Spirituality for Today – January 2010 – Volume 14, Issue 6

The 41st Pope

St. Zosimus

An illustration of Saint ZosimusThe 41st Pope, St. Zosimus

Pope St. Zosimus (417-418) – Although favored by Saint John Chrysostom, Zosimus was a "fish out of water" when it came to understanding the Western culture of Rome. He needed help. Bishop Patroclus of Arles became an instant confidant of the new pope. Indeed, visitors from Gaul required a letter from the Gallic bishop in order to be received by the pope.

Difficulties with the bishops of Africa arose over the condemnation by the African bishops of the Pelagian,Celestius. He won a hearing of his case before the pope. The clever Celesius became reconciled with the Church. Pope Zosimus should have followed protocol by referring the case back to Africa. After the smoothing of many ruffled feathers and setting doctrinal clarification, Pope Zosimus, concurring with the African bishops, condemned those adhering to the heresy. Matters regarding the African clergy rose again over the case of the priest Apiarius of Sicca who was excommunicated by his bishop in Africa. Apiarius appealed to the pope. If his death did not intervene, Pope Zosimus would have upheld the decision of the African bishops.

The Spanish nobleman and bishop Priscillian wandered onto the heretical grounds of Gnostic Manichean Dualism. Priscillianism held to the existence of a Kingdom of Light and a Kingdom of Darkness. Mankind's salvation rested upon freeing one's self from the material world. Through much diplomacy, the matter was settled.

Pope Zosimus decreed on a number of administrative policies regarding the clergy, the dedication of Easter candles, and an always wise precaution regarding the visiting of taverns by the clergy.

Pope Zosimus was buried in the basilica of San Lorenzo.

Habemus papam