Popes in a Year
#98 - Pope St. Paschal I
Pope from January 25, 817 - February 11, 824
Died: February 11, 824
Given name: Pascale Massimi
Give me the scoop on Paschal I.
Paschal was born to parents Bonosus and Lady Theodora in Rome. As a young man, Paschal was well-educated and eventually made the superior of St. Stephen’s monastery, near St. Peter’s Basilica, by Pope St. Leo III. This appointment made him well known among Rome’s clergy, which explains his unanimous selection as Pope No. 98 on January 25, 817. As pope, Paschal had to deal with a resurgence of iconoclasm in the East, and a violent one at that. He sent a delegation to persuade the emperor, Leo the Armenian, to reconsider while at the same time welcoming refugee monks to Rome for safe haven.
Paschal completely rebuilt several basilicas, and also was known for having decorated and restored bits of many others. As part of that process, Paschal moved many relics from the Roman catacombs into churches around Rome. Paschal died February 11, 824, having reigned for just over seven years. His feast day is May 14.
What was he known for?
Paschal I followed his predecessors in dealing closely with the Frankish kings. Louis the Pious was emperor at the time of Paschal’s election, and soon afterward sent a document confirming the “rights and possessions of the Holy See.” This document also noted that the emperor would be the ruler of those lands in name only, meaning they were now officially the pope’s domain. Later in Paschal’s pontificate, he sent representatives along with generous gifts to the marriage of Lothair I, Louis’ son. Did he RSVP beforehand? We'll never know. A year before Paschal’s death, the pope welcomed Lothair to Rome, where Paschal crowned him emperor.
This pope seemed to have a particular devotion to St. Praxedis, a virgin and martyr from the 2nd Century. One of the basilicas restored by Paschal I was in her name, and a monastery built for monks fleeing the East was dedicated to Praxedis as well. Paschal I was ultimately buried in the Basilica of St. Praxedis (Santa Prassede) upon his death.
What else was going on in the world at the time?
On Christmas Day in 820, Leo the Armenian was assassinated at the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople by a group opposing his rule. Michael II, the palace guard commander, succeeded him.
Coming Tomorrow...Pope Eugene II
SOURCES (and further reading)
John, E. (1964). The Popes: A concise biographical history. New York: Hawthorn Books.
Pope St. Paschal I -
Pope Paschal I -
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Sent by Matthew Sewell on Wednesday, May 17 at 2:00AM