Pope Julius I
|Papacy began||6 February 337|
|Papacy ended||12 April 352|
Rome, Western Roman Empire
|Died||12 April 352
Rome, Western Roman Empire
|Feast day||12 April|
|Other popes named Julius|
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Pope Julius I (died 12 April 352) served as the bishop of Rome from 6 February 337 to his death in 352. He was notable for asserting the authority of the pope over the Arian Eastern bishops, and also for setting the date of 25 December for celebrating the Nativity.
Julius I was a native of Rome and was chosen as successor of Peter after the Roman see had been vacant for four months. He is chiefly known by the part he took in the Arian controversy. After the followers of Eusebius of Nicomedia, who had become the archbishop of Constantinople, renewed their deposition of Athanasius at a synod held in Antioch in 341, they resolved to send delegates to Constans, Emperor of the West, and also to Julius, setting forth the grounds on which they had proceeded. Julius, after expressing an opinion favourable to Athanasius, adroitly invited both parties to lay the case before a synod to be presided over by himself. This proposal, however, the Arian Eastern bishops declined to accept.
On this second banishment from Alexandria, Athanasius came to Rome, and was recognised as a regular bishop by the synod presided over by Julius in 342. Julius sent a letter to the Eastern bishops that is an early instance of the claims of primacy for the bishop of Rome. Even if Athanasius and his companions were somewhat to blame, the letter runs, the Alexandrian Church should first have written to the pope. "Can you be ignorant," writes Julius, "that this is the custom, that we should be written to first, so that from here what is just may be defined" (Epistle of Julius to Antioch, c. xxii).
It was through the influence of Julius that, at a later date, the council of Sardica in Illyria was held, which was attended only by seventy-six Eastern bishops, who speedily withdrew to Philippopolis and deposed Julius at the council of Philippopolis, along with Athanasius and others. The three hundred Western bishops who remained, confirmed the previous decisions of the Roman synod; and by its 3rd, 4th, and 5th decrees relating to the rights of revision claimed by Julius, the council of Sardica perceptibly helped forward the claims of the Bishop of Rome. Julius died on 12 April 352 and was succeeded by Liberius.
- Duff, Eamon. Saints and Sinners: A History of the Popes, Yale University Press, 2001, pp. 30–32. ISBN 0-300-09165-6
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