Saints and Holy People

Find out about their lives and how they changed the world

Saint Victor (d. 199)

Saint Victor (d. 199)

Feast day: July 28

Pope Saint Victor was a native of Africa, and he was the first African pope. While he was pope, he obtained the release of Christians who had been deported to forced labor in the mines of Sardinia. He was also involved in ridding the Church of heretical teachings.

He was the first pope to celebrate the liturgy and write documents in Latin rather than in Greek. Thus began, in a small way, the difficulty between the East and the West on matters of precise theological understanding, based on the translation of theological documents from one language to another.

Victor also decreed that Easter always be celebrated on a Sunday, a practice which at that time was common in the West but not in the East. Not all churches in the East immediately complied with Victor’s degree, but Emperor Constantine agreed that Easter should be on a Sunday, and eventually, this practice was accepted throughout the East.

Victor’s long-term legacy was the precedent-setting legislative authority of the pope. Victor is believed to have suffered martyrdom in 199 AD under Emperor Septimus Severus.

(Image © Giovanni Battista de'Cavalieri, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons)