Pope Saint Sixtus I (also spelt Xystus), son of Pastor, was a Roman like his predecessor, Alexander I. He ascended to the Holy See in 117 at a time when the title Bishop of Rome was a death sentence. He managed to survive ten years before being martyred in 127 and in that time his thought to have passed three ordinances. Sixtus’ saint day is 3 April.

One of his ordinances banned anyone but priests from touching the sacred vessels. The second stated that Bishops who had been summoned to the Holy See could not return to their diocese without an Apostolic letter of greeting. The final ordinance is supposed to have decreed that following the Preface in the Mass the Priest should recite the Sanctus along with the congregation. However Karen I Rabenstein states,

“Unfortunately, this cannot be true because the Sanctus was not added to the liturgy until a much later date: it was not included in the Mass of Hippolytus. Therefore, it is unclear how accurate the balance of the entry is.”1
As a counter to this Duchesne concludes in his edition of the Liber Pontificalis that since it is found in all early liturgies it probably dates back to Sixtus I or even earlier.

Nothing is known about Sixtus’ martyrdom but few refute it as he lived during Hadrian’s persecution so it is likely that he would have been put to death. His relics are thought to be buried in the Vatican along side St Peter but account vary as to their current location. Tradition states that they were transferred to Alatri in 1132 but O Jozzi claims they are still in the Vatican and Butler, in his Lives of Saints, says that Pope Clement X gave some Sixtus’ relics to Cardinal de Retz in the seventeenth century who in turn placed them in the Abbey St Michael in Lorraine. The final position is the one that Duchesne adopts in his version of the Liber Pontificalis.

Alexander I - Pope - Telesphorus

1 - http://users.erols.com/saintpat/ss/0403.htm

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