Pope Gelasius I

Pope Gelasius I (died 19 November 496) was a Pope from 1 March 492 to his death in 496.[2] He was probably the third and last Bishop of Rome of Berber descent[3] in the Catholic Church. Gelasius was a prolific writer whose style placed him on the cusp between Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages.[4] Gelasius had been employed by his predecessor Felix III, especially in drafting papal documents. His ministry was characterized by a call for strict orthodoxy, a more assertive push for papal authority, and increasing tension between the churches in the West and the East.

Pope Saint

Gelasius I
San Galasio I
Papacy began1 March 492
Papacy ended19 November 496
PredecessorFelix III
SuccessorAnastasius II
Personal details
Birth nameGelasius
BornUnknown date
Roman Africa or Rome[1]
Died19 November 496
Rome, Ostrogothic Kingdom
Feast day21 November[2]
Other popes named Gelasius
Papal styles of
Pope Gelasius I
Emblem of the Papacy SE
Reference styleHis Holiness
Spoken styleYour Holiness
Religious styleHoly Father
Posthumous styleSaint

Place of birth

There is some confusion regarding where Gelasius was born: according to the Liber Pontificalis he was born in Africa (natione Afer), while in a letter addressed to the Roman Emperor Anastasius he called himself "born a Roman" (Romanus natus).[5] J. Conant suggests that the latter assertion probably just means that he was born in Roman Africa before it was overrun by the Vandals.[6][7]

Acacian schism

Gelasius' election on 1 March 492 was a gesture for continuity: Gelasius inherited Felix's struggles with Eastern Roman Emperor Anastasius and the patriarch of Constantinople and exacerbated them by insisting on the removal of the name of the late Acacius, patriarch of Constantinople, from the diptychs, in spite of every ecumenical gesture by the current, otherwise quite orthodox patriarch Euphemius (q.v. for details of the Acacian schism).

The split with the emperor and the patriarch of Constantinople was inevitable, from the western point of view, because they had embraced a view of a single, Divine ("Monophysite") nature of Christ, which was a Christian heresy according to the Church. Gelasius' book De duabus in Christo naturis ("On the dual nature of Christ") delineated the Catholic view. Thus Gelasius, for all the conservative Latinity of his writing style, stood on the cusp of Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages.[4]

During the Acacian schism, Gelasius advocated the primacy of Rome over the entire Church, East and West, and he presented this doctrine in terms that set the model for subsequent popes asserting the claims of papal supremacy, due to the succession of the Roman Popes from the Apostle Peter.

In 494, Gelasius wrote a very influential letter, known as Duo sunt, to Anastasius on the topic of Church-State relations, whose political impact was felt for almost a millennium.[8]

Suppression of the Lupercalia

Closer to home, Gelasius after a long contest finally suppressed the ancient Roman festival of the Lupercalia,[7] which had persisted for several generations among a nominally Christian population. Gelasius' letter to Andromachus, the senator, covers the main lines of the controversy and incidentally offers some details of this festival combining fertility and purification that might have been lost otherwise. Although the Lupercalia was a festival of purification, which had given its name— dies februatus, from februare, "to purify"— to the month of February, it has nothing to do with the Feast of the Purification of Virgin Mary, also known as Candlemas; that's the commemoration of the Holy Family's fulfillment of the ceremonial obligations required by Mosaic law after the birth of a first-born son. As Moses stipulated, that's observed forty days after Christmas, on 2 February.


After a brief but dynamic ministry, he died on 19 November 496. His feast day is kept on 21 November, the anniversary of his interment, not his death.[2]


Gelasius was the most prolific writer of the early Roman bishops. A great mass of correspondence of Gelasius has survived: forty-two letters according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, thirty-seven according to Father Bagan[9] and fragments of forty-nine others, carefully archived in the Vatican, expounding to Eastern bishops the primacy of the see of Rome. Additionally, there are extant six treatises that carry the name of Gelasius. According to Cassiodorus, the reputation of Gelasius attracted to his name other works not by him.

