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Antipope Dioscorus

B. at Alexandria, date unknown; d. October 14, 530

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Dioscorus, ANTIPOPE, b. at Alexandria, date unknown; d. October 14, 530. Originally a deacon of the Church of Alexandria, he was adopted into the ranks of the Roman clergy, and by his commanding abilities soon acquired considerable influence in the Church of Rome. Under Pope St. Symmachus he was sent to Ravenna on an important mission to Theodoric the Goth, and later, under Pope Hormisdas, served with great distinction as papal apocrisiarius, or legate, to the court of Justinian at Constantinople. During the pontificate of Felix IV he became the recognized head of the Byzantine party—a party in Rome which opposed the growing influence and power of a rival faction, the Gothic, to which the pope inclined. To prevent a possible contest for the papacy, Pope Felix IV, shortly before his death, had taken the unprecedented step of appointing his own successor in the person of the aged Archdeacon Boniface, his trusted friend and adviser. When, however, on the death of Felix (September, 530) Boniface II succeeded him, the great majority of the Roman priests—sixty out of sixty-seven—refused to accept the new pope and elected in his stead the Greek Dioscorus (September 17, 530). Both popes were consecrated on the same day (September 22, 530), Dioscorus in the basilica of Constantine (the Lateran) and Boniface in an aula (hall) of the Lateran Palace, known as the basilica Julii. Fortunately for the Roman Church, the schism which followed was but of short duration, for in less than a month (October 14, 530) Dioscorus died, and the presbyters who had elected him wisely submitted to Boniface. In December, 530, Boniface convened a synod at Rome and issued a decree anathematizing Dioscorus as an intruder. He at the same time (it is not known by what means) secured the signatures of the sixty presbyters to his late rival’s condemnation, and caused the document to be deposited in the archives of the Church. The anathema against Dioscorus was, however, subsequently removed, and the document solemnly burned by Pope Agapetus I (535). (See Pope Boniface II.)

THOMAS OESTREICH


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