Biography – Pope Sixtus III – The Papal Library

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Sixtus III
432-440

A Roman priest, Sixtus, had warmly championed African bishops against the Pelagians. He was elected on 31 July. Though upholding the decisions of Ephesus, he refused to support Cyril's condemnation of the Antiochene bishops. On the contrary he worked for a reconciliation between Alexandria and Antioch. He was rewarded by the news, received in 433 on the anniversary of his consecration, that John of Antioch and Cyril had been reconciled by the joint subscription of a profession of faith, in which Cyril, for the sake of peace, had agreed to abandon the formula which the Antiochenes disliked.

Sixtus maintained the rights of the Holy See in Illyricum – always a bone of contention with the Byzantine patriarch, since Illyricum was civilly dependent on Constantinople.

Sixtus addressed to the bishops of Gaul a recapitualtion of recent papal decisions on the subject of grace. He particularly condemned the semi–Pelagian doctrine of a natural initiative in the order of salvation. He refrained from a decision as to the exact meaning of predestination. No decision and these questions are freely debated by Catholic theologians. It is almost certain that the writer of this document was was the future Pope Leo.

Sixtus entirely rebuilt the Liberian Basilica and to celebrate the formal definition of her title Mother of God he dedicated it to Our Lady. Henceforward it was to be known as St. Mary Major. He undertook extensive works of restoration and adornment at the basilicas of St. Paul and St. Lawrence and in the catacomb of Calixtus. He died on 19 August, 440. St. Sixtus was not awarded honors of sanctity immediately after his death, but, like Zosimus, he owes them to Ado, who inserted his name into his Martyrology in the ninth century.

*Disclaimer*—This biographical data is from "The Popes" edited by Eric John. Published by Hawthorn Books, Inc of New York. We have attempted to contact the publishing company which is apparently out of business. If there is a problem with using this material please contact the Project Manager

 

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