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Deusdedit

(615—618)


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(19 Oct. 615–8 Nov. 618)

A Roman by birth, son of a subdeacon Stephen, he was already elderly when elected, having served as a priest for 40 years, and was himself the first priest to be made pope since John II. He was the choice of the party opposed to the pro-monastic policies of Gregory I and Boniface IV; LP records with satisfaction that ‘he greatly loved the clergy’, promoting them rather than religious to offices. He also ordained fourteen priests (the first to be ordained since Gregory I's death), and instituted an evening office, parallel to matins, for the clergy. Practically nothing is known of his reign, except that during it Rome was afflicted with an earthquake and an outbreak of scab disease, and that there was a serious mutiny of the Byzantine forces in Italy, disgruntled at the failure of their pay to arrive. The exarch John and other government officials at Ravenna were butchered. Deusdedit continued loyal to Emperor Heraclius (610–41) throughout the upheaval, and gave a warm welcome to the new exarch, Eleutherius, when he visited Rome before moving to crush the revolt. Eleutherius, too, soon raised the standard of rebellion, but was cut down by troops as he marched on Rome. Deusdedit's epitaph, composed by Honorius I, describes him as simple, devout, wise, and shrewd; on his deathbed he made the first recorded funerary bequest by a pope to his clergy, the equivalent (it is conjectured) of a year's stipend to each. Feast 8 Nov.

Further Reading

JW i. 222, ii. 698LP i. 319 f. (Davis 1: 64–5)Caspar ii. 517 f., 520, 523DACL xiii. 1229 f. (H. Leclercq)DHGE xiv. 356 f. (B. Botte)BSS i. 250 f. (I. Daniele)NCE iv. 701 (C. E. Sheedy)Seppelt ii. 46JR 178, 262–4

Subjects: Christianity.


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