Pape (47 ème) de 468 à 483 (✝ 483)
Son long pontificat lui fit connaître les dernières années de l'empire romain. Mais son action s'étendit surtout à défendre la foi orthodoxe devant les hérésies de ce temps, en soutenant l'application doctrinale du concile de Chalcédoine. Il eut quelques démêlés avec le patriarche de Constantinople. La ville de Rome lui doit beaucoup d'églises nouvelles et une répartition des tâches pastorales qui donnent au clergé la charge paroissiale des baptêmes et des enterrements, modifiant ainsi la géographie ecclésiastique romaine.
À Rome, près de saint Pierre, en 483, saint Simplice, pape. Alors que les barbares dévastaient l’Italie et Rome, il consola les affligés, favorisa l’unité de l’Église et raffermit la foi.
Saint Simplicius (468-483)
Né à Tivoli, mort à Rome en 483.
Son pontificat vit la fin de l’empire de l’Occident.
Il s’occupa, entre autres choses, de l’organisation du patrimoine du Saint-Siège, démontrant en cela ses excellentes qualités d’administrateur.
Il fut l’adversaire des adeptes du monophysisme
Simplicius, fils de Castinus, était né à Tibur, qui est aujourd’hui Tivoli, dans les environs de Rome, et était devenu une figure emblématique du clergé de la Ville.
Il succéda à saint Hilarius (voir au 29 février), comme quarante-septième pape.
A Rome, l’empire latin s’écroula en 476, lorsque le barbare Odoacre, chef des Hérules, balaya ce qui restait du pouvoir des derniers empereurs. Le pape n’avait plus qu’à consoler les chrétiens affligés et à jeter les semences de la foi dans ce monde des envahisseurs.
En Orient, l’empereur Basilisque faisait repartir l’agitation doctrinale en favorisant les eutychianistes (du nom de Eutychès, qui prétendait qu’à partir de l’Incarnation, les deux natures du Christ étaient confondues) ; Pierre Monge, diacre d’Alexandrie, jeta de l’huile sur le feu, et le patriarche de Constantinople Acace, au lieu de seconder les efforts du pape, faisait signer une formule doctrinale sinon pas hérétique, du moins trop compromissiste. Condamnés, Acace et Pierre Monge persévérèrent dans l’erreur et le schisme.
Simplicius fit la dédicace de plusieurs églises romaines : Saint-Etienne au Cœlius, Saint-Etienne près de Saint-Laurent, Saint-André près de Sainte-Marie-Majeure, Sainte-Bibiane.
Il ordonna trente-sept évêques, cinquante-neuf prêtres et onze diacres.
Saint Simplicius mourut le 10 mars 483.
Son successeur fut saint Felix III.
Pape de Rome
Simplice naquit à Tivoli (Tibur) et eut pour père Castinus, dit l'auteur du Liber pontificalis. Sous ses prédécesseurs immédiats, saint Léon le Grand et saint Hilaire, il fut l'ornement du clergé de Rome. A son avènement, il y avait de grandes agitations dans l'Église, son pontificat qui dura de 468 à 483, vit se dérouler de graves événements en Occident et en Orient.
En Occident, ce fut la chute de l'empire et l'envahissement des barbares. Pendant 20 années, les 10 derniers empereurs d'Occident n'avaient été que des ombres de potentats. La 8ème année du pontificat de Simplice, Rome devint la proie des étrangers. Les Hérules, qui avaient demandé comme butin un tiers des terrains de l'Italie, se virent rebutés dans leurs exigences; ils choisirent pour chef Odoacre, homme de basse extraction, mais de haute taille, résolu, intrépide, hérétique arien. Il était officier de la garde impériale, on le proclama roi de Rome en 476. Il mit à mort Oreste, régent de l'empire au nom de son fils Augustule; il épargna ce dernier, lui fournit une pension et lui permit d'aller vivre en liberté à Naples. Le pape romain Simplice s'appliqua à consoler les affligés et à jeter les semences de la foi catholique [orthodoxe à l'époque ] dans le monde barbare.
D'après des lettres qu'on lui attribue, il régla divers points de discipline en litige. A Rome, il fit la dédicace de plusieurs églises, Saint-Étienne au Mont-Celius, Saint-André près de la basilique Sainte-Marie, une autre église sous le vocable de Saint-Étienne près de la basilique Saint-Laurent, enfin l'église Sainte-Bibiane. Il pourvut en même temps du clergé nécessaire les grandes basiliques de Saint-Pierre, de Saint-Paul, de Saint-Laurent.
