Bishop of Rome
Statue of Pope St. Anicetus from St. Laurentius, Holzkirchen in Wolnzach, Bavaria, Germany
ChurchCatholic Church
Papacy beganc. 157
Papacy endedc. 20 April 168
PredecessorPius I
Personal details
Bornlate 1st century
DiedApril 168
Rome, Roman Empire
Feast day20 April[1] (West)
17 April[2] (East)
AttributesPapal tiara, palm branch

Pope Anicetus (Greek: Ανίκητος) was the bishop of Rome from c. 157 to his death in April 168.[3] According to the Annuario Pontificio, the start of his papacy may have been 153. Anicetus actively opposed Gnosticism and Marcionism. He welcomed Polycarp of Smyrna to Rome to discuss the Easter controversy.


According to the Liber Pontificalis, Anicetus was a Syrian from the city of Emesa (modern-day Homs).[4]

According to Irenaeus, it was during his pontificate that the aged Polycarp of Smyrna, a disciple of John the Evangelist, visited Rome to discuss the celebration of Easter with Anicetus. Polycarp and his Church of Smyrna celebrated the crucifixion on the fourteenth day of Nisan, which coincides with Pesach (or Passover) regardless of which day of the week upon this date fell, while the Roman Church celebrated Easter on Sunday—the weekday of Jesus's resurrection. The two did not agree on a common date, but Anicetus conceded to Polycarp and the Church of Smyrna the ability to retain the date to which they were accustomed. The controversy was to grow heated in the following centuries.[5]

The Christian historian Hegesippus also visited Rome during Anicetus's pontificate. This visit is often cited as a sign of the early importance of the Roman See.[5]

Anicetus actively opposed the Gnostics and Marcionism.[citation needed] The Liber Pontificalis records that Anicetus decreed that priests are not allowed to have long hair (perhaps because the Gnostics wore long hair).[4]

According to church tradition, Anicetus suffered martyrdom during the reign of Emperor Lucius Verus, but there are no historical grounds for this account.[6] 16, 17 and 20 April are all cited as the date of his death, but 20 April is currently celebrated as his feast day.[1] Before 1970, the date chosen was 17 April.[6] The Liber Pontificalis states he was buried in the cemetery of Callistus.[4]

See also


  1. ^ a b Martyrologium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2001 ISBN 88-209-7210-7)
  2. ^ (in Greek) Άγιος Ανίκητος ο Ιερομάρτυρας πάπας Ρώμης Ορθόδοξος Συναξαριστής
  3. ^ Campbell, Thomas (1907). "Pope St. Anicetus" in The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 1. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  4. ^ a b c Raymond Davis (2000). Book of the Pontiffs (Liber Pontificalis) (Liverpool University Press - Translated Texts for Historians). Liverpool University Press (published January 1, 2001). p. 5. ISBN 9780853235453. OL 8283722M.
  5. ^ a b Irenaeus, cited in Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiastica, 5.24; translated by G.A. Williamson, Eusebius: History of the Church (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1965), pp. 232f
  6. ^ a b Calendarium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 1969), p. 120