St.Zephyrinus-Pope and martyr
Feast Day : August 26
Zephyrinus was born in Rome. He succeeded St. Victor I as bishop of Rome about the year 199. He was apparently a simple man, without higher learning, who devoted himself more to practical matters than to theological pronouncements. Immediately upon his election, he called St. Callistus to Rome from Antium, ordained him deacon, and put him charge of the Church’s coemeterium (cemetery) on the Appian Way. Callistus also became Zephyrinus’s counselor and succeeded him in 217. The pontificate of Zephyrinus was marked by the ongoing challenge to the Church from heretical sects. Victor had excommunicated Theodotus the Tanner and members of his group, the Monarchians. Monarchians denied the Trinity, declaring that it was God who died on the cross and that Jesus was merely a man who had received supernatural powers at baptism. The sect continued in Rome after its excommunication and persuaded a confessor named Natalis to be ordained bishop for a fee. Natalis accepted, but began to experience dreams in which he received warnings. He paid little attention to these until he dreamt that he had been severely tortured by angels. He then put on a penitential garment, covered himself with ashes and presented himself to Zephyrinus. Confessing his wrongdoing, he begged to be received again into the Church, which in the end Zephyrinus granted. However, he took no action against the Monarchians or other rival schools of the day; critics charged that he himself was Monarchian. The imperial attitude toward Christianity, which had been exceptionally tolerant for a decade, took a turn for the worse in 202 or 203 when Emperor Septimius Severus (r. 193–211) issued an edict that forbade conversion to Christianity under any circumstance. Zephyrinus died a few years later, probably in 217. He is listed in the Roman Martyrology, though it is not certain that he was killed, because his body— placed originally in its own tomb over the Appian Way cemetery and now interred in the San Sisto Vecchio Church in Rome—is intact. He may have been considered a martyr for his faith because of the trials he underwent. In art, Zephyrinus is shown as a pope with a sword.