Spirituality for Today – April 2010 – Volume 14, Issue 9

The 44th Pope

St. Sixtus III

A photo of an old bridge in Rome

Pope St. Sixtus III (432-440) – Whether it was persecutions, theological issues, heresies, or schisms, the young Church faced formidable challenges. The Latin word pontifex means "bridge builder." As a true Pontiff, Sixtus III's pontificate would emphasize the work of bridge building in addressing the manifold divisions within the Church.

Pope Sixtus dedicated himself to the task of healing and unifying. An agreement known as the Formula of Union was reached resolving the debate over the two natures of Christ. He also supported the position of the past Pope and, indeed, the leading theologians of the day in opposing Pelagianism which denied that grace was necessary for salvation.

He also acquired funding to rebuild the basilica of Saint Mary Major. By this effort, he continued the efforts to undue the destruction visited on Rome by the invading Visigoths in 411. Both the nature of the Sacrament of Baptism and the overcoming of the heresy of Pelagianism were depicted on the baptistery of Saint Mary Major.

The Appian Way became the location of the first monastery in Rome – Saint Sebastian. Besides the new monastery, Pope Sixtus, with the cooperation of the emperor, refurbished Saint Peter's and the basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls.

Upon his death in 440, Pope Sixtus III was buried in the cemetery of Saint Lawrence.

Habemus papam