Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Pope St. Agapetus I

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Byzantine See was a certain Anthimus, who without the authority of the canons had left his episcopal see of Trebizond to join the crypto-Monophysites who, in conjunction with the Empress Theodora were then intriguing to undermine the authority of the Council of Chalcedon. Against the protests of the orthodox, the Empress finally seated Anthimus in the patriarchal chair. No sooner had the Pope arrived than the most prominent of the clergy entered charges against the new patriarch as an intruder and a heretic. Agapetus ordered him to make a written profession of faith and to return to his forsaken see; upon his refusal, he declined to have any relations with him. This vexed the Emperor, who had been deceived by his wife as to the orthodoxy of her favourite, and he went so far as to threaten the Pope with banishment. Agapetus replied with spirit: "With eager longing have I come to gaze upon the Most Christian Emperor Justinian. In his place I find a Diocletian, whose threats, however, terrify me not." This intrepid language made Justinian pause; and being finally convinced that Anthimus was unsound in faith, he made no objection to the Pope's exercising the plenitude of his powers in deposing and suspending the intruder and, for the first time in the history of the Church, personally consecrating his legally elected successor, Mennas. This memorable exercise of the papal prerogative was not soon forgotten by the Orientals, who, together with the Latins, venerate him as a saint. In order to clear himself of every suspicion of abetting heresy, Justinian delivered to the Pope a written confession of faith, which the latter accepted with the judicious proviso that "although he could not admit in a layman the right of teaching religion, yet he observed with pleasure that the zeal of the Emperor was in perfect accord with the decisions of the Fathers". Shortly afterwards Agapetus fell ill and died, after a glorious reign of ten months. His remains were brought in a leaden coffin to Rome and deposited in St. Peter's. His memory is kept on 20 September, the day of his deposition. The Greeks commemorate him on 22 April, the day of his death.

Liber Pontificalis (ed. Duchesne), I, 287–289; Cleus in Acta SS., Sept., VI, 163–179; Artaud de Montor, Lives of the Popes (New York, 1867), I, 123, 124.

Agapetus II, Pope, a Roman by birth, elected to the papacy 10 May, 946; he reigned, not ingloriously, for ten years, during what has been termed the period of deepest humiliation for the papacy. He proved that the true spiritual dignity of the papacy can be successfully upheld by a saintly and resolute pontiff amid the most untoward surroundings. The temporal power had practically vanished and Rome was ruled by the vigorous Princeps and Senator Albericht, who was the prototype of the later Italian tyrants. Nevertheless, the name and virtues of Agapetus were respected throughout the entire Christian world. He laboured incessantly to restore the decadent discipline in churches and cloisters. He succeeded eventually in quieting the disturbances in the metropolitan see of Reims. He supported the Emperor Otto the Great in his plans for the evangelization of the heathens of the North. Seeing no other way of putting an end to anarchy in Italy, he joined with other Italian nobles in persuading the Emperor to make his first expedition into the peninsula. During his lifetime, his successor was virtually appointed in the person of Albericht's notorious son Octavian, later John XII, whose father forced the Romans to swear that they would elect him as their temporal and spiritual lord upon the demise of Agapetus. The Pope died in August, 956, leaving an unsullied name, and was buried in St. John Lateran.

Liber Pontificalis (ed. Duchesne), II, 245. For his correspondence see Jaffé, Regesta RR. PP., 2d ed., I, 459–463; Artaud de Montor, Lives of the Popes (New York, 1867), 250–251.

Agar, William Seth, an English Canon, b. at York, 25 December, 1815; d. 23 August, 1872. He was educated at Prior Park, Bath, and was ordained priest there, and appointed (1845) to Lyme, Dorsetshire. Ill health obliged him to leave Lyme twice, and in 1852 he was appointed chaplain to the canonesses of St. Augustine at Abbotsleigh, where he lived uninterruptedly to his death. In 1856 he was installed as Canon of the Plymouth Chapter. He is said to have been "one of the most deeply versed priests in England in ascetical and mystical theology, and in the operations of grace in souls." He was more a profound thinker than a great reader, although he studied many theological and philosophical works, especially the published writings of his favourite author, Rosmini, which he carefully annotated.

The Tablet (London), 7 Sept., 1872; Gillow, Bibliogr. Dict. of English Catholics, I, 9.

Agata dai Goti, Santa. See Santa Agata dei Goti.

Agate. See Stones, Precious, in Bible.

Agatha, Saint, martyr, one of the most highly venerated virgin martyrs of Christian antiquity, put to death for her steadfast profession of faith in Catania, Sicily. Although it is uncertain in which persecution this took place, we may accept, as probably based on ancient tradition, the evidence of her legendary life, composed at a later date, to the effect that her martyrdom occurred during the persecution of Decius (250–253). Historic certitude attaches merely to the fact of her martyrdom and the public veneration paid her in the Church since primitive times. In the so-called Martyrologium Hieronymianum (ed. De Rossi and Duchesne, in Acta SS., Nov. II, 17) and in the ancient Martyrologium Carthaginiense dating from the fifth or sixth century (Ruinart, Acta Sincera, Ratisbon, 1859, 634), the name of St. Agatha is recorded on 5 February. In the sixth century Venantius Fortunatus mentions her in his poem on virginity as one of the celebrated Christian virgins and martyrs (Carm., VIII, 4, De Virginitate: Illic Euphemia pariter quoque plaudit Agathe Et Justina simul consociante Thecla. etc.). Among the poems of Pope Damasus published by Merenda and others is a hymn to St. Agatha (P.L., XIII, 403 sqq.; Ihm, Damasi Epigrammata, 75, Leipzig, 1895). However, this poem is not the work of Damasus but the product of an unknown author at a later period, and was evidently meant for the liturgical celebration of the Saint's feast. Its content is drawn from the legend of St. Agatha, and the poem is marked by end-rhyme. From a letter of Pope Gelasius (492–496) to a certain Bishop Victor (Thiel. Epist. Roman. Pont., 495) we learn of a Basilica of St. Agatha in fundo Caclano, i.e., on the estate of that name. The letters of Gregory I make mention of St. Agatha at Rome, in the Subura, with which a diaconia or deaconry (q.v.) was connected (Epp., IV, 19; P.L., LXXVII, 688). It was in existence as early as the fifth century, for in the latter half of that century Rieimer enriched it with a mosaic. This same church was given the Arian Goths by Rieimer and was restored to Catholic worship by Pope Gregory I (590–604). Although the martyrdom of St. Agatha is thus authenticated, and her veneration as a saint had even in antiquity spread beyond her native place, we still possess no reliable information concerning the details of her glorious death. It is