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May 18

The month of Mary: A Marian Month

Saint of the day:
Saint John I, Pope

Saint John I, Pope


St. John I, Pope and Martyr (Feast day - May 18)
53rd pope

A native of Tuscany in Italy, John was elected Pope while he was still an archdeacon upon the death of Pope Hormisdas in 523. 

On May 18, the Catholic Church honors the first “Pope John” in its history. St. John I was a martyr for the faith, imprisoned and starved to death by a heretical Germanic king during the sixth century.

He was a friend of the renowned Christian philosopher Boethius, who died in a similar manner.

Eastern Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians also honor Pope St. John I, on the same date as the Roman Catholic Church.

The future Pope John I was born in Tuscany, and served as an archdeacon in the Church for several years. He was chosen to become the bishop of Rome in 523, succeeding Pope St. Hormisdas.

During his papal reign, Italy was ruled by the Ostrogothic King Theodoric. Like many of his fellow tribesmen, the king adhered to the Arian heresy, holding that Christ was a created being rather than the Second Person of the Holy Trinity.

Arianism had originated in the eastern half of the Roman Empire during the fourth century, and subsequently spread among the western Goths. By the sixth century the heresy was weak in the east, but not dead.

In 523, the Byzantine Emperor Justin I ordered Arian clergy to surrender their churches into orthodox Catholic hands. In the west, meanwhile, Theodoric was angered by the emperor’s move, and responded by trying to use the pope’s authority for his own ends.

Pope John was thus placed in an extremely awkward position. Despite the pope’s own solid orthodoxy, the Arian king seems to have expected him to intercede with the eastern emperor on behalf of the heretics. John’s refusal to satisfy King Theodoric would eventually lead to his martyrdom.

John did travel to Constantinople, where he was honored as St. Peter’s successor by the people, the Byzantine Emperor, and the Church’s legitimate eastern patriarchs. (The Church of Alexandria had already separated by this point.) The pope crowned the emperor, and celebrated the Easter liturgy at the Hagia Sophia Church in April of 526.

But while John could urge Justin to treat the Arians somewhat more mercifully, he could not make the kind of demands on their behalf that Theodoric expected.

The gothic king, who had recently killed John’s intellectually accomplished friend Boethius (honored by the Church as St. Severinus Boethius, on Oct. 23), was furious with the pope when he learned of his refusal to support the Arians in Constantinople.

Already exhausted by his travels, the pope was imprisoned in Ravenna and deprived of food. The death of St. John I came on or around May 18, which became his feast day in the Byzantine Catholic tradition and in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

In the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, he is celebrated on May 27, the date on which his exhumed body was returned to Rome for veneration in St. Peter’s Basilica.



O God,

who reward faithful souls and who have consecrated this day by the martyrdom of Pope Saint John the First,

graciously hear the prayers of your people and grant that we, who venerate his merits, may imitate his constancy in the faith. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.




St Peter’s Basilica

Rome, Italy

*St John I reigned as pope for less than three years. During his brief papacy he ardently supported orthodoxy despite

intense pressures exerted by the Arian ruler of Italy, King Theodoric. Eventually the king had him arrested. Due to the poor

treatment that he received while imprisoned he passed away in 526 AD. His body now rests in the crypt of this basilica.


Strawberry CupCakes

It is strawberry season in Italy so we are making Strawberry CupCakes!

Cup cakes

  • 6 tablespoons soft unsalted butter

  • 2/3 cup sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla extract

  • 1/8 teaspoon strawberry flavor, optional; for enhanced flavor

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 3/4 cups Unbleached Cake Flour Blend

  • 1/2 cup milk, at room temperature

  • 1/2 cup strawberry Jam, optional; for flavor and texture


  • 1/2 cup  strawberry jam

  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) soft unsalted butter

  • 1 tablespoon meringue powder, optional; for holding power

  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon  Pure Vanilla extract

  • 1/8 teaspoon strawberry flavor, optional; for enhanced flavor

  • 4 to 5 cups glazing sugar or confectioners' sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 12-cup muffin pan, or line it with paper, and grease the papers.

  2. To make the cupcakes: Beat together the butter, sugar, salt, baking powder, and flavor(s) until the mixture lightens in color.

  3. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl after each addition.

  4. Gently beat in a heaping 1/2 cup of the flour, then 1/4 cup of the milk; repeat the process, finishing with the remaining flour.

  5. Fold in the Jam. Divide the batter among the cups.

  6. Bake the cupcakes for 18 to 20 minutes, until cupcakes are very light brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean.

  7. Remove the cupcakes from the oven and, after 5 minutes, transfer them to a rack to cool completely.

  8. To make the frosting: Beat together the strawberries, butter, meringue powder, and flavor(s) using an electric mixer, until the strawberries have broken down and tinted the mixture pink.

  9. Gradually add 4 cups of the sugar, and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy. Add enough additional sugar, if necessary, to make the frosting nicely spreadable.

  10. Spread or pipe the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes.

  11. Yield: 12 cupcakes.

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