Felix IV (III), Pope, St.
FELIX IV (III), POPE, ST.
Pontificate: July 12, 526 to Sept. 20 or 22, 530. The harshly treated john i was succeeded as pope by the Roman priest Felix, who was imposed upon the Romans by the Arian Gothic King Theodoric. Shortly after the new pope's consecration, the king died and was succeeded by his grandson Athalaric, whose mother, Queen Amalasuntha, acted as regent during her son's minority. Since the queen was well disposed toward Catholics and Byzantium, the late king's policy of persecution was abandoned, and the Church once again enjoyed good relations with the Arian rulers of Italy. When the Roman clergy complained that the civil authorities had usurped their privileges, a royal edict confirmed the custom requiring that civil or criminal charges brought against the clergy be heard by the pope or by a court appointed by him. He appointed more than fifty priests in fifty months, apparently hoping to populate the Roman clergy with men sympathetic to his views.
Felix sent St. caesarius of arles, at the latter's request, a series of chapters (capitula ) culled from the Bible and the writings of the Fathers, particularly St. Augustine, defining the teaching of the Church on the subject of grace and free will. These canons, adopted by the Second Council of orange (529) and subsequently approved by Pope boniface ii, acquired great dogmatic authority in the Church, and effectively put an end to the controversy over grace, and enshrined Augustine's views.
The adaptation for Christian worship of various buildings of the Roman Forum began under Felix. He received permission from Queen Amalasuntha to convert the Templum Sacrae Urbis and the adjoining small round temple, the so–called "Heroon Romuli," on the Via Sacra into the nave and atrium, respectively, of a church dedicated to the martyrs SS. cosmas and damian, who were associated with healing. Afraid that disorders might break out among factions in the Roman Church after his death, Felix resorted to the unusual procedure of designating his own successor by handing his pallium to the archdeacon Boniface. Word of the pope's choice was then sent to the court at Ravenna, but the Roman senate forbade any discussion of a successor to a living pope. Felix was buried in the portico of St. Peter's. A mosaic portrait in the apse of SS. Cosmas and Damian is the first contemporary papal likeness to have survived, but it has been so much altered by later hands that it does not have much historical value.
Feast: Jan. 30.
Bibliography: Clavis Patrum latinorum, ed. e. dekkers (2d ed. Streenbrugge 1961) 1686–90. Patrologia latina, ed. j. p. migne, 217 v., indexes 4 v. (Paris 1878–90) 65:11–23. Liber pontificalis, ed. l. duchesne, v. 1–2 (Paris 1886–92), v. 3 (Paris 1958) 1:279–280; 3:91. h. leclercq, Dictionnaire d'archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie (Paris 1907–53) 13.1:1216. g. schwaiger, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche (2d, new ed. Freiburg 1957–65) 4:68–69. r. u. montini, Le tombe dei papi (Rome 1957). g. b. ladner, Die Papstbildnisse (Vatican City 1941–). e. ferguson, ed., Encyclopedia of Early Christianity (New York 1997) 1:426. h. jedin, History of the Church (New York, 1980) 2:626. j.n.d. kelly, Oxford Dictionary of Popes (New York 1986) 55–56. j. richards, Popes and Papacy the Early Middle Ages (London 1979) 120–125.