Saint Hormisdas, the Fifty-Second Pope (Successors of Peter – Part 52)

Saint Hormisdas, the Fifty-Second Pope (Successors of Peter – Part 52)

Saint Hormisdas was the Pope who brought streams of light through the dark clouds of unrest and disunity that filled the Church. He was elected as the Fifty-Second Pope on July 20th, AD 514.

Born into a wealthy noble family, Hormisdas immediately began working to restore peace in the Church upon his election as pope. Guided by the principle that all work must start from home, he initiated the process of reuniting with the followers of antipope Lawrence as a foundational step towards achieving peace. His earnest efforts were directed at ending the Acacian schism that had gripped the entire Church at that time.

Pope Hormisdas received the letter from the Byzantine Emperor Anastasius I addressed to Pope Symmachus, inviting him to preside over a council convened at Heraclea in Tarsus to address the theological controversies causing the Acacian Schism (as noted earlier, Pope Symmachus had passed away before receiving the letter). He then forwarded the letter to King Theodoric of Italy. Following consultations with King Theodoric, he dispatched his representatives twice, presenting terms for reunification with Constantinople.

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Pope Hormisdas affirmed the teachings of the Council of Chalcedon, which refuted the Monophysite heresy, along with the document ‘Tomus ad Flavianum’. The document contained the teachings of Pope Leo I affirming the union of two natures (divine and human) in Christ the Son of God, fundamental in resolving the schism. He also intrsucted the patriarch Acacius and the bishops who had a soft approach to the heresy of Monophysitism to be excommunicated.

He also sought that the above action should be publicly recognized and the deposed and exiled bishops should face a retrial by the Holy See, thereby maintaining the primacy of the Pope under the jurisdiction of the Eastern Church. Pope Hormisdus laid the terms of acceptance before the emperor. However, the political conditions in Constantinople were stronger than the circumstances under which the Pope was invited to preside over the Council, so the Emperor was unwilling to accept the Pope's terms.

Additionally, Pope Hormisdas mandated the public recognition of these actions and called for a retrial of deposed and exiled bishops under the jurisdiction of the Holy See. This upheld the primacy of the Pope within the Eastern Church's jurisdiction. The Pope presented these terms for acceptance to the emperor. However, the prevailing political climate in Constantinople proved stronger than the circumstances under which the Pope had been invited to preside over the Council, leading the Emperor to resist accepting the Pope's terms.

Within a year, Emperor Anastasius I passed away, and Emperor Justin I ascended to the Byzantine throne. A staunch Catholic, Justin I wholeheartedly embraced the teachings of the Chalcedonian Synod and declared it as the official faith of the Byzantine Empire.

At King Justin I's invitation, Pope Hormisdas dispatched his representatives once more to Constantinople with the terms previously presented to Emperor Anastasius. On March 28, AD 519, John II, the Patriarch of Constantinople, along with about two hundred and fifty bishops and heads of monasteries from the Eastern Church, reluctantly signed the document known as the formula of faith, also referred to as the "Formula Hormisdae," during a royal audience.

On August 6th, AD524, Pope Hormisdas passed away and was buried in the portico of St. Patrick's Basilica.
-edit&transl. SM

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