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Novatian

Antipope from 251 to c.258. Born probably Rome. His early life is known to us principally through the letters of Pope Cornelius to Fabius of Antioch. While a catechumen he was thought to be possessed and was consequently exorcised. Because of a serious illness he was baptized by affusion, but was not confirmed, which made him irregular for ordination. In spite of opposition he was ordained by Pope Fabian, 250, and subsequently appointed to a prominent position in Rome. He hoped to be elected as successor of Fabian who was martyred, 251. Cornelius was chosen, and Novatian caused himself to be elected by three rural Italian bishops. The Council of Carthage, 251, supported the claims of Cornelius who at once excommunicated Novatian. He set up a schismatical church, appointed himself as head of the sect, and had a large number of adherents who enlarged the scope of his heresy. The sect was still flourishing in the Orient in the 5th century. Though Saint Jerome mentions a number of writings of Novatian, only two have come down to us, "De Cibis Judaicis" and "De Trinitate." That Novatian died a martyr's death during the persecution of Valerian is doubtful.

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