samedi 18 mai 2013

Saint JEAN Ier, Pape et martyr

Saint Jean 1er,

Pape et martyr

Fils de Constance, Jean naquit en Toscane, vers 460, probablement dans la très ancienne ville de Senas. Il fit à Florence de brillantes études qu'il acheva à Rome. Entré dans les ordres, il fut pendant trente ans fonctionnaire de la Curie où il se distingua autant par la science que par la piété.

Le saint pape Gélase I° le créa cardinal-prêtre au titre de Pammaque. Il servit fidèlement Atanase II et saint Symmaque, puis il fut l’archidiacre de saint Hormidas auquel il succéda le 13 août 523.

Le roi des Ostrogoths, Théodoric le Grand [1], de religion arienne mais tolérant aux catholiques dont étaient sa mère, sa femme (Aldoflède, sœur de Clovis) et quelques uns de ses ministres (Cassiodore et Boèce), n'en était pas moins le chef naturel des hérétiques qui se devait de prendre leur défense lorsqu'ils furent frappés (524) par un édit de l'Empereur Justin-Auguste le Catholique (518-527) : « fermeture immédiate de toutes les églises ariennes de Constantinople ; exclusion de toutes fonctions publiques, civiles et militaires, pour tous les citoyens reconnus comme sectateurs ariens. » En 525, Théodoric fit venir à Ravenne Jean I° qu'il croyait complice de Justin et le mit à la tête d'une ambassade envoyée à Constantinople pour obtenir le retrait des mesures prises contre les ariens : « Vous irez trouver Justin, commandait le Roi au Pape, et obtiendrez de lui de ma part : retrait de son édit, réouverture de toutes les églises ariennes et admission, en leur sein, de tous les apostats du catholicisme. Sinon, craignez de vives représailles anti-catholiques. » Et le Pape de répondre au Roi : « Me voici devant toi, fais-moi ce que tu voudras ; mais je ne te promets rien au sujet des réconciliés ; leur situation n'est-elle pas dangereuse et irritante ? Comment obtenir que ces instables soient autorisés à faire retour à l'hérésie ? Pourtant, hors cette impossibilité notoire, pour le reste, avec l'aide de Dieu, je pense pouvoir te satisfaire et je ferai tout pour t'être agréable et te rapprocher de Justin. »

Accompagné de cinq évêques et de quatre sénateurs à la tête d'une brillante suite, Jean I° s'embarqua (novembre 525) pour un voyage d'un mois au bout duquel il fut reçu à Constantinople (décembre 526) « comme saint Pierre lui-même » par l'Empereur prosterné qui voulut se faire couronner une seconde fois. Jean I° qui avait suivi les fêtes de la Nativité à Sainte-Sophie, y célébra en latin la liturgie pascale (19 avril 526). L'Empereur n'accorda cependant pas ce que réclamait Théodocic : « Sans doute restituerai-je un jour aux ariens leurs églises confisquées ; il est possible, éventuellement, qu'on autorise leur culte sous certaines conditions ; par contre, aucune possibilité, pour un arien, d'accéder à des fonctions publiques. » Quand Jean I° revint à Ravenne, Théodoric qui avait déjà fait assassiner Boèce (30 octobre 525), fit jeter le Pape avec sa suite en prison où il mourut de faim et de soif, le 18 mai 526. Théodoric mourut au mois d'août suivant.

Rome doit à Jean Ier d'avoir terminé le cimetière Saints-Nérée-et-Achillée et d'avoir restauré ceux des Saints-Félix-et-Adaucte et de Sainte-Priscille ; il fit relever la basilique Sainte-Pétronille, et orner richement la confession de la basilique Saint-Paul ; il dota quelques autres églises (Saints-Apôtres-Pierre-et-Paul, Sainte-Marie, Saint-Laurent). C'est à son initiative, qu'à partir des travaux qu'il fit faire à Boniface et à Bonus, au moine Denys le Petit [2], l'Eglise romaine fixa la date de Pâques [3]. Toujours sur les indications de Denys le Petit, il abandonna l’ère de Dioclétien pour compter les années à partir de la naissance du Christ. À l'imitation de quelques uns de ses prédécesseurs (Célestin Ier, Léon le Grand et Gélase), il travailla à l'élaboration du chant romain, préparant ainsi un terrain favorable à la grande œuvre de saint Grégoire le Grand.

[1] Théodoric le Grand, né vers 455, fils Théodomir, de la race royale des Amales, fut, à sept ans, envoyé comme otage à Constantinople où il apprit à parler couramment le grec et le latin. Ayant contribué (476) à rétablir l'empereur Zénon qui avait été détrôné, il reçut les titres de patrice, de maître de la milice (483) et de consul (484). Comme il menaçait Constantinople, Zénon l’envoya en Italie combattre Odoacre. Théodoric battit les Hérules sur l'lsouzo (28 août 489) et à Vérone (30 septembre 489). Odoacre reprit Milan, mais battu sur l'Adda, il s’enferma dans Ravenne que prit Théodoric après un siège de trois ans (26 février 493) ; Odoacre capitula, et Théodoric le fit poignarder (15 mars 493). Devenu maître de l'ltalie, de la Rhétie, du Norique, de la Pannonie et de l'lllyrie, Théodoric voulut refaire l'Empire d'Occident, en unissant les Goths et les Romains en une seule nation. S'entourant d'une cour, il fit revivre les anciens cadres de Rome (le sénat, les fonctionnaires, le préfet du prétoire), et partagea les responsabilités entre Romains et Barbares. Il eut comme ministres et conseillers les derniers représentants de la culture latine (Cassiodore, Boèce, Symmaque). Sous son règne l'ltalie retrouva la prospérité. Théodoric tenta d'exercer l'hégémonie sur les autres nations barbares : il maria ses filles à des princes wisigoths ou burgondes, et il épousa la sœur de Clovis. Tuteur de son petit-fils Amalric roi des Wisigoths (507), il régna sous son nom, chassa l'usurpateur Gésalic, battit un fils de Clovis devant Arles et conserva la Septimanie aux Wisigoths. Cependant, les Goths, caste militaire exclue des emplois civils et du gouvernement, contestaient la romanisation, tandis que les Romains et l'Eglise se méfiaient de lui parce qu’il adhérait à l'hérésie arienne. Il mourut à Ravenne le 30 août 526.

