Spirituality for Today – December 2012 – Volume 17, Issue 5

The 76th Pope
Saint Vitalian

An image of Pope Saint Vitalian, the 76th PopePope Saint Vitalian, the 76th Pope

Pope Saint Vitalian(657-672) – Among Pope Vitalian's first concerns was to launch an initiative toward healing the rift with Emperor Constans II. Through these efforts by the new pope, tensions lessened to the point that the emperor sent Pope Vitalian rich gifts and Peter, Patriarch of Constantinople, included the pope's name in the liturgy. The contentiousness between the papacy and the emperor came to a conclusion with the assassination of Constans II in Sicily.

Constans II was succeeded by his son, Constantine IV who was aided in his claim to the throne by the support of Pope Vitalian. Appreciative of the pope's approbation, Constantine IV made efforts that proved effective in refuting Monothelitism (Jesus possessed only a divine will) as well as other current unorthodox teachings.

Following the pastoral concerns of his predecessors, Pope Vitalian had a keen interest in the welfare of the Church in Britain. He consecrated Theodore of Tarsus (a highly educated monk) as Archbishop of Canterbury. In doing so, the pope assured that the Mass and other liturgical practices in Britain would follow the Roman Rite.

A dispute occurred between the pope and the archbishop of Revenna who wished to declare his See independent of the authority of Rome. The pope excommunicated the archbishop who promptly excommunicated the pope. With the assistance of Emperor Constantine IV during the reign of Pope Leo II, Revenna would be returned under the authority of Rome.

After a fifteen year reign, Pope Vitalian died and was buried in the Basilica of Saint Peter.

Habemus papam