Pope Sixtus II
|Pope Saint Sixtus II|
|Papacy began||31 August 257|
|Papacy ended||6 August 258|
|Died||6 August 258
Rome, Roman Empire
|Feast day||6 August|
Pope Sixtus II (Latin: Xystus PP. II, Italian: Sisto II; a corruption of Greek: Ξυστος, Xystus, "polished") was pope from 31 August 257 to 6 August 258. He was martyred during the persecution by Emperor Valerian.
According to the Liber Pontificalis, he was Greek by birth; however, this is uncertain, and is disputed by modern western historians arguing that the authors of Liber Pontificalis confused him with that of the contemporary author Xystus, who was a Greek student of Pythagoreanism. He restored the relations with the African and Eastern Orthodox churches which had been broken off by his predecessor on the question of heretical baptism raised by the heresy Novatianism.
In the persecutions under Valerian in 258, numerous bishops, priests, and deacons were put to death. Pope Sixtus II was one of the first victims of this persecution, being beheaded on 6 August. He was martyred along with six deacons— Januarius, Vincentius, Magnus, Stephanus, Felicissimus and Agapitus. Lawrence of Rome, his best-known deacon, suffered martyrdom on 10 August, 3 days after his bishop, as Sixtus had prophesied.
He is thought to be the author of the pseudo-Cyprianic writing Ad Novatianum, though this view has not found general acceptance. Another composition written at Rome, between 253 and 258, is generally agreed to be his.
It is this Sixtus who is referred to by name in the Roman Canon of the Mass. He and his companion-martyrs are commemorated with an optional memorial on 7 August in the ordinary form, and with a commemoration on 6 August in the extraordinary form.
At the time when the sword pierced the bowels of the Mother, I, buried here, taught as Pastor the Word of God; when suddenly the soldiers rushed in and dragged me from the chair. The faithful offered their necks to the sword, but as soon as the Pastor saw the ones who wished to rob him of the palm (of martyrdom) he was the first to offer himself and his own head, not tolerating that the (pagan) frenzy should harm the others. Christ, who gives recompense, made manifest the Pastor's merit, preserving unharmed the flock.
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- "St. Xystus, or Sixtus II., Pope and Martyr", Butler's Lives of the Saints
|Catholic Church titles|
|Bishop of Rome