The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church

Biographical Dictionary
Leo III (795-816)
796 (I)


(1) 1. PASQUALE (?-824)

Birth. (No date found), Rome. Son of Bonosus, a Roman, and Teodora. He is also listed as Pasquale Massimi.

Education. Studied in the school of the Lateran patriarchium.

Sacred orders. After having received the sacred orders, including the presbyterate, he was for several years abbot of the monastery of S. Stefano Maggiore, next to the Vatican basilica.

Cardinalate. Presbyter cardinalis of the title of S. Prassede in 796. He was recognized for the holiness, chastity, and theological culture, with which he permeated his life before becoming pope (1).

Papacy. Elected pope on January 25, 817, the same day in which his predecessor, Stephen IV (V), died. Took the name Paschal I. He was consecrated on the following day, January 26. The new pope immediately notified Emperor Louis I the Pious of his election, affirming that he had not sought office but that it had been thrust upon him, and sent a delegation headed by his legate, Teodoro, to obtain confirmation of the previous pacts and agreements between the Franks and the Holy See; the emperor not only confirmed all the pacts (2) but also sent the pope a Pactum cum Paschali pontifice. In July 817, when the emperor reorganzied the imperial succession and territories by the Ordinatio imperii, the pope limited himself to noting the document sent to him by the monarch and did not show interest in the climate of rebellion that it was spreading in Italy (3). In 822, the emperor sent his eldest son, Lothair, to Italy, accompanied by his counselor Vaia (the one who knew better than anyone the Italian situation) to put into practice the Carolingian legislation. Lothair remained in Italy for three years, in which realized the definitive incorporation of Italy in the Carolingian empire, making his presence felt even in Rome. In the spring of 823, Pope Paschal I invited Lothair to the Eternal City and on April 5, Easter Day, crowned him in St. Peter's basilica (he had already been crowned as co-emperor in 817); Lothair was hailed as Augustus by the Roman people. The pope declared that from that moment Lothair had power over the Roman people. Lothair immediately wanted to show his authority administering justice on a case brought by the monastery of Farfa in the papal curia for the appropriation of certain goods. The monarch sanctioned that there had been a misappropriation and all the goods in question were returned to the monastery, exempting it from paying the required annual tribute to the Holy See. The temporal power of Pope Paschal I had received a blow, the Roman clergy was irritated by the behavior of Lothair, and the philo-Frankish nobility was so satisfied that it meditated a revolutionary movement against the Roman Curia. Leaders of the revolt were Primicerius Teodoro and Nomenclatore Leone, his son. The curia was quick and violent to react. The two were arrested, blinded and beheaded. The news arrived as a lightning in Aachen, the imperial capital, where it was met with great resentment, because Teodoro had been a papal legate there in 821. The emperor decided to send judges for conducting an investigation. For his part the pope, was openly accused of having ordered or at least suggested the killing of the two, and abused the power belonging to the emperor. The pope sent ambassadors to Aachen, Bishop Giovanni of Silva Candida and Archdeacon Benedetto, who declared that Pope Paschal I was innocent and prepared to submit to an inquiry. The imperial judges arrived in Rome in August 823, but to their great surprise they were told that the pope that he refused to undergo the trial, because it was unacceptable and against all tradition to judge the primate of the Roman see. Paschal I was the third pope (his predecessor Pope Leo III among them) who voluntarily subjected himself instead to the oath of purification, swearing before God that he was innocent, before a synod of thirty four bishops. But at the same time, the pope cursed executes as guilty of high treason, saying that their death was an act of justice. The judges went back to Aachen and the emperor thought it appropriate to suspend the investigation and not to pursue the matter. The resolution of the affair obviously did not satisfy anyone but it convinced the imperial court that it needed to establish closer control over Rome but the pope died before the reform was instituted. During the pontificate of Pope Paschal I, the expansion of the church in the Nordic countries continued; by mutual agreement with Louis the Pious, in 822, the pope sent a group of monks to Denmark, headed by Archbishop Ebbo of Reims (who was sent by the emperor to Rome to receive the papal blessing), for the evangelization of that country; the pope not only commissioned Archbishop Ebbo but also sent along Archbishop Halitgar of Cambrai, appointing the former papal legate for the northem regions; the same was done the following year in Sweden. He had a great interest in the sacred buildings and did numerous works in the churches of Rome. Among others, he attended to the reconstruction and beautification of the basilicas of S. Prassede sull'Esquilino, S. Maria in Domnica sul Celio and S. Cecilia in Trastevere (4). Towards the end of his pontificate, the question of image worship exploded again in the East; the issue had been solemnly settled by the Second Council of Nicaea (787). Pope Paschal I intervened in this controversy, as the great defender of icons, Theodore Studita, in his writings refers to a papal letter to Emperor Leo V in favor of the worship of images. Pope Paschal I had a notable influence in his specific activity as a "man of the Church, and had a marked social spirit, as when in the monastery of St. Prassede, which he built, he housed the Greek refugees from the East, persecuted as anti-iconoclasts; the pope also provided for them in the monasteries St. Cecilia and Sts. Sergius and Bacchus, situated near the Lateran palace. A legend says that the pope hasten to the neighborhood of Rome inhabited by the Anglo-Saxons when it was destroyed by a fire, which had threatened the gallery adjoining the basilica of St. Peter, and when the pope went barefooted into the flames that were invading the church, the fire automatically ceased, as turned off by a superior force. He discovered the remains of St. Cecilia, for which he had restored the church in Trastevere dedicated to the saint. The pope could not find her remains in the catacombs and thought that they had been stolen bythe Lombards. Then, according to Le Liber Pontificalis, in a vision he had in the middle of a Sunday service at the altar Confession of St. Peter, an angel in the figure of a young girl, St. Cecilia in fact, suddenly appeared to him and urged him to try to find the remains in the cemetery of St. Callisto. The search was successful and her body, along with that of her husband Valeriano, a martyr like her, were found and buried, wrapped in a golden cloth, in her basilica. He created four cardinals in four promotions.

