Spirituality for Today – Apirl 2008 – Volume 12, Issue 9

The Twentieth Pope

Pope St. Fabian (236-250)

A black and white illustration of the 20th Pope, Saint FabianOn occasion, a person un-expectantly rises to power to perform far better than others thought. Pope Fabian was such a man. He showed himself to be an individual of high integrity and an outstanding administrator.

There is a touching legend regarding his election as pope. The gathered clergy did not think of Fabian as a candidate for the papacy. During the discussions, a dove landed on Fabian's head. This symbol of the Holy Spirit seemed to be informing the assembly of the Spirit's choice for the next pope. Thus, they elected Fabian.

Pope Fabian enjoyed a lengthy reign that was peaceful until the final year. He launched into a re-organization of the Church in Rome as well as initiating numerous building projects.

Apparently, Pope Fabian had some influence in the imperial court. He was able to secure the return of the bodies of Pontian and Hippolytus and to effect a proper burial for them in Rome. Exiled individuals rarely were granted such favors.

In the year 249, the Emperor Decius came to power. Unlike his two generally tolerant predecessors, Decius perpetrated a vigorous persecution of the Church. Pope Fabian was arrested and would die in prison.

Pope Fabian was interred in the cemetery of Callistus. Later, his remains were buried in the Church of San Sabastian. Pope Fabian is memorialized in Eucharist Prayer I.

Habemus papam