[St. Pachomius Library]

Anastasius the Librarian

IX Century
Anastasius the Librarian had a checkered career. He was known as an excellent Greek scholar, and on the strength of that, Pope Leo IV made him the cardinal priest at St. Marcella's (or St. Marco's) in 847 or 848. He soon left his church for reasons no one has yet discovered, though some say he left solely because of his ambition. In 850, he was excommunicated. In May (or June) of 853, he was anathametized, and in December of the same year, he was deposed. Between the death of Leo IV (July, 855) and the election of Benedict III (September, 855), Anastasius was briefly the anti-pope. Benedict later readmitted him to lay communion, and Anastasius became the papal librarian in 867. He became at that time and remained until his death in 878 a defender of the popes.

Early in 868, Anastasius was a patron of Sts. Cyril and Methodius who came to Rome with their Slavonic translation of the liturgy. Later that year, he was implicated in the criminal acts of a cousin and was again condemned. He was rehabilitated a year later and was sent to Constantinople to arrange a marriage between Ermengard, the daughter of Louis II, and the oldest son of Basil I. He also attended the council which condemned Patriarch St. Photios and translated its acta into Latin for the pope.

He translated the acta of the Council of Nicea and a transcript of the trial of St. Maximus the Confessor. Anastasius did many translations between 872-878 for Pope John VIII; their quality is uneven. Anastasius wrote commentaries on the writings of St. Dionysios the Areopagite and contributed to the Liber Pontificalis. He was involved in John VIII's resolution of the Photian schism, arguing that the Latin filioque clause did not refer to the eternal procession of the Holy Spirit, but only to His economic mission.

Karen Rae Keck

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