|Pope Saint Fabian|
Saint Fabian by Giovanni di Paolo (c. 1450)
|Papacy began||10 January 236|
|Papacy ended||20 January 250|
|Died||20 January 250
Rome, Roman Empire
|Feast day||20 January|
Pope Fabian (Latin: Fabianus, Italian: Fabiano; c. 200 – 20 January 250) was pope from 10 January 236 to 20 January 250, succeeding Pope Anterus. He died a martyr at the beginning of the Decian persecution, and is venerated as a saint by the Catholic Church.
Eusebius of Caesarea (Church History, VI. 29) relates how the Christians, having assembled in Rome to elect a new pope, saw a dove alight upon the head of Fabian, a layman and stranger to the city. The congregation took this as a sign that he was marked out for this dignity, and Fabian was at once proclaimed bishop by acclamation, although there were several famous men amongst the candidates for the vacant position.
He is said to have baptised Philip the Arab and his son, to have done some building in the catacombs, to have improved the organisation of the church in Rome, and to have appointed officials to register the deeds of the martyrs.
According to "later accounts, more or less trustworthy", Fabian sent out the "apostles to the Gauls" to Christianise Gaul after the persecutions under Emperor Decius had all but dissolved the small Christian communities. Fabian sent seven bishops from Rome to Gaul to preach the Gospel: Gatianus of Tours to Tours, Trophimus of Arles to Arles, Paul of Narbonne to Narbonne, Saturnin to Toulouse, Denis to Paris, Austromoine to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Clermont, and Saint Martial to Limoges. He also had the bodies of Hippolytus of Rome and Pope Pontian brought from Sardinia to Rome. He was martyred during the persecution of Christians under Emperor Decius and was one of the first to die on 20 January 250.
His deeds are thus described in the Liber Pontificalis: Hic regiones dividit diaconibus et fecit vii subdiacones, qui vii notariis imminerent, Ut gestas martyrum integro fideliter colligerent, et multas fabricas per cymiteria fieri praecepit. ("He divided these regions into deaconships and made seven sub-deaconships which seven secretaries oversaw, so that they brought together the deeds of the martyrs faithfully made whole, and he brought forth many works in the cemeteries.")
Although there is not a great amount of information about Fabian, there is evidence that his episcopate was one of great importance in the history of the early church. He was highly esteemed by Cyprian; Novatian refers to his nobilissima memoriae, and he corresponded with Origen. One authority refers to him as Flavian.
Fabian was buried in the catacomb of Callixtus. The Greek inscription on his tomb has survived. His remains were later interred at San Sebastiano fuori le mura by Pope Clement XI where the Albani Chapel is dedicated in his honour.
- Meier, Gabriel (1909). "Pope St. Fabian" in The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 5. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
- Attwater, Donald and Catherine Rachel John. The Penguin Dictionary of Saints. 3rd edition. New York: Penguin Books, 1993. ISBN 0-14-051312-4.
- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Fabian, Saint". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- "Pope St. Fabian". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.
- San Fabiano, papa, e martire
- Gross, Ernie. This Day in Religion. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers. ISBN 1-55570-045-4
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|Catholic Church titles|
|Bishop of Rome