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Pope Fabian

Saint Fabian (died 250), pope and martyr, was chosen pope, or bishop of Rome, in January 236 in succession to Pope Anterus. Eusebius (Hist. Eccl. Vi. 29) relates how the Christians, having assembled in Rome to elect a new bishop, saw a dove alight upon the head of Fabian, a stranger to the city, who was thus marked out for this dignity, and was at once proclaimed bishop, although there were several famous men among the candidates for the vacant position. Fabian was martyred during the persecution under the emperor Trajan Decius, his death taking place on the January 20 250, and was buried in the catacomb of Callixtus, where a memorial has been found.

He is said to have baptized the emperor Philip and his son, to have done some building in the catacombs, to have improved the organization of the church in Rome, to have appointed officials to register the deeds of the martyrs, and to have founded several churches in France. His deeds are thus described in the Liber Pontificalis: Hic regiones dividit diaconibus et fecit vii subdiacones, qui vii notariis imminerent, Ut gestas martyrum integro fideliter colligerent, et multas fabricas per cymiteria fieri praecepit. (= He divided these regions into deaconships and made seven sub-deaconships which seven secretaries oversaw, so that they brought together the deeds of the martyrs faithfully made whole, and he brought forth many works in the cemeteries.)

Although there is very little authentic information about Fabian, there is evidence that his episcopate was one of great importance in the history of the early church. He was highly esteemed by Cyprian, bishop of Carthage; Novatian refers to his nobilissimac memoriae, and he corresponded with Origen. One authority refers to him as Flavian.

Preceded by:
Pope Anterus
List of popes Succeeded by:
Pope Cornelius

from a 1911 encyclopedia