Popes in a Year
#61 - Pope John III
Pope from July 17, 561 - July 13, 574 A.D.
Died: 574 A.D.
Birth name: Catelinus
Give me the scoop on John III.
Born to distinguished Roman family, John III was the second pope so far to have taken a different name than the one he was given at birth. Originally named Catelinus, he opted for the name John upon his election July 17, 561. Probably just a dog person. Though John was pope for well over a decade, surprisingly little is known about his time in office due to it coinciding with the tumultuous Lombard invasion of Italy. He died four days short of his 13th anniversary as pope and was buried in St. Peter’s Basilica.
What was he known for?
At the very least, we know that John III was a big-hearted guy who fought zealously to uphold the well-being of his people. Apparently, an inscription about him that still existed in the 15th century read, “In the midst of straits he knew how to be bountiful, and feared not to be crushed amidst a crumbling world.” Charitable
fearless. Check and check.
After some political drama and the marauding Lombards forced John from Rome, he eventually found refuge in the catacomb of Praetextatus, which had been built at the end of the 2nd century. After spending several months there, John began to admire the historic burial grounds, and following his exit ordered them to be restored and equipped for regular Masses.
What else was going on in the world at the time?
The new Hagia Sophia was completed at a cost of around 20,000 pounds of gold. Its magnificent beauty, however, made it worth the cost, as it became the crown jewel of Eastern Orthodoxy and remains one of the world's great architectural achievements.
Coming tomorrow....Pope Benedict I
SOURCES (and further reading)
John, E. (1964). The Popes: A concise biographical history. New York: Hawthorn Books.
Pope John III -
Pope John III -
Missed a day? Click here.
Click to share with friends!
About Popes in a Year
- We send these Monday-Friday (NOT on weekends)
- Know someone who wants to sign up? Send them to
Sent by Matthew Sewell on Monday, March 27 at 2:00AM