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|Papacy began||27 June 678|
|Papacy ended||10 January 681|
Unknown, possibly Sicily, Byzantine Empire
10 January 681|
Rome, Byzantine Empire
10 January (Roman Catholic)|
20 February (Orthodox)
|Venerated in||Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox|
|Saint Agatho of Rome|
|Venerated in||Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church|
Pope Saint Agatho was pope from 26 June 678 to 10 January 681.
Background and early life
Little is known of Agatho before his papacy. A letter written by St. Gregory the Great to the abbot of St. Hermes in Palermo mentions an Agatho, a Greek born in Sicily to wealthy parents. He wished to give away his inheritance and join a monastery, and in this letter Gregorgy advises that he may do so as long as his wife was willing to enter a convent. There is a possibility that Pope Agatho is this monk, but this would make him over 100 years old at the time of his election, and as such must be considered unlikely without further evidence to support a connection.
Shortly after Agatho became Pope, St Wilfrid, Archbishop of York, arrived at Rome to invoke the authority of the Holy See on his behalf. Wilfrid had been deposed from his see by Theodore, Archbishop of Canterbury, who had carved up Wilfrid's diocese and appointed three bishops to govern the new sees. At a synod which Pope Agatho convoked in the Lateran to investigate the affair, it was decided that Wilfrid's diocese should indeed be divided, but that Wilfrid himself should name the bishops.
The major event of his pontificate was the Sixth Ecumenical Council (680–1), which suppressed the Monothelite heresy that had been tolerated by previous popes (Honorius among them). The council began when Emperor Constantine IV, wanting to heal the schism that separated the two sides, wrote to Pope Donus suggesting a conference on the matter, but Donus was dead by the time the letter arrived. Agatho was quick to seize the olive branch offered by the Emperor. He ordered councils held throughout the West so that legates could present the universal tradition of the Western Church. Then he sent a large delegation to meet the Easterners at Constantinople.
The legates and patriarchs gathered in the imperial palace on 7 November 680. The Monothelites presented their case. Then a letter of Pope Agatho was read that explained the traditional belief of the Church that Christ was of two wills, divine and human. The council agreed that Peter spoke through Agatho. Patriarch George of Constantinople accepted Agatho's letter, as did most of the bishops present. The council proclaimed the existence of the two wills in Christ and condemned Monothelitism, with Pope Honorius being included in the condemnation. When the council ended in September 681 the decrees were sent to the Pope, but Agatho had died in January. The Council had not only ended the Monothelite heresy, but also had healed the schism.
Agatho also undertook negotiations between the Holy See and Constantine IV concerning the relations of the Byzantine Court to papal elections. Constantine promised Agatho to abolish or reduce the tax that the popes had had to pay to the imperial treasury on their consecration.
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|Catholic Church titles|
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