The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church

Biographical Dictionary
Symmachus (498-514)
Before 514 (IV)


(1) 1. ORMISDA (?-523)

Birth. (No date found), Frosinone, Campagna. He is also listed as Celio Ormisda and as Coelius Hormisda. His name was of Persian origin.

Education. (No information found).

Early life. He was married before ordination and had a son, the future Pope Silverius. This was a unique case in the history of the papacy.

Cardinalate. Deacon cardinalis of the Holy Roman Church before 514. He was elected to the papacy unanimously. At the time of his election, the situation in the Roman community was calm.

Papacy. Consecrated Pope Hormisdas on July 20, 514, the day after the death of Pope Symmachus. His pontificate was peaceful and effective. He was able to end the Laurentian schism caused by Antipope Laurence, who had been elected in 498 against Pope Symmachus. Above all, he was especially successful when he finally settled, after two failed attempts, the Acacian schism of 484, which had divided the Greek Church from the Roman. The schism existed then only because Emperor Anastasius I wanted it, and while he was alive, the attempts by Pope Hormisdas to eliminate the points of disagreement were in vain. Only with a new emperor, Justin, the necessary conditions occurred for a reconciliation and a return to the orthodoxy of the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon.The emperor convened a council in Constantinople which condemned the doctrine of Eutiche in favor of a full adherence to the decrees of Rome, and of Pope Leo the Great. Furthermore, Emperor Justin wrote to the pope asking him to send legates for the restoration of religious unity. The legates were solemnly received at Constantinople. The pope proposed a rule of faith, signed by Patriarch Johannes II of Constantinople and almost all the bishops of the East. The formula was commonly known as Formola di Ormisda (1). It was March 28, 519. Pope Hormisdas was also concerned with the teopaschita controversy, which arose when a group of Scythian monks proposed what has been called the Theopaschite formula: One of the Trinity suffered in the flesh, as a way of protecting the Chalcedonian Christology from any suspicion of Nestorianism. Even though it was correct in itself, the formula presented monophysite associations. Both the papal legates in Constantinople and Pope Hormisdas himself in Rome treated it with great reserve. The pope did not condemned, but warned the emperor against it, stating the Pope Leo I's Tome and the Chalcedonian definition were entirely adequate. Emperor Justinian, concerned to win over moderate monophysites, was prepared to approve the formula. Because of the matter of the Scythian monks, Pope Hormisdas was consulted in 520 concerning the orthodoxy of Bishop Faustus of Riez, in Southern Gaul (Provence), who had been presented as a Pelagian (he was in fact a Semi-Pelagian). The pope's careful answer was that the teachings the Church had been settled by Pope Celestine I and St Augustine. As for Bishop Faustus, the pope approved his writings and allowed them to be read provided that any obnoxious teaching they contained were not followed. The pope was intensely active in the West, extending his actions to Gaul, where he maintained an active correspondence with Bishops Caesarius of' Aries and Avitus of Vienne; to Spain, where he appointed papal vicars; and to Africa, where he saw the cessation of the persecution against the Christians with the death of Vandal King Thrasamond on May 28, 523, and the possibility of restoring Catholic hierarchy. He ordered Scythian monk Dionysius Exiguus to make a collection of the canons of the Greek councils translated into Latin, which unfortunately have been lost. During his pontificate, he ordained fifty five bishops and twenty one priests. There are seventy five letters written by Pope Hormisdas and sixty addressed to him that still exist.

Death. August 6, 523, Rome. Buried in St. Peter's basilica, Rome (2). His tomb was destroyed during the demolition of the old basilica and the construction of the new one in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Sainthood. Inscribed in the Roman Martyrology, his feast is celebrated on August 6.

