Pope St. Sixtus I (in the oldest documents, Xystus is the spelling
used for the first three popes of that name), succeeded St. Alexander and
was followed by St. Tolesphorus. According to the "Liberian Catalogue"
of popes, he ruled the Church during the reign of Adrian "a conulatu
Nigri et Aproniani usque Vero III et Ambibulo", that is, from 117
to 126. Eusebius, who in his "Chronicon" made use of a catalogue
of popes different from the one he used in his "Historia ecclesiastica",
states in his "Chronicon" that Sixtus I was pope from 114 to
124, while in his "History" he makes him rule from 114 to 128.
All authorities agree that he reigned about ten years. He was a Roman by
birth, and his father's name was Pastor. According to the "Liber Pontificalis"
(ed. Duchesne, I, 128), he passed the following three ordinances: (1) that
none but sacred ministers are allowed to touch the sacred vessels; (2)
that bishops who have been summoned to the Holy See shall, upon their return,
not be received by their diocese except on presenting Apostolic letters;
(3) that after the Preface in the Mass the priest shall recite the Sanctus
with the people. The "Felician Catalogue" of popes and the various
martyrologies give him the title of martyr. His feast is celebrated on
6 April. He was buried in the Vatican, beside the tomb of St. Peter. His
relics are said to have been transferred to Alatri in 1132, though O Jozzi
("Il corpo di S. Sisto I., papa e martire rivendicato alla basilica
Vaticana", Rome, 1900) contends that they are still in the Vatican
Basilica. Butler (Lives of the Saints, 6 April) states that Clement X gave
some of his relics to Cardinal de Retz, who placed them in the Abbey of
St. Michael in Lorraine. The Xystus who is commemorated in the Canon of
the Mass is Xystus II, not Xystus I.
Acta SS., April, I, 531-4;
Liber Pontificatis, ed.
I (Paris, 1886), 128; MARINI, Cenni storici popolari sopra S. Sisto
I, papa e martire, e suo culto in Aletri (Foligno, 1884); DE PERSIIS, Del pontificato di S. Sisto I, papa e martire, della translazione delle
sue reliquie da Roma ecc., memorie (Alatri, 1884); BARMBY in Dict.
Christ. Biog., s. v. Sixtus (2) I.