Spirituality for Today – May 2011 – Volume 15, Issue 10

The 57th Pope
Saint Agapetus I

An image of Pope Agapetus IPope Saint Agapetus I the 57th Pope

Pope II (535 – 536)
Although he would die in less than a year, the elderly Pope Agapetus would have a notable pontificate. As a staunch defender of the policy that no living pope should nominate his successor, he initiated his reign by publicly burning the decree of anathema issued by Pope Bonaface II against Dioscurus. In all probability the legitimately elected pope, the anti-pope (sort of) Dioscurus eventually bowed to the favorite of Bonaface II to succeed him, a candidate named Mercury who became Pope John II.

Pope Agapetus supported the decisions of the Council of Carthage regarding the re-admission and status of repentant Arians. His great accomplishment, however, had to do with a diplomatic failure, but an ecclesiastical victory.

The Emperor Justinian, desirous of reclaiming what he could of the past Western Empire, was set to invade Italy. The Gothic King of Italy Theodehad implored the pope to go to Justinian in order to dissuade him from the invasion. The Pope complied with the request, paying for the expense by pawning the sacred vessels of the Vatican, and went to Constantinople. The political aims were bound to fail. On arriving, the Pope was bestowed with all the honors the head of the Catholic Church deserved. While present at Constantinople, he settled a dispute regarding the rightful occupant of the Byzantine See. The favorite candidate of the Empress Theodora was a certain Anthimus, whose orthodoxy was much in question. The pope heard the voices of opposition expressed by the orthodox bishops and removed Anthimus and, in an unprecedented act, consecrated the legally elected successor Mennas. Pope Agapetus is venerated as a saint in both the Western and Eastern Church.

Pope Agapetus I is buried at Saint Peter's Basilica.

Habemus papam