Saint Agapetus I, the Fifty-Seventh Pope (Successors of Peter – Part 57)

Saint Agapetus I, the Fifty-Seventh Pope (Successors of Peter – Part 57)

Saint Agapetus I was elected as the fifty-seventh successor of Peter on 13th May AD535. He was the son of a priest who was killed in AD502 by the supporters of the antipope Lawrence.

Pope Agapetus I was a strong opponent of the practice of appointing a successor during a Pontiff’s lifetime. Once in office, Pope St. Agapetus I burned the document written by the then clergy members condemning Dioscorus of Alexandria in front of the current clergy.

Pope Agapetus I took a strong stance against the Arian heretics of the East and North Africa who taught that Christ was not the Son of God but only the greatest among creations. He even banned Arian heretics from priesthood. The Arian heretics appealed against this to Emperor Justinian I, but Pope Agapetus I refused to back down from his decision.

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Pope Agapetus I left in winter to meet with the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I. The trip was prepared ensuing the information from Ostrogothic King Theodahad that the Byzantine Empire, under the helm of General Belisarius looked to invade Italy. The Pope received a royal welcome in Constantinople, but the mission to Constantinople was a failure. Emperor Justinian I claimed things were too far in motion to stop, and so did not call off the impending invasion.

Viewing the situation through a primarily religious lens rather than as a purely political issue, Pope Agapetus I initiated a meeting with the Byzantine Patriarch Anthimus I. The clergy accompanying Pope Agapetus I questioned Anthimus I's adherence to the faith, insisting on a written confession of his beliefs and his resignation from the position of patriarch.

In response to Anthimus I's refusal to comply with these demands, Pope Agapetus I intensified his questioning, pressing further and with greater vigor. Pope Agapetus I further consecrated Mennas as Anthimus' successor.

Pope Agapetus I after tens months into his papacy, passed away on April 22, AD536. His mortal remains were laid to rest in the portico of St. Peter's Basilica.
-edit&transl. SM

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