[2] Denys le Petit (« Exiguus »), ainsi surnommé par humilité, était un moine, scythe de naissance, « mais tout à fait romain d'éducation » et savant. Enfant abandonné, il aurait été recueilli par des moines goths, éduqué par eux, et serait devenu moine à son tour et peutêtre abbé d’un monastère de Rome. D’aucuns supposent plutôt qu’il naquit en Géorgie ou en Arménie septentrionale, qu’il aurait été envové très jeune dans le monastère de Mabug (province d'Antioche), où il aurait été élevé et aurait fait profession religieuse. Il aurait quitté Mabug pour fuir les agitations monothéliques et résister aux tendances hérétiques de l'Eglise syrienne. Il serait alors venu à Constantinople, où il aurait perfectionné ses connaissances et fréquenté les classes les plus cultivées de la capitale. Ce qui paraît certain, c'est que Denys fut le chef des archives pontificales qui étaient conservées au couvent Saint-Athanase. Tout porte à croire qu'il vint à Rome aux environs de 500, et qu'il y mourut vers 545. Denys, helléniste hors pair, traduisit en latin de nombreuses œuvres grecques, hagiographiques, philosophiques ou théologiques. Outre qu’il fut le computiste que l’on sait, il fut aussi un canoniste qui exerça une grande influence.

[3] Chez les juifs, Pâques, la plus solennelle des fêtes, est célébrée à la pleine lune du premier mois : 14 nisan. A partir de cette réalité, il y eut deux interprétations dans le christianisme primitif : l'Orient s'en tint à la lettre (coutume byzantine) pour solemniser Pâques le jour de la semaine où tombe le 14 nisan ; l’Occident (coutume romaine), célèbra Pâques le dimanche qui suit le 14 nisan. Les deux usages coexistent, et quand saint Polycarpe de Smyrne rend visite au pape Anicet, l’un et l'autre demeurent sur leurs positions respectives. Vingt ans plus tard, le pape Victor I° convoque un concile à Rome pour imposer l'usage romain du dimanche. Au nom des évêques orientaux, Polycrate d'Ephèse proteste : « Je me réclame de mes sept prédécesseurs, gardiens fidèles de notre antique tradition orientale. » Bientôt toutefois, le conflit s'apaise, et seule la petite secte des « quartodécimans » demeurent intraitables pour s'en ternir à la tradition juive du 14 nisan. Au concile de Nicée (325), la « synodique » (lettre circulaire épiscopale), adressée aux alexandrins, croit avoir réalisé un accord définitif : « Bonne nouvelle très chers Frères : l'accord se trouve enfin scellé entre nous, au sujet de la date de notre très sainte Pâques. Grâce à vos prières : question réglée. Tous nos frères orientaux qui, sur ce point, différaient des romains, avec vous et tous ceux qui désormais suivront, vont maintenant célébrer la grande fête chrétienne en même temps. Unanimité totale sur ce point : le dimanche après la pleine lune qui suit l'équinoxe de printemps. » Or nul n'a remarqué les divergences des calendriers : en Alexandrie l'équinoxe tombe le 21 mars, ce qui met Pâques entre le 22 mars et le 25 avril ; à Rome, l'équinoxe tombe le 25 mars, ce qui met Pâques entre le 25 mars et le 21 avril (calendrier julien). Les débats à ce propos resteront donc ouverts puisque le comput alexandrin est différent du comput romain. En 525, Jean I° ordonne à Boniface et Bonus de faire une enquête ; ils consultent un moine scythe établi à Rome, Denys le Petit qui, grand traducteur, hagiographe, canoniste et surtout computiste, examine, pèse et légifère : « Puisque 526 est une année embolique ou emboline (avec mois intercalaire), Pâques tombera le 19 avril 526. » Quant aux calculs passés et à venir, les directives sont tout aussi nettes : « On s'en tiendra au cycle alexandrin de 19 ans, approuvé par le concile de Nicée voilà deux siècles : 235 mois lunaires correspondant, à 2 heures près à 19 années juliennes. »


Saint Jean I (523-526)

Il naquit en Toscane. Son pontificat fut troublé par les hostilités déclenchées par l’empereur Théodoric.

Il fut martyrisé à Ravenne où il était prisonnier.


Saint Jean Ier, né en Toscane vers 470 fut pape du 15 août 523 à sa mort le 18 mai 526. Son règne dura deux ans et 9 mois. Il est considéré comme un martyr par les catholiques et est fêté le 27 mai.

L'empereur ostrogoth arien Théodoric le Grand envoya le pape contre son gré à Byzance pour qu'il tente de faire adoucir un édit de l'empereur Justinien contre l'arianisme. C'est le premier pape reçu à Constantinople. L'accueil est chaleureux, mais son ambassade auprès de l'empereur Justin n'est pas couronnée de succès. À son retour à Rome, Jean fut arrêté par Théodoric qui le suspectait d'avoir comploté contre lui à Byzance. Il fut retenu à Ravenne où il mourut.

SOURCE : http://www.lessignets.com/signetsdiane/calendrier/mai/18.htm

Le pape Jean Ier, originaire de Toscane, fut élu sur le siège de Pierre en 523.

Son pontificat coïncide avec une période de grande ferveur dans l’Église qui est alors vivante et vigoureuse, comme en témoignent la réunion de conciles provinciaux et l’ordination de plusieurs nouveaux évêques.

