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st.John I-Pope and martyr

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Feast Day : May 18 (formerly May 27)

 

 

John was a native of Tuscany. He became archdeacon in the Church of Rome and, after an interregnum of seven days, succeeded Pope St. Hormisdas on August 13, 523. John was by this time very old and frail, and protested when Theodoric, king of the Ostrogoths and of Italy, asked him to lead a delegation of Roman senators to Constantinople. Earlier in 523, Emperor Justin had issued a decree against the Arians in the Eastern Empire, requiring them to return to the Catholics churches they had seized. Although he was himself Arian, Theodoric was concerned about the larger political implications of this move, and wanted the delegation to get the edict repealed. He threatened reprisals against Western Catholics, should John fail in the mission. He was unexpectedly well received in Constantinople. The common people of the city came out in throngs to greet him, and on meeting the pope, Justin prostrated himself at his feet. Some time later, he had John crown him. Most of the patriarchs of the Eastern churches came to see him and see John officiate in the Church of Santa Sofia in the Latin Rite on Easter Day of 526, in the place of Epiphanius, patriarch of Constantinople. This grand reception clearly showed the respect given John as the leader of the universal Church. Unfortunately, it also threatened Theodoric, who feared that it might presage a revival of ancient sentiment for imperial unity. Upon landing in Italy on his return trip, therefore, John was arrested and incarcerated at Ravenna. He died there soon thereafter, on May 18 or 19, 526. His relics now lie in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. In art, he is shown looking through the bars of a prison or imprisoned with a deacon and a subdeacon. He is venerated especially at Ravenna and in Tuscany

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