Pope Agatho

Pope Agatho (died January 681) served as the Pope from 27 June 678 until his death in 681.[2] He heard the appeal of Wilfrid of York, who had been displaced from his See by the division of the Archdiocese ordered by Theodore of Canterbury. During Agatho's tenure, the Sixth Ecumenical Council was convened which dealt with the monothelitism controversy. He is venerated as a saint by both the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches.

Pope Saint

Papacy began678
Papacy ended681
SuccessorLeo II
Created cardinal5 March 676
by Adeodatus II
Personal details
Birth nameAgáthon
BornPossibly Palermo, Eastern Roman Empire
Died10 January 681[1]
Rome, Exarchate of Ravenna, Eastern Roman Empire
Previous postCardinal-Deacon (676-77)
Feast day
Venerated in
AttributesHolding a long cross


Little is known of Agatho before his papacy but he may have been among the many Sicilian clergy in Rome at that time, due to the Islamic Caliphate battles against Sicily in the mid-7th century.[3] He served several years as treasurer of the church of Rome. He succeeded Donus in the pontificate.[4]


Shortly after Agatho became Pope, St Wilfrid, Bishop of York, arrived in Rome to invoke the authority of the Holy See on his behalf. Wilfrid had been deposed from his see by Theodore, Archbishop of Canterbury, who had carved up Wilfrid's diocese and appointed three bishops to govern the new sees. At a synod which Pope Agatho convoked in the Lateran to investigate the affair, it was decided that Wilfrid's diocese should indeed be divided, but that Wilfrid himself should name the bishops.[5]

The major event of his pontificate was the Sixth Ecumenical Council (680–681), following the end of the Muslim Siege of Constantinople,[6] which suppressed the Monothelite heresy that had been tolerated by previous popes (Honorius among them). The council began when Emperor Constantine IV, wanting to heal the schism that separated the two sides, wrote to Pope Donus suggesting a conference on the matter, but Donus was dead by the time the letter arrived. Agatho was quick to seize the olive branch offered by the Emperor. He ordered councils held throughout the West so that legates could present the universal tradition of the Western Church. Then he sent a large delegation to meet the Easterners at Constantinople.[5]

Pope Agatho (Menologion of Basil II)
Pope Agatho depicted in the Menologion of Basil II (c. 1000 AD)

The legates and patriarchs gathered in the imperial palace on 7 November 680. The Monothelites presented their case. Then a letter of Pope Agatho was read that explained the traditional belief of the Church that Christ was of two wills, divine and human. Patriarch George of Constantinople accepted Agatho's letter, as did most of the bishops present. The council proclaimed the existence of the two wills in Christ and condemned Monothelitism, with Pope Honorius being included in the condemnation. When the council ended in September 681 the decrees were sent to the Pope, but Agatho had died in January. The Council had not only ended the Monothelite heresy, but also had healed the schism.[5]

Agatho also undertook negotiations between the Holy See and Constantine IV concerning the interference of the Byzantine Court in papal elections. Constantine promised Agatho to abolish or reduce the tax that the popes had to pay to the imperial treasury on their consecration.[5]


Anastatius says, that the number of his miracles procured him the title of Thaumaturgus. He died in 681, having held the pontificate about two years.[4] He is venerated as a saint by both Catholics and Eastern Orthodox.[7] His feast day in Western Christianity is on 10 January.[8] Eastern Christians, including Eastern Orthodox and the Eastern Catholic Churches, commemorate him on 20 February.[9]

See also


  1. ^ Mann, Horace. "Pope St. Leo II." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 9. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 12 September 2017
  2. ^ Kelly, J. N. D.; Walsh, Michael (23 July 2015). Dictionary of Popes. Oxford University Press. p. 215. ISBN 9780191044793. Retrieved 26 June 2018.
  3. ^ Jeffrey Richards (1 May 2014). The Popes and the Papacy in the Early Middle Ages: 476-752. Routledge. p. 270. ISBN 9781317678175.
  4. ^ a b Butler, Alban. "St. Agatho, Pope", The Lives of the Saints, Vol. I, 1866. Butler spells the name of Agatho's predecessor as "Domnus"; according to "Pope Donus" in the Catholic Encyclopedia", this is an alternative spelling of "Donus".
  5. ^ a b c d Joseph Brusher, S.J., Popes Through the Ages Archived 6 February 2006 at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ Hubert Cunliffe-Jones (24 April 2006). A History of Christian Doctrine (reprint ed.). A&C Black. p. 233. ISBN 9780567043931.
  7. ^ Ott, Michael. "Pope St. Agatho." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 1. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. 12 September 2017
  8. ^ "Agatho". Oxford Reference. Retrieved 27 June 2018.
  9. ^ "The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church – February". Holy Apostles Convent. Retrieved 27 June 2018.
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Leo II

Year 577 (DLXXVII) was a common year starting on Friday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar. The denomination 577 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.


