Brill Encyclopedia of Early Christianity Online

Get access

Pontifex Maximus
(580 words)

The title pontifex maximus (“supreme pontiff”) derives, as is well known, from the most important priest (Priest/Presbyter) in the Roman religion. However, its use within Christianity is much later than is generally assumed. Contrary to the idea that it was already held by Pope Leo I (440–461 CE), the title was not initially used because of its pagan (Pagan/Paganism) connotations and because it had been a key element in imperial titles since Augustus. In fact, it was unknown in papal nomenclature until the Renaissance. Two ye…

Cite this page
Simón, Francisco Marco, “Pontifex Maximus”, in: Brill Encyclopedia of Early Christianity Online, General Editor David G. Hunter, Paul J.J. van Geest, Bert Jan Lietaert Peerbolte. Consulted online on 05 June 2023 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2589-7993_EECO_SIM_00002816>
First published online: 2022



▲   Back to top   ▲