Pope Marcellus I

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Marcellus I
Pope Marcellus I.jpg
Papacy began27 May 308
Papacy ended16 January 309
Predecessor Marcellinus
Successor Eusebius
Personal details
Birth nameMarcellus
Born6 January 255
Rome, Roman Empire
Died16 January 309 (aged 54)
Rome, Western Roman Empire
Sainthood
Feast day16 January
Other popes named Marcellus

Pope Marcellus I (6 January 255 – 16 January 309) was the Bishop of Rome or Pope from May or June 308 to his death in 309. He succeeded Pope 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 Pope Eusebius. [1] His relics are under the altar of San Marcello al Corso in Rome. His third-class feast day is kept on January 16.

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 Roman 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 Marcellinus pope

Pope Marcellinus was the Bishop of Rome or Pope from 30 June 296 to his death in 304. According to the Liberian Catalogue, he was a Roman, the son of a certain Projectus. His predecessor was Pope Caius.

Maxentius Roman emperor

Maxentius was Roman Emperor from 306 to 312. He was the son of former Emperor Maximian and the son-in-law of Emperor Galerius. The latter part of his reign was preoccupied with civil war, allying with Maximinus II against Licinius and Constantine. The latter defeated him at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge in 312, where Maxentius, with his army in flight, purportedly perished by drowning in the Tiber river.

Contents

Reign as Pope

For some time after the death of Marcellinus in 304, the Diocletian persecution continued with unabated severity. After the abdication of Diocletian in 305, and the accession in Rome of Maxentius to the throne of the Caesars in October of the following year, the Christians of the capital again enjoyed comparative peace. Nevertheless, nearly two years passed before a new Bishop of Rome was elected. Then in 308, according to the Catalogus Liberianus , Pope Marcellus first entered on his office: [2] "He was bishop in the time of Maxentius, from the 4th consulship of Maxentius when Maximus was his colleague, until after the consulship." [3] At Rome, Marcellus found the Church in the greatest confusion. The meeting-places and some of the burial-places of the faithful had been confiscated, and the ordinary life and activity of the Church was interrupted. Added to this were the dissensions within the Church itself, caused by the large number of weaker members who had fallen away during the long period of active persecution and later, under the leadership of an apostate, violently demanded that they should be readmitted to communion without doing penance. [2]

Diocletian Roman Emperor from 284 to 305 A.C.N.

Diocletian, born Diocles, was a Roman emperor from 284 to 305. Born to a family of low status in Dalmatia, Diocletian rose through the ranks of the military to become Roman cavalry commander to the Emperor Carus. After the deaths of Carus and his son Numerian on campaign in Persia, Diocletian was proclaimed emperor. The title was also claimed by Carus' surviving son, Carinus, but Diocletian defeated him in the Battle of the Margus.

Abdication voluntary or forced renunciation of sovereign power

Abdication is the act of formally relinquishing monarchical authority. Abdications have played various roles in the succession procedures of monarchies. While some cultures have viewed abdication as an extreme abandonment of duty, in other societies, abdication was a regular event, and helped maintain stability during political succession.

Maximian Roman emperor

Maximian was Roman Emperor from 286 to 305. He was Caesar from 285 to 286, then Augustus from 286 to 305. He shared the latter title with his co-emperor and superior, Diocletian, whose political brain complemented Maximian's military brawn. Maximian established his residence at Trier but spent most of his time on campaign. In late 285, he suppressed rebels in Gaul known as the Bagaudae. From 285 to 288, he fought against Germanic tribes along the Rhine frontier. Together with Diocletian, he launched a scorched earth campaign deep into Alamannic territory in 288, temporarily relieving the Rhine provinces from the threat of Germanic invasion.

According to the Liber Pontificalis , Marcellus divided the territorial administration of the Church into twenty-five districts (tituli), appointing over each a presbyter, who saw to the preparation of the catechumens for baptism and directed the performance of public penances. The presbyter was also made responsible for the burial of the dead and for the celebrations commemorating the deaths of the martyrs. The pope also had a new burial-place, the Cœmeterium Novellœ on the Via Salaria (opposite the Catacomb of St. Priscilla), laid out. [2] The Liber Pontificalis says: "He established a cemetery on the Via Salaria, and he appointed 25 parish churches as dioceses in the city of Rome to provide baptism and penance for the many who were converted among the pagans and burial for the martyrs." [4] At the beginning of the 7th century, there were probably twenty-five titular churches in Rome; even granting that, perhaps, the compiler of the Liber Pontificalis referred this number to the time of Marcellus, there is still a clear historical tradition in support of his declaration that the ecclesiastical administration in Rome was reorganized by this pope after the great persecution. [2]

<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."

