Eleutherius of Rome

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Our father among the saints Eleutherius of Rome, also Eleuterus, was the Bishop of Rome from about 174 to 189. His feast day is May 26.


Little is known of the life of Eleutherius. Of Greek background, his name is Greek for "frank, honest, free spirited". He was born in the Nicopolis in Epirus. He was a deacon in the Church of Rome under Bishops Anicetus and Soter of Rome.

Chosen to succeed Bp. Soter, Eleutherius is remembered mainly for his relations with the Montanist movement. As Orthodox Christian theology was still being defined at the time, its nature did not diverge so much from the orthodoxy of the time for it to be initially labeled heresy. When the Church took a firm stand against Montanism is uncertain. While some conciliatory letters to the Montanists were sent by a Roman bishop, possibly Bp. Eleutherius, these letters were later recalled according to Tertullian. The authenticity of an edict, ascribed to Bp. Eleutherius, against the Gnostics and Montanists by the Roman Liber Pontificalis has been questioned as a later edit of the "Liber".

Also, another dubious assertion of the Liber Pontificalis, possibly made by the same editor of the "Liber", is that Bp. Eleutherius had received a letter from a British king named Lucius in which the king declared that he wanted to become a Christian.

The Liber Pontificalis identifies May 24 as the day of his repose, probably in the year 189. His was buried on the Vatican Hill. Later tradition has his body moved to the church of San Giovanni della Pigna, near the Roman pantheon. In 1591, his remains were again moved to the church of Santa Susanna at the request of Camilla Peretti, the sister of Pope Sixtus V.

Succession box:
Eleutherius of Rome
Preceded by:
Bishop of Rome
174 - 189
Succeeded by:
Victor I
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