Benedict I, Pope

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Pontificate: June 2, 575 to July 30, 579. The successor of Pope john iii was very likely elected soon after his death but could not be consecrated until a year later, apparently awaiting imperial confirmation. The Lombards reached Rome and besieged the city (579). Help had been requested of the Emperor Justin II in the name of the pope and the Roman Senate, but the troops the emperor sent were inadequate, and the grain ships from Egypt provided only temporary relief for the city. The emperor and his wife Sophia probably gave to Benedict the precious reliquary in the form of a jeweled cross containing a piece of the true cross, which is still preserved in the treasury of the Vatican basilica, a masterpiece of Byzantine workmanship. He consecrated twenty-one bishops, including John III of Ravenna, thus extending papal influence to the center of Byzantine rule in Italy. Very little is known about his reign. Benedict I was buried in St. Peter's.

Bibliography: Liber pontificalis, ed. l. duchesne (Paris 188692, 1958) 1:308; 3:92. r. u. montini, Le tombe dei papi (Rome 1957) 112. h. jedin, History of the Church (New York 1980), 2:629. j. n. d. kelly, Oxford Dictionary of Popes (New York 1986) 6465. j. richards, Popes and Papacy the Early Middle Ages (London 1979) 165166.

[j. chapin]