Tomorrow, Wednesday 18th May, is the (optional) Memorial of Pope St. John I, who was pope from 523 – 526. He came from Tuscany and having joined the clergy of Rome, held the important office of Archdeacon. In 523 he was chosen Bishop of Rome, despite his advanced age and failing health. The Mediterranean world was at that time divided into the Eastern and Western empires, each with a separate emperor. Christianity was also divided by the Arian controversy that denied the divinity of Christ. The western Emperor, Theodoric, was an Arian, although initially tolerant of the Catholics in his kingdom. Soon after John became pope, Justin, the Eastern emperor began persecuting the Arians in the East and, angered by this. Theodoric sent Pope John to Constantinople in order to mitigate the restrictions placed on them. Because He and the eastern emperor got along so well, Theodoric suspected they were plotting against him, so upon his return, he had John arrested and thrown into prison. In prison, Pope John died shortly afterwards, mainly through starvation and brutality. In this way he won a martyr’s crown.