St. Victor I
Feast: July 28
(189-198 or 199), date of birth unknown. The "Liber Pontificalis" makes him a native of Africa and gives his father the name of Felix. This authority, taking the "Liberian Catalogue" as its basis, gives the years 186-197 as the period of Victor's episcopate. The Armenian text of the "Chronicle" of Eusebius (Leipzig, 1911, p. 223) places the beginning of Victor's pontificate in the seventh year of the reign of the Emperor Commodus (180-87) and gives it a duration of twelve years; in his "Church History" (V, xxxii, ed. Schwarts, Leipzig, 1902, p. 486) Eusebius transfers the beginning of the pontificate to the tenth year of the reign of Commodus and makes it last ten years. During the closing years of the reign of Commodus (180-192) and the early years of Septimius Severus (from 193) the Roman Church enjoyed in general great external peace. The favourable opinion of the Christians held by Commodus is ascribed to the influence of a woman named Marcia. According to the testimony of Hippolytus ("Philosophumena", IX, 12) she had been brought up by the presbyter Hyacinthus, was very favourably inclined towards the Christians, perhaps even a Christian herself (Hippolytus, loc. cit., calls her philotheos God-loving). One day she summoned Pope Victor to the imperial palace and asked for a list of the Roman Christians who had been condemned to forced labour in the mines of Sardinia, so that she might obtain their freedom.
The pope handed her the list and Marcia, having received from the emperor the required pardon, sent the presbyter Hyacinthus to Sardinia with an order of release for the Christian confessors. Callistus, afterwards pope, who had been among those deported, did not return to Rome, but remained at Antium, where he received a monthly pension from the Roman Christians. Irenaeus ("Adv. Haerses", IV, xxx, 1) points out that Christians were employed at this period as officials of the imperial Court. Among these officials was the imperial freedman Prosenes, whose gravestone and epitaph have been preserved (De Rossi, "Inscriptiones christ. urbis Romae", I, 9, no. 5). Septimius Severus, also, during the early years of his reign, regarded the Christians kindly, so that the influence of Christian officials continued. The emperor retained in his palace a Christian named Proculus who had once cured him. He protected Christian men and women of rank against the excesses of the heathen rabble, and his son Caracalla had a Christian wet nurse (Tertullian, "Ad Scapulam", IV). Christianity made great advances in the capital and also found adherents among the families who were distinguished for wealth and noble descent (Eusebius, "Hist. eccl.", V, xxi).
Internal dissensions during this era affected the Church at Rome. The dispute over the celebration of Easter . . . grew more acute. The Christians at Rome, who had come from the province of Asia, were accustomed to observe Easter on the 14th day of Nisan, whatever day of the week that date might happen to fall on, just as they had done at home. This difference inevitably led to trouble when it appeared in the Christian community of Rome. Pope Victor decided, therefore, to bring about unity in the observance of the Easter festival and to persuade the Quartodecimans to join in the general practice of the Church. He wrote, therefore, to Bishop Polycrates of Ephesus and induced the latter to call together the bishops of the province of Asia in order to discuss the matter with them. This was done; but in the letter sent by Polycrates to Pope Victor he declared that he firmly held to the Quartoceciman custom observed by so many celebrated and holy bishops of that region. Victor called a meeting of Italian bishops at Rome, which is the earliest Roman synod known. He also wrote to the leading bishops of the various districts, urging them to call together the bishops of their sections of the country and to take counsel with them on the question of the Easter festival. Letters came from all sides: from the synod in Palestine, at which Theophilus of Caesarea and Narcissus of Jerusalem presided; from the synod of Pontus over which Palmas as the oldest presided; from the communities in Gaul whose bishop of Irenaeus of Lyons; from the bishops of the Kingdom of Osrhoene; also from individual bishops, as Bakchylus of Corinth. These letters all unanimously reported that Easter was observed on Sunday.. Victor, who acted throughout the entire matter as the head of Catholic Christendom, now called upon the bishops of the province of Asia to abandon their custom and to accept the universally prevailing practice of always celebrating Easter on Sunday. In case they would not do this he declared they would be excluded from the fellowship of the Church.
