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Saint of the Day for 18 May: St. John I

St. John I: Life, Pontificate and Martyrdom of the 6th Century Pope


St. John I


Pope and martyr


470, Tuscany


May 18, 526, Ravenna


18 May


2004 edition


O God, who in the glorious martyrdom of St. John I Pope gave us a sign of your loving presence in the Church, grant that we, who trust in his intercession, may imitate him in firmness of faith. Through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Roman Martyrology

St. John I, pope and martyr, who, sent by the Arian king Theodoric to Constantinople to the Emperor Justin, was the first among the Roman Pontiffs to celebrate the Paschal sacrifice in that Church; having returned from there, he was shamefully arrested and thrown into prison by the same Theodoric, falling in Ravenna a victim for Christ the Lord.

The Saint and Mission

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St. John I, pope of the 6th century, faced his mission with a courage and determination that led him to be a symbol of faith and resilience. During his pontificate, John I was called upon to navigate complex political and religious tensions, particularly those with the Arian king Theodoric the Great. His main mission was to seek reconciliation between Orthodox Christians and Arians, an arduous task that required diplomacy and deep faith. Sent to Constantinople by Theodoric, John I succeeded in negotiating better terms for persecuted Catholics, demonstrating an unwavering commitment to the protection of the faithful. His journey, though dangerous, reflected his dedication to the mission of unity and peace in the Church. His determination to pursue this mission, despite personal risks, highlighted the depth of his pastoral commitment and his willingness to sacrifice himself for the good of the Christian community. The martyrdom of St. John I, who died in prison at the behest of Theodoric, is a testimony to the price he paid for his faith and his mission of peace. His life and death provide an enduring example of how faith and dedication can guide a spiritual leader to overcome immense challenges for the good of the Church and humanity.

The Saint and Mercy

St. John I, during his pontificate, embodied mercy through his pastoral and diplomatic action at a time of great tension and conflict. Despite the political and religious difficulties of his time, John I worked tirelessly to seek reconciliation and peace among the different Christian factions. His mission to Constantinople, where he negotiated to alleviate persecution against Catholics, demonstrated his deep compassion and commitment to protect the faithful from injustice and suffering. Even in the face of personal threat, John I did not hesitate to put his own safety at risk for the sake of the Church and the Christian community. His arrest and subsequent death in prison are testimonies to his willingness to sacrifice himself for the sake of others, reflecting the mercy of Christ. His ability to forgive and to always seek the common good, even when dealing with hostile adversaries, highlights a mercy that goes beyond words, manifesting itself in concrete actions of love and service. St. John I leaves us a legacy of mercy that invites all believers to follow his example, always seeking to build bridges of understanding and peace, and to respond with compassion and courage to the challenges they encounter on their faith journey.


A native of Tuscia and son of a certain Constantius according to Liber Pontilicalis, he was elected pope succeeding Ormisda on August 13, 523. There is no certain information about this pope before his election, due to the frequent attestation of the name John in 6th-century sources (three popes bear this name)…


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