Wondering who St. Celestine was? Here’s some information about him from FlockNotes.com (flocknotes/pope).
Pope St. Celestine I
Pope from 422-432 AD
Died 432 AD
Prior to being elected on September 10, 422, St. Celestine I lived in Milan and worked for St. Ambrose. He’s also mentioned by Innocent I (Pope #40) as “Celestine the Deacon.” St. Augustine was very fond of Celestine, having written him a letter after his election exhorting the pope’s help to handle an issue with a fellow African bishop. The feeling was mutual, which we know from a letter Celestine wrote to the bishops in Gaul (western Europe) after Augustine’s death in 430.
In it he detailed, as the Catholic Encyclopedia read, “the sanctity, learning and zeal of the holy doctor and (Celestine) forbade all attacks upon his memory” from those who had an axe to grind with Augustine. Celestine I ruled for nine years, ten months, and sixteen days, and died on July 26, 432.
Pope St. Celestine is known for having been the first to deal with a new heresy, known to us as Nestorianism. Nestorius was the bishop of Constantinople when he began preaching the heretical idea that Christ was in fact two distinct persons, not a single person with both a divine and human nature.
As icing on the cake, Nestorius also didn’t like the descriptor Theotokos, or “God bearer” that was often given to the Virgin Mary.
Saying (probably), “You did not just insult my Mom,” St. Cyril of Alexandria wrote to Celestine I, asking for his blessing to excommunicate Nestorius and condemn his teaching. Celestine gave Cyril the green light, which led to Nestorianism being condemned at the Council of Ephesus in 431.
Fun fact. In a sense, we can thank Celestine I for St. Patrick’s Day. Just before his death, it was Celestine who commissioned Patrick, the great patron of Ireland, to begin evangelizing there; and in his last official act as Pope, no less.
History tells us very little of St. Celestine’s private life. He was born in Campania and had been for some time a conspicuous figure as deacon in Rome before he was unanimously elected Pope in September A.D. 422.
During the ten years of his pontificate, he showed considerable energy in counteracting the heretical movement of the Pelagians and Nestorians. Through his Legates, he presided over the great council of Ephesus (A.D. 431). He left a permanent impression on the ritual of the Church in liturgical matters.
We may trace to him the gems of the recognition of the Divine Office as an obligation incumbent upon the clergy. He is credited with the building of the Basilica of Santa Sabina in Rome and he is recognized as the Holy Father who sent St. Patrick to Ireland. The Roman Martyrology records his death as July 27, 432 A.D. He was buried in the catacomb of St. Priscilla. His relics since have been removed to the church of St. Praxedes.
His feast day is July 27th.
Pope Celestine I – Wikipedia Source
Reference – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Celestine_I
Pope Celestine I (Latin: Caelestinus I; d. 1 August 432) was Pope from 10 September 422 to his death in 432. According to the Liber Pontificalis, the start of his papacy was 3 November. However, Tillemont places the date at 10 September.
Celestine’s tenure was largely spent combatting various ideologies deemed heretical. He supported the mission of the Gallic bishops that sent Germanus of Auxerre in 429, to Britain to address Pelagianism, and later commissioned Palladius as bishop to the Scots of Ireland and northern Britain. In 430, he held a synod in Rome which condemned the apparent views of Nestorius. He also opposed the Novationists who refused absolution to the lapsi, arguing that reconciliation should never be refused to any dying sinner who sincerely asked it.
Celestine I was a Roman from the region of Campania. Nothing is known of his early history except that his father’s name was Priscus. According to John Gilmary Shea, Celestine was a relative of the emperor Valentinian. He is said to have lived for a time at Milan with St. Ambrose. The first known record of him is in a document of Pope Innocent I from the year 416, where he is spoken of as “Celestine the Deacon”.
Various portions of the liturgy are attributed to him, but without any certainty on the subject. In 430, he held a synod in Rome, at which the teachings of Nestorius were condemned. The following year, he sent delegates to the First Council of Ephesus, which addressed the same issue. Four letters written by him on that occasion, all dated 15 March 431, together with a few others, to the African bishops, to those of Illyria, of Thessalonica, and of Narbonne, are extant in re-translations from the Greek; the Latin originals having been lost.
St. Celestine actively condemned the Pelagians and was zealous for Roman orthodoxy. To this end he was involved in the initiative of the Gallic bishops to send Germanus of Auxerre and Lupus of Troyes travelling to Britain in 429 to confront bishops reportedly holding Pelagian views.
