Pope Damasus I  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

He was born around 305,<ref>The Liturgy of the Hours, Vol. I, December 11.</ref> probably near the city of Idanha-a-Velha (in Lusitania, Hispania), in what is present-day Portugal, or near the city of Castelo Branco (also in Lusitania, now Central Portugal), then part of the Western Roman Empire. His life coincided with the rise of Constantine I and the reunion and redivision of the Western and Eastern Roman Empires, associated with the widespread legitimization of Christianity and the later adoption of Christianity as the religion of the Roman state.

Damasus is known to have been raised in the service of the Basilica of San Lorenzo fuori le Mura in Rome, and following the death of Pope Liberius, he succeeded to the Papacy amidst factional violence. A group of Damasus' supporters, previously loyal to the Antipope Felix II, attacked and killed rivals loyal to Liberius' deacon Ursinus, in a riot that required the intervention of Emperor Valentinian I to quell.

Damasus faced accusations of murder and adultery (despite having not been married<ref>M. Walsh, Butler's Lives of the Saints (HarperCollins Publishers: New York, 1991), 413.</ref>) in his early years as pope. The neutrality of these claims have come into question with some suggesting that the accusations were motivated by the schismatic conflict with the supporters of Arianism. His personal problems were contrasted with his religious accomplishments, which included restoring Saint Lawrence outside the Walls, appointing Jerome as his personal secretary and encouraging his Vulgate translation of the bible, and presiding over the Council of Rome in 382, which set down the canon of scripture. He also did much to encourage the veneration of the martyrs.<ref>M. Walsh, Butler's Lives of the Saints (HarperCollins Publishers: New York, 1991), 414.</ref>




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