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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. 31-32.

The Lives of the Popes,
B. Platina

Volume I.

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A.D. 168-177.

SOTER, a Campanian of Fundi, son of Concordius, lived in the time of L. Antoninus Commodus.

This Commodus was (as Lampridius plays upon his name) very incommodious and hurtful to all his subjects; being in nothing like his father, save that he also, thanks to the Christian soldiers for it, fought successfully against the Germans. In that war, when the army of Commodus was in great straits for want of water, it is said that at the prayers of the Christian legion, God supplied and refreshed the Romans with rain from heaven, and at the same time destroyed the Germans with thundershot.1 The truth of which the emperor himself testified by his letters. But at his return to Rome, he utterly renounced all virtue and goodness, and shamefully gave himself up to all manner of luxury and uncleanness. He used, in imitation of Nero, to combat with the gladiators, and oftentimes encountered with wild beasts in the amphitheatre; many of the senators he put to death, and those especially whom he observed to be more conspicuous for extraction or merit.

Soter, diverting his mind from the contemplation of this wretched scene of things to the care of ecclesiastical affairs, decreed that no deaconess should touch the altar-cloth, or put the incense upon the censer at the time of celebration. There is extant an epistle of his concerning that matter, written to the 32 bishops of Italy. He ordained likewise that no woman should be accounted a lawful wife, but she whom the priest had formally blessed, and whom her parents had with the usual Christian solemnities given to her husband. This constitution he made to remove the danger and scandal that was incident to new-married persons from the juggling magical tricks of lewd fellows. Indeed, Gratian ascribes this decree to Evaristus, but whose due it is I leave the reader to judge, for it matters not much whether it be attributed to the one or the other. During the pontificate of Soter, as Eusebius tells us, lived Dionysius, Bishop of Corinth, a person of so great parts and industry, that he instructed not only the people of his own city and province, but also by his epistles the bishops of other cities and provinces. For being thoroughly acquainted with the writings of St Paul, he could the more easily keep others within the bounds of their duty by the authority which his learning and sanctity had gained him. Theodotion also, an Asian scholar to Tatianus, wrote several things in defence of our religion; and in particular he very handsomely exposed Apelles the heretic, for worshipping a God whom he professed he did not know; for he denied Christ to be truly a God, and affirmed Him to be only in appearance a man. Some say that the Cataphrygian heresy was at this time set on foot by Montanus. Moreover, Clemens, a presbyter of Alexandria and master to Origen, was now a great writer; among other things he was author of Stromata (“Miscellanies”), Hypotyposeis (“Outlines”), Pædagogos (“The Instructor”), and a popular address, “What rich man is saved?” There are some who make Pinytus, a person of admirable eloquence; Oppian, a famous poet, who wrote the Halieutics or books concerning fishes; and Herodian, the grammarian — contemporaries to our Bishop Soter; who having at five Decembrian ordinations made eight presbyters, nine deacons, eleven bishops, he died and was buried in the Via Appia, in the Sepulchre of Calistus. He was in the chair nine years, three months, twenty-one days. And the see was vacant twenty-one days.


 1  This legend, which has been abandoned, at least in the above form, by modern historians, is generally attributed to the reign not of Commodus, but of his father Marcus Aurelius. See Robertson, i. 28. — ED.

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Previous Pope:  12. St. Anacletus. 13. St. Soter. Next Pope: 14. St. Eleutherius.

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