Gelasius I

d. 496

St. Gelasius became pope in 492. Immediately he faced several difficult problems. He had to deal with several Arian kings who ruled in the West. And Italy was at war with the Ostrogoths. Gelasius’s rigid approach to the Acacian heresy (a derivative of Monophysitism which held that Jesus was only divine) offended the Byzantine emperor and the Eastern bishops. But he finally backed down and so preserved the unity of the church. Gelasius was the first pope to be called the “vicar of Chris.” He also defined the right relationship between ecclesial and secular authority. Gelasius declared that each was independent in its own sphere, but as the spiritual order brought salvation to the temporal order, the ecclesial authority was superior.

Catholic News Service is the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' news and information service.

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