Anastasius II of Rome

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Pope Anastasius II of Rome was the pope of Rome from 496 to 498. His pontificate was during the time of the Acacian Schism. His actions toward attempted conciliation with the patriarchate of Constantinople were interpreted by the Roman clergy who believed he was attempting a reconciliation with the heretical Monophysites.

Life

Little is known of Anastasius' life before becoming pope. He was born in Rome, but the date of his birth is unknown. His election as Pope of Rome took place in November 496 less than a week after the death of his predecessor, Gelasius I. He came to the see of Rome at the time the Christian world was divided over the attempt by emperor Zeno to reconcile the dispute following the Fourth Ecumenical Council decisions concerning Monophysitism by promulgating the Henoticon that was prepared by Patriarch Acacius of Constantinople in an attempt to pacify the two opposing positions. The dispute became known as the Acacian Schism between Rome and Constantinople that was not healed until 519.

A man of kindly and peaceable disposition, Pope Anastasius apparently sought to heal the differences between Rome and Constantinople. This led to a conflict with the Roman clergy that thought he was making conciliatory moves with the heretical Monophysites although in his attempts at mediation Anastasius maintained his principals and continued to demand the condemnation of Patr. Acacius. The Romans, however, did not recognize this. Adding fuel to the dispute for the disgruntled Romans was that Pope Anastasius had also received back into communion Archbishop Andrew of Thessalonica, formerly was an ardent partisan of Acacius, who had repented and repudiated Acacius. This act, however, brought tensions to a new height, and he was denounced by the clergy and was called a traitor.

Added to this situation were the pro-Constantinople intrigues of the Senator Festus that caused the Romans to be intensely suspicious of Anastasius. This resulted in much bitterness on the part of Roman clergy and laity against the peace-loving Pope Anastasius, who, however, was unable to effect the reunion he desired. In the end he was spared the necessity of pacifying the disgruntled Romans by his sudden death in November 498.

Posthumous reputation

At the time of Anastasius' pontificate, the author of "Liber Pontificalis" reproached and belittled the Anastasius for his attempts at mending fences that developed into a reputation as a heretic. Based upon the tradition thus established, Dante include Anastasius among the heretics in the sixth circle of hell in his Inferno.

Succession box:
Anastasius II of Rome
Preceded by:
Gelasius I
Bishop of Rome
496-498
Succeeded by:
Symmachus
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