Alexander I, Pope, St.
ALEXANDER I, POPE, ST.
Pontificate: 108 or 109 to 116 or 119. Another pope with a Greek name, Alexander, was the fifth successor to Peter. Ancient lists make him successor to Evaristus. Eusebius says that he became bishop in the eighth year of Trajan's reign (Chronicles ) and died in the third year of Hadrian (Histoire ecclesiastique 4.1, 5.6). Jerome says that he became bishop in the twelfth year of Trajan. These dates do not agree with Eusebius's statement (Histoire ecclesiastique 4.4) that Alexander reigned ten years: the Liberian catalogue says seven; the Liber pontificalis, ten. It also says he was a Roman, the son of an Alexander, and ascribes to him the introduction of the Qui Pridie into the Canon of the Mass, an arbitrary attempt to assign an early origin to a liturgical practice. The custom of blessing houses with holy water and salt was inherited from pagan practices rather than introduced by Alexander. The Roman tradition that he was decapitated and buried near Rome apparently confuses him with the Roman martyr, Alexander, whose tomb was discovered in 1855. irenaeus knows of no martyrdoms among Roman bishops before Telesphorus.
Feast: May 3.
Bibliography: l. duchesne, Liber pontificalis l:lxxxix–xcii, 54–55, 127. Acta Sanctorum, May 1:371–380. e. casper, Geschichte des Papsttums von den anfägen bis zur Höhe der Weltherrschaft 1:8–16. j. haller, Das Papsttum 1:18–20. a. dufourcq, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques 2:204–206. g. schwaiger, Lexicon für Theologie und Kirche, 10 v. (2d, new ed. Freiburg 1957–65) 1:315. j. n. d. kelly, Oxford Dictionary of Popes 8–9. t. vegliani, ed., "Alesandro I papa (Epistolae)," Test I patristici sul sange di Cristo 4 (Rome 1996) 58–62.
[e. g. weltin]