Death. Saturday February 11, 824, Rome. Because of the dissatisfaction of the Roman people with the pope, when he died his body was not allowed to be deposed in St. Peter's basilica. His burial in the basilica only happened a few months later when Pope Eugenius II, his successor, was recognized by all. He was then buried in the altar of the oratory of Ss. Proceso e Martiniano, which he had built (5). His epitaph has been lost.

Sainthood. Inscribed in the Roman Martyrology in the late sixteenth century by the historian Cardinal Cesare. Baronio; his feast, on February 11 or May 14, was suppressed from the liturgical calendar in 1963.

Bibliography. Cardella, Lorenzo. Memorie storiche de' cardinali della Santa Romana Chiesa. Rome : Stamperia Pagliarini, 1792, I, pt. 1, 44 and 46-47; 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. 579 and 581-590; Cristofori, Francesco. Cronotasi dei cardinali di Santa Romana Chiesa. Rome : Tipografia de Propaganda Fide, 1888, p. 61; "Essai de liste générale des cardinaux. Les cardinaux des 10 premiers siècles". Annuaire Pontifical Catholique 1926. Paris : Maison de la Bonne Presse, 1927, p. 149, no. 1; Kelly, John Norman Davidson. The Oxford Dictionary of Popes. Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 1986, p. 99-101; 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, II, LXVI, LXXV, 52-68; Mauck, Marchita B. "The Mosaic of the Triumphal Arch of S. Prassede: A Liturgical Interpretation." Speculum, vol. 62, no. 4 (Oct., 1987), pp. 813-828; Montini, Renzo Uberto. Le tombe dei papi. Roma : Angelo Belardetti, 1957. Note: At head of title: Instituto di studi romani, p. 136, no. 99; Piazza, Andrea. "Pasquale I." Enciclopedia dei papi. 3 vols. Roma : Istituto della Enciclopedia italiana, 2000, I, 706-709; Reardon, Wendy J. The deaths of the popes : comprehensive accounts, including funerals, burial places and epitaphs. Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland & Co., Publishers, 2004, p. 61-62; 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, 318-320; Sullivan, Robert Eugene. "Paschal I, Pope, St." New Catholic Encyclopedia. Prepared by an editorial staff at the Catholic University of America. 19 vols. New York, McGraw-Hill, 1967-1996, 10, 1048-1049; Tiberia, Vitaliano. "Pasquale I, papa." Mondo vaticano. Passato e presente. Città del Vaticano : Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1995, p. 813-815.

