After a two year vacancy and a change of emperors, Pope Saint Miltiades became the 32nd in the line of Peter and ruled over the Church from July 2, 311 to 314. It was during the reign of this African-born pontiff that the horrendous persecutions finally ended. Christianity had won through the Edict of Milan in which two emperors - Licinus, a pagan from the East, and Constantine, who would soon be converted to Christianity, made a pact - often called the Edict of Toleration - which recognized and accepted Christianity as a religion. Militiades is responsible for constructing the first Basilica of Saint John Lateran and Blessed bread dates from this time.
Christ lived thirty three years. It's interesting to note that it was during the reign of the 33rd pontiff - Pope Saint Sylvester I from January 31, 314 to December 31, 335 that Christianity was free to spread throughout the world under the same Constantine the Great who was inspired to victory in a fierce battle after seeing a luminous cross in the sky with the Latin words "In Hoc Signo vinces." Translated it means "In this sign you shall conquer." His mother Saint Helena was rewarded for her tireless prayers with his conversion and ensuing far-reaching Christian influence on the world. Constantine not only became the first Christian Roman Emperor and the founder of the Byzantine Empire, but also declared Christianity as the official national religion. During Sylvester's 21 year pontificate the first Ecumenical Council of Nicea was convened where the Credo was formulated. He instituted Sunday as a holyday in memory of the Resurrection and created the "Iron Crown" with a nail from the true Holy Cross.
During this glorious time, Pope Saint Mark became the new pope on January 18, 336 for only ten months. He decreed that the Pope should be consecrated by the Bishop of Ostia. He also instituted the Pallium which is still in use. It is made from the wool of a previously blessed lambs and is decorated with black crosses. During his pontificate the first calendar of religious feastdays was released and more might have been accomplished had he lived longer but Mark died on October 7, the same year. Upon his death Pope Julius I was placed on the throne of Peter, where he reigned for 15 years until April 12, 352 when he passed on to eternity on April 12, 352. During his pontificate, Arianism raised its ugly head again. Even though it had been condemned in 325 at the Council of Nicea, it marked the beginning of a plethora of disputes in which civil authorities would interfere with church affairs. He ordered that the Oriental Church should celebrate Christmas on December 25th instead of uniting it with the Feast of Epiphany on January 6th which is the date the Eastern Orthodox Church celebrate Christmas to this day. He also is considered to be the founder of the Archives of the Holy See since he ordered that all official acts be preserved. At the Council of Sardica in Illyricum, Pope Julius proved the innocence of Saint Athanasius who had deposed certain Arian bishops. Julius also framed 21 canons of discipline, thus clarifying further Church government and administration in accordance with Rome. It was also during this time that the great early Doctors of the Church came into vogue - men like Saint Gregory Nazianzen, Saint Athanasius, Saint Eusebius, Saint Basil the Great, Saint Ambrose, Saint Jerome, Saint John Chrysostom, and Saint Augustine who all upheld Church teaching and helped formulate Church doctrine, dogmas and traditions of the Church.
A month after Julius' death on April 12, 352 Pope Saint Liberius was declared the new pontiff as the 36th successor of Peter. The polemics with the Arians continued and this led to the Arians electing their own pope - Felix II, thus establishing the first official antipope even though Novatian had been antipope in 252 no records existed until Unfortunately Felix would not be the last. Liberius laid the foundations for the Basilica of Saint Mary Major by tracing out the perimeter in fresh snow after a miraculous snowfall in heat of the Roman summer on August 15th. On September 24, 366 after fourteen years as Vicar of Christ God called Liberius home.
His successor on October 1, 366 was Pope Saint Damasus I who was born in Spain. He was a learned pontiff and introduced the use of the Hebrew term "Alleluia". He also had the Sacred Scriptures translated from Hebrew into Latin and Greek, the first being the Psalms which he authorized the singing of the Psalms by alternate choirs which became the "Ambrosian Rite" in honor of Saint Ambrose. He convened the Second Ecumenical Council at Constantinople in 381 in which 350 bishops attended and condemned Macedonians and declared the Holy Spirit was consubstantial with the Father and the Son. It was also when the Word , comprised in various books was compiled into Divine Revelation as the "Bible." with Saint Jerome translating much of it into Latin in progress as the "Latin Vulgate." Damasus ruled for sixteen years until dying on December 11, 384.
It was during his reign that hordes of barbarian Huns, Goths, Vandals, and Visigoths began descending from the north and east, ravaging millions as they carved a bloody path toward Rome. This was a gradual process over the reigns of those who followed him beginning with his immediate successor Pope Saint Siricus, 39th successor of Peter who brought Holy Mother Church to the brink of the fifth century. He was born in Rome and elected four days after Liberius' death. He was the first, after Peter, to assume the title of "Pope" Papa from the Greek "Father." It was also believed to be an anagram from the initials of the words "Petri Apostoli Potestatem Accipiens." Siricus upheld the necessity of celibacy for priests and, after a fifteen year papacy, died on November 26, 399.
It would be left to his successor Pope Saint Anastasius I to bring the Church into the Fifth Century. Also born in Rome he was elected a day after Siricus' death and strenuously fought the followers o fimmoral practices, maintaining that the Divinity was also hidden in material things. He decreed that priests should remain standing during the reading of the Holy Gospel at Mass. Even though his pontificate only lasted two years, he resolved the schism between Rome and the Church of Antioch. He died on December 19,401.
