Pope Paschal I

Pope Paschal I (Latin: Paschalis I; born Pascale Massimi; died 824) was Pope from 25 January 817 to his death in 824.

Paschal was a member of one of the aristocratic families of Rome. He was in charge of a monastery that served pilgrims. He was elected pope in January 817. In 823, Paschal crowned Lothair I as King of Italy. He rebuilt a number of churches in Rome, including three basilicas.

Pope Saint

Paschal I
98-St.Paschal I
Papacy began25 January 817
Papacy ended824
PredecessorStephen IV
SuccessorEugene II
Personal details
Birth namePasquale dei Massimi
BornRome, Papal States
Rome, Papal States
BuriedSanta Prassede, Rome
Feast day11 February
Venerated inCatholic Church
Other popes named Paschal
Papal styles of
Pope Paschal I
Emblem of the Papacy SE
Reference styleHis Holiness
Spoken styleYour Holiness
Religious styleHoly Father
Posthumous styleSaint

Early life

According to the Liber Pontificalis, Paschal was native of Rome and son of Bonosus and Episcopa Theodora. The Liber Censuum says that Paschal was from the Massimo family, as was his predecessor Pope Stephen IV.[1]

Pope Leo III placed Paschal in charge of the monastery of St Stephen of the Abyssinians, where his responsibilities included the care of pilgrims who came to Rome.[2] According to early modern accounts, Leo III may have elevated Paschal as the cardinal of Santa Prassede.[3] Goodson attributes this account to a "desire to explain the attention that the pope so lavishly and prominently paid to that church later in his career."[3]

Selection as pope

Paschal became pope on 25 January 817, just one day after the sudden death of Pope Stephen IV.[3] This decision occurred before the sanction of the emperor Louis the Pious had been obtained, and was a circumstance for which it was one of his first tasks to apologize. Paschal advised the emperor that the decision had been made to avoid factional strife in Rome.

According to the Liber Pontificalis, Pope Paschal's papal legate Theodore returned with a document titled Pactum cum Pashali pontiff, in which the Emperor congratulated Paschal, recognized his sovereignty over the Papal States and guaranteed the free election of future pontiffs.[4] This document was challenged by later historians as a forgery.[5]


At the time of Paschal's reign, Rome was "in a tumult."[6] "Neither the papacy nor the nobles of the ever held control for very long."[6]

Paschal gave shelter to exiled monks from the Byzantine Empire who were persecuted for their opposition to iconoclasm, and invited mosaic artists to decorate churches in Rome.[4] This is known because Byzantine Emperor Michael II wrote to Frankish King Louis the Pious in an attempt to stop it.[7]

In 822, he gave the legateship over the North (Scandinavia) to Ebbo, Archbishop of Rheims. He licensed him to preach to the Danes, though Ebbo failed in three different attempts to convert them. Only later did Saint Ansgar succeed with them.

In 823, Paschal crowned and anointed Lothair I as King of Italy, which set the precedent for the pope’s right to crown kings, and to do so in Rome. Although the pope himself opposed the sovereignty of the Frankish emperors over Rome and Roman territory, high officials in the papal palace, especially Primicerius Theodore and his son-in-law Leo Nomenculator, were at the head of the party which supported the Franks.[2] Lothair immediately made use of his new authority to side with Farfa Abbey in its lawsuit against the Roman Curia, forcing the Papal administration to return properties which had been misappropriated. The decision outraged the Roman nobility, and led to an uprising against the authority of the Roman Curia in northern Italy, led by Paschal’s former legate, Theodore, and his son Leo. The revolt was quickly suppressed, and the two leaders who were about to testify were seized at the Lateran, blinded and afterwards beheaded. Suspicious that the deaths were to cover up the involvement of the pope in the revolt, the emperor sent two commissioners to investigate. Paschal refused to submit to the authority of the imperial court, but issued an oath in which he denied all personal complicity in the crime. The commissioners returned to Aachen, and Emperor Louis let the matter drop.

