Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature to the End of the Sixth Century/Anicetus

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Anicetus, bp. of Rome, stated in Eusebius's History (iv. 11) and by Irenaeus (Adv. omn. Haer. iii. 3, 3) to have succeeded Pius. As to the date of his pontificate, see Lightfoot's elaborate discussion in Apost. Fathers (part i. vol. i. pp. 201‒345). As Polycarp visited him at Rome, and as Polycarp's death has been fixed by recent criticism in 155, Lightfoot says that "the latest possible date for the accession of Anicetus is 154," and if he sat for eleven years, as is said, his death would be in 165. Anastasius Bibliothecarius singles him out as the pope who prescribed the tonsure for the clergy (Anast. vol. i. p. 13); and a forged letter upon this subject is given by Isidorus Mercator (Constant. p. 75). But the single reliable fact recorded of him has reference to the early Paschal controversy (Eus. H. E. iv. 24). He, like his four predecessors, did not allow the Jewish or Quartodeciman usage within their own church, but communicated as freely as before with other churches which did allow it. Polycarp visited Rome, hoping to persuade Anicetus to adopt the Quartodeciman practice. But Anicetus was firm, even against the age and saintliness of Polycarp. As a mark of personal respect, he allowed him to celebrate the Eucharist in Rome; but they parted without agreement, though with mutual cordiality. We are told that Anicetus was buried in the Calixtine cemetery on April 20.