Year 678 (DCLXXVIII) was a common year starting on Friday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar. The denomination 678 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.


Year 681 (DCLXXXI) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar. The denomination 681 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.


Agatho may refer to:

Pope Agatho (577–681), a pope of the Catholic Church

Pope Agatho of Alexandria, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark

Agatho, the martyred son of Hor and Susia

Barbatus of Benevento

Saint Barbatus of Benevento (Italian: San Barbato) (c. 610 – February 19, 682), also known as Barbas, was a bishop of Benevento from 663 to 682. He succeeded Hildebrand in this capacity. He assisted in a church council called by Pope Agatho in Rome in 680 and in 681 attended the Third Council of Constantinople against the Monothelites.

Byzantine Papacy

The Byzantine Papacy was a period of Byzantine domination of the Roman papacy from 537 to 752, when popes required the approval of the Byzantine Emperor for episcopal consecration, and many popes were chosen from the apocrisiarii (liaisons from the pope to the emperor) or the inhabitants of Byzantine-ruled Greece, Syria, or Sicily. Justinian I conquered the Italian peninsula in the Gothic War (535–554) and appointed the next three popes, a practice that would be continued by his successors and later be delegated to the Exarchate of Ravenna.

With the exception of Pope Martin I, no pope during this period questioned the authority of the Byzantine monarch to confirm the election of the bishop of Rome before consecration could occur; however, theological conflicts were common between pope and emperor in the areas such as monothelitism and iconoclasm.

Greek-speakers from Greece, Syria, and Sicily replaced members of the powerful Roman nobles in the papal chair during this period. Rome under the Greek popes constituted a "melting pot" of Western and Eastern Christian traditions, reflected in art as well as liturgy.

Croatia–Holy See relations

Croatia–Holy See relations refer to the bilateral relationship between Croatia and the Holy See. Diplomatic relations among two countries were established on February 8, 1992 following Croatia's independence from SFR Yugoslavia, although they date far back in history. Croatia has an embassy in Rome, and the Holy See has an apostolic nunciature in Zagreb.

According to the 2011 census, 86.28% of Croatia's 4,5 million people declared themselves Roman Catholics. However, views on actual church dogma, both on social and spiritual matters, varies significantly, with the weekly mass attendance being only 17.3%.Pope Alexander III was the first pope to visit Croatian territories (1177), while Pope John Paul II was the first pope to visit the Republic of Croatia (1994).

List of Greek popes

This is a list of Greek popes. Most were pope before or during the Byzantine Papacy (537–752). It does not include all the Sicilian and Syrian popes of Greek extraction from that period.

Mansuetus (bishop of Milan)

Mansuetus (Latin: Mansuetus, Italian: Mansueto) was Archbishop of Milan from 676 to 685. He is honoured as a saint in the Catholic Church.

Menologion of Basil II

The Menologion of Basil II (also called Menologium of Basil II, Menology of Basil II) is an illuminated manuscript designed as a church calendar or Eastern Orthodox Church service book (menologion) that was compiled c. 1000 AD, for the Byzantine Emperor Basil II (r. 976–1025). It contains a synaxarion, a short collection of saints' lives, compiled at Constantinople for liturgical use, and around 430 miniature paintings by eight different artists. It was unusual for a menologion from that era to be so richly painted. It currently resides in the Vatican Library (Ms. Vat. gr. 1613).

A full facsimile was produced in 1907.