Bibliography. Capizzi, Carmelo. "Sul fallimento di un negoziato di pace ecclesiastica fra il papa Ormisda e l'imperatore Anastasio I (515-517)." Critica storica, 17 (1980), pp. 23-54; Cardella, Lorenzo. Memorie storiche de' cardinali della Santa Romana Chiesa. Rome : Stamperia Pagliarini, 1792, I, pt. 1, 6-7; Chacón, Alfonso. Vitæ, et res gestæ Pontificum Romanorum : et S.R.E. Cardinalium ab initio nascentis Ecclesiae usque ad Clementem IX P. O. M. Alphonsi Ciaconii Ord. Praed. & aliorum opera descriptæ : cum uberrimis notis. Ab Augustino Oldoino, Soc. Jesu recognitae, et ad quatuor tomos ingenti ubique rerum accessione productae. Additis Pontificum recentiorum imaginibus, & Cardinalium insignibus, plurimisque aeneis figuris, cum indicibus locupletissimis. Romæ : P. et A. De Rubeis, 1677, I, col. 345-350; Cristofori, Francesco. Cronotasi dei cardinali di Santa Romana Chiesa. Rome : Tipografia de Propaganda Fide, 1888, p. XXVI; Del Re, Niccolò. "Ormisda, papa, santo." Mondo vaticano. Passato e presente. Città del Vaticano : Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1995, p. 753-754; "Essai de liste générale des cardinaux. Les cardinaux des 10 premiers siècles". Annuaire Pontifical Catholique 1926. Paris : Maison de la Bonne Presse, 1927, p. 140, no. 12; Haacke, Walter. Die Glaubensformel des Papstes Hormisdas im Acacianischen Schisma. Romae : Apud aedes Universitatis Gregorianae,1939. (Facultatis Theologicae. Sectio B ; n. 10; Variation: Analecta Gregoriana ; v. 20.; Analecta Gregoriana ; Series Facultatis Theologicae.; Sectio B ; n. 10); Kelly, John Norman Davidson. The Oxford Dictionary of Popes. Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 1986, p. 52-54; Le Liber pontificalis. Paris : E. de Boccard, 1981, 1955. 3 v. : facsims. (Bibliothèque des Écoles françaises d'Athènes et de Rome). Notes: Reprint of the 1955 edition./ Includes indexes./ Vol. 3: "Additions et corrections de L. Duchesne publiées par Cyrille Vogel ... avec L'Histoire du Liber pontificalis dupuis l'édition de L. Duchesne une bibliographie et des tables générales, I, ; Montini, Renzo Uberto. Le tombe dei papi. Roma : Angelo Belardetti, 1957. Note: At head of title: Instituto di studi romani, p. 105-106, no. 52; Reardon, Wendy J. The deaths of the popes : comprehensive accounts, including funerals, burial places and epitaphs. Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland & Co., Publishers, 2004, p. 42-43; Regesta pontificum Romanorum ab conditio Ecclesia. Ad annum post Christum natum MCXCVIII. Graz : Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt, 1956. 2 v. Reprint. Originally published : Lipsiae : Veit et comp., 1885-1888. Original t.p. included : Regesta pontificum Romanorum ab condita ecclesia : ad annum post Christum natum MCXCVIII. Editionem secundam correctam et auctam edidit Philippus Jaffè ; auspiciis Gulielmi Wattenbach; curaverunt S. Loewenfeld, F. Kaltenbrunner, P. Ewald, I, ; Sardella, Teressa. "Ormisda, santo." Enciclopedia dei papi. 3 vols. Roma : Istituto della Enciclopedia italiana, 2000, I, 476-483; Sardella, Teresa. Società, chiesa e stato nell'età di Teoderico : papa Simmaco e lo scisma laurenziano. Soveria Mannelli (Catanzaro) : Rubbettino, 1996. (Armarium ; 7; Variation: Armarium (Soveria Mannelli, Italy) ; 7); Sperduti, Giuseppe. "Il Papa frusinate sant'Ormisda e san Cesario vescovo di Arles." Rivista Cistercense, 2 (1985), pp. 269-274.

Links. Biography, in English, The Catholic Encyclopedia; biography, in English, Britannica; his image and brief biographical article, in English; biography by Joseph Brusher, S.J., in English, Popes through the Ages; his image and biography, in English, New World Encyclopedia; biography, in Italian by Teresa Sardella, Enciclopedia dei papi, Treccani; brief biographical entry, in Italian, Dizionario biografico degli italiani, Treccani; his image and biography, in Italian; his image and biography, in Italian, Città di Frosinone; images and biography, in Italian, Santi e Beati; biography, in German, Biographisch-Bibliographischen Kirchenlexikons; biography, in Norwegian, Den katolske kirke; his engraving, Fondazione Marco Besso, Rome; his engraving, Biblioteca comunale dell'Archiginnasio, Bologna; engravings, Araldica Vaticana; his engraving, Bildarchiv Austria. Die Bildplattform der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek; his engraving, Bildarchiv Austria. Die Bildplattform der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek; his engravinghis engraving, Bildarchiv Austria. Die Bildplattform der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek; his engraving, Bildarchiv Austria. Die Bildplattform der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek; his engraving, Bildarchiv Austria. Die Bildplattform der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek; another engraving from the same source; another engraving also from the same source; his effigy on a medal, Numismatic collection of Olomouc archiepiscopate, Cezch Republic; and his effigy on a medal, Numismatic collection of Olomouc archiepiscopate, Cezch Republic.

(1) It stated in part: "I consider the holy churches of God, that of old Rome and that of new Rome, as one and the same church, the See of Peter the Apostle and the episcopal see of Byzantium as one and the same see... I agree with the pope's profession of the doctrine and I censure all whom he censures." The formula also said that all who lives and dies outside of communion with the Apostolic See were excluded from the prayers of the Mass.
(2) This is the text of his epitaph, which was composed by his son Silverius, later pope, taken from Reardon, The deaths of the popes : comprehensive accounts, including funerals, burial places and epitaphs, p. 43:

QUAMVIS DIGNA TUIS NON SINT, PATER, ISTA SEPULCRIS
NEC TITULIS EGEAT CLARIFACATA FIDES,
SUME TAMEN LAUDES, QUAS PETRI CAPTUS AMORE
EXTREMO VENIENS HOSPES AB ORBE LEGAT.
SANASTI PATRIAE LACERATUM SCISMATE CORPUS
RESTITUENS PROPRIIS MEMBRA REVULSA LOCIS
IMPERIO DEVICTA PIO TIBI GRAECIA CESSIT
AMISSAMQUE GAUDENS SE REPARASSE FIDEM.
AFRICA LAETATUR MULTOS CAPTIVA PER ANNOS
PONTIFICES PRECIBUS PROMERUISSE TUIS
HAEC EGO SILVERIUS, QUAMVIS MIHI DURA, NOTAVI,
UT POSSENT TUMULIS FIXA MANERE DEO

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