Popes in a Year
#50 - Pope Anastasius II
Pope from 496-498 A.D.
Died: 498 A.D.
Give me the scoop on Anastasius II.
Just the second pope of the first 50 to not be recognized as a saint, Anastasius II was the son of a priest (remember, they could still be married back then) and was elected pope on November 24, 496. The Acacian Schism (over Christ’s two natures) continued to rage and Anastasius II, wishing to get the Church back in union with the East, made several moves to reconcile the two sides (more on that in a minute).
Anastasius II was of a more peaceful and accommodating temperament than his predecessor, having been elected for precisely that trait by those who wanted to end the schism. He also condemned the heresy of Traducianism, which taught that the soul, along with dad’s nose and mom’s eyes, was passed to a child hereditarily instead of being created by God. Anastasius died almost two years to the day after his election (Nov. 16, 498) and was buried in St. Peter’s Basilica.
What was he known for?
Pope Anastasius II is probably best known for being mentioned in Dante’s
, and not in a good way. One of moves toward ending the schism was granting communion to Photinus, a deacon who had been denounced by Gelasius I (the previous pope) as an Acacian heretic. Though it’s reasonable to conclude that our good pope would only have reconciled Photinus if the latter confessed the true faith, Anastasius II was still pilloried for his decision.
Though history now shows Anastasius II to have been in the right (and not a heretic), the immediate reaction to his decision, as well as his untimely death in 498, spun a different tale. The rival faction (against reconciling with the East) called Anastasius’ death “divine retribution” by God. Ouch. Then, a new schism sprung up (more on that on Monday) and Anastasius’ reputation as an apostate lasted through the Middle Ages. It was then that Dante wrote about a burning tomb in the sixth circle of hell, which read, “I guard Pope Anastasius, he whom Photinus drew from the straight path.” Modern Dante scholars, however, now say that he intended to refer to Anastasius the emperor, not the pope.
This marked what has to be one of the only times both the pope and a world leader bore the same name, as both Pope Anastasius II and Byzantine Emperor Anastasius I were in power at the same time.
What else was going on in the world at the time?
Aryabhata, an Indian astronomer and mathemetician, correctly calculated
(3.14…) to four hundred decimal places. There’s upwards of 10 trillion decimal places we know of now (well, that some scientists know of now), but 400 was pretty good back then.
Coming Monday....Pope St. Symmachus
SOURCES (and further reading)
John, E. (1964). The Popes: A concise biographical history. New York: Hawthorn Books.
Pope Anastasius II -
Pope Anastasius II -
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Sent by Matthew Sewell on Friday, March 10 at 2:00AM