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Dies natalis papae – der „Geburtstag“ des Papstes

The dies natalis papae has received little attention in the previous literature. This is not the actual birthday of the Roman chief pastor, but the anniversary of his consecration as bishop. Explicit evidence of this has been available since the second half of the 4th century (Damasus I), mainly in letters. However, the recording of the exact consecration dates since the 250s suggests that the day was also celebrated earlier. In any case, it is certain that the dies natalis papae was celebrated as a festival of joy and gratitude for the (albeit undeservedly conferred) Petrine office. Numerous bishops from all over Italy are invited to attend, and, if necessary, these gatherings can also be used for synods. While Leo I regularly exploits this opportunity to preach – five „Sermones“ have survived, after all – 150 years later Gregory the Great flatly rejects the celebration as „superfluous vanity“ and instead refers to the „birthday celebration“ of St. Peter himself. The Roman „Liber Diurnus“ has its own forms of epistolary „invitatoria in natale papae“ as well as „excusatoria quando episcopus infirmatur“, and the sacramentaries of this time contain models for the celebration, i. e. „Orationes in natale papae“ or „in natale episcoporum“.



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