Construction projects

Paschal rebuilt three basilicas of Rome: Santa Prassede, Santa Maria in Domnica, and Santa Cecilia in Trastevere.[8] Paschal is credited with finding the body of Saint Cecilia in the Catacomb of Callixtus and translating it to the rebuild the basilica of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere. Paschal also undertook significant renovations on Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore.[9] In addition, Paschal added two oratories to Old St. Peter's Basilica, SS. Processus et Martinianus and SS. Xistus et Fabianus, which did not survive the 16th century renovation of St. Peter's.[10]

Paschal is also sometimes credited with the renovation of Santo Stefano del Cacco in early modern sources, but this renovation was actually undertaken by Pope Paschal II.[11]

According to Goodson, Paschal "used church-building to express the authority of the papacy as an independent state."[12]


Detailed image of Papal bulla of Paschal I 817-824 (FindID 69063)
Papal bulla of Paschal I

Only six known letters written by Paschal remain.[13] The first (Jaffé 2546) confirms the possessions of the Territorial Abbey of Farfa.[13] The second and third (Jaffé 2547 and Jaffee 2548) were written to a Frankish abbot prior to and after his elevation as archbishop of Vienne.[13] The fourth (Jaffé 2550) was written to Louis the Pious.[13] The fifth (Jaffé 2551, preserved in the Biblioteca Ambrosiana) confirms the privileges of the church of Ravenna.[13] The last (Jaffé 2553) was written to Ebbo, the archbishop of Reims.[14][13]


After Paschal's death, the Roman Curia refused him the honour of burial within St. Peter's Basilica, and he was buried in the basilica of Santa Prassede, which includes the famous Episcopa Theodora mosaic of his mother.[15]

Paschal was later canonized, and his feast day in the Roman calendar (prior to 1963, 14 May; currently 11 February).

See also


  1. ^ Goodson, 2010, p. 9 & n.13.
  2. ^ a b Kirsch, Johann Peter. "Pope Paschal I." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 11. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 13 September 2017
  3. ^ a b c Goodson, 2010, p. 9.
  4. ^ a b John N.D. Kelly, Gran Dizionario Illustrato dei Papi, p. 271
  5. ^ Claudio Rendina, I papi, p. 256
  6. ^ a b Goodson, 2010, p. 13.
  7. ^ Goodson, 2010, p. 12.
  8. ^ Goodson, 2010, p. 3.
  9. ^ Goodson, 2010, p.4.
  10. ^ Goodson, 2010, pp. 3-4.
  11. ^ Goodson, 2010, p. 5 n.7.
  12. ^ Goodson, 2010, p. 14.
  13. ^ a b c d e f Goodson, 2010, p. 8 & n.11.
  14. ^ Philippus Jaffe (1885). S. Loewenfeld (ed.). Regesta pontificum romanorum ab condita ecclesia ad annum post Christum natum MCXCVIII (in Latin) (secunda ed.). Leipzig: Veit. pp. 318–320.
  15. ^ John N.D. Kelly, Gran Dizionario Illustrato dei Papi, p. 272
 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Pope Paschal I" . Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton.

Further reading

  • Goodson, Caroline J. 2010. The Rome of Pope Paschal I: Papal Power, Urban Renovation, Church Rebuilding and Relic Translation, 817-824. Cambridge University Press.
  • John N.D. Kelly, Gran Dizionario Illustrato dei Papi, Edizioni Piemme S.p.A., 1989, Casale Monferrato (AL), ISBN 88-384-1326-6
  • Claudio Rendina, I papi, Ed. Newton Compton, Roma, 1990
  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Paschal (popes)" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 20 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.

External links

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Stephen IV
Succeeded by
Eugene II

Year 817 (DCCCXVII) was a common year starting on Thursday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar.


The 820s decade ran from January 1, 820, to December 31, 829.


