John, a native of Dalmatia and the son of a lawyer, was chosen to succeed
Severinus. John had been archdeacon of Rome and as such had played a
prominent part in ruling the see. He was consecrated on Christmas Eve 640.
Pope John IV proved to be a vigorous foe of the Monothelite or One Will
heresy. He promptly held a synod at Rome and condemned both the heresy
itself and the compromise formula called the Ecthisis. This firm stand
produced good results, for Emperor Heraclius now dropped the Ecthisis and
returned to Catholic orthodoxy. And when Heraclius died in 641 the Pope
encouraged his successors to remain constant in the faith.
John also defended the memory of Pope Honorius and rebuked those who tried
to make him a friend of the Monothelites. In a letter to the sons of the
Emperor Heraclius, John explained the real meaning of the Honorius letter.
Pope Honorius had succeeded in bringing Southern Ireland--Mogh's half of
Ireland as it was called by the ancient Gaels--into line with the current
corrected date for celebrating Easter. John IV tried to do the same for the
Northern Irish and the frontier Gaels in Scotland--in vain. It took another
lifetime to convince the stubborn men of Conn's half of Ireland that there
had been an improvement in the reckoning of Easter since 432 when good St.
Pope John did not forget his native Dalmatia. This land badly needed a
little friendly aid, for it was being harried by the still untamed Serbs
and Croats. To the distressed country the Pope sent an abbot named Martin
with an ample supply of money to see what he could do about redeeming poor
Dalmatians who had been carried off by the barbarians.
Through this abbot the Pope also secured the translation of relics of the
saints from the troubled churches of Dalmatia to the haven of Rome. To
receive these relics the Pope built a church which still stands.
Pope John IV died in October 642. He was buried in St. Peter's.
Excerpted from "Popes
Through the Ages" by Joseph Brusher, S.J.