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Pope Fabian

From Academic Kids

Saint Fabian (died 250), pope and martyr, was chosen pope, or bishop of Rome, in January 236 in succession to Pope Anterus. Eusebius (Hist. Eccl. Vi. 29) relates how the Christians, having assembled in Rome to elect a new bishop, saw a dove alight upon the head of Fabian, a stranger to the city, who was thus marked out for this dignity, and was at once proclaimed bishop, although there were several famous men among the candidates for the vacant position. Fabian was martyred during the persecution under the emperor Trajan Decius, his death taking place on January 20 250, and was buried in the catacomb of Callixtus, where a memorial has been found.

He is said to have baptized the emperor Philip and his son, to have done some building in the catacombs, to have improved the organization of the church in Rome, and to have appointed officials to register the deeds of the martyrs.

According to "later accounts, more or less trustworthy" according to the Catholic Encyclopedia he sent out the "apostles to the Gauls" to Christianize Gaul after the persecutions under Emperor Decius had all but dissolved the small Christian communities. Fabian sent out seven bishops from Rome to Gaul to preach the Gospel: Gatien to Tours, Trophimus to Arles, Paul to Narbonne, Saturnin to Toulouse, Denis to Paris, Austromoine to Clermont, and Martial to Limoges. Fabian seems to have been martyred in Rome, however, at the beginning of the "Decian persecutions."

His deeds are thus described in the Liber Pontificalis: Hic regiones dividit diaconibus et fecit vii subdiacones, qui vii notariis imminerent, Ut gestas martyrum integro fideliter colligerent, et multas fabricas per cymiteria fieri praecepit. ("He divided these regions into deaconships and made seven sub-deaconships which seven secretaries oversaw, so that they brought together the deeds of the martyrs faithfully made whole, and he brought forth many works in the cemeteries.")

Although there is very little authentic information about Fabian, there is evidence that his episcopate was one of great importance in the history of the early church. He was highly esteemed by Cyprian, bishop of Carthage; Novatian refers to his nobilissima memoriae, and he corresponded with Origen. One authority refers to him as Flavian.


Preceded by:
Saint Anterus
Pope
236–250
Succeeded by:
Saint Cornelius

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