Definitions

saint anicetus

Pope Anicetus

Pope Saint Anicetus was Bishop of Rome from about 154 to about 167 (the Vatican's list cites 150 or 157 to 153 or 168). His name is Greek for unconquered. He was a Syrian from the city of Emesa (modern-day Homs), Syria.

According to Saint Irenaeus, it was during his pontificate that the aged Saint Polycarp of Smyrna, a disciple of Saint John the Evangelist, visited the Roman Church. St Polycarp and St Anicetus discussed the celebration of Passover. Polycarp and his Church of Smyrna celebrated the crucifixion on the fourteenth day of Nisan, which coincides with Pesach or Passover. The day of the week was not important in the East. On the other hand, the Roman Church celebrated an Easter Passover on Sunday—the weekday of Jesus' resurrection. The two did not agree on a common date, but Anicetus conceded to St Polycarp and the Church of Smyrna the ability to retain the date to which they were accustomed, thereby denying Easter as a separate holiday. The controversy was to accelerate and grow heated in the course of the following centuries.

The Christian historian Saint Hegesippus also visited Rome during Anicetus' pontificate. This visit is often cited as sign of the early importance of the Roman See.

St Anicetus was the first Roman Bishop to condemn heresy by forbidding Montanism. He also actively opposed the Gnostics and Marcionism. According to Liber Pontificalis, Anicetus decreed that priests are not allowed to have long hair (perhaps because the Gnostics wore long hair). St Anicetus is reported to have suffered martyrdom during the reign of the Roman Co-Emperor Lucius Verus. April 16, 17, and 20 are all cited as the date of his death, but April 17 is celebrated as his memorial or feast day. Exact details relating to the type of martyrdom he suffered are not known.

References

  • Duff, Eamon. Saints and Sinners: A History of the Popes, Yale University Press, 2001, p. 13. ISBN 0300091656
  • Maxwell-Stuart, P. G. Chronicle of the Popes: The Reign-by-Reign Record of the Papacy from St. Peter to the Present, Thames & Hudson, 2002, p. 19. ISBN 0500017980.

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