En Orient surtout, il lui fallut intervenir pour tâcher de mettre fin au schisme fomenté par Acace, patriarche de Constantinople : le dissentiment venait des revendications de ce siège patriarcal et en partie aussi de l'hérésie monophysite condamnée en 451 par le Concile de Chalcédoine. La première occasion du conflit fut la promulgation d'un édit de l'empereur Léon de Thrace, confirmant le 28e canon de Chalcédoine donnant une primauté d'honneur à l'évêque de Constantinople, immédiatement après l'évêque de Rome : le pape saint Léon avait fait opposition à ce canon. Simplice dut envoyer un légat avec mission de protester contre l'édit impérial; on ignore le succès de cette démarche.
La controverse doctrinale fut réveillée par Basilisque, usurpateur de l'empire en 475, qui se prononça pour l'eutychianisme, rappela Timothée Elure à Alexandrie : d'où agissements de ce dernier pour rétablir les évêques eutychiens sur leurs sièges. A la mort d'Elure, on vit Pierre Monge, un diacre d'Alexandrie, jouer un triste rôle dans les dissentiments qui s'accentuèrent entre Constantinople et Rome : il devait en résulter un schisme qui sépara l'Orient [hellénistique] et l'Occident durant 35 ans. Acace de Constantinople fut loin de seconder le zèle de Simplice : une sorte de formule de profession de foi, désignée sous le nom d'Hénotique de Zénon, où la condamnation d'Eutychês au Concile de Chalcédoine était passée sous silence, dut être condamnée par le pape de Rome comme un compromis avec une hérésie condamnée. Simplice mourut peu de temps après avoir écrit à Acace une lettre de blâme pour son attitude à l'égard de Pierre Monge.
Cette mort de Simplice paraît devoir être placée au 10 mars 483 et non au 2 mars. De là vient que l'édition de 1922 du martyrologe romain a fait ce changement en se basant sur L. Duchesne, Liber pontificalis, t. , p. 251; substituer dans l'épitaphe, vi id. mart., à vi non. mart.
Le corps de Simplice fut enseveli dans la basilique de Saint-Pierre; les habitants de Tivoli croient posséder ses reliques et célèbrent sa fête avec une grande solennité.
Pope St. Simplicius
St. Simplicius, a native of Tivoli, was elected to succeed St. Hilary. His election was peaceful, his pontificate stormy. The empire in the West was dying. After the murder of Valentinian III back in 455, a succession of nine shadow emperors held the throne. Most of these were tools of barbarian generals, and finally in the time of Pope Simplicius in 476 the Heruli chieftain Odovakar deposed the last of these little monarchs and informed Emperor Zeno at Constantinople that he would rule the West for him. By this time, anyway, the imperial government had ceased to exercise much influence in the West. Visigoths ruled Spain, Franks and other tribes dominated Gaul, Vandals controlled Africa, and Britain had long been abandoned to Picts and Scots, Angles and Saxons.
The Pope was not much troubled by the change. Odovakar, though an Arian, treated the Church well. But Simplicius was very much troubled by affairs in the East.
In 475 a usurper named Basiliscus drove Emperor Zeno from the throne. Basiliscus favored the Monophysites, and now these heretics enjoyed a very resurrection. Timothy the Cat, that old Monophysite who had been deposed from the see of Alexandria by Emperor Marcion, now returned in triumph. Peter the Fuller took over Antioch. The usurper Basiliscus issued an imperial decree known as the “Encyclion” which ordered the dogmatic letter of St. Leo to Flavian and the acts of the Council of Chalcedon to be burned. It looked as if the whole East trembled on the brink of heresy as five hundred bishops actually subscribed to this audacious bit of imperial dogmatizing. Acacius the patriarch of Constantinople, still held firm, and to his rescue came Pope Simplicius. He strongly encouraged the monks and clergy of Constantinople to resist the usurper’s tyranny. But though Constantinople held firm, Antioch and Alexandria were in heretic hands. When Timothy the Cat died, he was succeeded by his friend the equally ardent Monophysite, Peter the Hoarse.
Just when things looked worst, Emperor Zeno made a comeback and regained the throne. Out went the intruded Monophysite bishops. Back came the Catholics. Pope Simplicius could feel that he had helped the East survive a fierce tempest. The time of peace, however, was very short. When the Catholic patriarch of Alexandria died, the Catholics elected John Talaia to succeed him. The Monophysites once more elected Peter the Hoarse. Now the Emperor Zeno and Patriarch Acacius began to favor the Monophysite, Peter. Strange this! But politics were at work. Zeno, alarmed at the strength of the Monophysites, was thinking of a way to pacify them, and Acacius was hand in glove with the Emperor. In spite of the Pope’s protests, Peter the Hoarse was recognized as true patriarch of Alexandria. Then Peter went to Constantinople, where he joined Zeno and Acacius to cook up a compromise known as the Henoticon. This was in 482 while Simplicius still lived; but he died before the storm reached its peak.
