Today is Saturday, and that means another saint is featured in this post. The letter for today’s saint is “V,” which gives us Saint Vitalian:
Pope Vitalian (Latin: Vitalianus; died 27 January 672) reigned from 30 July 657 to his death in 672. He was born in Segni, Lazio, the son of Anastasius.
Saint Vitalian lived during a divisive time in Church history. Relations between the Eastern and Western Churches had been deteriorating for many years. When he become Pope they were close to a nadir, and had been so for decades. During his Papacy Vitalian tried to improve relations with the Eastern Church, and also reached out to the Eastern Emperor (Constans II) as well. This was in many ways necessary, because the Byzantine emperor had enormous power and influence over the Eastern Church. In many respects the divide between East and West was a mix of theology and politics, as there were both difference in doctrine held by the leaders of the Western and Eastern church, as well as ties to local political leaders.
Some key points about Saint Vitalian:
- He improved relations between the Western Church and the Byzantine emperors, starting with Constans II and later including his son Constantine IV.
- He successfully improved relations with the Church in England, and sent Theodore of Tarsus there to be Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the church in England.
- He resisted efforts by the Bishop of Ravenna to break free of papal authority and essentially create a new, independent church in the west.
- When the Bishop of Lappa, John, was removed by a synod, he appealed to Pope Vitalian. John was imprisoned by the Metropolitian Paulus, who presided over the Synod, in response. John escaped and went to Rome, where Vitalian worked to have him restored.
- Organ music in church is believed to have originated during the time of his papacy.
Those interested in the history of the Church would likely find the full wiki on Saint Vitalian interesting, as it provides a more complete explanation of all of this. It can be found here.
[For those curious why I chose him for today’s post, I did so because he seems to have been devout man that very much cared for re-uniting the church while still keeping true to the faith. Such features, sad to say, were not always present in church leaders of the time.]