John III, Pope

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Pontificate: July 17, 561 to July 13, 574. Following the death of pelagius i, Catelinus, son of the vir illustris Anastasius, was elected pope, but he had to wait for four months for imperial confirmation before he could be consecrated. The pope took the name John III. During his reign the Lombards invaded Italy. It is not known whether the Byzantine General Narses was responsible for inviting them. His critics said that he did so out of anger over his recall by Emperor justinian i at the request of the Italians, who were suffering from his exactions. The withdrawal of Narses facilitated the Lombard conquest of the backbone of the peninsula under King Alboin. One result of the invasion was to hasten the end of the schism over the three chapters (572) that separated Milan and the northern Italian sees from the apostolic see. Bishop Laurentius II of Milan, unable to occupy his see because of the Lombards, thought it best to reconcile with Rome in the face of the barbarian onslaught. However, the archbishop of aquileia refused to be reconciled. When the barbarians reached Aquileia, the patriarch and his flock fled to the island of Grado, imitating the Venetians who had fled to the islands from the hordes of Attila in the fifth century. The pope persuaded Narses to return from Naples to defend Rome, but owing to strife between the Byzantine commander and the Romans, the pope took up residence in the cemetery of Praetextatus on the Via Appia until the death of Narses (c. 572) to avoid entanglement in the quarrel. John III was buried in St. Peter's.

Bibliography: Clavis Patrum latinorum, ed. e. dekkers (Streenbrugge 1961) 1704. Monumenta Germaniae Historica (Berlin 1826) division: Epistolae 1 (1891) 230. Liber pontificalis, ed. l. duchesne (Paris 188692, 1958) 1:305307, 3:92. h. leclercq, Dictionnaire d'archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie, ed. f. cabrol, h. leclercq, and h. i. marrou (Paris 190753) 13:1:122122. o. bertolini, Roma di fronte a Bisanzio e ai Longobardi (Bologna 1941). 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 the Popes (New York 1986) 64. j. richards, Popes and Papacy in the Early Middle Ages (London 1979) 162166. r. aubert, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, 26 (Paris 1995).

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John III, Pope

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