Decretum Gelasianum

The most famous of pseudo-Gelasian works is the list de libris recipiendis et non recipiendis (lit., "on books to be received and not to be received"), the so-called Decretum Gelasianum, which is believed to be connected to the pressures for orthodoxy during his pontificate and intended to be read as a decretal by Gelasius on the canonical and apocryphal books, which internal evidence reveals to be of later date. Thus the fixing of the canon of scripture has traditionally been attributed to Gelasius.[10]

Gelasian Sacramentary

In the Latin Catholic tradition, the so-called Gelasian Sacramentary, is in fact a liturgical book derived from Roman resources and transcribed, with inclusion of native Gallican liturgical elements, near Paris in the middle of the 8th century. While containing some prayer texts composed by Gelasius, it does not have him as a principal author or organizer. The manuscript (Vatican, Vatican Library, Reg. lat. 316 + Paris, National Library, ms. lat. 7193, fol. 41-56) is actually titled the Liber sacramentorum Romanae ecclesiae ("Book of Sacraments / Mysteries of the Roman Church"). The attribution to Gelasius is based in part at least on the chronicle of the Popes known as the Liber Pontificalis, which says of Gelasius that he 'fecit etiam et sacramentorum praefationes et orationes cauto sermone et epistulas fidei delimato sermone multas', that is, 'he also made prefaces to the sacraments and prayers in careful language and many epistles in polished language regarding the faith' (Translation based upon Louise Ropes Loomis, The Book of the Popes (Liber pontificalis) I, Columbia University Press, New York, 1916, pp. 110-114). An old tradition linked the book to Pope Gelasius, apparently based on Walafrid Strabo's ascription to him of what is evidently this book.

See also


  1. ^ Browne, M. (1998). "The Three African Popes". The Western Journal of Black Studies. 22 (1): 57–58. Retrieved 2008-04-10.
  2. ^ a b c Wikisource-logo.svg Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Pope St. Gelasius I" . Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  3. ^ Serralda, Vincent; Huard, André (1984). Le Berbère-- lumière de l'Occident (in French). Nouvelles Editions Latines. p. 124. ISBN 9782723302395.
  4. ^ a b The title of his biography by Walter Ullmann expresses this:Gelasius I. (492–496): Das Papsttum an der Wende der Spätantike zum Mittelalter (Stuttgart) 1981.
  5. ^ J. Chapin, "Gelasius I, Pope, St.", pp. 121-123, in New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2nd edition, vol. 6, Gale, 2002.
  6. ^ J.Conant, Staying Roman: Conquest and Identity in Africa and the Mediterranean, 439–700, CUP, 2012, p. 83.
  7. ^ a b Monks of Ramsgate. “Pope Gelasius”. Book of Saints, 1921. CatholicSaints.Info. 7 May 2016
  8. ^ Medieval Sourcebook: Gelasius I on Spiritual and Temporal Power
  9. ^ Rev. Philip V. Bagan, The Syntax of the Letters of Pope Gelasius I (Catholic University Press) 1945.
  10. ^ F.C.Burkitt, Review of The decretum Gelasianum", Journal of Theological Studies, 14 (1913) pp. 469–471 (Online copy at Tertullian.com)


The main source for the life of Gelasius, aside from Liber Pontificalis, is a vita written by Cassiodorus' pupil Dionysius Exiguus.

External links

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Felix III
1 March 492 – 19 November 496
Succeeded by
Anastasius II

Year 496 (CDXCVI) was a leap year starting on Monday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Paulus without colleague (or, less frequently, year 1249 Ab urbe condita). The denomination 496 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.


Candlemas (also spelled Candlemass), also known as the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord Jesus and the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is a Christian Holy Day commemorating the presentation of Jesus at the Temple. It is based upon the account of the presentation of Jesus in Luke 2:22–40. In accordance with Leviticus 12: a woman was to be presented for purification by sacrifice 33 days after a boy's circumcision. It falls on February 2, which is traditionally the 40th day of the Christmas–Epiphany season. While it is customary for Christians in some countries to remove their Christmas decorations on Twelfth Night (Epiphany Eve), those in other Christian countries historically remove them on Candlemas. On Candlemas, many Christians (especially Anglicans, Methodists, Lutherans, Orthodox and Roman Catholics) also bring their candles to their local church, where they are blessed and then used for the rest of the year; for Christians, these blessed candles serve as a symbol of Jesus Christ, who referred to himself as the Light of the World.


