Pope Telesphorus

Pope Telesphorus

Telesphorus (feast day: January 5) was Pope from about 126 to about 137. His pontificate began during the reign of Hadrian, during which he witnessed the persecution of Christians, and ended during the reign of Antoninus Pius. The Vatican's "Annuario Pontificio" says that he was Greek by birth, and reigned from 127 or 128 to 137 or 138. The tradition of Christmas midnight masses, the celebration of Easter on Sundays, the keeping of a seven-week Lent before Easter and the singing of the Gloria are usually attributed to his pontificate, but many historians doubt that such attributions are accurate.

The writer Irenaeus says that Telesphorus suffered martyrdom; he is traditionally described as the first pope after St. Peter to have suffered that fate. According to one source, "He is the only 2nd century pope whose martyrdom is reliably attested." In the Roman Martyrology his feast is given under January 5; the Greek Church celebrates it on February 22. The Carmelites venerate Telesphorus as patron saint of the order since he is claimed have lived on Mount Carmel as a hermit.


  • Kelly, J.N.D. Oxford Dictionary of Popes. (1986). Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

Preceded by: Saint Sixtus I

Pope of the Roman Catholic Church 126 to 136

Succeeded by: Saint Hyginus

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