Skip to comments.Saint Sixtus II, Pope
Posted on 08/06/2008 11:10:07 PM PDT by Salvation
Born in the early third century, Sixtus lived in a time of many changes in the Roman Empire.
In 257, Emperor Valerian issued a decree, which mandated Christian clergymen sacrifice to the pagan gods or die. As a result, many Christians were put to death, including Pope Steven I. Sixtus was then secretly consecrated as Steven's successor.
One of Sixtus's important contributions as Pope was to make peace with the Churches in Asia Minor and northern Africa, where some bishops held that baptisms conferred by heretics were not valid, in contradiction to Church policy in Rome. His predecessor had been stern in trying to correct these bishops, but Sixtus was loving, and he managed to restore friendly relations.
Soon after Sixtus became Pope, Emperor Valerian issued an even stronger decree against Christians, ordering the execution of all Christian clergymen. On August 6, 258, Sixtus was addressing the congregation at a liturgical service in the private cemetery of Praextextatus, which was believed to be a safe haven. Suddenly, imperial forces rushed in and seized the Pope.
It is said that Sixtus refused to attempt an escape, even when the opportunity presented itself, for fear of initiating a massacre of the congregation. Instead, he was either beheaded immediately or take to court for sentencing and then brought back and executed. He was buried across the road in the Cemetery of St. Callistus.
One of the Church's most highly venerated martyrs, Sixtus is the subject of a very famous painting, Raphael's Sistine Madonna, also called Our Lady and Child with SS Sixtus II and Barbara.
Saint Sixtus II, Pope and Martyr,
and companions, Martyrs
Fresco, 210 x 80 cm
Cappella Sistina, Vatican
St. Sixtus II was elected Pope August 31, 257 and was martyred August 6, 258 during Emperor Valerian's persecution of Christians. Four deacons, Januarius, Vincentius, Magnus, and Stephanus, were apprehended with Sixtus and beheaded with him. Two other deacons, Felicissimus and Agapitus, suffered martyrdom on the same day.
(Principal source - Catholic Encyclopedia - 1913 edition )
by the power of the Holy Spirit
you enabled St. Sixtus and his companions to lay down their lives
for Your word in witness to Jesus.
Give us the grace to believe in You
and the courage to profess our faith.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
First Reading: Wisdom 3:1-9
The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and no torment will ever touch them.
In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died, and their departure was thought to be an affliction, and their going from us to be their destruction;
but they are at peace.
For though in the sight of men they were punished, their hope is full of immortality.
Having been disciplined a little, they will receive great good, because God tested them and found them worthy of himself; like gold in the furnace he tried them,
and like a sacrificial burnt offering he accepted them.
In the time of their visitation they will shine forth, and will run like sparks through the stubble.
They will govern nations and rule over peoples, and the Lord will reign over them for ever.
Those who trust in him will understand truth, and the faithful will abide with him in love, because grace and mercy are upon his elect, and he watches over his holy ones.
Gospel Reading: Matthew 10:28-33
Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father's will. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So every one who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.