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#41 - Pope Zosimus

Saturday, November 16, 2019

ope from 417-418 A.D.
Died: 418 A.D.
pronounced ZOH-sih-muss

Give me the scoop on Zosimus.
St. Zosimus was born in Calabria (the toe of Italy’s boot), but little else is known about his life prior to him being pope. Known for having somewhat of a quarrelsome temper, Zosimus dealt with his fair share of controversy as a result. This fiery trait caused particular trouble when Zosimus declared support for Patroclus, a bishop who had replaced his predecessor after the latter was unjustly deposed by a Roman general. The drama only deepened when Zosimus gave Patroclus extra responsibilities against the wishes of Gaul’s other bishops -- something that wasn’t resolved until the papacy of St. Leo the Great, more than 20 years later. Zosimus’ short papacy ended with his death, the day after Christmas in 418. He was buried in the Church of St. Lawrence in Rome.

What was he known for?
The Pelagian heresy still raged, despite Zosimus’ predecessor (Innocent I) condemning the false beliefs and excommunicating its leaders. Celestius, one of those leaders, didn’t want to take no for an answer, and decided to petition Zosimus for a different result. Though Celestius refused to condemn the statements he had earlier made, he did use grand gestures before the pope in creatively making a confession of faith that Zosimus approved. Pelagius (Pelagianism’s namesake) did the same soon after. Neither were sincere in their confession, and the pair was able to fool the pope for a little while. Thankfully, it didn’t last. Zosimus conferred with his brother bishops in Africa, eventually sniffed out the trickeration, and reaffirmed Innocent’s prior condemnation of Pelagianism.

Fun fact: In the alphabetical list of popes, St. Zosimus falls at the very end. He’s one of just three popes whose names start with Z (or “Zed” for our Canadian friends). Zephyrinus and Zachary are the other two.

What else was going on in the world at the time?
In 418, the Romans decided to gather up all the treasure they had collected in Britain. They brought a sizable chunk with them, but reportedly buried a bunch there before leaving. Anyone have a metal detector?
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