Le nom de Jean Ier est associé à la fixation de la date de Pâques selon le cycle toujours en vigueur dans l’Église latine. Jean Ier s’est également révélé attentif aux biens d’Église. C’est lui qui, entre autres, fit restaurer le cimetière Sainte Priscille, achever celui des saints Nérée et Achille, restaurer la basilique Sainte Pétronille. Mais surtout, Jean Ier s’est trouvé rapidement impliqué dans le conflit qui opposait le roi arien Théodoric, maître de la péninsule italienne, et l’empereur Justin Ier. Théodoric contraignit Jean à se rendre auprès de l’empereur : il était chargé d’obtenir de ce dernier qu’il renonce à faire pression sur les ariens pour les amener à l’orthodoxie, qu’il favorise le retour à l’arianisme des ariens déjà convertis et leur rendent les églises confisquées.

Jean arriva à Constantinople en 525-526. Il fut accueilli triomphalement en tant que successeur de Pierre. L’empereur voulut être couronné à nouveau des mains de Jean. Enfin, Jean célébra solennellement la fête de Pâques (526) en l’église Sainte-Sophie. À son retour à Ravenne, il fut jeté en prison par Théodoric, l’empereur Justin n’ayant pas obtempéré.

Jean y mourut de faim le 18 mai 526. Quelques années plus tard, son corps fut ramené à Rome. Les appréciations portées sur sa mission ont été diverses. Il n’en reste pas moins que pour l’Église, il a fait preuve d’un immense courage.


SOURCE : http://alexandrina.balasar.free.fr/jean01_pape.htm

Saint Jean Ier, pape et martyr

Le pape Jean Ier (523-526) fut victime de la persécution exercée contre l'Eglise catholique par le roi arien Théodoric qui, de Ravenne, régnait sur toute la Péninsule italienne. Après avoir envoyé le pape à Constantinople pour une mission vouée d'avance à l'échec, Théodoric le jeta à son retour dans une prison de Ravenne, où il le laissa mourir de faim (526).

SOURCE : http://www.paroisse-saint-aygulf.fr/index.php/prieres-et-liturgie/saints-par-mois/icalrepeat.detail/2015/05/18/785/-/saint-jean-ier-pape-et-martyr


St Jean Ier, pape et martyr

Translation à St-Pierre de Rome le 27 mai 530. Pape de 523 à 526. Mort de faim en prison le 18 mai 526.

Les calendriers indiquent ce jour Reportatio Iohannis Papae. Son culte liturgique se développa au XIe siècle et il fut au calendrier au XIIe siècle.

Leçon des Matines avant 1960

Neuvième leçon. Jean, né dans l’Étrurie gouverna l’Église sous l’empire de Justin l’Ancien, qu’il alla voir à Constantinople pour implorer son secours, parce que Théodoric ravageait l’Italie. Dieu signala par des miracles le voyage du Pontife. Un homme de condition lui ayant prêté, pour se rendre à Corinthe, le cheval dont sa femme se servait, comme étant très doux, il arriva que, dans la suite, cet animal, rendu à son maître, se montra dès lors tellement intraitable que, toutes les fois que sa maîtresse voulait le monter, il s’agitait et se secouait jusqu’à ce qu’il l’eût jetée à terre, comme s’il fût indigné de porter une femme, après avoir porté le Vicaire de Jésus-Christ ; aussi le mari et la femme donnèrent-ils le cheval au Pontife. Mais un prodige plus grand eut lieu à Constantinople, à l’entrée de la porte d’Or : car le saint Pape y rendit la vue à un aveugle, en présence d’une foule immense qui était accourue avec l’empereur au-devant du Pontife, pour lui rendre honneur. Le monarque se prosterna même à ses pieds et lui témoigna sa vénération. Les affaires étant réglées avec l’empereur, Jean retourna en Italie et écrivit aussitôt à tous les Évêques de ce pays, leur ordonnant de consacrer au culte catholique les églises des Ariens et ajoutant ces paroles : « Nous-même, durant le séjour que nous avons fait à Constantinople, pour le bien de la religion catholique et à cause du roi Théodoric, nous avons consacré dans ces contrées comme églises catholiques, toutes celles que nous avons pu recouvrer ». Théodoric, irrité de cette conduite, usa de ruse pour attirer le Pape à Ravenne et le fit jeter en prison. L’insalubrité du lieu et les dures privations que Jean eut à subir, mirent fin à sa vie en peu de jours. Il avait siégé deux ans, neuf mois et quatorze jours, et sacré durant ce temps quinze Évêques. Théodoric mourut peu après ; et saint Grégoire raconte à son sujet qu’un ermite vit ce prince précipité dans le cratère de Lipari, en présence du Pape Jean et du patricien Symmaque, qu’il avait aussi fait mourir : en sorte que ces deux hommes, de la mort desquels il était coupable, auraient assisté comme juges à sa terrible fin. Le corps de Jean, porté de Ravenne à Rome, fut enseveli dans la basilique de Saint-Pierre.

Dom Guéranger, l’Année Liturgique

La palme du martyre n’a pas été conquise par ce saint pape dans une victoire remportée sur quelque prince païen ; il l’a gagnée en luttant pour la liberté de l’Église contre un roi chrétien. Mais ce roi était hérétique, et par conséquent ennemi de tout pontife zélé pour le triomphe de la vraie foi. La situation du vicaire de Jésus-Christ ici -bas est une situation de lutte, et souvent il arrive qu’un pape est véritablement martyr sans avoir versé son sang. Saint Jean Ier, que nous honorons aujourd’hui, n’a pas succombé sous le glaive ; un indigne cachot a été l’instrument de son martyre ; mais bien d’autres pontifes brilleront au ciel en sa compagnie, sans avoir même porté le poids des chaînes : le Vatican a été leur Calvaire. Ils ont vaincu et ils ont succombé sans éclat, laissant au ciel le soin de venger leur cause : tel fut entre autres l’angélique Clément XIII au siècle dernier.

Celui qui paraît aujourd’hui sur le Cycle exprime dans sa conduite la pensée qui doit inspirer tout membre de l’Église, s’il est digne de sa mère. Saint Jean Ier nous apprend que nous ne devons jamais pactiser avec l’hérésie, ni prendre part aux mesures qu’une politique mondaine croit devoir instituer pour lui assurer des droits. Si les siècles, aidés de l’indifférence religieuse des gouvernements, ont légué la tolérance et même le privilège de l’égalité aux sectes qui ont rompu avec l’Église, nous pouvons subir cette situation qui est la plus grave atteinte à la constitution chrétienne d’un État ; mais notre conscience catholique nous interdit de la louer et de la considérer comme un bien. En quelque condition que la divine Providence nous ait placés, nous n’en devons pas moins puiser nos inspirations dans la foi de notre baptême, dans l’enseignement et dans la pratique infaillibles de l’Église, hors desquels il n’y a que contradiction, péril et naufrage.

