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JOHN IV

640 - 642 AD

John, a native of Dalmatia and the son of a lawyer, was chosen to succeed Severinus. John had been archdeacon of Rome and as such had played a prominent part in ruling the see. He was consecrated on Christmas Eve 640.

Pope John IV proved to be a vigorous foe of the Monothelite or One Will heresy. He promptly held a synod at Rome and condemned both the heresy itself and the compromise formula called the Ecthisis. This firm stand produced good results, for Emperor Heraclius now dropped the Ecthisis and returned to Catholic orthodoxy. And when Heraclius died in 641 the Pope encouraged his successors to remain constant in the faith.

John also defended the memory of Pope Honorius and rebuked those who tried to make him a friend of the Monothelites. In a letter to the sons of the Emperor Heraclius, John explained the real meaning of the Honorius letter.

Pope Honorius had succeeded in bringing Southern Ireland--Mogh's half of Ireland as it was called by the ancient Gaels--into line with the current corrected date for celebrating Easter. John IV tried to do the same for the Northern Irish and the frontier Gaels in Scotland--in vain. It took another lifetime to convince the stubborn men of Conn's half of Ireland that there had been an improvement in the reckoning of Easter since 432 when good St. Patrick landed.

Pope John did not forget his native Dalmatia. This land badly needed a little friendly aid, for it was being harried by the still untamed Serbs and Croats. To the distressed country the Pope sent an abbot named Martin with an ample supply of money to see what he could do about redeeming poor Dalmatians who had been carried off by the barbarians.

Through this abbot the Pope also secured the translation of relics of the saints from the troubled churches of Dalmatia to the haven of Rome. To receive these relics the Pope built a church which still stands. Pope John IV died in October 642. He was buried in St. Peter's.


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