Soter, Pope St.

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Pontificate 162 or 168 to 170 or 177. Eusebius may have been mistaken when he placed Soter's accession in the eighth year of Marcus Aurelius, 168 (Chron.; Hist. Eccl. 4.2123, 30; 5.1, 6, 24), and his dates are not certain. The Liber pontificalis states that Soter was a Campanian from Fondi (although he had a Greek name) and that he ordered non-ordained monks not to touch altar cloths or offer incense in church. It gives two accounts of his burial: one in the Vatican, which modern excavations have not borne out; and in the cemetery of Calixtus, which, at least in name, did not exist in Soter's time. Eusebius preserved a letter from dionysius of corinth to Soter stating that an earlier epistle of Soter's, which was read in the Church of Corinth for its wholesome consolation and advice, commended Rome for its charity to the needy everywhere and its solicitude for those laboring in the mines. This letter identifies Clement I as the author of the Roman letter to the Corinthian community, written some 75 years earlier. The fifth-century report (Praedestinatus 1.26) is not credible where it reports that Soter wrote against the heretic Montanus, who was then active in Asia Minor.

Feast: April 22.

Bibliography: Liber pontificalis, ed. l. duchesne (Paris 188692, 1958) 1:5859. É. amann, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al., (Paris 190350) 14.2:242223. w.c. van unnik, Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart (Tübingen 195765) 6:148149. e. ferguson, Encyclopedia of Early Christianity (New York 1997), 2:1079. j. n. d. kelly, Oxford Dictionary of Popes (New York 1986).

[e. g. weltin]