St Zephyrinus

Pope Saint
Zephyrinus
Papacy began 199
Papacy ended 20 December 217
Predecessor Victor I
Successor Callixtus I
Personal details
Birth name Zepheniah
Born ???
Rome, Roman Empire
Died 20 December 217
Rome, Roman Empire
Sainthood
Feast day 20 December

Pope Zephyrinus (died 20 December 217) was bishop of Rome or pope from 199 to his death in 217.[1] He was born in Rome. His predecessor was Pope Victor I. Upon his death on 20 December 217, he was succeeded by his principal advisor, Pope Callixtus I.

Papacy

During the 17-year pontificate of Zephyrinus, the young Church endured severe persecution under the Emperor Severus until his death in the year 211. To quote Alban Butler, "this holy pastor was the support and comfort of the distressed flock".[2] According to St. Optatus, Zephyrinus also combated new heresies and apostases, chief of which were Marcion, Praxeas, Valentine and the Montanists.[3] Eusebius insists that Zephyrinus fought vigorously against the blasphemies of the two Theodotuses, who in response treated him with contempt, but later called him the greatest defender of the divinity of Christ. Although he was not physically martyred for the faith, his suffering – both mental and spiritual – during his pontificate have earned him the title of martyr.[4]

Conflicts

During the reign of the Emperor Severus (193–211), relations with the young Christian Church deteriorated, and in 202 or 203 the edict of persecution appeared which forbade conversion to Christianity under the severest penalties.[1]

Zephyrinus's predecessor Pope Victor I had excommunicated Theodotus the Tanner for reviving a heresy that Christ while a prophet, was only a mere man. Theodotus' followers formed a separate heretical community at Rome ruled by another Theodotus, the Money Changer, and Aselepodotus. Natalis, who had confessed the faith before the prosecutors and underwent torments in defence of it, was persuaded by Asclepiodotus to become a bishop in their sect in exchange for a monthly stipend of 150 denarii. But Natalis reportedly experienced several visions warning him to abandon these heretics. According to an anonymous work entitled The Little Labyrinth and quoted by Eusebius, Natalis was whipped a whole night by an angel; the next day he donned sackcloth and ashes, and weeping bitterly threw himself at the feet of Zephyrinus.[5]

Feast day

The feast of St Zephyrinus, Pope and Martyr, is held on 26 August[6] in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, it is celebrated in the Ordinary Form on 20 December, the date of his death.[7]

Notes

References

  • Rendina, Claudio, The Popes' Histories and Secrets (2002)
  • public domain: 

External links

Saints portal
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Victor I
Bishop of Rome
Pope

199–217
Succeeded by
Callixtus I

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