Pope Agapetus I

Pope Agapetus I (died 22 April 536) was Pope from 13 May 535 to his death in 536. He is not to be confused with another Saint Agapetus, an Early Christian martyr with the feast day of 6 August.[2]

Pope Saint

Agapetus I
Bishop of Rome
Agapito I papa
Papacy began13 May 535
Papacy ended22 April 536
PredecessorJohn II
Personal details
BornRome, Ostrogothic Kingdom
Died22 April 536 (aged 46)
Constantinople, Eastern Roman Empire
Feast day20 September (West)
17 April[1] (East)
Venerated inCatholic Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
Other popes named Agapetus
Papal styles of
Pope Agapetus I
Emblem of the Papacy SE
Reference styleHis Holiness
Spoken styleYour Holiness
Religious styleHoly Father
Posthumous styleSaint


Agapetus was born in Rome, although his exact date of birth is unknown. He was the son of Gordianus, a Roman priest who had been slain during the riots in the days of Pope Symmachus (term 498–514).[2] The name of his father might point to a familial relation with two other Popes: Felix III (483–492) and Gregory I (590–604).[3] Gregory was a descendant of Felix. Gregory's father, Gordianus, held the position of Regionarius in the Roman Church. Nothing further is known about the position.[4]


Jeffrey Richards describes him as "the last survivor of the Symmachan old guard", having been ordained as a deacon perhaps as early as 502, during the Laurentian schism.[5] He was elevated from archdeacon to pope in 535. His first official act was to burn, in the presence of the assembled clergy, the anathema which Boniface II had pronounced against the latter's deceased rival Dioscurus on a false charge of simony and had ordered to be preserved in the Roman archives.

Agapetus assisted Cassiodorus in the founding of his monastery at Vivarium. He confirmed the decrees of the Council of Carthage, after the retaking of North Africa from the Vandals, according to which converts from Arianism were declared ineligible to Holy Orders and those already ordained were merely admitted to lay communion. He accepted an appeal from Contumeliosus, Bishop of Riez, whom a council at Marseilles had condemned for immorality, and he ordered Caesarius of Arles to grant the accused a new trial before papal delegates.[6]

Meanwhile, the Byzantine general Belisarius was preparing for an invasion of Italy. King Theodahad of the Ostrogoths begged Agapetus to proceed on an embassy to Constantinople and use his personal influence to appease Emperor Justinian I following the death of Amalasuntha.[7] To defray the costs of the embassy, Agapetus pledged the sacred vessels of the Church of Rome. He set out in mid-winter with five bishops and a large retinue. In February 536, he appeared in the capital of the East. Justinian declined to call a halt to the planned invasion as preparations were far too advanced.[6] Agapetus immediately turned his attention from the political matter Theodahad had sent him to address to a religious one.

The occupant of the Byzantine patriarchal see was Anthimus I, who had left his episcopal see of Trebizond. Against the protests of the orthodox, the Empress Theodora finally seated Anthimus in the patriarchal chair. When Agapetus arrived members of the clergy entered charges against Anthimus as an intruder and a heretic. Agapetus ordered him to make a written profession of faith and to return to his forsaken see; upon Anthimus' refusal, Agapetus deposed him. The Emperor threatened Agapetus with banishment. Agapetus is said to have replied, "With eager longing have I come to gaze upon the Most Christian Emperor Justinian. In his place I find a Diocletian, whose threats, however, terrify me not."[2] Agapetus, for the first time in the history of the Church, personally consecrated Anthimus' legally elected successor, Mennas. Justinian delivered to the Pope a written confession of faith, which the latter accepted with the proviso that "although he could not admit in a layman the right of teaching religion, yet he observed with pleasure that the zeal of the Emperor was in perfect accord with the decisions of the Fathers".[2] Four of Agapetus' letters have survived. Two are addressed to Justinian in reply to a letter from the emperor, in the latter of which Agapetus refuses to acknowledge the Orders of the Arians. A third is addressed to the bishops of Africa, on the same subject. The fourth is a response to Reparatus, Bishop of Carthage, who had sent him congratulations upon his elevation to the Pontificate.[8] [9]

Shortly afterwards, Agapetus fell ill and died on 22 April 536,[6] after a reign of just ten months. His remains were brought in a lead coffin to Rome and deposited in St. Peter's Basilica. On the Clivus Scauri the archeological remains known as the 'apsidal Hall of the Library of Pope Agapitus I' is located near the ancient Church of St. Andrew on the Caelian Hill.[10]


Agapetus I has been canonised by both the Catholic and Orthodox traditions. His memory is kept on 20 September in the Catholic Church. The Eastern churches commemorate him on 22 April, the day of his death.

