishment of the Republic, and three brothers were invested with seven successive consulships, from 485 to 479 BC, thereby cementing the high repute of the family. Overall, the Fabii received 45 consulships during the Republic. The house derived its greatest lustre from the patriotic courage and tragic fate of the 306 Fabii in the Battle of the Cremera, 477 BC. But the Fabii were not distinguished as warriors alone; several members of the gens were also important in the history of Roman literature and the arts.

<i>Church History</i> (Eusebius) work of Eusebius

The Church History of Eusebius, the bishop of Caesarea was a 4th-century pioneer work giving a chronological account of the development of Early Christianity from the 1st century to the 4th century. It was written in Koine Greek, and survives also in Latin, Syriac and Armenian manuscripts.

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. [7]

Papal selection before 1059

There was no fixed process for papal selection before 1059. Popes, the bishops of Rome and the leaders of the Catholic Church, were often appointed by their predecessors or secular rulers. While the process was often characterized by some capacity of election, an election with the meaningful participation of the laity was the exception to the rule, especially as the popes' claims to temporal power solidified into the Papal States. The practice of papal appointment during this period would later give rise to the jus exclusivae, a veto right exercised by Catholic monarchies into the twentieth century.

In Christianity, the Sign of the Dove was a prearranged sign by which John the Baptist would recognize the Messiah.

Jesus Central figure of Christianity

Jesus, also referred to as Jesus of Nazareth and Jesus Christ, was a first-century Jewish preacher and religious leader. He is the central figure of Christianity. Most Christians believe he is the incarnation of God the Son and the awaited Messiah (Christ) prophesied in the Old Testament.

Papacy

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. [5]

According to the sixth-century historian Gregory of Tours [8] Fabian 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 Saint Martial to Limoges. He also condemned Privatus, the originator of a new heresy in Africa. [3]

Fabian with Saint Sebastian: the feast of both of these saints' is celebrated on January 20. Fabian Sebastian 1490.jpg
Fabian with Saint Sebastian: the feast of both of these saints' is celebrated on January 20.

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. [5] 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. [5]

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 Pope Pontian to be entombed at the catacomb of Saint Callixtus.

With the advent of Emperor Decius, the Roman government's tolerant policy toward Christianity temporarily ended. Decius ordered leading Christians 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. [9]

Fabian was buried in the catacomb of Callixtus in Rome. The Greek inscription on his tomb has survived, [7] and bears the words: [3]

Fabian, Bishop, Martyr.

His remains were later reinterred at San Sebastiano fuori le mura by Pope Clement XI where the Albani Chapel is dedicated in his honour. [10]

See also

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References

  1. (in Greek) Άγιος Φάβιος ο Ιερομάρτυρας επίσκοπος Ρώμης Ορθόδοξος Συναξαριστής
  2. 1 2 Meier, Gabriel (1909). "Pope St. Fabian" in The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 5. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Fr. Paolo O. Pirlo, SHMI (1997). "St. Fabian". My First Book of Saints. Sons of Holy Mary Immaculate – Quality Catholic Publications. p. 24. ISBN   978-971-91595-4-4.
  4. Cyprian's letter to Fabian's successor Pope Cornelius (Cyprian, Epistle 30) calls him "incomparable" and says that the glory of his martyrdom answered the purity and holiness of his life.
  5. 1 2 3 4 Wikisource-logo.svg Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Fabian, Saint"  . Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  6. Gross, Ernie. This Day in Religion. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers. ISBN   1-55570-045-4
  7. 1 2 3 Attwater, Donald and Catherine Rachel John. The Penguin Dictionary of Saints. 3rd edition. New York: Penguin Books, 1993. ISBN   0-14-051312-4.
  8. Gregory, Historia Francorum I §30, giving as his source the Martyrdom of Saturnin.
  9. Wikisource-logo.svg Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Pope St. Fabian"  . Catholic Encyclopedia . New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  10. "San Fabiano, papa, e martire".
Titles of the Great Christian Church
Preceded by
Anterus
Bishop of Rome
Pope

236–250
Succeeded by
Cornelius