Popes in a Year
#57 - Pope St. Agapetus I
Pope from 535-536 A.D.
Died: 536 A.D.
Give me the scoop on Agapetus I.
Agapetus was getting on in years, given that sources say his deaconate ordination came as early as 502. Elected on May 13, 535, St. Agapetus I had a busy pontificate, despite only being pope for 11 months. In confirming the canons of a council at Carthage near his election, Agapetus accepted converted Arians to communion in the Church, but made them ineligible to be ordained as clergy. He and five other bishops also made an emergency trip to Constantinople in the middle of winter in an effort to dissuade Emperor Justinian (remember: super Catholic, HUGE fan of the pope) from invading Italy.
The primary purpose of the trip failed, but, being an opportunist, Agapetus took advantage of his presence there to depose the heretic Patriarch of Constantinople, Anthimus, personally replacing him with the more orthodox Mennas. This personal installment by a pope was the first such occurrence in Church history (it usually happened through intermediaries or neighboring bishops), and was a major reason Agapetus is venerated as a saint in both the Eastern and Western churches. He died April 22, 536 in Constantinople and his feast is celebrated September 20, the date of his burial.
What was he known for?
Agapetus is a prime example of how popes can disagree with each other and remain within the boundaries of the faith. If you’ll recall, Pope Boniface II dealt with an antipope (Dioscorus) for his first 22 days in office. After Dioscorus’ death, Boniface II thought it a good idea to pronounce him “anathema” (a heretic, basically) in addition to requesting professions of faith from Dioscorus’ followers.
Agapetus had different ideas -- instead (probably) saying, “Okay, Dioscorus wasn’t perfect, but he wasn’t THAT bad.” In one of his first acts as pope, Agapetus ordered Boniface’s proclamation
before an assembly of clergy, thereby posthumously reinstating Dioscorus into the fold of the Church.
The name Agapetus comes from the Greek Agapito. It means “beloved,” bearing within it the root word agape (uh-GAH-pay), the highest form of love and that love which God has for man.
What else was going on in the world at the time?
The great volcano Krakatoa is reported to have erupted in the year 535, possibly leading to several years of climate change thanks to massive amounts of dust being spewed into the atmosphere.
Coming tomorrow....Pope St. Silverius
SOURCES (and further reading)
John, E. (1964). The Popes: A concise biographical history. New York: Hawthorn Books.
Pope St. Agapetus I -
Pope Agapetus I -
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Sent by Matthew Sewell on Tuesday, March 21 at 2:00AM