Pope Gelasius I

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Pope Saint

Gelasius I
San Galasio I.jpg
Papacy began1 March AD 492
Papacy ended19 November AD 496
Predecessor Felix III
Successor Anastasius II
Personal details
Birth nameGelasius
BornUnknown date
Roman Africa or Rome [1]
Died(496-11-19)19 November 496
Rome, Ostrogothic Kingdom
Sainthood
Feast day21 November [2]
Other popes named Gelasius
Papal styles of
Pope Gelasius I
Emblem of the Papacy SE.svg
Reference style His Holiness
Spoken styleYour Holiness
Religious styleHoly Father
Posthumous style Saint

Pope Saint Gelasius I was the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church from 1 March AD 492 to his death on 19 November 496. [2] He was probably the third and final Bishop of Rome of Berber descent. [3] Gelasius was a prolific author whose style placed him on the cusp between Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. [4] His predecessor Felix III employed him especially in drafting Papal documents. During his pontificate he called for strict Catholic orthodoxy, more assertively demanded obedience to Papal authority, and, consequently, increased the tension between the Western and Eastern Churches.

Catholic Church Largest Christian church, led by the Bishop of Rome

The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide as of 2017. As the world's oldest continuously functioning international institution, it has played a prominent role in the history and development of Western civilisation. The church is headed by the Bishop of Rome, known as the pope. Its central administration, the Holy See, is in the Vatican City, an enclave within the city of Rome in Italy.

Berbers Ethnic group indigenous to North Africa

Berbers, or Amazighs, are an ethnic group of several nations indigenous mostly to North Africa and some northern parts of Western Africa.

Early Middle Ages Period of European history between the 5th and 10th centuries

Historians typically regard the Early Middle Ages or Early Medieval Period, sometimes referred to as the Dark Ages, as lasting from the 5th or 6th century to the 10th century. They marked the start of the Middle Ages of European history. The alternative term "Late Antiquity" emphasizes elements of continuity with the Roman Empire, while "Early Middle Ages" is used to emphasize developments characteristic of the earlier medieval period. As such the concept overlaps with Late Antiquity, following the decline of the Western Roman Empire, and precedes the High Middle Ages.

Contents

Place of birth

There is some confusion regarding where Gelasius was born: according to the Liber Pontificalis he was born in Africa ("natione Afer"), while in a letter addressed to the Roman Emperor Anastasius he stated that he was "born a Roman" ("Romanus natus"). [5] J. Conant opined that the latter assertion probably merely denotes that he was born in Roman Africa before the Vandals invaded it. [6] [7]

<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."

Anastasius I Dicorus Byzantine emperor

Anastasius I was Byzantine Emperor from 491 to 518. He made his career as a government administrator. He came to the throne in his sixties after being chosen by the wife of his predecessor, Zeno. His religious tendencies caused tensions throughout his reign.

Diocese of Africa diocese of the Roman Empire

The Diocese of Africa was a diocese of the later Roman Empire, incorporating the provinces of North Africa, except Mauretania Tingitana. Its seat was at Carthage, and it was subordinate to the Praetorian prefecture of Italy.

Acacian schism

The Papal election of Gelasius on 1 March 492 was a gesture of continuity: Gelasius inherited the conflicts of Pope Felix III with Eastern Roman Emperor Anastasius and the Patriarch of Constantinople and exacerbated them by insisting on the obliteration of the name of the late Acacius, Patriarch of Constantinople, from the diptychs, in spite of every ecumenical gesture by the contemporaneous Patriarch Euphemius (q. v. for details of the Acacian schism).

Pope Felix III pope (483-492)

Pope Felix III was Pope from 13 March 483 to his death in 492. His repudiation of the Henotikon is considered the beginning of the Acacian schism. He is commemorated on March 1.

Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople position

The Ecumenical Patriarch is the Archbishop of Constantinople–New Rome and ranks as primus inter pares among the heads of the several autocephalous churches that make up the Eastern Orthodox Church. He is widely regarded as the representative and spiritual leader of the 300 million Eastern Orthodox Christians worldwide. The term Ecumenical in the title is a historical reference to the Ecumene, a Greek designation for the civilised world, i.e. the Roman Empire, and it stems from Canon 28 of the Council of Chalcedon.

Diptych two-part polyptych

A diptych is any object with two flat plates attached at a hinge. For example, the standard notebook and school exercise book of the ancient world was a diptych consisting of a pair of such plates that contained a recessed space filled with wax. Writing was accomplished by scratching the wax surface with a stylus. When the notes were no longer needed, the wax could be slightly heated and then smoothed to allow reuse. Ordinary versions had wooden frames, but more luxurious diptychs were crafted with more expensive materials.

The split with the Emperor and the Patriarch of Constantinople was inevitable, from the Western view, because they adopted the ("Monophysite") heresy of Jesus Christ having only a Divine nature. Gelasius authored the book De duabus in Christo naturis (On the dual nature of Christ), which described Catholic doctrine in the matter. Thus Gelasius, for all the conservative Latinity of his style of writing, was on the cusp of Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. [4]

Heresy belief or theory that is strongly at variance with established beliefs or customs

Heresy is any belief or theory that is strongly at variance with established beliefs or customs, in particular the accepted beliefs of a church or religious organization. A heretic is a proponent of such claims or beliefs. Heresy is distinct from both apostasy, which is the explicit renunciation of one's religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is an impious utterance or action concerning God or sacred things.

