St Sixtus

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Pope and martyr. St Sixtus was a Greek philosopher who became a Christian and was made Pope Sixtus II in 257. In that year, the Emperor Valerian issued his first decree condemning Christianity. He ordered that the farms and estates, honours, goods and even lives of those who refused to renounce their faith should be sacrificed.

Pope Sixtus fled to the catacombs along the Appian Way with his followers. The emperor's soldiers found them and Sixtus was beheaded as he sat preaching. Six deacons were killed with him: Januarius, Vincentius, Magnus, Stephanus, Felicissimus and Agapitus. Lawrence of Rome, his best-known deacon, suffered martyrdom on 10 August, three days after his bishop, as Sixtus had prophesied. Their bodies were carried by mourners to the cemetery of St Callistus.

It is this Sixtus who is referred to by name in the Roman Canon of the Mass. The Tridentine Calendar commemorated Sixtus, Felicissimus, and Agapitus on the feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord, 6 August.

He is one of the most highly esteemed martyrs of the early Roman Church.

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