Honorius I of Rome

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Pope Honorius I of Rome was the Pope of the Church of Rome from 625 to 638. While successful in missionary and administrative activities he is remembered for his condemnation as a heretic at the Sixth Ecumenical Council of 680/681, after his death.


Little is known of his early life. Honorius came from Campania in southern Italy, the son of the consul Petronius. His date of birth is unknown. Honorius succeeded Pope Boniface V on October 27, 625. During his pontificate, he actively supported missionary activities in the British Isles, sending St. Birinus to convert the West Saxons and appointing bishops to the sees of York and Canterbury. Through his efforts he brought the Celts of Ireland around to keep the date of Easter common with the rest of Christendom.

Honorius sponsored the restoration and beautification of many churches of Rome, as well as repairing the aqueduct of Trajan. He supported the Lombard king Adalwald against his Arian rival.

It was in his support of Patriarch Sergius I during the Monothelite controversy that Pope Honorius gained his notoriety in history. About the year 634, Patr. Sergius I raised, in a letter to Honorius, the use of the expression "one operation/one will" in an attempt to reconcile the differences between the Orthodox and the Monophysites following the condemnation of Monophysitism at the Fourth Ecumenical Council in Chalcedon. The term was raised when emperor Heraclius made use of the expression in refuting the Monophysites during a visit to Armenia. Its use was questioned and then referred to Patr. Sergius who, not ready to make a decision, referred the question to Pope Honorius.

Honorius, in his reply to Sergius, while concurring on the questionability of the expression, and also of "two operations" as being Nestorian, left his explanation concerning Monothelitism unclear and sounding as if he endorsed Monophysitism while giving support to Sergius, This support during the following years against the opposition led by Maximus the Confessor and Sophronius of Jerusalem enabled the emperor Heraclius to issue in 638 the "Ecthesis", written by Sergius, that came under attack by Sergius' opposition.

On October 12, 638, Pope Honorius died, still much respected during his lifetime and with an untarnished reputation. However, the controversy between Monophystism and Nestorianism continued with Monothelitism at the center of the argument and continued to threaten the unity and even the peace of the empire.

To settle the issue, in 680, the Sixth Ecumenical Council met in Constantinople under the auspices of Eastern Roman emperor Constantine IV. The council condemned Monothelitism and, after deliberating over the doctrinal letters of Sergius and Honorius that were found quite foreign to the apostolic doctrines, anathematized as heretics Honorius and Sergius as well as Cyrus of Alexandria, Paul II, Peter of Constantinople, and Theodore of Pharan.

Succession box:
Honorius I of Rome
Preceded by:
Boniface V
Pope of Rome
Succeeded by:
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