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The Papacy - A Historical Perspective

259-296 A.D.

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St. Dionysius : 259-268 A.D.

25. Born in Turio. elected July 22, 259 - died December 26, 268.

He was elected a year after his predecessor because of the persecutions against the Christians. At the time, the barbarians were storming at the gates of the Roman empire.

He reorganized the parishes of Rome and obtained liberty for the Christians imprisoned by Gallienus. A few months after his election, the emperor promoted new laws in favour of Christians and the Church was able to regain possession of many properties, such as buildings and cemeteries.

He is the first Pope not be a martyr. His body rests in Roman Church of San Silvestro in Capite. He was a pontiff for 9 years and 6 months.

Comment: Note that fear kept the Universal Church without a Pastor.

St. Felix I : 269-274 A.D.

26. Born in Rome. Elected January 5, 269 - died December 30, 274.

He asserted the divinity and humanity of Jesus Christ and the doctrine of two natures in one person.

He suffered the persecutions of Emperor Aurelian. He started the custom of burying martyrs under church altars, the celebration of mass on their tombs and liturgical regulations for the cult of martyrs in the catacombs: "hic constituit supra memorias martyrum missas celebrate".

He is buried in the Roman Church of St. Prassede. He was a pontiff for almost 6 years.

St. Eutychian : 275-283 A.D.

27. Born at Luni in Etruria. Elected January 4, 275 - died December 7, 283.

He ordered that martyrs be wrapped with red Dalmatics: a rich tunic reserved for Roman emperors. These tunics are worn by deacons in solemn present-day functions.

He instituted the blessing of the crops and ordered that drunkards be excommunicated until they regained control of this problem.

His body has been transferred to the Cathedral of Sarzana. He was Pope for almost 9 years.

St. Caius : 283-296 A.D.

28. Born at Salona, in Dalmatia. Elected December 17, 283 - died a martyr April 22, 296.

He suffered martyrdom, not ordered by his uncle Diocletian. He established that a bishop could be nominated only if he had already been a hostarius, reader, acolyte, exorcist, subdeacon, deacon and a priest. He started, by accepting the adoration, the ritual of kissing the foot.

With the transfer of the capital of the Empire from Rome to Nicomedia, Caius witnessed the beginning of the events that under Constantine established Rome as the exclusive site of the papacy.

He is buried in the roman Church of San Silvestro in Capite. He was a pontiff for a little over 12 years.

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Index of Roman Pontiffs


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