#88 - Pope Constantine
Pope from March 25, 708 - April 9, 715
Lived: 664 - April 9, 715
Give me the scoop on Constantine.
Constantine, born in Syria around 664, succeeded his brother (Sisinnius) as pope on March 25, 708 and reigned for just over seven years. Rome suffered through a great famine for the first half of Constantine’s time as pope, but apparently enjoyed the exact opposite for the second half. Feast or famine, indeed. During his time in office, Constantine welcomed many dignitaries to Rome, including two English kings, the Bishop of Worcester, and the Archbishop of Milan. He also received an authority-affirming letter from John, the Patriarch of Constantinople, which recognized that the, “apostolical pre-eminence of the Pope is to the whole Church, what the head is to the body."
Described as “a remarkably affable man,” Constantine died on April 8, 715.
What was he known for?
Though relatively little is known about his life, what can be concluded for certain is that Constantine was no wimp. Justinian II, the Byzantine emperor, was a ruthless tyrant with a penchant for wanting his way at all costs. But when the emperor called Constantine to Constantinople, the pope showed no fear in facing the emperor and reaching a compromise on their disputed issues.
His fortitude was tested again, however, when Justinian was murdered and his usurper, a heretic named Philippicus, took the throne. The new emperor, wishing to reverse the findings of the Sixth General Council and bring back the heresy that Christ only had one will, sent the pope an edict with his intentions,
along with Justinian’s severed head
. Subtle. Incredibly, the pope was unmoved, and -- recognizing that Philippicus’ bark was worse than his bite -- Constantine utterly rejected the emperor’s authority in the West and ignored his insane gesture.
Pope Constantine was the last pope to visit Constantinople, the city of his namesake (now Istanbul, Turkey), for more than
twelve hundred years
. It was Pope Paul VI’s visit there in 1967 which broke the 1257-year absence.
What else was going on in the world at the time?
On April 5, 710, there exists a record saying that Chinese emperor Zhong Zong held a lively game of tug-o-war for his top officials as part of the Cold Flood Festival, a traditional three-day Chinese holiday.
Coming tomorrow....Pope St. Gregory II
SOURCES (and further reading)
John, E. (1964). The Popes: A concise biographical history. New York: Hawthorn Books.
Pope Constantine -
Pope Constantine -
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