Telesphorus, Pope, St.

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Pontificate 127 or 128 to 137 or 138. Telesphorus was the seventh successor to Peter (see clement i). Sources generally agree that he reigned for 11 years. Eusebius and Jerome begin his reign in 128. The Liber pontificalis makes him a Greek and, anachronistically, an anchorite. It also says that he fixed the Easter fast at seven weeks, a regulation more compatible with the seventh century than the second, and that he ordered the Gloria sung either at midnight Mass at Christmas or in daily Masses after Terce. The tradition that he was martyred under Hadrian is too well attested to be discredited. Irenaeus (Adv. Haer. 3.3) singles him out as the first Roman bishop so honored. Eusebius (Historia Ecclesiastica 4.5, 10; 5.6, 24) and the Liber pontificalis repeat the story. The legend that Telesphorus is buried in the Vatican is not borne out by modern excavations.

Feast: Jan. 5.

Bibliography: Liber pontificalis, ed. l. duchesne (Paris 188692, 1958) 1:5657, 129; 3:72. É. amann, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al., (Paris 190350) 15.1:82. e. caspar, Geschichte de Papsttums von den Anfängen bis zur Höhe der Weltherrschaft (Tübingen 193033) 1:21, 34, 48. j. n. d. kelly, Oxford Dictionary of Popes (New York 1986). e. sauser, Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (Herzberg 1995). b. sodaro, Santi e beati di Calabria (Rosarno 1996).

[e. g. weltin]