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The Papacy - A Historical Perspective

175-222 A.D.

St. Eleutherius : 175-189 A.D.

13. Born at Nicopolis in Epirus Elected in 175 - died a martyr in 189.

King Lucius of England and his people were converted to Christianity, through baptism, by Fugazius and Damian who were sent by Eleutherius upon request of the king. He dispensed the Christians from following several dietary laws of Jewish origin.

He is buried in the Vatican Grottoes. His pontificate lasted more than 14 years.

St. Victor I : 189-199 A.D.

14. Born in Africa. Elected in 189, he died in 199.

He established that any kind of water could be used for the celebration of baptism in a case of an emergency. He fought against the bishops of Asia and Africa to establish the celebration of Easter on Sunday, according to Roman rights and without any Jewish customs.

He succeeded, with regard to the day, to establish Sunday as the celebration day and never to have it on the same day as the Hebrew Easter. During the third century, all the Christian churches adhered to these newly established days.

The Ghirlandaio painted his portrait, dressed in his pontifical attire, in the Sistine Chapel.

He was buried in the Vatican Grottoes after having pontificated for 10 years.

St. Zephyrinus: 199-217 A.D.

15. Born in Rome. Elected in 199 - died a martyr in 217.

He decreed that from the age of 14 everybody had to receive the Holy Communion on Easter Sunday.

His pontificate was characterized by bitter theological struggles. He excommunicated Tertullian, introduced the use of the paten and forbade the use of the wooden chalice, replacing it with a glass chalice. Later on, the glass chalice was replaced with a chalice made of precious metals.

At the beginning of the third century , the symbol of sanctity, "the halo", around the heads of angels, saints and the Blessed Virgin started to appear on every representation of these figures.

His body rests in the Roman Church of San Silvestro in Capite. He was a pontiff for over 18 years.

St. Callistus I : 217-222 A.D.

16. Born in Rome. Elected in 217 - died a martyr in 222.

Callistus was the conceiver of the famous Catacombs on the Appian Way, where 46 popes and about 200,000 martyrs are buried.

Imprisoned and exiled to Sardinia, by the Jews, he was condemned to work in the caves.

He apparently forbade matrimony between relatives.

He was beaten to death and thrown into a well where the Church of Santa Maria in Trastevere now stands. He was buried in the cemetery of Caledopius on the Aurelian Way. His pontificate lasted a little over 5 years. Fra’ Diamante painted his portrait in the Sistine Chapel.

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Index of Roman Pontiffs

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