Saint Julius, the Thirty-Fifth Pope (Successors of Peter – Part 35)

Saint Julius, the Thirty-Fifth Pope (Successors of Peter – Part 35)

Saint Julius was elected as the thirty-fifth Pope of the Holy Church four months after the demise of Saint Mark. Pope Julius I was elected on 6th February AD337. Saint Julius was a courageous Pope who understood the greatness and importance of the position of the Supreme Pontiff of the Church and led the Church with unwavering faith and courage.

Pope Julius enthusiastically spread the teachings of the Nicene Synod and protected the Church and the faithful from the threat of a resurgent Arianism. He worked intensively with Saint Alexandria of Athanasius, a strong defender of the faith, with the bishops of the Eastern Church, to teach about the divinity of Christ to all, and to protect the church.

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During the lifetime of Emperor Constantine, Arianism, which had returned very strongly to the Eastern Church, began to flourish in the Church. Eusebius of Nicomedia, a strong propagator of Arianism, was appointed Patriarch of Constantinople. After the death of Emperor Constantine in 337, the Roman Empire was divided among his three sons. Following Constantine II’s disappearance from history, the Roman Empire was divided between his two sons. Constantius was anointed as ruler of the East and Constans as ruler of the West. Emperor Constans was a staunch Catholic, but Constantius was a strong Arian. Emperor Constans boldly led the Church through his strong declarations of faith and brought back the exiled Saint Athanasius. He also allowed other bishops to return to their dioceses. Enraged at such a move, Eusebius of Nicomedia and his followers sent a delegation demanding the revoking of the said decision. Pope Julius refused to accept their demand and gave his full support to the bishops of the Eastern Church. In A.D.339 Saint Athanasius was exiled again from Alexandria.

Upon hearing this news Pope Julius convened a synod was convened in AD341 and invited both sides to the said synod. At the said synod the Eastern bishops, who had been deposed and exiled, were acquitted of the charges brought against them by the Arian bishops. Following the synod, the Pope wrote a letter to the bishops of the East informing them of the synod's decisions. He also rebuked them for their irresponsible behavior and refusing his invitation. But the Arian bishops of the Eastern Church, angered by the Pope's decision, assembled at Antioch under the leadership of Constantius, emperor of the East, and reaffirmed their claim to Alexandria and validated their judgment on Athanasius. Moreover, Eusebius and his followers accused the bishop of Rome and others of defying the teachings and creed of the Nicene Synod.

Having learnt of the accusations and positions raised by Eusebius and his followers, Pope Julius asked the emperors of the Roman Empire, Constans and Constantius, to convene a synod to resolve the issue. Following this, in AD343 a council was convened at Sardis at present-day Bulgaria. The bishops of the Western Church refused to participate in the said council because the bishops of the Western Church demanded that the exiled Athanasius be present at the council. Even in their absence, the council continued its proceedings, reconfirming Athanasius as bishop of Alexandria, reconfirming the teachings of the Nicene Synod, and re-declaring the said teachings to be false, sharply criticizing Arianism. Moreover, it declared the Pope as the supreme authority and judge of ecclesiastical affairs and gave the condemned and exiled bishop, the right to appeal to the Pope. Emperor Constatius ruler of the Eastern Empire also allowed Saint Athanasius to return to his diocese of Alexandria.

Once Emperor Constans was killed in battle with his brother Constantius in AD350, the Roman Empire was united again under the emperor Constantius. Pope Julius I died on April 12, AD352.
-edit&transl. SM

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