March 2007 - Volume 11, Issue 8

The Seventh Pope – Saint Sixtus I


Photo of a painting of Saint SixtusPope Saint Sixtus I, (115-125) - If it seems curious that the sixth successor of Peter would be named Sixtus, one might not be surprised to learn that the oldest rendering of his name is Xystus.

Sadly, little that is completely verifiable is known about him. Much of the information about his life is drawn from a mid-sixth century work known as the Liber Pontificalis - a compilation of papal biographies.

Xystus was born in Rome. Tradition holds that he authored the following ordinances:

  1. Only priests are allowed to touch the sacred vessels.
  2. Bishops once called to the Holy See must bear Apostolic letters upon returning to their dioceses.
  3. During Mass, the people will recite the Sanctus along with the priest.

Traditionally, he is named among the martyrs and is buried in the Vatican. In the twelfth century, it is said that his relics were taken to Altari. Regrettably, much about the life of Pope Saint Sixtus I is speculative.

The Xystus mentioned in the Roman Canon refers to Sixtus (Xystus) II.

Habemus papam.