The 50th Pope
Anastasius II the 50th Pope
Pope Anastasius II (496-498)
If you have been following our sequential commentaries on the lives of the popes, you probably noticed the lack of the title of "saint" before the name of Anastasius. Of the first fifty popes, Anastasius is one of only two popes – Liberius being the other – who is not honored as saint.
The brief pontificate of Pope Anastasius was occupied primarily with the Acacian Schism which had caused increasing tension between the Church in the East and West. In a nutshell, the split occurred over Acasius, the patriarch of Constantinople, and his acceptance of the election of a bishop of Alexandria who was a Monophysite (belief that Christ had only a divine nature). The Council of Chalcedon refuted this view. Pope Anastasius' predecessors, Felix III and Galasius I, condemned Acasius and that action precipitated the schism.
Pope Anastasius was elected as a pope that would seek reconciliation with the East. Indeed, at the beginning of his pontificate he set out to accomplish just that. He was open to recognizing the baptisms and ordinations performed by Acasius. He was willing to be generous in other areas of contention also. The one consistent element, however, required for reconciliation was the deletion of the name of Acasius from the memorial prayer in the Mass. In the view of the opposition, the pope had been too yielding in his efforts to heal the rift in the Church. They thought Pope Anastasius too open in his treatment of certain clergy adhering to the Monophysite heresy. Those same critics must have seen the hand of God in the sudden death of Pope Anastasius.
Pope Anastasius is buried in Saint Peter's Basislica.