|Papacy began||c. 157|
|Papacy ended||c. 20 April 168|
late 1st century
c. 20 April 168
Rome, Roman Empire
|Feast day||20 April|
|Attributes||Papal tiara, palm branch|
Pope Anicetus (died c. 20 April 168) was the Bishop of Rome from c. 157 to his death in 168. According to the Annuario Pontificio, the start of his papacy may have been 153. His name is Greek for unconquered (ἀ-νίκητος). According to the Liber Pontificalis, Anicetus was a Syrian from the city of Emesa (modern-day Homs).
According to Irenaeus, it was during his pontificate that the aged Polycarp of Smyrna, a disciple of John the Evangelist, visited Rome to discuss the celebration of Passover with Anicetus. Polycarp and his Church of Smyrna celebrated the crucifixion on the fourteenth day of Nisan, which coincides with Pesach (or Passover) regardless of which day of the week upon this date fell, while the Roman Church celebrated the Pasch on Sunday—the weekday of Jesus' resurrection. The two did not agree on a common date, but Anicetus conceded to St. Polycarp and the Church of Smyrna the ability to retain the date to which they were accustomed. The controversy was to grow heated in the following centuries.
Anicetus was the first Roman Bishop to condemn heresy by forbidding Montanism. He also actively opposed the Gnostics and Marcionism. Liber Pontificalis records that Anicetus decreed that priests are not allowed to have long hair (perhaps because the Gnostics wore long hair).
According to legend, St. Anicetus suffered martyrdom during the reign of the Roman Co-Emperor Lucius Verus, but there are no historical grounds for this account. 16, 17 and 20 April are all cited as the date of his death, but 20 April is currently celebrated as his feast day. Before 1970, the date chosen was 17 April. The Liber Pontificalis states he was buried in the cemetery of Callistus.
- Martyrologium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2001 ISBN 88-209-7210-7)
- Campbell, Thomas (1907). "Pope St. Anicetus" in The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 1. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
- The Book of Pontiffs (Liber Pontificalis), translated by Raymond Davies (Liverpool: University Press, 1989), p. 5
- Irenaeus, cited in Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiastica, 5.24; translated by G.A. Williamson, Eusebius: History of the Church (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1965), pp. 232f
- Calendarium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 1969), p. 120
- Duff, Eamon. Saints and Sinners: A History of the Popes, Yale University Press, 2001, p. 13. ISBN 0-300-09165-6
- Maxwell-Stuart, P. G. Chronicle of the Popes: The Reign-by-Reign Record of the Papacy from St. Peter to the Present, Thames & Hudson, 2002, p. 19. ISBN 0-500-01798-0.
|Catholic Church titles|
Bishop of Rome