Vous avez cueilli la palme, saint Pontife, en confessant la sainteté immaculée de l’Église. Cette Épouse du Fils de Dieu « n’a ni tache ni ride [1], » comme nous dit l’Apôtre ; et c’est pour cela qu’elle ne peut habiter avec l’hérésie dans la terre que son Époux divin lui a assignée en dot. Des jours sont venus où les hommes, épris des calculs et des intérêts de ce monde passager, ont résolu de régler la société humaine sans plus tenir compte des droits du Fils de Dieu, de qui procède tout ordre social comme toute vérité. Ils ont refoulé l’Église dans le cœur de ses fidèles, et se sont complus à élever de toutes parts des temples pour les sectes qui se sont révoltées contre elle. Le catholique Mexique a vu s’accomplir cet attentat au grand jour, et Dieu ne l’a pas laissé sans vengeance. Saint Pontife, réveillez dans les cœurs des chrétiens d’aujourd’hui le sentiment du droit imprescriptible de la vérité divine. Nous pourrons alors nous abaisser devant les nécessités imposées par le triomphe fatal de l’erreur, dans l’âge qui nous a précédés, sans accepter comme un progrès l’égalité que l’on affecte d’établir entre l’erreur et la vérité. Dans votre prison, vaillant martyr, vous avez proclamé le droit de l’Église unique ; au milieu de la défection prédite par l’Apôtre [2], gardez-nous des lâches complaisances, des entraînements funestes, de la légèreté coupable qui fait tant de victimes en ces jours ; et que notre dernière parole, au sortir de ce monde, soit celle que le Fils de Dieu a daigné nous apprendre lui-même : « O vous qui êtes notre père, que votre Nom soit sanctifié, que votre règne arrive ! »

[1] Eph. V, 27.

[2] II Thess. II, 3.

Bhx Cardinal Schuster, Liber Sacramentorum

Ce saint Pontife a le titre de martyr, parce qu’il mourut de privations et de misère à Ravenne, victime de la politique arienne du roi Théodoric. Dans ses Dialogues, saint Grégoire le Grand parle des miracles accomplis par saint Jean Ier durant son voyage à Constantinople [3], et de la guérison d’un aveugle, opérée par lui aux portes de la ville impériale et dont le souvenir était encore vivant chez les Grecs au temps de saint Grégoire. Épuisé par les peines et les travaux, Jean Ier mourut le 18 mai 526, mais son corps, transporté à Rome, fut déposé dans un tombeau situé sous le portique de la basilique vaticane le 27 seulement, jour auquel Usuard attribue sa mémoire.

L’épigraphe sépulcrale de Jean Ier a été conservée seulement, mais affreusement mutilée, dans le recueil des inscriptions de la basilique vaticane (Bibl. Nat. de Paris, fonds lat. 8071). De Rossi l’a reconstituée tant bien que mal :

(Quisquis • ) AD • AETERN[a]M • FESTINAT • TENDERE • VTTAM

(Ille • viam • ex)QVIRAT • QVA • LICET • IRE • PIIS

TRAMITE • QVO • FRETVS • CAELESTIA • REGNA • SACERDOS

INTRAVIT • MERITIS • ANTE • PA(rata) • SVIS

... MAGIS • VIVENS • COMMERCIA • GRATA • PEREGIT

PERDIDIT • VT • POSSET • SEMPER • HABERE • DEVM

ANTISTES • DOMINI • PROCVMBIS • VICTIMA • CHRISTI

PONTIFICES • SVMMO • SIC • PLACVERE • DEO

Que celui qui a hâte d’arriver à la vie éternelle,

Recherche la route battue par les saints.

Par cette route, aplanie par ses mérites,

Ce Pontife arriva au royaume céleste.

Ici-bas il fit un heureux échange,

II donna sa vie pour posséder Dieu éternellement.

Toi, ô Prêtre du Seigneur, tu succombas, victime du Christ ;

C’est ainsi que les Pontifes se rendirent agréables au grand Dieu.

La légation de Jean Ier à Constantinople est importante pour l’histoire de la primauté pontificale, qui, à cette occasion, fut solennellement reconnue par les Byzantins, si bien que l’empereur Justin voulut recevoir à nouveau, des mains de Jean, le diadème impérial, quoiqu’il eût déjà été couronné par le patriarche Épiphane. Marcellin ajoute même (Philoxeno et Probo conss.) que Jean : Dexter dextrum Ecclesiae insedit solium, dieque Domini nostri resurrectionis, plena voce, romanis precibus celebravit. Pour exprimer la suprématie de Rome, non seulement le Pontife fut donc placé à droite, mais le jour même de Pâques il célébra le Sacrifice solennel romanis precibus, c’est-à-dire selon le rit habituel de Rome.

Jean Ier fut très favorable au culte des martyrs, et le Liber Pontificalis lui attribue des réparations fort importantes dans les cimetières de Priscille, de Félix et Adauctus et de Domitille.

La messe [4], durant le temps pascal, est du Commun de ce temps ; hors de ce temps, c’est la messe Sacerdótes Dei. Dans l’un et l’autre cas, les collectes sont celles mêmes de la messe Sacerdótes Dei.

[3] Lib. III, c. 2. P. L., LXXVII, col. 221.

[4] Avant 1942.

Dom Pius Parsch, le Guide dans l’année liturgique

Saint Jean. — Le saint pape régna de 523 à 526. Il fit le voyage de Constantinople pour demander secours à l’empereur Justin II contre le roi arien, Théodoric. A son retour, Théodoric l’invita traîtreusement à se rendre à Ravenne. Il le fit jeter dans une prison sordide où il mourut de faim le 18 mai 526. Son corps fut transporté à Rome dans l’église Saint-Pierre. Jean, entre autres mérites, développa le culte des martyrs.