St. Simplicius built four churches in Rome. He died in 483. His feast is kept on March 2.
Pope St. Simplicius
Reigned 468-483; date of birth unknown; died 10 March, 483. According to the "Liber Pontificalis" (ed. Duchesne, I, 249) Simplicius was the son of a citizen of Tivoli named Castinus; and after the death of Pope Hilarius in 468 was elected to succeed the latter. The elevation of the new pope was not attended with any difficulties. During his pontificate the Western Empire came to an end. Since the murder of Valentinian III (455) there had been a rapid succession of insignificant emperors in the Western Roman Empire, who were constantly threatened by war and revolution. Following other German tribes the Heruli entered Italy, and their ruler Odoacer put an end to the Western Empire by deposing the last emperor, Romulus Augustulus, and assuming himself the title of King of Italy. Although an Arian, Odoacer treated the Catholic Church with much respect; he also retained the greater part of the former administrative organization, so that the change produced no great differences at Rome. During the Monophysite controversy, that was still carried on in the Eastern Empire, Simplicius vigorously defended the independence of the Church against the Cæsaropapism of the Byzantine rulers and the authority of the Apostolic See in questions of faith. The twenty-eighth canon of the Council of Chalcedon (451) granted the See of Constantinople the same privileges of honour that were enjoyed by the Bishop of Old Rome, although the primacy and the highest rank of honour were due to the latter. The papal legates protested against this elevation of the Byzantine Patriarch, and Pope Leo confirmed only the dogmatic decrees of the council. However, the Patriarch of Constantinople sought to bring the canon into force, and the Emperor Leo II desired to obtain its confirmation by Simplicius. The latter, however, rejected the request of the emperor and opposed the carrying out of the canon, that moreover limited the rights of the old Oriental patriarchates.
The rebellion of Basiliscus, who in 476 drove the Emperor Zeno into exile and seized the Byzantine throne, intensified the Monophysite dispute. Basiliscus looked for support to the Monophysites, and he granted permission to the deposed Monophysite patriarchs, Timotheus Ailurus of Alexandria and Peter Fullo of Antioch, to return to their sees. At the same time he issued a religious edict (Enkyklikon) addressed to Ailurus, which commanded that only the first three ecumenical synods were to be accepted, and rejected the Synod of Chalcedon and the Letter of Pope Leo. All bishops were to sign the edict. The Bishop of Constantinople, Acacius (from 471), wavered and was about to proclaim this edict. But the firm stand taken by the populace, influenced by the monks who were rigidly Catholic in their opinions, moved the bishop to oppose the emperor and to defend the threatened faith. The abbots and priests of Constantinople united with Pope Simplicius, who made every effort to maintain the Catholic dogma and the definitions of the Council of Chalcedon. The pope exhorted to loyal adherence to the true faith in letters to Acacius, to the priests and abbots, as well as to the usurper Basiliscus himself. In a letter to Basiliscus of 10 Jan., 476, Simplicius says of the See of Peter at Rome: "This same norm of Apostolic doctrine is firmly maintained by his (Peter's) successors, of him to whom the Lord entrusted the care of the entire flock of sheep, to whom He promised not to leave him until the end of time" (Thiel, "Rom. Pont.", 182). In the same way he took up with the emperor the cause of the Catholic Patriarch of Alexandria, Timotheus Salophakiolus, who had been superseded by Ailurus. When the Emperor Zeno in 477 drove away the usurper and again gained the supremacy, he sent the pope a completely Catholic confession of faith, whereupon Simplicius (9 Oct., 477) congratulated him on his restoration to power and exhorted him to ascribe the victory to God, who wished in this way to restore liberty to the Church.
