Pontiff.** The terms Pontifex Maximus, Summus Pontifex, were doubtless originally employed with reference to the Jewish high-priest, whose place the Christian bishops were regarded as holding each in his own diocese (I Clement 40). As regards the title Pontifex Maximus, especially in its application to the pope, there was further a reminiscence of the dignity attached to that title in pagan Rome. Tertullian, as has already been said, uses the phrase of Pope Callistus. Though his words are ironical, they probably indicate that Catholics already applied it to the pope. But here too the terms were once less narrowly restricted in their use. Pontifex summus was used of the bishop of some notable see in relation to those of less importance. Hilary of Arles (d. 449) is so styled by Eucherius of Lyons (P. L., L, 773), and Lanfranc is termed “primas et pontifex summus” by his biographer, Milo Crispin (P. L., CL, 10). Pope Nicholas I is termed “summus pontifex et universalis papa” by his legate Arsenius (Hardouin, “Conc.”, V, 280), and subsequent examples are common. After the eleventh century it appears to be only used of the popes.
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