Pope Anastasius II

Pope Anastasius II was the 50th pope and the second to choose the name Anastasius. He served as pope for just short of two years and has the nickname of the Failed Arbitrator. This article will help readers learn more about Pope Anastasius II.

Before the Papal Election

Historians believe that Anastasius II was born in Rome circa 445, which would make him 51 when he became pope. He grew up with a deep connection to the church because his father was a priest. Before accepting the position, Anastasius served as a cardinal and a cardinal deacon appointed by Pope Gelasius II. Several members of the Church brought forth his name during the papal election. Church members officially voted to make him pope the next week. He took the position less that one week after the death of the previous pope.

Acacian Schism

Before becoming pope, Anastasius II was aware of a movement called Acian schism. This occurred due to a widening gap between the eastern and western churches. Prior popes excommunicated leaders and other men who followed the new branch. When Gelasius I passed away, Anastasius II became pope in part because of his plans to reunite the churches.

He met with a Byzantine emperor of the same name and made plans to go forward. Those in Rome disagreed with his plans and made steps to separate from him, going so far as to avoid the communion he offered.


Pope Anastasius II only served as pope for less than two years. Though his followers hoped that he could unite the Church again, there was too much division at the time. His death led to even more separation.

While his followers put one name forth as pope, his opponents wanted Symmachus to become the next pope. That group gained a majority in the next election and voted Symmachus as the new pope. Anastasius II served as pope for 5,717 days and was interned in St. Peter’s Basilica.

List of Events In The Life of Pope Anastasius II

24 Nov 496ElectedPope (Roma, Italy)
24 Nov 496Ordained BishopPope (Roma, Italy)
19 Nov 498DiedPope (Roma, Italy)

Quick Facts About Pope Anastasius II

  • Anastasius was born circa 445 in Rome, Italy in the Roman Empire.
  • His name was Anastasius, but historians aren’t sure if that was his birth name or the name he used before becoming pope.
  • He died on November 16, 498.
  • The official cause of death is due to natural causes.
  • Pope Anastasius II began his papacy on November 24, 496.
  • His papacy ended in 498 on November 16 upon his death.
  • Symmachus succeeded Anastasius II as the next pope.

Interesting Facts About Pope Anastasius II

  • During the separation of the church branches, Anastasius now only talked with Byzantine Emperor Anastasius, but he also gave communion to a close associate of the emperor.

  • Multiple books and journals written in the years following his death called Pope Anastasius II a traitor to the Roman Catholic Church. Dante even included the pope in one of his famous works. Historians now believe that Dante confused the pope and the emperor of the same name and meant to write about the emperor. Anastasius appears as a character in “Inferno,” where he is doomed to spend eternity in the sixth circle of hell.

  • He earned the nickname of the Failed Arbitrator because he failed in his attempts to unite the churches. Though some used this nickname during his tenure as pope, it grew more popular during the election of his successor.

  • Though Anastasius II hoped to bring Constantinople back into the main church, his efforts failed. It wasn’t until 519 that the two branches reunited.

  • Pope Anastasius II and Pope Liberius I are the only two of the first 50 popes that the Church did not later recognized as saints.

All Popes named Anastasius

There has has been 4 Popes that have taken the name Anastasius in the history of the papacy. Below are links to all of them. Also check out all of the other Popes the begin with the letter A.

Anastasius I (St.) (#39) (399 – 401)
Anastasius II (#50) (496 – 498)
Anastasius III (#121) (911 – 913)
Anastasius IV (#169) (1153 – 1154)