See also


  1. ^ (in Greek) Άγιος Αγαπητός πάπας Ρώμης Ορθόδοξος Συναξαριστής
  2. ^ a b c d Wikisource-logo.svg Loughlin, James Francis (1907). "Pope St. Agapetus I" . In Herbermann, Charles (ed.). Catholic Encyclopedia. 1. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  3. ^ Martindale, Jones & Morris (1992), p. 23
  4. ^ Dudden (1905), pages 7–8.
  5. ^ Richards, The Popes and the Papacy in the Early Middle Ages (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1979), p. 127
  6. ^ a b c Brusher, Joseph S., Popes Through the Ages, 1980, San Rafael, California, Neff-Kane, ISBN 978-0-89-141110-9
  7. ^ Breviarium S. Liberati, ap. Mansi, Concilia, vol. ix. p. 695
  8. ^ Smith, William (1867), "Agapetus (2)", in Smith, William (ed.), Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, 1, Boston, pp. 59–60
  9. ^ Mansi, Concilia, viii. pp. 846–850
  10. ^ "The Papal Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore: Church of Saint Andrew on Caelian Hill" Vatican website Retrieved 20 December 2017.


  • Dudden, Frederick H. (1905), Gregory the Great, London: Longmans, Green, and Co
  • Louise Ropes Loomis, The Book of Popes (Liber Pontificalis). Merchantville, New Jersey: Evolution Publishing. ISBN 1-889758-86-8 (Reprint of the 1916 edition. English translation with scholarly footnotes, and illustrations).
  • Martindale, John R.; Jones, A.H.M.; Morris, John (1992), The Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire, Volume III: AD 527–641, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-20160-5
  • Friedrich Wilhelm Bautz (1975). "AGAPET I.". In Bautz, Friedrich Wilhelm (ed.). Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL) (in German). 1. Hamm: Bautz. col. 52. ISBN 3-88309-013-1.
  • Pope St. Agapetus I 

External links

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
John II
Succeeded by

Year 536 (Roman numerals: DXXXVI) was a leap year starting on Tuesday of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the "Year after the Consulship of Belisarius" (or, less frequently, "year 1289 Ab urbe condita"). The denomination 536 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.

In 2018, a medieval scholar nominated 536 as "the worst year to be alive" because of a volcanic eruption, possibly in Iceland, early in the year, that caused average temperatures in Europe and China to decline and resulting in crop failures and famine for well over a year.


Agapetus (Ancient Greek: Ἀγαπητός 'beloved') is a Greek male given name, and may refer to:

Agapetus (physician), ancient Greek doctor

Pope Agapetus I (died 536)

Pope Agapetus II (died 955)

Agapetus (deacon), sixth-century deacon

Agapetus (genus), a genus in the insect family of Glossosomatidae

Agapetus of Pechersk (died 1095), saint of Eastern Orthodox Church

Agapetus, pen name of the Finnish journalist, novelist and playwright Yrjö Soini

Anthimus I of Constantinople

Anthimus I (? – after 536) was a Miaphysite patriarch of Constantinople from 535–536. He was the bishop or archbishop of Trebizond before accession to the Constantinople see. He was deposed by Pope Agapetus I before March 13, 536, and later hidden by Theodora in her quarters for 12 years, until her death.

Antipope Dioscorus

Dioscorus (died 14 October 530) was a deacon of the Alexandrian and the Roman church from 506. In a disputed election following the death of Pope Felix IV, the majority of electors picked him to be Pope, in spite of Pope Felix's wishes that Boniface II succeed him. However, Dioscurus died less than a month after the election, allowing Boniface to be consecrated Pope and Dioscurus to be branded an Antipope.

April 22

April 22 is the 112th day of the year (113th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. 253 days remain until the end of the year.

