15. St. Zephyrinus 199-217

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The relative peaceful relationship with the Roman empire during Pope Victor’s time came crashing down right on St. Zephyrinus’s head. The new emperor,Severus,declared war on Christians around the year 202,and he forbid anyone from converting to the faith under threat of the severest penalties in what became one of the bloodiest persecutions of Christians known at that time. Not only that,Zephyrinus was still confronting the same ole various heresies(pesky Gnostics will just not go away),and now apostates(I didn’t know that word either,it means a person that renounces religion),and also a group trying to set up a rival Bishop just for the purpose of undermining him. On top of that,one of the leading theologians of the time,Hippolytus,was frustrated with how Zephyrinus was handling all of this(especially his actions towards herectics,which was viewed as weak to some),and went around Rome calling the Pope an imbecile,or whatever word they had for imbecile back then. Whew. I’d say he was born under a bad sign if I believed in Astrology. This Pope may have had a rough term,but the last word in how we should view him belongs to Theodotus,one of the herectics he opposed. Theodotus treated him with much contempt at the time,but was later quoted as saying that Zephyrinus was “The greatest defender of the divinity of Christ”. Coming straight from his enemy’s mouth,that was not a bad legacy to leave,in spite of his less than stellar time as Pope.

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