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Anastasius Bibliothecarius

Anastasius Bibliothecarius

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Anastasius Bibliothecarius (c. 810 – c. 878) was Head of archive
Archive
An archive is a collection of historical records, or the physical place they are located. Archives contain primary source documents that have accumulated over the course of an individual or organization's lifetime, and are kept to show the function of an organization...

s (bibliothecarius, literally "librarian
Librarian
A librarian is an information professional trained in library and information science, which is the organization and management of information services or materials for those with information needs...

") and antipope
Antipope
An antipope is a person who opposes a legitimately elected or sitting Pope and makes a significantly accepted competing claim to be the Pope, the Bishop of Rome and leader of the Roman Catholic Church. At times between the 3rd and mid-15th century, antipopes were typically those supported by a...

 of the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

.

Family and education


He was a nephew of Bishop Arsenius of Orte, who executed important commissions as Papal legate
Papal legate
A papal legate – from the Latin, authentic Roman title Legatus – is a personal representative of the pope to foreign nations, or to some part of the Catholic Church. He is empowered on matters of Catholic Faith and for the settlement of ecclesiastical matters....

.

Anastasius learned the Greek language
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 from Eastern Roman monk
Monk
A monk is a person who practices religious asceticism, living either alone or with any number of monks, while always maintaining some degree of physical separation from those not sharing the same purpose...

s and obtained an unusual education for his era, such that he appears to be the most learned ecclesiastic of Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 in the barbaric period of the 9th century.

Abbot of Santa Maria and secretary of Nicholas I


During the pontificate of pope Nicholas I
Pope Nicholas I
Pope Nicholas I, , or Saint Nicholas the Great, reigned from April 24, 858 until his death. He is remembered as a consolidator of papal authority and power, exerting decisive influence upon the historical development of the papacy and its position among the Christian nations of Western Europe.He...

 (858–867) Anastasius was abbot
Abbot
The word abbot, meaning father, is a title given to the head of a monastery in various traditions, including Christianity. The office may also be given as an honorary title to a clergyman who is not actually the head of a monastery...

 of Santa Maria in Trastevere on the farther side of the Tiber
Tiber
The Tiber is the third-longest river in Italy, rising in the Apennine Mountains in Emilia-Romagna and flowing through Umbria and Lazio to the Tyrrhenian Sea. It drains a basin estimated at...

. Among other matters, he was employed by the pope as secretary and he has been shown by Ernst Perels to be the 'ghost-writer' behind much papal official correspondence of these years. He was also active as an author, and translated Greek language works into Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

. Among them was the biography
Biography
A biography is a detailed description or account of someone's life. More than a list of basic facts , biography also portrays the subject's experience of those events...

 of St. John the Merciful, which he dedicated to Nicholas I.

Head of the Lateran archives


The successor of Nicholas, Pope Adrian II
Pope Adrian II
Pope Adrian II , , pope from December 14, 867 to December 14, 872, was a member of a noble Roman family, and became pope in 867, at an advanced age....

 (867–872), appointed Anastasius bibliothecarius (Head of archives) of the Roman Church, an important office at the Lateran Palace
Lateran
Lateran and Laterano are the shared names of several architectural projects throughout Rome. The properties were once owned by the Lateranus family of the former Roman Empire...

 that gave him further influence at the papal Court.

Envoy to Constantinople


In 869 he was sent by Louis II, Holy Roman Emperor
Louis II, Holy Roman Emperor
Louis II the Younger was the King of Italy and Roman Emperor from 844, co-ruling with his father Lothair I until 855, after which he ruled alone. Louis's usual title was imperator augustus , but he used imperator Romanorum after his conquest of Bari in 871, which led to poor relations with Byzantium...

 as envoy to Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

, with two men of high rank in the Frankish
Franks
The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes first attested in the third century AD as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a...

 Empire, to negotiate a marriage between Leo VI the Wise
Leo VI the Wise
Leo VI, surnamed the Wise or the Philosopher , was Byzantine emperor from 886 to 912. The second ruler of the Macedonian dynasty , he was very well-read, leading to his surname...

, oldest son of the Byzantine emperor Basil I
Basil I
Basil I, called the Macedonian was a Byzantine emperor of probable Armenian descent who reigned from 867 to 886. Born a simple peasant in the Byzantine theme of Macedonia, he rose in the imperial court, and usurped the imperial throne from Emperor Michael III...

, and Louis's only child, Ermengard
Ermengard of Provence
Ermengard was the only surviving daughter of Louis II, Holy Roman Emperor. In 876, she married Boso, from the Bosonid, Count of Vienne, who declared himself King of Provence in 879....

.

When the envoys arrived at Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

, the Fourth Council of Constantinople
Fourth Council of Constantinople
The Fourth Council of Constantinople of 879-880 is believed to have been the Eighth Ecumenical Council by some Eastern Orthodox. Photius had been appointed Patriarch of Constantinople but deposed by a Council of Constantinople called in 869 by Emperor Basil I the Macedonian and Pope Adrian II...

 was still in session, and Anastasius, who attended the last session (February, 870), zealously defended the papal cause and was of much service to the papal legates.

On their way home the papal legates were robbed, and the "Acts" of the council were carried off. However, they had given most of the declarations of obedience of the Greek bishops to Anastasius, who also had a copy of the "Acts", and was thus able to bring these documents to the pope. At the pope's order, he translated the "Acts" into Latin. The Greek originals are lost.

Continued influence


The successor of Adrian II, Pope John VIII
Pope John VIII
Pope John VIII was pope from December 13, 872 to December 16, 882. He is often considered one of the ablest pontiffs of the ninth century and the last bright spot on the papacy until Leo IX two centuries later....