This severe procedure did not please all the bishops. Irenaeus of Lyons and others wrote to Pope Victor; they blamed his severity, urged him to maintain peace and unity with the bishops of Asia, and to entertain affectionate feelings toward them. Irenaeus reminded him that his predecessors had indeed always maintained the Sunday observance of Easter, as was right, but had not broken off friendly relations and communion with bishops because they followed another custom (Eusebius, "Hist. eccl.", V, xxiii-xxv.) We have no information concerning the further course of the matter under Victor I so far as it regards the bishops of Asia. All that is known is that in the course of the third century the Roman practice in the observance of Easter became gradually universal. In Rome itself, where Pope Victor naturally enforced the observance of Easter on Sunday by all Christians in the capital, an Oriental named Blastus, with a few followers, opposed the pope and brought about a schism, which, however, did not grow in importance (Eusebius, loc. cit., B, xx). Pope Victor also had difficulties with a Roman priest named Florinus, who probably came from Asia Minor. As an official of the imperial court, Florinus had become acquainted in Asia Minor with St. Polycarp, and later was a presbyter of the Roman Church. He fell into the Gnostic heresy and defended the false learning of Valentine. St. Irenaeus wrote two treatises against him: "On the Monarchy [of God] and that God is not the Author of Evil", and "On the Ogdoad". Irenaeus also called Victor's attention to the dangerous writings of Florinus, who was probably degraded from his priestly functions by the pope and expelled from the Church (Eusebius, "Hist. eccl.", V, xv, 20).
During the pontificate of Victor a rich Christian, Theodotus the Leather-seller, came from Constantinople to Rome and taught false doctrines concerning Christ, Whom he declared to be merely a man endowed by the Holy Ghost, at baptism, with supernatural power. The pope condemned this heresy and excluded Theodotus from the Church. The latter, however, would not submit, but, together with his adherents, formed a schismatic party, which maintained itself for a time at Rome. Victor may also have come into contact with the Montanists. Tertullian reports ("Ad Praceam", 1) that a Roman bishop, whose name he does not give, had declared his acceptance of the prophecies of Montanus, but had been persuaded by Praxeas to withdraw. Duchesne ("Histoire ancienne de l'église", I, 278) and others think Tertullian means Pope Eleutherius, but many investigators consider it more probable that he meant Pope Victor, because the latter had had much to do with the inhabitants of Asia Minor, and because, between 190 and 200, Praceas had gone from Rome to Carthage, where he was opposed by Tertullian. The question cannot be decided positively
- Year XXII - Num. 141
|- Angelus: Jesus counters market logic with the logic of giving|
|- Appeal for the liberation of Dall'Oglio and Orthodox bishops abducted in Syria|
|- Pope's message to the new Patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians|
|- Telegram for the death of Cardinal William Wakefield Baum|
|- Cardinal Meisner, Pope's special envoy to the inauguration of the Maria Radna convent complex in Timisoara|
|- Other Pontifical Acts|
|Angelus: Jesus counters market logic with the logic of giving|
Vatican City, 26 July 2015 (VIS) – At midday today Pope Francis appeared at the window of his study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace to pray the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square. He commented on the day's Gospel passage, which narrates “the great sign of the multiplication of the loaves”, when Jesus finds Himself on the shores of the Sea of Galilee surrounded by the multitude, drawn by the “signs He was performing on the sick”.
Francis remarked that God's merciful power acts in Christ, curing every malady of the body and the spirit. But He is not merely a healer, He is also a teacher; He teaches from the “cathedra” represented by the mount and tests His disciples, asking them how they can give food to all the people present. The apostle Philip makes a rapid calculation, confirming that by organising a collection they could raise at most two hundred denari to buy bread, which would not be sufficient to feed five thousand people.
“The disciples reason in 'market' terms, but Jesus substitutes the logic of buying with the logic of giving”, explained the Pope. “And at this point Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, presents a boy who offers all he has: five loaves and two fishes, which are certainly not enough for so many people, Andrew says”. But this was exactly what Jesus was expecting, and so He tells the disciples to ask the people to be seated, takes the loaves and fishes, blesses them, gives thanks to the Father and distributes them.
“These gestures anticipate those of the Last Supper, which gives Jesus' bread its truest meaning. God's bread is Jesus Himself. Making Communion with Him, we receive His life in us and become children of the heavenly Father and brothers among ourselves. In this communion we encounter Jesus, truly alive and risen! Participating in the Eucharist means entering into Jesus' logic, the logic of gratuity, of sharing. And poor though we may be, we can all give something. 'Making Communion' means drawing from Christ the grace that makes us capable of sharing what we are and what we have with others”.
The crowd is astonished by the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves, “but the gift that Jesus offers is the fullness of life for famished mankind. Jesus satisfies not only material hunger, but also the most profound hunger for the meaning of life: our hunger for God. Faced with suffering, loneliness, poverty and the difficulties of so many people, what can we do? Complaining resolves nothing, but we can offer what little we have, like the boy in the Gospel. We all surely have a little time, some kind of talent, some kind of expertise to offer. Who among us does not have their 'five loaves and two fishes'? We all have it! If we are willing to place it in the Lord’s hands, it would be enough to bring to the world a little more love, peace, justice and above all, joy. How much we are in need of joy in the world! God is capable of multiplying our little gestures of solidarity and letting us participate in His gift”.
|Appeal for the liberation of Dall'Oglio and Orthodox bishops abducted in Syria|
Vatican City, 26 July 2015 (VIS) – Following the Angelus prayer, the Pope recalled that registration began today for the 31st World Youth Day, to be held in 2016 in Krakow, Poland. He was the first to register as a pilgrim by means of an electronic device brought to him by a boy and girl, before the faithful in St. Peter's Square. “The Day will coincide with the Year of Mercy”, he observed, “and will be, in a certain sense, a jubilee of youth called upon to reflect on the theme 'Blessed are the merciful, for they will find mercy'. I invite the young from all over the world to live this pilgrimage either by going to Krakow or by participating in this moment of grace within their communities”.
