Feast Day : Formerly July 28
Victor was a native of North Africa. He became the 14th bishop of Rome, succeeding St. Eleutherius around the year 175. During Victor’s rule, the Christians of the Roman Empire enjoyed a peace they had not known before. Emperor Commodus (r. 180–192) had once been cured by a Christian named Proculus, whom he kept with him in his palace. He employed other Christians as officials at his court and pardoned those who had been sent to do forced labor in the Sardinian mines, after his mistress Marcia obtained a list of names from Victor. One of those freed was St. Callistus, a later pope, who chose to live at Antium with the support of a monthly pension from Victor. The external peace was, however, marred by internal dissent. For some time there had been conflict between the Church of Rome and the Quartodeciman churches of Asia Minor over the scheduling of Easter. Rome celebrated Easter on Sunday, whereas the Quartodecimans had always followed the Hebrew calendar and celebrated it instead on the first day of Passover— on whatever day of the week that might fall. The conflict came to a head when the growing number of Asian immigrants in Rome tried to celebrate Easter on the day to which they were accustomed. Victor instructed the Quartodecimans to change their celebration to Sunday, threatening their bishops with excommunication if they did not. When they defied him, he made good his threat, though this seems not to have been enforced. In Rome, his attempt to enforce the decree was met by the Asian Blastus, who brought about a short-lived schism. Victor also had to contend with Gnostics and other heretics, such as the Monarchians. Monarchians denied the Trinity, holding that God was supreme, and that Jesus was merely a man endowed at baptism with supernatural power. Victor convened several synods to deal with the sect and excommunicated its head, Theodotus the Tanner. Theodotus responded by forming his own schismatic church, which persisted in Rome for some time thereafter. Victor, the first Latin writer in the Church, declared Latin the official language of the Church of Rome. Also under Victor, the Roman Church became the proprietor of a cemetery on the Appian Way.