Basilides (patricius)

Basilides (Greek: Βασιλίδης) was a Byzantine official, who held the office of magister officiorum during the reign of Emperor Justinian I (r. 527–565). He was a member of the commission responsible for forming the Corpus Juris Civilis. On February 13, 528, Basilides was appointed as a member of the commission preparing the Corpus Juris Civilis, serving under Tribonian. Their work was completed in 529. While this is the first chronological mention of him, the text of his appointment mentions him as being already a vir excellentissimus ("most excellent man"), a former praetorian prefect of the East and a patrician. His title of praetorian prefect has been suggested to be honorific, as modern historians find it strange that Basilides could have served in this high-ranking position prior to holding lower offices.On April 7, 529, official texts mention Basilides as the serving praetorian prefect of Illyricum, a rank lower than his previous title of praetorian prefect of the East. A passage of the Greek Anthology mentions a "Basilius" (Greek: Βασίλειος, Basil) who had served as praetorian prefect of Illyricum and whose statue reportedly stood over the east gate of Thessalonica. Cyril Mango has suggested that this "Basilius" was actually Basilides.In January 532, the Chronicon Paschale identifies Basilides as the deputy magister officiorum, replacing Hermogenes who had taken up military duties in the Iberian War against the Sassanid Empire. Basilides was eventually replaced by Strategius.During the Nika riots (January 532), Basilides, Constantiolus, and Mundus served as envoys of Emperor Justinian I to the rioting crowds. They partly attempted to calm the rioters and partly attempted to understand the causes of their wrath. Their report to the Byzantine emperor placed the blame for the uprising on the unpopular financial ministers John the Cappadocian, Tribonian, and Eudaemon, leading to their dismissal from office. Basilides replaced Tribonian as quaestor sacri palatii, the senior legal authority in the Byzantine Empire. He was apparently considered more "acceptable to the people". Soon after, however, he joined Mundus in his attack on the Hippodrome of Constantinople that crushed the revolt. Basilides likely held his position as quaestor for a couple years at most, for Tribonian was reinstated in late 534 or early 535. A later narrative on the building of the Hagia Sophia claims that Basilides helped raise money and material for the building project. However, the narrative involves several miracles and is considered unreliable. Basildes's actual role in the project, if any, remains uncertain.Basilides is next recorded holding the title of magister officiorum. His term lasted from March 18, 536 to November 22, 539. He was also an honorary consul in this period. John of Ephesus reports that Pope Agapetus I, visiting Constantinople, sent a magister and the Excubitors against Zooras, an adherent of Monophysitism. Since the events are dated to March 536, the unnamed magister was probably Basilides. In 539, Emperor Justinian replaced Basilides with Peter the Patrician.Nothing is known of Basilides following the 530s. The late 10th-century Patria of Constantinople reports that the location of his palace in Constantinople was still known by Basilides's name, centuries following his death.

Contumeliosus of Riez

In 534 Pope John II deposed the adulterous Bishop Contumeliosus of Riez (in Gaul), and authorized Caesarius of Arles to appoint a temporary bishop to the diocese. This is notable for being the first act of jurisdiction of this kind recorded of a bishop of Rome.

Contumeliosus was the bishop of Riez in Gaul, and a sufficiently learned man that Bishop Avitus of Vienne forwarded to him some of his works for editing. Contumeliosus was subsequently accused of adultery and alienation of church property. At a Council of Marseilles, convened in 533 by Caesarius, Metropolitan Archbishop of Arles, Contumeliosus admitted to the charges, and was subsequently deposed. Archbishop Caesarius then wrote Pope John II regarding the disposition of the case.In 534 Pope John, wrote to Caesarius, to the bishops of Gaul, and to the clergy of Riez, directing the guilty bishop be confined to a monastery where he might perform an appropriate penance. No time period was apparently specified. John's successor Pope Agapetus I accepted an appeal from Contumeliosus, and he ordered Caesarius of Arles to grant the accused a new trial before papal delegates. Agapetus charged Caesarius with cruelty and injustice in his proceedings against Contumeliosus, although he had acted in accord with Gallican usage and had defended the discipline of the Church. Of two surviving letters of John to Caesarius, both dated 18 July 535, one is about the dispute over Contumeliosus (Mansi, viii. p. 856).

