Servus servorum Dei

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Servus servorum Dei ( Latin for "servant of God's servants / servant of God's servants") is the Pope's self-designation . It is primarily intended to characterize the Pope's understanding of office and self.

Introduction by Gregory I.

The devotion formula was introduced by Pope Gregory I (590-604) as the self-designation of the popes and thus referred to 2 Petr 1,1 and Rom 1,1. According to this, it is the task of the Pope, as the successor of Peter, to take care of the entire Church. According to the testimony of Adalbertus Samaritanus , the expression arose in the conflict with the Patriarch of Constantinople John IV Nesteutes . In a letter he called himself “Ecumenical Patriarch” and thus placed himself above all other patriarchs. According to the historian Paul Ewald, he used the expression as early as 587. A document from the year 570 began with “ Joanna Episcopus, servus servorum Dei”. Pope Gregory the Great also rejected the title “universalis papa”. He gave the bishops and priests the formula “serve more than rule”.

Later use

The title was taken over by his successors, but not consistently until the 9th century. Other clerics (mainly archbishops) and secular rulers, such as Alfonso the Chaste and Emperor Heinrich III. , occasionally used this title. Since the 12th century, however, the name has only been reserved for the Pope. This initulatio appears at the beginning of every papal document, with the exception of the briefs after the Latin name of the pope (without ordinal number).



  1. ^ New archive of the Society for Older German History 3, 1878, ISSN  0179-9940 , p. 545.