December 11: St Damasus I


Pope St Damasus I (305-384) is most famous now for appointing St Jerome as his personal secretary and encouraging his Vulgate translation of the bible and presiding over the Council of Rome in 382, which set down the canon of scripture (the picture left is a letter of St Jerome to him). 

In two Roman synods (368 and 369) he condemned Apollinarianism and Macedonianism, and sent legates to the First Council of Constantinople that was convoked in 381 to address these heresies.  A fierce opponent of the Arians, he did much to promote veneration of the martyrs and enrich the church

es and liturgy.







Pope St Damasus I was  born around 305.  His life coincided with the rise of Emperor Constantine I and the reunion and re-division of the Western and Eastern Roman Empires.

Following the death of Pope Liberius, he succeeded to the Papacy in 366 amidst factional violence. A group of Damasus' supporters, previously loyal to his opponent Felix, attacked and killed rivals loyal to Liberius' deacon Ursinus in a riot that required the intervention of Emperor Valentinian I to quell.

Damasus faced accusations of murder and adultery with a married woman in his early years as Pope. The neutrality of these claims has come into question with some suggesting that the accusations were motivated by the schismatic conflict with the supporters of Arianism.

His personal problems were contrasted with his religious accomplishments, which included restoring Saint Lawrence outside the Walls, encouraging his personal secretary Saint Jerome in his Vulgate translation of the Bible, and presiding over the Council of Rome in 382, which set down the canon of Scripture.   He also did much to encourage the veneration of the Christian martyrs, restoring and creating access to their tombs in the Catacombs of Rome and elsewhere, and setting up tablets with verse inscriptions composed by himself, several of which survive or are recorded in his Epigrammata.

He died  in 384.

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