Pope Dionysius

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Pope Saint Dionysius was pope from July 22, 259 to December 26, 268.

He may have been born in Magna Græcia, but this has not been verified. Dionysius was elected pope in 259, after the martyrdom of Sixtus II in 258. The Holy See had been vacant for nearly a year due to difficulty in electing a new pope during the violent persecution which Christians faced. When the persecution had begun to subside, Dionysius was raised to the office of Bishop of Rome. Emperor Valerian I, who had led the persecution, was captured and killed by the King of Persia in 260. The new emperor, Gallienus, issued an edict of toleration, bringing the persecution of Christians to an end and giving the Church legal status. To the new pope fell the task of reorganizing the Roman church, which had fallen into great disorder. On the protest of some of the faithful at Alexandria, he demanded from the bishop of Alexandria, also called Dionysius, explanations concerning his doctrine regarding the relation of God to the Logos, which was satisfied.

Pope Dionysius sent large sums of money to the churches of Cappadocia, which had been devastated by the marauding Goths, to rebuild and to ransom those held captive. He brought order to the Church and procured a peace after Emperor Gallienus issued an edict of toleration which was to last until 303. Dionysius is the first pope who is not listed as a martyr. He died on December 26, 268.

In art, he is portrayed in papal vestments, along with a book.

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