Decretum may refer to:

The Decretum Gratiani, a collection of Canon law compiled in the twelfth century by a jurist named Gratian

Decretum Gelasianum, traditionally attributed to Pope Gelasius I, contains a list of works adjudged apocryphal

Decretum de Iudaeis, a series of draft documents of the Second Vatican Council, ultimately released as Nostra aetate

The Decretum of Burchard of Worms, a collection of Canon law compiled the early eleventh century

Decretum Gelasianum

The Decretum Gelasianum or the Gelasian Decree is so named because it was traditionally thought to be a Decretal of the prolific Pope Gelasius I, bishop of Rome 492–496. The work reached its final form in a five-chapter text written by an anonymous scholar between 519 and 553, the second chapter of which is a list of books of Scripture presented as having been made Canonical by a Council of Rome under Pope Damasus I, bishop of Rome 366–383. This list, known as the Damasine List, represents the same canon as shown in the Council of Carthage Canon 24, 419 AD.

Ember days

In the liturgical calendar of the Western Christian churches, ember days are four separate sets of three days within the same week — specifically, the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday — roughly equidistant in the circuit of the year, that are set aside for fasting and prayer. These days set apart for special prayer and fasting were considered especially suitable for the ordination of clergy. The Ember Days are known in Latin as the quatuor anni tempora (the "four seasons of the year"), or formerly as the jejunia quatuor temporum ("fasts of the four seasons").

The four quarterly periods during which the ember days fall are called the embertides.


Ereleuva (born before AD 440, died c. 500?) was the mother of the Ostrogothic king Theoderic the Great. She is often referred to as the concubine of Theoderic's father, Theodemir, although historian Thomas Hodgkin notes "this word of reproach hardly does justice to her position. In many of the Teutonic nations, as among the Norsemen of a later century, there seems to have been a certain laxity as to the marriage rite..." That Gelasius refers to her as regina ("queen") suggests that she had a prominent social position despite the informality of her union with Theodemir.Ereleuva was Catholic, and was baptised with the name Eusebia. She had probably converted from Arianism as an adult, but the details are unclear in the historical record. Ereleuva is regarded as having taken to Catholicism quite seriously, as indicated by her correspondence with Pope Gelasius and mention of her in Ennodius's Panegyric of Theoderic.Her name was variously spelled by historians in antiquity as Ereriliva (by the fragmentary chronicle of Anonymus Valesianus, c. 527) and Erelieva (by Jordanes), and is now largely known to modern historians as Ereleuva, as she was addressed most frequently by Pope Gelasius I. Related to the Erilaz from which the Heruli were tied with the Ostrogoths even after they returned to Scandinavia.

Famuli vestrae pietatis

Famuli vestrae pietatis, also known by the Latin mnemonic duo sunt ("there are two"), is a letter written in 494 by Pope Gelasius I to Byzantine Emperor Anastasius I Dicorus which expressed the Gelasian doctrine. According to commentary in the Enchiridion symbolorum, the letter is "the most celebrated document of the ancient Church concerning the two powers on earth." The Gelasian doctrine articulates a Christian theology about division of authority and power. All Medieval theories about division of power between priestly spiritual authority and secular temporal authority were versions of the Gelasian doctrine. According to the Gelasian doctrine, secular temporal authority is inferior to priestly spiritual authority since a priestly spiritual authority is responsible for the eternal condition of both a secular temporal authority and the subjects of that secular temporal authority but "implies that the priestly authority is inferior to the secular authority in the secular domain."

Gelasian Sacramentary

The so-called Gelasian Sacramentary (Latin: Sacramentarium Gelasianum) is a book of Christian liturgy, containing the priest's part in celebrating the Eucharist. It is the second oldest western liturgical book that has survived: only the Verona Sacramentary is older.

The book exists in several manuscripts, the oldest of which is an 8th-century manuscript in the Vatican Library, acquired from the library of Queen Christina of Sweden (thus MS Reginensis 316); in German scholarship this is referred to as the Altgelasianum, and is considered the sacramentary used by Saint Boniface in his mid-8th century mission on the European continent. This is the most important surviving Merovingian illuminated manuscript, and shows a synthesis of Late Antique conventions with "barbarian" migration period art motifs comparable to the better known insular art of Britain and Ireland.

In none of its old manuscripts does the book bear the name of Gelasius but is simply called Liber sacramentorum Romanae ecclesiae ("Book of Sacraments of the Church of Rome"). However, an old tradition linked the book to Pope Gelasius I, apparently based on Walafrid Strabo's ascription of what is evidently this book to the 5th-century pope. The sacramentary was compiled near Paris around 750, and it contains a mixture of Gallican and Roman elements. The dating of the liturgical contents are not based on characteristics of the surviving manuscript itself (ca 750): most of its liturgy reflects the mix of Roman and Gallican practice inherited from the Merovingian church. In 785-6 the reforms of Pope Gregory I, Gregory the Great, were supplied to Charlemagne by Pope Hadrian I. The spurious ascription to Gelasius gave an added authority to the contents, which are an important document of pre-Gregorian liturgy.

Among several distinct rites current in the West before the 8th century, the two most influential were the Roman rite used in Italy south of Lombardy and the Gallican in use in most of the rest of Western Europe, save Iberia and the British Isles. By 700 the influence of the Roman sacramentary had modified Gallican usage. This mixture of rites represented in the Gelasian Sacramentary was superseded when Charlemagne asked Pope Hadrian to provide an authentic Roman sacramentary for use throughout the empire. In 785-86, the pope sent the emperor the Sacramentarium Hadrianum, a version of the Gregorian Sacramentary for papal use, which was adapted for the Carolingian empire.

The "Gelasian Sacramentary" comprises the pre-Gregorian three parts, corresponding to the liturgical year, made up of masses for Sundays and feasts, prayers, rites and blessings of the Easter font and of the oil, prayers at dedication of churches, and for the reception of nuns.


Gelasius may refer to:

Pope Gelasius I (died 496)

Pope Gelasius II (died 1119)

Gelasius of Cyzicus (fifth century), ecclesiastical writer

Gelasius of Caesarea (died 395), bishop of Caesarea

Gelasius, Archbishop of Armagh (1137 to 1174)

Gelasius O'Cullenan, Cistercian Abbot of Boyle, Ireland

Infancy Gospel of Thomas

The Infancy Gospel of Thomas is a biographical gospel about the childhood of Jesus, believed to date latest to the 2nd century or earlier. It does not form part of the biblical canon in any form of Christianity.

The Infancy Gospel of Thomas is thought to be Gnostic in origin. Later references (by Hippolytus of Rome and Origen of Alexandria) to a "Gospel of Thomas", are more likely to be referring to this Infancy Gospel, than to the wholly different Gospel of Thomas with which it is sometimes confused.Early Christians regarded the Infancy Gospel of Thomas as inauthentic and heretical. Hipploytus identified it as a fake and a heresy in his Refutation of All Heresies, and his contemporary Origen referred to it in a similar way in a homily written in the early 3rd century. Eusebius rejected it as a heretical "fiction" in the third book of his 4th-century Church History, and Pope Gelasius I included it in his list of heretical books in the 5th century.

While non-canonical in Christianity, the Infancy Gospel of Thomas contains many miracles and stories of Jesus referenced in the Qur'an, like Jesus giving life to clay birds.


Kilmihil (Irish: Cill Mhichíl, meaning "Church of St. Michael the Archangel") is a village in the Barony of Clonderlaw, west County Clare, Ireland. It is also a civil parish and an ecclesiastical parish in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Killaloe. The area was officially classified as part of the West Clare Gaeltacht; an Irish-speaking community; until 1956.

Margaret the Virgin

Margaret, known as Margaret of Antioch in the West, and as Saint Marina the Great Martyr (Greek: Ἁγία Μαρίνα) in the East, is celebrated as a saint on July 20 in the Western Rite Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches, on July 17 (Julian calendar) by the Eastern-Rite Orthodox Church and on Epip 23 and Hathor 23 in the Coptic Churches.Said to have been martyred in 304, she was declared apocryphal by Pope Gelasius I in 494, but devotion to her revived in the West with the Crusades.

She was reputed to have promised very powerful indulgences to those who wrote or read her life, or invoked her intercessions; these no doubt helped the spread of her cultus.Margaret is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, and is one of the saints who spoke to Joan of Arc.

Order of Saint Paul the First Hermit

The Order of Saint Paul the First Hermit (Latin: Ordo Fratrum Sancti Pauli Primi Eremitae, Croatian: Red svetog Pavla prvog pustinjaka – pavlini, Czech: Řád paulínů, German: Pauliner, Hungarian: Szent Pál első remete szerzeteseinek rendje, Polish: Paulini – Zakon Świętego Pawła Pierwszego Pustelnika, Slovak: Rád Svätého Pavla Prvého Pustovníka), known also simply as Pauline Fathers, is a monastic order of the Roman Catholic Church, founded in Hungary during the 13th century. Its post-nominal letters are O.S.P.P.E.

