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Pope Boniface IV

Pope Saint

Boniface IV
San Bonifacio IV papa1.gif
Papa Bonifacio IV
Papacy began25 September 608
Papacy ended8 May 615
PredecessorBoniface III
SuccessorAdeodatus I
Created cardinal10 May 591
by Pope Gregory I
Personal details
Birth nameBonifacio
BornValeria, Byzantine Empire
Died(615-05-08)8 May 615 (aged 65)
Rome, Byzantine Empire
Previous postCardinal-Deacon of the Holy Roman Church (591-608)
Feast day8 May
Venerated inCatholic Church
Canonizedby Pope Boniface VIII[1]
AttributesPapal vestments
Other popes named Boniface
Papal styles of
Pope Boniface IV
Emblem of the Papacy SE.svg
Reference styleHis Holiness
Spoken styleYour Holiness
Religious styleHoly Father
Posthumous styleSaint

Pope Boniface IV (Latin: Bonifatius IV; died 8 May 615)[2] was Pope from 25 September 608 to his death in 615. He is venerated as a saint in the Catholic Church with a universal feast falling annually on 8 May. Boniface had served as a deacon under Pope Gregory I, and like his mentor had made his house into a monastery. As Pope, he encouraged monks and monasticism. With permission of the Emperor, he converted the Pantheon into the Church of St. Mary and the Martyrs. In 610, he conferred with Mellitus (d. 624), first bishop of London, regarding the needs of the English Church.


Boniface was born in what is now the Province of L'Aquila; his father was a physician named John. His family was of Marsi origins according to the Liber Pontificalis.[3] At the time of Pope Gregory I, he was a deacon of the Roman Church and held the position of dispensator, that is, the first official in connection with the administration of the patrimonies.[4]

He succeeded Boniface III after a vacancy of over nine months, awaiting confirmation from Constantinople. He was consecrated on either 25 August (Duchesne) or 15 September (Jaffé) in 608. (His death is listed as either 8 May or 25 May 615 by these same two authorities.)[4]

Boniface obtained leave from the Byzantine Emperor Phocas to convert the Pantheon in Rome into a Christian church, and on 13 May 609,[5] the temple erected by Agrippa to Jupiter the Avenger, Venus, and Mars was consecrated by the pope to the Virgin Mary and all the Martyrs. It was the first instance at Rome of the transformation of a pagan temple into a place of Christian worship. Twenty-eight cartloads of sacred bones were said to have been removed from the Catacombs and placed in a porphyry basin beneath the high altar.[4]

In 610, Mellitus, the first Bishop of London, went to Rome "to consult the pope on important matters relative to the newly established English Church". While in Rome he assisted at a synod then being held concerning certain questions on "the life and monastic peace of monks", and, on his departure, took with him to England the decree of the council together with letters from the pope to Lawrence, Archbishop of Canterbury, and to all the clergy, to King Æthelberht of Kent, and to all the English people in general.[6] The decrees of the council now extant are spurious. The letter to Æthelberht [7] is considered spurious by Hefele,[8] questionable by Haddan and Stubbs,[9] and genuine by Jaffé.[10]

Between 612 and 615, the Irish missionary Columbanus, then living at Bobbio in Italy, was persuaded by Agilulf, King of the Lombards, to address a letter on the condemnation of the "Three Chapters" to Boniface IV. He tells the pope that he is suspect of heresy for accepting the Fifth Ecumenical Council (the Second Council of Constantinople in 553), and exhorts him to summon a council and prove his orthodoxy.[4] There is no record of a rejoinder from Boniface.

Boniface had converted his own house into a monastery, where he retired and died. He was buried in the portico of St. Peter's Basilica. His remains were three times removed — in the tenth or eleventh century, at the close of the thirteenth under Boniface VIII, and to the new St. Peter's on 21 October 1603.[4]

Boniface IV is commemorated as a saint in the Roman Martyrology on his feast day, 8 May.[6]

See also


  1. ^ "Bonifacio (?-615)". Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church. Archived from the original on 2015-09-05. Retrieved 28 April 2015.
  2. ^ Prevato, Franco. San Bonifacio IV Santi Beati, 27 August 2003
  3. ^ Andrew J. Ekonomou. Byzantine Rome and the Greek Popes. Lexington books, 2007
  4. ^ a b c d e Oestereich, Thomas. "Pope St. Boniface IV." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 2. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907
  5. ^ MacDonald, William L. (1976). The Pantheon: Design, Meaning, and Progeny. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-01019-1
  6. ^ a b "St Boniface IV", Oxford Reference
  7. ^ Oestreich 1907 cites:William of Malmesbury & De Gest. Pont., I, 1465
  8. ^ Oestreich 1907 cites: Hefele 1869, III, p. 66.
  9. ^ Oestreich 1907 cites: Mansi, Councils, III, 65.
  10. ^ Oestreich 1907 cites: Jaffé 1881, 1988 (1548).



External links

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Boniface III
Succeeded by
Adeodatus I