50. Pope Anastasius II 496-498

Anastasius II

Divine retribution! That was the cry of the Romans when Pope Anastasius II died two years into his Papacy. Whew,that is one unpopular Pontiff. Pope Anastasius II tried to reconcile with the Eastern Bishops that had been estranged from Rome for nearly thirty years. The Eastern Church had made a power grab for the leadership of all Christianity and had allied itself with various heretics to gain support for this move. Pope Anastasius wanted to bring unity back to the Church,but he wanted to do it without addressing the heresies or the actions of the past three decades. It was a “whatever,believe what you want,just come back to us” kind of gesture. When Anastasius welcomed Deacon Photinus(a huge supporter of the schism and known herectic)to Rome and gave him Holy Communion,this was the straw that broke the camel’s back,and several Roman priests and Bishops then started publicly shunning the Pope. Branded as a traitor to the Church,Anastasius died suddenly before he could undo the damage that he had done. Pope Anastasius is one of only two of the first fifty Popes not to be canonized as a Saint. Our Pope also has the unfortunate honor of being mentioned in the epic 14th century poem Dante’s Inferno. Dante has our poor Pope in the sixth circle of Hell(which is the circle for heresy),”Anastasio papa guardo, lo qual trasse Fotin de la via dritta” (“I guard Pope Anastasius, he whom Photinus drew from the straight path”). This alone probably damned him in history more than anything else.

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