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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. 75-77.

The Lives of the Popes,
B. Platina

Volume I.

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A.D. 336-337.

MARCUS, a Roman, son of Priscus, lived also in the reign of Constantine the Great, concerning whom historians differ in their writings.

For some affirm that Constantine, towards the latter end of his reign, recalled Arius from banishment, and became a favourer of his heresy through the persuasion of his sister, who always insisted that it was nothing but envy that had caused his condemnation. These I believe to be deceived by the nearness of their names, and so to ascribe that to the father which was the act of the son. For it is not probable that that wise prince, who had all along before disapproved of the Arian opinion, should now begin to incline to it in that part of his age wherein men are usually most judicious and discerning. They write moreover, that Constantine was baptized by Eusebius, an Arian, Bishop of Nicomedia. But that this is a mistake appears both from the Emperor’s great bounty towards the orthodox, and also from that stately font upon that occasion erected with wonderful magnificence at Rome; at which, after he had been successful in expelling the tyrants, he, with his son Crispus, were instructed in the faith, and baptized by Sylvester. They who are of the other opinion tell us that Constantine deferred so great an affair till the time that he might come to the river Jordan, in which he had a great desire 76 to be baptized, in imitation of our Saviour; but that in an expedition against the Parthians, making inroads upon Mesopotamia, in the thirty-first year of his reign, and of his age the sixty-sixth, he died on the way at Nicomedia, before he could reach the river Jordan for the purpose he designed, and was there baptized at the point of death. But let these men confound and perplex the matter as they please, we have reason to believe, according to the general opinion, that Constantine, who had so often overcome his enemies under the standard of the Cross, who had built so many churches to the honour of God, who had been present at holy councils, and who had so often joined in devotion with the holy fathers, would desire to be fortified against the enemy of mankind by the character of baptism as soon as ever he came to understand the excellence of our religion. I am not ignorant what Socrates and Sozomen and most other writers say concerning it, but I follow the truth, and that which is most agreeable to the religion and piety of this excellent prince. The vulgar story of his having been overspread with leprosy, and cured of it by baptism, with a previous fiction concerning a bath of the blood of infants before prescribed for his cure, I can by no means give credit to, having herein the authority of Socrates on my side, who affirms that Constantine, being now sixty-five years of age, fell sick, and left the city of Constantinople to go to the hot baths for the recovery of his health, but speaks not a word concerning any leprosy. Besides, there is no mention made of it by any writer, either heathen or Christian, and certainly, had there been any such thing, Orosius, Eutropius and others who have most accurately written the memoirs of Constantine, would not have omitted it. One thing more concerning this great prince is certain, viz., that a blazing star or comet of extraordinary magnitude appeared some time before his death.

Marcus, applying himself to the care of religion, ordained that the Bishop of Ostia, whose place it is to consecrate the Bishop of Rome, might use a pall. He appointed likewise that upon solemn days, immediately after the Gospel, the Nicene creed should be rehearsed with a loud voice both by the clergy and people. He built also two churches at Rome, one in the Via Ardeatina, in which he was buried, the other within the city: these churches Constantine presented and endowed very liberally. In the time of this Emperor and bishop lived Juvencus, a Spaniard of noble birth and a presbyter, 77 who in four books translated almost verbatim into hexameter verse the four Gospels; he wrote also something concerning the sacraments in the same kind of metre. Our Marcus having at two Decembrian ordinations made twenty-five presbyters, six deacons, twenty-eight bishops, died, and was buried in the cemetery of Balbina, in the Via Ardeatina, October the 5th. He was in the chair one year, eight months, twenty days; and by his death the see was vacant twenty days.

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Previous Pope:  34. St. Sylvester. 35. Marcus I. Next Pope: 36. St. Julius I.

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