Athanasius I of Naples

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Our father among the saints Athanasius I of Naples was Bishop of Naples in Italy from 850 to 872. He was a member of the Sergii family that ruled Naples until 1137. Athanasius is commemorated on July 15.


Little is known of the early life of Bp. Athanasius. He was born in 830, in Naples, the second son of founder of the Sergii dynasty of Naples Sergius I of Naples and became bishop in 850, at the age 20. At the same time his brother, Gregory, became co-duke with their father, whom he later succeeded as Gregory III. Before Sergius I died, he counseled Gregory to follow the advice of his brother the bishop. While Gregory did, his son and successor as Duke Sergius II, did not.

Athanasius was an intimate of both the court of the Holy Roman Emperor and of the Pope of Rome. He was a familiaris of Lothar I and emperor Louis II and through his connections with the Roman curia was made a papal legate. He attended the Lateran Council of 863. He restored the church of St. Januarius that had been destroyed by Saracens, founded a hospice, and established a service for the ransom of captive Christians.

He was the ruling hierarch of Naples for twenty years before he came under financial pressure (exaction) from relatives who had risen to a position of civil authority of Naples, including his nephew Sergius II. Sergius persecuted Bp. Athanasius for his opposition to Sergius' alliance with the Aghlabids emirs of Sicily. After denouncing his nephew for immorality, Bp. Athanasius was imprisoned by him, then exiled to a small island, but was rescued by ships from Amalfi sent by the emperor Louis.

On July 15, 872, Bp. Athanasius died in Veroli while traveling to Rome. He was buried at Monte Cassino before his relics were transferred to Naples.

Succession box:
Athanasius I of Naples
Preceded by:
John IV
Bishop of Naples
850 - 872
Succeeded by:
Athanasius II?
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