Strengthening the Papacy

It was during Damasus' papacy in 380 C.E. that an edict of Gratian and Theodosius upheld orthodox Christianity over the Arian heresy. Damasus was named as a model of the orthodox faith in Theodosius' edict. The edict, preserved in the Codex Theodosianus (16.1.2), required that everyone observe the religion handed down to the Romans by the apostle Peter. This orthodox apostolic religion, Theodosius claimed, was evident still in the practices of Pope Damasus.

Theodosius' imperial sanction may have emboldened Damasus to advance several initiatives to strengthen his papacy. First, he consistently referred to Rome as the "Apostolic See," and made the point that it was the only see where two apostles, Peter and Paul, had ministered and were martyred, and where one of those martyrs, Peter, had been named by Jesus as his successor. As we saw earlier in this chapter, Damasus had already successfully adapted pagan festivals to a Christian calendar of celebrations. In turn, this new calendar of Christian holy days resulted in a spiritually important and economically advantageous enterprise—the pilgrimage to Rome. Damasus also restored several catacombs and constructed basilicas and shrines. He decorated the shrines with his own poetic verses, Epigra-mata, "Epigrams," which were engraved by the same Filocalus who wrote the Codex-Calendar of 354 C.E. Among all these initiatives, one of the most important was Damasus' charge to Jerome to produce a standardized, accessible Latin version of the Bible.

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