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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. 94-96.

The Lives of the Popes,
B. Platina

Volume I.

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A.D. 402-417.

INNOCENTIUS, an Alban, son of Innocentius, was bishop in part of the reign of Theodosius, who, with great conduct and singular despatch, overcame the usurper Maximus, and at Aquileia, whither he had fled, retaliated upon him the death of Gratian, — a fate which the good Bishop Martinus had foretold to Maximus himself, when he was going, against all right and justice, to invade Italy, having drained Britain of its military forces, and left it an easy prey to the Scots and Picts. Moreover, Theodosius, relying wholly upon the Divine aid, in a very short time defeated not only Andragatius, Maximus’s general, and Victor his son, but Argobastus and Eugenius, two other usurpers; which was the occasion of that strain of the poet Claudian upon this Emperor’s success:

O nimium dilecte Deo, tibi militat æther,

Et conjurati veniunt ad classica venti!


Darling of Heaven, with whom the skies combine,

And the confederate winds in battle join!

He was not only a great soldier, but a very pious and devout man, as appears by his carriage upon the repulse he found at the Church of Milan; for, being forbidden entrance by Ambrose the bishop of it, till he should have repented of a certain crime committed by him, he so well resented the bishop’s plain dealing with him, that he frankly gave him thanks for it, and completed his course of penance for the fact that had been the occasion of it. By his Empress Flaccilla he had two sons, Arcadius and Honorius. Being once in a great transport of rage against the citizens of Thessalonica for their having killed a soldier, or, as others say, a magistrate of his, all the clergy of Italy were scarce able to keep him from destroying the whole city upon that provocation. But afterwards coming to himself, and understanding the matter better, being convinced of his error, he both bewailed the fact which he had only willed, but not executed, and also made a law that the punitive decrees of princes should be deferred for three days, that so they might 95 have space left for compassion or retraction. It is reported of him that, when at any time he was in a sudden heat of anger, he would force himself to repeat over distinctly all the letters of the alphabet, that so in the meantime his anger might evaporate. It is said also that he contracted a great friendship with one John, an Anchorite, whose advice he always used, both in war and peace. But in the fiftieth year of his age he died at Milan.

Innocentius, improving the opportunity of such a peaceable state of affairs and so propitious a prince, made several constitutions concerning matters of the Church. He appointed that every Saturday should be a fast, because our blessed Saviour lay in the grave, and His disciples fasted on that day. He made certain laws concerning the Jews and pagans, and for the regulation of monks. By the consent of Theodosius he banished from the city and confined to a monastic life the Cataphrygian heretics of the gang of Montanus, Priscilla, and Maximilla. Moreover, he condemned the heresy of Pelagius and Cœlestinus, who preferred free-will before the Divine grace, and asserted, that men by their own natural strength were able to perform the laws of God; against whom St Austin wrote largely. But Pelagius persisting obstinately in his opinions against all conviction, went into Britain and infected the whole island with his errors, being assisted by Julian, his companion and confederate in that wicked design. He also consecrated the church of Geravasius and Protasius, erected and beautified at the cost of a lady named Vestina, whose goods and jewels, bequeathed by will, were sold according to a just appraisement, and employed to that purpose. This church was endowed with several estates both in houses and land within and without city, and the cure of it, and that of St Agnes, given to Leopardus and Paulinus, two presbyters. In his time lived Apollinarius, bishop of Laodicea (from whom the Apollinarians had their name and original), a man vehement and subtle at disputation; who maintained, that our Saviour at His incarnation took only a body, not a soul; but being pressed hard with arguments to the contrary, he at length granted that He had indeed an animal soul but not a rational one, that being supplied by His divinity, — an opinion which had been before exploded by Damasus and Peter, Bishop of Alexandria. But Martianus, Bishop of Barcelona, a man eminent for his chastity and 96 eloquence, was very orthodox in matters of faith, and a great opposer of the Novatian heresy. Cyril also, Bishop of Jerusalem, who before had been several times deposed and as often restored, at length, under Theodosius the Emperor, held his Episcopal dignity peaceably and without interruption eight years together, and became a great writer.1 Euzoius, who in his youth had been co-disciple to Gregory Nazianzen at Cesarea, under Thespesius the rhetorician, took a vast deal of pains in amending and rectifying the corrupted copies of the works of Origen and Pamphilus, and was himself a considerable author. At the same time Hieronymus, a presbyter living in Bethlehem, was a very successful propagator of Christianity, as appears by his writings. Now also the Synod of Bordeaux condemned the doctrine of Priscillian, a heresy patched up out of the tenets of the Gnostics and Manichees, of whom we have spoken above. Our Innocentius, having at four ordinations made thirty presbyters, twelve deacons, fifty-four bishops, died and was buried July the 28th. He sat in the chair fifteen years, two months, twenty-five days; and by his death the see was vacant twenty-two days.


 1  Cyril of Jerusalem died in 386. During the pontificate of Innocent I. died St Chrysostom, A.D. 407. Platina places him in the next Popedom. The sacking of Rome by Alaric took place in the pontificate of Innocent. I. — ED.

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Previous Pope:  41. Anastasius I. 42. Innocentius I. Next Pope: 43. Zosimus.

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