Pope Alexander I

May 15, 2022

Today’s Saint of the Day is Pope Alexander I, a Rome Bishop in the early second century.

Brief History

Pope Alexander I was born in 75 AD in Rome, Italy. In fact, experts estimate that he was approximately 30 when he was chosen to rule the church.

Alexander I favored water blessings as pope. He started blessing his followers’ houses with a combination of water and salt. The notion was that this concoction, coupled with the pope’s remarks, would bless and protect the structure. He would bless them with sacramental wine mixed with water. Some scholars now say this is a tale and not anything he accomplished.

Alexander I stayed involved in the church later in life. Alexander I met Hadrian and converted him to Catholicism after Hadrian took over the Roman Empire. This would also convert the man’s whole family of 1500. The conversion to Catholicism would aid them in life and after.

Alexander I was an early Catholic martyr. Rome was divided during the period, and some no longer accepted its doctrines. Some of those men caught the pope on the Via Nomentana, an ancient path across Italy. They put him in prison and held him there when they convicted him. During his imprisonment, the pope converted several of his contemporaries, the Martyrs of Ostia. According to folklore, he also converted his jailer.

Pope Alexander I was beheaded. The church is unsure of the exact date but believes it was between 113 and 119. History does not know whether the pope’s corpse was burnt before or after his decapitation.

Fun Facts

  • Alexander I was the first to bring up the Last Supper at Mass, and he did it every week after that.
  • Quirinus and Balbina of Rome were two of Alexander I’s converts to the Roman Catholic Church.
  • Alexander I converted Quirinus of Neuss at some point during his imprisonment.
  • Balbina of Rome, whom Alexander I converted, became a Catholic saint renowned as Balbina the Virgin and Saint Balbina.
  • Alexander I was canonized by both the Orthodox and Catholic churches. Feast days are observed on May 3 and March 16 in honor of his life and legacy.
  • Alexander I was not just the sixth pope of the Catholic Church; he was also the sixth pope to be canonized. He is considered a martyr by the Catholic Church.
  • Athanasius of Alexandria, Alexander I successor and one of the most revered church fathers, owes much of his fame to his mentorship.
  • Alexander I relics were allegedly moved to Freising in Bavaria in AD 834.
  • In 1960, Pope John XXIII removed Alexander’s designation as a martyr from the Roman Calendar, citing a lack of historical grounding.


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