Pope Stephen I

Last updated
Pope Saint

Stephen I
23-St.Stephen I.jpg
Papacy began12 May 254
Papacy ended2 August 257
Predecessor Lucius I
Successor Sixtus II
Personal details
Birth nameStephanus
Born Rome, Roman Empire
Died(257-08-02)2 August 257
Rome, Roman Empire
Sainthood
Feast day2 August, 3 August
Venerated in Catholic Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
Patronage
Other popes named Stephen

Pope Stephen I (Latin : Stephanus I; died 2 August 257) was the Bishop of Rome of the Roman Catholic Church from 12 May 254 to his death in 257. [1] Of Roman birth but of Greek ancestry, he became bishop after serving as archdeacon of Pope Lucius I, who appointed Stephen his successor.

Pope Leader of the Catholic Church

The pope, also known as the supreme pontiff, is the bishop of Rome and 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.

Rome Capital of Italy

Rome is the capital city and a special comune of Italy. Rome also serves as the capital of the Lazio region. With 2,872,800 residents in 1,285 km2 (496.1 sq mi), it is also the country's most populated comune. It is the fourth most populous city in the European Union by population within city limits. It is the centre of the Metropolitan City of Rome, which has a population of 4,355,725 residents, thus making it the most populous metropolitan city in Italy. Rome is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, within Lazio (Latium), along the shores of the Tiber. The Vatican City is an independent country inside the city boundaries of Rome, the only existing example of a country within a city: for this reason Rome has been often defined as capital of two states.

Pope Lucius I pope

Pope Lucius I was the Bishop of Rome from 25 June 253 to his death in 254. He was banished soon after his consecration, but gained permission to return. He was mistakenly classified as a martyr in the persecution of Valerian, which did not begin until after Lucius' death.

Contents

Stephen held that converts who had been baptized by splinter groups did not need re-baptism, while Cyprian and certain bishops of the Roman province of Africa held rebaptism necessary for admission to the Eucharist. Stephen's view eventually won broad acceptance in the West, However, in the East this issue is still debated.

Cyprian Bishop of Carthage and Christian writer

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.

Eucharist Christian rite

The Eucharist is a Christian rite that is considered a sacrament in most churches, and as an ordinance in others. According to the New Testament, the rite was instituted by Jesus Christ during the Last Supper; giving his disciples bread and wine during the Passover meal, Jesus commanded his followers to "do this in memory of me" while referring to the bread as "my body" and the cup of wine as "the new covenant in my blood". Through the Eucharistic celebration Christians remember both Christ's sacrifice of himself on the cross and his commission of the apostles at the Last Supper.

Western Christianity Religious category composed of the Latin Church, Protestantism, and their derivatives

Western Christianity is a religious category composed of the Latin Church and Protestantism, together with their offshoots such as Independent Catholicism and Restorationism. The large majority of the world's 2.4 billion Christians are Western Christians. The original and still major part, the Latin Church, developed under the bishop of Rome in the former Western Roman Empire in Antiquity. Out of the Latin Church emerged a wide variety of independent Protestant denominations, including Lutheranism and Anglicanism, starting from the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, as did Independent Catholicism in the 19th century. Thus, the term "Western Christianity" does not describe a single communion or religious denomination, but is applied to distinguish all these denominations collectively from Eastern Christianity.

Biography

Following the Decian persecution of 250–251, there was disagreement about how to treat those who had lapsed from the faith. Stephen was urged by Faustinus, Bishop of Lyon, to take action against Marcian, the Novatianist Bishop of Arles, who denied penance and communion to the lapsed who repented.

Decius Roman Emperor

Decius, also known as Trajan Decius, was Roman Emperor from 249 to 251.

Faustin was the fifth bishop of Lyon. He is recognized as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church.

Marcian Eastern Roman (Byzantine) emperor

Marcian was the Eastern Roman Emperor from 450 to 457. Very little of his life before becoming emperor is known, other than that he was a domesticus who served under Ardabur and his son Aspar for fifteen years. After the death of Emperor Theodosius II on 28 July 450, Marcian was made a candidate to the throne by Aspar, who held much influence due to his military power. After a month of negotiations Pulcheria, the sister of Theodosius, agreed to marry Marcian, and Flavius Zeno, a military leader of similar influence to Aspar, agreed to help Marcian to become emperor in exchange for the rank of patrician. Marcian was elected and inaugurated on 25 August 450.

The controversy arose in the context of a broad pastoral problem. During the Decian persecution some Christians had purchased certificates attesting that they had made the requisite sacrifices to the Roman gods. Others had denied they were Christians while yet others had in fact taken part in pagan sacrifices. These people were called "lapsi". The question arose that if they later repented, could they be readmitted to communion with the church, and if so, under what conditions. [2]

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.

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.

Stephen held that converts who had been baptized by splinter groups did not need re-baptism, while Cyprian and certain bishops of the Roman province of Africa held rebaptism necessary for admission to the Eucharist. Stephen's view eventually won broad acceptance in the Latin Church. [1] However, in the Eastern Churches this issue is still debated.

Latin Church Automonous particular church making up of most of the Western world Catholics

The Latin Church, also known as the Western Church or the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest particular church sui iuris of the Catholic Church, employing the Latin liturgical rites. It is one of 24 such churches, the 23 others forming the Eastern Catholic Churches. It is headed by the bishop of Rome, the pope – traditionally also called the Patriarch of the West – with cathedra in this role at the Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran in Rome, Italy. The Latin Church traces its history to the earliest days of Christianity through its direct leadership under the Holy See, founded by Peter and Paul, according to Catholic tradition.

He is also mentioned as having insisted on the restoration of the bishops of León and Astorga, who had been deposed for unfaithfulness during the persecution but afterwards had repented. [1]

The Depositio episcoporum of 354 does not speak of Pope Stephen I as a martyr and he is not celebrated as such by the Catholic Church, [3] in spite of the account in the Golden Legend that in 257 Emperor Valerian resumed the persecution of Christians, and Stephen was sitting on his pontifical throne celebrating Mass for his congregation when the emperor's men came and beheaded him on 2 August 257. [4] As late as the 18th century, what was said to be the chair was preserved, still stained with blood.

Stephen I's feast day in the Catholic Church is celebrated on 2 August. [5] In 1839, when the new feast of St Alphonsus Mary de Liguori was assigned to 2 August, Stephen I was mentioned only as a commemoration within the Mass of Saint Alphonsus. The revision of the calendar in 1969 removed the mention of Stephen I from the General Roman Calendar, but, according to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, the 2 August Mass may now everywhere be that of Stephen I, unless in some locality an obligatory celebration is assigned to that day, [6] and some continue to use pre-1969 calendars that mention a commemoration of Saint Stephen I on that day.

Pope Stephen I is the patron of Hvar and of Modigliana Cathedral.

See also

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References

  1. 1 2 3 Mann, Horace (1912). "Pope St. Stephen I" in The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 14. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  2. Hogan, R.M. (2001). Dissent from the Creed: Heresies Past and Present. Our Sunday Visitor. p. 71. ISBN   9780879734084. Archived from the original on 2016-04-17. Retrieved 2016-03-30.
  3. "Calendarium Romanum" (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1969), p. 133
  4. The golden legend: readings on the saints By Jacobus de Voragine, William Granger Ryan
  5. "Martyrologium Romanum" (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2001 ISBN   88-209-7210-7)
  6. "General Instruction of the Roman Missal" Archived 2008-07-20 at the Wayback Machine 355 c
Titles of the Great Christian Church
Preceded by
Lucius I
Bishop of Rome
Pope

254–257
Succeeded by
Sixtus II