Monothelitism or monotheletism (from Greek μονοθελητισμός "doctrine of one will") is a particular teaching about how the divine and human relate in the person of Jesus. The Christological doctrine formally emerged in Armenia and Syria in 629. Specifically, monothelitism is the view that Jesus Christ has two natures but only one will. That is contrary to the Christology that Jesus Christ has two wills (human and divine) that correspond to his two natures (dyothelitism). Monothelitism is a development of the Neo-Chalcedonian position in the Christological debates. Formulated in 638, it enjoyed considerable popularity, even garnering patriarchal support, before being rejected and denounced as heretical in 681, at the Third Council of Constantinople.

Papal oath (traditionalist Catholic)

While a papal oath can be any oath taken by a pope, such as that which Pope Leo III took on 23 December 800 at a council held in Rome in the presence of Charlemagne declaring himself innocent of the charges brought against him, the term is used in particular for the "Papal Oath" that some Traditionalist Catholics say was taken by the popes of the Catholic Church, starting with Pope Saint Agatho who was elected on 27 June 678. They claim that over 180 popes, down to and including Pope Paul VI, swore this oath during their papal coronations. Pope John Paul I, Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, and Pope Francis who had no coronation ceremonies, did not take the oath, and some Traditionalists interpret this fact negatively, even to the point of declaring them to be false popes.

They claim that by this oath the popes swore never to innovate or change anything that has been handed down to them. This coronation oath is at times confused with the oath against modernism that Pope Pius X mandated for those taking up certain offices in the Catholic Church. There is no evidence that any pope took such an oath during his coronation ceremony.

Papal travel

Papal travel outside Rome has been historically rare, and voluntary travel was non-existent for the first 500 years. Pope John Paul II (1978–2005) undertook more pastoral trips than all his predecessors combined. Pope Francis (2013-), Pope Paul VI (1963–1978) and Pope Benedict XVI (2005–2013) also travelled globally, the latter to a lesser extent due to his advanced age.

Popes resided outside Rome—primarily in Viterbo, Orvieto, and Perugia—during the 13th century, and then absconded to France during the Avignon Papacy (1309–1378). Pope Vigilius (537-555) in 547, Pope Agatho (678-681) in 680, and Pope Constantine in 710 visited Constantinople, whereas Pope Martin I (649-655) was abducted there for trial in 653. Pope Stephen II (752-757) became the first pope to cross the Alps in 752 to crown Pepin the Short; Pope Pius VII repeated the feat over a millennium later to crown Napoleon.

Pope Agatho of Alexandria

Saint Agathon of Alexandria, was the 39th Pope of Alexandria & Patriarch of the See of St. Mark. St. Agathon was a disciple of Pope Benjamin I, the 38th Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church so when Pope Benjamin had to flee to avoid persecution by the Chalcedonians, Agathon remained and led the church.Agathon served like this until Pope Benjamin returned and died, at which time Agathon was officially named the pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church. This happened during the time of the Muslim conquest of Egypt and when Muawiyah I was ruling. Unlike most popes who first serve as monks, Agathon had never been a monk prior to becoming pope- yet he was successful.

During his time as pope, the building of St. Macarius Church in the monastery at Wadi El Natrun was completed.More importantly, he wrote a letter about the nature of Christ, a technicality which is recited by Christians when they recite the Nicene Creed. His letter was given consideration, read and discussed at the Third Council of Constantinople. (The Third Council of Constantinople is counted as the Sixth Ecumenical Council by the Orthodox and other churches). This was a very important event, presided by the pope, where semantics about the nature of Christ and how to reflect that nature in the creed spoken by Christians around the world; was discussed and agreed upon.Like many others before and after, according to the Coptic Orthodox Church, he was harassed. Sometime during his papacy, he was persecuted by a Melkite Byzantine Patriarch named Theodocius, who through his authority, levied large taxes on Agathon, made the people hate him and asked that he be killed. For this reason, Agathon stayed hidden in his cell until the threat of Theodocius went away. Based on church beliefs, he chose his successor based on a dream where an angel told him who should follow him.

Pope Leo II

Pope Leo II (611 – 28 June 683) was Pope from 17 August 682 to 28 June 683. He is one of the popes of the Byzantine Papacy.

San Teodoro, Rome

San Teodoro is a 6th-century church in Rome. It was dedicated to Theodore of Amasea and given to the Orthodox community of Rome by Pope John Paul II in 2004. It and is located on an ancient road between the Roman Forum and Forum Boarium, along the north-western foot of the Palatine Hill.

