|Papacy ended||20 December 217|
Rome, Roman Empire
|Died||20 December 217
Rome, Roman Empire
|Feast day||20 December|
Pope Zephyrinus (Italian: Zefirino; died 20 December 217) was the head of the Catholic Church from 199 to his death in 217. He was born in Rome. His predecessor was Pope Victor I. Upon his death on 20 December 217, he was succeeded by his principal advisor, Pope Callixtus I.
During the 17-year pontificate of Zephyrinus, the young Church endured severe persecution under the Emperor Severus until his death in the year 211. To quote Butler (Ref. A. Butler: Lives of the Saints Vol VIII, 1866), St Zephyrinus was the support of his flock. He also endured the trials associated with new heresies and apostases. The chief among these were Marcion, Praxeas, Valentine and the Montanists. St. Optatus testifies that all of these were subdued by Zephyrinus, Bishop of Rome. (Ref. Optat. 1,1 De Schismate, n.9 et Albaspinæus, not.ib.) Eusebius insists that Zephyrinus fought vigorously against the blasphemies of the two Theodotuses, who in response treated him with contempt, but later called him the greatest defender of the divinity of Christ. Although he was not physically martyred for the faith, his suffering – both mental and spiritual – during his pontificate have earned him the title of martyr. (Ref. Berti in Sæc 3. Diss. 1.t. 2 p 158)
During the reign of the Emperor Severus (193–211), relations with the young Christian Church deteriorated, and in 202 or 203 the edict of persecution appeared which forbade conversion to Christianity under the severest penalties.
Zephyrinus's predecessor Pope Victor I had excommunicated Theodotus the Tanner for reviving a heresy that Christ while a prophet, was only a mere man. Theodatus' followers formed a separate heretical community at Rome ruled by another Theodotus, the Money Changer, and Aselepodotus. Natalis, who had confessed the faith before the prosecutors and underwent torments in defence of it, was persuaded by Asclepiodotus to become a bishop in their sect in exchange for a monthly stipend. But Natalis reportedly experienced several visions warning him to abandon these heretics. At last, he was whipped a whole night by an angel[dubious ]. The next day he donned sackcloth and ashes, and weeping bitterly threw himself at the feet of Zephyrinus. (Ref Butler;Op. cit.)
- Kirsch, Johann Peter (1912). "Pope St. Zephyrinus" in The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 15. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
- "Calendarium Romanum" (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1969), p. 136
- "Martyrologium Romanum" (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2001 ISBN 88-209-7210-7)
- Rendina, Claudio, The Popes' Histories and Secrets (2002)
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Pope St. Zephyrinus". Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company.
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|Catholic Church titles|
|Bishop of Rome