Saint of the Day – 28 June – Saint Pope Paul I (Died 767) Papacy 29 May 757-28 June 767., Confessor. He first served as a Roman Deacon and was frequently employed by his brother, Pope Stephen II, in many delicate negotiations and ecclesiastica. -matters. Born at Rome, Italy and died on 28 June 767 at Saint Paul’s Outside the Walls, Rome, Italy of natural causes.
Paul was a Roman aristocrat. He and his brother, Stephen had been educated for the Priesthood at the Lateran Palace. Stephen, became Pope in 752. Stephen entrusted his brother, who approved of the Pope’s course in respect to King Pepin of the Franks, with many important ecclesiastical affairs, among others – with the restoration to the Roman States of the Cities which had been seized by the Lombards.
While Paul was with his dying brother at the Lateran, a party of the Romans gathered in the house of Archdeacon Theophylact in order to secure the latter’s succession to the papal see. However, immediately after the burial of Stephen (died 26 April, 757), Paul was elected by a large majority and received episcopal Consecration on 29 May. Paul continued his predecessor’s policy towards the Frankish King, Pepin and thereby, continued the Papal supremacy over Rome and the districts of central Italy in opposition to the efforts of the Lombards and the Eastern Empire.
Pepin sent a letter to the Roman people, exhorting them to remain steadfast to St Peter. In the reply sent by the Senate and the people of Rome, he was urged to complete the enlargement of the Roman province which he had wrested from the barbarians and to persevere in the work he had begun.
In 758 a daughter was born to Pepin and the King sent the pope the cloth used at the Baptism as a present, renewing, in this way, the Papal sponsorship. Paul returned thanks and informed Pepin of the hostile action of Desiderius, who had failed to deliver, as agreed, to Rome, the occupied Cities . A major crises ensued, with the Pope seeking assistance from King Pepin and the Lomba\rd King threatening war against Rome. King Pepin gave the Pope some support and acted as arbiter between the Roman and Lombard claims.
In 765, Papal privileges were restored in the duchies of Benevento and Tuscany and partially in Spoleto. Meanwhile, the alienation from Eastern Roman Empire grew greater. Several times, especially in 759, Paul feared that the Emperor would send an armament against Rome. Paul lived in continual dread lest Eastern Roman ambitions turn the Frankish influence in favour of the Lombards. This was actually attempted but Pepin held to his original foreign policy regarding Italy.
In 767 a Frankish synod was held at Gentilly, near Paris, at which the Church Doctrines concerning the Trinity and the veneration of images were maintained. Paul showed great activity and zeal in encouraging religious life at Rome. He turned his paternal home into a Monastery and built nearby the |Church of San Silvestro in Capite. The founding of this Church led to his holding a Synod at Rome in 761. To this Church and other Churches of Rome, Paul transferred the bones of numerous Martyrs from the decayed Sanctuaries in the Catacombs, devastated by the Lombards in 756. He transferred the relics of St Petronilla from the Catacomb of St Domitilla to a Chapel in St.Peter’s erected by his predecessor for this purpose. The legend of St Petronilla caused her, at that era, to be regarded as a daughter of St Peter and as such, she became the special Roman Patroness of the Frankish rulers.
Paul also built an Oratory of the Blessed Virgin in St Peter’s and a Church in honour of the Apostles on the Via Sacra beyond the Roman Forum. He died near the Church of St Paul’s Outside the Walls, where he had gone during the heat of summer. He was buried in this Church but after three months, his body was transferred to St Peter’s.
The “Liber Pontificalis” also praises the Christian charity and benevolence of the Pope which he united with firmness. His feast is celebrated today and he is listed in today’s Martyrology as Pope and Confessor.