Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Lives of First Ten Popes

Fr. John J. Pasquini, Th.D.

PETER 67 (Pont.):  Peter was the first pope chosen by Jesus to lead his Church.  He would die during the persecution of the Church begun by the Roman Emperor Nero.  He would be crucified upside down on Vatican Hill. 

LINUS 67-76 (Pont.): The first successor of Peter, the second pope, Linus, was chosen by Peter, prior to his death, to lead the Church.  As Tertullian writes in 193 AD in his work Adversus Marcionem libri quinque:  “From his chair in Rome, Peter commanded Linus to sit down [as his successor].” 
Linus is best known for encouraging the growth of the clergy in Rome. 
He is often referred to as the Linus of 2 Timothy 4:21 in the Bible, prior to his ascending to the papacy.

ANACLETUS 76-88 (Pont.): [Ana]Cletus, the third pope, is best known for building an oratory for the burial of the martyrs and drawing up rules for the proper consecration or ordination of bishops.

CLEMENT 88-97 (Pont.): The fourth pope Clement of Rome, a friend of Peter and Paul (prior to their deaths), brought about reform in the Corinthian community and asserted the importance of papal authority and apostolic succession. 

Our apostles knew through our Lord Jesus Christ that there would be strife for the title of bishop.  For this cause, therefore, since they had received perfect foreknowledge, they appointed those who [were properly chosen], and afterwards added the codicil that if they should fall asleep [that is, die], other approved men should succeed to their ministry (Letter to the Corinthians, 44).

It is quite relevant to note that the apostle John was still alive at the time when Clement was demanding reform in the Corinthian community.  John sensed no obligation to interfere with the Corinthians or with Clement. One may surmise from this reality that the Roman church--from its earliest foundation--enjoyed supremacy of honor and jurisdiction by virtue of being the church where the successor of Peter resided.

EVARISTUS 97-105 (Pont): The fifth pope, Evaristus, developed parishes and was responsible for the origin of what would become known in time as the “college of cardinals.” 
The apostle John dies during his reign.

ALEXANDER I 105-115 (Pont.): The sixth pope, Alexander I, allowed for the use of holy water in churches and houses. 
He is also known for prescribing that the bread to be consecrated into the Body of Christ was to be unleavened.  He is believed to have formalized the “institution narrative” within the Mass. 

SIXTUS I 115-125 (Pont.): The seventh pope, Sixtus I, emphasized the importance of sacred vessels being handled by sacred ministers.  Sixtus was responsible for continuing the standardization of the liturgy.

TELESPHORUS 125-136 (Pont.): The eighth pope, Telesphorus, composed the “Gloria” and instituted the period of fasting for seven weeks prior to Easter. 
He is also known for inserting new prayers into the liturgy of the Mass.

HYGINUS 136-140 (Pont.): The ninth pope, Hyginus, decreed that all churches should be consecrated.  He instituted the use of godparents for infant baptisms and further organized the ecclesiastical hierarchy. 
He fought the false teachings of the Gnostics Valentinus and Cerdo.  In general, Gnostics believed matter (such as the body and all of creation) was evil.  Only the spirit was good.  The goal in life was to free oneself from the body and all matter.  Gnostics argued that one was not saved by God’s grace, but by “enlightenment,” or “secret knowledge.”    
Hyginus asserted the goodness of matter and spirit, body and soul.  He affirmed that salvation was through the free gift of grace, offered to all.

PIUS I 140-155 (Pont.): The tenth pope, Pius I, opposed agnosticism and is believed to have established the date for Easter as the first Sunday after the March full moon. 
Pius excommunicated and expelled Marcion from the Church for rejecting the Old Testament. 

Pius was also known for reminding the faithful and the clergy of the primacy--in honor and jurisdiction--of the See of Rome, the See of Peter.