Christianity Knowledge Base

Damasus I
Bishop of Rome
Pope Damasus I
ChurchCatholic Church
Papacy began1 October 366
Papacy ended11 December 384
Personal details
Bornc. 305
possibly Vimaranes (Guimarães) or
(nowadays Idanha-a-Velha,
Portugal), Western Roman Empire
Died11 December 384 (aged 78 – 79)
Rome, Western Roman Empire
Feast day11 December (Catholicism)
13 November (Orthodoxy)
Venerated in
Attributesas a pope with patriarchal cross
and model of a church
PatronageArchaeologists, against fever
Other popes named Damasus

Damasus I (c. 305 – 11 December 384) was the bishop of Rome from October 366 to his death. He presided over the Council of Rome of 382 that determined the canon or official list of sacred scripture.[1] He spoke out against major heresies in the church (including Apollinarianism and Macedonianism) and encouraged production of the Vulgate Bible with his support for Jerome. He helped reconcile the relations between the Church of Rome and the Church of Antioch, and encouraged the veneration of martyrs.

As well as various prose letters and other pieces Damasus was the author of Latin verse. Alan Cameron describes his epitaph for a young girl called Projecta (of great interest to scholars as the Projecta Casket in the British Museum may have been made for her) as "a tissue of tags and clichés shakily strung together and barely squeezed into the meter".[2] Damasus has been described as "the first society Pope",[3] and was possibly a member of a group of Hispanic Christians, largely related to each other, who were close to the Hispanic Theodosius I.[4]

A number of images of "DAMAS" in gold glass cups probably represent him and seem to be the first contemporary images of a pope to survive, though there is no real attempt at a likeness. "Damas" appears with other figures, including a Florus who may be Projecta's father. It has been suggested that Damasus or another of the group commissioned and distributed these to friends or supporters, as part of a programme "insistently inserting his episcopal presence in the Christian landscape".[5]

He is recognized as a saint by the Catholic Church; his feast day is 11 December.[6] In the Eastern Orthodox Church his feast day is 13 November.[7]

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  1. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church
  2. Cameron, 136-139; 136 and 137 are quoted in turn
  3. Cameron, 136
  4. Cameron, 142-143
  5. "DAMAS" on 4 glasses per Grig, 5 per Lutraan; Grig, 208-215, 216-220, 229-230, 229 quoted (examples illustrated); Lutraan, 31-32 and pages following
  6. Saint Damasus I | Biography, Pope, Legacy, & Facts.
  7. Latin Saints of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Rome.