Victor I of Rome

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Our father among the saints Victor I of Rome was the bishop of Rome from ca. 189 to ca. 199. He is remembered for his opposition to the practice of celebrating the feast of Pascha on the 14th of the Jewish month of Nisan by bishops of Asia Minor. He is also remembered for changing the liturgical language in Rome from Greek to Latin. His feast day is July 28.

Contents

Life

Victor was the first bishop of Rome who was born in the Roman province of Africa. He was of Berber origin. The date of his birth is unknown and little is known of his early life.

Late in the second century, about 195, during the time that Victor was Bishop of Rome, he disputed Polycrates of Ephesus concerning the date of the feast of Pascha that the Asians celebrated on the fourteenth of Nisan and the following night and while the Romans and the West celebrated on the Sunday after the fourteenth of Nisan. Victor showed great concern about the practice of the Asians, who were called ‘’Quartodecimans’’ by the Romans, to the point that he severed ties with the Asian bishops who opposed the Roman practice that he supported.

Victor also introduced the use of Latin in the churches in Rome as the liturgical language, as had been the practice in his native north Africa. Until his time Rome celebrated the Mass in Greek. The liturgical use of Latin in Rome, however, did not become universal until the latter half of the third century.

Victor reposed in Rome in the year 199.

Controversy

In the early church, before the fourth century, Easter, that is Pascha, was not a fixed institution throughout the Church, but was a living reality that was in continual development. This diversity seemed to have followed two paths: one commemorating the passion of Christ and the other His resurrection. These paths of development became a controversy that continued until the First Ecumenical Council which established a common rule for Pascha, although under this rule the dates for Pascha continue to differ between the East and the West.


Succession box:
Victor I of Rome
Preceded by:
Eleuterus
Bishop of Rome
189 - 199
Succeeded by:
Zephyrinus
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Reference

  • Raniero Cantalamessa, et al, Easter in the Early Church - An Anthology of Jewish and Early Christian Texts, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota, 1993 ISBN 0-8146-2164-3

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