During the Acacian schism, Gelasius advocated the primacy of the See of Rome over the universal Church, both East and West, and he presented this doctrine in terms that became the model for successive Popes, who also claimed Papal supremacy because of their succession to the Papacy from the first Supreme Pontiff, Saint Peter the Apostle.[ citation needed ]

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."

In 494, Gelasius authored the very influential letter Duo sunt to Anastasius on the subject of the relation of Church and state, which letter had political impact for almost a millennium hence. [8]

Suppression of the Lupercalia

Closer to home, after a long contest Gelasius finally suppressed the ancient Roman festival of the Lupercalia, [7] which had persisted for several generations among a nominally Christian population. Gelasius' letter to the Senator Andromachus treated the primary contentions of the controversy and incidentally provided some details of the festival, which combined fertility and purification, that might have been lost otherwise. Although the Lupercalia was a festival of purification, which had given its name "dies februatus", from "februare" ("to purify"), to the month of February, it was unrelated to the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, also commonly denominated "Candlemas", which latter feast commemorates the fulfillment of the Holy Family's ceremonial obligations pursuant to Mosaic law 40 days after the birth of the first son. In the instance of the Holy Family, that occurred 40 days after Christmas, scire licet, on 2 February.

Death

After a brief yet dynamic ministry, Gelasius died on 19 November AD 496. His feast day is 21 November, the anniversary of his interment, not his death. [2]

Works

Gelasius was the most prolific author of the early Supreme Pontiffs. A great mass of his correspondence survives: 42 letters according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, 37 according to Rev. Philip V. Bagan [9] and fragments of 49 others, which are archived in the Vatican and that expound to Eastern bishops the primacy of the Supreme Pontiff. Additionally, 6 treatises are extant that bear the name of Gelasius. According to Cassiodorus, the reputation of Gelasius attracted to his name other works not by him.

Decretum Gelasianum

The most famous of pseudo-Gelasian works is the list De libris recipiendis et non recipiendis ("On books to be received and not to be received"), also denominated the Decretum Gelasianum , which is believed to be connected to the pressure for orthodoxy during his pontificate and intended to be read as a decretal by Gelasius on the canonical and apocryphal books, which internal evidence reveals to be of later date. Thus the determination of the canon of Sacred Scripture has traditionally been attributed to Gelasius. [10]

Gelasian Sacramentary

In the Latin Catholic tradition, the pseudo Gelasian Sacramentary is in fact a liturgical book that was derived from Roman sources and transcribed, with inclusion of native Gallican liturgical elements, near Paris in the middle of the 8th century AD. While including the texts of some prayers that Gelasius composed, he was not a principal author or compiler of the book. The manuscript (Vatican, Vatican Library, Reg. lat. 316 + Paris, National Library, ms. lat. 7193, fol. 41-56) is actually titled the Liber sacramentorum Romanae ecclesiae (Book of Sacraments of the Roman Church). The attribution to Gelasius is premised in part at least on the chronicle of the Supreme Pontiffs that is denominated the Liber Pontificalis, which states of Gelasius that he "fecit etiam et sacramentorum praefationes et orationes cauto sermone et epistulas fidei delimato sermone multas" ("he also made prefaces to the sacraments and prayers in careful language and many epistles in polished language regarding the faith" [11] ). An old tradition linked the book to Gelasius, apparently based on the ascription of Walafrid Strabo to him of what evidently is this book.

See also

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References

  1. Browne, M. (1998). "The Three African Popes". The Western Journal of Black Studies. 22 (1): 57–8. Retrieved 2008-04-10.
  2. 1 2 3 Wikisource-logo.svg Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Pope St. Gelasius I"  . Catholic Encyclopedia . New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  3. Serralda, Vincent; Huard, André (1984). Le Berbère-- lumière de l'Occident (in French). Nouvelles Editions Latines. p. 124. ISBN   9782723302395.
  4. 1 2 The title of his biography by Walter Ullmann expresses this:Gelasius I. (492–496): Das Papsttum an der Wende der Spätantike zum Mittelalter (Stuttgart) 1981.
  5. J. Chapin, "Gelasius I, Pope, St.", pp. 121-3, in New Catholic Encyclopedia , Second Edition, Volume 6, Gale, 2002.
  6. J.Conant, Staying Roman: Conquest and Identity in Africa and the Mediterranean, 439–700, CUP, 2012, p. 83.
  7. 1 2 Monks of Ramsgate. “Pope Gelasius”. Book of Saints. 1921. CatholicSaints.Info. 7 May 2016.
  8. Medieval Sourcebook: Gelasius I on Spiritual and Temporal Power
  9. Rev. Philip V. Bagan, The Syntax of the Letters of Pope Gelasius I (Washington, DC, USA; The Catholic University of America Press, 1945).
  10. F.C.Burkitt, Review of The decretum Gelasianum", Journal of Theological Studies, 14 (1913) pp. 469-71, in www.tertullian.com.
  11. Translation is based on Louise Ropes Loomis, The Book of the Popes (Liber pontificalis) I, New York, New York, USA, Columbia University Press, 1916, pp. 110-4

Literature

The primary source for the biography of Pope Saint Gelasius I, beside the Liber Pontificalis , is a vita that Cassiodorus' pupil Dionysius Exiguus authored.

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Felix III
Pope
1 March 492 – 19 November 496
Succeeded by
Anastasius II