Anastasius II, Pope

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Pontificate: Nov. 24, 496, to Nov. 19, 498. When gelasius i was succeeded by the conciliatory Anastasius II, hopes were raised that the acacian schism could be brought to an end. Papal legates were dispatched to Constantinople to announce the pope's election and to sound out the Emperor anastasius i. The pope was prepared to make a notable concession by recognizing the baptisms and ordinations performed by Acacius, but required that Acacius' name be removed from the diptychs. He made no mention of Peter Mongos. The success of the mission was compromised by the senator Faustus, the emissary of the Gothic King Theodoric, who led the emperor to believe that Rome could be won over to acceptance of the henoticon if the emperor recognized Theodoric's rule in Italy.

The pope's conciliatory efforts in his friendly reception of the deacon Photinus, sent to Rome by the archbishop of Thessalonica, who had been one of the most determined supporters of Acacius, displeased some of the Roman clergy and they renounced communion with Anastasius II, thus creating a schism within Rome itself. The pope died at this juncture, "struck dead by the divine will" according to the Liber pontificalis. This statement perpetuated the legend of the pope's "apostasy" during the Middle Ages. Dante placed him among the heretics in the sixth circle of hell. Pope Anastasius II wrote a letter to the bishops of Gaul condemning traducianism. A letter to King clovis i congratulating him on his conversion is apocryphal, as Clovis was not baptized until after the pope's death. Anastasius II was buried in the portico of St. Peter's.

Bibliography: a. thiel, ed., Epistolae Romanorum pontificum (Braunsberg 1868) 1.615639. Liber pontificalis, ed. l. duchesne (Paris 188692, 1958) 1:258259; 3:87. w. ullmann, The Growth of Papal Government in the Middle Ages, 2nd ed. (New York 1962). r. u. montini, Le tombe dei papi (Rome 1957) 105. e. ferguson, ed., Encyclopedia of Early Christianity (New York 1997), 1:49. h. jedin, History of the Church (New York 1980), 2:430. j. n. d. kelly, Oxford Dictionary of Popes (New York 1986), 4950. j. richards, Popes and Papacy the Early Middle Ages (London 1979), 6768.

[j. chapin]