St Anicetus

(c. 155—166)

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Peter (c. 64 ad)

St Anacletus


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(c. 155–c. 166)

Tenth in the earliest succession lists of bishops of Rome, he was reckoned the eleventh pope by the later convention which counted St Peter as the first. LP reports that he was a Syrian from Emesa (Homs), and Eusebius (c. 260–c. 340) that he reigned eleven years. Soon after his accession he received a visit from Polycarp, the octogenarian bishop of Smyrna, who, after they had reached agreement on other issues, tried to persuade him to adopt the practice of the churches of Asia Minor of observing Easter on the 14th of the Jewish month Nisan (the day of the Passover)—the so-called Quartodeciman date. At this time the Roman church did not have a special Easter festival, and Anicetus was able to plead that he felt obliged to abide by his predecessors' custom of celebrating Christ's resurrection every Sunday. The two bishops remained in amicable fellowship, and Anicetus invited Polycarp to preside at mass. Although nothing else is known directly of his activities, he must have had contact with the scholar Hegesippus, author of anti-Gnostic works, who came to Rome about this time, and with the apologist Justin, who was martyred at Rome c.165. It was probably Anicetus, not Anacletus as LP states, who erected the memorial shrine for St Peter on the Vatican Hill which was familiar to visitors c.200 and which was revealed by the 1939–49 excavations. The tradition that he died a martyr lacks confirmation. Feast 20 Apr.

Further Reading

Irenaeus, Adv. haer. 3. 3. 3 f., 3. 4. 2Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 4. 11. 7, 4. 19, 5. 24. 14–17LP i, pp. lxxi, 134 (Davis 1: 5, 98, 107)Caspar i. 8 f., 13, 21, 35, 47 f., 52J. Flamant, ‘Le Calendrier chrétien: Naissance du comput ecclésiastique’, in Histoire, i.493–508M. Richard, ‘La Question pascale au IIe siècle’, L'Orient syrien, 6 (1961), 179–212‘La Lettre de s. Irénée au pape Victor’, ZNTW56 (1965), 260–82DHGE iii. 280 f. (J. P. Kirsch)EThC 8 (G. Schwaiger)NCE i. 455 (E. G. Weltin)Lampe

Subjects: Christianity.

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