Fabian (Latin: Fabianus) was the Bishop of Rome from 10 January 236 to his death in 250, succeeding Anterus. He is famous for the miraculous nature of his election, in which a dove is said to have descended on his head to mark him as the Holy Spirit's unexpected choice to become the next pope. He was succeeded by Cornelius.
Most of his papacy was characterized by amicable relations with the imperial government, and Fabian could thus bring back to Rome the bodies of Pope Pontian and the antipope Hippolytus, both of whom had died in exile in the Sardinian mines, for Christian burial. It was also probably during his reign that the schism between the two corresponding Roman congregations of these leaders was ended. He was highly esteemed by Cyprian; Novatian refers to his nobilissima memoriae, and he corresponded with Origen. One authority refers to him as Flavian.
The Liber Pontificalis, a fourth-century document that survives in later copies, says that he divided Rome into diaconates and appointed secretaries to collect the records of the martyrs. He is also said, probably without basis, to have baptized the emperor Philip the Arab and his son. More plausible is the report in the Liberian Catalogue that he sent out seven "apostles to the Gauls" as missionaries.
He died a martyr at the beginning of the Decian persecution and is venerated as a saint by the Catholic Church. Fabian's feast day is commemorated on January 20, the same as Saint Sebastian, in whose church his sepulcher lies in Rome.