Saints of the Order of Saint Benedict – Saint Agatho, Pope

illustration of Saint Agatho, Pope, from the book 'Saints of the Order of Saint Benedict', designed by Father Amandus LiebhaberSaint Agatho was born in Sicily and educated at the Monastery of Palermo. He was afterwards transplanted to Rome, where, by the holiness of his life, he became noted among all the Pontiffs of the Order of Saint Benedict, although he only occupied the Pontifical Chair for two years. Constantine Pagonatus, who was then the Emperor, was so much impressed by his eloquence, and even more by his holiness of life, that he offered of his own accord to pay tribute to the Apostolic See.

When the Monothelite heresy arose, a general council was held at Constantinople, at the desire of the Emperor, at which Agatho was represented by three Legates. The council began on November 7th, and was attended by 189 bishops. The Monothelite heresy was distinctly condemned and Macarius, the heretical Patriarch of Antioch, was removed from his post in consequence of his obstinate adhesion to the error, and Theophanes was appointed in his place.

When the Patriarch was removed from the assembly a strange thing happened: all the spiders’ webs which were hanging about the walls suddenly fell down on the pavement; and the Fathers, seeing this prodigy, took it as a sign from the Lord that, in the same manner, He would cause all heresies to fall to the ground. A solemn service of thanksgiving was held to commemorate the victory of the faith in the council, and it is to be noted that, though it was held among the Greeks, the Roman use was followed, and the acclamations by which the Emperor was congratulated were made in the same tongue. This was the sixth general council, and its acts were confirmed by Saint Agatho.

The dispute which had existed for so long a time between the Popes and the Archbishops of Ravenna was happily settled during this pontificate. Theodore, who then filled the See of Ravenna, was drawn to Rome by the holiness of Saint Agatho, whose feet he kissed, and to whom he promised all respect and obedience. The Saint excelled in gentleness and meekness, and all who were in sadness and sorrow sought comfort from him; nor would he ever allow them to be sent away without consolation. Those who were suffering from the terrible scourge of leprosy he would welcome, and by his prayers would heal them. He died in the odour of sanctity in the year of our Lord 882.

– text and illustration taken from Saints of the Order of Saint Benedict by Father Aegedius Ranbeck, O.S.B.