Feast Day : November 21
Gelasius, the son of an African named Valerius, was born in Rome. He served as secretary to Pope St. Simplicius (r. 468–483) and Pope St. Felix III (r. 483– 492), holding the position of archdeacon under the latter. He was elected Felix’s successor in the Chair of St. Peter on March 1, 492. During his pontificate, Gelasius made little attempt to breach the schism between the Western and Eastern Churches that had arisen at the end of Simplicius’s reign. His more modest aim was to assert papal authority over the Church of Constantinople, which had emerged as a see second only to Rome and as leader of the Eastern Church. Although he meet with little success in this regard, he did exercise a deep influence on the development of Catholic ecclesiastical discipline and liturgy. A considerable number of his decrees were incorporated into canon law. He also composed many hymns, prefaces and collects, and arranged a standard missal, although the Sacramentarium Gelasianum actually belongs to the next century and it is not known how much of Gelasius’s work it contains. In his private life, Gelasius was much devoted to prayer, penance and study. He delighted in the com- Gelasius I 127 pany of monks and gave freely to the poor, dying penniless as a result of his lavish charity. Gelasius died in Rome on November 19, 496, and was buried in St. Peter’s on November 21.