Pope Victor I left his mark on the Christian faith that still endures now. Given the lack of records during his lifetime, there’s very little information about him before dedicating his life to God. Victor I was reportedly born in Roman Empire-controlled African territory during the early second century to a commoner named Felix. At some point in his life, he decided to join the Catholic Church as a brother.
Within a few years after joining the Church, Saint Victor began rising up the ranks as a changemaker and philanthropist. He ascended to the 14th pope in 189 AD and the first African. Victor credited with saving the lives of many Christians from religious persecution. He reportedly worked with Emperor Commodous’s alleged mistress Marcia to help imprisoned Christians at the Saradina mines get pardoned. During his time as the pope, Christians were allowed to practice their faith and serve in higher office freely.
Victor continued making changes within the Church as he wrote and spoke in Latin, becoming the first non-Greek-speaking pope in the leadership’s history. In doing so, he became the first pope to conduct liturgy and write documents in the Romantic language.
His most notable contribution came through his hardened unification of Easter Sunday. During his reign, Catholics in the East celebrated Passover over Easter compared to their western counterparts. Victor made a decree that Christians would celebrate the resurrection on a specific day. Some factions ignored his orders despite the threat of excommunication from the Church. Some bishops within the Church came out against him, leading to the Quartodeciman controversy.
Pope Victor I reportedly continued the position until 199 AD when he passed away. He immediately ascended to martyrdom upon his death as Saint Victor.
Saint Victor I may have ruled with an iron fist, but he made his mark during his ten short years as the pope. His contributions as a religious and community leader changed how Christians celebrated Jesus’ resurrection.