Pope Sixtus I

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Sixtus I
Bishop of Rome
Head reliquary of Pope Sixtus I, Zadar
ChurchEarly Church
Papacy beganc. 115
Papacy endedc. 124
PredecessorAlexander I
Personal details
Died125 (aged c. 82 – 83)
Rome, Roman Empire
Feast day6 April
Title as SaintMartyr
Other popes named Sixtus

Pope Sixtus I (Greek: Σίξτος, c. 42–124/126/128), also spelled Xystus, a Roman of Greek descent,[1] was the bishop of Rome from c. 115 to his death.[2] He succeeded Alexander I and was in turn succeeded by Telesphorus. His feast is celebrated on 6 April.[2]


The oldest documents[which?] use the spelling Xystus (from the Greek ξυστός, xystos, "shaved") in reference to the first three popes of that name. Pope Sixtus I was also the sixth Pope after Peter, leading to questions as to whether the name "Sixtus" is derived from sextus, Latin for "sixth".[3]

The "Xystus" mentioned in the Catholic Canon of the Mass is Xystus II, not Xystus I.


The Holy See's Annuario Pontificio (2012) identifies him as a Roman by birth, who served from 117 or 119 to 126 or 128.[2] His father's name was Pastor.

According to the Liberian Catalogue of popes, he served the Church during the reign of Hadrian "from the consulate of Niger and Apronianus until that of Verus III and Ambibulus", that is, from 117 to 126.[2] Eusebius states in his Chronicon that Sixtus I reigned from 114 to 124, while his Historia Ecclesiastica, using a different catalogue of popes, claims his rule from 114 to 128. All authorities agree that he reigned about ten years.[2]

Like most of his predecessors, Sixtus I was believed to have been buried near Peter's grave on Vatican Hill, although there are differing traditions concerning where his body lies today. In Alife, there is a Romanesque crypt, which houses the relics of Pope Sixtus I, brought there by Rainulf III. Alban Butler (Lives of the Saints, 6 April) states that Clement X gave some of his relics to Cardinal de Retz, who placed them in the Abbey of Saint Michael in Lorraine.

Liturgical codification[edit]

Sixtus I instituted several Catholic liturgical and administrative traditions. According to the Liber Pontificalis (ed. Duchesne, I.128), he passed the following three ordinances:

  • that none but sacred ministers are allowed to touch the sacred vessels;
  • that bishops who have been summoned to the Holy See shall, upon their return, not be received by their diocese except on presenting Apostolic letters;
  • that after the Preface in the Mass, the priest shall recite the Sanctus with the people.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ George L. Williams (2004). Papal Genealogy: The Families and Descendants of the Popes. McFarland. p. 9. ISBN 9780786420711.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Pope St. Sixtus I". The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 14. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1912.
  3. ^ PBS video, "Saints and Sinners".


  • Benedict XVI. The Roman Martyrology. Gardners Books, 2007. ISBN 978-0-548-13374-3.
  • Chapman, John. Studies on the Early Papacy. Port Washington, NY: Kennikat Press, 1971. ISBN 978-0-8046-1139-8.
  • Fortescue, Adrian, and Scott M. P. Reid. The Early Papacy: To the Synod of Chalcedon in 451. Southampton: Saint Austin Press, 1997. ISBN 978-1-901157-60-4.
  • Jowett, George F. The Drama of the Lost Disciples. London: Covenant Pub. Co, 1968. OCLC 7181392
  • Loomis, Louise Ropes. The Book of Popes (Liber Pontificalis). Merchantville, NJ: Evolution Publishing. ISBN 1-889758-86-8.
  • This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Pope St. Sixtus I". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by Bishop of Rome
Succeeded by