Eugene I was a Holy,kind and charitable man. On the surface he appeared to be kind of a pushover,which is the kind of Pope the emperor wanted in office. Emperor Constans II desperately wanted his view of monothelitism to be accepted by Rome. Monothelitism was the belief that Jesus only had one nature,a Divine one,instead of Church belief that Jesus had both human and Divine natures. The previous Pope,Martin I,had little patience with the emperor and had declared him and his beliefs as heresy. For his trouble,Constans had Pope Martin arrested,exiled,and tortured to death. Before he was Pope,Eugene had never publicly objected to monothelitism so the emperor thought he would just appoint him to the Papacy and clear the way to get what he wanted. Boy was he wrong. Sweet natured Eugene took office and immediately rejected compromise of any kind on the definition of the nature of Jesus. In no way was it even up for debate,so don’t even bother he basically said. The emperor and his lackeys,including the patriarch of the eastern Church,were furious…..FURIOUS(all caps)! Constantinople threatened to roast Eugene like they had roasted Martin,and Constans II was bound and determined to do it……until…..here come the Muslims to save the day(….record scratch…). Invading Muslim armies in the east immediately took precedent over any matters of the nature of Jesus. Contans II took to battle,putting a pin in the issue for a later date and Pope Eugene I was left to happily resume his Papal duties with one less thing to worry about. I based his look on Eugene Levy. It would probably work better with glasses but I don’t know what people used for glasses back then and I’m too lazy to Google.
Defiant Pope Saint Martin I was our last Pope to be martyred for the Church. Monothelitism(spell checked)was the current issue threatening the unity of the Western and Eastern Churches. Monothelitism was the belief that Jesus had both human and Divine natures,but only one Divine will,as opposed to the Catholic belief that Jesus had both human and Divine wills. It was all the rage in Constantinople,with the various emperors and Church patriarchs constantly petitioning the Pope for acceptance or at least a compromise to their beliefs. This issue had been going back and forth for nearly 50 years and the Church simply was not going to give an inch no matter how much the emperors of Constantinople wanted them to. Martin was elected just as a Council was forming to formally condemn monothelitism as a heresy and condemn it he did. First off,he did not wait for the emperor to confirm him as the new Pope(which was the practice back then,sometimes taking up to a year for a confirmation),so that was strike one for Martin. Strikes two,three,four…..all the strikes came against him when he officially declared the heresy,then declared that emperor Constans was a heretic and officially demanded that the heretic emperor and his heretic church fall in line with Rome. Like yesterday. The emperor was less than enthused. He first tried to have the Pope killed,but once the assassin came to town and saw how popular the Pope was,and how right he was,he changed sides and ran off to fight Muslims. So much for that plot. The emperor then had the Pope arrested and dragged back to Constantinople to be put on trial for treason. Martin was found guilty,publicly beaten,and then exiled for life to the island of Crimea where he was tortured and slowly starved to death. He never once wavered. He never once backed off his position on the nature and will of Jesus. He is in a way,a living embodiment of all that is great about the Catholic Church. She does not waver. She as a Church,is not,as Ronald Knox says,”…..free to catch the wind of the moment and sink their nets where the fishing seems best.”
Angry Pope Theodore I was the next in the line for Popes having to constantly battle the eastern Church over the nature of Jesus. Monothelitism is the belief that Jesus only had one will,a Divine one,as opposed to our Catholic belief that Jesus had both a human and Divine will. This back and forth between the western and eastern Churches over this had been going on for….(forever it seems since this is all I’ve written about on this blog for weeks now). Pope Theodore refused to recognize the new patriarch of Constantinople,Paul,because the previous guy(Pyrrhus)still believed in the Jesus of only one nature when he passed away,which Paul never corrected. Pope Theodore was still irritated because Pyrrhus had once come to Rome and denounced Monothelitism to the Pope’s face,then after leaving town flip-flopped back. This made the Pope so freaking mad that he supposedly wrote out the excommunication of Pyrrhus using consecrated wine on the tomb of St Peter as his desk. Supposedly(I doubt it was this dramatic but it’s still a cool image). On and on went the battle of wills between the two Churches over the nature of our Lord. The emperor of Constantinople was so sick of hearing about it that he jailed a Papal ambassador when the sensitive subject came up. Pope Theodore was sick of all of this too and called for the Lateran Council of 649 to condemn the issue and hopefully put it to rest once and for all. Unfortunately he passed away before the Council could meet and it would be the next Pope(Saint Martin I),who would bear the full brunt of this strife between the two Churches. This wouldn’t be settled for another 40 years after Theodore(six more weeks for me),so maybe by then I’ll learn to spell “Monothelitism” without the spellcheck correcting me.
Pope John IV was a native of Dalmatia(Croatia)and was the Archdeacon of Rome when he was elected to the Papacy. He had a fairly drama-free two year run as Pope. He wrote many letters back and forth to England and Ireland trying to get them on the same page as to when Easter is officially celebrated. He also sent large sums of money back to Dalmatia to buy the freedom of Christians enslaved by pagans in the area. He also officially declared monothelitism a heresy. This was the belief that Jesus had two natures but only a divine will and it was the current fad belief of Constantinople. John IV not only declared it a heresy but tried to also apologize for Pope Honorius’ failure to declare it a heresy when he was the reigning Pontiff. It’s a light week for Popes so the one interesting thing from his Papacy was that his homeland of Dalmatia is where the Dalmatian dog originated. The first descriptions of the dog come from paintings from Croatia from the 1600s. These dogs apparently have a problem with their hearing and are prone to kidney stones and learning about these dogs from Wikipedia has officially derailed me from my topic…..