The 61st Pope
John III the 61st Pope
Pope John III (561 – 574)
At birth, the new pope was named Catelinus. He became the second pope to change his name after being elected pope. As with the previous pope, he was favored by the emperor Justinian and the viceroy of Italy Narses. During his papacy, the barbarian Lombards launched an invasion of Italy. The Lombard threat had the positive effect of quieting the tensions between Rome and other dioceses in the West that worsened during the reign of Pelagius. When the death of Justinian occurred, there was a marked improvement in relations with the dioceses of North Africa.
As the Lombards continued to encroach farther into Italy, Pope John sought the aid of the very competent general Narses. Unfortunately, Narses was strongly disliked in Rome in spite of the fact that the Lombards feared him. The situation deteriorated to the point that the pope left Rome for a nearby residence. After a short time Narses died. Pope John III would die not long after. Little more is known about his papacy, but he was devoted to his pastoral work. There is an inscription about him which states, "...in the midst of straits he knew how to be bountiful, and feared not to be crushed amidst a crumbling world."
Pope John III was buried in Saint Peter Basilica.