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From The Lives of the Popes from the Time of our Saviour Jesus Christ to the Accession of Gregory VII. Written Originally in Latin by B. Platina, Native of Cremona and translated into English, (from an anonymous translation, first printed in 1685 by Sir Paul Rycaut), Edited by William Benham, Volume I, London: Griffith, Farran, Okeden & Welsh, [1888, undated in text]; pp. 29-31.

The Lives of the Popes,
B. Platina

Volume I.

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A.D. 157-168.

ANICETUS, a Syrian, the son of one John de Vicomurco, lived in the time of Antoninus Verus, concerning whom we have spoken in the life of Pius.

Which Antoninus, though he were a great philosopher, yet neglected not the pursuit of military glory. For, together with his son, Commodus Antoninus, he did with great courage and success gain a victory and a triumph over the Germans, Marcomanni, Quadi, and Sarmatæ. At his first enterprising this war, his exchequer being so low that he had not money to pay his soldiers, he exposed to public sale in the Forum Trajani all the furniture of his palace, and all the jewels of his empress. But afterwards returning home victoriously, to those who were willing to restore the goods they had bought, he refunded what they paid for them, but used no force against those who refused to relinquish their bargains. Upon this victory, he was very liberal to all who had done any good service to the public: to some provinces he remitted their 30 accustomed tribute; he caused to be publicly burnt in the Forums the writings by which any man was made a debtor to the exchequer; and by new constitutions moderated the severity of the old laws. By this means he became so much the darling of the people, that any man had a particular brand of infamy set upon him who had not Antoninus’ effigies in his house.

Anicetus, that the reputation of the Church might not suffer by the extravagance of a few men, ordained that no clergyman should, upon any pretence, wear long hair; and that no bishop should be consecrated by fewer than three of the same order (a constitution which was afterwards confirmed by the Council of Nice); and that at the consecration of a metropolitan, all the bishops of the province should be present. Moreover, he ordained (as Ptolemy tells us) that no bishop should implead his metropolitan but before the primate or the see apostolic (this being also a constitution which was afterwards confirmed by the Council of Nice, and several succeeding bishops of Rome); and that all archbishops should not be called primates, but only those of them who have a particular title to that denomination; the primates having also the style of patriarchs, whereas the others are simply archbishops or metropolitans. In his time, Hegesippus was a great defender of the Christian faith; who, as an imitator of their manner of speaking, of whose lives he had been a diligent observer, in a very plain, unaffected style, wrote a history of ecclesiastical affairs from the passion of our Lord to the age in which He lived. He says of himself that he came to Rome in the time of Anicetus, whom he calls the tenth bishop from St Peter, and that he stayed there to the time of Eleutherius, who had been deacon to Anicetus. He inveighed much against idolators for building sumptuous monuments and temples to the dead; as particularly Hadrian, the emperor, who, in honour to his darling Antinous, had instituted solemn games and prizes at the city, which he built and called by his name Antinoe, and also erected a temple, and appointed priests for his worship. Some say that Dionysius lived in the pontificate of Anicetus; but writers are in this place very confused in their chronology, some placing Pius first, others Anicetus, and so they are in their histories too. However, in a history of things so remote, and of which, through the negligence of the ancients, we have so slender an 31 account, it will be better to say something of the matters themselves, though it be some time before or after they were transacted, than altogether to pass them by in silence. As for Anicetus, having at five Decembrian ordinations made nineteen presbyters, four deacons, nine bishops, he received a crown of martyrdom, and was buried in the sepulchre of Calistus, in the Via Appia, April the 17th. He was in the chair eleven years, four months, and three days; and by his death the see was vacant seventeen days.

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Previous Pope:  11. St. Pius. 12. St. Anicetus. Next Pope: 13. St. Soter.

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