Pope Anicetus

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Pope Saint

Bishop of Rome
Papa Aniceto cropped.jpg
SeeHoly See
Papacy beganc. 157
Papacy endedc. 20 April 168
PredecessorPius I
Personal details
Birth nameAnicetus
Bornlate 1st century
Emesa, Phoenice
Diedc. 20 April 168
Rome, Roman Empire
Feast day20 April[1] (West)
17 April[2] (East)
AttributesPapal tiara, palm branch

Pope Anicetus (died c. 20 April 168) was the Bishop of Rome from c. 157 to his death in 168.[3] According to the Annuario Pontificio, the start of his papacy may have been 153. Anicetus actively opposed Gnosticism and Marcionism, he welcomed Polycarp of Smyrna to Rome, to discuss the controversy over the date for the celebration of Easter.


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).[4]

According to St. Irenaeus, it was during his pontificate that the aged Polycarp of Smyrna, a disciple of St. 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's resurrection; the two did not agree on a common date, but St. 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.[5]

The Christian historian Hegesippus also visited Rome during Anicetus's pontificate; this visit is often cited as a sign of the early importance of the Roman See.[5]

St. Anicetus actively opposed the Gnostics and Marcionism;[6] the Liber Pontificalis records that St. Anicetus decreed that priests are not allowed to have long hair (perhaps because the Gnostics wore long hair).[4]

According to Church Tradition, St. Anicetus suffered martyrdom during the reign of the Roman Co-Emperor Lucius Verus, but there are no historical grounds for this account.[7] 16, 17 and 20 April are all cited as the date of his death, but 20 April is currently celebrated as his feast day.[1] Before 1970, the date chosen was 17 April;[7] the Liber Pontificalis states he was buried in the cemetery of Callistus.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Martyrologium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2001 ISBN 88-209-7210-7)
  2. ^ (in Greek) Άγιος Ανίκητος ο Ιερομάρτυρας πάπας Ρώμης Ορθόδοξος Συναξαριστής
  3. ^ Campbell, Thomas (1907). "Pope St. Anicetus" in The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 1. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  4. ^ a b c The Book of Pontiffs (Liber Pontificalis), translated by Raymond Davies (Liverpool: University Press, 1989), p. 5
  5. ^ a b Irenaeus, cited in Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiastica, 5.24; translated by G.A. Williamson, Eusebius: History of the Church (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1965), pp. 232f
  6. ^ Monks of Ramsgate. “Anicetus”. Book of Saints, 1921. CatholicSaints.Info. 20 July 2012 This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  7. ^ a b Calendarium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 1969), p. 120

External links[edit]

Titles of the Great Christian Church
Preceded by
Pius I
Bishop of Rome

Succeeded by