Pope beheaded as he sat preaching


St Sixtus

Celebrated on August 6th


Pope and martyr , St Sixtus was a Greek philosopher who became a Christian and was made Pope Sixtus II in 257. In that year, the Emperor Valerian issued his first decree condemning Christianity. He ordered that the farms and estates, honours, goods and even lives of those who refused to renounce their faith should be sacrificed.

Pope Sixtus fled to the catacombs along the Appian Way with his followers. The emperor’s soldiers found them and Sixtus was beheaded as he sat preaching. Six deacons were killed with him: Januarius, Vincentius, Magnus, Stephanus, Felicissimus and Agapitus. Lawrence of Rome, his best-known deacon, suffered martyrdom on 10 August, three days after his bishop, as Sixtus had prophesied. Their bodies were carried by mourners to the cemetery of St Callistus.

It is this Sixtus who is referred to by name in the Roman Canon of the Mass. The Tridentine Calendar commemorated Sixtus, Felicissimus, and Agapitus on the feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord, 6 August.

He is one of the most highly esteemed martyrs of the early Roman Church.


Even though St. Pope Sixtus was in hiding at the catacomb, he did not stop his ministry. The chapel of the catacomb of St. Calixtus was too small to fit all of the faithful that came to him so he conducted Mass in the field above the catacomb next to the air shaft which ended in the roof of the catacomb chapel. It was there that all seven were martyred. Januarius, Vincentius, Magnus, Stephanus, Felicissimus and Agapitus were actually martyred by being thrown from ground level down the sixty foot air shaft into the chapel of the catacomb. When the mourners brought Pope St. Calixstus down into the chapel to be burried, they found the six deacons had not died immediately but had crawled to the walls of the chapel. Each deacon was buried around the chapel in the position in which they were found and St. Sixtus was burried at the altar.

The seven companions risked their lives to minister to the people in the mass and they were buried in such a way that they would forever be present for that glorious sacrifice of the Mass.


@CRM_Brother there is not much I can say to your comments except that I find them of the highest quality and it’s a joy to appreciate your concise authoritative comments. Thank you :slight_smile:


Very interesting! Saint Sixtus and fellow martyrs, pray for us! Pray for us to have such faith and fidelity.


Thanks for posting. Even though so many were martyred in a short period of time there, Christianity kept spreading and growing. Martyrdom as the seed of Christians.


The thread title could be misunderstood and rather alarming. Perhaps you should add (in the title) the name of the pope who was beheaded.


Well, did the decapitation stop Sixtus’ sermon?

St. Denis got beheaded in Paris, then picked up his head and continued preaching while walking to the town now known as St. Denis.


The matryrs are a big blessing for the Church.


This topic was automatically closed 14 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.