Spirituality for Today – January 2012 – Volume 16, Issue 6

The 65th Pope

An image of Sabinian the 65th PopeSabinian the 65th Pope

Pope Sabinian, the 65th Pope (604 – 606)
The state of relations between popes and the people of Rome varied dramatically in the early centuries of the Church. Without a doubt, the unfavorable feelings regarding the pontificate of Pope Sabinian were remarkable. One could scarcely conceive of the funeral procession of a pope having to alter its course through the city in order to avoid hostile protesters. Why was Pope Sabinian so disliked? As a slight balm, one needs to understand that even his predecessor, Pope Gregory the Great, had a low popularity rating at the time of his death. One reason was occasioned by the deterioration of relations with the Lombards and the consequent strain on food supplies entering Rome. Famine broke out in the city. Pope Gregory the Great distributed food to the people free of charge. Pope Sabinian, however, adopted the policy of controlling the distribution through charging the citizens for the food. Of course, he was accused of profiting from those in desperate need. Thus, his favor among the people sunk.

Pope Sabinian differed from Pope Gregory in his view toward clergy advancement. He favored the promotion of secular rather than order clergy to higher posts in the Church.

Considering the short reign of Pope Sabinian, it is amazing how disliked he was. Besides the bizarre requisites of his funeral procession, Pope Sabinian had to be buried in an unknown location within the Lateran.

Habemus papam