SOURCE : http://www.introibo.fr/27-05-St-Jean-Ier-pape-et-martyr

"Le Seigneur fait grâce !". On fait mémoire en ce jour du Pape Jean Ier. Le temps fort de son service de l'Église du Christ, au début du 6e siècle, sera un voyage pastoral complexe et difficile. Il se déplaça de Rome à Byzance (Constantinople) pour améliorer les relations distendues entre ces deux "poumons de la Chrétienté". Théodoric l'empereur d'Occident, qui résidait à Ravenne en Italie, fut mécontent du demi-échec de ce voyage. Il fit jeter le Pape Jean en prison où il le laissa mourir de faim, le 18 mai 526.

Rédacteur : Frère Bernard Pineau, OP

SOURCE : http://www.lejourduseigneur.com/Web-TV/Saints/Jean-1er-pape

Pope St. John I

Died at Ravenna on 18 or 19 May (according to the most popular calculation), 526. A Tuscan by birth and the son of Constantius, he was, after an interregnum of seven days, elected on 13 August, 523, and occupied theApostolic see for two years, nine months, and seven days.


We know nothing of the matter of his administration, for his Bullarium contains only the two letters addressed to an Archbishop Zacharias and to the bishops of Italy respectively, and it is very certain that both areapocryphal.

We possess information — though unfortunately very vague — only about his journey to Constantinople, a journey which appears to have had results of great importance, and which was the cause of his death. TheEmperor Justin, in his zeal for orthodoxy, had issued in 523 a severe decree against the Arians, compelling them, among other things, to surrender to the Catholics the churches which they occupied. Theodoric, King of the Ostrogoths and of Italy, the ardent defender of Arianism, keenly resented these measures directed against his coreligionists in the Orient, and was moreover highly displeased at seeing the progress of a mutual understanding between the Latin and Greek Churches, such as might favour certain secret dealings between the Roman senators and the Byzantine Court, aiming at the re-establishment of the imperial authority in Italy. To bring pressure to bear upon the emperor, and force him to moderate his policy of repression in regard to the heretics, Theodoric sent to him early in 525 an embassy composed of Roman senators, of which he obligedthe pope to assume the direction, and imposed on the latter the task of securing a withdrawal of the Edict of 523 and — if we are to believe "Anonymous Valesianus" — of even urging the emperor to facilitate the return to Arianism of the Arians who had been converted.

There has been much discussion as to the part played by John I in this affair. The sources which enable us to study the subject are far from explicit and may be reduced to four in number: "Anonymous Valesianus", already cited; the "Liber Pontificalis"; Gregory of Tours's "Liber in gloria martyrum"; and the "Liber PontificalisEcclesiæ Ravennatis". But it is beyond question that the pope could only counsel Justin to use gentleness and discretion towards the Arians; his position as head of the Church prevented his inviting the emperor to favourheresy. That this analysis of the situation is correct is evident from the reception which the pope was accorded in the East — a reception which certainly would not have been kindly, had the Roman ambassadors opposed the emperor and this Catholic subjects in their struggle waged against the Arian sect. The inhabitants ofConstantinople went out in throngs to meet John. The Emperor Justin on meeting him prostrated himself, and, some time afterwards, he had himself crowned by the pope. All the patriarchs of the East made haste to manifest their communion in the Faith with the supreme pontiff; only Timothy of Alexandria, who had shown himself hostile to the Council of Chalcedon, held aloof. Finally, the pope, exercising his right of precedence over Epiphanius, Patriarch of Constantinople, solemnly officiated at St. Sophia in the Latin Rite on Easter Day, 19 April, 526. Immediately afterwards he made his way back to the West.

If this brilliant reception of John I by the emperor, the clergy, and the faithful of the Orient proves that he had not been wanting in his task as supreme pastor of the Church, the strongly contrasting behaviour of Theodorictowards him on his return is no less evident proof. This monarch, enraged at seeing the national party reviving in Italy, had just stained his hands with the murder of Boethius, the great philosopher, and of Symmachus his father-in-law. He was exasperated against the pope, whose embassy had obtained a success very different from that which he, Theodoric, desired and whom, moreover, he suspected of favouring the defenders of the ancient liberty of Rome. As soon as John, returning from the East, had landed in Italy, Theodoric caused him to be arrested and incarcerated at Ravenna. Worn out by the fatigues of the journey, and subjected to severe privations, John soon died in prison.

His body was transported to Rome and buried in the Basilica of St. Peter. In his epitaph there is no allusion to his historical role. The Latin Church has placed him among its martyrs, and commemorates him on 27 May, the ninth lesson in the Roman Breviary for that date being consecrated to him.


Clugnet, Léon. "Pope St. John I." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 8. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 18 May 2015 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08421a.htm>.


Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by S. Rohrbach. In Memory of Clarence A. and Beatrice E. Burens Rohrbach.


Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

SOURCE : http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08421a.htm

Saint John I

Little is known of John’s life before he took office as pope, except that he was born in Tuscany and that his father was Constantius. He was elected a week after the death of his predecessor Hormisdas.

Thanks to the recent reunification of the Eastern and Western Churches under Hormisdas, relations were very good with the Byzantine empire, but for the same reason they were strained with Theodoric, king of the Ostrogoths. The Byzantine emperor Justin persecuted heretics with enthusiasm, and he issued an edict against Arianism in 523. Theodoric, an Arian, distrusted the papacy’s affinity to Justin, and he pressured John to go to Constantinople and convince the emperor to withdraw the edict.

John did indeed go to Constantinople and was well-received, but the edict was not withdrawn. Upon his return to Italy, Theodoric had John arrested and imprisoned in Ravenna. Worn out by his journey and probably starved, John died in prison soon after. Pope St. John I is honored as a martyr.

