Pope Paschal I
|Papacy began||25 January 817|
|Papacy ended||11 February 824|
|Birth name||Pascale Massimi, son of Bonosus|
Rome, Papal States
|Died||11 February 824
Rome, Papal States
|Buried||Santa Prassede, Rome|
|Other popes named Paschal|
|Papal styles of
Pope Paschal I
|Reference style||His Holiness|
|Spoken style||Your Holiness|
|Religious style||Holy Father|
A native of Rome and son of Bonosus and Lady Theodora, Paschal was serving as abbot of Santo Stefano Rotondo when he was raised to the pontificate by the acclamation of the clergy less than a day after the death of Pope Stephen IV. This decision occurred before the sanction of the emperor Louis the Pious had been obtained, and was a circumstance for which it was one of his first tasks to apologize. Paschal advised the emperor that the decision had been made to avoid factional strife in Rome, and his papal legate Theodore returned with a document titled Pactum cum Pashali pontiff, in which the Emperor congratulated Paschal, recognized his sovereignty over the Papal States and guaranteed the free election of future pontiffs. . This document was challenged by later historians as a forgery  as Paschal’s relations with the imperial house never became cordial, and he was also unsuccessful in winning the sympathy of the Roman nobles.
During his reign, he gave shelter to exiled monks from the Byzantine Empire who were persecuted for their opposition to iconoclasm, and invited mosaic artists to decorate churches in Rome. Paschal is credited with finding the body of Saint Cecilia in the Catacomb of Callixtus and building the basilica of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere, and the church of Santa Maria in Domnica. He also extensively renovated the basilica of Santa Prassede.
In 822, he gave the legateship over the North (Scandinavia) to Ebbo, Archbishop of Rheims. He licensed him to preach to the Danes, though Ebbo failed in three different attempts to convert them. Only later did Saint Ansgar succeed with them.
In 823, Paschal crowned and anointed Lothair I as King of Italy, which set the precedent for the pope’s right to crown kings, and to do so in Rome. Lothair immediately made use of his new authority to side with Farfa Abbey in its lawsuit against the Roman Curia, forcing the Papal administration to return properties which had been misappropriated. The decision outraged the Roman nobility, and led to an uprising against the authority of the Roman Curia in northern Italy, led by Paschal’s former legate, Theodore, and his son Leone. The revolt was quickly suppressed, and the two leaders who were about to testify were seized at the Lateran, blinded and afterwards beheaded. Suspicious that the deaths were to cover up the involvement of the pope in the revolt, the emperor sent two commissioners to investigate. Paschal refused to submit to the authority of the imperial court, but issued an oath in which he denied all personal complicity in the crime. The commissioners returned to Aachen, and Emperor Louis let the matter drop. Paschal died soon afterwards, but the Roman Curia refused him the honour of burial within St. Peter's Basilica, and he was buried in the basilica of Santa Prassede, which includes the famous Episcopa Theodora mosaic of his mother.
- John N.D. Kelly, Gran Dizionario Illustrato dei Papi, Edizioni Piemme S.p.A., 1989, Casale Monferrato (AL), ISBN 88-384-1326-6
- Claudio Rendina, I papi, Ed. Newton Compton, Roma, 1990
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
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