Spirituality for Today – September 2008 – Volume 13, Issue 2

The Twenty-Fifth Pope

Saint Dionysius

An illustration of Saint Dionysius, the twenty-fifth PopePope St. Dionysius (260-268) – The persecutions of the emperor Valerian had left the Roman church in chaos. Nearly two years would pass before the papal election took place. The delay, however, would produce one of the most significant papal reigns of the third century. Pope Dionysius possessed excellent organizational and diplomatic skills. A stroke of luck occurred when, at the death of Valerian, his son Gallienus became emperor. Gallienus was favorably disposed toward Christianity and restored to the church the properties confiscated by his father.

Pope Dionysius greatly improved the administrative structure of the Church and exercised leadership in the global Church regarding the issues of the day. One essential concern was the clarification of the teaching on the Trinity. Teachings known as Sabellianism and Subordinationalism (Jesus was not of the same divine essence as the Father, but was a creature.) was being espoused by some bishops. Pope Dionysius called a synod that affirmed the traditional teaching of the Church on the Trinity.

The influence and pastoral care of Pope Dionysius of the worldwide Church was manifested in his concern for the church in Cappadocia under invasion by the Goths. He wrote letters of encouragement and funded the ransom of Christian captives.

Pope Dionysius did not suffer the death of a martyr. He is buried in the cemetery of Callistus on the Appian Way in Rome.

Habemus papam