SOURCE : http://www.ucatholic.com/saints/pope-saint-john-i/

John I, Pope M (RM)

Born in Tuscany, Italy; died May 18 or 19, 526; feast day formerly May 27. Saint John became archdeacon in Rome, and on August 13, 523, was elected pope to succeed Saint Hormisdas. At that time he was already very old and frail. Despite his protests, he was sent by the Arian King Theodoric of the Ostrogoths to Constantinople to secure a moderation of Emperor's Justin's decree of 523 against the Arians, compelling them to surrender to Catholics the churches they held in the East. Theodoric threatened that if John should fail in his mission, there would be reprisals against the orthodox Catholics in the West.


Theodoric also resented the increasing cordiality between the Latin and Greek churches, fearing that it might lead to the restoration of imperial Byzantine authority in Italy, which he ruled. John was warmly received by Justin and huge crowds; however, his mission was not a success for Theodoric. He won only minor concessions from the Eastern emperor.

When Pope John returned to Ravenna (Theodoric's capital) he discovered that Theodoric had murdered his friend and confidant, the great philosopher Severinus Boëthius, as well as his father-in-law Symmachus. Theodoric had John arrested as soon as he landed in Italy on the suspicion of having conspired with Emperor Justin. He was imprisoned at Ravenna, where he died of neglect and ill treatment. Some modern writers contest his claim to martyrdom.

Pope Saint John is responsible for introducing to the West the Alexandrian calculation for the date of Easter (Attwater2, Benedictines, Delaney, Farmer).


John I is depicted in art as looking through the bars of a prison or imprisoned with a deacon and a subdeacon. He is venerated at Ravenna and in Tuscany (Roeder).

SOURCE : http://www.saintpatrickdc.org/ss/0518.shtml


St. John, Pope and Martyr

See Anastasius, Theophanes, Marcellinus, &c., collected by Papebroke, Maij, t. 6, Fleury, Hist. b. 32.

A.D. 526

POPE JOHN was by birth a Tuscan. He distinguished himself from his youth in the Roman clergy, of which he became the oracle and the model. He was archdeacon when, after the death of Hormisdas in 523, he was chosen pope. Theodoric the Arian king of the Goths held Italy in subjection, and though endowed with some great qualities, did not divest himself of that disposition to cruelty and jealousy, which is always an ingredient in the character of an ambitious tyrant and a barbarian. It happened that the Emperor Justin published an edict, ordering the Arians to deliver up all the churches they were possessed of to the Catholic bishops, by whom they were to be consecrated anew. Theodoric, who was the patron of that sect, took this law very ill; and in revenge threatened, that if it were not repealed in the East, he would not only treat the Catholics in his dominions in the same manner, but would fill Rome with blood and slaughter. Being, however, in some awe of the emperor, he resolved to try what he could do by negotiation; and sent the pope at the head of an embassy of five bishops and four senators, of which three had been consuls, to Constantinople on that errand. John used all manner of entreaties to decline such a commission, but was compelled by the king to take it upon him. He was received in the East with the greatest honours possible; and the whole city of Constantinople went out twelve miles to meet him, carrying wax tapers and crosses. The emperor, to use the words of Anastasius, prostrated himself before the most blessed pope, who also relates that the saint entering the city, restored sight to a blind man at the golden gate, who begged that favour of him. The same is mentioned by St. Gregory the Great, who adds, that the horse on which he rode, would never after bear any other rider. 1 The joy of that city was universal on this occasion, and the pomp with which the successor of St. Peter was received, seemed to surpass the festival of a triumph. Authors vary as to the issue of his embassy; some say that the pope confirmed Justin in his resolution of taking away the churches from the heretics; but Anastasius tells us that the pope persuaded Justin to treat the Arians with moderation, and to leave them the churches of which they were possessed, and that the emperor acquiesced. However that be, whilst our saint was in the East, Theodoric caused the great Boëtius, who was the pope’s most intimate friend, both before and after he was raised to the pontificate, to be apprehended; 2 and no sooner was Pope John landed at Ravenna in Italy, but, together with the four senators his colleagues, he was cast into a dark and loathsome dungeon. The tyrant forbid any succour or comfort to be allowed to the prisoners, so that by the hardships of his confinement and the stench of the place, the good pope died at Ravenna on the 27th of May, 526, soon after the cruel execution of Boëtius, having sat two years and nine months. His body was conveyed to Rome, and buried in the Vatican church. The two letters which bear his name are suppositious, as appears from their very dates, &c.

When we see wicked men prosper, and saints die in dungeons, we are far from doubting of providence, we are strengthened in the assured belief, that God who has stamped the marks of infinite wisdom and goodness on all his works, has appointed a just retribution in the world to come. And faith reveals to us clearly this important secret. We at present see only one end of the chain in the conduct of providence towards men; many links in it are now concealed from our eyes. Let us wait a little, and we shall see in eternity God’s goodness abundantly justified. Who does not envy the happiness of a martyr in his dungeon, when he beholds the inward joy, peace, and sentiments of charity with which he closes his eyes to this world! and much more when he contemplates in spirit the glory with which the soul of the saint is conducted by angels, like Lazarus, to the abodes of immortal bliss! On the contrary, the wicked tyrant cannot think himself safe upon his throne, and amidst his armies; but sits, like Damocles, under the terrible sword in the midst of his enjoyments, in the dreary expectation every moment of perishing. At best, his treacherous pleasures are a wretched exchange for the true joy and peace of virtue; nor can he fly from the torment of his own conscience, or the stench of his guilt. How dreadfully are his horrors increased upon the approach of death! And how will he to all eternity condemn his extravagant folly, unless by sincere repentance he shall have prevented everlasting woes!

