Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Martyred Pope

An image of Pope Saint Martin I, the 74th Pope

You may remember I wrote a post on Pope-Emeritus Benedict as being a possible "martyr pope", well today we celebrate the feast of the last official martyr pope of the Church (so far): Pope St Martin I, who died in captivity in 655.  He was imprisoned by the Emperor Constans II because he tried to implement the Lateran Council of 649.  The Council was convened by the Pope and the Emperor was not impressed since he thought he was the only one entitled to call Church Councils.  
The Council was called to discuss the heresy of Monothelitism (which maintains that Christ has only one will), a heresy that Constans not only held, but decreed that it could not be discussed at all.  However Pope Martin and a number of theologians, chief among them St Maximus the Confessor, realised that the Church had to deal with the issue and reiterate the Church's orthodox teaching.  The Church teaches that Christ has two wills: a divine will and a human will, and while both are in complete harmony, they are still separate.   The Council upheld the teaching and the emperor was not happy.
In response to the Pope's actions and the Council, he had Martin kidnapped and imprisoned in Constantinople.  For three months the pope endured dreadful conditions as he awaited his trial.  At the trial he was not allowed a defence, he was found guilty of treason and sent back to prison.  After another three months he was exiled to the Crimea where he died as a result of ill treatment and neglect on the 16th September 655.
People wonder why the Pope has his own country, the Vatican City State, and is not subject to any ruler or government: so he can teach the Gospel and lead the Church without interference.   It is not about kingly pomp and Church nationalism: it is about being free to proclaim the truth.
May Pope St Martin watch over the Holy Father as he carries out his Petrine ministry.


  1. It is interesting you mention here the human will and the Divine will. While the Lord wishes us to follow His will at all times, it is not easy, but through grace and prayer we are more open to doing His will. There is a movement in this country on the Divine Will which has to do with the Servant of God Luisa Picarretta. I was wondering if you know anything about it or could offer some insight into it. There is some confusion over the writings of Luisa. Also on another item, of deliverance. I personally believe people should avoid praying prayers of deliverance themselves as it can expose them to dangers from evil influence especially those who are emotionally vulnerable. There are conferences being held at the moment, one this weekend in Knock Shrine and next weekend in Dublin on this issue of deliverance and perhaps you can also address the dangers involved. As St. Martin (Pope) witnessed heresy in the Church at that time, we too need to be aware of teachings which can be contrary to our faith or even dangerous for us. God bless you.

  2. Thank you Anne. Part of the great drama of human life is to bring our will into harmony with God's. In that struggle our greatest ally is love.

    I have heard of Luisa Picarretta, though know little about her. I have heard some of her devotees make extraordinary claims for her: that she is the greatest saint in heaven, and she more than any other saint abandoned herself to the divine will. I have even heard one devotee say that she alone of all the saints made it into the heart of God, the others remain outside since they did not abandon themselves as much as she to the divine will. Such claims I would view with suspicion and advise caution.

    That said we cannot judge Luisa on the wild claims of some of her devotees, but we must exercise great care when it comes to alleged revelations: if there are heretical and schismatic elements, then it is best to stay clear. The current problem with the woman who calls herself Maria Divine Mercy is a case in point - her "revelations" are stuffed full of theological errors and amount to no more than a call to apostasy from the Church by rejecting Pope Francis.

    The Church is examining Luisa's life and teachings, so we await the decision there. It could be she is totally kosher and some of her followers mixed up, that has happened before. A proper theological examination of her work will reveal the truth.

    As regards Deliverance: it is a ministry in the heart of the Church and so requires care and respect. There is no room for mavericks when it comes to such ministries. They must be carried out in the heart of the Church, guided by the Church.

    1. Thank you Father for your guidance on these issues. God bless

  3. I thought it was called Monothelitism rather than Monothelism?