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Damasus

pope, city and law

DAMASUS, the name of two popes. 1. SAner DAMASUS I was of the Hispanic race: b. Rome, about 304; d. 384. From an early age he was employed as an inferior minister in the service of the Roman see. He was elected to the papacy (366) ; but as his election was displeasing to a strong faction in the city they set up a rival Pope, Ursinus. In a riot between the supporters of the two claimants of the papal chair in the Liberian Basilica, represented now by the church of Santa Maria Maggiore, 137 persons, men and women, lost their lives; and Ammianus Marcellinus, the pagan historian, whose testimony is naturally hostile, declares that the ardor of the rivals to seize the episcopal seat surpassed the ordinary measure of human ambition. But ecclesiastical writers of the time make no mention of the 137 persons said to have lost their lives on this occasion, and its authenticity rests on the narrative of Ammianus alone. Prmtextatus, the magistrate, who re stored tranquillity to the city, is said to have remarked to the successful Pope, "Make me bishop of the city of Rome and I will straight way be a Christian?) Damasus was on terms of intimate friendship with Saint Jerome, who was his secretary and counsellor, and it was at his pressing instance that Jerome made a new revision and translation of the sacred Scrip tures. In his pontificate the Emperor Valen

tinian I, 370 A.D., enacted a law designed to cor rect a grave abuse which had arisen in the Church —the custom of priests and monks re ceiving from wealthy penitents, especially women, gifts and legacies for themselves. Va lentinian's law now made such gifts and bequests void; further it forbade ecclesiastics and monks to frequent the houses of widows and virgins under severe penalties. It is said that Pope Damasus himself suggested this law to the em peror, as a means of correcting the abuse at which it was aimed. His feast is observed 11 December. 2. DAMASUS II: b. Bavaria; d. Palestrina, 9 Aug. 1048. At an early age he was ordained a priest. Later he was con secrated bishop and received the appointment to the diocese of Brixen in Tyrol. In 1047 he was elected Pope, but lived only 23 days after being raised to the pontificate.