Year 822 (DCCCXXII) was a common year starting on Wednesday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar.


Year 823 (DCCCXXIII) was a common year starting on Thursday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar.


Year 824 (DCCCXXIV) was a leap year starting on Friday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar.

Episcopa Theodora

Episcopa Theodora is the Greek inscription on a 9th-century Christian mosaic in the Chapel of Bishop Zeno of Verona located within the Church of Saint Praxedis the Martyress in Rome.

The honorific title refers to the Lady Theodora, the historical mother of Pope Paschal I, who built the chapel for her while she was still alive, as indicated by the square halo of the mosaic. Theodora was widely known to be a devout Christian in the early Church, and was notable for her acts of piety and sanctity.

Frankish Papacy

From 756 to 857, the papacy shifted from the orbit of the Byzantine Empire to that of the kings of the Franks. Pepin the Short (ruled 751–768), Charlemagne (r. 768–814) (co-ruler with his brother Carloman I until 771), and Louis the Pious (r. 814-840) had considerable influence in the selection and administration of popes. The "Donation of Pepin" (756) ratified a new period of papal rule in central Italy, which became known as the Papal States.

This shift was initiated by the Lombards conquering the Exarchate of Ravenna from the Byzantines, strengthened by the Frankish triumph over the Lombards, and ended by the fragmentation of the Frankish Kingdom into West Francia, Middle Francia, and East Francia. Lothair I continued to rule Middle Francia which included much of the Italian peninsula, from 843 to 855.

This period was "a critical time in Rome's transformation from ancient capital to powerful bishopric to new state capital." The period was characterized by "battles between Franks, Lombards and Romans for control of the Italian peninsula and of supreme authority within Christendom."

Massimo family

The princely House of Massimo is historically one of the great aristocratic families of Rome, renowned for its influence on the politics, the church and the artistic heritage of the city.

Pactum Hludowicianum

The (Pactum) Ludovicianum (also spelled Ludowicianum or Hludowicianum) was an agreement reached in 817 between the Emperor Louis the Pious (“Ludovicus Pius”) and Pope Paschal I concerning the government of central Italy and the relation of the Papal States to the Carolingian Empire. The text of the Ludovicianum is preserved mainly in eleventh- and twelfth-century manuscripts of canon law and has been reconstructed by modern editors. Certain sections of the Ludovicianum are thought to be confirmations of agreements made between Louis's father, Charlemagne, and Pope Hadrian I during the former's trips to Rome in 781 and 787.

The negotiations which resulted in the Ludovicianum began during the pontificate of Stephen IV, but the agreement was only concluded shortly after the election of his successor, Paschal I, in January 817. Stephen had anointed and crowned Louis and his wife, Irmingard, at Reims in October 816. In return Louis had granted the Pope everything he had requested, as recorded both in Stephen's biography in the Liber Pontificalis and Louis's biography, the Vita Hludovici imperatoris. Paschal, immediately after his election, sent an embassy to Louis requesting a confirmation of the pactum (agreement) that had been arranged with Stephen.The earliest text purporting to be a complete version of the Pactum made between emperor and pope in 817 is found in late eleventh-century canon law texts, but based on a collection compiled by Cardinal Deusdedit to serve as a preliminary to his Collectio Canonum, finished in 1087. Both Anselm of Lucca and Bonizo of Sutri copied the Ludovicianum into their collections of canon law. The text of the Ludovicianum closely resembles the later Pactum Ottonianum between Emperor Otto the Great and Pope John XII (962). A manuscript fragment that also closely resembles the Ludovicianum and may in fact be a copy of it survives from the ninth or early tenth century, and was first published by Angelo Mercati in 1926. It was written in Caroline minuscule on papyrus, a writing material only regularly in use in the scriptoria of the Papacy at the time.

Pascal (given name)

Pascal is a common masculine Francophone given name, cognate of Italian name Pasquale, Spanish name Pascual, Catalan name Pasqual.