Links. Biography, in English, The Catholic Encyclopedia; biography, in English, (Britannica); biography, in English; his image and biography, in English; his image and biography, in Italian; biography, in Italian, Enciclopedia dei papi; biography, in Italian, Dizionario biografico degli italiani; his image and biography, in Italian, Santi Beati; biography, in German, Biographisch-Bibliographischen Kirchenlexikons; his image, mosaic, church of S. Prassede, Rome; another view of the same image, church of S. Maria in Domnica, Rome; ; his image, kneeling before the Blessed Virign Mary, mosaic, church of S. Maria in Domnica, Rome; The Emperor Ludwig I, the Pius (814-840), confirms to Pasquale I (817-824) the donations made by his ancestors, Vatican Archives; image of Teodora, Pope Paschal I's mother, church of S. Prassede, Rome; his engraving, iStockphoto; his engraving, in color; his engraving, Biblioteca comunale dell'Archiginnasio, Bologna; his effigy on a medal, Numismatic collection of Olomouc archiepiscopate, Czech Republic; his engraving, Bildarchiv Austria. Die Bildplattform der Õsterreichischen Nationalbibliothek; his engraving, Bildarchiv Austria. Die Bildplattform der Õsterreichischen Nationalbibliothek; his engraving, Bildarchiv Austria. Die Bildplattform der Õsterreichischen Nationalbibliothek; and another engraving, also from the same source.

(1) This is according to Duchesne, Le Liber pontificalis, II, 52.
(2) They were the promises made by Charlemagne to Pope Adrian I (in 774 and 787); and to Pope Leo III (in 800); and more recently the Pactum Ludovicianum, signed by Pope Stephen IV (V) and Emperor Louis I the Pious in 816, which recognized the papal domain over the Roman duchy, as well as over Pentapolis, Tuscany, Lazio and Corsica, with the promise not to interfere in the papal domains unless invited, or obliged by the claims of the oppressed, to do so; and guaranteed the freedom of papal elections, requiring only that after being consecrated the new pope should notify the emperor.
(3) In July 817, Emperor Louis I the Pious gathered an assembly of imperial nobles in Aachen and had approved the act that passed into history under the name of Ordinatio imperii. In it, the imperial dignity was assigned to the eldest son Lothair, while the other two sons were given the royal dignity: Pippin on Aquitaine, Gascony, Burgundy and Spanish Marca; and Louis on Bavaria, Carinthia and Meissen. No mention was made of Bernard, son of Pippin, the elder brother of Louis the Pious, who was already king of Italy, and just hoped to inherit at least the title, but Italy was considered under the direct authority of the emperor. Bernard, with many dignitaries, lay and clergy, seen Italy reduced to the status an imperial province, revolted to become independent. The rebels were soundly defeated and Bernard went to Châlons to beg forgiveness from his uncle along with his accomplices; Louis imprisoned them and sent them to Aachen. In 818 occurred in that city a double process: one against the clergy and the other against Bernard. The first were tried by a council of bishops, which condemned the bishops of Cremona and Milan to the loss of their ecclesiastical rank and sent them to monastic confinement. Bernard, tried by lay judges, was first sentenced to death and then to life imprisonment with the sentence of the usual blinding. This was done, apparently with a "technique" so barbaric that Bernardo died few days later. The emperor deeply regretted how he had acted and fully pardoned all the accomplices of his nephew. It is not known if the pope made an effort to alleviate the plight of the rebels or not.
(4) The apses of those three churches as well as the chapel of S. Zenone in S. Prassede, were ornamented with mosaics. In the Vatican basilica he built chapels and altars, in which the remains of martyrs from the Roman catacombs, especially those of Ss. Processo e Mariniao, were placed. He also placed the relics of many Roman martyrs in the church of S. Prassede where their names are still legible. He also greatly improved the choir of the basilica of S. Maria Maggiore.
(5) Several sources indicate that he was buried in the church of S. Prassede, which he had richly adorned with mosaics and where his mother was also buried.


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