Zeno recalled the edicts of Basiliscus, banished Peter Fullo from Antioch, and reinstated Timotheus Salophakiolus at Alexandria. He did not disturb Ailurus on account of the latter's great age, and as matter of fact the latter soon died. The Monophysites of Alexandria now put forward Peter Mongus, the former archdeacon of Ailurus, as his successor. Urged by the pope and the Eastern Catholics, Zeno commanded the banishment of Peter Mongus, but the latter was able to hide in Alexandria, and fear of the Monophysites prevented the use of force. In a moment of weakness Salophakiolus himself had permitted the placing of the name of the Monophysite patriarch Dioscurus in the diptychs to be read at the church services. On 13 March, 478, Simplicius wrote to Acacius of Constantinople that Salophakiolus should be urged to wipe out the disgrace that he had brought upon himself. The latter sent legates and letters to Rome to give satisfaction to the pope. At the request of Acacius, who was still active against the Monophysites, the pope condemned by name the heretics Mongus, Fullo, Paul of Epheseus, and John of Apamea, and delegated the Patriarch of Constantinople to be in this his representative. When the Monophysites at Antioch raised a revolt in 497 against the patriarch Stephen II, and killed him, Acacius consecrated Stephen III, and afterwards Kalendion as Stephen's successors. Simplicius made an energetic demand upon the emperor to punish the murderers of the patriarch, and also reproved Acacius for exceeding his competence in performing this consecration; at the same time, though, the pope granted him the necessary dispensation. After the death of Salophakiolus, the Monophysites of Alexandria again elected Peter Mongus patriarch, while the Catholics chose Johannes Talaia. Both Acacius and the emperor, whom he influenced, were opposed to Talaia, and sided with Mongus. Mongus went to Constantinople to advance his cause. Acacius and he agreed upon a formula of union between the Catholics and the Monophysites that was approved by the Emperor Zeno in 482 (Henotikon). Talaia had sent ambassadors to Pope Simplicius to notify the pope of his election. However, at the same time, the pope received a letter from the emperor in which Talaia was accused of perjury and bribery and a demand was made for the recognition of Mongus. Simplicius, therefore, delayed to recognize Talaia, but protested energetically against the elevation of Mongus to the Patriarchate of Alexandria. Acacius, however, maintained his alliance with Mongus and sought to prevail upon the Eastern bishops to enter into Church communion with him. For a long time Acacius sent no information of any kind to the pope, so that the latter in a letter blamed him severely for this. When finally Talaia came to Rome in 483 Simplicius was already dead.
Simplicius exercised a zealous pastoral care in western Europe also, notwithstanding the trying circumstances of the Church during the disorders of the Migrations. He issued decisions in ecclesiastical questions, appointed Bishop Zeno of Seville papal vicar in Spain, so that the prerogatives of the papal see could be exercised in the country itself for the benefit of the ecclesiastical administration. When Bishop John of Ravenna in 482 claimed Mutina as a suffragan diocese of his metropolitan see, and without more ado consecrated Bishop George for this diocese, Simplicius vigorously opposed him and defended the rights of the papal see. Simplicius established four new churches in Rome itself. A large hall built in the form of a rotunda on the Cælian Hill was turned into a church and dedicated to St. Stephen; the main part of this building still exists as the Church of San Stefano Rotondo. A fine hall near the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore was given to the Roman Church and turned by Simplicius into a church dedicated to St. Andrew by the addition of an apse adorned with mosaics; it is no longer in existence (cf. de Rossi, "Bull. di archeol. crist.", 1871, 1-64). The pope built a church dedicated to the first martyr, St. Stephen, behind the memorial church of San Lorenzo in Agro Verano; this church is no longer standing. He had a fourth church built in the city in honour of St. Balbina, "juxta palatium Licinianum", where her grave was; this church still remains. In order to make sure of the regular holding of church services, of the administration of baptism, and of the discipline of penance in the great churches of the catacombs outside the city walls, namely the church of St. Peter (in the Vatican), of St. Paul on the Via Ostiensis, and of St. Lawrence on the Via Tiburtina, Simplicius ordained that the clergy of three designated sections of the city should, in an established order, have charge of the religious functions at these churches of the catacombs. Simplicius was buried in St. Peter's on the Vatican. The "Liber Pontificalis" gives 2 March as the day of burial (VI non.); probably 10 March (VI id.) should be read. After his death King Odoacer desired to influence the filling of the papal see. The prefect of the city, Basilius, asserted that before death Pope Simplicius had begged to issue the order that no one should be consecrated Roman bishop without his consent (cf. concerning the regulation Thiel, "Epist. Rom. Pont.", 686-88). The Roman clergy opposed this edict that limited their right of election. They maintained the force of the edict, issued by the Emperor Honorius at the instance of Pope Boniface I, that only that person should be regarded as the rightful Bishop of Rome who was elected according to canonical form with Divine approval and universal consent. Simplicius was venerated as a saint; his feast is on 2 or 3 March.
Liber pontificalis, ed. DUCHESNE, I, 249-251; JAFFÉ, Regesta Pont. Rom., 2nd ed., I, 77-80; THIEL, Epist. Rom. Pontif., I (Brunswick, 1868), 174 sq.; LIBERATUS, Breviar. Causæ Nestor., xvi sq.; EVAGRIUS, Hist. eccl., III, 4 sq.; HERGENRÖTHER, Photius, I, 111-22; GRISAR, Geschichte Roms und der Päpste, I, 153 sq., 324 sq.; LANGEN, Geschichte der römischen Kirche, II (Bonn, 1885), 126 sqq.; WURM, Die Papstwahl (Cologne, 1902).
Kirsch, Johann Peter. "Pope St. Simplicius." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 14. New York: Robert Appleton Company,1912. 2 Mar. 2016 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14002a.htm>.
Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Kenneth M. Caldwell. Dedicated to the memory of Don McGonigle.
Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. July 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.