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Boniface IV, Pope


Pontificate: Aug. 25, 608 to May 8, 615. Boniface proved to be pious, industrious, and devoted to the poor, a worthy successor of gregory i. The most remarkable event of his pontificate was the consecration of the basilica Sancta Maria ad Martyres on the site of the Pantheon (609). The Emperor Phocas had acceded to the pope's request for the conversion of the ancient pagan monument into a Christian church, and Boniface translated there a number of relics from the catacombs. In 610 Boniface held a synod at Rome for the restoration of monastic discipline. mellitus, the first bishop of London, was present. He returned to England with the synodal decrees and papal letters to lawrence, archbishop of canter bury, to King ethelbert of kent, and to the people of England.

During his pontificate the heresy of monophysitism was a cause of much ecclesiastical and political confusion. The success of the Persian invasion of many provinces of the Byzantine Empire was aided by the cooperation of heretical bishops. heraclius, exarch of Africa, took advantage of the disorder to lead a revolt against Phocas and to seize the throne. Although victorious against the Persians, Heraclius did not succeed in restoring the Monophysites to the unity of the Church.

In northern Italy several of the Lombard bishops persisted in the Istrian schism, which rejected the condemnation of the three chapters by the Second Council of constantinople (553). The Irish monk columban of Bobbio reprimanded him for his support of the Council's action. No reply of the pope is extant, but subsequent letters seem to indicate that the ill-informed Columban in no wise diminished by this imprudence the relation of his mission to the Holy See.

Bibliography: p. jaffÉ, Regesta pontificum romanorum ab condita ecclesia ad annum post Christum natum 1198 (Graz 1956) 1:220222; 2:698, 739. Liber pontificalis, ed, l. duchesne (Paris 18861958) 1:317318. bede, Ecclesiastical History 2.4. h. k. mann, The Lives of the Popes in the Early Middle Ages from 590 to 1304 (London 190232) 1:268279. h. leclercq, Dictionnaire d'archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie, ed. f. cabrol, h. leclerq, i. marrou (Paris 190753) 10:2:206268; 13.1:106367. e. caspar, Geschichte de Papsttums von den Anfängen bis zur Höhe der Weltherrschaft (Tubingen 193033) 2:517522. g. schwaiger, Lexicon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner (Freiburg 195765) 2:588589. j. n. d. kelly, Oxford Dictionary of Popes (New York 1986) 69.

[p. j. mullins]

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