The work of the pope was, however, quickly interrupted by the controversies to which the question of the readmittance of the lapsi into the Church gave rise. As to this, we gather some light from the poetic tribute composed by Pope Damasus I in memory of his predecessor and placed over his grave (De Rossi, "Inscr. christ. urbis Romæ", II, 62, 103, 138; cf. Idem, "Roma sotterranea", II, 204–5). Damasus relates that Marcellus was looked upon as a wicked enemy by all the lapsed, because he insisted that they should perform the prescribed penance for their guilt. As a result, serious conflicts arose, some of which ended in bloodshed, and every bond of peace was broken. At the head of this band of dissenters was an apostate who had denied the Faith even before the outbreak of persecution. The tyrannical Maxentius had the pope seized and sent into exile. This took place at the end of 308 or the beginning of 309 according to the passages cited above from the Catalogus Liberianus, which gives the length of the pontificate as no more than one year, six (or seven) months, and twenty days. Marcellus died shortly after leaving Rome, and was venerated as a saint. [2]

Lapsi were apostates in the early Christian Church, who renounced their faith under persecution by Roman authorities. The term as refers to those who have lapsed or fallen away from their faith to return later in life.

Pope Damasus I pope

Pope Damasus I was Bishop of Rome, from October 366 to his death in 384. He presided over the Council of Rome of 382 that determined the canon or official list of Sacred Scripture. He spoke out against major heresies in the church and encouraged production of the Vulgate Bible with his support for St. Jerome. He helped reconcile the relations between the Church of Rome and the Church of Antioch, and encouraged the veneration of martyrs.

Veneration

His feast day was 16 January, [1] according to the Depositio episcoporum of the Chronography of 354 and every other Roman authority. Nevertheless, it is not known whether this is the date of his death or that of the burial of his remains, after these had been brought back from the unknown quarter to which he had been exiled. He was buried in the catacomb of St. Priscilla where his grave is mentioned by the itineraries to the graves of the Roman martyrs as existing in the basilica of St. Silvester (De Rossi, Roma sotterranea, I, 176). [2]

Chronography of 354

The Chronography of 354, also known as the Calendar of 354, was a 4th-century illuminated manuscript, which was produced in 354 AD for a wealthy Roman Christian named Valentinus by the calligrapher and illuminator Furius Dionysius Filocalus. It is the earliest dated codex to have full page illustrations. None of the original has survived. The term Calendar of Filocalus is sometimes used to describe the whole collection, and sometimes just the sixth part, which is the Calendar itself. Other versions of the names are occasionally used. The text and illustrations are available online. Amongst other historically significant information, the work contains the earliest reference to the celebration of Christmas as an annual holiday or feast, on December 25, although unique historical dates had been mentioned much earlier, notably December 25, 3 or 4 BC by Hippolytus of Rome during 202–211.

A 5th-century "Passio Marcelli", which is included in the legendary account of the martyrdom of St. Cyriacus (cf. Acta Sanct., Jan., II, 10-14) and is followed by the Liber Pontificalis, gives a different account of the end of Marcellus. According to this version, the pope was required by Maxentius, who was enraged at his reorganization of the Church, to lay aside his episcopal dignity and make an offering to the gods. On his refusal, he was condemned to work as a slave at a station on the public highway (catabulum). At the end of nine months he was set free by the clergy; but a matron named Lucina having had her house on the Via Lata consecrated by him as "titulus Marcelli" he was again condemned to the work of attending to the horses brought into the station, in which menial occupation he died. [2]

All this is probably legendary, the reference to the restoration of ecclesiastical activity by Marcellus alone having an historical basis. The tradition related in the verses of Damasus seems much more worthy of belief. The feast of St. Marcellus, whose name is to this day borne by the church at Rome mentioned in the above legend, is still celebrated on January 16. There still remains to be mentioned Mommsen's peculiar view that Marcellus was not really a bishop, but a simple Roman presbyter to whom was committed the ecclesiastical administration during the latter part of the period of vacancy of the papal chair. According to this view, 16 January was really the date of Marcellus' death, the next occupant of the chair being Eusebius (Neues Archiv, 1896, XXI, 350–3). This hypothesis has, however, found no support. [2]

See also

Notes

  1. 1 2 Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Marcellus (popes)"  . Encyclopædia Britannica . 17 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 685.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Wikisource-logo.svg  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Pope St. Marcellus I"  . Catholic Encyclopedia . New York: Robert Appleton.
  3. Loomis, Louise Ropes, ed. (2006). The Book of the Popes (Liber Pontificalis). Merchantville, New Jersey, USA: Arx Publishing, LLC. p. 37. ISBN   9781889758862 . Retrieved 10 March 2015. He was bishop in the time of Maxentius, from the 4th consulship of Maxentius when Maximus was his colleague, until after the consulship.
  4. Loomis, Louise Ropes, ed. (2006). The Book of the Popes (Liber Pontificalis). Merchantville, New Jersey, USA: Arx Publishing, LLC. p. 37. ISBN   9781889758862 . Retrieved 10 March 2015. He established a cemetery on the Via Salaria, and he appointed 25 parish churches as dioceses in the city of Rome to provide baptism and penance for the many who were converted among the pagans and burial for the martyrs.

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References

Titles of the Great Christian Church
Preceded by
Marcellinus
Bishop of Rome
Pope

308–309
Succeeded by
Eusebius