Note 1. Dial. 1. 3, c. 2. See Dom. Francis Gianotti’s Diss. on the embassy of Pope John to the Emperor Justin, among the Dissertations of the Academy of Church History at Bologna, in 1758. [back]

Note 2. Anitius Manlius Torquatus Severinus BOETIUS, was born at Rome in 470. His father Boëtius, who had been thrice consul, died in 490. The son at ten years of age was sent to Athens, where he continued his studies nineteen years: after which, returning home, he was declared patrician. He married a lady of great learning, wit, and beauty, named Elpis, to whom are ascribed the hymns which are used by the church on the festival of SS. Peter and Paul. (See Boëtius, l. 2, de Consol.) In the year 500, King Theodoric, who mostly resided at Spoletto or Ravenna, came to Rome; where he was so charmed with the generosity, disinterestedness, integrity, and abilities of Boëtius, that he made him master of the palace, and secretary for all public affairs, which two great offices vested him with the whole authority and management of the state. Boëtius set himself to govern the people by the most excellent maxims of policy and virtue, which he studied also to instil into the mind of the barbarian king. He taught him, though an Arian, to forbear all persecution, and even to cherish and protect the Catholic Church: to establish his throne by encouraging and promoting virtue: to study peace, because the glory of a prince consists in the tranquillity and happiness of his subjects; and a king that is truly the father of his people, ought to be sensible, that it is his first and most essential duty to improve his kingdom, and to govern well his people: which arduous duty calls for his whole application; and for which he cannot find leisure, who too easily busies himself in foreign wars. An ambitious conqueror is the greatest tyrant and scourge of his own people, as well as of other nations. Our philosopher, moreover, persuaded his prince to ease the burdens and taxes of his subjects, because their riches were the prince’s strength: to husband well his treasury, a neglect of which bringeth upon a commonwealth contempt abroad, weakness at home, and misery on all sides; it maketh the people hungry, the prince necessitous, contemptible, and impotent: soldiers mutinous, and subjects miserable. He counselled him to entertain in time of peace well-disciplined troops, which would add majesty to his state, and be a terror to his enemies; and in this sense Theodoric used to say, that war was never better made than in time of peace. The wise and Christian statesman taught him never to confer any office or dignity but according to merit, without any regard to favour; also to be severe and vigilant in executing the laws, and in punishing delinquents; for justice is the basis of the throne and the security of the people; as by it thieves, adulterers, and forgers tremble; oppressors of the poor are punished as disturbers of the peace and enemies to the state, and crimes are banished. He advised him to cherish both the useful and the liberal arts, and to encourage learned men, which conduct never fails to promote wit, prudence, valour, a public spirit, and every means of temporal happiness. He exhorted him to be magnificent in public buildings, and certain manly well-chosen recreations, making them suitable to the majesty of his kingdom.

  By these and the like maxims Theodoric governed some years like an excellent prince, as Ennodius draws his portrait in his panegyric. He was assisted in his councils by most virtuous and learned men, among whom were his secretary, Cassiodorus, (who afterwards, under King Vitiges, put on the monastic habit in Calabria,) Ennodius, Boëtius, and others; and whilst the French, Visigoths, and other new nations, which shared among them the spoils of the Roman empire, remained sunk in barbarism, his court was the centre of politeness; under the reign of a Goth, literature was cultivated, and some rays of the golden age of Augustus seemed again to warm Italy, and make it almost forget that it was fallen a prey to barbarians. Of these advantages, the illustrious daughter of Theodoric, Amalasunta, reaped in her education the most happy fruits; but much more happy had Italy been if the prince himself had not forgotten these excellent lessons.

  Boëtius, to unbend in some measure, and to improve his mind, always joined with his application to public affairs, the amusement of serious studies, and in his leisure hours made various mathematical instruments. He composed music, of which he sent several pieces to Clovis, the king of the French; he also made, and sent to Gondebald, king of the Burgundians, sun-dials constructed to every different aspect of the sun, hydraulics, and machines which marked exactly the course of the sun, moon, and stars, though without wheels, weight, or spring, by the means only of water in a hollow tin globe, which turned perpetually by its own weight. The Burgundians admired how these machines were moved, and marked the hours, and watched them day and night to satisfy themselves that nobody ever touched them; and being convinced of the fact, imagined that some divinity resided in them, and moved the finger upon the dial-plate. This gave occasion to a correspondence between that nation and Boëtius, which he made use of to dispose them heartily to embrace the maxims of the gospel.

  This great man was a long time the oracle of his prince and the idol of the people; and the highest honours in the state were not thought adequate to his virtue and abilities. He was thrice consul, and for a singular distinction of his merits in 510, without a colleague. In 522 his two sons were appointed consuls in their non-age, a privilege which had only been granted to the sons of emperors. He confesseth, that if joy can be derived from frail honours of the world he had reason enough to rejoice on that day; when he saw his two sons carried in pomp through the city in a triumphal car, accompanied with the whole senate and an infinite concourse of people, and himself was seated in the great court of the circus between his two sons consuls, receiving there the congratulations of the king and all the people. On which day, after his harangue to the king in the senate-house, he was presented with a crown, and saluted king of eloquence. After the death of Elpis, he took to wife Rusticiana, the daughter of Symmachus, the most accomplished of all the Roman ladies. But such is the inconstancy of human things, that the highest honours often only raise a man that his fall may be the greater. Neither friends, dignities, nor riches could protect Boëtius from the frowns of fortune; under which, however, his virtue, which was the sole cause of his sufferings, triumphed with the greater lustre.

