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Bible Dictionaries

A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography

Bonifacius ii, Pope


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Bonifacius II. , pope, successor to Felix IV., of Roman birth but Gothic parentage, son of Sigisbald or Sigismund, was elected bp. of Rome on Sept. 17, 530, and consecrated five days later in the basilica of Julius (Jaffé, Regesta Pont. ). At the same time a rival party in the basilica of Constantine elected and consecrated Dioscorus. The Roman church was saved from schism by the death of Dioscorus a few weeks afterwards; but Boniface carried his enmity beyond the grave, and anathematized his dead rival for simony (cf. Cassiodorus, Var. 9, Ephesians 5 ). This anathema was subsequently removed by Agapetus I. It has been conjectured (by Baronius, Labbe, Cave, etc.) that the double election was brought about by Athalaric the Gothic king, that he might have an opportunity to intervene after the example of Theodoric, and place a partisan of his own upon the papal throne. [See Theodoricus (3); Felix III. (cf. Gieseler, Eccl. Hist. i. § 115, p. 340 Eng. trans. and reff.).] The pontificate of Boniface is chiefly remarkable for the bold measure proposed and carried by him at a council at St. Peter's, by which he was empowered to nominate his own successor. Accordingly he nominated the deacon Vigilius (subsequently pope, 537), and obtained the consent of the clergy thereto. Shortly afterwards, however, another council met and annulled the previous decree as contrary to the canons. Boniface acknowledged his error and publicly burned the document with his own hands. Some ( e.g. Bianchi-Giovini, Storia dei Papi , ii. 165) have conjectured that Boniface acted throughout as the tool of the unprincipled Vigilius; others (e.g. Baronius, Milman, etc.) that the object of Boniface was to prevent for the future the interference of the Gothic king, and that it was the Gothic king that compelled him to rescind the decree. It would have been equally difficult, however, to have brought the clergy and people of Rome to tolerate such a scheme. Of the pontificate of Boniface there is little else to record. A petition was presented to him (in which he is styled "Universal Bishop") by Stephen, archbp. of Larissa, metropolitan of Thessaly, complaining of the encroachments of the patriarch of Constantinople, who had suspended Stephen from his office. The result of the council held is unknown, but there can be little doubt that Boniface followed the policy of his predecessors in this matter and asserted the authority of the Roman see over the whole of the province of Illyria (see documents in Labbe, Conc. iv. 1690 seq., also Bonifacius I.). He died in Oct. 532, and was buried on the 17th in St. Peter's. He was succeeded by John II. (see generally Anastasius, Lib. Pont. ; Labbe, Conc. iv. 1682 sqq.; Baronius, sub annis ; Migne, Patr. lxv.).

[T.R.B.]


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Bibliography Information
Wace, Henry. Entry for 'Bonifacius ii, Pope'. A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hwd/b/bonifacius-ii-pope.html. 1911.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, November 26th, 2020
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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