Liberatus of Carthage

Liberatus of Carthage (6th century) was an archdeacon and the author of an important history of the Nestorian and Monophysite controversies in the 5th- and 6th-century Christian Church.

List of canonised popes

This article lists the Popes who have been canonised or recognised as Saints in the Roman Catholic Church they had led. A total of 83 (out of 266) Popes have been recognised universally as canonised saints, including all of the first 35 Popes (31 of whom were martyrs) and 52 of the first 54. If Pope Liberius is numbered amongst the Saints as in Eastern Christianity, all of the first 49 Popes become recognised as Saints, of whom 31 are Martyr-Saints, and 53 of the first 54 Pontiffs would be acknowledged as Saints. In addition, 13 other Popes are in the process of becoming canonised Saints: as of December 2018, two are recognised as being Servants of God, two are recognised as being Venerable, and nine have been declared Blessed or Beati, making a total of 95 (97 if Pope Liberius and Pope Adeodatus II are recognised to be Saints) of the 266 Roman Pontiffs being recognised and venerated for their heroic virtues and inestimable contributions to the Church.

The most recently reigning Pope to have been canonised was Pope John Paul II, whose cause for canonisation was opened in May 2005. John Paul II was beatified on May 1, 2011, by Pope Benedict XVI and later canonised, along with Pope John XXIII, by Pope Francis on April 27, 2014. Pope Francis also canonised Pope Paul VI on October 14, 2018.

Menas of Constantinople

St. Menas (Minas) (Ancient Greek: Μηνάς) (? – 25 August 552) considered a saint in the Eastern Orthodox Church, was Patriarch of Constantinople appointed by the Byzantine emperor Justinian I in 536. Pope Agapetus I consecrated him to succeed Bishop Anthimus, who was a monophysite. He took a position against Origen. He was excommunicated in 547 and in 551 for taking positions counter to those held by the Pope; but in both cases the sentence of excommunication was quickly lifted. Menas' patriarchy represents the greatest extent of papal influence in Constantinople.

His feast day in both the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic traditions is observed on August 25.

Ostrogothic Papacy

The Ostrogothic Papacy was a period from 493 to 537 where the papacy was strongly influenced by the Ostrogothic Kingdom, if the pope was not outright appointed by the Ostrogothic King. The selection and administration of popes during this period was strongly influenced by Theodoric the Great and his successors Athalaric and Theodahad. This period terminated with Justinian I's (re)conquest of Rome during the Gothic War (535–554), inaugurating the Byzantine Papacy (537-752).

According to Howorth, "while they were not much interfered with in their administrative work, so long as they did not themselves interfere with politics, the Gothic kings meddled considerably in the selection of the new popes and largely dominated their election. Simony prevailed to a scandalous extent, as did intrigues of a discreditable kind, and the quality and endowments of the candidates became of secondary importance in their chances of being elected, compared with their skill in corrupting the officials of the foreign kings and in their powers of chicane." According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, "[Theodoric] was tolerant towards the Catholic Church and did not interfere in dogmatic matters. He remained as neutral as possible towards the pope, though he exercised a preponderant influence in the affairs of the papacy."

Papal apocrisiarius

The apocrisiarius or apocrisiary was the legate from the Pope to the Patriarch of Constantinople, circa 452-743, equivalent to the modern nunciature.

Pope Agapetus

Agapetus has been the papal name of two popes of the Roman Catholic Church.

Pope Agapetus I (535–536)

Pope Agapetus II (946–955)

Pope Felix III

Pope Felix III (died 1 March 492) was Pope from 13 March 483 to his death in 492. His repudiation of the Henotikon is considered the beginning of the Acacian schism. He is commemorated on March 1.

Pope Pelagius I

Pope Pelagius I (d. 4 March 561) was Pope from 556 to his death in 561. He was the second pope of the Byzantine Papacy, and like his predecessor, a former apocrisiarius to Constantinople.

Saint-Agapit, Quebec

Saint-Agapit is a municipality in the Municipalité régionale de comté de Lotbinière in Quebec, Canada. It is part of the Chaudière-Appalaches region and the population is 4 137 as of 2015. It is named after Pope Agapetus I.

