Agapetus I of Rome

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Our father among the saints Agapetus I of Rome was the Archbishop and Pope of the Church of Rome from 535 to 536. He is most remembered for his part in the deposition of the heretic Patriarch Anthimus I. He is commemorated on April 22.[1]


Little is known of Pope Agapetus' early life. He was born in Rome, the son of Gordianus a Roman priest who had been slain during riots in the days of Pope Symmachus. Agapetus was ordained a deacon around 502 during the time of the schism within the Church of Rome between followers of Symmachus and Laurentius for the papal throne. He was an archdeacon when he became the Pope of Rome on May 13, 535.

His first action as Pope was the burning of the anathema that Boniface II had pronounced against his rival the papal legate Dioscurus, an antipope who died twenty two days after his election, on the false charge of simony. He confirmed the rulings of the Carthaginian council, after the defeat of the Vandals, that declared converts from Arianism ineligible for the Holy Orders. But, it was his actions at the court of emperor Justinian for which he is most remembered.

Traveling at the request of King Theodahad of the Ostrogoths to influence the emperor against an invasion of Italy by the Roman general Belisarius, Agapetus arrived in Constantinople as Anthimus I usurped the patriarchal throne with the influence of empress Theodora over the objections of the clergy that considered him an intruder and heretic. Pope Agapetus ordered Anthimus to make a written profession of faith. After Anthimus' refusal, Agapetus directed him to return to his forsaken see as Agapetus declined to have any further relations with him. Emperor Justinian threatened Agapetus with banishment. Agapetus is said to have replied, "With eager longing have I come to gaze upon the Most Christian Emperor Justinian. In his place I find a 'Diocletian', whose threats, however, terrify me not." Justinian, for the first time in the history of the Church, personally consecrated Anthimus' legally elected successor, Mennas. Justinian delivered to the Pope Agapetus a written confession of faith, which the latter accepted with the proviso that "although he could not admit in a layman the right of teaching religion, yet he observed with pleasure that the zeal of the Emperor was in perfect accord with the decisions of the Fathers". [2]

Soon afterwards Agapetus fell ill and died on April 22, 536, after a reign of ten months. His body were brought to Rome in a lead coffin and deposited in St. Peter's Basilica.


  1. April 22. Latin Saints of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Rome.
  2.  "Pope St. Agapetus I". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.
Succession box:
Agapetus I of Rome
Preceded by:
John II
Pope of Rome
Succeeded by:
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