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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. 21-22.

The Lives of the Popes,
B. Platina

Volume I.

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Circa A.D. 109-119.

ALEXANDER, a Roman, son of Alexander, a person of wisdom and gravity far exceeding his years, held the pontificate in the time of Ælius Hadrianus.

This Hadrian, who was son to Trajan’s cousin-german, at his first coming to the empire proved an enemy to the Christians, but afterwards (as shall be said anon), upon knowledge of their religion and devotion, became very kind and propitious to them. From the great benefits which the Roman State received by his government, he was called the Father of his country, and his wife had the title of Augusta. He was excellently well skilled both in the Roman and Greek languages, made many laws, erected a goodly library at Athens, being mightily pleased with the learning and conversation of Plutarch, Sixtus, Agathocles, and Oenomaus the philosopher; and at the request of the Athenians, compiled laws for them according to the model of Draco and Solon. Being admitted to the Eleusinian mysteries, he was very bountiful to the citizens of Athens, and repaired their bridge broken down by an inundation of the river Cephisus. He built also a bridge at Rome, called by his own name, remaining to this day, and a stately sepulchre in the Vatican near the river Tiber, which the popes now make use of for a citadel. Moreover, he made that most sumptuous and stately villa, now called Old Tiber, to the several parts of which he gave the names of provinces and the most celebrated parts of he world. Coming to Pelusium, he was at great expense in adorning Pompey’s Tomb, and in Britain he built a wall of sixty miles to sever the Romans from the natives. And because Septicius Clarus, the captain of his guards, and Suetonius Tranquillus, his secretary, with several others, had without his leave conversed somewhat more familiarly with his Empress Sabina than the reverence of a court admitted of, he removed them all and put others into their offices.

But to return to our Alexander. He was the first who for the remembrance of Christ’s passion, at the communion added those words, Qui pridie quam pateretur to the clause, hoc est corpus meum. He ordained likewise that the holy water (as it is called), mixed with salt and consecrated 22 by prayer, should be kept in churches and in private houses, as a guard against evil spirits. Moreover, he instituted that water should be mingled with the wine, at the consecration of the elements, to signify the union of Christ with His Church; and that the host should not be of leavened bread, as was formerly used, but of unleavened only, as being the more pure, and by which all occasion of cavilling would be taken away from the Ebionite heretics, who were very much addicted to Judaism. In his time lived Agrippa Castor, who learnedly and effectually confuted the books which Basilides the heretic wrote against the Holy Gospel; exposing to derision his prophets, Barcabas and Barthecab, and his great god Abraxas, names invented by him to amuse and terrify the ignorant. This Basilides died at the time when the Christians were very much persecuted and tormented by Cochebas, the head of the Jewish faction. But Hadrian soon repressed the pertinacity of this rebel and the whole nation of the Jews, by an almost incredible slaughter of them; and then commanded that no Jew should be suffered to enter Jerusalem, permitting only Christians to inhabit that city, and having repaired the walls and buildings of it, he called it after his own name, Ælia; Marcus being, after the expulsion of the Jews, chosen the first Gentile bishop of it. In the time of this bishop also Sapphira of Antioch, and Sabina, a Roman lady, suffered martyrdom for the faith of Christ; and Favorinus, Palæmon, Herodes Atheniensis and Marcus Byzantius were famous rhetoricians. Our Alexander having at three Decembrian ordinations made five presbyters, three deacons, five bishops, was, together with his deacons Euentius, and Theodulus, crowned with martyrdom, on the third day of May, and buried in the Via Nomentana, where he suffered, seven miles from the city. He was in the chair ten years, seven months, two days. After his death the see was vacant twenty-five days.

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Previous Pope:  6. St. Anacletus. 7.  St. Alexander I. Next Pope: 8. St. Sixtus I.

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