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Sabinian, Pope


Pontificate: March 604 to Feb. 22, 606. As a Roman deacon of Tuscan origin, he was the apocrisiarius of gregory the great to Constantinople under the Emperor maurice and the Patriarch john iv the Faster. This post of papal ambassador at the Byzantine court was proof of Gregory's high esteem for him. But in the storm that arose over John's assumption of the title "ecumenical patriarch"an act destructive of Christian unity under Rome, according to Gregory's viewSabinian was too conciliatory and in 595 the Pope wrote: "I am amazed that he [John] has been able to trick you. Fear no man. Do with my total authority whatever must be done in this affair." In 597 Sabinian was recalled and succeeded by Anatolius, but by 602 the Emperor Phocas complained to the pope of the lack of a Roman apocrisiarius in Constantinople. Gregory replied that no Roman deacon had been willing to face the difficulties of the papal delegation at the imperial court. The position, despite its difficulties, was for Sabinian, as it had been for Gregory, a preparation for the papacy. Sabinian, elected pope after Gregory's death in March 604, was not consecrated until September 13 after the emperor's approval was received. Famine in central Italy and renewed attacks from the lombards troubled his short pontificate.

Bibliography: Liber pontificalis, ed. l. duchesne (Paris 188692) 1:315. p. jaffÉ, Regesta pontificum romanorum ab condita ecclesia ad annum post Christum natum 1198, ed. p. ewald (repr. Graz 1956) 1:220. h. k. mann, The Lives of the Popes in the Early Middle Ages from 590 to 1304 (London 190232) 1.1:251258. e. caspar, Geschichte de Papsttums von den Anfängen bis zur Höhe der Weltherrschaft (Tubingen 193033) v. 2. h. leclercq, Dictionnaire d'archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie, ed. f. cabrol, h. leclercq, and h. i. marrou (Paris 190753) 13.1:122728. a. fliche and v. martin, eds., Histoire de l'église depuis les origines jusqu'à nos jours (Paris 1935) 5:391393. e. kettenhofen, BiographischBibliographisches Kirchenlexicon 8 (Herzberg 1994). g. schwaiger, Lexikon des Mittelalters 7 (Munich-Zurich 199495). j. n. d. kelly, Oxford Dictionary of Popes (New York 1986) 68.

[p. j. mullins]

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