Bishop of Rome
Portrait of Dionysius, by the 15th c. artist Sandro Botticelli, in the Sistine Chapel. Dionysius is depicted in anachronistic papal vestments, along with a book, common attributes in art of this pope.
ChurchEarly Christianity
Papacy began22 July 259 CE
Papacy ended26 December 268
PredecessorSixtus II
SuccessorFelix I
Personal details
Died(268-12-26)26 December 268
Rome, Roman Empire
Feast day26 December
Venerated inCatholic Church

Pope Dionysius (Greek: Διονύσιος) was the bishop of Rome from 22 July 259 CE to his death on 26 December 268. His task was to reorganise the Catholic Church, after the persecutions of Emperor Valerian I, and the edict of toleration by his successor Gallienus. He also helped rebuild the churches of Cappadocia, devastated by the marauding Goths.


Dionysius may have been born in Magna Græcia, but this has not been verified. He was elected pope in 259, after the martyrdom of Sixtus II in 258. The Holy See had been vacant for nearly a year because it was difficult to elect a new pope during the violent persecution which Christians faced.[1] When the oppression had begun to subside, Dionysius was raised to the office of Bishop of Rome. Emperor Valerian I, who had led the tyranny, was captured and killed by the King of Persia in 260.[1] The new emperor, Gallienus, issued an edict of toleration, restoring the churches, cemeteries and other properties it had held, ushering in the nearly 40-year "Little Peace of the Church".[2] To the new pope fell the task of reshaping the Catholic Church, which had fallen into great disorder.

Teaching regarding the relation of God to the Logos had arisen from Bishop Dionysius in Alexandria. The pope in Rome called for explanations; a satisfactory response duly arrived back, notwithstanding expostulation about the propriety of all this from some of the Alexandrian Christians.[1]

To rebuild, and to ransom those held captive, Pope Dionysius sent large sums of money to the churches of Cappadocia, devastated by marauding Goths. Following Emperor Gallienus' edict of toleration, he brought order to the church and helped secure a peace that lasted until 303, some 35 years after his death on 26 December 268.[1]

In art, Dionysius is portrayed in papal vestments, along with a book.[1]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e Kirsch, Johann Peter (1909). "Pope St. Dionysius" in The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 5. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  2. ^ Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiastica, 7.13; translated by G.A. Williamson, Eusebius: The History of the Church (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1965), p. 299