  Happy and glorious had Theodoric reigned, so long as he followed the wise counsels of Boëtius. But seeing himself firmly established on the throne, he abandoned himself to his disposition to tyranny, and growing old, became melancholy, jealous, and mistrustful of every body that was about his person, making two avaricious and perfidious Goths, called Conigast and Trigilla, the depositaries of his whole authority and confidence. These ministers, to gratify their insatiable covetousness, began to load the people with excessive taxes, which the king had till then forborne. In a great scarcity, they obliged the people to sell their corn into the king’s granaries, and for the soldiery almost at no price: they, upon groundless suspicions, removed Albinus and Paulinus, two of the most illustrious senators, and others. Boëtius undertook to lay before the king in private the tears of his provinces, which had formerly so often softened his heart to compassion, and opened his hands to liberality; but finding no redress, all avenues being obstructed by harpies and flatterers, he publicly addressed him on these heads in the full senate-house. He professed the most steady allegiance and obedience to him in his own name, and in that of the other senators; declaring that they revered his royal authority in whatever hands it was lodged, and left to him the distribution of his favours more free than are the rays of the sun. They craved, however, the liberty, which had ever been the most precious inheritance of that empire, that they might lay open their grievances, and inform him that base flatterers abused his confidence to the excessive oppression of his subjects; insomuch, that to be born rich was to become a prey, and that the very stones related the oppressions and moans of the people. He reminded him of those noble words which they had formerly often heard from his mouth, that “the flock may be shorn, but not flayed; and that there is no tribute comparable to the precious commodities and advantages which a prince derived from the love of his subjects.” He entreated him to reassume that spirit which made him reign in their hearts as well as in the provinces: to listen to those whose loyalty had been approved by the successes of his prosperous reign: to bear his subjects in his bosom, not to trample them under his feet, and to remember that kings are given by heaven for the happiness of the people; not to govern by the utmost exertion and extent of their power, but by the rule of their obligations; to be the fathers of children, not masters of slaves, and to reign over men, not as tyrants at will, but so that the laws themselves only govern. He conjured him to open his eyes, and see the miseries of the provinces bewailing the concussions which they suffered, whilst they were obliged to satisfy with their sweat and blood the avarice of some particular persons, who yet were as greedy as fire, and as insatiable as the abyss. The issue of this generous speech was, that it was deemed by the king an act of rebellion, and through his artifices Boëtius was banished by a decree of the mercenary ungrateful senate. After which sentence, by an order of the king, he and his father-in-law Symmachus were carried prisoners to the strong fortress of Pavia in 523. Trigilla and Conigast unjustly accused them of high treason, and Symmachus was beheaded. Boëtius was also put to death in a castle situated in a desert place, about the midway from Pavia to Rome. He is said to have been first tortured by means of a wheel, to which was fastened a cord, wherewith his head was bound; and by the turning of the wheel, was squeezed with such violence that his eyes flew out. Then he was laid on a beam and beaten with clubs by two executioners upon all the different parts of his body from his neck down to his feet; and being still alive, he was beheaded, or rather his head was clove asunder, in the fifty-fifth year of his age, on the 23rd of October, 523. Boëtius is proved innocent of the conspiracy of which he was suspected with the good pope, in his new life prefixed to the third and last French translation of his book, Consolation de la Philosophie, Traduction Nouvelle, 12mo. chez Gogue, 1771. The Catholics carried off his body, and some time after buried it at Pavia. Two hundred years after King Luitprand caused it to be removed into the church of St. Austin, where he honoured it with a stately mausoleum; and the Emperor Otho III. erected another to his memory with magnificent inscriptions. His estates were confiscated by Theodoric, but after his death restored by his daughter Amalasunta to his widow, who survived till Belisarius had expelled the Goths; at which time he broke down all the statues of Theodoric in Italy, though his stately sepulchral monument still remains near Ravenna, the admiration of travellers. The tyrant having cut off several other senators, fell into a deep melancholy, and was distracted with jealousies, fears, and remorse. About three months after the death of the holy Pope John, when the head of a great fish was served at table, he imagined it to be the head of Symmachus, demanding vengeance against him; nor was any one able to calm his apprehension: in this phrenzy he was carried raging to his bed, and he died miserably a few days after.

  The cause of the death of Boëtius seems to have been complicated in part with that of religion, as was the death of Pope John, whom he zealously seconded in defending the faith. The constancy with which he embraced his barbarous death, calling it a gift of God, and forbidding any one to weep at it, and his great zeal and piety, have rendered his memory dear to all good men. He fell a martyr of the liberty of the people, and of the dignity of the Roman senate, and probably in part of the Catholic faith, of which he was, with Pope John, the chief support. An ancient author published by Mabillon (Iter. Ital. p. 22,) affirms him to have been impeached for a correspondence with the Emperor Justin. But the silence of other writers persuades us that this was a slander of his enemies.

  Boëtius translated from the Greek the works of Euclid, Ptolemy, Plato, Aristotle, Archimedes, &c., and with so much propriety, perspicuity, and purity of language, that Cassiodorus (l. 1, ep. 45,) prefers his versions to the originals themselves. He was so much taken with the close reasoning and method of Aristotle that he first translated several of his treatises into Latin. The works of our author are chiefly philosophical; with five theological tracts, principally written against the Nestorian and Eutychian heresies, and almost all dedicated to the deacon John, afterwards Pope and martyr. His Profession of Faith is one of the most methodical pieces of ecclesiastical antiquity, justly styled by his editor, a golden book. But his master-piece are the five books On the Consolation of Philosophy, which he wrote without the help of any book, during his long confinement at Pavia, under frequent interrogatories, and the daily expectation of tortures and death. He names not Christ in this whole work, but he expresses the sentiments of a perfect Christian, in a dialogue with the increated wisdom. He establishes a divine providence from reason, and speaks of the torments of the world to come. The versification in this work is not equal to the prose, though the thoughts are every where sublime. It shows Boëtius to have been one of the finest geniuses that the world has ever produced. He formed the most just and noble conceptions of things with an astonishing ease; and in the most abstract and difficult matters in metaphysics, theology, and every other subject. So elegant and so finished is this original piece, that few productions of the most flourishing ages of the Latin eloquence are superior to it in purity of style, in truth and loftiness of thought, or in sweetness of expression. He says, that the only cause of his disgrace was a desire of preserving the honour of the senate. (De Consol. Phil, c. 1.) In his juvenile works his style is more rugged. See his life by Abbé Gervaise at Paris in 1715, and by Ceillier, t. 15, p. 563. Also the life of Boëtius by Richard Graham Viscount Preston, prefixed to the English translation of his book On the Consolation of Philosophy, published with notes by that noble lord. Papebroke honours Severinus Boëtius with the title of saint, joins his life with that of Pope John, and mentions the calendars of Ferrarius and of certain churches in Italy in which his name is inserted on the 23rd of October, on which he is commemorated in the divine office in St. Peter’s church at Pavia. See Papebroke, t. 6, Maij, p. 707. [
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Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73).  Volume V: May. The Lives of the Saints.  1866.