John I, Pope of Rome
John I, Pope Of Rome, a Tuscan by birth, ascended the papal throne Aug. 13, 523. About this time the bigoted Eastern emperor Justus II had issued an edict against heretics of all denominations, commanding them to be put to death wherever found in his dominions; but, as it was principally aimed against the detested Manichaeans, all went well until, in 524, the emperor issued another edict, this time against the Arians of Italy. Their patron Theodoric, king of the Ostrogoths, was induced to intercede for them in Byzantium, and he dispatched an embassy for this purpose, headed by the orthodox pope John himself, who had thus to plead a cause for which he had no sympathy. The latter promised, in undertaking the mission, to procure the revocation of the edict and in this he succeeded, but, failing to procure also the emperor's permission for all those who had forsaken Arianism unwillingly to return to their former faith, and Theodoric fearing that the whole work on the part of the pope was a piece of deception, and that the Romans, with the bishop at their head instead of seeking relief from the intolerance of Greek orthodoxy, solicited aid against the Goths, imprisoned the pope on his arrival at Ravenna, where he died May 18, 526. A Roman tradition reports, not without some complacency, that in Constantinople the emperor bowed down before the bishop of Rome, and that at high mass the seat of the latter, by his special request, was raised above that of the patriarch; seemingly, of course, a concession of superiority to the Roman see. John is numbered among the martyrs. Two letters are ascribed to him by Baronius and others, but they are now generally rejected. See Bower, Hist. of the Popes, 2, 312 sq.; Riddle, Papacy, 1, 199.