Pascal is common in French-speaking countries, Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands. Derived feminine forms include Pascale, Pascalle or Pascalina. Pascal is also common as a surname in France, and in Italy (in Piedmont, Aosta Valley and, as De Pascal, in Friuli-Venezia Giulia).

Pascal derives from the Latin paschalis or pashalis, which means "relating to Easter", from the Latin term for "Easter", pascha, Greek Πάσχα, from the Aramaic pasḥā (Hebrew pesach) "Passover" (since the Hebrew holiday Passover coincides closely with the later Christian holiday of Easter, the Latin word came to be used for both occasions).

The Christian given name is in origin from the meaning "one born on Easter day", or "born on Pentecost" (see below).

Variations of the given name include: Paschal, Pasqual, Pasquale, Paskal, Pascoal, Pascale, Pascha, Paschalis, Pascual, Pascoe, and Pasco.

The name arises in the early medieval period, in Latin spelled Paschalis. An early bearer is Antipope Paschal (fl. 687), and Pope Paschal I (d. 824).

A variant Latin form of the name is Paschasius; this is the name of the 9th-century Frankish saint Paschasius Radbertus. Peter Pascual (Petrus Paschasius, d. 1299) was a bishop and martyr of medieval Andalusia.

Saint Pascal (or San Pasqual) refers to Paschal Baylon (1540–1592), a Spanish friar and mystic.

Baylon was born on 24 May 1540 to Aragonese peasants. His parents named him Pasqual because he was born on the day of the feast of Pentecost (not Easter), because Pentecost in Spain was known as "the Pasch (or Passover) of the Holy Ghost" at the time.

After Pascual Baylon's beatification (1618) and canonization (1690), it became common to give the name Pascal to children born on the feast day of Saint Pascal (17 May) rather than on Easter or Pentecost, or independently of the child's date of birth.

Pope Gregory IV

Pope Gregory IV (Latin: Gregorius IV; d. 25 January 844) was Pope from October 827 to his death in 844. His pontificate was notable for the papacy’s attempts to intervene in the quarrels between the emperor Louis the Pious and his sons. It also saw the breakup of the Carolingian Empire in 843.

Pope Paschal

Pope Paschal may refer to:

Pope Paschal I

Pope Paschal IIor Antipopes:

Antipope Paschal

Antipope Paschal III


Saint Praxedes is a traditional Christian saint of the 2nd century. She is sometimes called Praxedis or Praxed.

San Menna

San Menna (Italian: Saint Menas) was an ancient church in Rome, formerly located along the Via Ostiensis which led to the Basilica of Saint Paul. It appears to have been destroyed at some point after the tenth century.

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.

Santa Prassede

The Basilica of Saint Praxedes (Latin: Basilica Sanctae Praxedis, Italian: Basilica di Santa Prassede all’Esquillino), commonly known in Italian as Santa Prassede, is an ancient titular church and minor basilica in Rome, Italy, located near the papal basilica of Saint Mary Major. The current Cardinal Priest of Titulus Sancta Praxedis is Paul Poupard.

Santi Giovanni e Paolo al Celio

The Basilica of Saints John and Paul on the Caelian Hill (Italian: Basilica dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo al Celio) is an ancient basilica church in Rome, located on the Caelian Hill.

The church was built in 398, by will of the senator Pammachius, over the home of two Roman soldiers, John and Paul, martyred under the emperor Julian in 362. The church was thus called the Titulus Pammachii and is recorded as such in the acts of the synod held by Pope Symmachus in 499.

The church was damaged during the sack by Alaric I (410) and because of an earthquake (442), restored by Pope Paschal I (824), sacked again by the Normans (1084), and again restored, with the addition of a monastery and a bell tower.

It is home to the Passionists and is the burial place of St. Paul of the Cross. Additionally, it is the station church of the first Friday in Lent.


Theodora may refer to:

Theodora (given name), a given name of Greek origin, meaning "God's gift"

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.