Next Week: Installment Twelve: The Fall of the Roman Empire and the Rise of Christianity
A year and a half later he was elected President of the US Bishops' Conference Committee on the Priesthood on October 31, 1968. Less than six months later he was on his way to Rome again to assume his new position as President of the North American Pontifical College there. He remained in this post until May 31, 1974 when he was transfered from Saginaw to the Cleveland Diocese becoming Bishop of Cleveland. After six years in the city on Lake Erie, Pope John Paul II tabbed him to become Archbishop of Washington D.C. on June 17, 1980. He was installed at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on August 5, 1980.
In his fourth Consistory, John Paul II named Archbishop Hickey to receive the cardinalate on June 28, 1988. He was bestowed the titular church of St. Mary Mother of the Redeemer. Since then he has been active on various curia offices including the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, the Congregation for Catholic Education and the Congregation for the Clergy as well as the Pontifical Council for the Family.
Both Cardinal Hickey and his peer Cardinal John O'Connor are facing the mandatory retirement age and thus the Church is going to lose two very active, loyal Princes of the Church; Cardinal O'Connor for his fifteen plus years as Archbishop of New York and Cardinal Hickey for his nearly twenty years as head of the very difficult political diocese of Washington, D.C. His motto is Veritatem in caritate meaning "truth in love" for he strongly believes the Magisterium of the Church does not exist solely to preach theological theories but to transmit the truth with love and a caring heart. He resides inside the Beltline at the Archdiocesan Pastoral Center at 5001 Eastern Avenue in Washington, D.C.
2. There's always a lot to be thankful for if you take time to look for it. For example: I am sitting here thinking how nice it is that wrinkles don't hurt.
3. Reason to smile: Every seven minutes of every day, someone in an aerobics class pulls a hamstring.
4. The best way to keep kids at home is to make the home a pleasant atmosphere...and let the air out of their tires.
5. Families are like fudge...mostly sweet with a few nuts.
6. Middle age is when you choose cereal for the fiber, not the toy.
7. The more you complain, the longer God lets you live.
8. If you can remain calm, you don't have all the facts.
9. Eat a live toad first thing in the morning, and nothing worse can happen to you the rest of the day.
10. You know you're getting old when you stoop to tie your shoes and wonder what else you can do while you're down there.
I heeded His words, and in the two boxes
Both my joys and sorrows I store,
But though the gold became heavier each day
The black was as light as before.
With curiosity, I opened the black
I wanted to find out why.
And I saw, in the base of the box, a hole
Which my sorrows had fallen out by
I showed the hole to God, and mused aloud,
"I wonder where my sorrows could be."
He smiled a gentle smile at me.
"My child, they're all here with Me."
I asked, "God, why give me the boxes,
Why the gold, and the black with the hole?"
"My child, the gold is for you to count your blessings,
And the black is for you to let go."
Death of Saint Dunstan, Irish saint, Benedictine monk, and Archbishop of Canterbury who revived monasticism in the Bristish Isles. He is Patron Saint of armorers, goldsmiths, locksmiths and jewelers.
Death of Otto IV, Holy Roman Emperor during the reign of Pope Honorius III.
Death of Pope Saint Celestine V, 192nd successor of Peter, who renounced the papacy when he realized he was a mere instrument in the hands of the lords of those troubled medieval times.
Death of Saint Ives also known as Saint Ivo Helory of Kermartin. Forty-four years after his death he was canonized by Pope Clement VI and is today known as the Patron Saint of Lawyers.
Cardinal Pierre Roger becomes Pope Clement VI, 198th successor of Peter, who was the fourth in the Avignon line of Popes. Clement VI, known for being a great protector of the Jews, bought the city of Avignon for 18,000 gold florins.
Birth of Blessed Pope Innocent XI, in Como, Italy as Benedetto Odescalchi who would become the 240th successor of Peter.
How I have pleaded for all of my children to convert their hearts. I rejoice for all who have answered my call. But I am truly the Sorrowful Mother who weeps tears for all those who are victims of pride, arrogance, self-will and call themselves followers of my Divine Son, when in truth they follow the ways of the world and follow the ways of evil.
Dear children, this is the time of the River of Sorrows, and so many are already weeping.
I solemnly tell all the world: Prepare! You do not understand what is coming! I solemnly tell you, prepare your souls by repentance and reverent reception of My Divine Son in the Blessed Sacrament. I tell you this for great signs are upon you - signs that God gives in His Mercy.
I solemnly say again: Pray, for soon many shall see God and they must be fully prepared! Heed my words because I am the Mother of God. I love and bless you. Pray! Pray! Pray!
My little ones, I ask you to wear my Scapular so I may be near to you in a very special way, with my mantle around you.
I solemnly tell you again: Time is very critical and so many of my beloved little ones are now blinded by confusion and doubt. They do not understand my messages because they have looked rather at my little chosen ones who deliver my messages, but they have not lived my words.
I solemnly tell you: Look at all of my words, all of God's signs with the eyes of your soul, and not with mere human eyes. The eyes of your soul see with the Light of Truth, with the Light of the Holy Spirit.
No longer doubt. Let all persecutions of my little ones cease and pray for unity of mind and heart through the Holy Spirit. This is of utmost importance, for the critical period of your world has begun.
Be alert! All I have foretold is coming to pass, not as your finite minds understood my words, but as God has spoken in Sacred Scripture.
Be prepared! Remain in the state of sanctifying grace and do not be afraid. The sufferings of your world shall be greater than in all the history of mankind, but you must remain steadfast, obedient and humble. I lead you to my Divine Son, your sure Refuge.
I love and bless you. Thank you for responding to my Call!