Pope Innocent I

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Pope Saint Innocent I was pope from 401 to March 12, 417.


He was, according to his biographer in the Liber Pontificalis, the son of a man called Innocens of Albano; but according to his contemporary Jerome, his father was Pope Anastasius I (399–401), whom he was called by the unanimous voice of the clergy and laity to succeed (he had been born before his father's entry to the clergy, let alone the papacy; this was before the time of a rule of celibacy for priests).

Innocent I lost no opportunity of maintaining and extending the authority of the Roman see as the ultimate resort for the settlement of all disputes; and his still extant communications with Victricius of Rouen, Exuperius of Toulouse, Alexander of Antioch and others, as well as his actions on the appeal made to him by John Chrysostom (397–403) against Theophilus of Alexandria, show that opportunities of the kind were numerous and varied. He took a decided view on the Pelagian controversy, confirming the decisions of the synod of the province of proconsular Africa, held in Carthage in 416, which had been sent to him, and also writing in the same year in a similar sense to the fathers of the Numidian synod of Mileve who, Augustine being one of their number, had addressed him.

The historian Zosimus in his Historia Nova suggests that during the sack of Rome in 410 by Alaric that Innocent I was willing to permit private pagan practices as a temporary measure. However, Zosimus also suggests that this attempt by pagans to restore public worship failed due to lack of public interest, suggesting that Rome had been successfully Christianized in the last century.

Among Innocent I's letters is one to Jerome and another to John II, Bishop of Jerusalem, regarding annoyances to which the former had been subjected by the Pelagians at Bethlehem. He died on March 12, 417. Accordingly, though from the thirteenth to the twentieth century he was commemorated on 28 July, his feast day is now March 12.[1] His successor was Zosimus.


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