A HISTORY OF AFRICAN POPES IN ROME By Andre Austin From the beginning of St. Peter who was commission by Christ to uphold the rock foundation of the church there have been at least three African Popes out of a total of 265 Popes to date. The fourteenth Pope St. Victor I from 189-199Ad; the thirty second was St. Melchiades from 311-314AD and last but not least was the forty ninth Pope St. Gelasius I from 492-496AD. All three Popes made contributions to the Catholic church and Christianity during their tenors and some of their leadership efforts have had long lasting effects even to this day. Pope Victor I is credited with bringing about the universal practice among Christians to have Easter on Sunday. Some Christians celebrated Easter at various times and dates. Pope Victor I showed skillful diplomatic acumen by holding synods, council meetings with persuasive letters and speeches convinced Christians of his day to celebrate Easter only on Sunday-a day of resurrection instead of on the 14th day of the Moon. All of the Christians who were under his jurisdiction who didn’t comply with the new order faced the dreaded possibility of excommunication. So when you think of Easter Sunday think of Pope Victor I. Pope Miltiades reign for only three years but he made good productive use of his position with the Roman government. The persecution of the Roman empire eased up and Catholics were allowed to come up from the underground of the dark catacombs to freely worship in peace. The king of Rome at the time gave back all church property which was seized during the hostilities. Pope Miltiades was able to heal a short schism of a dispute that seeded in Carthage. On the advice of Emperor Constantine, Miltiades traveled to Africa to successfully squashed the dispute in its infancy of the Donatists sect who leaned in favor of the Arian heretics. Saint Augustine, who wrote the famous book The City of God, called Militates “A true son of peace”. A reading of Miltiades biography would be good inspiration for those yearning to negotiate peace with adversaries. Pope Gelasius I was a poet who composed hymns and arranged a standard Mass-book. He was a conscious humanitarian and helped Rome out when it was suffering from famine. He did what he could to protect the weak and poor and purged all pretenders of the faith from the ranks. A group of heretics known as the Manichaean, an offshoot of Zoroasterism, were hiding in the church. The Manichaens despised wine so Gelasius used wine in Communion to smoke out and distinguish true Catholics from false Catholics. Gelasius also prevented, forbade and sanction any Catholic who participated in popular pagan-rites and festivals in Rome. Gelasius was just and wise like Solomon in picking out the real from the counterfeit and is a true guide for other Popes to follow his example. Will the institution of the Catholic Church ever again blow up a puff of white smoke, (A symbol of electing a new Pope) for another Black Pope to take its gold and silver keys and hold up their rock foundation together?