Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature to the End of the Sixth Century/Joannes I., bishop of Rome
Joannes (346) I., bp. of Rome after Hormisdas, Aug. 13, 523, to May 18, 526. The emperor Justin, having during the pontificate of Hormisdas restored the churches in the East to orthodoxy and communion with Rome, continued to shew his orthodox zeal by the persecution of heretics. Having already suppressed the Eutychians and Nestorians, he issued in 523 a severe edict against Manicheans, condemning them, wherever found, to banishment or death (Cod. Justin. leg. 12). Justin's edict had debarred other heretics from public offices, but had excepted the Arian Goths because of his league with Theodoric, the Gothic king of Italy. Soon afterwards, however, he proceeded against the Arians also, ordering all their churches to be consecrated anew for the use of the Catholics. Theodoric, who, though an Arian, had hitherto granted toleration to Catholics in his own dominions, remonstrated with the emperor by letter, but without effect. He therefore applied to the bp. of Rome, whom he sent for to Ravenna, desiring him to go to Constantinople to use his influence with the emperor, and threatening that, unless toleration were conceded to Arians in the East, he would himself withhold it from Catholics in the West. John went (A.D. 525), accompanied by five bishops and four senators. The unprecedented event of a visit by a bishop of Rome to Constantinople caused a great sensation there. He was received with the utmost respect by acclaiming crowds and by the emperor. Invited by the patriarch Epiphanius to celebrate Easter with him in the great church, he consented only if seated on a throne above that of the patriarch. He officiated in Latin and according to the Latin rite. None were excluded from his communion except Timotheus, patriarch of Alexandria (Theophan.; Marcellin. Com.). Anastasius (Lib. Pontif.) states that the emperor, though now in the 8th year of his reign, bowing to the ground before the vicar of St. Peter, solicited and obtained the honour of being crowned by him. There is concurrence of testimony that John obtained a cessation of Justin's measures against the Arians. Baronius and Binius, anxious to clear a pope from tolerating heresy, insist that John dissuaded the emperor from the concessions demanded. Against this supposition Pagi (Critic.) cites the following: "Justin, having heard the legation, promised that he would do all, except that those who had been reconciled to the Catholic faith could by no means be restored to the Arians" (Anonym. Vales.); "The venerable pope and senators returned with glory, having obtained all they asked from Justin" (Anastasius); "Justinus Augustus granted the whole petition, and restored to the heretics their churches, according to the wish of Theodoric the heretical king, lest Christians, and especially priests, should be put to the sword" (Auctor. Chron. Veterum Pontificum); "Having come to Augustus, they requested him with many tears to accept favourably the tenour of their embassy, however unjust; and he, moved by their tears, granted what they asked, and left the Arians unmolested" (Miscell. lib. 15, ad ann. vi. Justin). Whatever the cause, it is certain that John and the legates were, on returning, received with displeasure by Theodoric and imprisoned at Ravenna, where the pope died on May 18, 526. His body was buried in St. Peter's at Rome on May 27, on which day he appears in the Roman Martyrology as a saint and martyr. See also Fragm. Vales. Greg. Dial. i. iii. c. 2.