John V


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(23 July 685–2 Aug. 686)

A Syrian from Antioch, son of Cyriacus, he perhaps came to Rome as a refugee from the Arab invasions. As a deacon he was one of Agatho's three representatives at the Sixth General Council (third council of Constantinople, 680–81), took a leading part in its discussions, and personally brought back to Rome the documents containing the conciliar decisions and Emperor Constantine IV's ratification of Leo II's election. He was archdeacon and an eminent cleric when he was unanimously elected in the Lateran basilica and then, under the new procedure waiving direct reference to Byzantium decreed by Constantine, installed at once in the Lateran palace to await confirmation of his appointment by the exarch at Ravenna. Nothing is known of his reign except that he took strong and successful action to check aspirations to autonomy in Sardinia, where Citonatus of Cagliari, the metropolitan, had consecrated a provincial bishop without reference to Rome. He suspended the bishop and then, at a synod held in Rome, reinstated him after getting it established that the holy see's authority in the island was paramount. Well educated and energetic, he was nevertheless so ill for much of his reign that he could hardly officiate at ordinations. He left a substantial legacy to his clergy, the charitable monasteries of the city, and the lay sacristans of churches. He was buried in St Peter's.

Further Reading

JW i. 242 f.LP i. 366 f. (Davis 1: 82–3)FD i n. 252Caspar ii. 620–31DBI lv. 554–6 (L. Becto)DCB iii. 392 (J. Barmby)DTC viii. 599 (É. Amann)Levillain ii. 835 (J. Durliat)NCE vii. 921 f. (H. G. J. Beck)Bertolini 395 f.Seppelt ii. 78–82JR 202, 206 f.

Subjects: Christianity.

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