He sent Palladius to Ireland to serve as a bishop in 431. Bishop Patricius (Saint Patrick) continued this missionary work. Pope Celestine strongly opposed the Novatians in Rome; as Socrates Scholasticus writes, “this Celestinus took away the churches from the Novatians at Rome also, and obliged Rusticula their bishop to hold his meetings secretly in private houses.” He was zealous in refusing to tolerate the smallest innovation on the constitutions of his predecessors. As St. Vincent of Lerins reported in 434:
Holy Pope Celestine also expresses himself in like manner and to the same effect. For in the Epistle which he wrote to the priests of Gaul, charging them with connivance with error, in that by their silence they failed in their duty to the ancient faith, and allowed profane novelties to spring up, he says: “We are deservedly to blame if we encourage error by silence. Therefore rebuke these people. Restrain their liberty of preaching.”
In a letter to certain bishops of Gaul, dated 428, St. Celestine rebukes the adoption of special clerical garb by the clergy. He wrote: “We [the bishops and clergy] should be distinguished from the common people [plebe] by our learning, not by our clothes; by our conduct, not by our dress; by cleanness of mind, not by the care we spend upon our person.”
St. Celestine died on 26 July 432. He was buried in the cemetery of St. Priscilla in the Via Salaria, but his body, subsequently moved, now lies in the Basilica di Santa Prassede.
In art, Saint Celestine is portrayed as a Pope with a dove, dragon, and flame, and is recognized by the Church as a saint.
The tradition in Ireland is that St. Celestine was the pope who sent St. Patrick to Ireland. He condemned the Nestorian heresy. And he is credited as the pope who introduced the responsorial psalm into the Mass in Rome. Patrick Duffy tells his story.
Influenced by St. Ambrose at Milan and acquainted with St. Augustine
A Campanian, Celestine is said to have lived for a while with St. Ambrose at Milan. He was certainly a deacon at Rome in the time of Pope Innocent I (401-417). In contrast to the stormy election of of his predecessor Pope Boniface (418-422), Celestine’s election seems to have been quiet and harmonious.
Against Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism
Once he became pope, St. Celestine continued the fight against the Pelagian heresy, which was now waning. He had the satisfaction of seeing it die away in Britain, where its founder came from. When the heresy in the diluted form known as Semi-Pelagianism raised its head in Gaul, Celestine wrote against this new danger. A great friend of St. Augustine, he wrote a letter to the bishops of Gaul on the occasion of the mighty father’s death (430), praising him and forbidding all attacks on his memory.
But the new heresy of Nestorianism raised its head in the East. Nestorius was a priest from Antioch who when he became patriarch of Constantinople began to teach that in Christ there are not only two natures, which is correct, but that there are also two persons, which is incorrect. A logical consequence was that Mary was not the Mother of God (theo-tokos) but only of the human person of Christ (christo-tokos). This aroused horror even in Constantinople itself, while St. Cyril, the patriarch of Alexandria, attacked the new doctrine most vigorously. Both Nestorius and Cyril were soon clamouring to the Pope for a decision. Celestine held a synod at Rome in 430 and condemned Nestorianism. Nestorius was to be deposed and excommunicated if he persisted in teaching false doctrine. Nestorius refused to submit, all the more because Cyril, who had been made the Pope’s agent in the matter, demanded more than Celestine had asked. A general council was called to meet at Ephesus in 431. The council condemned Nestorianism, to the great joy of the people.
St. Patrick to Ireland?
Traditionally it was said that Pope Celestine a short time before his death personally commissioned St. Patrick to preach the gospel to the Irish. Perhaps it was Celestine who sent Palladius and it may be that Patrick came later. At any rate, St. Prosper of Aquitaine says in his Chronicle that Celestine saved the Roman island for the faith (De Paor, St. Patrick’s World, 154).
Churches in Rome
Celestine restored, which had been destroyed by the Goths. He also caused some interesting pictures of the saints to be painted in the Church of St. Sylvester.
Introduced the responsorial psalm into the Liturgy of the Word at Rome
The church music historian Peter Jeffrey has pointed to the tradition in the Liber Pontificalis that it was Pope Celestine who introduced the responsorial psalm into the papal Mass at Rome, having experienced that practice as a young man at Milan when he was there while Ambrose was bishop. Perhaps it was also from Milan that Augustine could also have brought the same practice to Hippo in Africa.
St. Celestine I died on 26 July 432. He was buried in the cemetery of St. Priscilla in the Via Salaria, but his body, subsequently moved, now lies in the Basilica di Santa Prassede. In art, Saint Celestine is portrayed as a Pope with a dove, dragon, and flame, and is recognized by the Church as a saint.