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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. 161-163.

The Lives of the Popes,
B. Platina

Volume I.

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A.D. 678-682.

AGATHO, a Sicilian, was of a monk made Pope, a person of great piety, and who cured a leper whom he chanced to meet with, only by a kiss. He was a man of so obliging a temper, that no person went away sad out of his presence. And being so happy as to have a contemporary emperor like himself, he designed to hold a council1 upon the account of the Monothelites. Only he waited the time till Constantine had returned from the war, who had vanquished the Saracens, and made them tributary to the Roman empire. But the Bulgarians advancing out of Scythia into Thrace, and the emperor endeavouring to put a check to their motion, he was with great loss routed between Hungary and Mœsia. Hereupon he found himself obliged to strike up a peace with them upon disadvantageous terms, permitting them to inhabit Hungary and Mœsia; though that concession in the event proved a great benefit to the state of Christianity. For these are the men who for this seven hundred and seventy years 162 since have maintained a continual war, and been the bulwark of Christendom against the Turks. Well, a peace being upon these conditions concluded, Pope Agatho sends to Constantinople his legates, John, Bishop of Porto, and John, a deacon of Rome. Constantine received them with all expressions of respect, and very affectionately advised them to lay aside all cavils and sophistical wrangling and controversies, and sincerely to endeavour to unite the two churches. There were present at this synod two hundred and eighty-nine bishops; and by the command of the emperor there were brought out of the library of Constantinople those books, from whence the opinions and determinations of the ancients might be collected. Gregory, Patriarch of Constantinople, and Macarius, Bishop of Antioch, perverting the sense of the Fathers, maintained only one will and operation in Christ. But the orthodox pressing hard with their reasons and authorities, they thereby reclaimed Gregory; and Macarius adhering obstinately to his opinion, they excommunicated him and his followers, and made Theophanes, an orthodox abbot, Bishop of Antioch in his stead. This affair being thus successfully managed, that thanks might be returned to God for this union of the two churches in heart and mind, John, Bishop of Porto, on the octave of Easter, in the presence of the emperor, patriarch, and the people of Constantinople, in the Church of St Sophia, celebrates the Mass in Latin, all that were present approving that way, and condemning those that thought otherwise. This was the sixth general Council, consisting of two hundred and eighty-nine bishops, held at Constantinople, wherein, upon the authority of Cyril, Athanasius, Basil, Gregory, Dionysius, Hilary, Ambrose, Augustine, and Hierom, it was concluded that there were two wills and operations in Christ, and their pertinacity was exploded who asserted one will only, from whence they were called Monothelites. The first general Council of three hundred and eighteen bishops was, as we have already said, held at Nice, in the pontificate of Julius and the reign of Constantine, against Arius, who asserted several substances in the Trinity. The second at Constantinople, of an hundred and fifty bishops, in the reign of Gratian and the Pontificate of Damasus, against Macedonius and Eudoxus, who denied the Holy Ghost to be God. The third in Ephesus, of two hundred bishops, in the reign of Theodosius the Second, and the Pontificate of 163 Celestine, against Nestorius, Bishop of Constantinople, who denied the Blessed Virgin to be the mother of God, and made Christ’s humanity and divinity two persons, asserting separately one to be the Son of God, the other the son of man. The fourth at Chalcedon, a city over against Constantinople, of six hundred and thirty prelates, in the Pontificate of Leo and the reign of Martian, against Eutyches, abbot of Constantinople, who durst affirm that our Saviour, after His incarnation, had but one nature. The fifth at Constantinople, against Theodorus and all other heretics, who asserted the Virgin Mary to have brought forth man only, not God-man; in which synod it was concluded, that the Blessed Virgin should be styled Θεοτόχος, or the mother of God. Concerning the sixth synod we have spoken already, in which the letters of Damianus, Bishop of Pavia, and Mansuetus, Archbishop of Milan, were very prevalent; the principal contents of them these, viz.: The true faith concerning Christ, God and Man, is, that we believe two wills and two operations in him; our Saviour says with respect to His divinity, “I and My Father are one;”2 but with relation to His humanity, “My Father is greater than I.” 3 Moreover, as man He was found asleep in the ship; as God He commanded the winds and the sea. As for our Agatho (in whose time, after two eclipses, one of the moon, another of the sun, there followed a grievous pestilence), having been in the chair two years, six months, fifteen days, he died, and was buried in St Peter’s, January the 10th. The see was then vacant one year, five months.


 1  680, Council in Trullo.

 2  John x. 30.

 3  John xiv. 28.

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Previous Pope:  80. Donus I. 81. Agatho I. Next Pope: 82. Leo II.

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