He continued, “In a few days' time it will be the second anniversary of the kidnapping of Fr. Paolo Dall'Oglio. I wish to make a heartfelt and urgent appeal for the liberation of this esteemed religious man. Similarly, I do not forget the Orthodox bishops abducted in Syria, nor all the other people kidnapped in war zones. I hope that the competent authorities, both local and international, may redouble their efforts to enable freedom to be restored to these brothers of ours. With affection and participation in their suffering, let us remember them in prayer, and pray together to Our Lady”.
After praying the “Hail Mary” for these abducted people with all those present in the square, the Pope concluded by commenting that today the Church celebrates the feast of Sts. Anne and Joachim, the parents of the Virgin Mary and therefore Jesus' grandparents. “On this occasion, I would like to greet all grandmothers and grandfathers, and to thank them for their valuable presence in families and for the new generations. Let us greet and applaud all those grandparents who are living, and also those who look upon us from Heaven”.
|Pope's message to the new Patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians|
Vatican City, (VIS) – The Holy Father has granted ecclesiastical communion to His Beatitude Gregoire Pierre XX Ghabroyan, as requested by the latter following his election as Patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians by the Synod of the Patriarchal Church on 24 July. The new patriarch succeeds His Beatitude Nerses Pierre XIX Tarmouni, who died on .
The Pope took the opportunity to send a message of congratulations to His Beatitude Gregoire Pierre XX Ghabroyan, in which he commented that his election comes at a moment when the Church faces new difficulties and challenges, especially the situation of many Armenian Catholic faithful in the Middle East. “However, illuminated by the light of faith in the Risen Christ, our outlook on the world is full of hope and mercy, for we are certain that the Cross of Jesus is the tree that gives life”.
“I am sure that Your Beatitude, in communion with the venerable Synod Fathers, with the help of the Holy Spirit and with evangelical wisdom, will know how to be the 'Pater et Caput”, the Good Shepherd to that part of the People of God entrusted to you. The many Armenian martyrs and St. Gregory of Narek, Doctor of the Church, will not fail to intercede on your behalf”.
Finally, the Pope entrusted the Patriarch and his ministry to Jesus Christ and to the protection of the Holy Mother of God, and imparted his apostolic benediction to all the Patriarchate.
|Telegram for the death of Cardinal William Wakefield Baum|
Vatican City, 25 July 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has sent a telegram of condolences to the cardinal archbishop of Washington, U.S.A., Donald Wuerl, for the death of Cardinal William Wakefield Baum, archbishop emeritus of the same archdiocese and major penitentiary emeritus, on 23 July at the age of 88.
In his text the Pope expresses his gratitude for the late cardinal's years of episcopal service in Springfield-Cape Girardeau and in Washington, and for his long service to the Apostolic See as Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education and major penitentiary. The Holy Father commends the late cardinal's soul to God, the Father of all mercies, and imparts his apostolic blessing to all who mourn his passing.
|Cardinal Meisner, Pope's special envoy to the inauguration of the Maria Radna convent complex in Timisoara|
Vatican City, 25 July 2015 (VIS) - In a letter published today, written in Latin and dated 20 May 2015, the Holy Father appointed Cardinal Joachim Meisner, archbishop emeritus of Cologne, Germany, as his special envoy to the inauguration of the convent complex at the Shrine of Maria Radna in Timisoara, Romania, to take place on , the day of the Portiuncula. In the text, the Pope mentions the fame of the Marian shrine, an ancient Franciscan convent, and expresses his pleasure at the restoration works, fruit of collaboration between the citizens of Timisoara, several dioceses in Germany, and the European Union.
|Other Pontifical Acts|
Vatican City, 25 July 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has:
- accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Tumaco, Colombia, presented by Bishop Gustavo Giron Higuita, O.C.D., upon reaching the age limit.
- appointed Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin as papal legate at the celebration of the fifth centenary of the evangelisation of East Timor, to be held in Dili, East Timor, on .
- appointed Cardinal Angelo Scola, archbishop of Milan, Italy, as special envoy to the Mass to be held in Bobbio, Italy on , on the occasion of the Eighteenth Meeting of the Colombanian Community, on the 1400th anniversary of the death of St. Colombanus.
- appointed Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, as special envoy to the concluding celebrations of the 1500th anniversary of the founding of the Abbey of Saint-Maurice, Switzerland, to take place on .