Pope John III

John III was the 61st Pope to hold the position. He served as pope for well over a decade. His papacy was marked by war and uncertainty. Many of the events during his leadership were out of his control. But, Pope John III took action to protect the Church and the country.


Like may Popes of this era, not much is known about John III’s early life. It’s believed that he was born around the year 520 AD. He was born as Catelinus. From the little historical records available, it’s been established that he was born in Rome to a relatively distinguished family.

His father, Anastasius, was a high-ranking member of the Roman Senate. Thus, his family was quite influential in Rome.


Pope John III was officially elected and consecrated as Pope on July 17th, 561. There are several notable events that occurred during his papacy. The biggest is the invasion of Italy. The country was invaded by Lombards, which were Germanic people living North of Italy. Lombards reintroduced Arian belief to Italy, which was largely eradicated prior to the Pope’s reign.

The invasion started in 568 and wreaked havoc throughout the country. Before the Lombards reached Ravenna in the south, Pope John III took it upon himself to seek help from the Naples governor Narses. Ravenna’s governor was virtually powerless.

The Pope begged Narses to go to Ravenna and take control of the invasion, which he did. Unfortunately, Narses was hated by those in Ravenna. As a result, many grew to hate Pope John III for bringing Narses to Ravenna.

To avoid conflict, John III retreated to catacombs about two miles outside of the city. There, he hid from the public while still completing his duties as Pope. He remained in the catacombs until the death of Narses in 573. He returned to the Lateran Palace but dies about a year later, ending his papacy.

List of Events In The Life of Pope John III

56141.0ElectedPope (Roma, Italy)
17 Jul 56141.5Ordained BishopPope (Roma, Italy)
13 Jul 57454.5DiedPope (Roma, Italy)

Quick Facts About Pope John III

  • Pope John III was born around the year 530 AD.
  • He had the birth name of Catelinus
  • Pope John III died on July 13th, 574. He was believed to be 54 years old.
  • Not much is known about the exact cause of Pope John III’s death. He likely died of natural causes.
  • John III was consecrated as Pope on July 17th, 561.
  • His papacy ended upon his death on July 13th, 574.
  • Pope John III was succeeded by Pope Benedict I.

Interesting Facts About Pope John III

  • Most of the historical records about Pope John III were destroyed during an invasion of Italy.
  • During the latter part of his papacy, John III spent most of his time living and working in hiding.
  • Some of his actions as Pope lead many to hate John III during his life.
  • Prior to his consecration, the Church did not have a Pope for about five months.
  • Pope John III is buried at St. John’s Basilica

All of the Popes that took the name “John”

There has been 23 popes that have taken the name of John.

John I (St.) (#53) (523 – 526)
John II (#56) (533 – 535)
John III (#61) (561 – 574)
John IV (#72) (640 – 642)
John V (#82) (685 – 686)
John VI (#85) (701 – 705)
John VII (#86) (705 – 707)
John VIII (#108) (872 – 882)
John IX (#117) (898 – 900)
John X (#123) (914 – 928)
John XI (#126) (931 – 935)
John XII (#131) (955 – 963)
John XIII (#134) (965 – 972)
John XIV (#137) (983 – 984)
John XV (#138) (985 – 996)
John XVII (#141) (1003)
John XVIII (#142) (1003 – 1009)
John XIX (#145) (1024 – 1032)
John XXI (#188) (1276 – 1277)
John XXII (#197) (1316 – 1334)
John XXIII (Blessed) (#262) (1958 – 1963)