was bishop of Rome from the commencement of A. D. 402 until his death on the 12th of March, A. D. 417.
He took an active part in the proceedings with regard to Chrysostom, whom he steadily supported while the patriarch was alive, and whose memory he vindicated from insult after death. Against the Novatians he displayed the most determined hostility, and one of his last acts was the condemnation of Pelagius, a sentence which, as appears evident from his epistles, ought to be regarded rather as a concession to the urgent representations of the Carthaginian Synod than as the result of full and heartfelt conviction.
In consequence of the widely-diffused reputation enjoyed by Innocentius for learning and prudence, he was constantly consulted upon various points of doctrine and discipline by ecclesiastics at a distance; and the correspondence in which he thus became engaged with every part of the Christian world was conducted with so much skill, and the replies were couched so judiciously, in a tone of mingled advice, instruction, and authoritative dictation, that the practice of submitting questions of doubt or difficulty to the head of the Roman see became from this time forward general; and to this epoch we may refer the foundation of those claims to universal spiritual domination so boldly asserted, and, to a certain extent, so successfully maintained by Leo and his successors.
The extant works of this prelate consist entirely of epistles, thirty-four in number, which are almost exclusively of an official character, being addressed to dignitaries, civil and spiritual, and to religious communities, upon topics connected with the regulation and welfare of the church. Of these, twenty-one are preserved in the collection of Dionysius Exiguus; four are found among the letters of St. Augustin, two were first edited by Holstenius from a Vatican MS., the remaining seven were derived from various sources.
The Editio Princeps, containing twenty-one epistles, under the title Decreta Innocentii Papae LVII.,
appeared in the Collectio Canonum Dionysii Exigui,
fol. Mogunt. 1525; the first complete edition, comprising the whole thirty-four epistles, forms the first volume of the Epistolae Pontificiae,
published by cardinal Anton. Caraffa, fol. Rom. 1591; the best edition is that contained in the Epistolae Pontificum Romanorum
of Constant, fol. Paris, 1721, vol. i. pp. 739-931, reprinted in the Bibl. Patrum
of Galland, vol. viii. pp. 545-612, whose Prolegomena, c. xviii., may be consulted with advantage.
Lost and Spurious Epistles
In addition to the above thirty-four, Coustant notices a considerable number which have been lost, investigating at the same time their dates and the subjects of which they treated; he also points out some which are spurious, one, Ad Aurelium Episcopum Carthaginiensem,
fabricated by Isidorus Mercator, two Ad Arcadium Imperatorem,
and two from Arcadius, Ad Innocentium.