Santa Maria in Domnica

The Minor Basilica of St. Mary in Domnica alla Navicella (Basilica Minore di Santa Maria in Domnica alla Navicella), or simply Santa Maria in Domnica or Santa Maria alla Navicella, is a Roman Catholic basilica in Rome, Italy, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and active in local charity according to its long tradition. The current Cardinal Deacon of the Titulus S. Mariae in Domnica is William Joseph Levada.

Third Council of Constantinople

The Third Council of Constantinople, counted as the Sixth Ecumenical Council by the Eastern Orthodox and Catholic Churches, as well by certain other Western Churches, met in 680/681 and condemned monoenergism and monothelitism as heretical and defined Jesus Christ as having two energies and two wills (divine and human).


Wilfrid (c. 633 – 709 or 710) was an English bishop and saint. Born a Northumbrian noble, he entered religious life as a teenager and studied at Lindisfarne, at Canterbury, in Gaul, and at Rome; he returned to Northumbria in about 660, and became the abbot of a newly founded monastery at Ripon. In 664 Wilfrid acted as spokesman for the Roman position at the Synod of Whitby, and became famous for his speech advocating that the Roman method for calculating the date of Easter should be adopted. His success prompted the king's son, Alhfrith, to appoint him Bishop of Northumbria. Wilfrid chose to be consecrated in Gaul because of the lack of what he considered to be validly consecrated bishops in England at that time. During Wilfrid's absence Alhfrith seems to have led an unsuccessful revolt against his father, Oswiu, leaving a question mark over Wilfrid's appointment as bishop. Before Wilfrid's return Oswiu had appointed Ceadda in his place, resulting in Wilfrid's retirement to Ripon for a few years following his arrival back in Northumbria.

After becoming Archbishop of Canterbury in 668, Theodore of Tarsus resolved the situation by deposing Ceadda and restoring Wilfrid as the Bishop of Northumbria. For the next nine years Wilfrid discharged his episcopal duties, founded monasteries, built churches, and improved the liturgy. However his diocese was very large, and Theodore wished to reform the English Church, a process which included breaking up some of the larger dioceses into smaller ones. When Wilfrid quarrelled with Ecgfrith, the Northumbrian king, Theodore took the opportunity to implement his reforms despite Wilfrid's objections. After Ecgfrith expelled him from York, Wilfrid travelled to Rome to appeal to the papacy. Pope Agatho ruled in Wilfrid's favour, but Ecgfrith refused to honour the papal decree and instead imprisoned Wilfrid on his return to Northumbria before exiling him.

Wilfrid spent the next few years in Selsey, where he founded an episcopal see and converted the pagan inhabitants of the Kingdom of Sussex to Christianity. Theodore and Wilfrid settled their differences, and Theodore urged the new Northumbrian king, Aldfrith, to allow Wilfrid's return. Aldfrith agreed to do so, but in 691 he expelled Wilfrid again. Wilfrid went to Mercia, where he helped missionaries and acted as bishop for the Mercian king. Wilfrid appealed to the papacy about his expulsion in 700, and the pope ordered that an English council should be held to decide the issue. This council, held at Austerfield in 702, attempted to confiscate all of Wilfrid's possessions, and so Wilfrid travelled to Rome to appeal against the decision. His opponents in Northumbria excommunicated him, but the papacy upheld Wilfrid's side, and he regained possession of Ripon and Hexham, his Northumbrian monasteries. Wilfrid died in 709 or 710. After his death, he was venerated as a saint.

Historians then and now have been divided over Wilfrid. His followers commissioned Stephen of Ripon to write a Vita Sancti Wilfrithi (or Life of Saint Wilfrid) shortly after his death, and the medieval historian Bede also wrote extensively about him. Wilfrid lived ostentatiously, and travelled with a large retinue. He ruled a large number of monasteries, and claimed to be the first Englishman to introduce the Rule of Saint Benedict into English monasteries. Some modern historians see him mainly as a champion of Roman customs against the customs of the British and Irish churches, others as an advocate for monasticism.

1st–4th centuries
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including under Constantine (312–337)
5th–8th centuries
Ostrogothic Papacy (493–537)
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9th–12th centuries
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Saeculum obscurum (904–964)
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13th–16th centuries
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See also

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