76. Pope St.Vitalian 657-672


It had been pretty rough going for the last several Popes. Monothelitism was the major conflict between the western and eastern Churches. This was the belief that Jesus only had a Divine nature and this was in opposition to the belief in Rome that Jesus had both a human and a Divine nature. Emperor Constans II of Constantinople favored monothelitism and made frequent attempts to bend Rome to his way of thinking,including the exile and murder of Pope Martin I. Pope Vitalian tread lightly with the emperor but always held firm to the truth. He even hosted Constans in Rome and watched as the emperor helped himself to several statues and other valuable artifacts making a complete nuisance of himself. Contans moved on to other parts of Italy and sometime during his non-goodwill tour,he was murdered in his bathtub. Oh well. That’s a shame. Without the immediate threat of Contans or monothelitism to worry about,Pope Vitalian had a fairly routine Papacy. He is most famous for being the first Pope to introduce organ music into the Mass. Whether or not this is accurate is up for debate as the organ wasn’t in widespread use in Church until around the 12th century. At the very least Pope Vitalian may have introduced it in just a few Churches to test the liturgical waters. Post Reformation,music in Church has been a bone of contention between the different Protestant denominations but the Catholic Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy has this to say,”In the Latin Church the pipe organ is to be held in high esteem, for it is the traditional musical instrument which adds a wonderful splendor to the Church’s ceremonies and powerfully lifts up man’s mind to God and to higher things.”


22. St. Lucius I 253-254


Pope Lucius was the Bishop of Rome for less than a year,but his personal legacy lives on to today through the story of his relics. St. Lucius became the patron saint of the Danish region of Zealand during the middle ages,and the Roskilde Cathedral needed both a relic and protection from “demons” and only the skull of Pope Lucius I would do. With the permission of Pope Paschal II,the skull of Lucius was brought to Denmark around the year 1100. Turns out the the Danish people are poor caretakers of valuable Catholic property because after the Reformation and a Danish conversion to the Lutheran faith,the skull would find its way to the freaky and morbid collection of King Frederick III in Copenhagen,and there it would remain until moved to the St. Ansgar’s Cathedral in 1908 as the propery of the Copenhagen National Museum. Carbon testing done this century puts the owner of the skull as a man who lived around the year 400,over 100 years after the death of our Pope Lucius. Somewhere along the way,those crazy Danes misplaced the freaking head of a Pope. Which begs the question;How in the world do you just have so many skulls laying around to mix them up? Did a doofus intern leave it in a carriage 200 years ago and scramble to replace it with some generic garden variety skull? Is Pope Lucius an unwitting Hamlet prop in a Denmark dinner theatre?? Those pesky Danes,this is why we can’t have nice things.