 (872–882), also esteemed Anastasius, confirmed him in the office of librarian, entrusted important affairs to him, and encouraged him to further literary work.

Anastasius was in correspondence with the deposed Byzantine patriarch, Photius, and sought to mediate between the patriarch and the pope and also to assuage the controversy over the Holy Ghost by assuming that the Latins understood the procession (processio) of the Holy Ghost from the Son in the sense of transmission (missio).

Presumed identification with antipope Anastasius


If a passage in the annals of Hincmar of Reims is genuine and Hincmar has not confused two men, then the bibliothecarius Anastasius is identical with the Roman presbyter Anastasius who in 874 became titular priest of St. Marcellus. This Anastasius had fled from Rome in 848, to reside in various cities. As a result of his flight he was excommunicated by a Roman synod
Synod
A synod historically is a council of a church, usually convened to decide an issue of doctrine, administration or application. In modern usage, the word often refers to the governing body of a particular church, whether its members are meeting or not...

 in 850, and, as he did not return, was anathematized and deposed by another synod in 853.

After the death of Pope Leo IV
Pope Leo IV
Pope Saint Leo IV was pope from 10 April 847 to 17 July 855.A Roman by birth, he was unanimously chosen to succeed Sergius II. When he was elected, on 10 April 847, he was cardinal of Santi Quattro Coronati, and had been subdeacon of Gregory IV and archpriest under his predecessor...

 in 855 this Anastasius was elected as Antipope
Antipope
An antipope is a person who opposes a legitimately elected or sitting Pope and makes a significantly accepted competing claim to be the Pope, the Bishop of Rome and leader of the Roman Catholic Church. At times between the 3rd and mid-15th century, antipopes were typically those supported by a...

 by the imperial party, but the rightfully elected Pope Benedict III
Pope Benedict III
Pope Benedict III was Pope from September 29, 855 to April 17, 858.Little is known of Benedict's life before his papacy. He was educated and lived in Rome and was cardinal priest of S. Callisto at the time of his election. Benedict had a reputation for learning and piety. He was elected upon the...

, gained the supremacy, and acted kindly towards the usurper.

During the pontificate of Adrian II, Anastasius became involved in serious difficulties when, in 868, his brother Eleutherius forcibly carried off the daughter of the Pope and soon afterwards killed her and her mother. Eleutherius was executed and Anastasius, who was regarded as the instigator of the murder, was punished by excommunication and deposition. He lived at the imperial Court and sought by the intervention of the emperor to exculpate himself before the Pope. Joseph Hergenröther
Joseph Hergenröther
Joseph Hergenröther was a German Church historian and canonist, and the first Cardinal-Prefect of the Vatican Archives.-Biography:...

 maintains, with good reason, that the bibliothecarius and the presbyter Anastasius (the antipope) were one and the same person, and weaves all the statements concerning the latter into the biography of Anastasius, while Joseph Langen
Joseph Langen
Joseph Langen was a German theologian and priest, who was instrumental for the German Old Catholic movement.He was born at Cologne, studied at Bonn, and was ordained priest for the Roman Catholic Church in 1859...

 considers them different persons. In August, 879, Zacharias of Anagni appears as Head of archives of the Roman Church, so Anastasius must have died shortly before this date.

Translator and author


Anastasius translated from Greek into Latin the "Acts" of both the Second Council of Nicaea
Second Council of Nicaea
The Second Council of Nicaea is regarded as the Seventh Ecumenical Council by Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Eastern Catholic Churches and various other Western Christian groups...

 and the Fourth Council of Constantinople
Fourth Council of Constantinople
The Fourth Council of Constantinople of 879-880 is believed to have been the Eighth Ecumenical Council by some Eastern Orthodox. Photius had been appointed Patriarch of Constantinople but deposed by a Council of Constantinople called in 869 by Emperor Basil I the Macedonian and Pope Adrian II...

, as well as several legends of saints, along with other writings. The attribution to Anastasius of the ancient Latin translation of the Acts of the Third Council of Constantinople
Third Council of Constantinople
The Third Council of Constantinople, counted as the Sixth Ecumenical Council by the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches and other Christian groups, met in 680/681 and condemned monoenergism and monothelitism as heretical and defined Jesus Christ as having two energies and two wills...

 has been proved to be wrong on manuscript evidence by Rudolph Riedinger.

He also compiled a historical work, "Chronographia tripartita", from the Greek writings of Theophanes
Theophanes
-Saints:*Theodorus and Theophanes , called the Grapti, proponents of the veneration of images during the second Iconoclastic controversy*Theophanes the Confessor Byzantine 8th-9th century historian*Theophan the Recluse Russian saint...

, Nicephorus, and George Syncellus
George Syncellus
George Syncellus was a Byzantine chronicler and ecclesiastic. He had lived many years in Palestine as a monk, before coming to Constantinople, where he was appointed syncellus to Tarasius, patriarch of Constantinople...

, and made a collection of documents concerning the affairs of Pope Honorius I
Pope Honorius I
Pope Honorius I was pope from 625 to 638.Honorius, according to the Liber Pontificalis, came from Campania and was the son of the consul Petronius. He became pope on October 27, 625, two days after the death of his predecessor, Boniface V...

. Several important letters written by him have been preserved. The Liber Pontificalis
Liber Pontificalis
The Liber Pontificalis is a book of biographies of popes from Saint Peter until the 15th century. The original publication of the Liber Pontificalis stopped with Pope Adrian II or Pope Stephen V , but it was later supplemented in a different style until Pope Eugene IV and then Pope Pius II...

, which was formerly ascribed to him, was not written by him; he seems to have shared in the revision of the Life of Nicholas I.

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