Servant of the servants of God

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
The 1570 bull Quo primum of Pope Pius V in a Roman Missal. Below the name of the pope Pius Episcopus (Pius Bishop) appears his title Servus servorum Dei. Not all papal documents begin in this way, but bulls do.

Servant of the servants of God (Latin: servus servorum Dei)[1] is one of the titles of the pope and is used at the beginning of papal bulls.[2]


Pope Gregory I (pope from 590 to 604) was the first pope to use this title extensively to refer to himself as Pope,[3] reportedly doing so as a lesson in humility for the Archbishop of Constantinople John the Faster, who had been granted the title "Ecumenical Patriarch" by the Byzantine Emperor: the humble title "Servant of the Servants of God" countervailed the other's claim of power and eminence against the Bishop of Rome (the pope). Some of Pope Gregory's successors used the phrase off and on for some centuries, but they did so regularly only from the 9th century. At times, some civil rulers also used this title, but after the 12th century it came to be used exclusively by the Pope.

Biblical background[edit]

This papal title also has a biblical background found in the Gospel according to Saint Matthew, chapter 20, verses 25 to 27:

25. But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and that they exercise great authority upon them.
26. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;
27. And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant.


  • Camillo Ruini (2007). Alla sequela di Cristo : Giovanni Paolo II, il servo dei servi di Dio [Imitating Christ: John Paul II, the servant of the servant of God] (in Italian). Siena: Cantagalli. p. 103. ISBN 9788882722982. OCLC 238896950 – via[4][5]


  1. ^ Gabriel Adeleye, Kofi Acquah-Dadzie, Thomas J. Sienkewicz, World dictionary of foreign expressions: a resource for readers (1999) "Servus servorum Dei", p. 361.
  2. ^ Ian Robinson The papal reform of the eleventh century p326 - 2004 "Gregory bishop, servant of the servants of God, to the archbishops, bishops , dukes, counts and the greater and lesser men in the kingdom of the Germans, greeting and apostolic blessing."
  3. ^ Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Servus servorum Dei" . Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  4. ^ Referenced by Istituto per le scienze religiose (2007). Cristianesimo nella storia (in Italian). 28 (2nd ed.). Bologna: EDB. p. 507. OCLC 145362164 – via Google snippet.
  5. ^ George Weigel (September 14, 2010). The end and the beginning : Pope John Paul II : the victory of freedom, the last years, the legacy. New York: Crown Publishing Group- Doubleday. p. 556. ISBN 9780307715869. OCLC 688480029.