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Pope Alexander I : biography

unknown - 115

Pope Alexander I ( ; died c. 115) was the head of the Catholic Church from c. 107 to his death c. 115. The Holy See's Annuario Pontificio (2012) identifies him as a Roman who reigned from 108 or 109 to 116 or 119. Some believe he suffered martyrdom under the Roman Emperor Trajan or Hadrian, but this is improbable.

According to the Liber Pontificalis, it was Alexander I who inserted the narration of the Last Supper (the Qui pridie) into the Catholic celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. However, in the article on Saint Alexander I in the 1907 Catholic Encyclopedia, Thomas Shahan judges this tradition to be inaccurate. Both Catholic and non-Catholic experts regard this tradition as inaccurate. It is viewed as a product of the agenda of Liber Pontificalis—this section of the book was probably written in the late fifth century—to show an ancient pattern of the earliest bishops of Rome ruling the church by papal decree.

The introduction of the customs of using blessed water mixed with salt for the purification of Christian homes from evil influences, and of mixing water with the sacramental wine are attributed to Pope Alexander I. Some sources consider these attributions unlikely. It is certainly possible, however, that Alexander played an important part in the early development of the Church of Rome's emerging liturgical and administrative traditions.

A later tradition holds that in the reign of Emperor Hadrian, Alexander I converted the Roman governor Hermes by miraculous means, together with his entire household of 1,500 souls. Saint Quirinus of Neuss, who was Alexander's supposed jailer, and Quirinus' daughter Saint Balbina were also among his converts.

Alexander is cited as having seen a vision of the infant Jesus. By Phillip H. Wiebe. Oxford University Press. p. 20. In some editions of the Roman Missal the Saint Alexander commemorated on 3 May is identified with Pope Alexander I. This identification is not found in the Tridentine Missal promulgated by Pope Pius V in 1570. Since nothing is known of the Saints Alexander, Eventius and Theodulus of 3 May other than their names and the facts that they were martyred and were buried at the seventh milestone of the Via Nomentana on that day,Calendarium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 1961), p. 122 the one whose name coincided with that of a pope was identified with the Pope. The identification of the martyr Alexander with the Pope was removed from the Roman Calendar by Pope John XXIII in 1960.

His remains are said to have been transferred to Freising in Bavaria, Germany in AD 834.

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