Pope Honorius I
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Pope Honorius I

Honorius I
Pope Honorius I - Apse mosaic - Sant'Agnese fuori le mura - Rome 2016.jpg
Papacy began27 October 625
Papacy ended12 October 638
PredecessorBoniface V
Personal details
BornCampania, Byzantine Empire
Died(638-10-12)12 October 638
Other popes named Honorius

Pope Honorius I (died 12 October 638) was the bishop of Rome from 27 October 625 to his death. He was active in spreading Christianity among Anglo-Saxons and attempted to convince the Celts to calculate Easter in the Roman fashion. He is chiefly remembered for his correspondence with Patriarch Sergius I of Constantinople over the latter's monothelite teachings. Honorius was posthumously anathematized, initially for subscribing to monothelitism, and later only for failing to end it. The anathema against Honorius I became one of the central arguments against the doctrine of papal infallibility.

Early life

Honorius was a rich aristocrat who came from Campania. His father was the consul Petronius. Nothing is known about Honorius I's career before he became pope on 27 October 625. He was consecrated only two days after the death of his predecessor, Boniface V. The vacancy was short probably because of the presence in Rome of Isaac the Armenian, who was empowered to confirm the election as the imperial exarch in Italy.[1]


As pope, Honorius I looked up to Gregory I and employed monks rather than secular clergy as staff at the Lateran Palace. He initially supported Adaloald, the deposed Catholic king of the Lombards, but established cordial relations with Adoald's Arian rival Arioald. He did not succeed in resolving the schism of Venetia-Istria, but took steps to appease the archbishops of Ravenna, who were dissatisfied with their subordination to Rome. Honorius actively supported the difficult Christianisation of Anglo-Saxon England and sent Birinus to convert the West Saxons, but less successful in convincing the Celts to abandon their system of computing the date of Easter. At the Sixth Council of Toledo, Honorius urged the Visigothic bishops to continue baptizing Jews, a policy instituted by Gregory I.[1]

Honorius became involved in early discussions regarding the doctrine of Monothelitism, which is the teaching that Christ has only one energy and one will, in contrast with the teaching that He has two energies and two wills, both human and divine.[2] Patriarch Sergius I of Constantinople wrote an initial letter informing Honorius of the Monoenergism controversy, asking Honorius to endorse a position that Church unity should not be endangered by having any discussions or disputes over Christ's possessing one energy or two. Sergius added that the doctrine of two energies could lead to the erroneous belief that Jesus has two conflicting wills.[3] Pope Honorius' reply in 635 endorsed this view that all discussions over energies should cease, and agreed that Jesus does not have two conflicting wills, but one will, since Jesus did not assume the vitiated human nature tainted by Adam's fall, but human nature as it existed prior to Adam's fall.[4] This was also the belief both of the so-called monotheletes (condemned later for allegedly denying Christ any human volition at all, which they did not) and of the Sixth Ecumenical Council (680-81).

Honorius was apparently aware of the rise of Islam[5] and viewed this religion's tenets as closely resembling those of Arius.[6]


In 680, Honorius was anathematized by the Third Council of Constantinople along with the Monothelites, for "having followed them in all things".[7] Citing his correspondence with Sergius, the Council accused Honoris of having "confirmed his impious doctrines".[8]

Pope Leo II's letter of confirmation of the Council altered the Council's condemnation so as to criticize Honorius not for teaching or committing heresy, but for "imprudent economy of silence".[9] Leo's letter states that Honorius is anathematized because he "did not purify this apostolic Church by the doctrine of the apostolic tradition, but rather he allowed the immaculate [Church] to be stained by profane treason."[7] The anathema was later one of the main arguments against papal infallibility in the discussions surrounding the First Vatican Council of 1870.[]


  1. ^ a b Attwater, Aubrey (1939). A Dictionary of Popes: From Peter to Pius XII. p. 67-68.
  2. ^ *Catholic Encyclopedia: Monothelitism and Monothelites
  3. ^ Hefele, pg 25
  4. ^ Hefele, pg 29-30
  5. ^ Muhammad Ata Ur-Rahim; Ahmad Thomson (2003). Jesus: Prophet of Islam. TTQ, INC. p. 148. ISBN 9781879402737.
  6. ^ Ata Ur-Rahim, Thomson 2003, p. 148., quote: "Pope Honorius was aware of the rising tide of Islam, whose tenets very much resembled those of Arius. The mutual killing of Christians by each other was still fresh in his memory, and perhaps he thought that what he had heard about Islam might be applied in healing the differences between the various Christian sects. In his letters he began to support the doctrine of 'one mind' within the doctrine of Trinity. He argued that if God had three independent minds, the result would be chaos. This logical and reasonable conclusion pointed to the belief in the existence of One God."
  7. ^ a b Chapman, John (1910). "Pope Honorius I" . In Herbermann, Charles (ed.). Catholic Encyclopedia. 7. New York: Robert Appleton Company. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  8. ^ Percival, Henry Robert (1900). The Seven Ecumenical Councils of the Undivided Church. A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church (second series). XIV. James Parker & Co. p. 343. Retrieved 2018.
  9. ^ Bury, pg 252


External links

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Boniface V
Succeeded by

Original text taken from a paper copy of the 9th edition Encyclopædia Britannica (1881) and the Catholic Encyclopedia

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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