This name is derived from the hermit Saint Paul of Thebes (died c. 345), canonized in 491 by Pope Gelasius I. After his death, a monastery taking him as its model was founded on Mount Sinai and still exists today.

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."

Photinus of Thessalonica

Photinus (Greek: Φωτεινός, romanized: Phōteinós) of Thessalonica was a disciple of Acacius, Patriarch of Constantinople (471–489) and a deacon in the Church.

Pope Felix III (13 March 483–492) excommunicated Acacius for his heretical theories. Thus the foundation was laid for the Acacian Schism between the Eastern and Western Christian Churches.Photinus was sent to Pope Anastasius II (496–498), probably by a supporter of Acasius, to plead his case. This Pope was, however, a moderate and tried to resolve the conflict by allowing the heretic deacon, who had been labelled an Acacian by his predecessor Pope Gelasius I, to partake in holy communion. This peace offering did not sway Photinus, but did result in suspicions among certain groups of Christians in the West about the views and opinions of Pope Anastasius.

Pope Anastasius died shortly after this visit in 498 and many Christians in the West perceived his death as a sign of God thus deepening the growing divide between the Western and Eastern Christian Churches even further, which resulted in an additional schism, the so-called Laurentian Schism.

Pope Gelasius

Pope Gelasius can refer to:

Pope Gelasius I, in office 492–496

Pope Gelasius II, in office 1118–1119


Potestas is a Latin word meaning power or faculty. It is an important concept in Roman Law.

Presentation of Jesus at the Temple

The Presentation of Jesus at (or in) the Temple is an early episode in the life of Jesus, describing his presentation at the Temple in Jerusalem in order to officially induct him into Judaism, that is celebrated by many Christian Churches on the holiday of Candlemas. It is described in the chapter 2 of the Gospel of Luke in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. Within the account, "Luke's narration of the Presentation in the Temple combines the purification rite with the Jewish ceremony of the redemption of the firstborn (Luke 2:23–24)."In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Presentation of Jesus at the temple is celebrated as one of the twelve Great Feasts, and is sometimes called Hypapante (Ὑπαπαντή, = "Meeting" in Greek). In Western Christianity, the additional name for the Service the day, Candlemas, is added. This Feast-day is also known as the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin or the Meeting of the Lord.In some liturgical churches, Vespers (or Compline) on the Feast of the Presentation marks the end of the Epiphany season. In the Church of England, the Mother Church of the Anglican Communion, the Presentation of Christ in the Temple is a Principal Feast celebrated either on 2 February or on the Sunday between 28 January and 3 February. In the Catholic Church, especially since the time of Pope Gelasius I (492-496) who in the fifth century contributed to its expansion, the Presentation is celebrated on 2 February and is the fourth Joyful Mystery of the Rosary.

In the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion and the Lutheran Church, the episode was also reflected in the once-prevalent custom of churching new mothers forty days after the birth of a child.

Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day, also called Saint Valentine's Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, is celebrated annually on February 14. It originated as a Western Christian feast day honoring one or two early saints named Valentinus. Valentine's Day is recognized as a significant cultural, religious, and commercial celebration of romance and romantic love in many regions around the world, although it is not a public holiday in any country.

There are numerous martyrdom stories associated with various Valentines connected to February 14, including a written account of Saint Valentine of Rome's imprisonment for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians persecuted under the Roman Empire. According to legend, Saint Valentine restored sight to the blind daughter of his judge, and he wrote her a letter signed "Your Valentine" as a farewell before his execution.The Feast of Saint Valentine was established by Pope Gelasius I in AD 496 to be celebrated on February 14 in honour of the Christian martyr, Saint Valentine of Rome, who died on that date in AD 269. The day first became associated with romantic love within the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th century, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. In 18th-century England, it grew into an occasion in which couples expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards (known as "valentines"). Valentine's Day symbols that are used today include the heart-shaped outline, doves, and the figure of the winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have given way to mass-produced greeting cards. In Europe, Saint Valentine's Keys are given to lovers "as a romantic symbol and an invitation to unlock the giver's heart", as well as to children to ward off epilepsy (called Saint Valentine's Malady).Saint Valentine's Day is an official feast day in the Anglican Communion and the Lutheran Church. Many parts of the Eastern Orthodox Church also celebrate Saint Valentine's Day on July 6 and July 30, the former date in honor of Roman presbyter Saint Valentine, and the latter date in honor of Hieromartyr Valentine, the Bishop of Interamna (modern Terni).

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

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.