February 22, 2017

Holy Hieromartyr Telesphorus, Pope of Rome (+ 138)

St. Telesphorus the Martyr (Feast Day - February 22)


The beheading of Telesphorus brought fruits,
  Bearing a noble end as a seed.

Our Holy Father Telesphorus was a Greek from Terranova da Sibari in the Calabria region of southern Italy, whose name in Greek signifies to "bring fruit to perfection." According to both Irenaeus of Lyon and Eusebius of Caesarea, he was the seventh Pope of Rome. Eusebius places the beginning of his pontificate in the twelfth year of the reign of Emperor Hadrian (128–129) and gives the date of his death as being in the first year of the reign of Antoninus Pius (138–139).

A fragment of a letter from Irenaeus to Pope Victor I (189-199) during the Easter controversy in the late second century, also preserved by Eusebius, testifies that Telesphorus was one of the Roman bishops who always celebrated Easter on Sunday, rather than on other days of the week that landed on the fourteenth of Nisan according to the calculation of the Jewish Passover. Unlike Pope Victor, however, Telesphorus remained in communion with those communities in Asia Minor led by Bishop Polycrates of Ephesus that did not follow this custom.

Saint Irenaeus testifies that Pope Telesphorus was the first Bishop of Rome to have "a glorious martyrdom." In the Roman Martyrology, his feast is celebrated on 5 January; the Orthodox Church celebrates it on 22 February.