Pope Saint Miltiades, also called Melchiades (Μελχιάδης ὁ Ἀφρικανός in Greek), was pope from 2 July 311 to 10 January 314.
He appears to have been a Berber African by birth, but of his personal history nothing is known.
His elections marked the end of a period sede vacante lasting from the death of Pope Eusebius on 17 August 310 or, according to others, 309, soon after the Emperor Maxentius had exiled Eusebius to Sicily.
During his pontificate, in October 312, Constantine defeated Maxentius and assumed control over Rome. Constantine presented the pope with the Lateran Palace which became the papal residence and seat of Christian governance. Early in 313, Constantine and fellow Emperor Licinius reached an agreement at Milan that they would grant freedom of religion to the Christians and other religions and restore church property.
In the same year 313, Miltiades presided over the Lateran Synod in Rome, which acquitted Caecilian of Carthage and condemned Donatus as a schismatic (see Donatism). He was then invited to the Council of Arles but died before it was held.
The Liber Pontificalis, compiled from the 5th century onwards, attributed the introduction of several later customs to Miltiades, including not fasting on Thursdays or Sundays, although subsequent scholarship now believes the customs probably pre-existed Miltiades.
In the 13th century, the feast of Saint Melchiades (as he was then called) was included, with the mistaken qualification of "martyr", in the Roman Calendar for celebration on 10 December. In 1969 it was removed from that calendar of obligatory liturgical celebrations, and his feast was moved to the day of his death, 10 January, with his name given in the form "Miltiades" and without the indication "martyr".
Full article ▸