St. Deusdedit/Adeodatus I

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Mosaic of St. Deusdedit IDeusdedit, a Roman, the son of Stephen, was consecrated pope on October 19, 615. He is also known as Adeodatus I.

His pontificate was filled with troubles, civil commotions, and natural disasters. Rebels flouted the imperial authority both at Ravenna and Naples. Up north at Ravenna the exarch John, along with other imperial officials, had been murdered. Down south at Naples a certain John of Compsa had risen in revolt, taken over the town, and proclaimed his independence of the Emperor Heraclius. Heraclius, who had succeeded the weak Phocas in 610, was not the man to allow his empire to fall to pieces. He sent his able chamberlain, the Patrician Eleutherius to set matters to rights in his Italian dominions. Eleutherius acted with vigor. First he restored order in Ravenna. Then he marched south along the Flaminian Way. After pausing in Rome to receive a warm welcome from the loyal Pope, he marched on Naples, stormed the city, and put the rebel John to death. Instead of letting well enough alone, however, Eleutherius turned on the Lombards and rekindled a war which soon he was forced to end by once more buying off those tough barbarians.

Pope Deusdedit had his hands full taking care of his Roman flock, for disaster struck hard at the city on the Tiber. In August 618, Rome was rocked by an earthquake and soon after devastated by plague. A true vicar of Christ, Deusdedit worked hard to help his people in their troubles.

Pope Deusdedit was especially fond of his secular clergy and seems to have leaned on them rather than on monks for support. His love for his secular clergy was manifested even after death, for in his will he left a sum of money to be distributed among them. Tradition has it that Deusdedit was the first pope to use the leaden seal for pontifical documents which has given them the name of bull. The Latin bulla means seal. At any rate there still exists such a leaden bulla or seal dating from this pope's reign.

Deusdedit died in November 618 and was buried in St. Peter's. Like his predecessor, Deusdedit is honored as a saint. His feast is kept on November 8, the day of his burial.

Excerpted from "Popes Through the Ages" by Joseph Brusher, S.J.

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