Popes in a Year
#37 - Pope St. Damasus I
Pope from 366-384 A.D.
Died: 384 A.D.
Give me the scoop on Damasus I.
Born around 304 to Antonius and Laurentia, St. Damasus I was a Spaniard. Prior to being pope, he was, believe it or not, more of a fan of the antipope Felix. However, by the time of his election in 366, he had reconciled himself to Liberius, the true pope. As a result of his past beliefs, Damasus battled an antipope, Ursinus, and his angry band of followers. That is, until the Roman emperor banished the latter from Rome for causing trouble.
As pope, St. Damasus was a vigorous defender of orthodoxy, condemning a number of heresies and excommunicating several heretical bishops. He also lived to witness and welcome Emperor Theodosius I’s famous edict, “De fide Catholica” - which declared Catholic Christianity as the official religion of the empire. Damasus died at the age of 79 on December 11, 384, the day on which his feast is now celebrated.
What was he known for?
We can thank St. Damasus I for giving us the revised Latin translation of the Bible known as the Vulgate. He commissioned the great St. Jerome, who was also the pope’s confidential secretary for a time, to make the translation. It was so good, that it eventually became the Church’s officially promulgated Latin version of the Bible at the Council of Trent over 1100 years later.
The papacy of Damasus is one of the first where we can tell for certain where and how a pope was elected. Records show that Damasus was elected in the basilica of St. Lawrence in Lucina (a church in Rome) by a majority of the Roman clergy and faithful on October 1, 366.
What else was going on in the world at the time?
In 371, St. Augustine, the great saint and doctor of the Church, traveled to Carthage at the young age of 17 to continue his education in rhetoric.
Coming tomorrow....Pope St. Siricius
SOURCES (and further reading)
- John, E. (1964). The Popes: A concise biographical history. New York: Hawthorn Books.
- Pope St. Damasus I -
- Pope Damasus I -
- Vulgate -
- 370s -
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Sent by Matthew Sewell on Tuesday, February 21, 2017 at 2:00AM