Saint-Agapit is the hometown of Anaheim Ducks forward Antoine Vermette, who brought the Stanley Cup to the town in July 2015 after winning it while playing for Chicago. Film director Richard Roy's childhood in Saint-Agapit was the inspiration for his autobiographical 2011 film, Frisson des Collines.

Saint Agapitus

Saint Agapitus may refer to:

Agapitus of Palestrina, died c. 274

Pope Agapetus I, died 536

Agapetus of the Kiev Caves, otherwise Agapetus or Agapitus of Pechersk, died 1095

School of Nisibis

The School of Nisibis (Syriac: ܐܣܟܘܠܐ ܕܢܨܝܒܝܢ‎), for a time absorbed into the School of Edessa, was an educational establishment in Nisibis (now Nusaybin, Turkey). It was an important spiritual centre of the early Church of the East, and like the Academy of Gondishapur, it is sometimes referred to as the world's first university. The school had three primary departments teaching: theology, philosophy and medicine. Its most famous teacher was Narsai, formerly head of the School of Edessa.

The school was founded in 350 in Nisibis. In 363, when Nisibis fell to the Persians, St. Ephrem the Syrian, accompanied by a number of teachers, left the school. They went to the School of Edessa, where Ephrem took over the directorship of the school there. It had been founded as long ago as the 2nd century by the kings of the Abgar dynasty. When Ephrem took over the school, its importance grew still further. After the Nestorian Schism, when the Byzantine emperor Zeno ordered the school closed for its teachings of Nestorian doctrine, deemed heretical by Chalcedonian Christianity, the School moved back to Nisibis.

Sergius of Reshaina

Sergius of Reshaina (died 536) was a physician and priest during the 6th century. He is best known for translating medical works from Greek to Syriac, which were eventually translated to Arabic. Reshaina, where he lived, is located about midway between the then intellectual centres of Edessa and Nisibis, in northern Mesopotamia.

The ninth-century translator Hunain ibn Ishaq gives the names of twenty-six medical texts by Galen which Sergius translated into Syriac; they were the first significant translations of medical works from Greek into a Semitic language, and presumably were the textbooks Sergius himself had used when he studied at Alexandria. Hunain is not always complimentary about Sergius's translations, though some he thinks are better, as Sergius became more experienced. Sergius also translated various other works, including the Categories of Aristotle, Porphyry's Introduction to the Categories and theological works by Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite. He also composed two works of his own, On the Influence of the Moon and The Movement on the Sun, probably drawing heavily on Greek sources.

Recently (early 21st century), a palimpsest with an undertext of Galen, translated by Sergius from Greek to Syriac, gathered the attention of scientists. It contains chapters of Galen's On Simple Drugs that had been lost. The imaging and reading of the text is considered crucial, as it will elucidate the role that Sergius played in the transmission of medical knowledge from Greek into Arabic. Sergius' translations of Galen were copied and recopied for centuries, and eventually became a bridge for moving the medical expertise of the ancient Greeks to Islamic societies. Syriac texts were much easier than Greek ones to translate into Arabic.Although Sergius kept in close contact with the mostly Nestorian scholars nearby, he was himself a Monophysite Christian priest. In 535, he was sent to Rome by Ephrem, Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, and escorted Pope Agapetus I to Constantinople. There he died, the following year.

1st–4th centuries
During the Roman Empire (until 493)
including under Constantine (312–337)
5th–8th centuries
Ostrogothic Papacy (493–537)
Byzantine Papacy (537–752)
Frankish Papacy (756–857)
9th–12th centuries
Papal selection before 1059
Saeculum obscurum (904–964)
Crescentii era (974–1012)
Tusculan Papacy (1012–1044/1048)
Imperial Papacy (1048–1257)
13th–16th centuries
Viterbo (1257–1281)
Orvieto (1262–1297)
Perugia (1228–1304)
Avignon Papacy (1309–1378)
Western Schism (1378–1417)
Renaissance Papacy (1417–1534)
Reformation Papacy (1534–1585)
Baroque Papacy (1585–1689)
17th–20th centuries
Age of Enlightenment (c. 1640-1740)
Revolutionary Papacy (1775–1848)
Roman Question (1870–1929)
Vatican City (1929–present)
21st century
History of the papacy
Virgin Mary
See also

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