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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. 147-149.

The Lives of the Popes,
B. Platina

Volume I.

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A.D. 625-638.

HONORIUS, a Campanian, son of Petronius, a man of consular dignity, entered upon the pontificate at the time when Theudelinda died, and her son Adalwaldus was deposed, Ariwaldus being made king in his stead. At which time Heraclius, who had been victorious over the Persians, was very urgent to have all the Jews who were subjects to the empire baptized. Hereupon the Saracens and Arabians taking up arms, A.D. 623, gained such a victory over Heraclius’s army, that they rendered that successful man the most unfortunate. This was done under the conduct of Mahomet, who pretending himself to be the great prophet of God, and deluding the Asians and Africans by magical arts, put such vigour into the people who embraced his new religion, that he was very near to have ruined the empire; having taken Alexandria and several important cities of Syria and Cilicia. He had for his followers the Saracens, so called from Sarah,1 148 Abraham’s lawful wife, as if they were the only legitimate successors and heirs of the Divine promise. The crafty man herein followed the example of Jeroboam, who prescribed distinct rules of worship to his tribes, that they might not be subject to the Jewish Government. The same also afterwards did the Greeks who dissented from the Catholics, not only for the sake of religion but empire, upon the score of which they followed the errors of the Nestorians, Jacobites, and Ebionites. But in the end their pertinacity reduced them to that pass, that their religion and government were dissolved together, and they brought into the vilest servitude. But Mahomet (as we see in the Koran), that he might separate his disciples as far as possible from Christianity, in composing his laws followed the example of several heretics, and especially the Nestorians; collecting here and there, and reducing into one body, many things repugnant to the law of Moses and the Gospel. It is said that at this time Heraclius, distrusting his own strength, struck up an inglorious peace with the Saracens, and that being imposed upon by the arts of Pyrrhus, patriarch of Constantinople, and Cyrus, bishop of Alexandria, he fell off to the heresy of the Monothelites, a sect so called from their asserting one Will only in Christ. But these seducers, at the instance of Honorius, who was very diligent to reclaim Heraclius, were afterwards banished.2 And Honorius having now some respite from other cares, by his learning and example proved a great reformer of the clergy. The church of St Peter he covered with brass taken out of the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus; repaired that of St Agnes in 149 the Via Nomentana, as appears by an inscription in verse therein, and likewise that of St Pancras in the Via Aurelia; built those of St Anastasius, St Cyriacus, seven miles from Tome in the Via Ostiensis, and St Severinus in Tivoli; all which he made very stately, and adorned with gold, silver, porphyry, marble, and all manner of ornamental workmanship. He repaired also the cemetery of St Marcellinus and St Peter in the Via Labicana, and was at the charge of building other churches besides those before mentioned. Moreover, he ordained that every Saturday a procession with litanies should be made from St [Apollinaris] to St Peter’s. But having been in the chair twelve years, eleven months, seventeen days, he died, and was buried in the church of St Peter, October the 12th. By his death the see was vacant one year, seven months, eighteen days.


 1  This is the derivation of the word adopted by medieval authors, but it is probably erroneous. It seems to be now agreed that the word is from Sharkeya (Arab.): “eastern people,” corrupted by the Greeks into Sarakenoi. — ED.

 2  Our author has passed lightly over a very awkward and difficult fact in the Papal history, namely that Pope Honorius distinctly pronounced himself in favour of the Monothelite heresy, in his Ecthesis, or “Exposition of the Faith,” issued in 639. His successor, John IV., condemned it, and it was finally anathematised at the sixth General Council held at Constantinople in 680. The difficulty of reconciling this fact with the Vatican decree (1870) of Papal infallibility is admitted by Roman writers. See Robertson’s learned note (Ch. Hist., ii. 54), and a very candid discussion of the question in Addis and Arnold’s “Catholic Dictionary,” s. v. “Honorius.” The writers, after discussing various attempts which have been made to explain the discrepancy, come to the conclusion, though with a good deal of hesitation, that if Honorius had enforced his own belief on the church and threatened excommunication on those who rejected it, it would be impossible to reconcile this with the Vatican decree, but that as he did not do so, he cannot be held to have spoken ex cathedra. — ED..

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Previous Pope:  71. Boniface V. 72. Honorius I. Next Pope: 73. Severinus I.

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