A dreaded pirate from modern day Georgia,Anicetus led an anti-Roman revolt against Emperor Nero……wait,that’s the wrong Anicetus. THIS Anicetus was a scholar from Syria,and his tenure as Pope continued the fight against various heresies that plagued his predecessors. The most important event of Anicetus’ time in office was a visit from the elderly St. Polycarp. Polycarp was the Bishop of Smyrna from the East,(and when he was very young a disciple of John the Apostle;one degree of Jesus!), and he had arrived to debate and discuss differences between the Western and Eastern Churches. Chief among these differences was when to celebrate Easter. To simplify things,the Western Church had decided to celebrate on the nearest Sunday following the Paschal full moon date of the year. The Eastern Church celebrated Easter on the traditional Jewish day of Passover,no matter which day it fell on. The two men discussed this at length,but eventually agreed to disagree,each keeping to the customs of their regions,and with that,they parted on friendly terms. This was the start of a Easter debate that would last for the next two hundred years and would help to escalate a schism between the two Churches that lasts to this day. Anicetus’ feast day is April 20th and his name is Greek for “unconquered”.
A former slave born in northern Italy,Pius was the bishop of Rome when those pesky Gnostics and Marcionites came to town. The origin of the word “Heresy” means “to choose”,and these groups of herectics would cherry pick bits of Christianity to pervert and twist for ideas suited to their own agendas. Gnostics(snobby hippy dippy “Christians”),believed that only a elite chosen few with special knowledge and gifts could ever know Christ,and the Marcionites taught that there were two different Gods from the first to second Testaments. Pius spent a lot of his time dealing with these groups,and to deal with the Marcionites,he held a trial for their leader Marcion and then excommunicated him,possibly the first excommunication due to heresy. Pius built the Santa Pudenziana,the oldest place of Christian worship in Rome and the home of all the Bishops of Rome until the year 313,when Emperor Constantine I offered his Lateran Palace to the Bishop to live in. He admitted Jewish converts and allowed them to be baptized and he officially decreed that Easter was to be celebrated on a Sunday. I drew him wearing a Papal Tiara,I’m about 600 years too early for this,but I was just itching to draw a Pope hat.
Previously a Greek philosopher,Hyginus established the early Ecclesiastical hierarchy of the Church, which has now gone on to include Bishop of Rome at the top,then Cardinal,then Cardinal-Bishop,then Cardinal Presbyter,then Cardinal Protopresbyter,then Cardinal Deacon,well,you get the picture. Lots of Cardinals. He was named for Hygieia,the Greek goddess of health. A later Pope,John II(The 56th Pope),was the first Pope to adopt a new name because his birth name was Mercurius and he didn’t want to share the name of a pagan god when he was the leader of the Christian Church. I’m not sure if Hyginus had the same thoughts,but during his time when being a Christian could get you executed,it was probably best to fly low under the radar of the Emperor of Rome and not insult him or his gods and goddesses,something John II didn’t have to worry about when he changed his name. His feast day is January 11th and three letters written by him are known to have survived.
St. Teleshorus was a anchorite before journeying into Rome. I know,I had to look up the word “anchorite” too; it means recluse or hermit. The discipline he learned as a religious recluse no doubt contributed to his issuing a keeping of a seven week lent before Easter. He was one of the first priests to celebrate Easter on a Sunday and the tradition of Midnight Mass was also believed to be started under his Pontificate. He was martyred instead of paying tribute under law to the pagan gods of Rome and he was buried on Vatican Hill close to St. Peter. He is the patron saint of The Order of Carmelites because he was believed to have lived as a hermit on Mt. Carmel in Israel. Giving up chocolate for Lent? Just remember the name Telesphorus,because you’re most likely using your smart (tele)phone to gaze longingly at pictures of cake.
Pope Sixtus,or wait,is his name Xystus? The earliest texts refer to Pope Sixtus(and the next three Popes named Sixtus),as Pope Xystus. Xystus is derived from a Greek word meaning “shaved”,or “Polished”. Was he baldheaded? Clean-shaven? Was this just a term used to describe a Bishop whose name has been lost to time? The name Sixtus sounds fishy also. He’s the sixth Bishop of Rome after Peter sooooo,yeah,I’m guessing he’s got a made up name. Anyways,Pope Sixtus I is credited with several things,like allowing only the sacred ministers to touch the sacred vessels,like the gold cup that holds the sacred wine. He also introduced to the Mass the Sanctus,which goes “Holy,Holy,Holy,Lord God of hosts. Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest,Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest”. Praising our Lord in the highest,in my favorite hymn during Mass(the word Hosanna just begs to be sang loudly),all due to our man Xystus. I mean Sixtus. Potato Potahto……