Popes in a Year
#43 - Pope St. Celestine I
Pope from 422-432 A.D.
Died: 432 A.D.
Give me the scoop on Celestine I.
Prior to being elected on September 10, 422, St. Celestine I lived in Milan and worked for St. Ambrose. He's also mentioned by Innocent I (Pope #40) in the year 416 as “Celestine the Deacon”. St. Augustine was very fond of Celestine, having written him a letter after his election exhorting the pope’s help to handle an issue with a fellow African bishop. The feeling was mutual, which we know from a letter Celestine wrote to the bishops in Gaul (western Europe) after Augustine’s death in 430. In it, he detailed, as the
reads, “the sanctity, learning and zeal of the holy doctor, and [Celestine] forbade all attacks upon his memory” by those who had an axe to grind with Augustine. Celestine I ruled for nine years, 10 months, and 16 days, and died on July 26, 432.
What was he known for?
Pope St. Celestine I is known for having been the first to deal with a new heresy, known to us as Nestorianism. Nestorius was the bishop of Constantinople when he began preaching the heretical idea that Christ was in fact two distinct persons, not a single person with both a divine and human nature. As icing on the cake, Nestorius also didn’t like the descriptor
, or “God Bearer,” that was often given to the Virgin Mary.
Saying (probably), “You did NOT just insult my Mom,” St. Cyril of Alexandria wrote to Celestine I, asking for his blessing to excommunicate Nestorius and condemn his teaching. Celestine gave Cyril the green light, which led to Nestorianism being condemned at the Council of Ephesus in 431.
In a sense, we can thank Celestine I for St. Patrick’s Day. Just before his death, it was Celestine who commissioned Patrick, the great patron of Ireland, to begin evangelizing there -- and in his last official act as pope, no less.
What else was going on in the world at the time?
In 426, Emperor Theodosius II commanded the destruction of all buildings and pagan temples in Olympia, Greece, then had the statue of Zeus transported to Constantinople.
Coming tomorrow....Pope St. Sixtus III
SOURCES (and further reading)
John, E. (1964). The Popes: A concise biographical history. New York: Hawthorn Books.
Pope St. Celestine I -
Pope Celestine I -
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Sent by Matthew Sewell on Wednesday, March 1 at 2:00AM