Pope St. Siricius

Pope Siricius (334 -399) was the bishop of Rome from 384 until his death in 399.  Siricius was elected pope unanimously after the death of Damasus I.  He issued the Directa decretal, containing decrees on baptism, church discipline and other matters, which are the oldest completely preserved papal decretals. He is said to have been the first bishop of Rome to call himself pope (from Latin papa meaning “father”), which was an unofficial title that was already used as an honorific designation for any bishop in the West, but has since been reserved for the Bishop of Rome. From at least the 6th century, the imperial chancery of Constantinople has reserved this designation for the bishop of Rome (Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church).  

Quotes from Pope Siricius:

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Letters:

“You had good reason to be horrified at the thought that another birth might issue from the same virginal womb from which Christ was born according to the flesh. For the Lord Jesus would never have chosen to be born of a virgin if he had ever judged that she would be so incontinent as to contaminate with the seed of human intercourse the birthplace of the Lord’s body, that court of the eternal king” (Letter to Bishop Anysius [A.D. 392]).

“The account which you, brother, directed to our predecessor of holy memory Damasus, found me now installed in his see because the Lord thus ordained. When we read that [account] more carefully in an assembly of brethren, we found to the degree we had hoped to recognize things which ought to be praised and much which was worthy of reprimand and correction.”
-Letter of Pope Siricius to Bishop Himerius of Tarragona Chap. 1 (Written in 385 A.D.)

“We bear the burdens of all who are oppressed, or rather the blessed apostle Peter, who in all things protects and preserves us, the heirs, as we trust, of his administration, bears them in us.”
-Letter of Pope Siricius to Bishop Himerius of Tarragona, 385

“On the first page of your letter (Latin), therefore, you indicated that multitudes who were baptized by the impious Arians were hastening to the Catholic faith, and that certain of our brothers wished to baptize these same people again. This is not allowed, since both the Apostle forbids and the canons oppose doing it; and after the Council of Rimini was annulled, the general decrees sent to the provinces by my predecessor of venerable memory Liberius prohibit it. We unite these people, and the Novatianists and other heretics, to the assembly of Catholics, just as it was constituted in the synod, solely through invocation of the sevenfold Spirit by imposition of the bishop’s hand. Indeed all the East and the West preserves this practice”
-Letter of Pope Siricius to Bishop Himerius of Tarragona Chap. 1:2 (Written in 385 A.D.)

“On these days alone (Easter and Pentecost) through the year is it proper for the complete rites of baptism to be bestowed on those coming to the faith, but only on those select people who applied forty or more days earlier, and were cleansed by exorcisms, daily prayers, and fasts, so that the precept of the Apostle is fulfilled that with old leaven having been driven out, new dough comes into being.”
-Letter of Pope Siricius to Bishop Himerius of Tarragona Chap. 2 (Written in 385 A.D.)

“But just as we say that sacred Paschal reverence in no way ought to be diminished, so we wish for the waters of sacred baptism to be of assistance with all speed to infants, who because of age are not yet able to speak, and to those for whom in any emergency it is needed, lest the destruction of our souls be at stake if, the salutary font being denied to those seeking it, someone departing from the world loses both the kingdom and life.”
-Letter of Pope Siricius to Bishop Himerius of Tarragona Chap. 2 (Written in 385 A.D.)

“It was also added that certain Christians(MS), crossing over into apostasy (Latin)–which is abominable to be uttered–have been profaned by the worship of idols and the pollution of sacrifices. We order that they be cut off from the body and blood of Christ, by which formerly they were redeemed in new birth.”
-Letter of Pope Siricius to Bishop Himerius of Tarragona Chap. 2 (Written in 385 A.D.)

“Not improperly, beloved (MS), you believed that the apostolic see should be consulted about those who, having performed penance, again hungered. . . Concerning them, because now they do not have the option of doing penance, we decided that this ought to be decreed. Inside church they can be united with the faithful only in prayer; they can be present for the sacred celebration of the mysteries, although they are unworthy, but should be excluded from the banquet of the Lord’s table, so that reproached at least by this stricture they can castigate their faults within themselves and give an example to others that they may be drawn back from obscene desires.”
–Letter of Pope Siricius to Bishop Himerius of Tarragona Chap. 2 (Written in 385 A.D.)


Letter of Pope Siricius to Bishop Himerius of Tarragona, 385. Ed. Pierre Coustant, Epistolae Romanorum pontificum (Paris, 1721; reprint Farnborough, 1967), 623-638.

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