Thursday, September 4, 2014


St. Paschal
Paschal I,
 Died 824

Feastday: February 11  feast day formerly May 14.
Saint Pascal, son of the Roman Bonosus, studied at the Lateran and was named abbot of Saint
Stephen's monastery, which housed pilgrims to Rome. He was elected as the 94th pope on the day Pope Stephen IV (V) died, January 25, 817.

 Emperor Louis the Pious agreed to respect papal jurisdiction, but when Louis's son Lothair I came to Rome in 823 to be consecrated king, he broke the pact by presiding at a trial involving a group of nobles opposing the pope. When two papal officials who had testified for the nobles were found blinded and murdered, Paschal was accused of the crime.

 Paschal denied any complicity but refused to surrender the murderers, who were members of his household, declaring that the two dead officials were traitors and the secular authorities had no jurisdiction in the case. The result was the Constitution of Lothair, severely restricting papal jurisdiction and police powers
in Italy.

 Paschal loved religious art even though he lived at a time when many people in the Eastern churches were breaking up sacred pictures in the belief that these were idolatrous images. Fanatics would even murder those who supported the use of fine art to decorate Christian churches and foster the spirit of worship.
 Though he was unsuccessful in ending the iconoclast heresy of Emperor Leo V, Pascal did his best to help Eastern Christians who were fighting to stop this destruction of great religious art. He sent his aides to try to secure the release of Abbot Theodore the Studite, who had been imprisoned for defending sacred icons, and encouraged Saint Nicephorus. And Paschal gave shelter to many Greek monks who had fled from the east in fear of those who were destroying what they held to be precious aids to the Christian life.

 While Pascal did not succeed in ending this strife, the influence of Eastern artists can be seen in the work done between 817 and 824 while he was pope to embellish Rome. Pascal, for instance, rebuilt the Roman church of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere, and made it into a fitting shrine for the bones of Saint Cecilia. This
church has been considerably rebuilt since then, but another church in Rome, Santa Maria in Domnica, remains substantially as it was after Pascal had restored it and shows his deeply held beliefs.
 Paschal also supported missionary activities in Denmark. 

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